by James Francis Dwyer
The President of the United States was speaking.
His audience comprised two thousand foreign-born
men who had just been admitted to citizenship. They
listened intently, their faces, aglow with the light of a
new-born patriotism, upturned to the calm, intellectual
face of the first citizen of the country they now
claimed as their own.
Here and there among the newly made citizens
were wives and children. The women were proud of
their men. They looked at them from time to time,
their faces showing pride and awe.
One little woman, sitting immediately in front of
the President, held the hand of a big, muscular man
and stroked it softly. The big man was looking at the
speaker with great blue eyes that were the eyes of a
The President’s words came clear and distinct:
You were drawn across the ocean by some beckoning
finger of hope, by some belief, by some vision of a new
kind of justice, by some expectation of a better kind of
life. You dreamed dreams of this country, and I hope
you brought the dreams with you. A man enriches the
country to which he brings dreams, and you who have
brought them have enriched America.
The big man made a curious choking noise and his
wife breathed a soft “Hush!” The giant was strangely
The President continued:
No doubt you have been disappointed in some of us,
but remember this, if we have grown at all poor in the
ideal, you brought some of it with you. A man does not
go out to seek the thing that is not in him. A man does
not hope for the thing that he does not believe in, and if
some of us have forgotten what America believed in, you
at any rate imported in your own hearts a renewal of the
belief. Each of you, I am sure, brought a dream, a
glorious, shining dream, a dream worth more than gold
or silver, and that is the reason that I, for one, make you
The big man’s eyes were fixed. His wife shook him
gently, but he did not heed her. He was looking
through the presidential rostrum, through the big
buildings behind it, looking out over leagues of space
to a snow-swept village that huddled on an island in
the Beresina, the swift-flowing tributary of the mighty
Dnieper, an island that looked like a black bone stuck
tight in the maw of the stream.
It was in the little village on the Beresina that the
Dream came to Ivan Berloff, Big Ivan of the Bridge.
The Dream came in the spring. All great dreams
come in the spring, and the Spring Maiden who brought
Big Ivan’s Dream was more than ordinarily beautiful.
She swept up the Beresina, trailing wondrous draperies
of vivid green. Her feet touched the snow-hardened
ground and armies of little white and blue
flowers sprang up in her footsteps. Soft breezes escorted
her, velvety breezes that carried the aromas of
the far-off places from which they came, places far to
the southward, and more distant towns beyond the
Black Sea whose people were not under the sway of
the Great Czar.
The father of Big Ivan, who had fought under
Prince Menshikov at Alma fifty-five years before,
hobbled out to see the sunbeams eat up the snow
hummocks that hid in the shady places, and he told
his son it was the most wonderful spring he had ever
“The little breezes are hot and sweet,” he said,
sniffing hungrily with his face turned toward the
south. “I know them, Ivan! I know them! They
have the spice odor that I sniffed on the winds that
came to us when we lay in the trenches at Balaklava.
Praise God for the warmth!”
And that day the Dream came to Big Ivan as he
plowed. It was a wonder dream. It sprang into his
brain as he walked behind the plow, and for a few
minutes he quivered as the big bridge quivers when
the Beresina sends her ice squadrons to hammer the
arches. It made his heart pound mightily, and his
lips and throat became very dry.
Big Ivan stopped at the end of the furrow and tried
to discover what had brought the Dream. Where had
it come from? Why had it clutched him so suddenly?
Was he the only man in the village to whom it had
Like his father, he sniffed the sweet-smelling breezes.
He thrust his great hands into the sunbeams. He
reached down and plucked one of a bunch of white
flowers that had sprung up overnight. The Dream
was born of the breezes and the sunshine and the
spring flowers. It came from them and it had sprung
into his mind because he was young and strong. He
knew! It couldn’t come to his father or Donkov, the
tailor, or Poborino, the smith. They were old and
weak, and Ivan’s dream was one that called for youth
“Ay, for youth and strength,” he muttered as he
gripped the plow. “And I have it!”
That evening Big Ivan of the Bridge spoke to his
wife, Anna, a little woman, who had a sweet face and
a wealth of fair hair.
“Wife, we are going away from here,” he said.
“Where are we going, Ivan?” she asked.
“Where do you think, Anna?” he said, looking
down at her as she stood by his side.
