SHORT STORIES OF THE
INTERPRETING THE AMERICA OF THIS AGE TO
HIGH SCHOOL BOYS AND GIRLS
SELECTED AND EDITED BY
MARY A. LASELLE
OF THE NEWTON, MASSACHUSETTS, HIGH SCHOOLS
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
The purpose of this book of short stories of modern
American life is twofold.
First, these narratives give an interpretation of
certain great forces and movements in the life of this
age. All the authors represented are especially qualified
to describe with force and feeling some phase of
Thinking people everywhere realize that it is not
enough to place before the pupils in the schools the
bare facts in regard to community and national life.
The heart must be warmed, the feelings must be stirred,
before the will can be aroused to noble action in any
President Wilson has urged school officers to increase
materially the time and attention devoted to instruction
bearing directly upon the problems of community
and national life. This was not a plea for the temporary
enlargement of the school programme, appropriate
merely to the period of the war, but a plea for the realization
in public education of the new emphasis which
the war has given to the ideals of democracy.
The first aim of this book, then, is to help to place
clearly before young people the ideals of America
through the medium of literature that will grip the
attention and quicken the will to action.
Second, librarians have stated that there are very
few compilations of modern short stories of interest
and significance with which to meet the needs of young
people who turn to the libraries for help in reading.
It is hoped that this book may be of real value in
the schools, by clothing the dry bones of civics with
significant and interesting material, and that it may
also supply a need of the libraries and the homes for
a book of live and valuable short stories.
|I.||A Little Kansas Leaven.—Canfield|
|V.||The Indian of the Reservation.—Coolidge|
|VI.||The Night Attack.—Pier|
|VII.||The Path of Glory.—Pulver|
|VIII.||Sergt. Warren Comes Back from France.—Ames|
SOMETHING ABOUT THE AUTHORS AND THE STORIES
Dorothy Canfield (Dorothea Frances Canfield
Fisher), the author of Home Fires in France from which
“A Little Kansas Leaven” was taken, is one of the
most convincing and brilliant writers of the times.
She always writes with a purpose, but as all of her
work is characterized by originality, clearness, and
the vital quality of human sympathy, there is not a
dull line in any of her fiction or her educational
Home Fires in France is a truthful record of Mrs.
Fisher’s impressions of life in tragic, devastated France
during the Great War. During much of this period
the author was working for the relief of those made
blind by war. The tremendous appeal to America
made by this book testifies to the sincerity and the
genius of the author.
Dorothy Canfield was born in Lawrence, Kansas, in
1879. She obtained degrees from Ohio State University
and from Columbia and studied and traveled
abroad extensively, becoming an accomplished linguist.
She is the author, under the name of Dorothy Canfield,
of some of the most brilliant fiction of the day,
The Squirrel-Cage, The Bent Twig, and other novels,
and under her married name, Dorothy Canfield Fisher,
of some valuable educational works, The Montessori
Mother, Mothers and Children, and other books of progressive
ideas in education. Mrs. Fisher is now in
France (1918) carrying on her work of mercy for the
French soldiers and their families.
Elsie Singmaster (Mrs. Harold Lewars) lives in
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and has written most entertaining
stories of that historic region and also of
the life of the descendants of the Dutch settlers of
Pennsylvania. Among her many stories are When
Sarah Saved the Day, The Christmas Angel, The Flag
of Eliphalet, and Stories of the Red Harvest and the Aftermath.
This author is a frequent contributor to magazines.
In The Survivors we watch the conflict in the
breast of stubborn old Adam Foust and rejoice with
tears in our eyes when in the time of his friend’s need,
love conquers, and Adam and Henry march arm-in-arm
down the village street. The story is told with
the realism and beauty that characterize all of this
author’s work, much of which describes the everyday
happenings of commonplace people with absolute
Albert Payson Terhune (1872- ) wrote his first
book in collaboration with his distinguished mother,
“Marion Harland,” a well-known name in American
homes. Mr. Terhune has written both novels and
short stories and is especially successful in the latter
form. Among his best stories are Caritas, Night of
the Dub, Quiet, and The Wildcat. In The Wildcat we
watch with deepest interest the actions of a Southern
mountaineer, who, torn from his backwoods home by
the draft, was forced to adopt habits and manners and
to submit to a discipline to which he was utterly foreign.
The mental gropings of this young American and the
manner in which he found his soul and his country
make a fascinating story.
James Francis Dwyer is an Australian by birth.
Mr. Dwyer has traveled extensively as a newspaper
correspondent in Australia, the South Seas, and South
Africa. He came to America in 1907. He is the author
of The White Waterfall, The Bust of Lincoln, The Spotted
Panther, Breath of the Jungle, and Land of the Pilgrim’s
In The Citizen we have a beautiful picture of the
vision of freedom that came to Big Ivan in downtrodden
Russia, and we see him and the gentle Anna as they
follow the beckoning finger of hope across Europe and
the broad ocean until, in the words of Ivan, they found
a home in a land “where a muzhik is as good as a prince
of the blood.”
Grace Coolidge is the wife of an Arapahoe Indian
and has spent many years upon the Indian Reservations.
She has told of her observations during these
years in a charming little volume called Teepee Neighbors.
We feel that the stories are true and they are
filled with the pathos of life in the Reservations.
Arthur Stanwood Pier is a distinguished writer of
stories for young people and since 1896 one of the
editors of The Youth’s Companion. Among Mr. Pier’s
books are The Boys of St. Timothy, The Jester of St.
Timothy, Grannis of the Fifth, Jerry, The Plattsburgers,
The Pedagogues, and The Women We Marry. In A
Night Attack we are given a vivid picture of the life
of the soldier in training and of the sympathetic relations
of officers and men.
Mary Brecht Pulver has in The Path of Glory
written one of the finest stories of the war. The manner
in which a poor and humble family of mountaineers
secured distinction and very real happiness, though it
was tinged with sadness, makes a story of gripping
interest and one that cannot fail to make every reader
kinder and more humane in his intercourse with those
less favored than himself.
Fisher Ames, Jr., is a well-known author of stories
for boys. Mr. Ames has been appointed the official
historian of the Red Cross Society and has gone to
Europe (1918) as a commissioned officer in the United
In Sergt. Warren Comes Back from France the author
makes us see very clearly the heroic figure of the blind
soldier, and we realize that under the spell of such a
personality the voters would unanimously decide to
spend their money in France and relinquish the idea
of making their town more beautiful. In the words
of one of the villagers, “Sergt. Warren can see straight
even if he is blind,” and the crowd will always respond
to such leadership.
Arthur Guy Empey is an American and a soldier
of the Great War, who after a life at the Front in which
he did all that a brave man can do for the cause of
humanity and survive, has written of some of his
adventures in Over the Top, one of the best-known
books of the war. In the chapter which we have called
“The Coward” he shows the splendid regeneration
of a despicable man.
The “hero” in this story is an Englishman, as Mr.
Empey fought in the British army before America
entered the war, but the phase of human nature portrayed
in “The Coward” must have been observable
in all the belligerent armies.
The cowardice of the few, however, was entirely
concealed and atoned for by the splendid bravery of
the many, and considerable numbers of men, who,
when drafted, might have been designated as cowards,
are leaving the army with a record of brave action in
times of great danger.
Frederick Orin Bartlett, the author of Chateau
Thierry, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in
1876 and was educated in the public schools of that
city, in a private school abroad, at Procter Academy,
Andover, New Hampshire, and at Harvard. He has
been connected with several Boston newspapers and
is a well-known writer of short stories.
In Chateau Thierry he has portrayed very clearly
a certain type of easy-going, prosperous American,—the
American who was aroused to the knowledge of
higher ideals and to the exigencies of a world at war
by the shock and the thrill that followed upon the
active participation of the American forces in the great
Thanks are due to the following authors and publishers
for permission to use the selections contained
in this book:
Henry Holt and Company and Mrs. Dorothy Canfield
(Fisher) for “A Little Kansas Leaven” from Home Fires in
France. (Copyright, 1918, by Henry Holt and Company.)
The Outlook Company and Elsie Singmaster Lewars for
“The Survivors.” (Copyright, 1915, by The Outlook Company;
copyright, 1916, by Elsie Singmaster Lewars.)
Mr. Albert Payson Terhune for “The Wild Cat.” (Copyright,
1918, by The Curtis Publishing Company.)
P. F. Collier and Son and James Francis Dwyer for “The
Citizen.” (Copyright, 1915, by P. F. Collier and Son; copyright,
1916, by James Francis Dwyer.)
The Four Seas Publishing Company and Grace Coolidge
for “The Indian of the Reservation.” (Copyright, 1917, by
The Four Seas Company.)
The Youth’s Companion and Arthur Stanwood Pier for
“A Night Attack.” (Copyright, 1918, by The Youth’s Companion.)
The Curtis Publishing Company and Mary Brecht Pulver
for “The Path of Glory.” (Copyright, 1917, by The Curtis
Publishing Company; copyright, 1918, by Mary Brecht
To The Youth’s Companion and Fisher Ames, Jr., for
“Sergt. Warren Comes Back from France.” (Copyright,
1918, by The Youth’s Companion.
G. P. Putnam’s Sons and Arthur Guy Empey for
“The Coward” from Over the Top. (Copyright, 1917, by
G. P. Putnam’s Sons.)
Mr. Frederick Orin Bartlett for “Chateau Thierry.”
(Copyright, 1918, by The Curtis Publishing Company.)
Grateful acknowledgment is made also to Miss Alice
M. Jordan of the Boston Public Library, and Miss
Gladys M. Bigelow of the Newton Technical High
School Library for suggestions and help.
SHORT STORIES OF THE NEW AMERICA
I—A LITTLE KANSAS LEAVEN
Between 1620 and 1630 Giles Boardman, an honest,
sober, well-to-do English master-builder found himself
hindered in the exercise of his religion. He prayed
a great deal and groaned a great deal more (which was
perhaps the Puritan equivalent of swearing), but in the
end he left his old home and his prosperous business and
took his wife and young children the long, difficult,
dangerous ocean voyage to the New World. There, to
the end of his homesick days, he fought a hand-to-hand
battle with wild nature to wring a living from the
soil. He died at fifty-four, an exhausted old man, but
his last words were, “Praise God that I was allowed
to escape out of the pit digged for me.”
His family and descendants, condemned irrevocably
to an obscure struggle for existence, did little more than
keep themselves alive for about a hundred and thirty
years, during which time Giles’ spirit slept.
In 1775 one of his great-great-grandsons, Elmer
Boardman by name, learned that the British soldiers
were coming to take by force a stock of gunpowder concealed
in a barn for the use of the barely beginning
American army. He went very white, but he kissed his
wife and little boy good-bye, took down from its pegs
his musket, and went out to join his neighbors in repelling
the well-disciplined English forces. He lost a
leg that day and clumped about on a wooden substitute
all his hard-working life; but, although he was never
anything more than a poor farmer, he always stood very
straight with a smile on his plain face whenever the
new flag of the new country was carried past him on
the Fourth of July. He died, and his spirit slept.
In 1854 one of his grandsons, Peter Boardman, had
managed to pull himself up from the family tradition of
hard-working poverty, and was a prosperous grocer in
Lawrence, Massachusetts. The struggle for the possession
of Kansas between the Slave States and the North
announced itself. It became known in Massachusetts
that sufficiently numerous settlements of Northerners
voting for a Free State would carry the day against
slavery in the new Territory. For about a month Peter
Boardman looked very sick and yellow, had repeated
violent attacks of indigestion, and lost more than fifteen
pounds. At the end of that time he sold out his grocery
(at the usual loss when a business is sold out) and took
his family by the slow, laborious caravan route out to
the little new, raw settlement on the banks of the Kaw,
which was called Lawrence for the city in the East
which so many of its inhabitants had left. Here he
recovered his health rapidly, and the look of distress left
his face; indeed, he had a singular expression of secret
happiness. He was caught by the Quantrell raid and
was one of those hiding in the cornfield when Quantrell’s
men rode in and cut them down like rabbits. He died
there of his wounds. And his spirit slept.
His granddaughter, Ellen, plain, rather sallow, very
serious, was a sort of office manager in the firm of
Walker and Pennypacker, the big wholesale hardware
merchants of Marshallton, Kansas. She had passed
through the public schools, had graduated from the
High School, and had planned to go to the State University;
but the death of the uncle who had brought
her up after the death of her parents made that plan
impossible. She learned as quickly as possible the
trade which would bring in the most money immediately,
became a good stenographer, though never a
rapid one, and at eighteen entered the employ of the
She was still there at twenty-seven, on the day in
August, 1914, when she opened the paper and saw that
Belgium had been invaded by the Germans. She read
with attention what was printed about the treaty
obligation involved, although she found it hard to
understand. At noon she stopped before the desk of
Mr. Pennypacker, the senior member of the firm, for
whom she had a great respect, and asked him if she
had made out correctly the import of the editorial.
“Had the Germans promised they wouldn’t ever go
into Belgium in war?”
“Looks that way,” said Mr. Pennypacker, nodding,
and searching for a lost paper. The moment after, he
had forgotten the question and the questioner.
Ellen had always rather regretted not having been
able to “go on with her education,” and this gave her
certain little habits of mind which differentiated her
somewhat from the other stenographers and typewriters
in the office with her, and from her cousin, with whom
she shared the small bedroom in Mrs. Wilson’s boarding-house.
For instance, she looked up words in the dictionary
when she did not understand them, and she
had kept all her old schoolbooks on the shelf of the
boarding-house bedroom. Finding that she had only
a dim recollection of where Belgium was, she took
down her old geography and located it. This was in
the wait for lunch, which meal was always late at Mrs.
Wilson’s. The relation between the size of the little
country and the bulk of Germany made an impression
on her. “My! it looks as though they could just make
one mouthful of it,” she remarked. “It’s awfully little.”
“Who?” asked Maggie. “What?”
“Belgium and Germany.”
Maggie was blank for a moment. Then she remembered.
“Oh, the war. Yes, I know. Mr. Wentworth’s
fine sermon was about it yesterday. War is the
wickedest thing in the world. Anything is better than
to go killing each other. They ought to settle it by
arbitration. Mr. Wentworth said so.”
“They oughtn’t to have done it if they’d promised
not to,” said Ellen. The bell rang for the belated lunch
and she went down to the dining-room even more
serious than was her habit.
She read the paper very closely for the next few days,
and one morning surprised Maggie by the loudness of
her exclamation as she glanced at the headlines.
“What’s the matter?” asked her cousin. “Have they
found the man who killed that old woman?” She herself
was deeply interested in a murder case in Chicago.
Ellen did not hear her. “Well, thank goodness!”
she exclaimed. “England is going to help France and
Maggie looked over her shoulder disapprovingly.
“Oh, I think it’s awful! Another country going to war!
England a Christian nation, too! I don’t see how
Christians can go to war. And I don’t see what call
the Belgians had, anyhow, to fight Germany. They
might have known they couldn’t stand up against such
a big country. All the Germans wanted to do was just
to walk along the roads. They wouldn’t have done
any harm. Mr. Schnitzler was explaining it to me
down at the office.
“They’d promised they wouldn’t,” repeated Ellen.
“And the Belgians had promised everybody that they
wouldn’t let anybody go across their land to pick on
France that way. They kept their promise and the
Germans didn’t. It makes me mad! I wish to goodness
our country would help them!”
Maggie was horrified. “Ellen Boardman, would you
want Americans to commit murder? You’d better go
to church with me next Sunday and hear Mr. Wentworth
preach one of his fine sermons.”
Ellen did this, and heard a sermon on passive resistance
as the best answer to violence. She was accustomed
to accepting without question any statement she
found in a printed book, or what any speaker said in
any lecture. Also her mind, having been uniquely devoted
for many years to the problems of office administration,
moved with more readiness among letter-files
and card-catalogues of customers than among the abstract
ideas where now, rather to her dismay, she began
to find her thoughts centering. More than a week
passed after hearing that sermon before she said, one
night as she was brushing her hair: “About the Belgians—if
a robber wanted us to let him go through
this room so he could get into Mrs. Wilson’s room and
take all her money and maybe kill her, would you feel
all right just to snuggle down in bed and let him? Especially
if you had told Mrs. Wilson that she needn’t
ever lock the door that leads into our room, because
you’d see to it that nobody came through?”
“Oh, but,” said Maggie, “Mr. Wentworth says it is
only the German Government that wanted to invade
Belgium, that the German soldiers just hated to do
it. If you could fight the German Kaiser, it’d be all
Ellen jumped at this admission. “Oh, Mr. Wentworth
does think there are some cases where it isn’t
enough just to stand by, and say you don’t like it?”
Maggie ignored this. “He says the people who really
get killed are only the poor soldiers that aren’t to
Ellen stood for a moment by the gas, her hair up in
curl-papers, the light full on her plain, serious face, sallow
above the crude white of her straight, unornamented
nightgown. She said, and to her own surprise
her voice shook as she spoke: “Well, suppose the real
robber stayed down in the street and only sent up here
to rob and kill Mrs. Wilson some men who just hated
to do it, but were too afraid of him not to. Would you
think it was all right for us to open our door and let
them go through without trying to stop them?”
Maggie did not follow this reasoning, but she received
a disagreeable, rather daunting impression from
the eyes which looked at her so hard, from the stern,
quivering voice. She flounced back on her pillow, saying
impatiently: “I don’t know what’s got into you,
Ellen Boardman. You look actually queer, these days!
What do you care so much about the Belgians for? You
never heard of them before all this began! And everybody
knows how immoral French people are.”
Ellen turned out the gas and got into bed silently.
Maggie felt uncomfortable and aggrieved. The next
time she saw Mr. Wentworth she repeated the conversation
to him. She hoped and expected that the young
minister would immediately furnish her with a crushing
argument to lay Ellen low, but instead he was silent for
a moment, and then said: “That’s rather an interesting
illustration, about the burglars going through your
room. Where does she get such ideas?”
Maggie disavowed with some heat any knowledge of
the source of her cousin’s eccentricities. “I don’t know
where! She’s a stenographer downtown.”
Mr. Wentworth looked thoughtful and walked away,
evidently having forgotten Maggie.
In the days which followed, the office-manager of the
wholesale hardware house more and more justified the
accusation of looking “queer.” It came to be so noticeable
that one day her employer, Mr. Pennypacker, asked
her if she didn’t feel well. “You’ve been looking sort
of under the weather,” he said.
She answered, “I’m just sick because the United
States won’t do anything to help Belgium and
Mr. Pennypacker had never received a more violent
shock of pure astonishment. “Great Scotland!” he
ejaculated, “what’s that to you?”
“Well, I live in the United States,” she advanced, as
though it were an argument.
Mr. Pennypacker looked at her hard. It was the
same plain, serious, rather sallow face he had seen for
years bent over his typewriter and his letter-files. But
the eyes were different—anxious, troubled.
“It makes me sick,” she repeated, “to see a great big
nation picking on a little one that was only keeping its
Her employer cast about for a conceivable reason for
the aberration. “Any of your folks come here from
there?” he ventured.
“Gracious, no!” cried Ellen, almost as much shocked
as Maggie would have been at the idea that there might
be “foreigners” in her family. She added: “But you
don’t have to be related to a little boy, do you, to get
mad at a man that’s beating him up, especially if the
boy hasn’t done anything he oughtn’t to?”
Mr. Pennypacker stared. “I don’t know that I ever
looked at it that way.” He added: “I’ve been so taken
up with that lost shipment of nails, to tell the truth, that
I haven’t read much about the war. There’s always
some sort of a war going on over there in Europe, seems
to me.” He stared for a moment into space, and came
back with a jerk to the letter he was dictating.
That evening, over the supper-table, he repeated to
his wife what his stenographer had said. His wife
asked, “That little sallow Miss Boardman that never
has a word to say for herself?” and upon being told
that it was the same, said wonderingly, “Well, what
ever started her up, I wonder?” After a time she said:
“Is Germany so much bigger than Belgium as all that?
Pete, go get your geography.” She and her husband
and their High School son gazed at the map. “It looks
that way,” said the father. “Gee! They must have
had their nerve with them! Gimme the paper.” He
read with care the war-news and the editorial which
he had skipped in the morning, and as he read he looked
very grave, and rather cross. When he laid the paper
down he said, impatiently: “Oh, damn the war! Damn
Europe, anyhow!” His wife took the paper out of his
hand and read in her turn the news of the advance into
Just before they fell asleep his wife remarked out of
the darkness, “Mr. Scheidemann, down at the grocery,
said to-day the war was because the other nations were
jealous of Germany.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said Mr. Pennypacker heavily,
“that I’d have any call to take an ax to a man because
I thought he was jealous of me.”
“That’s so,” admitted his wife.
During that autumn Ellen read the papers, and from
time to time broke her silence and unburdened her mind
to the people in the boarding-house. They considered
her unbalanced on the subject. The young reporter on
the Marshallton Herald liked to lead her on to “get her
going,” as he said—but the others dodged whenever the
war was mentioned and looked apprehensively in her
The law of association of ideas works, naturally
enough, in Marshallton, Kansas, quite as much at its
ease as in any psychological laboratory. In fact Marshallton
was a psychological laboratory with Ellen
Boardman, an undefined element of transmutation.
Without knowing why, scarcely realizing that the little
drab figure had crossed his field of vision, Mr. Pennypacker
found the war recurring to his thoughts every
time he saw her. He did not at all enjoy this, and each
time that it happened he thrust the disagreeable subject
out of his mind with impatience. The constant recurrence
of the necessity for this effort brought upon his
usually alert, good-humored face an occasional clouded
expression like that which darkened his stenographer’s
eyes. When Ellen came into the dining-room of the
boarding-house, even though she did not say a word,
every one there was aware of an unpleasant interruption
to the habitual, pleasant current of their thoughts directed
upon their own affairs. In self-defense some of
the women took to knitting polo-caps for Belgian children.
With those in their hands they could listen, with
more reassuring certainty that she was “queer,” to Miss
Boardman’s comments on what she read in the newspaper.
Every time Mr. Wentworth, preaching one of
his excellent, civic-minded sermons on caring for the
babies of the poor, or organizing a playground for the
children of the factory workers, or extending the work
of the Ladies’ Guild to neighborhood visits, caught
sight of that plain, very serious face looking up at him
searchingly, expectantly, he wondered if he had been
right in announcing that he would not speak on the
war because it would certainly cause dissension among
One day, in the middle of winter, he found Miss
Boardman waiting for him in the church vestibule after
every one else had gone. She said, with her usual directness:
“Mr. Wentworth, do you think the French
ought to have just let the Germans walk right in and
take Paris? Would you let them walk right in and take
The minister was a young man, with a good deal of
natural heat in his composition, and he found himself
answering this bald question with a simplicity as bald:
“No, I wouldn’t.”
“Well, if they did right, why don’t we help them?”
Ellen’s homely, monosyllabic words had a ring of despairing
Mr. Wentworth dodged them hastily. “We are helping
them. The charitable effort of the United States
in the war is something astounding. The statistics show
that we have helped....” He was going on to repeat
some statistics of American war-relief just then current,
when Mr. Scheidemann, the prosperous German grocer,
a most influential member of the First Congregational
Church, came back into the vestibule to look for his
umbrella, which he had forgotten after the service. By
a reflex action beyond his control, the minister stopped
talking about the war. He and Miss Boardman had,
for just long enough so that he realized it, the appearance
of people “caught” discussing something they
ought not to mention. The instant after, when Ellen
had turned away, he felt the liveliest astonishment and
annoyance at having done this. He feared that Miss
Boardman might have the preposterous notion that he
was afraid to talk about the war before a German. This
idea nettled him intolerably. Just before he fell asleep
that night he had a most disagreeable moment, half
awake, half asleep, when he himself entertained the preposterous
idea which he had attributed to Miss Boardman.
It woke him up, broad awake, and very much
vexed. The little wound he had inflicted on his own
vanity smarted. Thereafter at any mention of the war
he straightened his back to a conscious stiffness, and
raised his voice if a German were within hearing. And
every time he saw that plain, dull face of the stenographer,
On the 8th of May, 1915, when Ellen went down to
breakfast, the boarding-house dining-room was excited.
Ellen heard the sinking of the Lusitania read out aloud
by the young reporter. To every one’s surprise, she
added nothing to the exclamations of horror with which
the others greeted the news. She looked very white
and left the room without touching her breakfast. She
went directly down to the office and when Mr. Pennypacker
came in at nine o’clock she asked him for a
leave of absence, “maybe three months, maybe more,”
depending on how long her money held out. She explained
that she had in the savings-bank five hundred
dollars, the entire savings of a lifetime, which she intended
to use now.
It was the first time in eleven years that she had ever
asked for more than her regular yearly fortnight, but
Mr. Pennypacker was not surprised. “You’ve been
looking awfully run-down lately. It’ll do you good to
get a real rest. But it won’t cost you all that! Where
are you going? To Battle Creek?”
“I’m not going to rest,” said Miss Boardman, in a
queer voice. “I’m going to work, in France.”
The first among the clashing and violent ideas which
this announcement aroused in Mr. Pennypacker’s mind
was the instant certainty that she could not have seen
the morning paper. “Great Scotland—not much you’re
not! This is no time to be taking ocean trips. The submarines
have just got one of the big ocean ships, hundreds
of women and children drowned.”
“I heard about that,” she said, looking at him very
earnestly, with a dumb emotion struggling in her eyes.
“That’s why I’m going.”
Something about the look in her eyes silenced the
business man for a moment. He thought uneasily that
she had certainly gone a little dippy over the war. Then
he drew a long breath and started in confidently to dissuade
At ten o’clock, informed that if she went she need not
expect to come back, she went out to the savings-bank,
drew out her five hundred dollars, went down to the
station and bought a ticket to Washington, one of Mr.
Pennypacker’s arguments having been the great difficulty
of getting a passport.
Then she went back to the boarding-house and began
to pack two-thirds of her things into her trunk, and put
the other third into her satchel, all she intended to take
At noon Maggie came back from her work, found
her thus, and burst into shocked and horrified tears.
At two o’clock Maggie went to find the young reporter,
and, her eyes swollen, her face between anger and alarm,
she begged him to come and “talk to Ellen. She’s gone
off her head.”
The reporter asked what form her mania took.
“She’s going to France to work for the French and
Belgians as long as her money holds out ... all the
money she’s saved in all her life!”
The first among the clashing ideas which this awakened
in the reporter’s mind was the most heartfelt and
gorgeous amusement. The idea of that dumb, backwoods,
pie-faced stenographer carrying her valuable
services to the war in Europe seemed to him the richest
thing that had happened in years! He burst into laughter.
“Yes, sure I’ll come and talk to her,” he agreed.
He found her lifting a tray into her trunk. “See here,
Miss Boardman,” he remarked reasonably, “do you
know what you need? You need a sense of humor!
You take things too much in dead earnest. The sense
of humor keeps you from doing ridiculous things, don’t
you know it does?”
Ellen faced him, seriously considering this. “Do you
think all ridiculous things are bad?” she asked him, not
as an argument, but as a genuine question.
He evaded this and went on. “Just look at yourself
now ... just look at what you’re planning to do. Here
is the biggest war in the history of the world; all the
great nations involved; millions and millions of dollars
being poured out; the United States sending hundreds
and thousands of packages and hospital supplies
by the million; and nurses and doctors and Lord
knows how many trained people ... and, look!
who comes here?—a stenographer from Walker and
Pennypacker’s, in Marshallton, Kansas, setting out to
Ellen looked long at this picture of herself, and
while she considered it the young man looked long at
her. As he looked, he stopped laughing. She said
finally, very simply, in a declarative sentence devoid
of any but its obvious meaning, “No, I can’t see that
that is so very funny.”
At six o’clock that evening she was boarding the
train for Washington, her cousin Maggie weeping by
her side, Mrs. Wilson herself escorting her, very much
excited by the momentousness of the event taking
place under her roof, her satchel carried by none other
than the young reporter, who, oddly enough, was not
laughing at all. He bought her a box of chocolates
and a magazine, and shook hands with her vigorously
as the train started to pull out of the station. He heard
himself saying, “Say, Miss Boardman, if you see anything
for me to do over there, you might let me know,”
and found that he must run to get himself off the train
before it carried him away from Marshallton altogether.
A fortnight from that day (passports were not so difficult
to get in those distant days when war-relief work
was the eccentricity of only an occasional individual)
she was lying in her second-class cabin, as the steamer
rolled in the Atlantic swells beyond Sandy Hook.
She was horribly seasick, but her plans were all quite
clear. Of course she belonged to the Young Women’s
Christian Association in Marshallton, so she knew all
about it. At Washington she had found shelter at the
Y. W. C. A. quarters. In New York she had done the
same thing, and when she arrived in Paris (if she ever
did) she could of course go there to stay. Her roommate,
a very sophisticated, much-traveled art student,
was immensely amused by the artlessness of this plan.
“I’ve got the dernier cri in greenhorns in my cabin,”
she told her group on deck. “She’s expecting to find
a Y. W. C. A. in Paris!”
But the wisdom of the simple was justified once
more. There was a Y. W. C. A. in Paris, run by an
energetic, well-informed American spinster. Ellen
crawled into the rather hard bed in the very small
room (the cheapest offered her) and slept twelve hours
at a stretch, utterly worn out with the devastating
excitement of her first travels in a foreign land. Then
she rose up, comparatively refreshed, and with her
foolish, ignorant simplicity inquired where in Paris
her services could be of use. The energetic woman
managing the Y. W. C. A. looked at her very dubiously.
“Well, there might be something for you over on
the rue Pharaon, number 27. I hear there’s a bunch
of society dames trying to get up a vestiaire for refugees,
As Ellen noted down the address she said warningly,
her eyes running over Ellen’s worn blue serge suit:
“They don’t pay anything. It’s work for volunteers,
Ellen was astonished that any one should think of
getting pay for work done in France. “Oh, gracious,
no!” she said, turning away.
The directress of the Y. W. C. A. murmured to herself:
“Well, you certainly never can tell by looks!”
At the rue Pharaon, number 27, Ellen was motioned
across a stony gray courtyard littered with wooden
packing-cases, into an immense, draughty dark room,
that looked as though it might have been originally
the coach and harness-room of a big stable. This also
was strewed and heaped with packing-cases in indescribable
confusion, some opened and disgorging
innumerable garments of all colors and materials, others
still tightly nailed up. A couple of elderly workmen
in blouses were opening one of these. Before others
knelt or stood distracted-looking, elegantly dressed
women, their arms full of parti-colored bundles, their
eyes full of confusion. In one corner, on a bench,
sat a row of wretchedly poor women and white-faced,
silent children, the latter shod more miserably than
the poorest negro child in Marshallton. Against a
packing-case near the entrance leaned a beautifully
dressed, handsome, middle-aged woman, a hammer
in one hand. Before her at ease stood a pretty girl,
the fineness of whose tightly drawn silk stockings,
the perfection of whose gleaming coiffure, the exquisite
hang and fit of whose silken dress filled Ellen Boardman
with awe. In an instant her own stout cotton hose
hung wrinkled about her ankles, she felt on her neck
every stringy wisp of her badly dressed hair, the dip
of her skirt at the back was a physical discomfort.
