THE HOHENZOLLERNS IN AMERICA
WITH THE BOLSHEVIKS IN BERLIN AND OTHER IMPOSSIBILITIES
By Stephen Leacock
I. THE HOHENZOLLERNS IN AMERICA
II. WITH THE BOLSHEVIKS IN BERLIN
III. AFTERNOON TEA WITH THE SULTAN
IV. ECHOES OF THE WAR
1. The Boy Who Came Back
2. The War Sacrifices of Mr. Spugg
3. If Germany Had Won
4. War and Peace at the Galaxy Club
5. The War News as I Remember It
6. Some Just Complaints About the War
7. Some Startling Side Effects of the War
V. OTHER IMPOSSIBILITIES
1. The Art of Conversation
2. Heroes and Heroines
3. The Discovery of America
4. Politics from Within
5. The Lost Illusions of Mr. Sims
6. Fetching the Doctor
I.—The Hohenzollerns in America
The proper punishment for the Hohenzollerns, and the
Hapsburgs, and the Mecklenburgs, and the Muckendorfs,
and all such puppets and princelings, is that they should
be made to work; and not made to work in the glittering
and glorious sense, as generals and chiefs of staff, and
legislators, and land-barons, but in the plain and humble
part of laborers looking for a job; that they should
carry a hod and wield a trowel and swing a pick and, at
the day's end, be glad of a humble supper and a night's
rest; that they should work, in short, as millions of
poor emigrants out of Germany have worked for generations
past; that there should be about them none of the prestige
of fallen grandeur; that, if it were possible, by some
trick of magic, or change of circumstance, the world
should know them only as laboring men, with the dignity
and divinity of kingship departed out of them; that, as
such, they should stand or fall, live or starve, as best
they might by the work of their own hands and brains.
Could this be done, the world would have a better idea
of the thin stuff out of which autocratic kingship is
It is a favourite fancy of mine to imagine this
transformation actually brought about; and to picture
the Hohenzollerns as an immigrant family departing for
America, their trunks and boxes on their backs, their
bundles in their hands.
The fragments of a diary that here follow present the
details of such a picture. It is written, or imagined to
be written, by the (former) Princess Frederica of
Hohenzollern. I do not find her name in the Almanach de
Gotha. Perhaps she does not exist. But from the text
below she is to be presumed to be one of the innumerable
nieces of the German Emperor.
On Board the S.S. America. Wednesday
At last our embarkation is over, and we are at sea. I am
so glad it is done. It was dreadful to see poor Uncle
William and Uncle Henry and Cousin Willie and Cousin
Ferdinand of Bulgaria, coming up the gang-plank into the
steerage, with their boxes on their backs. They looked
so different in their rough clothes. Uncle William is
wearing an old blue shirt and a red handkerchief round
his neck, and his hair looks thin and unkempt, and his
moustache draggled and his face unshaved. His eyes seem
watery and wandering, and his little withered arm so
pathetic. Is it possible he was always really like that?
At the top of the gang-plank he stood still a minute,
his box still on his back, and said, "This then is the
pathway to Saint Helena." I heard an officer down on the
dock call up, "Now then, my man, move on there smartly,
please." And I saw some young roughs pointing at Uncle
and laughing and saying, "Look at the old guy with the
red handkerchief. Is he batty, eh?"
The forward deck of the steamer, the steerage deck, which
is the only place that we are allowed to go, was crowded
with people, all poor and with their trunks and boxes
and paper bags all round them. When Uncle set down his
box, there was soon quite a little crowd around him, so
that I could hardly see him. But I could hear them
laughing, and I knew that they were "taking a rise out
of him," as they call it,—just as they did in the
emigration sheds on shore. I heard Uncle say, "Let wine
be brought: I am faint;" and some one else said, "Yes,
let it," and there arose a big shout of laughter.
Cousin Willie had sneaked away with his box down to the
lower deck. I thought it mean of him not to stay with
his father. I never noticed till now what a sneaking face
Cousin Willie has. In his uniform, as Crown Prince, it
was different. But in his shabby clothes, among these
rough people, he seems so changed. He walks with a mean
stoop, and his eyes look about in such a furtive way,
never still. I saw one of the ship's officers watching
him, very closely and sternly.