“To Bobruisk,” she murmured.
“Ay, a long way farther.”
Fear sprang into her soft eyes. Bobruisk was eighty-nine
versts away, yet Ivan said they were going farther.
“We—we are not going to Minsk?” she cried.
“Ay, and beyond Minsk!”
“Ivan, tell me!” she gasped. “Tell me where we
“We are going to America.”
“Yes, to America!”
Big Ivan of the Bridge lifted up his voice when he
cried out the words “To America,” and then a sudden
fear sprang upon him as those words dashed through
the little window out into the darkness of the village
street. Was he mad? America was 8,000 versts
away! It was far across the ocean, a place that was
only a name to him, a place where he knew no one.
He wondered in the strange little silence that followed
his words if the crippled son of Poborino, the smith,
had heard him. The cripple would jeer at him if the
night wind had carried the words to his ear.
Anna remained staring at her big husband for a few
minutes, then she sat down quietly at his side. There
was a strange look in his big blue eyes, the look of a
man to whom has come a vision, the look which came
into the eyes of those shepherds of Judea long, long
“What is it, Ivan?” she murmured softly, patting
his big hand. “Tell me.”
And Big Ivan of the Bridge, slow of tongue, told
of the Dream. To no one else would he have told it.
Anna understood. She had a way of patting his hands
and saying soft things when his tongue could not find
words to express his thoughts.
Ivan told how the Dream had come to him as he
plowed. He told her how it had sprung upon him, a
wonderful dream born of the soft breezes, of the sunshine,
of the sweet smell of the upturned sod and of
his own strength. “It wouldn’t come to weak men,”
he said, baring an arm that showed great snaky muscles
rippling beneath the clear skin. “It is a dream
that comes only to those who are strong and those who
want—who want something that they haven’t got.”
Then in a lower voice he said: “What is it that we
The little wife looked out into the darkness with
fear-filled eyes. There were spies even there in that
little village on the Beresina, and it was dangerous to
say words that might be construed into a reflection on
the Government. But she answered Ivan. She
stooped and whispered one word into his ear, and he
slapped his thigh with his big hand.
“Ay,” he cried. “That is what we want! You and
I and millions like us want it, and over there, Anna,
over there we will get it. It is the country where a
muzhik is as good as a prince of the blood!”
Anna stood up, took a small earthenware jar from
a side shelf, dusted it carefully and placed it upon the
mantel. From a knotted cloth about her neck she
took a ruble and dropped the coin into the jar. Big
Ivan looked at her curiously.
“It is to make legs for your Dream,” she explained.
“It is many versts to America, and one rides on rubles.”
“You are a good wife,” he said. “I was afraid that
you might laugh at me.”
“It is a great dream,” she murmured. “Come, we
will go to sleep.”
The Dream maddened Ivan during the days that
followed. It pounded within his brain as he followed
the plow. It bred a discontent that made him hate
the little village, the swift-flowing Beresina and the
gray stretches that ran toward Mogilev. He wanted
to be moving, but Anna had said that one rode on
rubles, and rubles were hard to find.
And in some mysterious way the village became
aware of the secret. Donkov, the tailor, discovered
it. Donkov lived in one-half of the cottage occupied
by Ivan and Anna, and Donkov had long ears. The
tailor spread the news, and Poborino, the smith, and
Yanansk, the baker, would jeer at Ivan as he passed.
“When are you going to America?” they would ask.
“Soon,” Ivan would answer.
“Take us with you!” they would cry in chorus.
“It is no place for cowards,” Ivan would answer.
“It is a long way, and only brave men can make the
“Are you brave?” the baker screamed one day as
he went by.
“I am brave enough to want liberty!” cried Ivan
angrily. “I am brave enough to want——”
“Be careful! Be careful!” interrupted the smith.
“A long tongue has given many a man a train journey
that he never expected.”
That night Ivan and Anna counted the rubles in the
earthenware pot. The giant looked down at his wife
with a gloomy face, but she smiled and patted his hand.
“It is slow work,” he said.
“We must be patient,” she answered. “You have
“Ay,” he said. “I have the Dream.”
Through the hot, languorous summertime the
Dream grew within the brain of Big Ivan. He saw
visions in the smoky haze that hung above the Beresina.