The older woman was speaking. Ellen could not help
overhearing. She said forcibly: “No, Miss Parton,
you will not come in contact with a single heroic poilu
here. We have nothing to offer you but hard, uninteresting
work for the benefit of ungrateful, uninteresting
refugee women, many of whom will try to cheat
and get double their share. You will not lay your
hand on a single fevered masculine brow....” She
broke off, made an effort for self-control and went on
with a resolutely reasonable air: “You’d better go
out to the hospital at Neuilly. You can wear a uniform
there from the first day, and be in contact with the men.
I wouldn’t have bothered you to come here, except
that you wrote from Detroit that you would be willing
to do anything, scrub floors or wash dishes.”
The other received all this with the indestructible
good humor of a girl who knows herself very pretty and
as well dressed as any one in the world. “I know I
did, Mrs. Putnam,” she said, amused at her own absurdity.
“But now I’m here I’d be too disappointed
to go back if I hadn’t been working for the soldiers.
All the girls expect me to have stories about the work,
you know. And I can’t stay very long, only four
months, because my coming-out party is in October.
I guess I will go to Neuilly. They take you for three
months there, you know.” She smiled pleasantly,
turned with athletic grace and picked her way among
the packing-cases back to the door.
Ellen advanced in her turn.
“Well?” said the middle-aged woman, rather grimly.
Her intelligent eyes took in relentlessly every detail of
Ellen’s costume and Ellen felt them at their work.
“I came to see if I couldn’t help,” said Ellen.
“Don’t you want direct contact with the wounded
soldiers?” asked the older woman ironically.
“No,” said Ellen with her habitual simplicity. “I
wouldn’t know how to do anything for them. I’m not a
“You don’t suppose that’s any obstacle!” ejaculated
the other woman.
“But I never had anything to do with sick people,”
said Ellen. “I’m the office-manager of a big hardware
firm in Kansas.”
Mrs. Putnam gasped like a drowning person coming
to the surface. “You are!” she cried. “You don’t
happen to know shorthand, do you?”
“Gracious! of course I know shorthand!” said
Ellen, her astonishment proving her competence.
Mrs. Putnam laid down her hammer and drew another
long breath. “How much time can you give us?”
she asked. “Two afternoons a week? Three?”
“Oh, my!” said Ellen, “I can give you all my time,
from eight in the morning till six at night. That’s
what I came for.”
Mrs. Putnam looked at her a moment as though to
assure herself that she was not dreaming, and then,
seizing her by the arm, she propelled her rapidly towards
the back of the room, and through a small door into
a dingy little room with two desks in it. Among the
heaped-up papers on one of these a blond young woman
with inky fingers sought wildly something which she
did not find. She said without looking up: “Oh, Aunt
Maria, I’ve just discovered that that shipment of
clothes from Louisville got acknowledged to the people
in Seattle! And I can’t find that letter from the woman
in Indianapolis who offered to send children’s shirts
from her husband’s factory. You said you laid it
on your desk, last night, but I cannot find it. And
do you remember what you wrote Mrs. Worthington?
Did you say anything about the shoes?”
Ellen heard this but dimly, her gaze fixed on the
confusion of the desks which made her physically
dizzy to contemplate. Never had she dreamed that
papers, sacred records of fact, could be so maltreated.
In a reflex response to the last question of the lovely,
distressed young lady she said: “Why don’t you
look at the carbon copy of the letter to Mrs.
“Copy!” cried the young lady, aghast. “Why, we
don’t begin to have time to write the letters once, let
alone copy them!”
Ellen gazed horrified into an abyss of ignorance
which went beyond her utmost imaginings. She said
feebly, “If you kept your letters in a letter-file, you
wouldn’t ever lose them.”
“There,” said Mrs. Putnam, in the tone of one
unexpectedly upheld in a rather bizarre opinion, “I’ve
been saying all the time we ought to have a letter-file.
But do you suppose you could buy one in Paris?”
She spoke dubiously from the point of view of one who
had bought nothing but gloves and laces and old prints
Ellen answered with the certainty of one who had
found the Y. W. C. A. in Paris: “I’m sure you can.
Why, they could not do business a minute without
Mrs. Putnam sank into a chair with a sigh of bewilderment
and fatigue, and showed herself to be as
truly a superior person as she looked by making the
following speech to the newcomer: “The truth is,
“Boardman,” supplied Ellen.
“Miss Boardman, the fact is that we are trying to do
something which is beyond us, something we ought
never to have undertaken. But we didn’t know we
were undertaking it, you see. And now that it is
begun, it must not fail. All the wonderful American
good-will which has materialized in that room full of
packing-cases must not be wasted, must get to the
people who need it so direly. It began this way. We
had no notion that we would have so great an affair
to direct. My niece and I were living here when the
war broke out. Of course we gave all our own clothes
we could spare and all the money we could for the
refugees. Then we wrote home to our American friends.
One of my letters was published by chance in a New
York paper and copied in a number of others. Everybody
who happened to know my name”—(Ellen
heard afterwards that she was of the holy of holies
of New England families)—“began sending me money
and boxes of clothing. It all arrived so suddenly, so
unexpectedly. We had to rent this place to put the
things in. The refugees came in swarms. We found
ourselves overwhelmed. It is impossible to find an
English-speaking stenographer who is not already
more than overworked. The only help we get is from
volunteers, a good many of them American society
girls like that one you....” she paused to invent a
sufficiently savage characterization and hesitated to
pronounce it. “Well, most of them are not quite so
absurd as that. But none of them know any more
than we do about keeping accounts, letters....”
Ellen broke in: “How do you keep your accounts,
anyhow? Bound ledger, or the loose-leaf system?”
They stared. “I have been careful to set down
everything I could remember in a little note-book,”
said Mrs. Putnam.
Ellen looked about for a chair and sat down on it
hastily. When she could speak again, after a moment
of silent collecting of her forces she said: “Well, I
guess the first thing to do is to get a letter-file. I don’t
know any French, so I probably couldn’t get it. If
one of you could go....”
The pretty young lady sprang for her hat. “I’ll
go! I’ll go, Auntie.”
“And,” continued Ellen, “you can’t do anything till
you keep copies of your letters and you can’t make
copies unless you have a typewriter. Don’t you suppose
you could rent one?”
“I’ll rent one before I come back,” said Eleanor, who
evidently lacked neither energy nor good-will. She
said to Mrs. Putnam: “I’m going, instead of you, so
that you can superintend opening those boxes. They
are making a most horrible mess of it, I know.”
“Before a single one is opened, you ought to take
down the name and address of the sender, and then
note the contents,” said Ellen, speaking with authority.
“A card-catalogue would be a good system for keeping
that record, I should think, with dates of the arrival of
the cases. And why couldn’t you keep track of your
refugees that way, too? A card for each family, with
a record on it of the number in the family and of everything
given. You could refer to it in a moment, and
carry it out to the room where the refugees are received.”
They gazed at her plain, sallow countenance in rapt
“Eleanor,” said Mrs. Putnam, “bring back cards for
a card-catalogue, hundreds of cards, thousands of
cards.” She addressed Ellen with a respect which did
honor to her native intelligence. “Miss Boardman,
wouldn’t you better take off your hat? Couldn’t you
work more at your ease? You could hang your things
here.” With one sweep of her white, well-cared-for
hand she snatched her own Parisian habiliments from
the hanger and hook, and installed there the Marshallton
wraps of Ellen Boardman. She set her down in
front of the desk; she put in her hands the ridiculous
little Russia leather-covered note-book of the “accounts”;
she opened drawer after drawer crammed with
letters; and with a happy sigh she went out to the room
of the packing-cases, closing the door gently behind
her, that she might not disturb the high-priestess of
business-management who already bent over those
abominably misused records, her eyes gleaming with
the sacred fire of system.
There is practically nothing more to record about the
four months spent by Ellen Boardman as far as her
work at the vestiaire was concerned. Every day she
arrived at number 27 rue Pharaon at eight o’clock and
put in a good hour of quiet work before any of the
more or less irregular volunteer ladies appeared. She
worked there till noon, returned to the Y. W. C. A.,
lunched, was in the office again by one o’clock, had
another hour of forceful concentration before any
of the cosmopolitan great ladies finished their lengthy
déjeuners, and she stayed there until six in the evening,
when every one else had gone. She realized that her
effort must be not only to create a rational system of
records and accounts and correspondence which she herself
could manage, but a fool-proof one which could be
left in the hands of the elegant ladies who would remain
in Paris after she had returned to Kansas.
And yet, not so fool-proof as she had thought at first.
She was agreeably surprised to find both Mrs. Putnam
and her pretty niece perfectly capable of understanding
a system once it was invented, set in working order, and
explained to them. She came to understand that what,
on her first encounter with them, she had naturally
enough taken for congenital imbecility, was merely the
result of an ignorance and an inexperience which remained
to the end astounding to her. Their good-will
was as great as their native capacity. Eleanor set herself
resolutely, if very awkwardly, to learn the use of
the typewriter. Mrs. Putnam even developed the greatest
interest in the ingenious methods of corraling and
marshaling information and facts which were second
nature to the business-woman. “I never saw anything
more fascinating!” she cried the day when Ellen explained
to her the workings of a system for cross-indexing
the card-catalogues of refugees already aided.
“How do you think of such things?”
Ellen did not explain that she generally thought of
them in the two or three extra hours of work she put in
every day, while Mrs. Putnam ate elaborate food.
It soon became apparent that there had been much
“repeating” among the refugees. The number possible
to clothe grew rapidly, far beyond what the “office
force” could manage to investigate. Ellen set her face
against miscellaneous giving without knowledge of conditions.
She devised a system of visiting inspectors
which kept track of all the families in their rapidly growing
list. She even made out a sort of time-card for the
visiting ladies which enabled the office to keep some
track of what they did, and yet did not ruffle their
leisure-class dignity ... and this was really an
achievement. She suggested, made out, and had printed
an orderly report of what they had done, what money
had come in, how it had been spent, what clothes had
been given and how distributed, the number of people
aided, the most pressing needs. This she had put in
every letter sent to America. The result was enough
to justify Mrs. Putnam’s naïve astonishment and admiration
of her brilliant idea. Packing-cases and checks
flowed in by every American steamer.
Ellen’s various accounting systems and card-catalogues
responded with elastic ease to the increased volume
of facts, as she of course expected them to; but
Mrs. Putnam could never be done marveling at the cool
certainty with which all this immense increase was
handled. She had a shudder as she thought of what
would have happened if Miss Boardman had not
dropped down from heaven upon them. Dining out,
of an evening, she spent much time expatiating on the
astonishing virtues of one of her volunteers.
Ellen conceived a considerable regard for Mrs. Putnam,
but she did not talk of her in dining out, because
she never dined anywhere. She left the “office” at six
o’clock and proceeded to a nearby bakery where she
bought four sizable rolls. An apple cart supplied a
couple of apples, and even her ignorance of French was
not too great an obstacle to the purchase of some cakes
of sweet chocolate. With these decently hidden in a
small black hand-bag, she proceeded to the waiting-room
of the Gare de l’Est where, like any traveler waiting
for his train she ate her frugal meal; ate as much of
it, that is, as a painful tightness in her throat would
let her. For the Gare de l’Est was where the majority
of French soldiers took their trains to go back to the
front after their occasional week’s furlough with their
No words of mine can convey any impression of what
she saw there. No one who has not seen the Gare de
l’Est night after night can ever imagine the sum of
stifled human sorrow which filled it thickly, like a
dreadful incense of pain going up before some cruel
god. It was there that the mothers, the wives, the
sweethearts, the sisters, the children brought their
priceless all and once more laid it on the altar. It was
there that those horrible silent farewells were said, the
more unendurable because they were repeated and repeated
till human nature reeled under the burden laid
on it by the will. The great court outside, the noisy
echoing waiting-room, the inner platform which was the
uttermost limit for those accompanying the soldiers returning
to hell,—they were not only always filled with
living hearts broken on the wheel, but they were
thronged with ghosts, ghosts of those whose farewell
kiss had really been the last, with ghosts of those who
had watched the dear face out of sight and who were
never to see it again. Those last straining, wordless embraces,
those last, hot, silent kisses, the last touch of the
little child’s hand on the father’s cheek which it was
never to touch again ... the nightmare place reeked
The stenographer from Kansas had found it as simply
as she had done everything else. “Which station
do the families go to, to say good-bye to their soldiers?”
she had asked, explaining apologetically that she
thought maybe if she went there too she could help
sometimes; there might be a heavy baby to carry, or
somebody who had lost his ticket, or somebody who
hadn’t any lunch for the train.
After the first evening spent there, she had shivered
and wept all night in her bed; but she had gone back the
next evening, with the money she saved by eating bread
and apples for her dinner; for of course the sweet
chocolate was for the soldiers. She sat there, armed
with nothing but her immense ignorance, her immense
sympathy. On that second evening she summoned
enough courage to give some chocolate to an elderly
shabby soldier, taking the train sadly, quite alone; and
again to a white-faced young lad accompanied by his
bent, poorly dressed grandmother. What happened in
both those cases sent her back to the Y. W. C. A. to
make up laboriously from her little pocket French dictionary
and to learn by heart this sentence: “I am sorry
that I cannot understand French. I am an American.”
Thereafter the surprised and extremely articulate Gallic
gratitude which greeted her timid overtures, did not
leave her so helplessly swamped in confusion. She
stammered out her little phrase with a shy, embarrassed
smile and withdrew as soon as possible from the
hearty handshake which was nearly always the substitute
offered for the unintelligible thanks. How many
such handshakes she had! Sometimes as she watched
her right hand, tapping on the typewriter, she thought:
“Those hands which it has touched, they may be dead
now. They were heroes’ hands.” She looked at her
own with awe, because it had touched them.
Once her little phrase brought out an unexpected response
from a rough-looking man who sat beside her
on the bench waiting for his train, his eyes fixed gloomily
on his great soldier’s shoes. She offered him, shamefacedly,
a little sewing-kit which she herself had manufactured,
a pad of writing-paper and some envelopes.
He started, came out of his bitter brooding, looked at
her astonished, and, as they all did without exception,
read in her plain, earnest face what she was. He
touched his battered trench helmet in a sketched salute
and thanked her. She answered as usual that she was
sorry she could not understand French, being an American.
To her amazement he answered in fluent English,
with an unmistakable New York twang: “Oh, you are,
are you? Well, so’m I. Brought up there from the time
I was a kid. But all my folks are French and my wife’s
French and I couldn’t give the old country the go-by
when trouble came.”
In the conversation which followed Ellen learned that
his wife was expecting their first child in a few weeks
... “that’s why she didn’t come to see me off. She
said it would just about kill her to watch me getting on
the train.... Maybe you think it’s easy to leave
her all alone ... the poor kid!” The tears rose
frankly to his eyes. He blew his nose.
“Maybe I could do something for her,” suggested
Ellen, her heart beating fast at the idea.
“Gee! Yes! If you’d go to see her! She talks a
little English!” he cried. He gave her the name and address,
and when that poilu went back to the front it was
Ellen Boardman from Marshallton, Kansas, who walked
with him to the gate, who shook hands with him, who
waved him a last salute as he boarded his train.
The next night she did not go to the station. She
went to see the wife. The night after that she was sewing
on a baby’s wrapper as she sat in the Gare de l’Est,
turning her eyes away in shame from the intolerable
sorrow of those with families, watching for those occasional
solitary or very poor ones whom alone she ventured
to approach with her timidly proffered tokens of
At the Y. W. C. A. opinions varied about her. She was
patently to every eye respectable to her last drop of pale
blood. And yet was it quite respectable to go offering
chocolate and writing-paper to soldiers you’d never seen
before? Everybody knew what soldiers were! Some
one finally decided smartly that her hat was a sufficient
protection. It is true that her hat was not becoming,
but I do not think it was what saved her from misunderstanding.
She did not always go to the Gare de l’Est every
evening now. Sometimes she spent them in the little
dormer-windowed room where the wife of the New York
poilu waited for her baby. Several evenings she spent
chasing elusive information from the American Ambulance
Corps as to exactly the conditions in which a
young man without money could come to drive an
ambulance in France ... the young man without
money being of course the reporter on the Marshallton
It chanced to be on one of the evenings when she
was with the young wife that the need came. She
sat on the stairs outside till nearly morning. When
it was quiet, she took the little new citizen of the
Republic in her arms, tears of mingled thanksgiving
and dreadful fear raining down her face, because another
man-child had been born into the world. Would
he grow up only to say farewell at the Gare de l’Est?
Oh, she was not sorry that she had come to France to
help in that war. She understood now, she understood.
It was Ellen who wrote to the father the letter announcing
the birth of a child which gave him the right
to another precious short furlough. It was Ellen who
went down to the Gare de l’Est, this time to the joyful
wait on the muddy street outside the side door from
which the returning permissionnaires issued forth,
caked with mud to their eyes. It was Ellen who had
never before “been kissed by a man” who was caught
in a pair of dingy, horizon-blue arms and soundly
saluted on each sallow cheek by the exultant father.
It was Ellen who was made as much of a godmother
as her Protestant affiliations permitted ... and oh,
it was Ellen who made the fourth at the end of the
furlough when (the first time the new mother had left
her room) they went back to the Gare de l’Est. At
the last it was Ellen who held the sleeping baby when
the husband took his wife in that long, bitter embrace;
it was Ellen who was not surprised or hurt that he
turned away without a word to her ... she understood
that ... it was Ellen whose arm was around
the trembling young wife as they stood, their faces
pressed against the barrier to see him for the last time;
it was Ellen who went back with her to the silent
desolation of the little room, who put the baby into
the slackly hanging arms, and watched, her eyes burning
with unshed tears, those arms close about the little
new inheritor of humanity’s woes....
Four months from the time she landed in Paris her
money was almost gone and she was quitting the city
with barely enough in her pocket to take her back to
Marshallton. As simply as she had come to Paris, she
now went home. She belonged to Marshallton. It
was a very good thing for Marshallton that she did.
She gave fifty dollars to the mother of baby Jacques
(that was why she had so very little left) and she promised
to send her ten dollars every month as soon as she
herself should be again a wage-earner. Mrs. Putnam
and her niece, inconsolable at her loss, went down to
the Gare du Quai d’Orsay to see her off, looking more
in keeping with the elegant travelers starting for the
Midi, than Ellen did. Her place, after all, had been
at the Gare de l’Est. As they shook hands warmly
with her, they gave her a beautiful bouquet, the evident
cost of which stabbed her to the heart. What
she could have done with that money!
“You have simply transformed the vestiaire, Miss
Boardman,” said Mrs. Putnam with generous but by
no means exaggerating ardor. “It would certainly
have sunk under the waves if you hadn’t come to the
rescue. I wish you could have stayed, but thanks to
your teaching we’ll be able to manage anything now.”
After the train had moved off, Mrs. Putnam said to
her niece in a shocked voice: “Third class! That long
trip to Bordeaux! She’ll die of fatigue. You don’t
suppose she is going back because she didn’t have money
enough to stay! Why, I would have paid anything to
keep her.” The belated nature of this reflection shows
that Ellen’s teachings had never gone more than skin
deep and that there was still something lacking in Mrs.
Putnam’s grasp on the realities of contemporary life.
Ellen was again too horribly seasick to suffer much
apprehension about submarines. This time she had as
cabin-mate in the unventilated second-class cabin the
“companion” of a great lady traveling of course in a
suite in first-class. This great personage, when informed
by her satellites’ nimble and malicious tongues
of Ellen’s personality and recent errand in France,
remarked with authority to the group of people about
her at dinner, embarking upon the game which was
the seventh course of the meal: “I disapprove wholly
of these foolish American volunteers ... ignorant,
awkward, provincial boors, for the most part, knowing
nothing of all the exquisite old traditions of France,
who thrust themselves forward. They make America
Luckily, Ellen, pecking feebly at the chilly, boiled
potato brought her by an impatient stewardess, could
not know this characterization.
She arrived in Marshallton, and was astonished to
find herself a personage. Her departure had made
her much more a figure in the town life than she had
ever been when she was still walking its streets. The
day after her departure the young reporter had written
her up in the Herald in a lengthy paragraph, and not a
humorous one either. The Sunday which she passed
on the ocean after she left New York, Mr. Wentworth
in one of his prayers implored the Divine blessing on
“one of our number who has left home and safety to
fulfil a high moral obligation and who even now is
risking death in the pursuance of her duty as she conceives
it.” Every one knew that he meant Ellen Boardman,
about whom they had all read in the Herald.
Mr. Pennypacker took, then and there, a decision which
inexplicably lightened his heart. Being a good businessman,
he did not keep it to himself, but allowed it to
leak out the next time the reporter from the Herald
dropped around for chance items of news. The reporter
made the most of it, and Marshallton, already
spending much of its time in discussing Ellen, read
that “Mr. John S. Pennypacker, in view of the high
humanitarian principles animating Miss Boardman in
quitting his employ, has decided not to fill her position
but to keep it open for her on her return from her
errand of mercy to those in foreign parts stricken by
the awful war now devastating Europe.”
Then Ellen’s letters began to arrive, mostly to
Maggie, who read them aloud to the deeply interested
boarding-house circle. The members of this, basking
in reflected importance, repeated their contents to
every one who would listen. In addition the young
reporter published extracts from them in the Herald,
editing them artfully, choosing the rare plums of
anecdote or description in Ellen’s arid epistolary style.
When her letter to him came, he was plunged into
despair because she had learned that he would have
to pay part of his expenses if he drove an ambulance
on the French front. By that time his sense of humor
was in such total eclipse that he saw nothing ridiculous
in the fact that he could not breathe freely another
hour in the easy good-cheer of his care-free life. He
revolved one scheme after another for getting money;
and in the meantime let no week go by without giving
some news from their “heroic fellow-townswoman in
France.” Highland Springs, the traditional rival and
enemy of Marshallton, felt outraged by the tone of
proprietorship with which Marshallton people bragged
of their delegate in France.
So it happened that when Ellen, fearfully tired, fearfully
dusty after the long ride in the day-coach, and
fearfully shabby in exactly the same clothes she had
worn away, stepped wearily off the train at the well-remembered
little wooden station, she found not only
Maggie, to whom she had telegraphed from New York,
but a large group of other people advancing upon her
with outstretched hands, crowding around her with
more respectful consideration than she had ever
dreamed of seeing addressed to her obscure person.
She was too tired, too deeply moved to find herself at
home again, too confused, to recognize them all.
Indeed a number of them knew her only by her fame
since her departure. Ellen made out Maggie, who
embraced her, weeping as loudly as when she had
gone away; she saw Mrs. Wilson who kissed her very
hard and said she was proud to know her; she saw with
astonishment that Mr. Pennypacker himself had left
business in office hours! He shook her hand with
energy and said: “Well, Miss Boardman, very glad to
see you safe back. We’ll be expecting you back at the
old stand just as soon as you’ve rested up from the
trip.” The intention of the poilu who had taken her
in his arms and kissed her, had not been more cordial.
Ellen knew this and was touched to tears.
There was the reporter from the Herald, too, she saw
him dimly through the mist before her eyes, as he carried
the satchel, the same he had carried five months
before with the same things in it. And as they put
her in the “hack” (she had never ridden in the hack
before) there was Mr. Wentworth, the young minister,
who leaned through the window and said earnestly:
“I am counting on you to speak to our people in the
church parlors. You must tell us about things over
Well, she did speak to them! She was not the same
person, you see, she had been before she had spent
those evenings in the Gare de l’Est. She wanted them
to know about what she had seen, and because there
was no one else to tell them, she rose up in her shabby
suit and told them herself. The first thing that came
into her mind as she stood before them, her heart
suffocating her, her knees shaking under her, was the
strangeness of seeing so many able-bodied men not in
uniform, and so many women not in mourning. She
told them this as a beginning and got their startled
attention at once, the men vaguely uneasy, the women
divining with frightened sympathy what it meant to see
all women in black.
Then she went on to tell them about the work for
the refugees ... not for nothing had she made out
the card-catalogue accounts of those life-histories.
“There was one old woman we helped ... she looked
some like Mrs. Wilson’s mother. She had lost three
sons and two sons-in-law in the war. Both of her
daughters, widows, had been sent off into Germany
to do forced labor. One of them had been a music-teacher
and the other a dressmaker. She had three
of the grandchildren with her. Two of them had disappeared
... just lost somewhere. She didn’t have
a cent left, the Germans had taken everything. She
was sixty-seven years old and she was earning the
children’s living by doing scrubwoman’s work in a
slaughter-house. She had been a school-teacher when
she was young.
“There were five little children in one family. The
mother was sort of out of her mind, though the doctors
said maybe she would get over it. They had been under
shell-fire for five days, and she had seen three members
of her family die there. After that they wandered
around in the woods for ten days, living on grass and
roots. The youngest child died then. The oldest girl
was only ten years old, but she took care of them all
somehow and used to get up nights when her mother got
crazy thinking the shells were falling again.”
Ellen spoke badly, awkwardly, haltingly. She told
nothing which they might not have read, perhaps had
read in some American magazine. But it was a different
matter to hear such stories from the lips of Ellen
Boardman, born and brought up among them. Ellen
Boardman had seen those people, and through her eyes
Marshallton looked aghast and for the first time believed
that what it saw was real, that such things were happening
to real men and women like themselves.
When she began to tell them about the Gare de l’Est
she began helplessly to cry, but she would not stop for
that. She smeared away the tears with her handkerchief
wadded into a ball, she was obliged to stop frequently
to blow her nose and catch her breath, but she
had so much to say that she struggled on, saying it in a
shaking, uncertain voice, quite out of her control.
Standing there before those well-fed, well-meaning,
prosperous, safe countrymen of hers, it all rose before
her with burning vividness, and burningly she strove to
set it before them. It had all been said far better than
she said it, eloquently described in many highly paid
newspaper articles, but it had never before been said
so that Marshallton understood it. Ellen Boardman,
graceless, stammering, inarticulate, yet spoke to them
with the tongues of men and angels because she spoke
their own language. In the very real, very literal and
wholly miraculous sense of the words, she brought the
When she sat down no one applauded. The women
were pale. Some of them had been crying. The men’s
faces were set and inexpressive. Mr. Wentworth stood
up and cleared his throat. He said that a young citizen
of their town (he named him, the young reporter) desired
greatly to go to the French front as an ambulance
driver, but being obliged to earn his living, he could not
go unless helped out on his expenses. Miss Boardman
had been able to get exact information about that.
Four hundred dollars would keep him at the front for
a year. He proposed that a contribution should be taken
up to that end.
He himself went among them, gathering the contributions
which were given in silence. While he counted
them afterwards, the young reporter, waiting with an
anxious face, swallowed repeatedly and crossed and uncrossed
his legs a great many times. Before he had finished
counting the minister stopped, reached over and
gave the other young man a handclasp. “I envy you,”
He turned to the audience and announced that he had
counted almost enough for their purpose when he had
come upon a note from Mr. Pennypacker saying that
he would make up any deficit. Hence they could consider
the matter settled. “Very soon, therefore, our
town will again be represented on the French front.”
The audience stirred, drew a long breath, and broke
Whatever the rest of the Union might decide to do,
Marshallton, Kansas, had come into the war.
A Memorial Day Story
In the year 1868, when Memorial Day was instituted,
Fosterville had thirty-five men in its parade. Fosterville
was a border town; in it enthusiasm had run high,
and many more men had enlisted than those required by
the draft. All the men were on the same side but Adam
Foust, who, slipping away, joined himself to the troops
of his mother’s Southern State. It could not have been
any great trial for Adam to fight against most of his
companions in Fosterville, for there was only one of
them with whom he did not quarrel. That one was his
cousin Henry, from whom he was inseparable, and of
whose friendship for any other boys he was intensely
jealous. Henry was a frank, open-hearted lad who
would have lived on good terms with the whole world
if Adam had allowed him to.
Adam did not return to Fosterville until the morning
of the first Memorial Day, of whose establishment he
was unaware. He had been ill for months, and it was
only now that he had earned enough to make his way
home. He was slightly lame, and he had lost two fingers
of his left hand. He got down from the train at the
station, and found himself at once in a great crowd. He
knew no one, and no one seemed to know him. Without
asking any questions, he started up the street. He
meant to go, first of all, to the house of his cousin Henry,
and then to set about making arrangements to resume
his long-interrupted business, that of a saddler, which
he could still follow in spite of his injury.
As he hurried along he heard the sound of band music,
and realized that some sort of a procession was advancing.
With the throng about him he pressed to the curb.
The tune was one which he hated; the colors he hated
also; the marchers, all but one, he had never liked.
There was Newton Towne, with a sergeant’s stripe on
his blue sleeve; there was Edward Green, a captain;
there was Peter Allinson, a color-bearer. At their head,
taller, handsomer, dearer than ever to Adam’s jealous
eyes, walked Henry Foust. In an instant of forgetfulness
Adam waved his hand. But Henry did not see;
Adam chose to think that he saw and would not answer.
The veterans passed, and Adam drew back and was
lost in the crowd.
But Adam had a parade of his own. In the evening,
when the music and the speeches were over and the
half-dozen graves of those of Fosterville’s young men
who had been brought home had been heaped with flowers,
and Fosterville sat on doorsteps and porches talking
about the day, Adam put on a gray uniform and walked
from one end of the village to the other. These were
people who had known him always; the word flew from
step to step. Many persons spoke to him, some
laughed, and a few jeered. To no one did Adam pay
any heed. Past the house of Newton Towne, past the
store of Ed Green, past the wide lawn of Henry Foust,
walked Adam, his hands clasped behind his back, as
though to make more perpendicular than perpendicularity
itself that stiff backbone. Henry Foust ran
down the steps and out to the gate.
“Oh, Adam!” cried he.
Adam stopped, stock-still. He could see Peter Allinson
and Newton Towne, and even Ed Green, on Henry’s
porch. They were all having ice-cream and cake together.
“Well, what?” said he, roughly.
“Won’t you shake hands with me?”
“No,” said Adam.
“Won’t you come in?”
Still Henry persisted.
“Some one might do you harm, Adam.”
“Let them!” said Adam.
Then Adam walked on alone. Adam walked alone
for forty years.
Not only on Memorial Day did he don his gray uniform
and make the rounds of the village. When the
Fosterville Grand Army Post met on Friday evenings
in the post room, Adam managed to meet most of the
members either going or returning. He and his gray
suit became gradually so familiar to the village that no
one turned his head or glanced up from book or paper
to see him go by. He had from time to time a new suit,
and he ordered from somewhere in the South a succession
of gray, broad-brimmed military hats. The farther
the war sank into the past, the straighter grew old
Adam’s back, the prouder his head. Sometimes, early
in the forty years, the acquaintances of his childhood,
especially the women, remonstrated with him.