Cousin Karl of Austria, and Cousin Ruprecht of Bavaria,
are not here. We thought they were to come on this ship,
but they are not here. We could hardly believe that the
ship would sail without them.
I managed to get Uncle William out of the crowd and down
below. He was glad to get off the deck. He seemed afraid
to look at the sea, and when we got into the big cabin,
he clutched at the cover of the port and said, "Shut it,
help me shut it, shut out the sound of the sea;" and then
for a little time he sat on one of the bunks all hunched
up, and muttering, "Don't let me hear the sea, don't let
me hear it." His eyes looked so queer and fixed, that I
thought he must be in a sort of fit, or seizure. But
Uncle Henry and Cousin Willie and Cousin Ferdinand came
into the cabin and he got better again.
Cousin Ferdinand has got hold of a queer long overcoat
with the sleeves turned up, and a little round hat, and
looks exactly like a Jew. He says he traded one of our
empty boxes for the coat and hat. I never noticed before
how queer and thick Cousin Ferdinand's speech is, and
how much he gesticulates with his hands when he talks.
I am sure that when I visited at Sofia nobody ever
noticed it. And he called Uncle William and Uncle Henry
"Mister," and said that on the deck he had met two "fine
gentlemen," (that's what he called them), who are in the
clothing trade in New York. It was with them he traded
for the coat.
Cousin Ferdinand, who is very clever at figures, is going
to look after all our money, because the American money
is too difficult for Uncle William and Cousin Willie to
understand. We have only a little money, but Cousin
Ferdinand said that we would put it all together and make
it a pool. But when Uncle Henry laughed, and turned his
pockets out and had no money at all, Cousin Ferdinand
said that it would NOT be a pool. He said he would make
it "on shares" and explained it, but I couldn't understand
what it meant.
While he was talking I saw Cousin Willie slip one of the
pieces of money out of the pile into his pocket: at least
I think I saw it; but he did it so quickly that I was
not sure, and didn't like to say anything.
Then a bell rang and we went to eat in a big saloon, all
crowded with common people, and very stuffy. The food
was wretched, and I could not eat. I suppose Uncle was
famished from the long waiting and the bad food in the
emigrant shed. It was dreadful to see the hungry way that
he ate the greasy stew they gave us, with his head down
almost in his plate and his moustache all unkempt. "This
ragout is admirable," he said. "Let the chef be informed
that I said it."
Cousin Ferdinand didn't sit with us. He sat beside his
two new friends and they had their heads all close together
and talked with great excitement. I never knew before
that Cousin Ferdinand talked Yiddish. I remember him at
Sofia, on horseback addressing his army, and I don't
think he talked to his troops in Yiddish. He was telling
them, I remember, how sorry he was that he couldn't
accompany them to the front. But for "business in Sofia,"
he said, he would like to be in the very front trenches,
the foremost of all. It was thought very brave of him.
When we got up from supper, the ship was heaving and
rolling quite a bit. A young man, a steward, told us that
we were now out of the harbor and in the open sea. Uncle
William told him to convey his compliments to the captain
on his proper navigation of the channel. The young man
looked very closely at Uncle and said, "Sure, I'll tell
him right away," but he said it kindly. Then he said to
me, when Uncle couldn't hear, "Your pa ain't quite right,
is he, Miss Hohen?" I didn't know what he meant, but, of
course, I said that Uncle William was only my uncle.
Hohen is, I should explain, the name by which we are
known now. The young man said that he wasn't really a
steward, only just for the trip. He said that, because
I had a strange feeling that I had met him before, and
asked him if I hadn't seen him at one of the courts. But
he said he had never been "up before one" in his life.
He said he lives in New York, and drives an ice-wagon
and is an ice-man. He said he was glad to have the pleasure
of our acquaintance. He is, I think, the first ice-man
I have ever met. He reminds me very much of the Romanoffs,
the Grand Dukes of the younger branch, I mean. But he
says he is not connected with them, so far as he knows.