At times he would stand, hoe in hand, and
look toward the west, the wonderful west into which
the sun slipped down each evening like a coin dropped
from the fingers of the dying day.
Autumn came, and the fretful whining winds that
came down from the north chilled the Dream. The
winds whispered of the coming of the Snow King, and
the river grumbled as it listened. Big Ivan kept out
of the way of Poborino, the smith, and Yanansk, the
baker. The Dream was still with him, but autumn is
a bad time for dreams.
Winter came, and the Dream weakened. It was
only the earthenware pot that kept it alive, the pot
into which the industrious Anna put every coin that
could be spared. Often Big Ivan would stare at the
pot as he sat beside the stove. The pot was the cord
which kept the Dream alive.
“You are a good woman, Anna,” Ivan would say
again and again. “It was you who thought of saving
“But it was you who dreamed,” she would answer.
“Wait for the spring, husband mine. Wait.”
It was strange how the spring came to the Beresina
that year. It sprang upon the flanks of winter before
the Ice King had given the order to retreat into the
fastnesses of the north. It swept up the river escorted
by a million little breezes, and housewives opened
their windows and peered out with surprise upon their
faces. A wonderful guest had come to them and
found them unprepared.
Big Ivan of the Bridge was fixing a fence in the
meadow on the morning the Spring Maiden reached
the village. For a little while he was not aware of her
arrival. His mind was upon his work, but suddenly
he discovered that he was hot, and he took off his
overcoat. He turned to hang the coat upon a bush,
then he sniffed the air, and a puzzled look came upon
his face. He sniffed again, hurriedly, hungrily. He
drew in great breaths of it, and his eyes shone with a
strange light. It was wonderful air. It brought life
to the Dream. It rose up within him, ten times more
lusty than on the day it was born, and his limbs trembled
as he drew in the hot, scented breezes that breed
the Wanderlust and shorten the long trails of the
Big Ivan clutched his coat and ran to the little
cottage. He burst through the door, startling Anna,
who was busy with her housework.
“The Spring!” he cried. “The Spring!”
He took her arm and dragged her to the door. Standing
together they sniffed the sweet breezes. In silence
they listened to the song of the river. The Beresina
had changed from a whining, fretful tune into a lilting,
sweet song that would set the legs of lovers dancing.
Anna pointed to a green bud on a bush beside the
“It came this minute,” she murmured.
“Yes,” said Ivan. “The little fairies brought it
there to show us that spring has come to stay.”
Together they turned and walked to the mantel.
Big Ivan took up the earthenware pot, carried it to the
table, and spilled its contents upon the well-scrubbed
boards. He counted while Anna stood beside him, her
fingers clutching his coarse blouse. It was a slow
business, because Ivan’s big blunt fingers were not
used to such work, but it was over at last. He stacked
the coins into neat piles, then he straightened himself
and turned to the woman at his side.
“It is enough,” he said quietly. “We will go at
once. If it was not enough, we would have to go because
the Dream is upon me and I hate this place.”
“As you say,” murmured Anna. “The wife of
Littin, the butcher, will buy our chairs and our bed.
I spoke to her yesterday.”
Poborino, the smith; his crippled son; Yanansk,
the baker; Donkov, the tailor, and a score of others
were out upon the village street on the morning that
Big Ivan and Anna set out. They were inclined to
jeer at Ivan, but something upon the face of the giant
made them afraid. Hand in hand the big man and
his wife walked down the street, their faces turned
toward Bobruisk, Ivan balancing upon his head a
heavy trunk that no other man in the village could
At the end of the street a stripling with bright eyes
and yellow curls clutched the hand of Ivan and looked
into his face.
“I know what is sending you,” he cried.
“Ay, you know,” said Ivan, looking into the eyes
of the other.
“It came to me yesterday,” murmured the stripling.
“I got it from the breezes. They are free, so are the
birds and the little clouds and the river. I wish I
“Keep your dream,” said Ivan softly. “Nurse it,
for it is the dream of a man.”
Anna, who was crying softly, touched the blouse of
the boy. “At the back of our cottage, near the bush
that bears the red berries, a pot is buried,” she said.
“Dig it up and take it home with you and when you
have a kopeck drop it in. It is a good pot.”