“The war’s over, Adam,” they would say. “Can’t
you forget it?”
“Those G. A. R. fellows don’t forget it,” Adam would
answer. “They haven’t changed their principles. Why
should I change mine?”
“But you might make up with Henry.”
“That’s nobody’s business but my own.”
“But when you were children you were never separated.
Make up, Adam.”
“When Henry needs me, I’ll help him,” said Adam.
“Henry will never need you. Look at all he’s got!”
“Well, then, I don’t need him,” declared Adam, as he
walked away. He went back to his saddler shop, where
he sat all day stitching. He had ample time to think of
Henry and the past.
“Brought up like twins!” he would say. “Sharing
like brothers! Now he has a fine business and a fine
house and fine children, and I have nothing. But I
have my principles. I ain’t never truckled to him.
Some day he’ll need me, you’ll see!”
As Adam grew older, it became more and more certain
that Henry would never need him for anything. Henry
tried again and again to make friends, but Adam would
have none of him. He talked more and more to himself
as he sat at his work.
“Used to help him over the brook and bait his
hook for him. Even built corn-cob houses for him to
knock down, that much littler he was than me. Stepped
out of the race when I found he wanted Annie. He
might ask me for something!” Adam seemed often to be
By the year 1875 fifteen of Fosterville’s thirty-five
veterans had died. The men who survived the war were,
for the most part, not strong men, and weaknesses established
in prisons and on long marches asserted themselves.
Fifteen times the Fosterville Post paraded to
the cemetery and read its committal service and fired its
salute. For these parades Adam did not put on his gray
During the next twenty years deaths were fewer.
Fosterville prospered as never before; it built factories
and an electric car line. Of all its enterprises Henry
Foust was at the head. He enlarged his house and
bought farms and grew handsomer as he grew older.
Everybody loved him; all Fosterville, except Adam,
sought his company. It seemed sometimes as though
Adam would almost die from loneliness and jealousy.
“Henry Foust sittin’ with Ed Green!” said Adam to
himself, as though he could never accustom his eyes to
this phenomenon. “Henry consortin’ with Newt
The Grand Army Post also grew in importance. It
paraded each year with more ceremony; it imported fine
music and great speakers for Memorial Day.
Presently the sad procession to the cemetery began
once more. There was a long, cold winter, with many
cases of pneumonia, and three veterans succumbed;
there was an intensely hot summer, and twice in one
month the post read its committal service and fired its
salute. A few years more, and the post numbered but
three. Past them still on post evenings walked Adam,
head in air, hands clasped behind his back. There was
Edward Green, round, fat, who puffed and panted;
there was Newton Towne, who walked, in spite of palsy,
as though he had won the battle of Gettysburg; there
was, last of all, Henry Foust, who at seventy-five was
hale and strong. Usually a tall son walked beside him,
or a grandchild clung to his hand. He was almost never
alone; it was as though every one who knew him tried
to have as much as possible of his company. Past him
with a grave nod walked Adam. Adam was two years
older than Henry; it required more and more stretching
of arms behind his back to keep his shoulders
In April Newton Towne was taken ill and died. Edward
Green was terrified, though he considered himself,
in spite of his shortness of breath, a strong man.
“Don’t let anything happen to you, Henry,” he would
say. “Don’t let anything get you, Henry. I can’t
“I’ll be there,” Henry would reassure him. Only
one look at Henry, and the most alarmed would have
“It would kill me to march alone,” said Edward
As if Fosterville realized that it could not continue
long to show its devotion to its veterans, it made this
year special preparations for Memorial Day. The Fosterville
Band practiced elaborate music, the children
were drilled in marching. The children were to precede
the veterans to the cemetery and were to scatter flowers
over the graves. Houses were gayly decorated, flags
and banners floating in the pleasant spring breeze.
Early in the morning carriages and wagons began to
bring in the country folk.
Adam Foust realized as well as Fosterville that the
parades of veterans were drawing to their close.
“This may be the last time I can show my principles,”
said he, with grim setting of his lips. “I will
put on my gray coat early in the morning.”
Though the two veterans were to march to the
cemetery, carriages were provided to bring them home.
Fosterville meant to be as careful as possible of its
“I don’t need any carriage to ride in, like Ed Green,”
said Adam proudly. “I could march out and back.
Perhaps Ed Green will have to ride out as well as
But Edward Green neither rode nor walked. The
day turned suddenly warm, the heat and excitement
accelerated his already rapid breathing, and the doctor
forbade his setting foot to the ground.
“But I will!” cried Edward, in whom the spirit of
war still lived.
“No,” said the doctor.
“Then I will ride.”
“You will stay in bed,” said the doctor.
So without Edward Green the parade was formed.
Before the court-house waited the band, and the long
line of school-children, and the burgess, and the fire
company, and the distinguished stranger who was to
make the address, until Henry Foust appeared, in his
blue suit, with his flag on his breast and his bouquet in
his hand. On each side of him walked a tall, middle-aged
son, who seemed to hand him over reluctantly
to the marshal, who was to escort him to his place.
Smilingly he spoke to the marshal, but he was the
only one who smiled or spoke. For an instant men
and women broke off in the middle of their sentences, a
husky something in their throats; children looked up
at him with awe. Even his own grandchildren did
not dare to wave or call from their places in the ranks.
Then the storm of cheers broke.
Round the next corner Adam Foust waited. He
was clad in his gray uniform—those who looked at
him closely saw with astonishment that it was a new
uniform; his brows met in a frown, his gray moustache
seemed to bristle.
“How he hates them!” said one citizen of Fosterville
to another. “Just look at poor Adam!”
“Used to bait his hook for him,” Adam was saying.
“Used to carry him pick-a-back! Used to go halves
with him on everything. Now he walks with Ed
Adam pressed forward to the curb. The band was
playing “Marching Through Georgia,” which he
hated; everybody was cheering. The volume of sound
“Cheering Ed Green!” said Adam. “Fat! Lazy!
Didn’t have a wound. Dare say he hid behind a tree!
The band was in sight now, the back of the drum-major
appeared, then all the musicians swung round
the corner. After them came the little children with
their flowers and their shining faces.
“Him and Ed Green next,” said old Adam.
But Henry walked alone. Adam’s whole body
jerked in his astonishment. He heard some one say
that Edward Green was sick, that the doctor had
forbidden him to march, or even to ride. As he pressed
nearer the curb he heard the admiring comments of
“Isn’t he magnificent!”
“See his beautiful flowers! His grandchildren always
send him his flowers.”
“He’s our first citizen.”
“He’s mine!” Adam wanted to cry out. “He’s
Never had Adam felt so miserable, so jealous, so
heartsick. His eyes were filled with the great figure.
Henry was, in truth, magnificent, not only in himself,
but in what he represented. He seemed symbolic of a
great era of the past, and at the same time of a new
age which was advancing. Old Adam understood all
“He’s mine!” said old Adam again, foolishly.
Then Adam leaned forward with startled, staring
eyes. Henry had bowed and smiled in answer to the
cheers. Across the street his own house was a mass
of color—red, white, and blue over windows and doors,
gay dresses on the porch. On each side the pavement
was crowded with a shouting multitude. Surely no
hero had ever had a more glorious passage through
the streets of his birthplace!
But old Adam saw that Henry’s face blanched, that
there appeared suddenly upon it an expression of intolerable
pain. For an instant Henry’s step faltered
and grew uncertain.
Then old Adam began to behave like a wild man.
He pushed himself through the crowd, he flung himself
upon the rope as though to tear it down, he called out,
“Wait! wait!” Frightened women, fearful of some
sinister purpose, tried to grasp and hold him. No
man was immediately at hand, or Adam would have
been seized and taken away. As for the feeble women—Adam
shook them off and laughed at them.
“Let me go, you geese!” said he.
A mounted marshal saw him and rode down upon
him; men started from under the ropes to pursue him.
But Adam eluded them or outdistanced them. He
strode across an open space with a surety which gave
no hint of the terrible beating of his heart, until he
reached the side of Henry. Him he greeted, breathlessly
and with terrible eagerness.
“Henry,” said he, gasping, “Henry, do you want
me to walk along?”
Henry saw the alarmed crowds, he saw the marshal’s
hand stretched to seize Adam, he saw most clearly of
all the tearful eyes under the beetling brows. Henry’s
voice shook, but he made himself clear.
“It’s all right,” said he to the marshal. “Let him
“I saw you were alone,” said Adam. “I said, ‘Henry
needs me.’ I know what it is to be alone. I——”
But Adam did not finish his sentence. He found a
hand on his, a blue arm linked tightly in his gray arm,
he felt himself moved along amid thunderous roars of
“Of course I need you!” said Henry. “I’ve needed
you all along.”
Then, old but young, their lives almost ended, but
themselves immortal, united, to be divided no more,
amid an ever-thickening sound of cheers, the two
marched down the street.
When Cassius Wyble came down from his mountains
to the 2OOO-population metropolis of Clayburg
on his half-yearly trip for supplies he thought the old
custom of Muster Day had been revived.
No fewer than eleven men in khaki were lounging
round the station platform or sitting on the steps of
the North America general store. Enlistment posters,
too, flared from windows and walls.
These posters—except for their pretty pictures—meant
nothing at all to Cash Wyble. For, as with his
parents and grandparents, his knowledge of the written
or printed word was purely a matter of hearsay.
Yet the sight of the eleven men in newfangled uniform—so
like in color to his own butternut homespuns—interested
“What’s all the boys doin’—togged up thataway?”
he demanded of the North America’s proprietor.
“Waitin’ for the band?”
“Waiting to be shipped to Camp Lee,” answered the
local merchant prince; adding, as Cash’s burnt-leather
face grew blanker: “Camp Lee, down in V’ginia, you
know. Training camp for the war.”
“War?” queried Cash, preparing to grin, at prospect
of a joke. “What war?”
“What war?” echoed the dumfounded storekeeper.
“Why, the war, of course! Where in blazes have you
been keeping yourself?”
“I been up home, where I b’long,” said Cash sulkily.
“What with the hawgs, an’ crops an’ skins an’ sich, a
busy man’s got no time traipsin’ off to the city every
minute. Twice a year does me pretty nice. An’ now
s’pose you tell me what war you’re blattin’ about.”
The storekeeper told him. He told him in the simplest
possible language. Yet half—and more than
half—of the explanation went miles above the listening
mountaineer’s head. Cash gathered, however, that
the United States was fighting Germany.
Germany he knew by repute for a country or a
town on the far side of the world. Some of its citizens
had even invaded his West Virginia mountains, where
their odd diction and porcelain pipes roused much
derision among the cultured hillfolk.
“Germany?” mused Cash when the narrative was
ended. “We’re to war with Germany, hey? Sakes,
but I wisht I’d knowed that yesterday! A couple of
Germans went right past my shack. I could ’a’ shot
’em as easy as toad pie.”
The North America’s proprietor valued Cash Wyble’s
sparse trade, as he valued that of other mountaineers
who made Clayburg their semiannual port of call.
If on Cash’s report these rustics should begin a guerilla
warfare upon their German neighbors, more of them
would presently be lodged in jail than the North America
could well afford to spare from its meager customer
Wherefore the proprietor did some more explaining.
Knowing the mountaineer brain, he made no effort
to point out the difference between armed Germans
and noncombatants. He merely said that the Government
had threatened to lock up any West Virginian
who should kill a German—this side of Europe. It
was a new law, he continued, and one that the revenue
officers were bent on enforcing.
Cash sighed and reluctantly bade farewell to an
alluring dream that had begun to shape itself in his
simple brain—a dream of “laying out” in cliff-top
brush, waiting with true elephant patience until a
German neighbor should stroll, unsuspecting, along
the trail below and should move slowly within range
of the antique Wyble rifle.
It was a sweet fantasy, and hard to banish. For
Cash certainly could shoot. There was scarce a man
in the Cumberlands or the Appalachians who could
outshoot him. Shooting and a native knack at moon-shining
were Cash’s only real accomplishments.
Whether stalking a shy old stag or potting a revenue
officer on the sky line, the man’s aim was uncannily
true. In a region of born marksmen his skill stood
He felt not the remotest hatred for any of these
local Germans. In an impersonal way he rather liked
one or two of them. Yet, if the law had really been
The zest of the man hunt tingled pleasantly in the
marksman’s blood. And he resented this unfair new
revenue ruling, which permitted and even encouraged
larger than Clayburg—which he knew to be the biggest
metropolis in America—Cash set out to nail the lie
by a personal inspection of Petersburg. He neglected
to apply for leave, so was held up by the first sentinel
Cash explained very politely his reason for quitting
camp. But the pig-headed sentinel still refused to let
him pass. Two minutes later a fast-summoned corporal
and two men were using all their strength to pry
Wyble loose from the luckless sentry. And again the
guardhouse had Cash as a transient and blasphemous
He was learning much more of kitchen-police work
than of guard mount. At the latter task he was a
failure. The first night he was assigned to beat pacing,
the relief found him restfully snoring, on his back, his
rifle stuck up in front of him by means of its bayonet
thrust into the ground. Cash had seen no good reason
why he should walk to and fro for hours when there
was nothing exciting to watch for and when he had
been awake since early morning. Therefore he had
gone to sleep. And his subsequent guardhouse stay
filled him with uncomprehending fury.
The salute, too, struck him as the height of absurdity—as
a bit of tomfoolery in which he would have no
part. Not that he was exclusive, but what was the
use of touching one’s forelock to some officer one had
never before met? He was willing to nod pleasantly
and even to say “Howdy, Cap?” when his company
captain passed by him for the first time in the morning.
But he saw no use in repeating that or any other form
of salutation when the same captain chanced to meet
him a bare fifteen minutes later.
Cash Wyble’s case was not in any way unique among
Camp Lee’s thirty thousand new soldiers. Hundreds
of mountaineers were in still worse mental plight.
And the tact as well as the skill of their officers
was strained well-nigh to the breaking point in
shaping the amorphous backwoods rabble into trim
Not all members of the mountain draft were so
fiercely resentful as was Cash. But many others of
them were like unbroken colts. The strange frequency
of washing and of shaving, and the wearing of underclothes
were their chief puzzles.
The company captain labored with Cash again and
again, pointing out the need of neat cleanliness, of
promptitude, of vigilance; trying to make him understand
that a salute is not a sign of servility; seeking to
imbue him with the spirit of patriotism and of discipline.
But to Cash the whole thing was infinitely worse and
more bewildering than had been the six months he had
once spent in Clayburg jail for mayhem.
Three things alone mitigated his misery at Camp Lee:
The first was the shooting; the second was his monthly
pay—which represented more real money than he ever
had had in his pocket at any one time; the third was
the food—amazing in its abundance and luxurious
variety, to the always-hungry mountaineer.
But presently the target shooting palled. As soon as
he had mastered carefully the intricacies of the queer
new rifle they gave him, the hours at the range were
no more inspiring to him than would be, to Paderewski,
the eternal playing of the scale of C with one finger.
To Cash the target shooting was child’s play. Once
he grasped the rules as to sights and elevations and
became used to the feel of the army rifle, the rest was
He could outshoot practically every man at Camp
Lee. This gave him no pride. He made himself popular
with men who complimented him on it by assuring
them modestly that he outshot them not because he
was such a dead shot but because they shot so badly.
The headiest colt in time will learn the lesson of the
breaking pen. And Cash Wyble gradually became a
soldier. At least he learned the drill and the regulations
and how to keep out of the guardhouse—except just
after pay day; and his lank figure took on a certain
military spruceness. But under the surface he was still
Cash Wyble. He behaved, because there was no incentive
at the camp that made disobedience worth
Then after an endless winter came the journey to the
seaboard and the embarkation for France; and the
awesome sight of a tossing gray ocean a hundred times
wider and rougher than Clayburg River in freshet time.
Followed a week of agonized terror, mingled with an
acute longing to die. Then ensued a week of calm
water, during which one might refill the oft-emptied
A few days later Cash was bumping along a newly
repaired French railway in a car whose announced capacity
was forty men or eight horses. And thence to
billet in a half-wrecked village, where his regiment was
drilled and redrilled in the things they had toiled so
hard at Camp Lee to master, and in much that was
novel to the men.
Cash next came to a halt in a network of trenches
overlooking a stretch of country that had been tortured
into hideousness—a region that looked like a Doré
nightmare. It was a waste of hillocks and gullies and
shell holes and blasted big trees and frayed copses and
split bowlders and seared vegetation. When Cash
heard it was called No Man’s Land he was not surprised.
He well understood why no man—not even an ignorant
foreigner—cared to buy such a tract.
He was far more interested in hearing that a tangle of
trenches, somewhat like his regiment’s own, lay three
miles northeastward, at the limit of No Man’s Land, and
that those trenches were infested with Germans.
Germans were the people Cash Wyble had come all
the way to France to kill. And once more the thrill of
the man hunt swept pleasantly through his blood. He
had no desire to risk prison. So he had made very
certain by repeated inquiry that this particular section
of France was in Europe; and that no part of it was
within the boundaries or the jurisdiction of the sovereign
state of West Virginia. Here, therefore, the law
was off on Germans, and he could not get into the
slightest trouble with the hated revenue officers by
shooting as many of the foe as he could go out and find.
Cash enjoyed the picture he conjured up—a picture of
a whole bevy of Germans seated at ease in a trench,
smoking porcelain pipes and conversing with one another
in comically broken English; of himself stealing
toward them, and from the shelter of one of those
hillock bowlders opening a mortal fire on the unsuspecting
It was a quaint thought, and one that Cash loved to
Also it had an advantage that most of Cash’s vivid
mind pictures had not. For, in part, it came true.
The Germans, on the thither side of No Man’s Land,
seemed bent on jarring the repose and wrenching the
nerve of their lately arrived Yankee neighbors. Not
only were those veteran official entertainers, Minnie
and Bertha, and their equally vocal artillery sisters
called into service for the purpose, but a dense swarm
of snipers were also impressed into the task.
Now this especial reach of No Man’s Land was a veritable
snipers’ paradise. There was cover—plenty of
it—everywhere. A hundred sharpshooters of any scouting
prowess at all could deploy at will amid the tumble
of bowlders and knolls and twisted tree trunks and
battered foliage and craters.
The long spell of wet weather had precluded the
burning away of undergrowth. There were tree tops
and hill summits whence a splendid shot could be
taken at unwary Americans in the lower front-line
trenches and along the rising ground at the rear of the
Yankee lines. Yes, it was a stretch of ground laid out
for the joy of snipers. And the German sharpshooters
took due advantage of this bit of luck. The whine of a
high-power bullet was certain to follow the momentary
exposure of any portion of khaki anatomy above or
behind the parapets. And in disgustingly many instances
the bullet did not whine in vain. All of which
kept the newcomers from getting any excess joy out
of trench life.
To mitigate the annoyance there was a call for volunteer
sharpshooters to scout cautiously through No
Man’s Land and seek to render the boche sniping a less
safe and exhilarating sport than thus far it had been.
The job was full of peril, of course. For there was a
more than even chance of the Yankee snipers’ being
sniped by the rival sharpshooters, who were better acquainted
with the ground.
Yet at the first call there was a clamorous throng of
volunteers. Many of these volunteers admitted under
pressure that they knew nothing of scout work and that
they had not so much as qualified in marksmanship.
But they craved a chance at the boche. And grouchily
did they resent the swift weeding-out process that left
their services uncalled for.
Cash Wyble was the first man accepted for the dangerous
detail. And for the first time since the draft
had caught him his burnt-leather face expanded into
a grin that could not have been wider unless his flaring
ears had been set back.
With two days’ rations and a goodly store of cartridges
he fared forth that night into No Man’s Land.
Dawn was not yet fully gray when the first crack of his
rifle was wafted back to the trenches.
Then the artillery firing, which was part of the day’s
work, set in. And its racket drowned the noise of any
shooting that Cash might be at.
Forty-eight hours passed. At dawn of the third day
Cash came back to camp. He was tired and horribly
thirsty; but his lantern-jawed visage was one unmarred
mask of bliss.
“Twelve,” he reported tersely to his captain. “At
least,” he continued in greater detail, “twelve that I’m
dead sure of. Nice big ones, too, some of ’em.”
“Nice big ones!” repeated the captain in admiring
disgust. “You talk as if you’d been after wild turkeys!”
“A heap better’n wild-turkey shootin’!” grinned
Cash. “An’ I got twelve that I’m sure of. There was
one, though, I couldn’t get. A he-one, at that. He’s
sure some German, that feller! He’s as crafty as they
make ’em. I couldn’t ever come up to him or get a line
on him. I’ll bet I throwed away thutty ca’tridges on
jes’ that one Dutchy. An’ by an’ by he found out
what I was arter. Then there was fun, Cap! Him and
I did have one fine shootin’ match! But I was as good
at hidin’ as he was. And there couldn’t neither one of
us seem to git ’tother. Most of the rest of ’em was as
easy to git as a settin’ hen. But not him. I’d ’a’ laid
out there longer for a crack at him but I couldn’t find
no water. If there’d been a spring or a water seep anywheres
there I’d ’a’ stayed till doomsday but what I’d
’a’ got him. Soon’s I fill up with some water I’m
goin’ back arter him. He’s well wuth it. I’ll bet
that cuss don’t weigh an ounce under two hundred
Cash’s smug joy in his exploit and his keen anticipation
of a return trip were dashed by the captain’s reminder
that war is not a hunting jaunt; and that Wyble
must return to his loathed trench duties until such
time as it should seem wise to those above him to send
him forth again.
Cash could not make head or tail out of such a command.
After months of grinding routine he had at last
found a form of recreation that not only dulled his
sharply constant homesickness but that made up for
all he had gone through. And now he was told he
could go forth on such delightful excursions only when
he might chance to be sent!
Red wrath boiled hot in the soul of Cash Wyble. Experience
had taught him the costly folly of venting such
rage on a commissioned officer. So he hunted up Top
Sergeant Mahan of his own company and laid his griefs
before that patient veteran.
Top Sergeant Mahan—formerly of the Regular Army—listened
with true sympathy to the complaint; and
listened with open enthusiasm to the tale of the two
days of forest skulking. But he could offer no help
in the matter of returning to the battue.
“The cap’n was right,” declared Mahan. “They
wanted to throw a little lesson into those boche snipers
and make them ease up on their heckling. And you
gave them a man’s-size dose of their own physic.
There’s not one sniper out there to-day, to ten who
were on deck three days ago. You’ve done your job.
And you’ve done it good and plenty. But it’s done—for
a while anyhow. You weren’t brought over here
to spend your time in prowling around No Man’s Land
on a still hunt for stray Germans. That isn’t Uncle
Sam’s way. Don’t go grouching over it, man! You’ll
be remembered, all right. And if they get pesky again
you’ll be the first one sent out to abate them. You
can count on it. Till then, go ahead with your regular
work and forget the sniper job.”
“But, Sarge!” pleaded Cash, “you don’t git the idee.
You don’t git it at all. Those Germans will be shyer’n
scat, now that I’ve flushed ’em. An’ the longer the
news has a chance to git round among ’em, the shyer
they’re due to git. Why, even if I was to go out thar
straight off it ain’t likely I’d be able to pot one where I
potted three before. It’s the same difference as it is
between the first flushin’ of a wild-turkey bunch an’
the second. An’ if I’ve got to wait long there’ll be no
downin’ any of ’em. Tell that to the Cap. Make him
see if he wants them cusses he better let me git ’em
while they’re still gittable.”
In vain did Top Sergeant Mahan go over and over
the same ground, trying to make Cash see that the
company captain and those above him were not out
for a record in the matter of ambushed Germans.
Wyble had struck one idea he could understand, and
he would not give it up.
“But, Sarge,” he urged desperately, “I’m no durn
good here foolin’ around with drill an’ relief an’ diggin’
an’ all that. Any mudback can do them things if you
folks is sot on havin’ ’em done. But there ain’t another
man in all this outfit who can shoot like I can; or has
the knack of ‘layin’ out’; or of stalkin’. Pop got the
trick of it from gran’ther. An’ gran’ther got if off th’
Injuns in th’ old days. If you folks is out to git Germans
I’m the feller to git ’em fer you. Nice big ones.
If you’re here jes’ to play sojer, any poor fool c’n play
it fer you as good as me.”
“I’ve just told you,” began the sergeant, “that we——”
“’Nuther thing!” suggested Cash brightly. “These
Germans must have villages somew’eres. All folks do.
Even Injuns. Some place where they live when they
ain’t on the warpath. Get leave an’ rations an’ ca’tridges
for me—for a week, or maybe two—an’ I’ll
gar’ntee to scout till I find one of them villages. The
Dutchies won’t be expectin’ me. An’ I c’n likely pot
a whole mess of ’em before they c’n git to cover.
“Say!” he went on eagerly, a bit of general information
flashing into his memory. “Did you know
Germans was a kind of Confed’? The fightin’ Germans,
I mean. Well, they are. The hull twelve I got was
dressed in gray Confed’ uniform, same as pop used to
wear. I got his old uniform to home. Lord, but pop
would sure lay into me if he knowed I was pepperin’
his old side partners like that! I’d figered that all
Germans was dressed like the ones back home. But
they’ve got reg’lar uniforms. Confed’ uniforms, at
that. I wonder does our gin’ral know about it?”
Again the long-suffering Mahan tried to set him
right; this time as to the wide divergence between the
gray-backed troops of Ludendorff and the Confederacy’s
gallant soldiers. But Cash merely nodded cryptically,
as always he did when he thought his foreigner
fellow soldiers were trying to take advantage of his
supposed ignorance. And he swung back to the theme
nearest his heart.
“Now about that snipin’ business,” he pursued,
“even if the Cap don’t want too many of ’em shot up,
he sure won’t be so cantankerous as to keep me from
tryin’ to git that thirteenth feller! I mean the one
that kep’ blazin’ at me whiles I kep’ blazin’ at him;
an’ the both of us too cute to show an inch of target to
t’other or stay in the same patch of cover after we’d
fired. That Dutchy sure c’n scout grand! He’s a born
woodsman. An’ you-all don’t want it to be said the
Germans has got a better sniper than what we’ve got,
do you? Well, that’s jes’ what will be said by everyone
in this yer county unless you let me down him. Come
on, Sarge! Let me go back arter him! I been thinkin’
up a trick gran’ther got off’n th’ Injuns. It oughter
land him sure. Let me go try! I b’lieve that feller
can’t weigh an ounce less’n two-twenty. Leave me
have one more go arter him; and I’ll bring him in to
Top Sergeant Mahan’s patience stopped fraying, and
ripped from end to end.
“You seem to think this war is a cross between a
mountain feud and a deer hunt!” he growled. “Isn’t
there any way of hammering through your ivory mine
that we aren’t here to pick off unsuspecting Germans
and make a tally of the kill? And we aren’t here to
brag about the size of the men we shoot either. We’re
here, you and I, to obey orders and do our work. You’ll
get plenty of shooting before you go home again, don’t
worry. Only you’ll do it the way you’re told to. After
all the time you’ve spent in the hoosgow since you
joined, I should think you’d know that.”
But Cash Wyble did not know it. He said so—loudly,
offensively, blasphemously. He said many
things—things that in any other army than his own
would have landed him against a blank wall facing a
firing squad. Then he slouched off by himself to
As far as Cash Wyble was concerned the war was a
failure—a total failure. The one bright spot in its
workaday monotony was blurred for him by the orders
of his stupid superiors. In his vivid imagination that
elusive German sniper gradually attained a weight not
far from three hundred pounds.
In sour silence Cash sulked through the rest of the
day’s routine. In his heart boiled black rebellion. He
had learned his soldier trade, back at Camp Lee, because
it had been very strongly impressed upon him
that he would go to jail if he did not. For the same
reason he had not tried to desert. He had all the true
mountaineer horror for prison. He had toned down
his native temper and stubbornness because failure to
do so always landed him in the guardhouse—a place
that, to his mind, was almost as terrible as jail.
But out here in the wilderness there were no jails.
At least Cash had seen none. And he had it on the
authority of Top Sergeant Mahan himself that this
part of France was not within the legal jurisdiction of
West Virginia—the only region, as far as Cash actually
knew, where men are put in prison for their misdeeds.
Hence the rules governing Camp Lee could not be
supposed to obtain out here. All of which comforted
Cash not a little.
To him “patriotism” was a word as meaningless as
was “discipline.” The law of force he recognized—the
law that had hog-tied him and flung him into the Army.
But the higher law which makes men risk their all,
right blithely, that their country and civilization may
triumph—this was as much a mystery to Cash Wyble
as to any army mule.
Just now he detested the country that had dragged
him away from his lean shack and forbade him to disport
himself as he chose in No Man’s Land. He hated
his country; he hated his Army; he hated his regiment.
Most of all he loathed his captain and Top Sergeant
At Camp Lee he had learned to comport himself
more or less like a civilized recruit because there was
no breach of discipline worth the penalty of the guardhouse.
Out here it was different.
That night Private Cassius Wyble got hold of two
other men’s emergency rations, a bountiful supply of
water and a stuffing pocketful of cartridges. With
these and his adored rifle he eluded the sentries—a
ridiculously easy feat for so skilled a woodsman—and
went over the top and on into No Man’s Land.
By daylight he had trailed and potted a German
By sunrise he had located the man against whom he
had sworn his strategy feud—the German who had put
him on his mettle two days before.
Cash did not see his foe. And when from the edge
of a rock he fired at a puff of smoke in a clump of trees
no resultant body came tumbling earthward. And
thirty seconds later a bullet from quite another part
of the clump spatted hotly against the rock edge five
inches from his head.
Cash smiled beatifically. He recognized the tactics of
his former opponent. And once more the merry game
To make perfectly certain of his rival’s identity Cash
wiggled low in the undergrowth until he came to a jut
of rock about seven feet long and two feet high. Lying
at full length behind this low barrier, and parallel to
it, Cash put his hat on the toe of his boot and cautiously
lifted his foot until the hat’s sugar-loaf crown protruded
a few inches above the top of the rock.
On the instant, from the tree clump, snapped the
report of a rifle. The bullet, ignoring the hat, nicked
the rock comb precisely above Cash’s upturned face.
He nodded approval, for it told him that his enemy
was not only a good forest fighter but that he recognized
the same skill in Wyble.
Thus began two days of delightful pastime for the
exiled mountaineer. Thus, too, began a series of offensive
and defensive maneuvers worthy of Natty Bumppo
and Old Sleuth combined.
It was not until Cash abandoned the hunt long enough
to find and shoot another German sniper and appropriate
the latter’s uniform that he was able, under
cover of dusk, to get near enough to the tree clump for
a fair sight of his antagonist. At which juncture a
snap shot from the hip ended the duel.