He said his name is Peters. We have no Almanach de Gotha
here on board the steamer, so I cannot look up his name.
S.S. America. Thursday
We had a dreadful experience last night. In the middle
of the night Uncle Henry came and called me and said that
Uncle William was ill. So I put on an old shawl and went
with him. The ship was pitching and heaving with a dreadful
straining and creaking noise. A dim light burned in the
cabin, and outside there was a great roaring of the wind
and the wild sound of the sea surging against the ship.
Uncle William was half sitting up in his rough bunk, with
the tattered gray blankets over him, one hand was clutched
on the side of the bed and there was a great horror in
his eyes. "The sea; the sea," he kept saying, "don't let
me hear it. It's THEIR voices. Listen! They're beating
at the sides of the ship. Keep them from me, keep them
He was quiet for a minute, until there came another great
rush of the sea against the sides of the ship, and a roar
of water against the port. Then he broke out, almost
screaming—"Henry, brother Henry, keep them back! Don't
let them drag me down. I never willed it. I never wanted
it. Their death is not at my door. It was necessity.
Henry! Brother Henry! Tell them not to drag me below the
Like that he raved for perhaps an hour and we tried to
quiet him. Cousin Willie had slipped away, I don't know
where. Cousin Ferdinand was in his bunk with his back
"Do I slip to-night, at all," he kept growling "or do I
not? Say, mister, do I get any slip at all?"
But no one minded him.
Then daylight came and Uncle fell asleep. His face looked
drawn and gray and the cords stood out on his withered
hand, which was clutched against his shirt.
So he slept. It seemed so strange. There was no court
physician, no bulletins to reassure the world that he
was sleeping quietly.
Later in the morning I saw the ship's doctor and the
captain, all in uniform, with gold braid, walking on
their inspection round.
"You had some trouble here last night," I heard the
"No, nothing," the doctor answered, "only one of the
steerage passengers delirious in the night."
Later in the morning the storm had gone down and the sea
was calm as glass, and Uncle Henry and I got Uncle William
up on deck. Mr. Peters, the steward that I think I spoke
about before, got us a steamer chair from the first class
that had been thrown away—quite good except for one
leg,—and Uncle William sat in it with his face away from
the sea. He seemed much shaken and looked gray and tired,
but he talked quite quietly and rationally about our
going to America, and how we must all work, because work
is man's lot. He himself, he says, will take up the
presidency of Harvard University in New York, and Uncle
Henry, who, of course, was our own Grand Admiral and is
a sailor, will enter as Admiral of the navy of one of
the states, probably, Uncle says, the navy of Missouri,
or else that of Colorado.
It was pleasant to hear Uncle William talk in this way,
just as quietly and rationally as at Berlin, and with
the same grasp of political things. He only got excited
once, and that was when he was telling Uncle Henry that
it was his particular wish that Uncle should go to the
captain and offer to take over the navigation of the
vessel. Uncle Henry is a splendid sailor, and in all our
cruises in the Baltic he used to work out all the navigation
of the vessel, except, of course, the arithmetic—which
was beneath him.
Uncle Henry laughed (he is always so good natured) and
said that he had had enough of being Admiral to last him
all his life. But when Uncle William insisted, he said
he would see what he could do.
S.S. America. Friday
All yesterday and to-day the sea was quite calm, and we
could sit on deck. I was glad because, in the cabin where
I am, there are three other women, and it is below the
water-line, and is very close and horrid. So when it is
rough, I can only sit in the alley-way with my knitting.
There the light is very dim and the air bad. But I do
not complain. It is woman's lot. Uncle William and Cousin
Willie have both told me this—that it is woman's lot to
bear and to suffer; and they said it with such complete
resignation that I feel I ought to imitate their attitude.
Cousin Ferdinand, too, is very brave about the dirt and
the discomfort of being on board the ship. He doesn't
seem to mind the dirt at all, and his new friends (Mr.