The stripling understood. He stooped and kissed
the hand of Anna, and Big Ivan patted him upon the
back. They were brother dreamers and they understood
Boris Lugan has sung the song of the versts that
eat up one’s courage as well as the leather of one’s
“Versts! Versts! Scores and scores of them!
Versts! Versts! A million or more of them!
Dust! Dust! And the devils who play in it
Blinding us fools who forever must stay in it.”
Big Ivan and Anna faced the long versts to Bobruisk,
but they were not afraid of the dust devils. They had
the Dream. It made their hearts light and took the
weary feeling from their feet. They were on their way.
America was a long, long journey, but they had started,
and every verst they covered lessened the number
that lay between them and the Promised Land.
“I am glad the boy spoke to us,” said Anna.
“And I am glad,” said Ivan. “Some day he will
come and eat with us in America.”
They came to Bobruisk. Holding hands, they
walked into it late one afternoon. They were eighty-nine
versts from the little village on the Beresina, but
they were not afraid. The Dream spoke to Ivan, and
his big hand held the hand of Anna. The railway ran
through Bobruisk, and that evening they stood and
looked at the shining rails that went out in the moonlight
like silver tongs reaching out for a low-hanging
And they came face to face with the Terror that
evening, the Terror that had helped the spring breezes
and the sunshine to plant the Dream in the brain of
They were walking down a dark side street when
they saw a score of men and women creep from the
door of a squat, unpainted building. The little group
remained on the sidewalk for a minute as if uncertain
about the way they should go, then from the corner of
the street came a cry of “Police!” and the twenty
pedestrians ran in different directions.
It was no false alarm. Mounted police charged
down the dark thoroughfare swinging their swords as
they rode at the scurrying men and women who raced
for shelter. Big Ivan dragged Anna into a doorway,
and toward their hiding place ran a young boy who,
like themselves, had no connection with the group and
who merely desired to get out of harm’s way till the
storm was over.
The boy was not quick enough to escape the charge.
A trooper pursued him, overtook him before he reached
the sidewalk, and knocked him down with a quick
stroke given with the flat of his blade. His horse
struck the boy with one of his hoofs as the lad stumbled
on his face.
Big Ivan growled like an angry bear, and sprang
from his hiding place. The trooper’s horse had carried
him on to the sidewalk, and Ivan seized the bridle and
flung the animal on its haunches. The policeman
leaned forward to strike at the giant, but Ivan of the
Bridge gripped the left leg of the horseman and tore
him from his saddle.
The horse galloped off, leaving its rider lying beside
the moaning boy who was unlucky enough to be in a
street where a score of students were holding a meeting.
Anna dragged Ivan back into the passageway.
More police were charging down the street, and their
position was a dangerous one.
“Ivan!” she cried, “Ivan! Remember the Dream!
America, Ivan! America! Come this way! Quick!”
With strong hands she dragged him down the passage.
It opened into a narrow lane, and, holding each
other’s hands, they hurried toward the place where
they had taken lodgings. From far off came screams
and hoarse orders, curses and the sound of galloping
hoofs. The Terror was abroad.
Big Ivan spoke softly as they entered the little room
they had taken. “He had a face like the boy to whom
you gave the lucky pot,” he said. “Did you notice
it in the moonlight when the trooper struck him
“Yes,” she answered. “I saw.”
They left Bobruisk next morning. They rode away
on a great, puffing, snorting train that terrified Anna.
The engineer turned a stopcock as they were passing
the engine, and Anna screamed while Ivan nearly
dropped the big trunk. The engineer grinned, but the
giant looked up at him and the grin faded. Ivan of the
Bridge was startled by the rush of hot steam, but he
was afraid of no man.
The train went roaring by little villages and great
pasture stretches. The real journey had begun. They
began to love the powerful engine. It was eating up
the versts at a tremendous rate. They looked at each
other from time to time and smiled like two children.
They came to Minsk, the biggest town they had
ever seen. They looked out from the car windows at
the miles of wooden buildings, at the big church of St.
Catharine, and the woolen mills. Minsk would have
frightened them if they hadn’t had the Dream. The
farther they went from the little village on the Beresina
the more courage the Dream gave to them.
On and on went the train, the wheels singing the
song of the road. Fellow travelers asked them where
they were going. “To America,” Ivan would answer.