Cash’s initial thrill of triumph, even then, was dampened.
For the sniper—to whom by this time he had
credited the size of Goliath at the very least—proved
to be a wizened little fellow, not much more than five
Still Cash had won. He had outgeneraled a mighty
clever sharpshooter. He had gotten what he came out
for, and two other snipers, besides. It was not a bad
bag. As there was nothing else to stay there for, and
as his water was gone, as well as nearly all his cartridges,
Cash shouldered his rifle and plodded wearily
back to camp for a night’s rest.
There to his amazed indignation he was not received
as a hero, even when he sought to recount his successful
adventures. Instead, he was arrested at once on a
charge of technical desertion, and was lodged in the
local substitute for a regular guardhouse.
Bewildered wrath smothered him. What had he done,
to be arrested again? True, he had left camp without
leave. But had he not atoned for this peccadillo fifty-fold
by the results of his absence? Had he not killed
three men whose business it was to shoot Americans?
Had he not killed the very best sniper the Germans
could hope to possess?
Yet, they had not promoted him. They had not so
much as thanked him. Instead, they had stuck him
here in the hoosgow. And Mahan had said something
about a court-martial.
It was black ingratitude! That was what it was.
That and more. Such people did not deserve to have
the services of a real fighter like himself.
Which started another train of thought.
Apparently—except on special occasions—the Americans
did not send men out into the wilderness to take
pot shots at the lurking foe. And apparently that was
just what the Germans always did. He had full proof,
indeed, of the German custom. For had he not found
a number of the graybacks thus happily engaged? Not
for one occasion only, but as a regular thing?
Yes, the Germans had sense enough to appreciate a
good fighter when they had one. And they knew how
to make use of him in a way to afford innocent pleasure
to himself and much harm to the enemy. That was
the ideal life for a soldier—“laying out” and sniping
the foe. Not kitchen-police work and endless drill and
digging holes and taking baths. Sniping was the job
for a he-man, if one had to be away from home at all.
And in the German ranks alone was such happy employment
to be found.
When Cash calmly and definitely made up his mind
to desert to the Germans he was troubled by no scruples
at all. Even the dread of the mysterious court-martial
added little weight to his decision. The deed seemed
to him not a whit worse than was the leaving of one
farmer’s employ, back home, to take service with another
who offered more congenial work.
Wherefore he deserted.
It was not at all difficult for him to escape from the
elementary cell in which he was confined. It was a
mere matter of strategy and luck. So was his escape
to No Man’s Land.
Unteroffizier Otto Schrabstaetter an hour later conducted
to his company commander a lanky and leather-faced
man in khaki uniform who had accosted a sentry
with the pacific plea that he be sworn in as a member of
the German Army.
The sentry did not know English; nor did Unteroffizier
Otto Schrabstaetter. And though Cash addressed
them both in a very fair imitation of the guttural
English he had heard used by the West Virginia
Germans—and which he fondly believed to be pure
German—they did not understand a word of his plea.
So he was taken to the captain, a man who had lived
for five years in New York.
With the Unteroffizier at his side and with two armed
soldiers just behind him Cash confronted the captain,
and under the latter’s volley of barked questions told
his story. Ten minutes afterward he was repeating
the same tale to a flint-faced man with a fox-brush
mustache—Colonel von Scheurer, commander of the
regiment that held that section of the first-line trench.
A little to Cash’s aggrieved surprise, neither the
captain nor the colonel seemed interested in his prowess
as a sharpshooter or in his ill-treatment at the hands
of his own Army. Instead, they asked an interminable
series of questions that seemed to have no bearing at
all on his case.
They wanted, for instance, to know the name of his
regiment; its quota of men; how long they had been
in France; what sea route they had taken in crossing
the ocean; from what port they had sailed; and the
approximate size of the convoy. They wanted to
know what regiments lay to either side of Cash’s in
the American trenches; how many men per month
America was sending overseas and where they usually
landed. They wanted to know a thousand things
more, of the same general nature.
Cash saw no reason why he should not satisfy their
silly curiosity. And he proceeded to do so to the best
of his ability. But as he did not know so much as the
name of the port whence he had shipped to France,
and as the rest of his tactical knowledge was on the
same plane, the fast-barked queries presently took
on a tone of exasperation.
This did not bother Cash. He was doing his best.
If these people did not like his answers that was no
affair of his. He was here to fight, not to talk. His
Presently he interrupted the colonel’s most searching
questions to ask: “You-all don’t happen to be the
Kaiser, do you? I s’pose not though. I’ll bet that
old Kaiser must weigh——”
A thundered oath brought him back to the subject
in hand, and the cross-questioning went on. But all
the queries elicited nothing more than a mass of misinformation,
delivered with such palpable genuineness
of purpose that even Colonel von Scheurer could not
doubt the man’s good faith.
And at last the two officers began to have a very
fair estimate of the mountaineer’s character and of
the reasons that had brought him thither.
Still it was the colonel’s mission in life to suspect—to
take nothing for granted. And after all, this yokel
and his queer story were no more bizarre than was
many a spy trick played by Germany upon her foes.
Spies were bound to be good actors. And this lantern-jawed
fellow might possibly be a character actor of
high ability. Colonel von Scheurer sat for a moment
in silence, peering up at Cash from beneath a thatch
of stiff-haired brows. Then he ordered the captain
and the others to leave the dugout.
Alone with Wyble the colonel still maintained his
pose of majestic surveillance.
Then with no warning he spat forth the question:
“Wer bist du?”
Not the best character actor unhung could have
simulated the owlish ignorance in Cash’s face. Not
the shrewdest spy could have had time to mask
a knowledge of German. And, as Colonel von
Scheurer well knew, no spy who did not understand
German would have been sent to enlist in the German
The colonel at once was satisfied that the newcomer
was not a spy. Yet to make doubly certain of the
recruit’s willingness to serve against his own country
Von Scheurer sought another test. Pulling toward
him a scratch pad he picked up a pencil from the table
before him and proceeded to make a rapid sketch.
When the sketch was complete he detached the top
sheet and showed it to Cash. On it was drawn a rough
likeness of the American flag.
“What is that?” he demanded.
“Old Glory,” answered Cash after a leisurely survey
of the picture; adding in friendly patronage: “And
not bad drawed, at that.”
“It is the United States flag,” pursued the colonel,
“as you say. It is the national emblem of the country
where you were born; the country you are renouncing,
to become a subject of the All Highest.”
“Meanin’ Gawd?” asked Cash.
He wanted to be sure of every step. While he did
not at all know the meaning of “renounce,” yet his
attendance at mountain camp-meeting revivals had
given him a possible inkling as to what “All Highest”
“What?” inquired the puzzled colonel, not catching
“The ‘All Highest’ is Gawd, ain’t it?” said Cash.
“It is His Imperial Majesty, the Kaiser,” sharply
retorted the scandalized colonel.
“Oh!” exclaimed Cash, much interested. “I see.
In Wes’ V’ginny we call Him ‘Gawd.’ An’ over in
this neck of the woods your Dutch name for Him is
‘Kaiser.’ What a ninny I am! I’d allers had the idee
the Kaiser was jes’ a man, with somethin’ the same
sort of job as Pres’dent Wilson’s. But——”
“This picture represents the flag of the United
States,” resumed the impatient Von Scheurer, waiving
the subject of theology for the point in hand. “You
have renounced it. You have declared your wish to
fight against it. Prove that. Prove it by tearing
that sketch in two—and spitting upon it!”
“Hold on!” interposed Cash, speaking with tolerant
kindness as to a somewhat stupid child. “Hold on,
Cap! You got me wrong. Or may be I didn’t make it
so very clear. I didn’t ever say I wanted to fight Old
Glory. All I said I wanted to do was to fight that
crowd of smart Alecks over yonder who jail me all the
time an’ won’t let me fight in my own way. I’ve got
nothin’ agin th’ old flag. Why, that ’ere’s the flag I
was borned under! Me an’ pop an’ gran’ther an’ the
hull b’ilin’ of us—as fur back as there was any ’Merica,
I reckon. I don’t go ’round wavin’ it none. That ain’t
my way. But I sure ain’t goin’ to tear it up. And I
most gawdamightysure ain’t goin’ to spit on it. I——”
He checked himself. Not that he had no more to
say, but because to his astonishment he found he was
beginning to lose his temper. This phenomenon halted
his speech and turned his wondering thoughts inward.
Cash could not understand his own strange surge
of choler. He had not been aware of any special
interest in the American flag. A little bunting representation
of the Stars and Stripes—now faded close
to whiteness—hung on the wall of his shack at home,
where his grandmother, a rabid Unionist, had hung it
nearly sixty years earlier, when West Virginia had
refused to join the Confederacy. Every day of his life
Cash had seen it there; had seen without noting or
Camp Lee, too, had been ablaze with American flags.
And after he had learned the rules as to the flag salute
Cash had never given the banners a second thought.
The regimental flags, too, here in France, had seemed
to him but a natural part of the Army’s equipment,
and no more to be venerated than the twin bars on his
Thus he could not in the very least account for the
fiery flare of rebellion that gripped him at this ramrod-like
Prussian’s command to defile the emblem. Yet
grip him it did. And it held him there, quivering and
purple, the strange emotion waxing more and more
overpoweringly potent at each passing fraction of a
second. Dumb and shaking he glowered down at the
Von Scheurer watched him placidly for a few moments;
then with a short laugh he advanced the test.
Reaching for the sheet of paper whereon he had sketched
the flag the colonel held it lightly between the fingers
of his outstretched hands.
“It is really a very simple thing to do,” he said
carelessly, yet keeping a covert watch upon the mountaineer.
“And it is a thing that every loyal German
subject should rejoice to do. All I required was that
you first tear the emblem in two and then spit upon
it—as I do now.”
But the colonel did not suit action to words. As
his fingers tightened on the sheet of paper the dugout
echoed to a low snarl that would have done credit to a
And with the snarl six feet of lean and wiry bulk
shot through the air across the narrow table that separated
Cash from the colonel.
Von Scheurer with admirable presence of mind
snatched his pistol from its temporary resting place
in his lap. With the speed of the wind he seized the
weapon. But with the speed of the whirlwind Cash
Wyble was upon him, his clawlike fingers deep in the
colonel’s full throat, his hundred and sixty pounds of
bone and gristle smiting Von Scheurer on chest and
Cash had literally risen in air and pounced on the
Prussian. Under the impact Von Scheurer’s chair
collapsed. Both men shot to earth, the colonel undermost
and the pistol flying unheeded from his grasp.
Over, too, went the table, and the electric light upon
it. And the dugout was in pitch blackness.
There in the dark Cash Wyble deliriously tackled
his prey, making queer and hideous little worrying
sounds now and then far down in his throat, like a dog
that mangles its meat.
And there the sentry from the earthen passageway
found them when he rushed in with an electric torch,
and followed by a rabble of fellow soldiers.
Cash at sound of the running footsteps jumped to
his feet. The man he had attacked was lying very
still, in a crumpled and yet sprawling heap—in a
posture never designed by Nature.
With one wild sweep of his windmill arms Cash
grabbed up the sheet of paper on which Von Scheurer
had made his life’s last sketch. With a simultaneous
sweep he knocked the glass-bulbed torch from the
sentinel, just as a rifle or two were centering their
aim toward him; and, head down, he tore into the
group of men who blocked the dugout entrance.
Cash had a faintly conscious sense of dashing down
one passageway and up another, following by forestry
instinct the course he noted when he was led into the
He collided with a sentinel; he butted another from
his flying path. He heard yells and shots—especially
shots. Once something hit him on the shoulder, whirling
him half round without breaking his stride. Again
something hot whipped him across the cheek. And at
last he was out, under the foggy stars, with excited
Germans firing in his general direction and loosing
off star shells.
Again instinct and scout skill came to the rescue
as he plunged into a bramble thicket and wriggled
through long grass on his heaving stomach.
An hour before dawn Cash Wyble was led before his
sleepy and unloving company commander. The returned
wanderer was caked with dirt and blood. His
face was scored by briers. Across one cheek ran the
red wale of a bullet. A very creditable flesh wound
adorned his left shoulder. His clothes were in ribbons.
Before the captain could frame the first of a thousand
scathing words Cash broke out pantingly: “Stick me
in the hoosgow if you’re a mind to, Cap! Stick me
there for life. Or wish me onto a kitchen-police job
forever! I’m not kickin’. It’s comin’ to me, all right,
arter what I done.
“I git the drift of the hull thing now. I’m onter
what it means. It—it means Old Glory! It means—this!”
He stuck out one muddy hand wherein was clutched
a wad of scratch-pad paper.
Then the company commander did a thing that
stamped him as a genius. Instead of administering
the planned rebuke and following it by sending the
wretch to the guard house he began to ask questions.
“What do you make of it all?” dazedly queried the
captain of Top Sergeant Mahan when Cash had been
taken to the trench hospital to have his shoulder
“Well, sir,” reported Mahan meditatively, “for
one thing, I take it, we’ve got a new soldier in the
company. A soldier, not a varmint. For another
thing, I take it, Uncle Sam’s got a new American on
his list of nephews. And—and, unless I’m wrong,
Kaiser Bill is short one crackajack sniper and one
perfectly good Prussian colonel too. War’s a funny
—Albert Payson Terhune.
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.
V—THE INDIAN OF THE RESERVATION
The big, square, barren, rude room which in its
existence had progressed from store to schoolroom
and on to council hall, was filled to overflowing with a
throng of anachronous humanity, rank on rank, tier
behind tier. There was the sound of moccasins slipping
grittily over the knotty floor, of the dull, rhythmic
thudding of a mother’s foot as she trotted her fretful
baby, the rustling of soft garments, the stirring of
unhurried bodies, the hissing of stealthy whispers.
Here and there two Indians might be seen conversing
in the sign language; their hands, shielded from sight
by encircling backs, were lifted scarcely above the
level of their laps.
The people were massed one might say ethnologically.
The main part of the crowd was Indian, squatting,
seated on benches, or standing leaning against
the walls. The two tribes sat separately, as did also
the sexes of each. To right and left at the tapering
ends of the rows were the mixed-bloods, dressed mainly
like the whites except that their garments looked more
home-made, more patternless, more illy put. Then
quite at one end of the room and grouped about the
chairman’s table sat the whites; school and Agency
employees, traders, soldiers, ranch neighbors; an indifferent,
self-seeking, heterogeneous group. In the
midst of these last, dapper, conspicuously well-dressed,
and well-groomed, presided the inspector from Washington.
His old, dignified face, slightly pompous,
was crowned with gray hair brushed back from his
brow. His hands rested squarely upon his knees. By
his side, taking notes, sat his stenographer, his glance
half curious and half supercilious playing constantly
over the faces of the throng. At either end of the little
table behind which sat the inspector, were stationed
the interpreters, one for each tribe. The eyes of these
men were searching, though their lips seemed to mock
slightly, and when they spoke, rising to interpret, even
though they passed on the phrases with a certain
guarded vehemence, they seemed consciously to preserve
a detached attitude, as do those who speak but
will not be held accountable for what they say.
Perhaps the arrangement that caused the mixed-bloods
and the other younger Indians to be the first
to deliver their speeches was intentional on the part of
someone. At any rate one by one they arose, in overalls,
in spurs, in bright neckerchiefs, differing from
each other in type and temperament, as differed also
those two tribes, and indeed, the two races, represented
there within the council room.
Occasionally after some speech the inspector would
get up and pronounce in continuance a few elucidating
words. He gesticulated slightly and conventionally.
He bent a little toward the interpreters, each in turn.
His words came slowly and with unction.
The subject of the council was the desire of the
Indian Bureau to throw open to white settlement a
half of the reservation. The mixed-bloods and the
younger Indians were, though they spoke but briefly,
in accord in favoring the execution of the plan. Their
words, however, from some lack in themselves of
knowledge or of conviction, were not uttered in a
manner calculated to tip the scale greatly their way.
“It’s a question of water rights,” they said. “We
must have money to buy those rights and how else can
we obtain it? It’s an obligation to our children.”
Again and again the same note was struck. One by
one the young men arose, and one by one sat down
again. The interpreters mopped their tired brows.
The inspector sipped frequently from a glass of water
upon his table.
The air was full of the odor of people, pungent with
the herb perfume worn by the Indians in little sacks
sewed to the clothing, acrid with the smell of sage
clinging to shawls and dresses, with the flavor of
smoke-tanned buckskin. A half-open window let in
a little fitful breeze that played wantonly with the
dust showing in the sunlight of the upper reaches of
the room, flirting and whisking about the heads of
At last it came time for the weightier speeches, for
those of the councilmen, of the chiefs, of indeed the
older men of the two tribes, the patriarchs of this
“Sell our land?” they cried. “Retreat? Give up?
Be forced into contact with intermingling whites?
Take money in place of our land? What, money for
the good of these traders who will get it all from us
in the end?” Their old faces hardened; their eyes
flamed. “Give up? Retreat? Move on? Abrogate
the old promises, the old treaties? What, again?”
Their lips twisted bitterly. “Do you not know, does
not the Great Father at Washington know, that all we
ask now of life is a little land, a little peace, a little
place wherein to live quietly our quiet life, and in the
end a little ground for our narrow bed? Move on!
That we think was the first word the whites—” the
“outsiders,” the “aliens,” was the name they in the Indian
tongue gave this other race—“said to us. It seems
they are saying it yet.” The soft bitter voices ceased;
the old men sank into their seats, the interpreters, too,
relaxed, wiping their faces.
The inspector stood up cautiously, apologetically
even. “But these old men, the chiefs, do not seem to
have caught the point. The whole question of selling
or not selling turns on the matter of their water rights;
on theirs and their children’s as has been said. Land
even in this beautiful Wyoming valley is a mockery
without water. They can I am sure understand that;
water they must have.”
An old chief rose solemnly, turned deep, scornful
eyes upon the inspector. “Let the white man from
Washington go but a mile yonder,” extended arm
pointed that way, “and he will see the river that flows
down our valley and waters our land. It is there. It
is ours. It is born in these mountains above us. God
made them, I suppose as he made it. It is ours.”
Along the packed rows there was a slight stirring.
Patiently again the inspector arose. “I know that it
is hard for the old people to understand that having
water does not necessarily mean having rights to that
water. There exist hundreds of white men below you,
beyond the border of your reservation, who have taken
up claims along this same stream and who have filed
on its water prior to any Indian having done so. The
State must recognize this priority. The whites have
filed on the water and have paid the dues. Beside
that as the law stands now the Indians cannot individually
take out water rights. I know that you will say
that when this reservation was given to these two
tribes, a matter of a generation and a half ago, the
water was included with the land, ‘to the center of the
streams bordering the reservation,’ as your old treaty
reads. But times and conditions have changed since
then. At that period the Federal Government controlled
the water of Wyoming, now its disposition
has been turned over to the State. Where the Indians
stand in this matter has never been decided by law.”
The mixed-bloods who understood at least partially,
“But now—although the question of priority has
still not been decided—the Indian Bureau—which I
represent—says that you as a tribe may buy your
water rights. For this you must have money.” He
named a sum reaching far into the thousands. “The
sale of your land will bring you this amount of money,
at least. This thing is intricate and impossible I believe
to elucidate to the older people, your leaders.
They must, I fear, just hear my statements and, if
they can, believe.” With his hands he made a deprecating
little gesture. Then he sat down.
There was silence in the room, complete save for a
slight stirring, the sound of deep breathing, and the
fretting, here and there, of a hungry child.
Finally at the back of the room, by some shifting of
his pose, by thrusting himself forward beyond the
relief of his line, an Indian made his presence known.
He was a man of powerful build, of nobly moulded
head; his hair instead of having been braided, had been
gathered forward into two loosely twisted strands; his
eyes showed, speculative yet keen, his mouth was
sharply chiseled though withal soft in its lines, and
there was a kindly look on his face which gave somehow
the impression of the morning light seen upon the
rugged side of a great mountain. In age he seemed to
be between the young and the old.
As he made his presence known there was a slow
turning of the heads in his direction, a slight tensing
of the crowd. The old chiefs appeared suddenly eager
and filled with hope; as for the younger men and the
mixed-bloods they glanced at him and looked away
again, as if, sighing they said: “Another on the wrong
side. Ah, the blind old men!”
Then he spoke. His voice was deep, very virile,
carefully subdued as something held in leash, and yet
through it there seemed to run a tremor, a quaver
almost, that gave an impression of strange intensity.
I repeat his words with elision.
“I am not one of the old men,” he said, “and yet I
can easily remember the time when this valley, these
mountains, were ours; not because someone had given
them to us, but because we had taken them for ourselves,
because our arrows flew straightest, our spears
reached furthest, our horsemen rode fastest, our hearts
Here several of the old men grunted sympathetically.
More and more the faces of the throng were turned
toward the speaker.
“Then everything was changed. The strangers came
like a flood, like our rivers in the spring; they surged
over us and they left us—as we are. Perhaps this was
the will of the Stranger-on-High, we cannot tell....
But these strangers on earth were not altogether unkind
to us. For what they took they gave a sort of
compensation. It was as though they carried away
from us fat buffaloes and then handed to us in exchange
each a little slice of their meat. They deprived
us of our valley and our mountains but instead they
gave us each eighty acres of the land. Then they sent
more strangers with chains and three-legged toys to
measure these off correctly for us. They gave us wire
for our fences but only enough so that we must spend
much money for more. They gave us seed, but also
so little that we were driven to buy more. We worked—some
of us with the chains and three-legged toys—some
at the ditches, every way we could, for now we
needed a new thing—something of which we had
before known nothing, money. We received it—and
then we spent it.”
Again faint grunts and groans encouraged him.
“For we cannot keep money long. We are children.
This the Great Father in Washington understands,
and also that our ears are dull, that our eyes cannot
read his written words. Therefore, in his kindness,
he sends to us this man to speak to us face to face.”
He turned his slow gaze upon the inspector. In his
eyes was the look of mockery. “We have listened to
his words. But what has he said to us? ‘Give up the
eighty acres, for your children to be born, give up the
money you earned and spent, give up your homes; as
you gave up this valley and these mountains. The
white men need them. Your day is past. But I am
not unkind. Without compensation I will not deprive
you. See, I will give you even a little more money—’”
He stopped abruptly. His eyes drooped, his shoulders,
his hands, the whole man.
A strained silence had fallen upon the room,
smothered it. From it escaped the faint sighing of the
younger men. The chiefs stiffened as they sat.
By an effort the speaker seemed to rouse himself.
He stared strangely about the room. “There was a
little boy once,” he said, and his voice had grown
dreamy, slightly high in pitch, “and this little boy held
his hand out toward the flames, nearer,—I saw it—the
fire was so pretty, so warm, it danced, purred,
sparkled. His hand crept nearer, nearer. His father
watched him. At the last moment he caught him and
pulled him away. The child cried then, he struggled
in his father’s arms, he pushed away from him, he
fought. Again he reached out toward the flame. But
finally he looked up into the man’s face and suddenly
it seemed to dawn on him that, although he could not
understand, this was indeed his father, old and wise
and loving; and that he, by comparison, was only a
little misguided child....” The strange, vibrant
voice dwindled, broke. The speaker made a wide gesture
toward the attentive inspector, held it while the
interpreters got forth in English his last sentence.
Then he sank back into his old place against the wall;
with one bent hand he wiped the sweat from his brow.
A faint sound of muttering passed over the room;
old fierce eyes were veiled, young keen ones peered incredulously.
But the inspector was on his feet on
the instant, his hand outstretched to grasp the golden
“There is no more to be said,” he cried. “Our ears
are ringing with words. Our hearts are full. I have
here, prepared, a paper. Let those who for their own
good and the good of their children are of a mind to
sell, now sign it.”
Slowly, amidst moving and murmuring, the long
paper, in the hands of one of the interpreters, made its
deliberate rounds. Difficult signatures were inscribed
in slow succession. Ancient, unaccustomed hands, deft
enough with spear or bow, grasped awkwardly the
pen and with it made their wavering “mark.”
Some there were of the old men, indeed the majority
of them, who wrapping their blankets about them
arose, and shambling, withdrew, aloof and soundless.
Like a shaken kaleidoscope the council broke up.
The inspector leaned back in his chair, a hand
shielding the working of his mouth. His eyes searched
the variegated, dissolving throng. The stenographer,
still seated and playing with his idle pencil, shot him
an understanding glance.
Later the Half-breed, standing on the board walk
outside the trading store, a box of crackers in one hand,
a paper containing pickles in the other, was lunching
heartily. Suddenly he shifted everything into his left
hand and strode down into the road. For in company
with his wife and a young son the last of the speakers
The Half-breed’s extended hand grasped the Indian’s.
“I thank you for what you said,” he cried. “It was
a noble thing to have done. You faced them all; the
old timers, the chiefs, public opinion, prejudice. And
you won. It was a brave act.”
The rugged, illuminated face was turned to him, the
deep eyes rested squarely upon his. “You have perhaps
forgotten,” he said. “You are younger than I am and
too you have been for a long time with the whites—but
I remember well the time when we were boys and our
great head-chief Black Star used to sit and talk with
us. Yes, you have perhaps forgotten,” he repeated,
and his look, just touched with yearning, rested upon
the younger man. “But I remember—I have never
forgotten what he used to say to us. ‘Be brave,’ he
would tell us. ‘That is the chief thing to learn; to do
what each one believes is right, to speak for the right,
everywhere, always. To be fearless of tongues, of
persecution, to take counsel with our own minds and
being sure to speak out surely. That,’ he always said
to us, ‘and that only, is the man’s part.’”
VI—THE NIGHT ATTACK
When B Company marched out of the camp for
the morning skirmish practice, Tom Kennedy of squad
five was feeling depressed. His corporal, John Wheeler,
had just given him a scolding, and now wore a stern
expression on his youthful yet somehow granite-like
countenance. Kennedy, glancing out of the corner of
his eye, saw and interpreted the expression.
He was a thin, pale youth, who had gone from high
school into the bank, where he was employed in a
humble capacity as clerk. His lack of physical strength
had prevented him from taking part in school athletics;
the impecuniosity of his family had kept him from a
share in many healthful, boyish activities. He had
been a bookish boy and had shown himself quick at
figures; many of his classmates envied him when, after
graduation, a subordinate place in the First National
Bank had been given him. In his second year of service
there he was promoted to a clerkship; and when
the bank announced its willingness to let some of its
employees attend the military training camp, Kennedy
had presented himself as a volunteer.
Without experience in the handling of arms, without
natural dexterity and without the self-confidence that
a boy derives from participation in sports or from a
life outdoors, Kennedy was not the most promising of
“rookies.” He would have made a better showing in
the early drills perhaps had he been less concerned
with the dread of being regarded as a “dub.” What
made him especially self-conscious was the fact that
his corporal was the son of the president of the First
National Bank. It seemed to Kennedy, inexperienced
youth that he was, that his whole future might depend
on the impression he made on the president’s son.
He had long known John Wheeler by reputation.
Wheeler had been halfback on his college football
team; he was a yachtsman of more than local renown.
As corporal, he was alert, industrious and energetic;
his efficiency caused Kennedy to be only the more
keenly aware of his own incompetence. The other
men in the tent were all older than he, all better educated
than he, and without in the least intending to
make him feel inferior they did make him feel so. As
a matter of fact, they thought he was an unassuming
and obliging person, who had, as one of them expressed
it, not much small change in conversation.
Now, after a week at the camp, Kennedy had begun
to make himself a nuisance to his companions—the
thing that he had most dreaded being. He had caught
cold, and had coughed at frequent intervals throughout
the night; he had buried his head under his blankets
and tried to suppress the coughs, and he had blown his
nose with as little reverberation as possible, but he
had, nevertheless, received intimations that he was
disturbing the sleep of his tent mates. In the morning
one of them, Morrison, a student in a medical school,
offered him some quinine pills and advised him to
report at sick call. But Kennedy had resolved not
to be knocked out by sickness; he thanked Morrison
for the pills and said he thought he should get through
all right. His feelings were hurt, however, when after
breakfast Wheeler said:
“Come, fellows, let’s roll up the tent; if we don’t
give the sun and air a chance in here, we’ll all of us be
The corporal started in to undo the guy ropes and
then exclaimed wrathfully. “Who’s the man that tied
these ropes in hard knots? He’s a landlubber, all
“I should say!” remarked Morrison, who was at
work on the other side of the tent. “I’m not guilty.”
“I’m afraid I am.” Kennedy’s admission was the
more rueful because so croaking.
“A man who can only tie a hard knot or a granny
has no business ever to touch a rope.” Wheeler snapped
out the words while his fingers worked busily. “I
should think before coming to a camp a fellow would
learn to tie a few knots.”
Kennedy accepted the reproof in silence—if a sudden
access of coughing can be termed silence. He was
finding it hard work to disengage one of the knots of
his own making; presently Wheeler, having freed the
other ropes, came up and unceremoniously took possession
of that at which Kennedy was picking.
“Undo your pack, take the rope that’s fastened to
your shelter half and I’ll give you a lesson,” commanded
To the object lesson in tying hitches, half hitches,
slipknots and other useful knots Kennedy gave close
attention; but when he tried to do what he had just
seen his instructor do he became confused.
“Are you as slow as that counting bills in the bank?”
Wheeler asked. “I wonder that they keep you. You
don’t seem to have learned to use your hands.”
He snatched the rope and then began another demonstration
for the mortified youth; Kennedy could not
have been more hurt if he had been lashed with it.
The whistle blew; the order, “Fall in!” was shouted
at the head of the street.
“Quick, now! Do up your pack!” Wheeler tossed
back the rope, and Kennedy made a dive into the
tent where his equipment lay scattered. Hastily
cramming things together, he discovered when he had
his pack rolled up and fastened that he had left out
the rubber poncho. In the street the men were all
lined up at attention; he alone was unready. The
first sergeant was calling the roll; the corporals were
reporting: “Squad one?” “All present.” “Squad
two?” “All present.” Kennedy flung on his pack
and crammed his poncho under his mattress, where
it would not be visible. “Squad five?” “Private
Kennedy absent.” “Squad six?” “All present.”
Kennedy fastened his canteen to his belt, caught
up his rifle and took his place in the rear rank.
He heard the corporals far down the line reporting,
“All present.” He alone had been delinquent. Wheeler’s
face seemed more forbidding than ever.
And that was why, as the company marched out
for the day’s work, Kennedy felt depressed. He was
making a poor showing; he had won the outspoken disapproval
of the man whose good opinion he most
heartily desired. Besides, he was miserable in body;
nose, eyes and throat were all inflamed, the pack seemed
heavier than it ought to be, and there was no early-morning
enthusiasm in his legs. A glance at Wheeler’s
face still further depressed his spirits. He had never
seen the corporal look so black, and he knew it was all
on account of having such a “dub” in the squad!