Sheehan and Mr. Mosenhammer) seem to bear it so well,
too. Uncle Henry goes and washes his hands and face at
one of the ship's pumps before every meal, with a great
noise and splashing, but Cousin Ferdinand says, "For me
the pump, no." He says that nothing like that matters
now, and that his only regret is that he did not fall at
the head of his troops, as he would have done if he had
not been detained by business.
I caught sight of Cousin Karl of Austria! So it seems he
is on the ship after all. He was up on the promenade deck
where the first class passengers are, and of which you
can just see one end from down here in the steerage.
Cousin Karl had on a waiter's suit and was bringing
something to drink to two men who were in steamer chairs
on the deck. I don't know whether he saw me or not, but
if he did he didn't give any sign of recognizing me. One
of the men gave Cousin Karl a piece of money and I was
sure it was he, from the peculiar, cringing way in which
he bowed. It was just the manner that he used to have at
Vienna with his cousin, Franz Ferdinand, and with dear
old Uncle Franz Joseph.
We always thought, we girls I mean, that it was Cousin
Karl who had Cousin Franz Ferdinand blown up at Serajevo.
I remember once we dared Cousin Zita, Karl's wife, to
ask Uncle William if it really was Karl. But Uncle William
spoke very gravely, and said that it was not a thing for
us to discuss, and that if Karl did it, it was an "act
of State," and no doubt very painful to Cousin Karl to
have to do. Zita asked Uncle if Karl poisoned dear old
Uncle Franz Joseph, because some of Karl's best and most
intimate friends said that he did. But Uncle said very
positively, "No," that dear old Uncle Franz Joseph had
not needed any poison, but had died, very naturally,
under the hands of Uncle William's own physician, who
was feeling his wind-pipe at the time.
Of course, all these things seem very far away now. But
seeing Cousin Karl on the upper deck, reminded me of all
the harmless gossip and tattle that used to go on among
us girls in the old days.
I saw Cousin Willie on the deck this afternoon. I had
not seen him all day yesterday as he seems to keep out
of sight. His eyes looked bloodshot and I was sure that
he had been drinking.
I asked him where he had been in the storm while Uncle
William was ill. He gave a queer sort of leering chuckle
and said, "Over there," and pointed backwards with his
thumb towards the first class part of the ship. Then he
said, "Come here a minute," and he led me round a corner
to where no one could see, and showed me a gold brooch
and two diamond rings. He told me not to tell the others,
and then he tried to squeeze my hand and to pull me
towards him, in such a horrid way, but I broke away and
went back. Since then I have been trying to think how he
could have got the brooch and the rings. But I cannot
S.S. America. Saturday
To-day when I went up on deck, the first thing I saw was
Uncle Henry. I hardly recognized him. He had on an old
blue sailor's jersey, and was cleaning up a brass rail
with a rag. I asked him why he was dressed like that and
Uncle Henry laughed and said he had become an admiral.
I couldn't think what he meant, as I never guess things
with a double meaning, so he explained that he has got
work as a sailor for the voyage across. I thought he
looked very nice in his sailor's jersey, much nicer than
in the coat with gold facings, when he was our High
Admiral. He reminded me very much of those big fair-haired
Norwegian sailors that we used to see when we went on
the Meteor to Flekkefyord and Gildeskaale. I am sure that
he will be of great service to this English captain, in
helping to work the ship across.
When Cousin Ferdinand came up on deck with his two friends,
Mr. Mosenhammer and Mr. Sheehan, he was very much interested
in Uncle Henry's having got work. He made an arrangement
right away that he would borrow Uncle Henry's wages, and
that Mr. Sheehan would advance them, and he would then
add it to our capital, and then he would take it and keep
it. Uncle Henry is to get what is called, in the new
money, one seventy-five a day, and to get it for four
days, and Cousin Ferdinand says that comes to four dollars
and a quarter. Cousin Ferdinand is very quick with figures.
He says that he will have to take out a small commission
for managing the money for Uncle Henry, and that later
on he will tell Uncle Henry how much will be left after
taking it out. Uncle Henry said all right and went on
with his brass work. It is strange how his clothes seem
to change him. He looks now just like a rough, common
S.S. America. Tuesday
To-day our voyage is to end. I am so glad. When we came
on deck Mr. Peters told me that we were in sight of land.