“To America?” they would cry. “May the little
saints guide you. It is a long way, and you will be
“No, we shall not be lonely,” Ivan would say.
“Ha! you are going with friends?”
“No, we have no friends, but we have something
that keeps us from being lonely.” And when Ivan
would make that reply Anna would pat his hand and
the questioner would wonder if it was a charm or a
holy relic that the bright-eyed couple possessed.
They ran through Vilna, on through flat stretches
of Courland to Libau, where they saw the sea. They
sat and stared at it for a whole day, talking little but
watching it with wide, wondering eyes. And they
stared at the great ships that came rocking in from
distant ports, their sides gray with the salt from the
big combers which they had battled with.
No wonder this America of ours is big. We draw the
brave ones from the old lands, the brave ones whose
dreams are like the guiding sign that was given to the
Israelites of old—a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of
fire by night.
The harbor master spoke to Ivan and Anna as they
watched the restless waters.
“Where are you going, children?”
“To America,” answered Ivan.
“A long way. Three ships bound for America went
down last month.”
“Ours will not sink,” said Ivan.
“Because I know it will not.”
The harbor master looked at the strange blue eyes
of the giant, and spoke softly. “You have the eyes
of a man who sees things,” he said. “There was a
Norwegian sailor in the White Queen, who had eyes
like yours, and he could see death.”
“I see life!” said Ivan boldly. “A free life——”
“Hush!” said the harbor master. “Do not speak
so loud.” He walked swiftly away, but he dropped a
ruble into Anna’s hand as he passed her by. “For
luck,” he murmured. “May the little saints look
after you on the big waters.”
They boarded the ship, and the Dream gave them
a courage that surprised them. There were others
going aboard, and Ivan and Anna felt that those others
were also persons who possessed dreams. She saw the
dreams in their eyes. There were Slavs, Poles, Letts,
Jews, and Livonians, all bound for the land where
dreams come true. They were a little afraid—not two
per cent of them had ever seen a ship before—yet their
dreams gave them courage.
The emigrant ship was dragged from her pier by a
grunting tug and went floundering down the Baltic
Sea. Night came down, and the devils who, according
to the Esthonian fishermen, live in the bottom of the
Baltic, got their shoulders under the stern of the ship
and tried to stand her on her head. They whipped up
white combers that sprang on her flanks and tried to
crush her, and the wind played a devil’s lament in her
rigging. Anna lay sick in the stuffy women’s quarters,
and Ivan could not get near her. But he sent her
messages. He told her not to mind the sea devils, to
think of the Dream, the Great Dream that would
become real in the land to which they were bound.
Ivan of the Bridge grew to full stature on that first
night out from Libau. The battered old craft that
carried him slouched before the waves that swept over
her decks, but he was not afraid. Down among the
million and one smells of the steerage he induced a
thin-faced Livonian to play upon a mouth organ, and
Big Ivan sang Paleer’s “Song of Freedom” in a voice
that drowned the creaking of the old vessel’s timbers,
and made the seasick ones forget their sickness. They
sat up in their berths and joined in the chorus, their
eyes shining brightly in the half gloom:
“Freedom for serf and for slave,
Freedom for all men who crave
Their right to be free
And who hate to bend knee
But to Him who this right to them gave.”
It was well that these emigrants had dreams. They
wanted them. The sea devils chased the lumbering
steamer. They hung to her bows and pulled her
for’ard deck under emerald-green rollers. They clung
to her stern and hoisted her nose till Big Ivan thought
that he could touch the door of heaven by standing on
her blunt snout. Miserable, cold, ill, and sleepless,
the emigrants crouched in their quarters, and to them
Ivan and the thin-faced Livonian sang the “Song of
The emigrant ship pounded through the Cattegat,
swung southward through the Skagerrack and the
bleak North Sea. But the storm pursued her. The
big waves snarled and bit at her, and the captain and
the chief officer consulted with each other. They
decided to run into the Thames, and the harried
steamer nosed her way in and anchored off Gravesend.
An examination was made, and the agents decided
to transship the emigrants. They were taken to London
and thence by train to Liverpool, and Ivan and
Anna sat again side by side, holding hands and smiling
at each other as the third-class emigrant train from
Euston raced down through the green Midland counties
to grimy Liverpool.