It was really not on that account at all. What was
troubling the corporal was a sense of his severity toward
a subordinate who seemed to be doing the best he could.
He was chagrined that he had been so sharp-tongued
with the little fellow; he had got into the habit of thinking
of Kennedy rather pityingly as “the little fellow.”
All the long morning B Company was put through
skirmish drill; the sun was hot, the air heavy; with
all too brief intermissions the men were kept at work;
running, leaping, casting themselves on their faces,
and pulling the trigger and throwing the bolt of their
rifles. Lying prone, with neck and shoulder muscles
aching under the weight of the pack, Kennedy experienced
the greatest discomfort, for then his nose
became an abomination to him. And at those times,
snuffling, coughing and gasping, he was painfully
aware that to the other members of the squad, and
particularly to the corporal, he must seem nothing
less than a curse.
The luncheon hour afforded him a little rest. But
all the afternoon there was drill on the parade ground;
and at supper Kennedy was almost too tired to eat.
His cold was no better, his cough was more frequent
and racking, and he feared that he should be a greater
nuisance to his tent mates than on the preceding night.
After supper he thought he should go into the town
and get some cough drops; but that was a mile walk,
and before undertaking it he decided to stretch himself
out on his bed for a few minutes’ rest. Wheeler came
up and asked him how he was feeling.
“All right, if only I don’t keep you fellows awake,”
Kennedy croaked, grateful for the question.
“You don’t sound all right. I should think you’d
better see the doctor.”
“Oh, I sound worse than I am.”
Wheeler walked away, with a good-natured laugh
that made Kennedy feel better than a cough drop could
have done. It showed him that the corporal did not
have an unfriendly attitude toward him, and it stimulated
his resolve to let the corporal see that he did not
lack staying power.
For a few minutes he had been reclining on his bed,
when he was horrified to hear the B Company whistle,
followed by the shout, “Fall in, B Company!” When
he emerged from the tent, he heard the second order
that was being relayed down the street, “Fall in with
the rifle and the full pack!” For a dismal moment
Kennedy thought of going up to the captain and pleading
unfitness for further duty. Then he gritted his
teeth, slung his pack, which he had not yet unrolled,
on his aching shoulders and took up his rifle. The
other occupants of the tent made their appearance on
the run, uttering maledictions and cries of grief and
wonderment. Had not they been worked hard enough
for one day! This kind of thing was an outrage!
When the company was lined up, Captain Hughes
said, “B Company is ordered out to hold a section of
trench against an expected night attack. Squads
While the men proceeded at route step, they lamented
facetiously the ordeal ahead of them. Kennedy
snuffled and shuffled along, trying to keep his head
up and his shoulders from drooping. He looked apprehensively
at the western sky; the sun had gone
down in a black cloud wrack, which was swarming
higher and heavier. The sultry air was suddenly
fanned by a cool wind, lightning flashed in the mass of
clouds, and thunder pealed.
“Going to have a little real war this evening, I guess,”
“The storm may not hit us,” said Wheeler.
“Everything that can will hit us to-day,” replied
By the time the company had reached the trenches,
which were dug on the edge of a wide field, it was growing
dark. The wind was blowing hard and flung
splashes of rain into the men’s faces.
Captain Hughes halted his command and called the
members round him.
“This is the section that you are to defend,” he
said. “You see it consists of four separate front-line
trenches, each just long enough and wide enough to
accommodate eight men. Each front trench is connected
with the second line of trenches by a short
runway. Behind the second line is the shelter, or
dugout, for those who are not on duty in the trenches.
You will take turns in holding the front line; each
squad will be relieved every fifteen minutes. The rest
of you will keep under cover in the shelter—under
cover from the enemy, that is.” There was an uncertain
ripple of laughter; the rain was beginning now
to pour down. “At what hour the attack may develop
I can’t tell you,” continued the captain, “but it will
no doubt be sometime between now and sunrise.”
In the shelter, which was a large rectangular pit
six feet deep, the men opened their packs and got out
their ponchos—all except Kennedy, who stood looking
on while his comrades proceeded to protect themselves
against the now pelting rain.
Wheeler, poking his head through the opening in
his poncho, saw Kennedy standing thus.
“Why don’t you get out your poncho?” he asked.
“I forgot to put it in my pack.”
“That’s the limit, a night like this. You’ve got a
frightful cold, too.” Wheeler pulled off the poncho
that he had just put on. “Get into this and keep
yourself as dry as you can.”
“No, I wouldn’t think of taking your——”
“You’re under orders now, and you’ll take what
your corporal tells you.” Wheeler thrust the rubber
garment over his subordinate’s head. “There you
are; I don’t want to feel responsible for your having
Then, as Captain Hughes called, “Squad leaders,
gather round!” Wheeler moved away to receive instructions.
Seating himself cross-legged, Kennedy arranged the
poncho as well as he could over his rifle. The rain
came down in sheets, poured from the brims of hats,
formed puddles on the ground, oozed through trousers
and boots and leggings. By the occasional lightning
flashes Kennedy could see the group of corporals holding
conference with the captain near by; he could see
the huddled forms of the privates like himself, the
ponchos shining on their shoulders, the pools glistening
at their feet.
In a few moments the conference broke up; then
Captain Hughes raised his voice sharply.
“Mr. Wheeler, where is your poncho?”
“I haven’t got it, sir.”
“A man who is careless about himself is not likely
to look after his men, and that is an officer’s first duty.
You set a bad example to the members of your squad,
Wheeler saluted and the captain turned away just
as Kennedy came forward. The corporal gripped
Kennedy’s wrist and held him fast, then led him in
silence back to his place.
“That’s all right,” he whispered in Kennedy’s ear.
“Don’t you butt in. You’d only get it in the neck if
Kennedy, believing that a soldier’s first duty is to
obey, did not persist; he saw the captain leave the
shelter and join a group of officers on the bank.
“It isn’t fair, though, for you to take the blame,” he
“It’s of no importance,” Wheeler answered.
A few moments later Kennedy was convinced that
the corporal was mistaken. While Wheeler was talking
to another member of the squad, Morrison said to
Kennedy in a low voice:
“I guess Wheeler’s chance for promotion is gone
now. They’re going to make some new sergeants tomorrow,
and I thought Wheeler would surely be one;
but I guess that forgetting his poncho has queered him
with the captain. He’s a stickler about little things.”
“It doesn’t seem fair,” repeated Kennedy, as if
speaking to himself.
Night had settled down, the blackest kind of night,
when the first platoon was ordered into the advance
trenches. From ambush among the trees behind the
shelter searchlights began to play against the woods
five hundred yards away, out of which the attack was
expected to come. The watchers in the shelter and the
trenches remained in utter darkness while the streaming
lines of rain and the distant trees emerged into
view under the sweeping rays. Back and forth the
searchlights plied, raking the whole sector of forest
that bounded the field. The men in the shelter, who
had stood up to see what the searchlights might disclose,
soon sat down again and wrapped their ponchos
about themselves more snugly. The minutes passed;
there was no sound except that made by the determined,
Wheeler, who had been peering over the top of the
embankment, came and seated himself between Kennedy
“There’s one thing,” he murmured. “The enemy
are getting it same as we are.”
Morrison grunted. “How do you know? They’re
regulars, and maybe they haven’t left their barracks
yet. Maybe they won’t till about 2 A. M.”
“Don’t be always taking the joy out of life,” Wheeler
At last came the turn of the second platoon. They
filed out through the runways into the second-line trench,
where they waited until the squads of the first platoon
returned from the sections that they had been holding.
“Second platoon, load!”
In the pitch blackness it was not an easy thing to do.
Kennedy got his clip jammed in the magazine and
for a few moments could not shove it down or pull it
out. Then, when he gave a final desperate wrench,
out it came with a jump, slipped through his fingers
and fell somewhere in the mud.
“Lock your pieces. Forward!”
Kennedy had to straighten up and move on without
having found his cartridges. When he was in his place
between Wheeler and Morrison, he took another clip
out of his belt and, working carefully and slowly, inserted
it in the magazine. The sound of others working
with their rifles let him know that he had not been
the only one to get into difficulty.
From somewhere behind, Captain Hughes gave instructions:
“Keep your eyes on that strip of woods. Squad on
the right, take the sector from the ravine to the top
of the knoll. Next squad, the sector from the top of
the knoll to that tree that stands out in front of the
woods. Next squad, the sector from that tree to the
big rock. Fourth squad, the sector from the big rock
to the road. If anyone comes out of the woods in your
sector, fire on him.”
“No one will come,” murmured Morrison. “Not
for five or six hours yet.”
But they all stood peering intently over the low ridge
of earth that protected the top of the trench and on
which their rifles rested. Without cessation the searchlights
swept back and forth along the belt of woods;
for only the briefest interval was any section left in
darkness. Time passed, and still the only sound was
the steady drumming of the rain.
Then suddenly out of the belt of woods broke a line
of men and charged forward. Instantly all along the
advance trenches burst jets of flame and the vicious
crackle and bang of the rifles. After the wearisome and
uncomfortable vigil, Kennedy felt warmed into excitement;
he got off three shots before the enemy dropped
to the ground and began shooting in their turn. Then
an enemy platoon on the right made a short rush
forward and dropped, and immediately resumed firing.
By platoon rushes the line advanced, and its fire seemed
to grow steadier and stronger as it drew nearer. In
contrast, the fire of the defenders of the trenches
weakened. Only three men in Wheeler’s squad were
maintaining a steady fire; the other squads displayed a
corresponding feebleness of resistance.
“Fire faster, men!” cried Captain Hughes.
But fire faster they did not—and could not. More
than half of them were now having the trouble in loading
their rifles that Kennedy had experienced—and was
having again. Fumbling in the darkness with the wet,
slippery mechanism, trying hurriedly to slide the
cartridge clips into place, man after man had jammed
his magazine, and with clumsy fingers was frantically
trying to adjust it. Meanwhile, the fire of the enemy
became more intense; they drew nearer and nearer by
platoon rushes; and at last Captain Hughes gave the
order to the defenders of the trenches, “Cease firing!”
Then, a few yards away, up sprang the enemy and,
with bayonets fixed and a wild yell that at the last
fizzled out into laughter, charged down on the trenches.
They stopped on the edge and greeted the defenders
derisively: “Well, boys, all dead, ain’t you?” “Fired
as if you were, anyway.” “How’d you have liked it
if this had been a real attack?” “Any of you boys
want to have a little bayonet practice?”
Captain Hughes gave the command to unload. After
“inspection arms” had been ordered, the captain
pointed the moral of the evening’s experience: “You
see, it’s not enough to be good daylight soldiers—important
though that is. You have got to be able to
use your rifles as well in the dark.”
B Company marched back to camp; Kennedy sought
an audience with Captain Hughes. He could only say
in a husky whisper:
“I want to explain about Corporal Wheeler’s poncho.”
He had to stop for a fit of coughing; the captain bent
down and looked at him sharply. “He took off his
poncho and made me put it on—I’d forgotten mine.
I hope it won’t count against him.”
“What do you mean by staying on duty in this
condition?” demanded the captain.
“I sound worse than I am.”
The captain grunted. “Report at sick call tomorrow.
I’ll remember what you say about Wheeler.
The next morning, when Kennedy returned from
the hospital tent, having been pronounced fit to
continue on active duty, he found the members of
squad five congratulating Wheeler on his promotion
to the rank of sergeant.
“Here’s the fellow that saved the job for me.”
Wheeler clapped Kennedy’s shoulder. “Captain
Hughes said you went to him and told tales out of
Kennedy looked pleased. “I heard the captain tell
you that you mightn’t be good at looking after your
men,” he answered. “I thought I’d show him.”
“Business, just business,” said Wheeler with a
twinkle in his eyes. “Dad would never forgive me
if I let anything happen to you. I feel just as responsible
for the bank, having you up here, as he does. Now
come and I’ll give you another lesson in how to tie a
—Arthur Stanwood Pier.
VII—THE PATH OF GLORY
It was so poor a place—a bitten-off morsel “at the
beyond end of nowhere”—that when a February gale
came driving down out of a steel sky and shut up the
little lane road and covered the house with snow a
passer-by might have mistaken it all, peeping through
its icy fleece, for just a huddle of the brown bowlders so
common to the country thereabouts.
And even when there was no snow it was as bad—worse,
almost, Luke thought. When everything else
went brave and young with new greenery; when the
alders were laced with the yellow haze of leaf bud, and
the brooks got out of prison again, and arbutus and
violet and buttercup went through their rotation of
bloom up in the rock pastures and maple bush—the
farm buildings seemed only the bleaker and barer.
That forlorn unpainted little house, with its sagging
blinds! It squatted there through the year like a one-eyed
beggar without a friend—lost in its venerable
white-beard winters, or contemplating an untidy welter
of rusty farm machinery through the summers.
When Luke brought his one scraggy little cow up the
lane he always turned away his head. The place made
him think of the old man who let the birds build nests in
his whiskers. He preferred, instead, to look at the
glories of Bald Mountain or one of the other hills.
There was nothing wrong with the back drop in the
home stage-set; it was only home itself that hurt one’s
There was no cheer inside, either. The sagging old
floors, though scrubbed and spotless, were uncarpeted;
the furniture meager. A pine table, a few old chairs, a
shabby scratched settle covered by a thin horse blanket
as innocent of nap as a Mexican hairless—these for essentials;
and for embellishment a shadeless glass lamp
on the table, about six-candle power, where you might
make shift to read the Biweekly—times when there was
enough money to have a Biweekly—if you were so
minded; and window shelves full of corn and tomato
cans, still wearing their horticultural labels, where
scrawny one-legged geraniums and yellowing coleus and
begonia contrived an existence of sorts.
And then, of course, the mantelpiece with the black-edged
funeral notice and shiny coffin plate, relics of
Grampaw Peel’s taking-off; and the pink mug with the
purple pansy and “Woodstock, N. Y.,” on it; the photograph
of a forgotten cousin in Iowa, with long antennæ-shaped
mustaches; the Bible with the little china
knobs on the corners; and the pile of medicine testimonials
and seed catalogues—all these contributed
If it was not a beautiful place within, it was, also, not
even a pleasant place spiritually. What with the open
door into his father’s room, whence you could hear the
thin frettings made by the man who had lain these ten
years with chronic rheumatism, and the untuneful
whistlings of whittling Tom, the big brother, the shapely
supple giant whose mind had never grown since the fall
from the barn room when he was eight years old, and
the acrid complaints of the tall gaunt mother, stepping
about getting their inadequate supper, in her gray
wrapper, with the ugly little blue shawl pinned round
her shoulders, it was as bad a place as you might find
in a year’s journeying for anyone to keep bright and
“chirk up” in.
Not that anyone in particular expected “them poor
Hayneses” to keep bright or “chirk up.” As far back
as he could remember, Luke had realized that the hand
of God was laid on his family. Dragging his bad leg up
the hill pastures after the cow, day in and day out, he
had evolved a sort of patient philosophy about it. It
was just inevitable, like a lot of things known in that
rock-ribbed and fatalistic region—as immutably decreed
by heaven as foreordination and the damnation of unbaptized
babes. The Hayneses had just “got it hard.”
Yet there were times, now he was come to a gangling
fourteen, when Luke’s philosophy threatened to fail
him. It wasn’t fair—so it wasn’t! They weren’t bad
folks; they’d done nothing wicked. His mother worked
like a dog—“no fair for her,” any way you looked at it.
There were times when the boy drank in bitterly every
detail of the miserable place he called home and knew
the depths of an utter despair.
If there was only some way to better it all! But
there was no chance. His father had been a failure at
everything he touched in early life, and now he was a
hopeless invalid. Tom was an idiot—or almost—and
himself a cripple. And Nat! Well, Nat “wa’n’t
willin”—not that one should blame him. Times like
these, a lump like a roc’s egg would rise in the
boy’s throat. He had to spit—and spit hard—to
“If we hain’t the gosh-awfulest lot!” he would gulp.
To-day, as he came up the lane, June was in the land.
She’d done her best to be kind to the farm. All the old
heterogeneous rosebushes in the wood-yard and front
“lawn” were piled with fragrant bloom. Usually Luke
would have lingered to sniff it all, but he saw only one
thing now with a sudden skipping at his heart—an automobile
standing beside the front porch.
It was not the type of car to cause cardiac disturbance
in a connoisseur. It was, in fact, of an early vintage,
high-set, chunky, brassily æsthetic, and given to asthmatic
choking on occasion; but Luke did not know this.
He knew only that it spelled luxury beyond all dreams.
It belonged, in short, to his Uncle Clem Cheesman, the
rich butcher who lived in the village twelve miles away;
and its presence here signaled the fact that Uncle Clem
and Aunt Mollie had come to pay one of their detestable
quarterly visits to their poor relations. They had come
while he was out, and Maw was in there now, bearing
it all alone.
Luke limped into the house hastily. He was not mistaken.
There was a company air in the room, a stiff
hostile-polite taint in the atmosphere. Three visitors
sat in the kitchen, and a large hamper, its contents
partly disgorged, stood on the table. Luke knew that
it contained gifts—the hateful, merciful, nauseating
charity of the better-off.
Aunt Mollie was speaking as he entered—a large,
high-colored, pouter-pigeon-chested woman, with a
great many rings with bright stones, and a nodding
pink plume in her hat. She was holding up a bifurcated
crimson garment, and greeted Luke absently.
“Three pair o’ them underdrawers, Delia—an’ not a
break in one of ’em! I sez, as soon as I see Clem layin’
’em aside this spring, ‘Them things’ll be jest right fur
Delia’s Jere, layin’ there with the rheumatiz.’ They
may come a little loose; but, of course, you can’t be
choicey. I’ve b’en at Clem fur five years to buy him
union suits; but he’s always b’en so stuck on red flannen.
But now he’s got two aut’mobiles, countin’ the new
delivery, I guess he’s gotta be more tony; so he made out
to spare ’em. And now that hat, Delia—it ain’t a mite
wore out, an’ fur all you’ll need one it’s plenty good
enough. I only had it two years and I guess folks won’t
remember; an’ what if they do—they all know you get
my things. Same way with that collarette. It’s a
little moth-eaten, but it won’t matter fur you....
The gray suit you can easy cut down fur Luke,
She droned on, the other woman making dry automatic
sounds of assent. She looked cool—Maw—Luke
thought; but she wasn’t. Not by a darn sight! There
was a spot of pink in each cheek and she stared hard
every little bit at Grampaw Peel’s funeral plate on the
mantel. Luke knew what she was thinking of—poor
Maw! She was burning in a fire of her own lighting.
She had brought it all on herself—on the whole lot of
Years ago she had been just like Aunt Mollie. The
daughters of a prosperous village carpenter, they had
shared beads, beaux and bangles until Maw, in a moment’s
madness, had chucked it all away to marry poor
Paw. Now she had made her bed, she must lie in it.
Must sit and say “Thank you!” for Aunt Mollie’s
leavings, precious scraps she dared not refuse—Maw,
who had a pride as fierce and keen as any! It was
devilish! Oh, it was kind of Aunt Mollie to give; it was
the taking that came so bitter hard. And then they
weren’t genteel about their giving. There was always
that air of superiority, that conscious patronage, as now,
when Uncle Clem, breaking off his conversation with
the invalid in the next room about the price of mutton
on the hoof and the chances of the Democrats’ getting
in again, stopped fiddling with his thick plated watch
chain and grinned across at big Tom to fling his undeviating
flower of wit:
“Runnin’ all to beef, hain’t ye, Tom, boy? Come on
down to the market an’ we’ll git some A 1 sirloins outen
ye, anyway. Do your folks that much good.”
It was things like this that made Luke want to burn,
poison, or shoot Uncle Clem. He was not a bad man,
Uncle Clem—a thick sandy chunk of a fellow, given to
bright neckties and a jocosity that took no account of
feelings. Shaped a little like a log, he was—back of
his head and back of his neck—all of a width. Little
lively green eyes and bristling red mustaches. A complexion
a society bud might have envied. Why was it a
butcher got so pink and white and sleek? Pork, that’s
what Uncle Clem resembled, Luke thought—a nice,
smooth, pale-fleshed pig, ready to be skinned.
His turn next! When crops and politics failed and the
joke at poor Tom—Tom always giggled inordinately at
it, too—had come off, there was sure to be the one about
himself and the lame duck next. To divert himself of
bored expectation, Luke turned to stare at his cousin,
S’norta, sitting quietly in a chair across the room, was
seldom known to be emotional. Indeed, there were
times when Luke wondered whether she had not died
in her chair. One had that feeling about S’norta, so
motionless was she, so uncompromising of glance. She
was very prosperous-looking, as became the heiress to
the Cheesman meat business—a fat little girl of twelve,
dressed with a profusion of ruffles, glass pearls, gilt
buckles, and thick tawny curls that might have come
straight from the sausage hook in her papa’s shop.
S’norta had been consecrated early in life to the unusual.
Even her name was not ordinary. Her romantic
mother, immersed in the prenatal period in the hair-lifting
adventures of one Señorita Carmena, could think
of no lovelier appellation when her darling came than
the first portion of that sloe-eyed and restless lady’s
title, which she conceived to be baptismal; and in due
course she had conferred it, together with her own pronunciation,
on her child. A bold man stopping in at
Uncle Clem’s market, as Luke knew, had once tried to
pronounce and expound the cognomen in a very different
fashion; but he had been hustled unceremoniously from
the place, and S’norta remained in undisturbed possession
of her honors.
Now Luke was recalled from his contemplation by his
uncle’s voice again. A lull had fallen and out of it broke
the question Luke always dreaded.
“Nat, now!” said Uncle Clem, leaning forward, his
thick fingers clutching his fat knees. “You ain’t had
any news of him since quite a while ago, have you?”
The wit that was so preponderable a feature of Uncle
Clem’s nature bubbled to the surface. “Dunno but
he’s landed in jail a spell back and can’t git out again!”
The lively little eyes twinkled appreciatively.
Nobody answered. It set Maw’s mouth in a thin,
hard line. You wouldn’t get a rise out of old Maw with
such tactics—Maw, who believed in Nat, soul and body.
Into Luke’s mind flashed suddenly a formless half
prayer: “Don’t let ’em nag her now—make ’em talk
The Lord, in the guise of Aunt Mollie, answered him.
For once, Nat and Nat’s character and failings did not
hold her. She drew a deep breath and voiced something
that claimed her interest:
“Well, Delia, I see you wasn’t out at the Bisbee’s
funeral. Though I don’t s’pose anyone really expected
you, knowin’ how things goes with you. Time was,
when you was a girl, you counted in as big as any and
traveled with the best; but now”—she paused delicately,
and coughed politely with an appreciative glance
round the poor room—“they ain’t anyone hereabouts
but’s talkin’ about it. My land, it was swell! I couldn’t
ask no better for my own. Fourteen cabs, and the
hearse sent over from Rockville—all pale gray, with
mottled gray horses. It was what I call tasty.
“Matty wasn’t what you’d call well-off—not as lucky
as some I could mention; but she certainly went off
grand! The whole Methodist choir was out, with three
numbers in broken time; and her cousin’s brother-in-law
from out West—some kind of bishop—to preach.
Honest, it was one of the grandest sermons I ever heard!
Wasn’t it, Clem?”
Uncle Clem cleared his throat thoughtfully.
“Humiliatin’!—that’s what I’d call it. A strong
maur’l sermon all round. A man couldn’t hear it ’thout
bein’ humiliated more ways’n one.” He was back at
the watch-chain again.
“It’s a pity you couldn’t of gone, Delia—you an’
Matty always was so intimate too. You certainly
missed a grand treat, I can tell you; though, if you
hadn’t the right clothes—”
“Well, I haven’t,” Maw spoke dryly. “I don’t go no-wheres,
as you know—not even church.”
“I s’pose not. Time was it was different, though,
Delia. Ain’t nobody but talks how bad off you are.
Ann Chester said she seen you in town a while back and
wouldn’t of knowed it was you if it hadn’t of b’en you
was wearin’ my old brown cape, an’ she reconnized it.
Her an’ me got ’em both alike to the same store in Rockville.
You was so changed, she said she couldn’t hardly
believe it was you at all.”
“Sometimes I wonder myself if it is,” said Maw
“Well, ’s I was sayin’, it was a grand funeral. None
better! They even had engraved invites, over a hundred
printed—and they had folks from all over the
state. They give Clem, here, the contract fur the
“The best of everything!” Uncle Clem broke in.
“None o’ your cheap graft. Gimme a free hand. Jim
Bisbee tole me himself. ‘I want the best ye got,’ he
sez; an’ I give it. Spring lamb and prime ribs, fancy
“An’ Em Carson baked the cakes fur ’em, sixteen of
’em; an’ Dickison the undertaker’s tellin’ all over they
got the best quality shroud he carries. Well, you’ll
find it all in the Biweekly, under Death’s Busy Sickle.
Jim Bisbee shore set a store by Matty oncet she was
dead. It was a grand affair, Delia. Not but what
we’ve had some good ones in our time too.”
It was Aunt Mollie’s turn to stare pridefully at the
Peel plate on the chimney shelf.
“A thing like that sets a family up, sorta.”
Uncle Clem had taken out a fat black cigar with a
red-white-and-blue band. He bit off the end and
alternately thrust it between his lips or felt of its thickness
with a fondling thumb and finger. Luke, watching,
felt a sudden compassion for the cigar. It looked so
“I always say,” Aunt Mollie droned on, “a person
shows up what he really is at the last—what him and
his family stands fur. It’s what kind of a funeral you’ve
got that counts—who comes out an’ all. An’ that was
true with Matty. There wa’n’t a soul worth namin’
that wasn’t out to hers.”
How Aunt Molly could gouge—even amicably!
And funerals! What a subject, even in a countryside
where a funeral is a social event and the manner of its
furniture marks a definite social status! Would they
never go? But it seemed at last they would. Incredibly,
somehow, they were taking their leave, Aunt
Mollie kissing Maw good-by, with the usual remark
about “hopin’ the things would help some,” and about
being “glad to spare somethin’ from my great plenty.”
She and Señorita were presently packed into the
car and Tom had gone out to goggle at Uncle Clem
cranking up, the cold cigar still between his lips. Now
they were off—choking and snorting their way out of
the wood-yard and down the lane. Aunt Mollie’s pink
feather streamed into the breeze like a pennon of
Maw was standing by the stove, a queer look in her
eyes; so queer that Luke didn’t speak at once. He
limped over to finger the spilled treasures on the table.
“Gee! Lookit, Maw! More o’ them prunes we
liked so; an’ a bag o’ early peaches; an’ fresh soup
meat fur a week—”
A queer trembling had seized his mother. She was
so white he was frightened.
“Did you sense what it meant, Luke—what Aunt
Molly told us about Matty Bisbee? We was left out
deliberate—that’s what it meant. Her an’ me that was
raised together an’ went to school and picnics all our
girlhood together! Never could see one ’thout the
other when we was growin’ up—Jim Bisbee knew that
too! But”—her voice wavered miserably—“I didn’t
get no invite to her funeral. I don’t count no more,
Lukey. None of us, anywheres.... We’re jest them
poor Gawd-forsaken Hayneses.”
She slipped down suddenly into a chair and covered
her face, her thin shoulders shaking. Luke went and
touched her awkwardly. Times he would have liked
to put his arms round Maw—now more than ever;
but he didn’t dare.
“Don’t take on, Maw! Don’t!”
“Who’s takin’ on?” She lifted a fierce, sallow, tear-wet
face. “Hain’t no use makin’ a fuss. All’s left’s to
work—to work, an’ die after a while.”
“I hate ’em! Uncle Clem an’ her, I mean.”
“They mean kindness—their way.” But her tears
“I hate ’em!” Luke’s voice grew shriller. “I’d like—I’d
like—Oh, damn ’em!”
“Don’t swear, boy!”
It was Tom who broke in on them. “It’s a letter
from Rural Free Delivery. He jest dropped it.”
He came up, grinning, with the missive. The
mother’s fingers closed on it nervously.
“From Nat, mebbe—he ain’t wrote in months.”
But it wasn’t from Nat. It was a bill for a last
payment on the “new harrow,” brought three years
One of the earliest memories Luke could recall was
the big blurred impression of Nat’s face bending over
his crib of an evening. At first flat, indefinite, remote
as the moon, it grew with time to more human, intimate
proportions. It became the face of “brother,” the
black-haired, blue-eyed big boy who rollicked on the
floor with or danced him on his knee to—
This is the way the lady rides!
Or who, returning from school and meeting his faltering
feet in the lane, would toss him up on his shoulder and
canter him home with mad, merry scamperings.
Not that school and Nat ever had much in common.
Even as a little shaver Luke had realized that, Nat was
the family wilding, the migratory bird that yearned
for other climes. There were the times when he sulked
long days by the fire, and the springs and autumns
when he played an unending round of hookey. There
were the days when he was sent home from school in
disgrace; when protesting notes, and sometimes even
“It’s not that Nat’s a bad boy, Mrs. Haynes,” he
remembered one teacher saying; “but he’s so active,
so full of restless animal spirits. How are we ever
going to tame him?”
Maw didn’t know the answer—that was sure. She
loved Nat best—Luke had guessed it long ago, by the
tone of her voice when she spoke to him, by the touch
of her hand on his head, or the size of his apple turnover,
so much bigger than the others’. Maw must have built
heavily on her hopes of Nat those days—her one perfect
child. She was so proud of him! In the face of
all ominous prediction she would fling her head high.
“My Nat’s a Peel!” she would say. “Can’t never
tell how he’ll turn out.”
The farmers thereabouts thought they could tell her.
Nat was into one scrape after another—nothing especially
wicked; but a compound of the bubbling mischief
in a too ardent life—robbed orchards, broken windows,
practical jokes, Halloween jinks, vagrant whimsies of
an active imagination.
It was just that Nat’s quarters were too small for
him, chiefly. Even he realized this presently. Luke
would never forget the sloppy March morning when
Nat went away. He was wakened by a flare of candle
in the room he shared with his brothers. Tom, the
twelve-year-old, lay sound asleep; but Nat, the big
man of fifteen, was up, dressed, bending over something
he was writing on a paper at the bureau. There was a
fat little bundle beside him, done up in a blue-and-white
Day was still far off. The window showed black;
there was the sound of a thaw running off the eaves;
the whitewashed wall was painted with grotesque leaping
shadows by the candle flame. At the first murmur,
Nat had come and put his arms about him.
“Don’t ye holler, little un; don’t ye do it! ’Tain’t
nothin’—on’y Natty’s goin’ away a spell; quite a spell,
little un. Now kiss Natty.... That’s right!...
An’ you lay still there an’ don’t holler. An’ listen
here, too: Natty’s goin’ to bring ye somethin’—a grand
red ball, mebbe—if you’re good. You wait an’ see!”