He told me the names of the places, but they were hard
and difficult to remember, like Long Island and Sandy
Hook; not a bit like our dear old simple German names.
So we were all told to put our things together and get
ready to land. I got, out of one of our boxes, an old
frock coat for Uncle William. It is frayed at the ends
of the sleeves and it shines a little, but I had stitched
it here and there and it looked quite nice. He put it on
with a pair of gray trousers that are quite good, and
not very much bagged, and I had knitted for him a red
necktie that he wears over his blue shirt with a collar,
called a celluloid collar, that American gentlemen wear.
The sea is so calm that Uncle doesn't mind being on deck
now, and he even came close to the bulwarks, which he
wouldn't do all the way across. He stood there in quite
an attitude with his imperfect hand folded into his coat.
He looked something, but not quite, as he used to look
on the deck of the Meteor in the Baltic.
Presently he said, "Henry, your arm!" and walked up and
down with Uncle Henry. I could see that the other passengers
were quite impressed with the way Uncle looked, and it
pleased him. I heard some rough young loafers saying,
"Catch on to the old Dutch, will you? Eh, what?"
Uncle Henry is going ashore just as he is, in his blue
jersey. But Cousin Ferdinand has put on a bright red tie
that Mr. Mosenhammer has loaned to him for three hours.
Cousin Willie only came on deck at the very last minute,
and he seemed anxious to slink behind the other passengers
and to keep out of sight. I think it must have something
to do with the brooch that he showed me, and the rings.
His eyes looked very red and bloodshot and his face more
crooked and furtive than ever. I am sure that he had been
I have written the last lines of this diary sitting on
the deck. We have just passed a huge statue that rises
out of the water, the name of which they mentioned but
I can't remember, as it was not anything I ever heard of
Just think—in a little while we shall land in America!
City New York. 2nd Avenue
We came off the steamer late yesterday afternoon and came
across the city to a pension on Second Avenue where we
are now. Only here they don't call it a pension but a
boarding house. Cousin Ferdinand and Cousin Willie drove
across in the cart with our boxes, and Uncle William and
Uncle Henry and I came on a street car. It cost us fifteen
cents. A cent is four and one-sixth pfennigs. We tried
to reckon what it came to, but we couldn't; but Uncle
Henry thinks it could be done.
This house is a tall house in a mean street, crowded and
noisy with carts and street-sellers. I think it would be
better to have all the boarding houses stand far back
from the street with elm trees and fountains and lawns
where peacocks could walk up and down. I am sure it would
be MUCH better.
We have taken a room for Uncle William and Uncle Henry
on the third floor at the back and a small room in the
front for me of the kind called a hall bedroom, which I
don't ever remember seeing before. There were none at
Sans Souci and none, I think, at any of the palaces.
Cousin Willie has a room at the top of the house, and
Cousin Ferdinand in the basement.
The landlady of this house is very stout and reminds me
very much of the Grand Duchess of Sondersburg-Augustenburg:
her manner when she showed us the rooms was very like
that of the Grand Duchess; only perhaps a little firmer
and more authoritative. But it appears that they are
probably not related, as the landlady's name is Mrs.
O'Halloran, which is, I think, Scotch.
When we arrived it was already time for dinner so we went
downstairs to it at once. The dining-room was underground
in the basement. It was very crowded and stuffy, and
there was a great clatter of dishes and a heavy smell of
food. Most of the people were already seated, but there
was an empty place at the head of one of the tables and
Uncle William moved straight towards that. Uncle was
wearing, as I said, his frock coat and his celluloid
collar and he walked into the room with quite an air, in
something of the way that he used to come into the great
hall of the Neues Palais at Potsdam, only that in these
clothes it looked different. As Uncle entered the room
he waved his hand and said, "Let no one rise!" I remember
that when Uncle said this at the big naval dinner at Kiel
it made a great sensation as an example of his ready
tact. He realised that if they had once risen there would
have been great difficulty in their order of procedure
for sitting down again. He was afraid that the same
difficulty might have been felt here in the boarding
house. But I don't think it would, and I don't think that
they were going to stand up, anyway. They just went on
eating. I noticed one cheap-looking young man watching
Uncle with a sort of half smile as he moved towards his
seat. I heard him say to his neighbour, "Some scout, eh?"