“You are not afraid?” Ivan would say to her each
time she looked at him.
“It is a long way, but the Dream has given me
much courage,” she said.
“To-day I spoke to a Lett whose brother works in
New York City,” said the giant. “Do you know how
much money he earns each day?”
“How much?” she questioned.
“Three rubles, and he calls the policemen by their
“You will earn five rubles, my Ivan,” she murmured.
“There is no one as strong as you.”
Once again they were herded into the bowels of a
big ship that steamed away through the fog banks of
the Mersey out into the Irish Sea. There were more
dreamers now, nine hundred of them, and Anna and
Ivan were more comfortable. And these new emigrants,
English, Irish, Scotch, French, and German,
knew much concerning America. Ivan was certain
that he would earn at least three rubles a day. He was
On the deck he defeated all comers in a tug of war,
and the captain of the ship came up to him and felt his
“The country that lets men like you get away
from it is run badly,” he said. “Why did you leave
The interpreter translated what the captain said,
and through the interpreter Ivan answered.
“I had a Dream,” he said, “a Dream of freedom.”
“Good,” cried the captain. “Why should a man
with muscles like yours have his face ground into the
The soul of Big Ivan grew during those days. He
felt himself a man, a man who was born upright to
speak his thoughts without fear.
The ship rolled into Queenstown one bright morning,
and Ivan and his nine hundred steerage companions
crowded the for’ard deck. A boy in a rowboat
threw a line to the deck, and after it had been fastened
to a stanchion he came up hand over hand. The
emigrants watched him curiously. An old woman
sitting in the boat pulled off her shoes, sat in a loop of
the rope, and lifted her hand as a signal to her son on
“Hey, fellers,” said the boy, “help me pull me
muvver up. She wants to sell a few dozen apples, an’
they won’t let her up the gangway!”
Big Ivan didn’t understand the words, but he
guessed what the boy wanted. He made one of a half
dozen who gripped the rope and started to pull the
ancient apple woman to the deck.
They had her halfway up the side when an undersized
third officer discovered what they were doing.
He called to a steward, and the steward sprang to
“Turn a hose on her!” cried the officer. “Turn a
hose on the old woman!”
The steward rushed for the hose. He ran with it
to the side of the ship with the intention of squirting
the old woman, who was swinging in midair and exhorting
the six men who were dragging her to the
“Pull!” she cried. “Sure, I’ll give every one of ye
a rosy red apple an’ me blessing with it.”
The steward aimed the muzzle of the hose, and Big
Ivan of the Bridge let go of the rope and sprang at him.
The fist of the great Russian went out like a battering
ram; it struck the steward between the eyes, and he
dropped upon the deck. He lay like one dead, the
muzzle of the hose wriggling from his limp hands.
The third officer and the interpreter rushed at Big
Ivan, who stood erect, his hands clenched.
“Ask the big swine why he did it,” roared the
“Because he is a coward!” cried Ivan. “They
wouldn’t do that in America!”
“What does the big brute know about America?”
cried the officer.
“Tell him I have dreamed of it,” shouted Ivan.
“Tell him it is in my Dream. Tell him I will kill him
if he turns the water upon this old woman.”
The apple seller was on deck then, and with the
wisdom of the Celt she understood. She put her lean
hand upon the great head of the Russian and blessed
him in Gaelic. Ivan bowed before her, then as she
offered him a rosy apple he led her toward Anna, a
great Viking leading a withered old woman who walked
with the grace of a duchess.
“Please don’t touch him,” she cried, turning to the
officer. “We have been waiting for your ship for six
hours, and we have only five dozen apples to sell. It’s
a great man he is. Sure he’s as big as Finn MacCool.”
Some one pulled the steward behind a ventilator
and revived him by squirting him with water from the
hose which he had tried to turn upon the old woman.
The third officer slipped quietly away.
The Atlantic was kind to the ship that carried Ivan
and Anna. Through sunny days they sat up on deck
and watched the horizon. They wanted to be among
those who would get the first glimpse of the wonderland.
They saw it on a morning with sunshine and soft
winds. Standing together in the bow, they looked at
the smear upon the horizon, and their eyes filled with
tears. They forgot the long road to Bobruisk, the
rocking journey to Libau, the mad buckjumping boat
in whose timbers the sea devils of the Baltic had bored
holes. Everything unpleasant was forgotten, because
the Dream filled them with a great happiness.