But Natty hadn’t brought the ball. Two years had
passed without a scrap of news of him; and then—he
was back. Slipped into the village on a freighter at dusk
one evening. A forlorn scarecrow Nat was; so tattered
of garment, so smeared of coal dust, you scarcely knew
him. So full of strange sophistications, too, and new
trails of thought—so oddly rich of experience. He
gave them his story. The tale of an exigent life in a
great city; a piecework life made of such flotsam labors
as he could pick up, of spells of loafing, of odd incredible
associates, of months tagging a circus, picking up a
task here and there, of long journeyings through the
country, “riding the bumpers”—even of alms asked
at back doors!
“Oh, not a tramp, Nat!”
The hurt had quivered all through Maw.
But Nat only laughed.
“Jiminy Christmas, it was great!”
He had thrown back his head, laughing. That was
Nat all through—sipping of life generously, no matter
in what form.
He had stayed just three weeks. He had spent
them chiefly defeating Maw’s plans to keep him.
Wanderlust kept him longer the next time. That was
eight years ago. Since then he had been back home
three times. Never so poor and shabby as at first—indeed,
Nat’s wanderings had prospered more or less—but
still remote, somewhat mysterious, touched by
new habits of life, new ways of speech.
The countryside, remembering the manner of his
first return, shook its head darkly. A tramp—a
burglar, even. God knew what! When, on his third
visit home, he brought an air of extreme opulence,
plenty of money, and a sartorial perfection undreamed
of locally, the heads wagged even harder. A gambler
probably; a ne’er-do-well certainly; and one to break
his mother’s heart in the end.
But none of this was true, as Luke knew. It was just
that Nat hated farming; that he liked to rove and take
a floater’s fortune. He had a taste for the mechanical
and followed incomprehensible quests. San Francisco
had known him; the big races at Cincinnati; the
hangars at Mineola. He was restless—Nat; but he
was respectable. No one could look into his merry
blue eyes and not know it. If his labors were uncertain
and sporadic, and his address that of a nomad, it all
sufficed, at least for himself.
If at times Luke felt a stirring doubt that Nat was not
acquitting himself of his family duty, he quenched it
fiercely. Nat was different. He was born free; you
could tell it in his talk, in his way of thinking. He was
like an eagle and hated to be bound by earthly ties.
He cared for them all in his own way. Times when
he was back he helped Maw all he could. If he brought
money he gave of it freely; if he had none, just the look
of his eye or the ready jest on his lip helped.
Upstairs in a drawer of the old pine bureau lay some
of Nat’s discarded clothing—incredible garments to
Luke. The lame boy, going to them sometimes, fingered
them, pondering, reconstructing for himself the
fabric of Nat’s adventures, his life. The ice-cream
pants of a by-gone day; the pointed, shriveled yellow
Oxfords! the silk-front shirt; the odd cuff link or stud—they
were like a genie-in-a-bottle, these poor clothes!
You rubbed them and a whole Arabian Night’s dream
unfurled from them.
And Nat lived it all! But people—dull stodgy
people like Uncle Clem and Aunt Mollie, and old Beckonridge
down at the store, and a dozen others—these
criticized him for not “workin’ reg’lar” and giving a
full account of himself.
Luke, thinking of all this, would flush with impotent
“Oh, let ’em talk, though! He’ll show ’em some
day! They dunno Nat. He’ll do somethin’ big fur
us all some day.”
Midsummer came to trim the old farm with her
wreaths. It was the time Luke loved best of all—the
long, sweet, loam-scented evenings with Maw and Tom
on the old porch; and sometimes—when there was no
fog—Paw’s cot, wheeled out in the stillness. But Maw
was not herself this summer. Something had fretted
and eaten into her heart like an acid ever since
Aunt Mollie’s visit and the news of Matty Bisbee’s
When, one by one, the early summer festivities of
the neighborhood had slipped by, with no inclusion
of the Hayneses, she had fallen to brooding deeply,—to
feeling more bitterly than ever the ignominy and
wretchedness of their position.
Luke tried to comfort her; to point out that this
summer was like any other; that they “never had
mattered much to folks.” But Maw continued to
brood; to allude vaguely and insistently to “the straw
that broke the camel’s back.” It was bitter hard to
have Maw like that—home was bad enough, anyway.
Sometimes on clear, soft nights, when the moon came
out all splendid and the “peepers” sang so plaintively
in the Hollow, the boy’s heart would fill and grow
enormous in his chest with the intolerable sadness he
Then Maw’s mood lifted—pierced by a ray of heavenly
sunlight—for Nat came home!
Luke saw him first—heard him, rather; for Nat
came up the lane—oh, miraculous!—driving a motor
car. It was not a car like Uncle Clem’s—not even a
step-brother to it. It was low and almost noiseless, and
shaped like one of those queer torpedoes they were
fighting with across the water. It was colored a soft
dust-gray and trimmed with nickel; and, huge and
powerful though it was, it swung to a mere touch of
Nat stood before them, clad in black leather Norfolk
and visored cap and leggings.
“Look like a fancy brand of chauffeur, don’t I?”
he laughed, with the easy resumption of a long-broken
relation that was so characteristically Nat.
But Nat was not a chauffeur. Something much
bigger and grander. The news he brought them on
top of it all took their breaths away. Nat was a special
demonstrator, out on a brand-new high-class job for a
house handling a special line of high-priced goods.
And he was to go to Europe in another week—did they
get it straight? Europe! Jiminy! He and another
fellow were taking cars over to France and England.
No; they didn’t quite get it. They could not grasp
its significance, but clung humbly, instead, to the mere
glorious fact of his presence.
He stayed two days and a night; and summer was
never lovelier. Maw was like a girl, and there was
such a killing of pullets and extravagance with new-laid
eggs as they had never known before. At the last
he gave them all presents.
“Tell the truth,” he laughed, “I’m stony broke.
’Tisn’t mine, all this stuff you see. I got some kale in
advance—not much, but enough to swing me; but of
course, the outfit’s the company’s. But I’ll tell you
one thing: I’m going to bring some long green home
with me, you can bet! And when I do”—Nat had
given Maw a prodigious nudge in the ribs—“when I
do—I ain’t goin’ to stay an old bachelor forever! Do
you get that?”
Maw’s smile had faded for a moment. But the presents
were fine—a new knife for Tom, a book for Luke,
and twenty whole round dollars for Maw, enough to
pay that old grocery bill down at Beckonridge’s and
Paw’s new invoice of patent medicine.
They all stood on the porch and watched him as
far as they could see; and Maw’s black mood didn’t
return for a whole week.
Evenings now they had something different to talk
about—journeys in seagoing craft; foreign countries
and the progress of the “Ee-ropean” war, and Nat’s
likelihood—he had laughed at this—of touching even
its fringe. They worked it all up from the boiler-plate
war news in the Biweekly and Luke’s school geography.
Yes; for a little space the blackness was lifted.
Then came the August morning when Paw died.
This was an unexpected and unsettling contingency.
One doesn’t look for a “chronic’s” doing anything
so unscheduled and foreign to routine; but Paw spoiled
all precedent. They found him that morning with
his heart quite still, and Luke knew they stood in the
presence of imminent tragedy.
It’s all very well to peck along, hand-to-mouth
fashion. You can manage a living of sorts; and farm
produce, even scanty, unskillfully contrived, and the
charity of relatives, and the patience of tradesmen,
will see you through. But a funeral—that’s different!
Undertaker—that means money. Was it possible
that the sordid epic of their lives must be capped by
the crowning insult, the Poormaster and the Pauper’s
Field? If only poor Paw could have waited a little
before he claimed the spotlight—until prices fell a
little or Nat got back with that “long green”!
Maw swallowed her bitter pill.
She went to see Uncle Clem and ask! And Uncle
Clem was kind.
“He’ll buy a casket—he’s willin’ fur that—an’ send
a wreath and pay fur notices, an’ even half on a buryin’
lot; but he said he couldn’t do no more. The high cost
has hit him too.... An’ where are we to git the
rest? He said—at the last—it might be better all
round fur us to take what Ellick Flick would gimme
outen the Poor Fund—” Maw hadn’t been able to
go on for a spell.
A pauper’s burial for Paw! Surely Maw would
manage better than that! She tried to find a better
way that very night.
“This farm’s mortgaged to the neck; but I calculate
Ben Travis won’t care if I’m a mind to put Paw in the
south field. It hain’t no mortal good fur anything
else, anyhow; an’ he can lay there if we want. It’s a
real pleasant place. An’ I can git the preacher myself—I’ll
give him the rest o’ the broilers; an’ they’s seasoned
hickory plankin’ in the lean-to. Tom, you come along
All night Luke had lain and listened to the sound of
big Tom’s saw and hammer. Tom was real handy if
you told him how—and Maw would be showing him
just how to shape it all out. Each hammer blow struck
deep on the boy’s heart.
Maw lined the home-made box herself with soft old
quilts, and washed and dressed her dead herself in his
faded outlawed wedding clothes. And on a morning
soft and sweet, with a hint of rain in the air, they rode
down in the farm wagon to the south field together—Paw
and Maw and Luke—with big Tom walking beside
the aged knobby horse’s head.
Abel Gazzam, a neighbor, had seen to the grave;
and in due course the little cavalcade reached the
appointed spot inside the snake fence—a quiet place
in a corner, under a graybeard elm. As Maw had
said, it was “a pleasant place for Paw to lay in.”
There were some old neighbors out in their own rigs,
and Uncle Clem had brought his family up in his car,
with a proper wreath; and Reverend Kearns came up
and—declining all lien on the broilers—read the burial
service, and spoke a little about poor Paw. But it
wasn’t a funeral, no how. No supper; no condolence;
no viewing “the remains”—not even a handshake!
Maw didn’t even look at her old friends, riding back
home between Tom and Luke, with her head fiercely
high in the air.
A dull depression settled on Luke’s heart. It was
all up with the Hayneses now. They had saved Paw
from charity with their home-made burial; but what
had it availed? They might as well have gone the
whole figure. Everybody knew! There wasn’t any
comeback for a thing like this. They were just no-bodies—the
social pariahs of the district.
Somehow, after the fashion of other years, they got
their meager crops in—turnips, potatoes and Hubbard
squashes put up in the vegetable cellar; oats cradled;
corn husked; the buckwheat ready for the mill; even
Tom’s crooked furrows for the spring sowings made.
Somehow, Maw helping like a man and Tom obeying
like a docile child, they took toll of their summer. And
suddenly September was at their heels—and then the
It seemed to Luke that it had never rained so much
before. Brown vapor rose eternally from the valley
flats; the hilltops lay lost entirely in clotted murk. By
periods hard rains, like showers of steel darts, beat on
the soaking earth. Gypsy gales of wind went ricocheting
among the farm buildings, setting the shingles to
snapping and singing; the windows moaned and rattled.
The sourest weather the boy could remember!
And on the worst day of all they got the news. Out
of the mail box in the lane Luke got it—going down
under an old rubber cape in a steady blinding pour. It
got all damp—the letter, foreign postmark, stamp and
all—by the time he put it into Maw’s hand.
It was a double letter—or so one judged, first opening
it. There was another inside, complete, sealed, and
addressed in Nat’s hand; but one must read the paper
inclosed with it first—that was obvious. It was just
a strip, queer, official looking, with a few lines typed
upon it and a black heading that sprang out at one
strangely. They read it together—or tried to. At first
they got no sense from it. Paris—from clear off in
France—and then the words below—and Maw’s name
at the top, just like the address on the newspaper:
Mrs. Jere Haynes,
Stony Brook, New York.
It was for Maw all right. Then quite suddenly the
words came clear through the blur:
Mrs. Jere Haynes,
Stony Brook, New York.
Dear Madam: We regret to inform you that the official
communiqué for September sixth contains the
tidings that the writer of the enclosed letter, Nathaniel
Haynes, of Stony Brook, New York, U. S. A., was killed
while on duty as an ambulance driver in the Sector of
Verdun, and has been buried in that region. Further
details will follow.
The American Ambulance, Paris.
Even when she realized, Maw never cried out. She
sat wetting her lips oddly, looking at the words that had
come like evil birds across the wide spaces of earth. It
was Luke who remembered the other letter:
“My dear kind folks—Father, Mother and Brothers:
I guess I dare call you that when I get far enough away
from you. Perhaps you won’t mind when I tell you my
“Well we came over from England last Thursday and
struck into our contract here. Things was going pretty
good; but you might guess yours truly couldn’t stand
the dead end of things. I bet Maw’s guessed already.
Well sir it’s that roving streak in me I guess. Never
could stick to nothing steady. It got me bad when I
got here any how.
“To cut it short I throwed up my job with the firm
yesterday and have volunteered as an Ambulance
driver. Nothing but glory; but I’m going to like it fine!
They’re short-handed anyhow and a fellow likes to help
what he can. Wish I could send a little money; but it
took all I had to outfit me. Had to cough up eight
bucks for a suit of underclothes. What do you know
“You can write me in care of the Ambulance, Paris.
“Now Maw don’t worry! I’m not going to fight. I
did try to get into the Foreign Legion but had no chance.
I’m all right. Think of me as a nice little Red Cross boy
and the Wise Willie on the gas wagon. And won’t I
have the hot stuff to make old Luke’s eyes pop out!
Hope Paw’s legs are better. And Maw have a kiss on
me. Mebbe you folks think I don’t appreciate you. If
I was any good at writing I’d tell you different.
“Your Son and Brother,
The worst of it all was about Maw’s not crying—just
sitting there staring at the fire, or where the fire had
been when the wood had died out of neglect. It’s not in
reason that a woman shouldn’t cry, Luke felt. He tried
some words of comfort:
“He’s safe, anyhow, Maw—’member that! That’s a
whole lot too. Didn’t always know that, times he was
rollin’ round so over here. You worried a whole lot
about him, you know.”
But Maw didn’t answer. She seldom spoke at all—moved
about as little as possible. When she had put
out food for him and Tom she always went back to her
corner and stared into the fire. Luke had to bring a
plate to her and coax her to eat. Even the day Uncle
Clem and Aunt Mollie came up she did not notice them.
Only once she spoke of Nat to Luke.
“You loved him the most, didn’t ye, Maw?” he
asked timidly one dreary evening.
She answered in a sort of dull surprise.
“Why, lad, he was my first!” she said; and after a
bit, as though to herself: “His head was that round and
shiny when he was a little fellow it was like to a little
round apple. I mind, before he ever come, I bought me
a cap fur him over to Rockville, with a blue bow onto it.
He looked awful smart an’ pretty in it.”
Sometimes in the night Luke, sleeping ill and thinking
long, lay and listened for possible sounds from
Maw’s room. Perhaps she cried in the nights. If she
only would—it would help break the tension for them
all. But he never heard anything but the rain—steadily,
miserably beating on the sodden shingles overhead.
It was only Luke who watched the mail box now.
One morning his journey to it bore fruit. No sting any
longer; no fear in the thick foreign letter he carried.
“It’ll tell ye all’s to it, I bet!” he said eagerly.
Maw seemed scarcely interested. It was Luke who
broke the seal and read it aloud.
It was written from the Ambulance Headquarters, in
Paris—written by a man of rare insight, of fine and
delicate perception. All that Nat’s family might have
wished to learn he sought to tell them. He had himself
investigated Nat’s story and he gave it all fully and
freely. He spoke in praise of Nat; of his friendly associations
with the Ambulance men; of his good nature and
cheerful spirits; his popularity and ready willingness to
serve. People, one felt, had loved Nat over there.
He wrote of the preliminary duties in Paris, the preparations—of
Nat’s final going to join one of the three
sections working round Verdun. It wasn’t easy work
that waited for Nat there. It was a stiff contract guiding
the little ambulance over the shell-rutted roads,
with deftness and precision, to those distant dressing
stations where the hurt soldiers waited for him. It
was a picture that thrilled Luke and made his pulses
tingle—the blackness of the nights; the rumble of
moving artillery and troops; the flash of starlights; the
distant crackling of rifle fire; the steady thunder of
And the shells! It was mighty close they swept to a
fellow, whistling, shrieking, low overhead; falling to tear
out great gouges in the earth. It was enough to wreck
one’s nerve utterly; but the fellows that drove were all
nerve. Just part of the day’s work to them! And that
was Nat too. Nat hadn’t known what fear was—he’d
eaten it alive. The adventurer in him had gone out to
meet it joyously.
Nat was only on his third trip when tragedy had come
to him. He and a companion were seeking a dressing
station in the cellar of a little ruined house in an obscure
French village, when a shell had burst right at their feet,
so to speak. That was all. Simple as that. Nat was
dead instantly and his companion—oh, Nat was really
the lucky one....
Luke had to stop for a little time. One couldn’t go on
at once before a thing like that.... When he did, it
was to leave behind the darkness, the shell-torn houses,
the bruised earth, the racked and mutilated humans....
Reading on, it was like emerging from Hades into a
“I wish it were possible to convey to you, my dear
Mrs. Haynes, some impression of the moving and
beautiful ceremony with which your son was laid to
rest on the morning of September ninth, in the little
village of Aucourt. Imagine a warm, sunny, late-summer
day, and a village street sloping up a hillside,
filled with soldiers in faded, dusty blue, and American
Ambulance drivers in khaki.
“In the open door of one of the houses, the front of
which was covered with the tri-color of France, the
coffin was placed, wrapped in a great French flag, and
covered with flowers and wreaths sent by the various
American sections. At the head a small American flag
was placed, on which was pinned the Croix de Guerre—a
gold star on a red-and-green ribbon—a tribute from
the army general to the boy who gave his life for
“A priest, with six soldier attendants, led the procession
from the courtyard. Six more soldiers bore the coffin,
the Americans and representatives of the army
branches following, bearing wreaths. After these came
the General of the Army Corps, with a group of officers,
and a detachment of soldiers with arms reversed. At
the foot of the hill a second detachment fell in and joined
“The scene was unforgettable, beautiful and impressive.
In the little church a choir of soldiers sang and a
soldier-priest played the organ, while the Chaplain of
the Army Division held the burial service. The chaplain’s
sermon I have asked to have reproduced and
sent to you, together with other effects of your son’s....
“The chaplain spoke most beautifully and at length,
telling very tenderly what it meant to the French people
that an American should give his life while trying to
help them in the hour of their extremity. The name of
this chaplain is Henri Deligny, Aumônier Militaire,
Ambulance 16-27, Sector 112; and he was assisted by
the permanent curé of the little church, Abbé Blondelle,
who wishes me to assure you that he will guard most
reverently your son’s grave, and be there to receive you
when the day may come that you shall wish to visit it.
“After leaving the church the procession marched to
the military cemetery, where your son’s body was laid
beside the hundreds of others who have died for France.
Both the lieutenant and general here paid tributes of appreciation,
which I will have sent to you. The general,
various officers of the army, and ambulance assisted in
the last rites....
“I have brought back and will send you the Croix de
Oh, but you couldn’t read any further—for the great
lump of pride in your throat, the thick mist of tears in
your eyes. A sob escaped the boy. He looked over at
Maw and saw the miraculous. Maw was awake at last
and crying—a new-fledged pulsating Maw emerged from
the brown chrysalis of her sorrows.
“Oh, Maw!... Our Nat!... All that—that-funeral!...
Some funeral, Maw!” The boy choked.
“My Nat!” Maw was saying. “Buried like a king!
... Like a King o’ France!” She clasped her hands
It was like some beautiful fantasy. A Haynes—the
despised and rejected of earth—borne to his last home
with such pomp and ceremony!
“There never was nothin’ like it heard of round here,
Maw.... If folks could only know—”
She lifted her head as at a challenge.
“Why, they’re goin’ to know, Luke—for I’m goin’ to
tell ’em. Folks that have talked behind Nat’s back—folks
that have pitied us—when they see this—like a
King o’ France!” she repeated softly. “I’m goin’ down
to town to-day, Luke.”
It was dusk when Maw came back; dusk of a clear
day, with a rosy sunset off behind the hills. Luke
opened the door for her and he saw that she had brought
some of the sun along in with her—its colors in her
worn face; its peace in her eyes. She was the same,
yet somehow new. Even the tilt of her crazy old
bonnet could not detract from a strange new dignity
that clothed her.
She did not speak at once, going over to warm her
gloveless hands at the stove, and staring up at the
Grampaw Peel plate; then:
“When it comes—my Nat’s medal—it’s goin’ to set
right up here, ’stead o’ this old thing—an’ the letters
and the sermons in my shell box I got on my weddin’
trip.... Lawyer Ritchie told me to-day what it
means, the name o’ that medal—Cross o’ War! It’s
a decoration fur soldiers and earned by bravery.”
She paused; then broke out suddenly:
“I b’en a fool, settin’ here grievin’. My Nat was a
hero, an’ I never knew it!... A hero’s folks hadn’t
ought to cry. It’s a thing too big for that. Come here,
you little Luke! Maw hain’t b’en real good to you an’
Tommy lately. You’re gittin’ all white an’ peaked.
Too much frettin’ ’bout Nat. You an’ me’s got to
stop it, I tell you. Folks round here ain’t goin’ to let
“Folks! Maw!” The words burst from the boy’s
heart. “Did they find out?... You showed it to
’em? Uncle Clem—”
“Clem! Oh, he was real took aback; but he don’t
count in on this—not big enough.” Then triumph
hastened her story. “It’s the big ones that’s mixin’
into this, Lukey. Seems like they’d heard somethin’
a spell back in one o’ the county papers, an’ we didn’t
know.... Anyhow, when I first got into town I met
Judge Geer. He had me right into his office in Masonic
Hall, ’fore I could git my breath almost—had
me settin’ in his private room, an’ sent his stenugifer
out fur a cup o’ cawfee fur me. He had me give him
the letter to read, an’ asked dare he make some copies.
The stenugifer took ’em like lightnin’, right there.
“The judge had a hard time of it, coughin’ an’
blowin’ over that letter. He’s goin’ to send some
copies to the New York papers right off. He took me
acrost the hall and interduced me to Lawyer Ritchie.
Lawyer Ritchie, he read the letter too. ‘A hero!’
they called Nat; an’ me ‘A hero’s mother!’
“‘We ain’t goin’ to forgit this, Mis’ Haynes,’ Lawyer
Ritchie said. ‘This here whole town’s proud o’ your
Nat.’ ... My land! I couldn’t sense it all!...
Me, Delia Haynes, gettin’ her hand wrung, ’count o’
anything Nat’d b’en doin’, by the big bugs round
town! Judge Geer, he fetched ’em all out o’ their
offices—Slade, the supervisor, and Fuller Brothers,
and old Sumner Pratt—an’ all! An’ Ben Watson
asked could he have a copy to put in the Biweekly.
It’s goin’ to take the whole front page, with an editor’al
inside. He said the Rockville Center News’d most
likely copy it too.
“I was like in a dream!... All I’d aimed to do
was to let some o’ them folks know that those people
acrost the ocean had thought well of our Nat, an’ here
they was breakin’ their necks to git in on it too!...
Goin’ down the street they was more of it. Lu Shiffer
run right out o’ the hardware store an’ left the nails
he was weighin’ to shake hands with me; and Jem
Brand came; and Lan’lord Peters come out o’ the
Valley House an’ spoke to me.... I felt awful
public. An’ Jim Beckonridge come out of the Emporium
to shake too.
“‘I ain’t seen you down in town fur quite a spell,’
he sez. ‘How are you all up there to the farm?...
Want to say I’m real proud o’ Nat—a boy from round
here!’ he sez.... Old Beckonridge, that was always
wantin’ to arrest Nat fur takin’ his chestnuts or foolin’
down in the store!
“I just let ’em drift—seein’ they had it all fixed fur
me. All along the street they come an’ spoke to me.
Mame Parmlee, that ain’t b’en able to see me fur
three years, left off sweepin’ her porch an’ come down
an’ shook my hand, an’ cried about it; an’ that stylish
Mis’ Willowby, that’s president o’ the Civil Club,
followed me all over the Square and asked dare she
read a copy o’ the letter an’ tell about Nat to the school-house
“It seems Judge Geer had gone out an’ spread it
broadcast that I was in town, for they followed me
everywhere. Next thing I run into Reverend Kearns
and Reverend Higby, huntin’ me hard. They both
had one idee.
“‘We wanted to have a memor’al service to the
churches ’bout Nat,’ they sez; ‘then it come over us
that it was the town’s affair really. So, Mis’ Haynes,’
they sez, ‘we want you should share this thing with
us. You mustn’t be selfish. You gotta give us a little
part in it too. Are you willin’?’”
“It knocked me dumb—me givin’ anybody anything!
Well, to finish, they’s to be a big public service
in the Town Hall on Friday. They’ll have it all flags—French
ones, an’ our’n too. An’ the ministers’ll preach;
an’ Judge Geer’ll tell Nat’s story an’ speak about him;
an’ the Ladies’ Guild’ll serve a big hot supper, because
they’ll probably be hundreds out; an’ they’ll read the
letters an’ have prayers for our Nat!” She faltered
a moment. “An’ we’ll be there too—you an’ me an’
Tom—settin’ in the seat o’ honor, right up front!...
It’ll be the greatest funeral service this town’s ever
Maw’s face was crimson with emotion.
“An’ Uncle Clem an’ Aunt Mollie—”
“Oh—them!” Maw came back to earth and smiled
tolerantly. “They was real sharp to be in it too.
Mollie took me into the parlor an’ fetched a glass o’
wine to stren’then me up.” Maw mused a moment;
then spoke with a touch of patronage: “I’m goin’ to
knit Clem some new socks this winter. He says he
can’t git none like the oldtime wool ones; an’ the market
floors are cold. Clem’s done what he could, an’
I’ll be real glad to help him out.... Oh, I asked
’em to come an’ set with us at the service—S’norta
too. I allowed we could manage to spare ’em the
She dreamed again, launched on a sea of glory; then
roused to her final triumph:
“But that’s only part, Luke. The best’s comin’.
Jim Beckonridge wants you to go down an’ see him.
‘That lame boy o’ yours,’ he sez, ‘was in here a spell
ago with some notion about raisin’ bees an’ buckwheat
together, an’ gittin’ a city market fur buckwheat
honey. Slipped my mind,’ he sez, ’till I heard what
Nat’d done; an’ then it all come back. City party
this summer had the same notion an’ was lookin’ out
for a likely place to invest some cash in. You send
that boy down an’ we’ll talk it over. Shouldn’t wonder
if he’d get some backin’. I calculate I might help him,
myself,’ he sez, ‘I b’en thinkin’ of it too.’ ... Don’t
seem like it could hardly be true.”
“Oh, Maw!” Luke’s pulses were leaping wildly.
Buckwheat honey was the dear dream of many a long
hour’s wistful meditation. “If we could—I could
study up about it an’ send away fur printed books.
We could make some money—”
But Maw had not yet finished.
“An’ they’s some about Tom, too, Luke! That
young Doctor Wells down there—he’s on’y b’en there
a year—he come right up, an’ spoke to me, in the
midst of several. ‘I want to talk about your boy,’ he
sez. ‘I’ve wanted to fur some time, but didn’t like to
make bold; but now seem’s as good a time as any.’
‘They’re all talkin’ of him,’ I sez. ‘Well,’ he sez, ‘I
don’t mean the dead, but the livin’ boy—the one folks
calls Big Tom. I’ve heard his story, an’ I got a good
look over him down here in the store a while ago.
Woman’—he sez it jest like that—‘if that big boy o’
your’n had a little operation, he’d be as good as
“I answered him patient, an’ told him what ailed
Tom an’ why he couldn’t be no different—jest what
old Doc Andrews told us—that they was a little piece
o’ bone druv deep into his skull that time he fell. He
spoke real vi’lent then. ‘But—my Lord!—woman,’
he sez, ‘that’s what I’m talkin’ about. If we jack up
that bone’—trepannin’, he called it too—’his brains’d
git to be like anybody else’s.’ Told me he wants fur us
to let him look after it. Won’t cost anything unless
we want. They’s a hospital to Rockville would tend
to it, an’ glad to—when we git ready.... My poor
Tommy!... Don’t seem’s if it could be true.”
Her face softened, and she broke up suddenly.
“I got good boys all round,” she wept. “I always
said it; an’ now folks know.”
Luke lay on the old settle, thinking. In the air-tight
stove the hickory fagots crackled, with jeweled
color-play. On the other side Tom sat whittling silently—Tom,
who would presently whittle no more,
but rise to be a man.
It was incredible! Incredible that the old place
might some day shake off its shackles of poverty and
be organized for a decent struggle with life! Incredible
that Maw—stepping briskly about getting the supper—should
Already the room seemed filled and warmed with
the odors of prosperity and self-respect. Maw had
put a red geranium on the table; there was the crispy
fragrance of frying salt pork and soda biscuit in the
These the Hayneses! These people, with hope and
self-esteem once more in their hearts! These people,
with a new, a unique place in the community’s respect!
It was all like a beautiful miracle; and,
thinking of its maker, Luke choked suddenly and
There was a moist spot on the old Mexican hairless
right under his eyes; but it had been made by tears of
pride, not sorrow. Maw was right! A hero’s folks
hadn’t ought to cry. And he wouldn’t. Nat was
better off than ever—safe and honored. He had trod
the path of glory. A line out of the boy’s old Reader
sprang to his mind: “The paths of glory lead but to
the grave.” Oh, but it wasn’t true! Nat’s path led
to life—to hope; to help for all of them, for Nat’s own.
In his death, if not in his life, he had rehabilitated
them. And Nat—who loved them—would look down
and call it good.
In spite of himself the boy sobbed, visioning his
“Oh, Nat!” he whispered. “I knew you’d do it!
I always said you’d do somethin’ big for us all.”
—Mary Brecht Pulver.
VIII—SERGT. WARREN COMES BACK FROM FRANCE
Immediately after voting, the Rev. Jeremiah Soule
stepped outside the town hall to fortify himself with
fresh air for the coming meeting. Several others had
done the same.
“Been a hard winter, Mr. Soule,” politely remarked
one of the loiterers about the door. He was clad for
the gusts of March like a sealer about to venture forth
upon an Arctic floe.
“And especially for the boys in the trenches,” said
“That’s a fact, sir. I didn’t mean we’d ought to
complain. We had our share of coal and wood, I guess,
if the wood was green and the coal mostly slate.”
“And we had the money to pay for it.”
The group of men stirred a little uneasily.
“Honestly made, I think you’ll admit that, sir,” said
Arthur Watts, a strapping fellow of thirty years, who
had been called in the first draft and rejected on account
of his poor teeth.
“I believe so—quite,” admitted Mr. Soule. “We
are making good rope for the government and our allies,
and no one is better pleased over it than I. I’m proud
of the cordage plant. Yes, since this dreadful war
had to be, the town has come honestly enough by its
The group felt that Mr. Soule had tactfully dodged
the real issue, and they were content to have it so. Just
then the polls were closed, and those who had brought
lunch boxes proceeded to consume the contents. Others
presented themselves at the anteroom, where George
Bassett was dispensing his famous chowder and coffee,
together with pickles and bread and butter.