The food was so plain and so greasy that I could hardly
eat it. But I have noticed that it is a strange thing
about Uncle that he doesn't seem to know what he eats at
all. He takes all this poor stuff that they put before
him to be the same delicacies that we had at the Neues
Palais and Sans Souci. "Is this a pheasant?" he asked
when the servant maid passed him his dish of meat. I
heard the mean young man whisper, "I guess not." Presently
some hash was brought in and Uncle said, "Ha! A Salmi!
Ha! excellent!" I could see that Mrs. O'Halloran, the
landlady, who sat at the other end of the table, was
I was surprised to find—because it is so hard to get
used to the change of things in our new life—that all
the people went on talking just the same after Uncle sat
down. At the palace at Potsdam nobody ever spoke at dinner
unless Uncle William first addressed him, and then he
was supposed to give a sort of bow and answer as briefly
as possible so as not to interrupt the flow of Uncle
William's conversation. Generally Uncle talked and all
the rest listened. His conversation was agreed by everybody
to be wonderful. Princes, admirals, bishops, artists,
scholars and everybody united in declaring that Uncle
William showed a range of knowledge and a brilliance of
language that was little short of marvellous. So naturally
it was a little disappointing at first to find that these
people just went on talking to one another and didn't
listen to Uncle William at all, or merely looked at him
in an inquisitive sort of way and whispered remarks to
one another. But presently, I don't just know how, Uncle
began to get the attention of the table and one after
the other the people stopped talking to listen to him.
I was very glad of this because Uncle was talking about
America and I was sure that it would interest them, as
what he said was very much the same as the wonderful
speech that he made to the American residents of Berlin
at the time when the first exchange professor was sent
over to the University. I remember that all the Americans
who heard it said that Uncle told them things about their
own country that they had never known, or even suspected,
before. So I was glad when I heard Uncle explaining to
these people the wonderful possibilities of their country.
He talked of the great plains of Connecticut and the huge
seaports of Pittsburg and Colorado Springs, and the
tobacco forests of Idaho till one could just see it all.
He said that the Mississippi, which is a great river here
as large as the Weser, should be dammed back and held
while a war of extermination was carried on against the
Indians on the other side of it with a view to
Christianizing them. The people listened, their faces
flushed with eating and with the close air. Here and
there some of them laughed or nudged one another and
said, "Get on to this, will you?" But I remember that
when Uncle William made this speech in Berlin the Turkish
ambassador said after it that he now knew so much about
America that he wanted to die, and that the Shah of Persia
wrote a letter to Uncle, all in his own writing, except
the longest words, and said that he had ordered Uncle's
speech on America to be printed and read aloud by all
the schoolmasters in Persia under penalty of decapitation.
Nearly all of them read it.
This morning we had a great disappointment. It had been
pretty well arranged on board the ship that Uncle would
take over the presidency of Harvard University. Uncle
Henry and Cousin Ferdinand and Cousin Willie had all
consented to it, and we looked upon it as done. Now it
seems there is a mistake. First of all Harvard University
is not in New York, as we had always thought in Germany
that it was. I remember that when Uncle Henry came home
from his great tour in America, in which he studied
American institutions so profoundly, and made his report
he said that Harvard University was in New York. Uncle
had this information filed away in our Secret Service
But it seems that it is somewhere else. The University
here is called Columbia, so Uncle decided that he would
be president of that. In the old days all the great men
of learning used to assure Uncle that if fate had not
made him an emperor he would have been better fitted than
any living man to be the head of a great university.
Uncle admitted this himself, though he resented being
compared only to the living ones.
So it was a great disappointment to-day when they refused
to give him the presidency. I went with him to the college,
but I cannot quite understand what happened or why they
won't give it to him. We walked all the way up and I
carried a handbag filled with Uncle's degrees and diplomas
from Oxford and all over the world. All the way up Uncle
talked about the majesty and the freedom of learning and
what he would do to the college when he was made president,
and how all the professors should sit up and obey him.