The inspectors at Ellis Island were interested in
Ivan. They walked around him and prodded his
muscles, and he smiled down upon them good-naturedly.
“A fine animal,” said one. “Gee, he’s a new white
hope! Ask him can he fight?”
An interpreter put the question, and Ivan nodded.
“I have fought,” he said.
“Gee!” cried the inspector. “Ask him was it for
purses or what?”
“For freedom,” answered Ivan. “For freedom to
stretch my legs and straighten my neck!”
Ivan and Anna left the Government ferryboat at the
Battery. They started to walk uptown, making for
the East Side, Ivan carrying the big trunk that no
other man could lift.
It was a wonderful morning. The city was bathed
in warm sunshine, and the well-dressed men and
women who crowded the sidewalks made the two
immigrants think that it was a festival day. Ivan and
Anna stared at each other in amazement. They had
never seen such dresses as those worn by the smiling
women who passed them by; they had never seen
such well-groomed men.
“It is a feast day for certain,” said Anna.
“They are dressed like princes and princesses,”
murmured Ivan. “There are no poor here, Anna.
Like two simple children, they walked along the
streets of the City of Wonder. What a contrast it was
to the gray, stupid towns where the Terror waited to
spring upon the cowed people. In Bobruisk, Minsk,
Vilna, and Libau the people were sullen and afraid.
They walked in dread, but in the City of Wonder
beside the glorious Hudson every person seemed happy
They lost their way, but they walked on, looking at
the wonderful shop windows, the roaring elevated
trains, and the huge skyscrapers. Hours afterward
they found themselves in Fifth Avenue near Thirty-third
Street, and there the miracle happened to the
two Russian immigrants. It was a big miracle inasmuch
as it proved the Dream a truth, a great truth.
Ivan and Anna attempted to cross the avenue, but
they became confused in the snarl of traffic. They
dodged backward and forward as the stream of automobiles
swept by them. Anna screamed, and, in response
to her scream, a traffic policeman, resplendent in a
new uniform, rushed to her side. He took the arm
of Anna and flung up a commanding hand. The
charging autos halted. For five blocks north and
south they jammed on the brakes when the unexpected
interruption occurred, and Big Ivan gasped.
“Don’t be flurried, little woman,” said the cop.
“Sure I can tame ’em by liftin’ me hand.”
Anna didn’t understand what he said, but she knew
it was something nice by the manner in which his Irish
eyes smiled down upon her. And in front of the waiting
automobiles he led her with the same care that he
would give to a duchess, while Ivan, carrying the big
trunk, followed them, wondering much. Ivan’s mind
went back to Bobruisk on the night the Terror was
The policeman led Anna to the sidewalk, patted
Ivan good-naturedly upon the shoulder, and then with
a sharp whistle unloosed the waiting stream of cars
that had been held up so that two Russian immigrants
could cross the avenue.
Big Ivan of the Bridge took the trunk from his head
and put it on the ground. He reached out his arms
and folded Anna in a great embrace. His eyes were
“The Dream is true!” he cried. “Did you see,
Anna? We are as good as they! This is the land where
a muzhik is as good as a prince of the blood!”
The President was nearing the close of his address.
Anna shook Ivan, and Ivan came out of the trance
which the President’s words had brought upon him.
He sat up and listened intently:
We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers.
They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the
red fire of a long winter’s evening. Some of us let those
great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them,
nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the
sunshine and light which comes always to those who
sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.
The President finished. For a moment he stood
looking down at the faces turned up to him, and Big
Ivan of the Bridge thought that the President smiled
at him. Ivan seized Anna’s hand and held it tight.
“He knew of my Dream!” he cried. “He knew of
it. Did you hear what he said about the dreams of a
“Of course he knew,” said Anna. “He is the wisest
man in America, where there are many wise men.
Ivan, you are a citizen now.”
“And you are a citizen, Anna.”
The band started to play “My Country, ’tis of
Thee,” and Ivan and Anna got to their feet. Standing
side by side, holding hands, they joined in with the
others who had found after long days of journeying
the blessed land where dreams come true.
—James Francis Dwyer.