“It frets the parson to see us keeping our money
instead of blowing it all out in charity,” remarked Watts,
across a steaming mug of strong coffee. He laughed
His friends did not echo his amusement. They
looked, if not exactly ill at ease, at any rate somewhat
The hall was packed when Joel Holmes, a massive
and imperturbable person, was chosen moderator for
the tenth successive time. Warrant in one large hand
and gavel in the other, he inscrutably stared upon the
expectant voters for a weighty minute.
“The meeting will please come to order,” he announced.
The gavel smote the desk resoundingly.
As usual, the first person to be recognized was fiery
little Mr. Abel Crabbe, who had a few withering remarks
to make concerning the warrant as a whole. He was
greatly applauded. As a conscientious objector
to everything, Abel was looked upon as an interesting
feature of town meeting.
A number of articles were then discussed and disposed
of without excitement until Henry Torrey rose.
He was as much of an objector as Mr. Crabbe, but he
dealt in irony rather than in blunt scorn. With a grim
smile he proceeded to ridicule the library directors.
When he had exposed them in their true colors, he
made an impassioned motion to halve the appropriation
they asked for in Article 6 of the warrant.
The motion was enthusiastically seconded, but on
being put to vote Torrey’s was the only ay. The crowd
enjoyed Torrey as they enjoyed Abel Crabbe, but they
had perfect faith in the library directors, the town
officers and the warrant.
Early in the proceedings it was evident that Article
No. 10 was to furnish the event of the day. It ran as
“That the sum of $25,000 be appropriated for the
improvement and embellishment of Farragut Square,
said improvement to include the removal of the four
old buildings now abutting upon it, the erection of a
flagpole and a suitable band stand and the widening of
Brig Street on the bay side of the square.”
When the article was reached, no disposition was
shown to dispose of it quickly. Fenville wished to hear
the report of the committee and the opinions and impressions
of each and every member thereon. The
plan had caught the popular fancy. Nearly every man
there was ready to back it firmly, even boastfully.
Pompous Mr. Baxter, the chairman of the committee,
sounded the keynote. He sketched the history of the
cordage plant, which had begun as an unaspiring rope-walk.
He compared it to the ugly duckling that became
a regal swan. And the swan, he said, pursuing the
simile, had not flown out of their hands in spite of the
great wings it had grown.
At this point the moderator’s voice and gavel were
called upon to quell a disturbance in the rear of the hall
apparently occasioned by the entrance of some late
When order was restored Mr. Baxter, continuing the
pæan to the town’s prosperity, spoke of the uniquely
local character of the cordage plant; of the fact that
virtually everyone, from the president down to the office
boy, concerned with it was a native of Fenville. And
besides a liberal salary everyone had a share in the
profits. Nearly every penny of the stock was owned
right in the town of Fenville. All of which was no news,
but everyone relished Baxter’s glowing phrases just the
The speeches of the other committeemen were in
the same tenor. Fenville had made money out of its
cordage; was still making money. It could afford to
pat its own back, and the pat might well take the form
of a renovated and beautified town square that would
advertise its business smartness to all beholders.
As the last of the committeemen sat down, some one
in the rear of the hall addressed the moderator.
“Mr. ——?” queried that official, unable to see the
speaker clearly. Like the old hall, recently destroyed
by fire, the new structure had made a concession to
the fair and inquisitive sex in the shape of a deep rear
An excited craning of heads followed, and even Joel
Holmes showed the human being beneath the armor of
“Miles Warren!” he ejaculated. Then his gavel
mechanically reminded him of his duties and he recalled
the meeting to order. It took vigorous rapping
to still the persistent murmurs and the eager
“I’d like to say a few words about Article 10,” said
the man under the low balcony.
“Well, I guess you can!” boomed the moderator.
He was preserving his self-control with difficulty. His
hands fidgeted and his circular face showed a deepening
crimson. “But we can’t hear what you say way back
there—or see you, either,” he added. “Please step a
little farther forward if you will, Mr. Warren.”
The storm of welcoming applause for the son who
had so unexpectedly returned to his native town after
two years of splendid service in the far-famed Foreign
Legion suddenly fell to a shocked silence. They saw
now why Sergt. Warren had come home. His father
stood beside him. Miles needed some one to guide
him up the narrow aisle—for he was blind.
Fenville had heard of the metal cross pinned to the
faded tunic and had shared the pride of John Warren
and his wife, Abigail; but it had not heard of the
scarred face and sightless eyes. Miles had gone forth
to fight for democracy “like a true knight of old,”
the Fenville Weekly Gazette had said. The townspeople
had not smiled at the phrase, for there had always
been something gallant in Miles; he had always
had a fearless and honorable outlook upon life.
“I’m not much use to them over there, so it seems
good to get home,” he said. “And on town-meeting
day. I knew father wanted to be here, and I did, too,
so we came right over from the depot.”
Sightless: thrown back into the discard. But there
was the same firm mouth and the same upright carriage
of the well-shaped head. Broken? Not a bit of
it. Everyone could see that. The old spirit was there,
just as gallant as when he had set out for the battlefields
“This Article No. 10,” continued the sergeant. “You
don’t know how strange it sounds. Because I’ve come
straight home from over there, you know. I was going
to say, without seeing anything on the way.” He
smiled. “And that’s true, too. What I mean is, I
haven’t had time to get adjusted to the change. It
wasn’t till just now that I said to myself, the war’s
thousands of miles off, way across the ocean. Not that
the ocean would stop Fritz from getting at us mighty
quick if he ever beats us over there. You may depend
“Some one has to make the things that are needed
and get paid for them. That’s of course. But I haven’t
been seeing that side. I’ve been seeing France and
England and our own boys with their backs to the wall.
I’ve been seeing new graveyards grow; bigger than big
towns—as big as cities. And cities that were nothing
but graveyards. Towns that were nothing but ash
heaps. Rich lands churned up into terrible deserts.
“And I’ve met men—met them all the time—who’d
been seeing the same and worse in Russia and Poland,
Serbia and Roumania—the whole Christian world
being battered and ripped to pieces.
“That is the way you think about it over there.
What can you do to stop it—how can you help the
millions that have lost their fathers or mothers, husbands
or wives, or children—that have no food or homes
or country? That is what you ask yourself day and
“You can never give them back what they have
lost. But if you had money, you could keep some
of them from dying of cold and hunger; little children
at least. That is about all money means to you over
“So when I come home to hear that Fenville has
grown rich, why, I can’t seem to sense it! And that
you want to fix up Farragut Square,—make it pretty,—buy
the town a kind of decoration because it has been
lucky enough and smart enough to make money—out
of the war. It’s like blood money to me—like blood
itself; a drop for every penny.”
Fenville had never tolerated criticism, but the man
in the faded uniform with the cross on his tunic and
his head up, and his poor, blind, scarred face, exerted a
strange influence over the audience. Even the least
imaginative man had his vision of what that figure symbolized.
“It was looking at him, as much as hearing him
speak—why, I seemed to get a sight right over to
France as clear as if I had been there,” explained Mr.
Totten afterwards. “France made Farragut Square
look kind of small.”
“I’ll say just one thing more,” Miles went on, and
you could have heard a pin drop in that hall. “If any
of our boys don’t come back,—Lem Chapman and
Frank Keeler and the others,—those that do, will they
think a prettified Farragut Square is the best monument
for the ones who died for us over there?”
The sergeant turned, and John Warren took hold of
his arm to lead him back. Mr. Chapman, Lem’s father,
was up like a flash.
“Hold on!” he shouted. “No, it ain’t, by Jupiter!”
Crash! Out came the handclapping like the rattle of
rifle fire. More than one shrewd old eye was moist,
and few were the hearts that did not beat with a more
“What can we do, Sergt. Miles?” asked Mr. Chapman.
“You have told us what we shouldn’t do, and I
for one thank you for it. We want to do the right thing.
Every man of us here does. Tell us what it is.”
“Let us dispose of Article 10 first,” said Dr. Shepard.
The house approved, and Mr. Chapman gave way.
The article was put in the form of a motion, was voted
upon, and defeated as if it had never had a friend in the
“Make a motion, Miles!” shouted a score of
“Do you want to know what I should do?” said the
soldier. “There are places in France and Belgium that
used to be towns. Some haven’t even the cellars left.
An American society has been formed to take hold of
the work of building up those places after the war.
We could write to that society and get the name of a
town that once was—a little one; one where perhaps
our own boys have fought. Fenville could put the
money she meant to spend on herself into helping to
make it a town again. It would help, don’t you worry
about that. So Fenville could feel, always, long after
our time, that that little French town was her camarade.
And it would be her bit; Fenville’s bit.”
When he could make himself heard, the Rev. Jeremiah
Soule made a motion, the gist of which was that
a committee be appointed to correspond with the
society with the object of learning the name of some
small devastated town in France or Belgium that would
be a worthy recipient of twenty-five thousand dollars
from Fenville’s treasury, the same to be expended toward
rebuilding the town at the end of the war.
A dozen voices seconded the motion, and on being
put to vote it was carried unanimously. Mr. Crabbe,
the conscientious objector, was one of the first to rise
on the ay vote. The fiery little man had his streak of
sentiment, after all.
So had Henry Torrey, who said gruffly that he was
glad to see the town’s money spent for a really useful
purpose for once.
“Three cheers for Sergt. Warren, then!” shouted Mr.
Chapman. “And make them rousers!”
“He and John went out,” said a voice in the rear
of the hall.
“Cheer him from the steps!” cried another.
The crowd filed out. The two Warrens were walking
down the road. The sergeant had his father’s arm;
but his head was up, and it was not he, but the older
man, that had the air of being led. For some reason
the crowd fell silent.
Finally some one said crisply, “Miles Warren always
could see straight. And I tell you he can see as
straight’s ever, even if he is blind.”
—Fisher Ames, Jr.
We will call him Albert Lloyd. That wasn’t his name,
but it will do:
Albert Lloyd was what the world terms a coward.
In London they called him a slacker.
His country had been at war nearly eighteen months,
and still he was not in khaki.
He had no good reason for not enlisting, being alone
in the world, having been educated in an Orphan
Asylum, and there being no one dependent upon him
for support. He had no good position to lose, and
there was no sweetheart to tell him with her lips to go,
while her eyes pleaded for him to stay.
Every time he saw a recruiting sergeant, he’d slink
around the corner out of sight, with a terrible fear
gnawing at his heart. When passing the big recruiting
posters, and on his way to business and back he passed
many, he would pull down his cap and look the other
way, to get away from that awful finger pointing at
him, under the caption, “Your King and Country
Need You”; or the boring eyes of Kitchener, which
burned into his very soul, causing him to shudder.
Then the Zeppelin raids—during them, he used to
crouch in a corner of his boarding-house cellar, whimpering
like a whipped puppy and calling upon the
Lord to protect him.
Even his landlady despised him, although she had
to admit that he was “good pay.”
He very seldom read the papers, but one momentous
morning, the landlady put the morning paper at his
place before he came down to breakfast. Taking his
seat, he read the flaring headline, “Conscription Bill
Passed,” and nearly fainted. Excusing himself, he
stumbled upstairs to his bedroom, with the horror of
it gnawing into his vitals.
Having saved up a few pounds, he decided not to
leave the house, and to sham sickness, so he stayed
in his room and had the landlady serve his meals
Every time there was a knock at the door, he trembled
all over, imagining it was a policeman who had
come to take him away to the army.
One morning his fears were realized. Sure enough
there stood a policeman with the fatal paper. Taking
it in his trembling hand, he read that he, Albert Lloyd,
was ordered to report himself to the nearest recruiting
station for physical examination. He reported immediately,
because he was afraid to disobey.
The doctor looked with approval upon Lloyd’s six
feet of physical perfection, and thought what a fine
guardsman he would make, but examined his heart
twice before he passed him as “physically fit”; it was
beating so fast.
From the recruiting depot Lloyd was taken, with
many others, in charge of a sergeant, to the training
depot at Aldershot, where he was given an outfit of
khaki, and drew his other equipment. He made a
fine-looking soldier, except for the slight shrinking in
his shoulders, and the hunted look in his eyes.
At the training depot it does not take long to find
out a man’s character, and Lloyd was promptly dubbed
“Windy.” In the English Army, “windy” means
The smallest recruit in the barracks looked on him
with contempt, and was not slow to show it in many
Lloyd was a good soldier, learned quickly, obeyed
every order promptly, never groused at the hardest
fatigues. He was afraid to. He lived in deadly fear
of the officers and “Non-Coms” over him. They also
One morning about three months after his enlistment,
Lloyd’s company was paraded, and the names
picked for the next draft to France were read. When
his name was called, he did not step out smartly, two
paces to the front, and answer cheerfully, “Here, sir,”
as the others did. He just fainted in ranks, and was
carried to barracks amid the sneers of the rest.
That night was an agony of misery to him. He
could not sleep. Just cried and whimpered in his bunk,
because on the morrow the draft was to sail for France,
where he would see death on all sides, and perhaps be
killed himself. On the steamer, crossing the Channel,
he would have jumped overboard to escape, but was
afraid of drowning.
Arriving in France, he and the rest were huddled
into cattle cars. On the side of each appeared in white
letters, “Chevaux 8, Hommes 40.” After hours of
bumping over the uneven French roadbeds they arrived
at the training base of Rouen.
At this place they were put through a week’s rigid
training in trench warfare. On the morning of the
eighth day, they paraded at ten o’clock, and were
inspected and passed by General H——, then were
marched to the Quartermaster’s, to draw their gas
helmets and trench equipment.
At four in the afternoon, they were again hustled
into cattle cars. This time, the journey lasted two
days. They disembarked at the town of Frévent, and
could hear a distant dull booming. With knees shaking,
Lloyd asked the Sergeant what the noise was, and
nearly dropped when the Sergeant replied in a somewhat
“Oh, them’s the guns up the line. We’ll be up there
in a couple o’ days or so. Don’t worry, my laddie,
you’ll see more of ’em than you want before you
get ’ome to Blighty again, that is, if you’re lucky
enough to get back. Now lend a hand there unloadin’
them cars, and quit that everlastin’ shakin’. I believe
yer scared.” The last with a contemptuous
They marched ten kilos, full pack, to a little dilapidated
village, and the sound of the guns grew louder,
The village was full of soldiers who turned out to
inspect the new draft, the men who were shortly to be
their mates in the trenches, for they were going “up
the line” on the morrow, to “take over” their certain
sector of trenches.
The draft was paraded in front of Battalion Headquarters,
and the men were assigned to companies.
Lloyd was the only man assigned to “D” Company.
Perhaps the officer in charge of the draft had something
to do with it, for he called Lloyd aside, and said:
“Lloyd, you are going to a new company. No one
knows you. Your bed will be as you make it, so for
God’s sake, brace up and be a man. I think you have
the stuff in you, my boy, so good-bye, and the best of
luck to you.”
The next day the battalion took over their part of
the trenches. It happened to be a very quiet day.
The artillery behind the lines was still, except for an
occasional shell sent over to let the Germans know the
gunners were not asleep.
In the darkness, in single file, the Company slowly
wended their way down the communication trench
to the front line. No one noticed Lloyd’s white and
After they had relieved the Company in the trenches,
Lloyd, with two of the old company men, was put on
guard in one of the traverses. Not a shot was fired
from the German lines, and no one paid any attention
to him crouched on the firing step.
On the first time in, a new recruit is not required to
stand with his head “over the top.” He only “sits it
out,” while the older men keep watch.
At about ten o’clock, all of a sudden, he thought
hell had broken loose, and crouched and shivered up
against the parapet. Shells started bursting, as he
imagined, right in their trench, when in fact they were
landing about a hundred yards in rear of them, in the
One of the older men on guard, turning to his mate,
“There goes Fritz with those trench mortars again.
It’s about time our artillery ‘taped’ them, and sent
over a few. Where’s that blighter of a draft man
gone to? There’s his rifle leaning against the parapet.
He must have legged it. Just keep your eye peeled,
Dick, while I report it to the Sergeant. I wonder if
the fool knows he can be shot for such tricks as leavin’
Lloyd had gone. When the trench mortars opened
up, a maddening terror seized him and he wanted to
run, to get away from that horrible din, anywhere to
safety. So quietly sneaking around the traverse, he
came to the entrance of a communication trench, and
ran madly and blindly down it, running into traverses,
stumbling into muddy holes, and falling full length
over trench grids.
Groping blindly, with his arms stretched out in
front of him, he at last came out of the trench into the
village, or what used to be a village, before the German
artillery razed it.
Mixed with his fear, he had a peculiar sort of cunning,
which whispered to him to avoid all sentries,
because if they saw him he would be sent back to that
awful destruction in the front line, and perhaps be
killed or maimed. The thought made him shudder,
the cold sweat coming out in beads on his face.
On his left, in the darkness, he could make out the
shadowy forms of trees; crawling on his hands and
knees, stopping and crouching with fear at each shell-burst,
he finally reached an old orchard, and cowered
at the base of a shot-scarred apple-tree.
He remained there all night, listening to the sound
of the guns and ever praying, praying that his useless
life would be spared.
As dawn began to break, he could discern little dark
objects protruding from the ground all about him.
Curiosity mastered his fear and he crawled to one of
the objects, and there, in the uncertain light, he read
on a little wooden cross:
“Pte. H.S. Wheaton, No. 1670, 1st London Regt.
R.F. Killed in action, April 25, 1916. R.I.P.”
(Rest in Peace).
When it dawned on him that he had been hiding all
night in a cemetery, his reason seemed to leave him,
and a mad desire to be free from it all made him rush
madly away, falling over little wooden crosses, smashing
some and trampling others under his feet.
In his flight, he came to an old French dugout, half
caved in, and partially filled with slimy and filthy
Like a fox being chased by the hounds, he ducked
into this hole, and threw himself on a pile of old empty
sandbags, wet and mildewed. Then—unconsciousness.
On the next day, he came to; far distant voices
sounded in his ears. Opening his eyes, in the entrance
of the dugout he saw a Corporal and two men with
The Corporal was addressing him:
“Get up, you white-livered blighter! Curse you
and the day you ever joined ‘D’ Company, spoiling
their fine record! It’ll be you up against the wall, and
a good job too. Get a hold of him, men, and if he
makes a break, give him the bayonet, and send it home,
the cowardly sneak. Come on, you, move, we’ve
been looking for you long enough.”
Lloyd, trembling and weakened by his long fast,
tottered out, assisted by a soldier on each side of
They took him before the Captain, but could get
nothing out of him but:
“For God’s sake, sir, don’t have me shot, don’t
have me shot!”
The Captain, utterly disgusted with him, sent him
under escort to Division Headquarters for trial by
court-martial, charged with desertion under fire.
They shoot deserters in France.
During his trial, Lloyd sat as one dazed, and could
put nothing forward in his defense, only an occasional
“Don’t have me shot!”
His sentence was passed: “To be shot at 3:38 o’clock
on the morning of May 18, 1916.” This meant that
he had only one more day to live.
He did not realize the awfulness of his sentence, his
brain seemed paralyzed. He knew nothing of his trip,
under guard, in a motor lorry to the sand-bagged
guardroom in the village, where he was dumped on the
floor and left, while a sentry with a fixed bayonet
paced up and down in front of the entrance.
Bully beef, water, and biscuits were left beside him
for his supper.
The sentry, seeing that he ate nothing, came inside
and shook him by the shoulder, saying in a kind voice:
“Cheero, laddie, better eat something. You’ll feel
better. Don’t give up hope. You’ll be pardoned
before morning. I know the way they run these things.
They’re only trying to scare you, that’s all. Come
now, that’s a good lad, eat something. It’ll make the
world look different to you.”
The good-hearted sentry knew he was lying about
the pardon. He knew nothing short of a miracle could
save the poor lad.
Lloyd listened eagerly to his sentry’s words, and
believed them. A look of hope came into his eyes, and
he ravenously ate the meal beside him.
In about an hour’s time, the Chaplain came to see
him, but Lloyd would have none of him. He wanted
no parson; he was to be pardoned.
The artillery behind the lines suddenly opened up
with everything they had. An intense bombardment
of the enemy’s lines had commenced. The roar of the
guns was deafening. Lloyd’s fears came back with a
rush, and he cowered on the earthen floor with his
hands over his face.
The sentry, seeing his position, came in and tried
to cheer him by talking to him:
“Never mind them guns, boy, they won’t hurt you.
They are ours. We are giving the ‘Boches’ a dose of
their own medicine. Our boys are going over the top
at dawn of the morning to take their trenches. We’ll
give ’em a taste of cold steel with their sausages and
beer. You just sit tight now until they relieve you.
I’ll have to go now, lad, as it’s nearly time for my
relief, and I don’t want them to see me a-talkin’ with
you. So long, laddie, cheero.”
With this, the sentry resumed the pacing of his
post. In about ten minutes’ time he was relieved, and
a “D” Company man took his place.
Looking into the guardhouse, the sentry noticed the
cowering attitude of Lloyd, and, with a sneer, said
“Instead of whimpering in that corner, you ought
to be saying your prayers. It’s bally conscripts like
you what’s spoilin’ our record. We’ve been out here
nigh onto eighteen months, and you’re the first man
to desert his post. The whole Battalion is laughin’
and pokin’ fun at ‘D’ Company, bad luck to you!
but you won’t get another chance to disgrace us.
They’ll put your lights out in the mornin’.”
After listening to this tirade, Lloyd, in a faltering
voice, asked: “They are not going to shoot me, are
they? Why, the other sentry said they’d pardon me.
For God’s sake—don’t tell me I’m to be shot!” and
his voice died away in a sob.
“Of course, they’re going to shoot you. The other
sentry was jest a-kiddin’ you. Jest like old Smith.
Always a-tryin’ to cheer some one. You ain’t got no
more chance o’ bein’ pardoned than I have of gettin’
to be Colonel of my ‘Batt.’”
When the fact that all hope was gone finally entered
Lloyd’s brain, a calm seemed to settle over him, and
rising to his knees, with his arms stretched out to
heaven, he prayed, and all of his soul entered into the
“Oh, good and merciful God, give me strength to
die like a man! Deliver me from this coward’s death.
Give me a chance to die like my mates in the fighting
line, to die fighting for my country. I ask this of thee.”
A peace, hitherto unknown, came to him, and he
crouched and cowered no more, but calmly waited the
dawn, ready to go to his death. The shells were bursting
all around the guardroom, but he hardly noticed
While waiting there, the voice of the sentry, singing
in a low tone, came to him. He was singing the chorus
of the popular trench ditty:
“I want to go home, I want to go home.
I don’t want to go to the trenches no more.
Where the ‘whizzbangs’ and ‘sausages’ roar galore.
Take me over the sea, where the Allemand can’t get at me.
Oh my, I don’t want to die! I want to go home.”
Lloyd listened to the words with a strange interest,
and wondered what kind of a home he would go to
across the Great Divide. It would be the only home
he had ever known.
Suddenly there came a great rushing through the
air, a blinding flash, a deafening report, and the sand-bag
walls of the guardroom toppled over, and then—blackness.
When Lloyd recovered consciousness, he was lying
on his right side, facing what used to be the entrance
of the guardroom. Now, it was only a jumble of rent
and torn sandbags. His head seemed bursting. He
slowly rose on his elbow, and there in the east the
dawn was breaking. But what was that mangled
shape lying over there among the sandbags? Slowly
dragging himself to it, he saw the body of the sentry.
One look was enough to know that he was dead. The
sentry had had his wish gratified. He had “gone
home.” He was safe at last from the “whizzbangs”
and the Allemand.
Like a flash it came to Lloyd that he was free. Free
to go “over the top” with his Company. Free to die
like a true Briton fighting for his King and Country.
A great gladness and warmth came over him. Carefully
stepping over the body of the sentry, he started
on a mad race down the ruined street of the village,
amid the bursting shells, minding them not, dodging
through or around hurrying platoons on their way to
also go “over the top.” Coming to a communication
trench he could not get through. It was blocked with
laughing, cheering, and cursing soldiers. Climbing
out of the trench, he ran wildly along the top, never
heeding the rain of machine-gun bullets and shells, not
even hearing the shouts of the officers, telling him to
get back into the trench. He was going to join his
Company who were in the front line. He was going
to fight with them. He, the despised coward, had
come into his own.
While he was racing along, jumping over trenches
crowded with soldiers, a ringing cheer broke out all
along the front line, and his heart sank. He knew he
was too late. His Company had gone over. But still
he ran madly. He would catch them. He would die
Meanwhile his Company had gone “over.” They,
with the other companies had taken the first and
second German trenches, and had pushed steadily on
to the third line. “D” Company, led by their Captain,
the one who had sent Lloyd to Division Headquarters
for trial, charged with desertion, had pushed
steadily forward until they found themselves far in
advance of the rest of the attacking force. “Bombing
out” trench after trench, and using their bayonets,
they came to a German communication trench, which
ended in a blindsap, and then the Captain, and what
was left of his men, knew they were in a trap. They
would not retire. “D” Company never retired, and
they were “D” Company. Right in front of them
they could see hundreds of Germans preparing to rush
them with bomb and bayonet. They would have
some chance if ammunition and bombs could reach
them from the rear. Their supply was exhausted, and
the men realized it would be a case of dying as bravely
as possible, or making a run for it. But “D” Company
would not run. It was against their traditions and
The Germans would have to advance across an open
space of three to four hundred yards before they could
get within bombing distance of the trench, and then
it would be all their own way.
Turning to his Company, the Captain said:
“Men, it’s a case of going West for us. We are out
of ammunition and bombs, and the ‘Boches’ have us
in a trap. They will bomb us out. Our bayonets are
useless here. We will have to go over and meet them,
and it’s a case of thirty to one, so send every thrust
home, and die like the men of ‘D’ Company should.
When I give the word, follow me, and up and at them.
If we only had a machine gun, we could wipe them
out! Here they come, get ready, men.”
Just as he finished speaking, the welcome “pup-pup”
of a machine gun in their rear rang out, and the
front line of the onrushing Germans seemed to melt
away. They wavered, but once again came rushing
onward. Down went their second line. The machine
gun was taking an awful toll of lives. Then again
they tried to advance, but the machine gun mowed
them down. Dropping their rifles and bombs, they
broke and fled in a wild rush back to their trench,
amid the cheers of “D” Company. They were forming
again for another attempt, when in the rear of
“D” Company came a mighty cheer. The ammunition
had arrived and with it a battalion of Scotch to
reinforce them. They were saved. The unknown
machine gunner had come to the rescue in the nick
With the reinforcements, it was an easy task to take
the third German line.
After the attack was over, the Captain and three of
his non-commissioned officers, wended their way back
to the position where the machine gun had done its
deadly work. He wanted to thank the gunner in the
name of “D” Company for his magnificent deed.
They arrived at the gun, and an awful sight met their
Lloyd had reached the front line trench, after his
Company had left it. A strange company was nimbly
crawling up the trench ladders. They were reinforcements
going over. They were Scotties, and they made
a magnificent sight in their brightly colored kilts and
Jumping over the trench, Lloyd raced across “No
Man’s Land,” unheeding the rain of bullets, leaping
over dark forms on the ground, some of which lay still,
while others called out to him as he speeded past.
He came to the German front line, but it was deserted,
except for heaps of dead and wounded—a grim
tribute to the work of his Company, good old “D”
Company. Leaping trenches, and gasping for breath,
Lloyd could see right ahead of him his Company in a
dead-ended sap of a communication trench, and across
the open, away in front of them, a mass of Germans
preparing for a charge. Why didn’t “D” Company
fire on them? Why were they so strangely silent?
What were they waiting for? Then he knew—their
ammunition was exhausted.
But what was that on his right? A machine gun.
Why didn’t it open fire and save them? He would make
that gun’s crew do their duty. Rushing over to the gun,
he saw why it had not opened fire. Scattered around
its base lay six still forms. They had brought their
gun to consolidate the captured position, but a German
machine gun had decreed they would never fire again.
Lloyd rushed to the gun, and grasping the traversing
handles, trained it on the Germans. He pressed
the thumb piece, but only a sharp click was the result.
The gun was unloaded. Then he realized his helplessness.
He did not know how to load the gun. Oh, why
hadn’t he attended the machine-gun course in England?
He’d been offered the chance, but with a blush of
shame he remembered that he had been afraid. The
nickname of the machine gunners had frightened him.
They were called the “Suicide Club.” Now, because
of this fear, his Company would be destroyed, the men
of “D” Company would have to die, because he,
Albert Lloyd, had been afraid of a name. In his shame
he cried like a baby. Anyway he could die with them,
and, rising to his feet, he stumbled over the body of
one of the gunners, who emitted a faint moan. A
gleam of hope flashed through him. Perhaps this man
could tell him how to load the gun. Stooping over the
body, he gently shook it, and the soldier opened his
eyes. Seeing Lloyd, he closed them again, and in a
faint voice said:
“Get away, you blighter, leave me alone. I don’t
want any coward around me.”
The words cut Lloyd like a knife, but he was desperate.
Taking the revolver out of the holster of the
dying man, he pressed the cold muzzle to the soldier’s
head, and replied:
“Yes, it is Lloyd, the coward of Company ‘D,’ but
if you don’t tell me how to load that gun, I’ll put a
bullet through your brain!”
A sunny smile came over the countenance of the
dying man, and he said in a faint whisper:
“Good old boy! I knew you wouldn’t disgrace our
Lloyd interposed, “For God’s sake, if you want to
save that Company you are so proud of, tell me how
to load that gun!”
As if reciting a lesson in school, the soldier replied
in a weak, singsong voice: “Insert tag end of belt in
feed block, with left hand pull belt left front. Pull
crank handle back on roller, let go, and repeat
motion. Gun is now loaded. To fire, raise automatic
safety latch, and press thumb piece. Gun is
now firing. If gun stops, ascertain position of crank
But Lloyd waited for no more. With wild joy at
his heart, he took a belt from one of the ammunition
boxes lying beside the gun, and followed the dying
man’s instructions. Then he pressed the thumb
piece, and a burst of fire rewarded his efforts. The
gun was working.
Training it on the Germans, he shouted for joy as
their front rank went down.
Traversing the gun back and forth along the mass
of Germans, he saw them break and run back to the
cover of their trench, leaving their dead and wounded
behind. He had saved his Company, he, Lloyd, the
coward, had “done his bit.” Releasing the thumb
piece, he looked at the watch on his wrist. He was
still alive, and the hands pointed to “3:38,” the time
set for his death by the court.
“Ping!”—a bullet sang through the air, and Lloyd
fell forward across the gun.
The sentence of the court had been “duly carried
The Captain slowly raised the limp form drooping
over the gun, and, wiping the blood from the white
face, recognized it as Lloyd, the coward of “D” Company.
Reverently covering the face with his handkerchief,
he turned to his “non-coms,” and in a voice
husky with emotion, addressed them:
“Boys, it’s Lloyd the deserter. He has redeemed
himself, died the death of a hero. Died that his mates
—Arthur Guy Empey.
When the United States of America finally declared
war against His Satanic Majesty, Wilhelm of Prussia,
Carter nodded his approval. The nation’s decision
was reached at a time when he was in a particularly
generous mood, for things had been coming his way for
some time and he had finally settled down comfortably
to enjoy them. In the preceding fall he had reached
the goal of his ambition, the managership of the New
York office of the Atlas Company, where he had been
employed for twenty-five years. This carried a salary
of seventy-five hundred—some jump from the petty
twelve hundred on which he had started; even some
jump from the forty-five hundred he had been drawing
for the past year.
The increase allowed Carter to make several very
satisfactory changes: first, to move from the rented
house in Edgemere, where he had lived for five years,
to a house of his own in the same town, for which he
gave a warranty deed to his wife; to take his son Ben
out of a commercial school and send him to Harvard
for a liberal education; and to purchase a classy little
runabout. There were certain other perquisites, too,
which made the world a better place to live in, such
as an added servant, a finer table, and, finally, the
privilege of taking the eight-ten to town instead of
Carter enjoyed all these luxuries as only a man can
who has worked hard for them and waited long. He
had promised them to his pretty wife the day he married
her, and now, after twenty years, he had made good.
It was worth something to see him, after a substantial
breakfast, kiss Kitty good-by on the front porch, give
a proprietary look at the neat shingled house, and
stroll down the gravelly path at a leisurely pace, stopping
at the gate to light a fat cigar and wave a second
adieu to the little woman, who was still pretty and
who he knew admired him from the crown of his head
to the tips of his shoes. She was that kind.
On the eight-ten he was meeting a new class of
neighbors—all eight to ten thousand dollar men, with
a few above that figure, though the latter generally
moved to the Heights at round twelve thousand.
They were men whose lives were now polished and
round like stones on the seashore within reach of the
waves. They varied, mostly, in their dimensions,
with of course some differences of political coloring.
But they were fast becoming neutral even in politics.
With America at war the old issues were disappearing.
Most of the men had long since become used to each
other, but Carter, sitting in the smoker—it was almost
like a private car reserved for those not due at their
offices until nine—was actually thrilled by his associates.
And if ever he found an opportunity to refer
among them to “my son at Harvard” he was puffed
up all the rest of the day. The only thing he regretted
was that the war had done away with football, because
in high school the lad had promised to make a name for
himself in the game. Still, even that had its redeeming
features: his neck was safe. Though the boy was
climbing toward six feet and weighed, at eighteen,
round one hundred and seventy, he threw himself into
the line in those final school games with a recklessness
that made Carter, looking on, catch his breath.
Carter had not been able to keep pace with the boy’s
physical growth. It still seemed to him but a brief
time ago that he had been carrying him round in his
arms as a baby. And he had carried him for miles.
He had not been able to keep his hands off him. He
had loved to feel the downy head against his cheek
and the frightened little heart pounding against his
own. Night after night he had walked the floor with
him with a sense of creation akin to God’s. And when
anything was really the matter with the child Carter
became a trembling wreck.
Well, those days were something to look back upon
now with a smile. They even played their part in the
present. They afforded the contrast necessary to allow
him to extract to the last drop his final triumphant
success. Some of those who had never taken the seven-fifteen
did not know what it meant to take the eight-ten.
Carter, who had previously been content with one
paper, now bought the Times and the Sun at the station
and glanced through the headlines. He had read with a
thrill of pride, as did everyone in the whole car on that
early spring morning, the President’s declaration of war.
He was sitting beside Culver, of the Second National
Bank, and exclaimed: “Guess that’ll make Wilhelm
sit up and take notice, eh?”
Culver was an older man. Carter could have punched
him for his response in a level voice: “Yes. But ’tis
going to make us sit up and take notice, too.”
“What do you mean?” demanded Carter with a
trace of aggressiveness.
“I mean that our resources are going to be tested
to the limit before we’re through with this.”
“You wait until the Huns see Uncle Sam with his
sleeves rolled up. Wouldn’t surprise me any if they
Carter shifted his seat to a place near Barclay and
Newell, who were leading a group in three cheers for
the President. And on his way downtown that day
he stopped to buy a flag and pole to be sent to the
house. Before he reached his office these flags of red
and white and blue had begun to appear in numbers
on the tops of buildings and from windows, brightening
the dull gray backgrounds as with flowers. It made
him want to cheer. It made him walk more erect.
The whole downtown atmosphere became vibrant.
The declaration of war was the sole topic of conversation
in the office, and one of the first things he did was
to ring up Kitty and tell her about it.
“Well, old girl, we’ve done it!” he exclaimed.
“Done what?” she asked anxiously.
“Declared war,” he announced, as though in some
way he had been personally concerned in the act.
“Guess that will make the Huns rub their eyes.”
“War?” trembled Kitty.
“You bet! Fritzie waited a little too long with his
apologies that last time.”
In the succeeding days Carter followed the nation’s
preparations for the task ahead with a feeling of reflected
glory. His favorite phrase was: “We’re going
at it man-fashion.”
He was keen for conscription and liked to speak of a
possible army of two million. When the First Liberty
Loan came along he subscribed for a thousand dollars.
He would have taken more, but he found that his
personal expenses had taken in the last few months a
decided jump. It was costing him more than twice
as much to maintain his new house as it had his old.
Besides that, Ben’s expenses at college were a considerable
item. His car, too, was costing more than
he had anticipated, and he had added unconsciously
a lot to his everyday expenditures. He was smoking
better cigars, eating better lunches and wearing better
clothes. At the same time each one of these items was
costing more. However, his new position in a way
called for these things, and, besides, he was entitled
to them. He had worked hard for them and they were
the fair reward of attainment.
Carter had hoped to do better on the Second Liberty
Loan, but when the time came he found it difficult
to take out even another thousand. He rather resented
the way Newell, the overzealous member of the
local committee, harried him about it. When Newell
suggested that he double the amount the man was
presuming to know Carter’s circumstances better than
he himself knew them.
He had answered rather tartly:
“I’m capable of deciding my investments for
In the interval between the two loans both the servants
had asked for an increase in wages, and Carter
had been forced to pay it or see them go. Kitty had
suggested that she be allowed to get along with one
and undertake some of the housework herself, but
he had set his foot down on that.
“You’ve had your share of housework, little woman,”
he said. “It’s time you took a rest and enjoyed yourself.”
But the servants were not the only ones who held
Carter up. The grocer, the butcher and the iceman
all conspired against him. When the Government
began to take control under Hoover and fix prices for
some of the essentials Carter was outspoken in his
“It’s time something of the sort was done to check
the food pirates,” he declared to Culver.
“Where’s this government control going to stop?”
questioned the latter.
“I don’t know and I don’t care,” replied Carter
“It’s a type of paternalism, and that’s dangerous,”
Carter replied with a glittering generality: “Your
Uncle Sam has rolled up his shirt sleeves and means
Carter always chuckled contentedly over the cartoons
of the tall, lank figure with the lean face, grimly
set jaws and starred top hat. It expressed for him
in a human way his own patriotism. It filled him with
pride and gave him confidence. It satisfied his traditional
conception of Americanism. He even saw
in the face a reflection of his own ancestors who had
fought at Bunker Hill and through the Civil War.
It was distinctly New England, but New England
was still in his mind distinctly America.
And yet Carter was puzzled at first when he read the
names appearing in the final draft lists—puzzled and a
bit worried. These names were not like those that
were signed to the Declaration of Independence or
those who fell at Bunker Hill. Decidedly they were
more like those found in to-day’s New York directory.
This might have been expected, and yet it gave Carter
something of a shock until one afternoon he saw a
regiment of khaki-clad men marching down Fifth
Avenue. Then he felt a lump in his throat that prevented
him from cheering as loud as he wished. In
uniform and marching to the stirring music of a military
band these men were, every mother’s son of them,
Americans. He saw the same lean faces, the same
lank, sinewy bodies, the same clear eyes and set jaws.
Their lips were sealed, so that it did not matter what
language they spoke. In khaki they were all Americans—the
same who fought at Bunker Hill.
The sight sent Carter home with a renewed enthusiasm,
which helped him survive the shock of the
news that the cook had, without notice, packed up
her trunk and left to take some sort of job in a factory.
But fortunately he had brought along with him a
sirloin steak, which, broiled, made a very satisfactory
dinner. A week later the second girl left.
Mrs. Carter took it good-humoredly, even with a
certain amount of relief. She had turned to Red
Cross work and one thing or another, but still she
missed the care of her own home. Furthermore, she
had been genuinely disturbed by the way the expenses
had been creeping up. But Carter stormed round
and spent half the next day trying to find some new
girls. The agencies showed him a few old women and
shook their heads.
“We can’t compete with the factories,” they said
“But, hang it all, what’s a man going to do?” he
The agencies, perforce, left him to answer that for
As a matter of fact Carter was not wholly unselfish
in his desire to relieve his wife of the housework—particularly
the culinary part of it. She did her conscientious
best, but she had never been able satisfactorily
to master the fine art of cooking. Possibly it
was because she herself was more or less indifferent to
what she ate. A slice of bread and a cup of tea were
enough at any time to satisfy her, so that when she
did cook it was always for him and without any other
personal interest in the result. Sometimes she forgot;
in fact, more often than not she forgot. Perhaps it
was only some one little thing, like leaving the baking
powder out of the biscuits or the sugar out of the pies.
Or if she did get everything in, perhaps she failed to
remember in time that the mixture was in the oven.
When she began fooling round with war recipes she
found herself even more bewildered. Lord knows, it
calls for deft fingers and inborn skill to make a good
pie crust out of honest wheat flour, with all thought of
economy thrown to the winds. It requires nothing
short of genius to produce the same results with substitutes
for everything except the apples.
She tried all one afternoon and created something
that had a fairly good surface appearance. She waited
anxiously until Carter tasted it, and then asked: “How
do you like it, Ben?”
“You want the truth?” he returned.
“Of course there is no white flour in the crust, but——”
“There isn’t anything in it that ought to be in a
pie,” he declared. “It tastes to me as though it were
made out of sawdust and motor oil.”
He did not eat it. It might have been possible had
he been starving, but he was in no such unfortunate
condition. A man does not ask for apple pie because
of its calory content, but because he wants apple pie.
It is a matter of taste. A primary essential is, then,
not that it shall look like apple pie, but that it shall
have the flavor of apple pie. He had been fond of
apple pie all his life, and it certainly seemed like an
innocent enough addiction. That was equally true of
doughnuts and coffee for breakfast. He had enjoyed
them all his life until they had become an integral
part of the morning meal. As a result of long practice
Mrs. Carter had finally succeeded in perfecting herself
in the art of doughnut making. But now instead of
frying them in fat, she began to use an excellent vegetable
substitute. Not only that, but she followed this
by using a sirup for the sugar, and using eighty per
cent barley flour and twenty of wheat. She had been
given the recipe by the local conservation board and
been assured that the product was very satisfactory.
From the viewpoint of the conservation board that
may have been true, but to Carter it was nothing
short of criminal to allow these balls of fried barley
flour to masquerade under the same name.
“Don’t call ’em doughnuts,” he growled, “’cause
they aren’t. Invent a new name for them.”
“War doughnuts?” suggested Mrs. Carter anxiously.
“War nothing!” sputtered Carter. “They don’t
even belong to the same family.”
Whereupon he turned to his coffee, sweetened with
a new kind of sticky substance that tasted like an
inferior grade of molasses. There were those who
maintained that it was just as good as sugar for sweetening.
They were liars—bold-faced liars or they had
lost their sense of taste. They belonged to the same
class as people who maintained that coffee was better
without sugar—that so one enjoyed the taste of the
native berry. One might just as well argue that flapjacks
for the same reason were best without sirup;
cake without frosting; bread without butter.
Carter found his breakfast spoiled for him at precisely
the period in life when he was prepared most
to enjoy his breakfast. This was extremely irritating.
It sent him to the office every morning with a grouch
that did not wear off until toward noon, when it was
renewed by having to pay twice what he should for a
tasteless lunch. His cigars were the only thing that
held up well in flavor, and he began to smoke too
many of them.
Carter still followed each day’s news of the nation’s
part in the great war with honest pride. He liked
the big way his country was going about its preparations.
He rolled the dramatic figures over his tongue
and gloated over the scale of the various projects.
Six hundred millions appropriated for airplanes!
“We’ll show ’em,” he announced to Culver. “We’ll
have the air over there black with planes!”
And that job at Hog Island! They were planning to
build fifty ways there inside of a year—just put them
down on a marshy island.
“Nothing small about your Uncle Sam,” he chuckled.
When the inevitable scandals began to be whispered
and congressional investigations were started, Carter
“If these stories are true,” he declared, “the grafters
ought to be lynched; if they’re not we ought to lynch
the darn-fool congressmen who are interrupting the
The investigations took place, changes were made,
and the work went on, with the investigations soon
forgotten. Nothing could check the onward movement.
Pershing landed in France, and soon was followed by
his men. Work on the same gigantic scale was begun
on the other side. Docks were built, railroads laid
down overnight, warehouses put up almost between
dawn and twilight. This vanguard saw big and built
big, and when the news of its accomplishment began
to filter across to the men at home it made every American
At the close of his freshman year in June, Ben came
back home, and that personal interest took the place
of every other in Carter’s mind. The boy was looking
fine. Drill with the Harvard regiment had taken the
place of athletics and had left him as rugged and tanned
as a seasoned soldier. Carter proudly took the boy
to town with him on the eight-ten and introduced
him to the crowd. Then he introduced him to everyone
in the office, including Stetson, the second vice
president. There was some design in this. He was
preparing the way for an opening here for Ben as soon
as the lad was through college. With the benefit of
the experience Carter could give him the boy ought
to climb high in the Atlas.
Ben had acquired poise in this last year. He met
these men with an assurance and charm of manner
tempered with respectful deference that surprised his
father. It was clear that the boy made a very pleasant
At lunch Ben repeated to his father some of the
experiences he had heard from college mates who had
gone over to drive ambulances. The boy was full of
it and his cheeks grew flushed as he talked. Carter
“That’s all very well,” broke in Carter; “but those
fellows might have made themselves more useful if
they had waited until they were of age. Both President
Lowell and the War Department are advising men to
wait and finish their college courses, aren’t they?”
“Yes,” admitted Ben; “they advise that.”
“Well, it’s sound advice,” declared Carter. “A man
with a college education and Plattsburg on top of that
is worth twenty ambulance drivers. Officers are what
“I suppose so,” agreed Ben abstractedly.
The reply left Carter more comfortable. The boy
was only just nineteen, and that gave him two more
years before he was twenty-one. By that time the
war would be over. Carter was sure of it. The nation
by then would be in full stride, and when that time
came that was to be the end. Of course, if by any
chance the war should be prolonged—why, then the
boy would have to go. But that contingency was
two years off—two long years off. In the meanwhile
the boy could feel that he was getting his training. He
was going to make a better officer for waiting. He
would gain in experience and judgment—two most
necessary qualifications for an officer. Carter proceeded
to enlarge on that subject. But the boy listened
indifferently. Carter’s position, however, was
sound, and the more he talked the more he convinced
himself of this, so that he succeeded in putting himself
enough at ease to talk of the war in a general way.
“Sort of makes a man glad he’s an American to be
living in these days, eh, Ben?”
“You bet!” nodded Ben.
“The rest of the world thought we’d gone soft, but
your old Uncle Sam has shown that he still has fighting
stuff in him. It took us some time to get stirred up,
but once started—woof!”
“We’ve got a big job on our hands,” said Ben.
“The bigger the better,” declared Carter. “It takes
a big job to wake us up.”
The boy was surprised and encouraged by his father’s
aggressive attitude, and yet when he ventured to reintroduce
the subject of ambulance service he saw his
father shy off again. He was puzzled by this and went
away after lunch to meet his chum Stanley.
A week later, as Carter was about to settle down on
the front porch for an after-dinner smoke, Ben came
along, took his arm and led him down the graveled
path toward the road—out of sight of the house, where
Mrs. Carter was washing the dishes. The boy kept
his father’s arm in an unusually demonstrative manner
until he stopped beneath an electric light.
Then he asked quite casually: “Dad, got your
fountain pen with you?”
The lad held out a paper.
“What in thunder is this?” demanded Carter.
“My enlistment papers, dad. I went down to the
Marine Recruiting Office the other day and passed my
physical. Now—they’ve left a place along the dotted
line for you to sign because I’m under age.”
The thing that astonished Carter most after the
initial shock was a feeling of helplessness. It was as
though his relations with his son had suddenly changed
and the son had become the father. He was a foot
shorter than the boy anyway, and now he felt two feet
shorter. He saw a new light in the boy’s eyes, heard a
fresh note of dominance. And yet it was only a brief
time ago—a pitifully brief time ago—that he had
been holding this same boy in his arms as a baby.
Now he stood at the lad’s mercy, even though he still
saw below the stalwart figure of the boy-man the
Carter gulped back a lump in his throat.
“Good Lord!” he choked. “I can’t. I can’t.
You’re all I’ve got.”
The young man placed a steady hand upon his
“You must take this thing right, dad,” he said
“In another year——”
“I’d never forgive myself if I waited,” cut in Ben.
“I’ve heard too much from the fellows who’ve been
over there and seen. I want you to understand that
it isn’t the adventure of the thing that gets me. It’s
the right of it. I’m strong enough for the game, and
that’s all that counts. Another year wouldn’t make
me any more fit.”
“You’d be ready for Plattsburg—in a couple of
“Maybe,” Ben nodded; “but somehow—well, I
just hanker to use my arms and legs rather than my
head. The way I feel, nothing short of a chance with
the bayonet will satisfy me. That’s why I went in for
Carter glanced up. He saw those lips, which had
once been so tender and soft, now sternly taut.
“Have you told your mother?” asked Carter.
“No, dad. I want it all settled first.”
“I—I don’t know what it will do to her,” Carter
struggled on feebly.
“She’ll take it right,” declared the boy with conviction.
“She’ll take it right because—because it’s
for women like her that we’re going over there.”
Carter did not reach for the paper, even then. He
merely found it in his hands. He drew out his fountain
pen and the name he scrawled upon the dotted line
might have been written by a man of eighty.
“That’s the good old dad,” Ben whispered hoarsely
as he replaced the paper in his pocket. “You’re a
Carter tried to see it that way. There were moments
even when he thought he was going to feel proud.
A day or two later, when Newell, Culver and the
others on the eight-ten heard of it, they hurried up to
him and shook his hand with such phrases as “The
boy has the right stuff in him, Carter,” and “He makes
us glad we live in Edgemere.” All Carter could do
was to turn away.
The boy’s going left a great big hollow place in
Carter—a hollow that only grew bigger when he began
to receive the lad’s enthusiastic letters from the
training camp. He missed him in a way that disturbed
every detail of his daily life. When he woke up in the
morning it was with a sense of some deep tragedy
hanging over him—as though the boy were dead.
This sent him downstairs depressed and irascible.
His coffee with its abominable sirup tasted more bitter
than ever. The mere sight of the war doughnuts
irritated him. It was as though they made mock of
him. Half the time the omelet was burned, for Kitty
was becoming more forgetful than ever, and more
often than not did not remember the omelet at all
until she smelled it smoking. She did her best to cheer
Carter up, until she found the wisest thing to do was
to say nothing. As a matter of fact everything she
said sounded to him as hypocritical as all the confounded
war substitutes with which he found himself
more and more hemmed in. Newell particularly was
full of new recipes for foods and drinks that he claimed
were as good as the original articles, and was forever
pulling clippings from his pockets on the morning
“You ought to get your wife to try this, Carter,”
he broke out one day. “It’s a new recipe for cake
without sugar, wheat or butter. Ellen made some
last night and you couldn’t tell it from the real stuff.”
“What do you call the real stuff?” demanded Carter.
“Why, the cake we used to get before the war.”
“And you mean to say you can’t tell the difference?”
“Well, of course this isn’t quite so tasty, but it’s
a darned good substitute.”
“You’re welcome,” growled Carter.
Newell appeared astonished. Later he repeated the
conversation to Manson, and concluded: “Do you
know, if the beggar didn’t have a boy in the Marines
I’d say he was pro-German.”
“Nonsense!” answered Manson.
“Well, he wasn’t any too keen about the Second
Liberty Loan when I saw him. He only took a thousand.”
“So? I thought he’d be good for five, anyway.”
The Government was already beginning to talk
about the Third Liberty Loan. Somewhat fretfully
Carter read the preliminary announcements. Where
was this thing going to stop, anyway? He was not
any more than keeping even with the game now. And
even so, he was not getting so much out of life as he
had been getting before.
On top of that they sent the boy across. After an
interval of silence Carter received a cable one day
announcing his safe arrival at a port in France. It
took the starch all out of him. It was like one of those
nightmares he used to suffer when he dreamed of the
boy in some great danger and was forced to stand by,
dumb and paralyzed, powerless to help. It was like
that exactly, only this was reality. Day by day and
mile by mile this intangible merciless power called
war was dragging the boy nearer and nearer his destruction.
It was barbaric. It was wrong. This boy
Now he was at a port in France. Until the last few
years that would not have been anything to worry
about. He had wished the boy to travel. France had
always stood to Carter as a land of sunshine and holidays—a
sort of pre-honeymoon land to the more
fortunate. To-day a port in France seemed like a
port in hell.
On the eight-ten they kept asking about the boy,
and when Carter told Barclay that Ben was over
there, Barclay answered: “Lucky dog. That ought
to make you proud.”
Carter made no reply. That was in March, just
before the big Hun offensive. When that broke Carter
did not dare read the papers for a while. Those were
bad days. America had then been in the war nearly a
year, and yet it was possible for those gray hordes to
dash at and into the allied lines. They did it again
and again, until the world stood aghast and Carter
himself stood aghast. It made no difference whether
he read the papers or not, for hourly bulletins were
passed round the office and scarcely anything else was
America had been in the war nearly a year. Uncle
Sam had appropriated billions upon billions of dollars;
had built shipyards the size of which staggered belief;
had talked of destroyers and airplanes in terms of thousands;
had established vast military camps and already
drafted millions of men; had turned almost every industry
in the country over to war work; had taken
over the railroads and whatever else was needed.
Uncle Sam had been working with his jaws set and
his sleeves rolled up and flags flying from almost every
housetop between the Atlantic and the Pacific; with
men marching down the streets and bands playing and
half the politicians of the country turned into Fourth
of July orators.
Yet this thing was happening over there. Lines that
had been thought impregnable were falling daily. City
after city was being overrun. If the Huns paused it
was only for breath, and to dash on once more. Nearer
and nearer they came to Paris, until the city heard the
sound of their guns; nearer and nearer, until they came
Carter reached a point where almost his faith in God
was shaken. He did not know exactly just what his
faith in God was, but it stood for something outside
himself representative of justice—just as his patriotism
stood for something outside himself representative of
honor. Not to be in the slightest sacrilegious, God
was a figure crowned with thorns just as Uncle Sam
was a figure crowned with a starred top hat. Both
were invincible. Yet both stood aside, helpless, before
the Huns’ advance.
They waited helplessly until the gray wolves reached
Château-Thierry. Then the news was cabled across
that the Marines were holding this line—not only
technically but actually. Again and again the wolves
came on and staggered back.
The Marines were there—the American Marines—and
they were holding.
The first report brought the sweat to Carter’s brow.
Somewhere in that line without much doubt his son
Ben was standing. The little boy he had carried in his
arms was under that merciless fire of shrapnel and explosive
shells and gas. Carter had read a good deal
about the gas shells—the yellow and the blue and the
green cross kind. It was devilish stuff. It burned into
the lungs and the eyes and the skin. He remembered
when it had first been used—had been sent sneaking
across the allied lines like some ancient superstition
made real. From that moment he had been for war.
He talked war with everyone he met, usually ending
with the exclamation: “Uncle Sam won’t stand for that
sort of dirty work!”
As a matter of fact Uncle Sam had stood for it a
good many months after that, and for acts even more
barbaric. But now your Uncle Sam was right on the
spot and Ben was on the spot. The two were one!
This was what Carter got hold of, suddenly, unexpectedly,
unconsciously, as a man sees a vision. Uncle
Sam was there not in the form of a middle-aged farmer
in a starred top hat, but as one of the Marines, a tough,
wiry young American fighter. And among these
Marines was Ben, holding this ghastly line as in his
play days he had helped to hold the football line. Uncle
Sam was there as Carter’s boy—blood of his blood and
flesh of his flesh and soul of his soul. And so in a sense
Carter himself was there. This was his fight too. He
and Uncle Sam were one! He and the nation were one.
He and the brilliant flags flying unharmed here in the
streets of New York were one. As far as Carter individually
was concerned he was essentially all there
was of the nation—just as, individually and as far as
his own soul was concerned, he was all there was of God.
But because of this, because the thought made him so
big, he took in the others too—his boy, Kitty, his
neighbors, the state and the United States, and finally
God himself. And this God not only stood for justice
and honor but was justice and honor, and Carter was
He and He was Carter.
Now God and Carter and the boy and the Marines
and the nation were all standing side by side behind a
little town that until now had been no more conscious
of itself than Carter had been. It had been merely
Château-Thierry—a tiny village where simple men and
women had gone about their humble business of living
with little thought of the world at large. Now it was
finding itself a turning point in the history of the world,
with the sinewy young men from a country that had
not been discovered when Château-Thierry already was
hoary with age, rushing there to help keep it true. And
with Carter some four thousand miles away staring
from his office window and, quite unconscious of the
business of the Atlas Company, praying not that the
boy might be kept safe for his own sake, but that he
might be spared to fight his best—Carter’s best, the
nation’s best, God’s best.
The Marines held, and then they did a little better;
they began to advance. They say that Foch himself
was none too sure of what these lads would find it possible
to do. These men were getting their baptism of
Hun fire, which is comparable to no fire this side of
hell and which possibly may have introduced some new
ideas into hell itself. Certainly neither Dante nor
Milton revealed any conception of mustard gas.
Creeping forward on all fours the Marines advanced.
It was grim business these boys were about, while the
flags flew dreamily in the streets of New York and a
thousand other cities from the Atlantic to the Pacific
and from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico—flew
dreamily and prettily for safe men to look up at
and for safe women and children to smile at contentedly.
It was serious business they were about to
the right and left of that old town, while the machines
sped up and down Fifth Avenue bright in the summer
sun. And yet when at length the cables flashed across
the ocean the news that the old town had been won
and all that meant, there was little in the message to
hint of that grim business. And there was no mention
at all of individuals—of the boy Ben who lay in a bit
of woods like one asleep, his hair all tousled and his
face dirty as he used to come in from play. But that
night Carter went home with his head held high and
his eyes alight.
When Carter opened the front door he was greeted
with the smell of smoke from the kitchen. He hurried
out there and found Mrs. Carter standing almost in
tears before the charred remains of what had evidently
been intended for a pie of some sort. She looked up
anxiously as Carter entered. Her blue eyes began to
fill with tears.
“Oh, Ben,” she quavered, “I’m so sorry. I—I’ve
been saving flour and sugar for a week to have enough
to make you a real apple pie. And then—and then I
forgot it. And—and——”
She made a despairing gesture toward the jet-black
evidence of her unpardonable thoughtlessness. And
then before Carter’s accusing glance she shrank back
and hid her face in the folds of her blue gingham
Carter stared from her to the pie and then back to
her. Fresh from the victory of Château-Thierry, this
was such a pitiful travesty! She was crying—she, the
mother of his son who had fought with the Marines
this day, was crying in fear of his anger because she
had spoiled in the baking an apple pie.
Good Lord, to what depths had he sunk! To what
pitiful depths of banality had he dragged her!
He strode to her side and seized her in his arms
fiercely as a baffled lover.
“Kitty,” he cried hoarsely, “look up at me!”
In amazement she obeyed. The clutch of his arms
took her back twenty-five years. He saw the springtime
blue of her eyes.
“Kitty,” he pleaded, “can you forgive me?”
“Forgive—you?” she stammered, not understanding.
“For making you think it matters a picayune what
I have to eat. Little woman—little woman, we took
She drew back a little as though expecting evil news
to follow. But the news had not yet come.
“We,” he repeated—“you and I and Ben and the
Marines and Uncle Sam and God—all together. We
not only held the beasts but drove them back. It’s
in the papers to-night.”
“And Ben——” she faltered.
“He must have been there,” he answered.
But she did not finish her timorous question. She
caught the contagion of the fire in her husband’s eyes
and sealed her lips. And he, stooping, kissed those lips
as he used to kiss them before the boy came.
The next morning Carter drank his coffee black, and
when Kitty brought on the war doughnuts he shoved
“Don’t make any more,” he said. “Cut ’em out altogether.
That’s the trick.”
And when on the eight-ten Newell came round with
a recipe for making frosting without sugar, Carter refused
“Look here, Newell,” he protested, “those confounded
things don’t interest me.”
“They don’t?” returned Newell ominously.
“Not a little bit,” Carter continued calmly.
“You mean to tell me you aren’t interested in conservation?”
“Did I say that?”
“Well, it amounts to the same thing, doesn’t it?”
“Not on your tintype!” replied Carter. “Look
here, Newell, you’ve been talking pretty plain to me
lately and perhaps I’ve deserved it, but it leaves me
free to give you a few ideas of my own. What we’ve
got to do is to face this war—not duck it. We aren’t
going to win with substitutes but with sacrifices. The
trouble with you and your crowd—the trouble with
me—is that we’ve been trying to eat our cake and save
it too. What’s the use of those fool recipes of yours?
The time has come to give up cake and pie and doughnuts—then
why in thunder not give them up and be
done with it?”
“But the Government doesn’t ask that,” cut in
“Who’s the Government?” demanded Carter.
“You are. I am,” Carter cut in, answering his own
question. “That’s all there is to it. And if you want
to understand how important you are, just multiply
yourself by a hundred million. That’s what Hoover
does. Do it for yourself.”
Newell smiled a little maliciously.
“Perhaps you’re right, old man. By the way, I’m
on this Third Liberty Loan committee, and if you’ll
tell me how much I can look ahead for from you it would
“Ten thousand dollars,” answered Carter. “In the
meantime, if you hear of anyone who wants to buy a
house, let me know.”
“You aren’t going to leave us?”
“Not if I can hire a cheap place round town,” answered
“Say—but you are plunging,” exclaimed Newell uncomfortably.
“We can’t let that Château-Thierry victory go for
nothing,” answered Carter quietly.
At last—at last Carter himself had declared war.
That was why when he received a cable to the effect
that Private Ben Carter was reported seriously wounded
the man could sign his name firmly to the receipt.
The time had come for the Huns to take seriously
the entry of the United States into the war.
—Frederick Orin Bartlett.