At times he got so excited that he would stop on the
street and wave his hands and gesticulate so that people
turned and looked at him. At Potsdam we never realized
that Uncle was excited all the time, and, in any case,
with his uniform on and his sabre clattering as he walked,
it all seemed different. But here in the street, in his
faded frock coat and knitted tie, and with his face
flushed and his eyes rambling, people seemed to mistake
it and thought that his mind was not quite right.
So I think he made a wrong impression when we went into
the offices of the college. Uncle was still quite excited
from his talking. "Let the trustees be brought," he said
in a peremptory way to the two young men in black frock
coats, secretaries of some sort, I suppose, who received
us. Then he turned to me. "Princess," he said, "my
diplomas!" He began pulling them out of the bag and
throwing them on the table in a wild sort of way. The
other people waiting in the room were all staring at him.
Then the young men took Uncle by the arm and led him into
an inner room and I went out into the corridor and waited.
Presently one of the young men came out and told me not
to wait, as Uncle had been sent home in a cab. He was
very civil and showed me where to go to get the elevated
railroad. But while I was waiting I had overheard some
of the people talking about Uncle. One said, "That's that
same old German that was on board our ship last week in
the steerage—has megalomania or something of the sort,
they say, and thinks he's the former Emperor: I saw the
Kaiser once at a review in Berlin,—not much resemblance,
For weeks and weeks I have written nothing in my diary
because it has been so discouraging. After Uncle William's
offer to take over the presidency of Columbia University
had been refused, he debated with Uncle Henry and with
Cousin Ferdinand of Bulgaria (who is not living in our
boarding house now but who comes over quite often in the
evenings) whether he would accept the presidency of
Harvard. Cousin Ferdinand looked up the salary in a book
and told him not to take it. Cousin Ferdinand has little
books with all the salaries of people in America and he
says that these books are fine and much better than the
Almanach de Gotha which we used to use in Europe to hunt
people up. He says that if he ever goes back to be King
of Bulgaria again he is going to introduce books like
these. Cousin Ferdinand is getting very full of American
ideas and he says that what you want to know about a man
is not his line of descent but his line of credit. And
he says that the whole King business in Europe has been
mismanaged. He says that there should have been millions
in it. I forgot to say in my diary sooner that Cousin
Ferdinand's two friends, Mr. Mosenhammer and Mr. Sheehan,
took him into their clothing business at once as a sort
of partner. The reason was that they found that he could
wear clothes; the effect on the customers when they see
Cousin Ferdinand walking up and down in front of the
store is wonderful. Of course all kings can wear clothes
and in the old days in the Potsdam palace we thought
nothing of it. But Cousin Ferdinand says that the kings
should have known enough to stop trying to be soldiers
and to put themselves at the head of the export clothing
trade. He wishes, he says, that he had some of his
Bulgarian generals here now in their blue coats trimmed
with black fur; he says that with a little alteration,
which he showed us how to do, he could have sent them
out "on the road," wherever that is, and have made the
biggest boom in gentlemen's winter fur trimmings that
the trade ever saw.
Cousin Ferdinand, when he comes over in the evenings now,
is always beautifully dressed and I can notice that Mrs.
O'Halloran, the landlady, is much impressed with him. I
am glad of this because we have not yet been able to pay
her any money and I was afraid she might say something
about it. But what is stranger is that now that Cousin
Ferdinand has good clothes, Uncle William and Uncle Henry
seem much impressed too. Uncle Henry looks so plain and
common in his sailor's jersey, and Uncle William in his
old frock coat looks faded and shabby and his face always
vacant and wondering. So now when Cousin Ferdinand comes
in they stand up and get a chair for him and listen to
his advice on everything.
So, as I said, Cousin Ferdinand looked up the salary of
the President of Harvard in a book and he was strongly
against Uncle William's taking the position. But Uncle
William says this kind of position is the nearest thing
in this country to what he had in Germany. He thinks that
he could do for Harvard what he did for Germany. He has
written out on a big sheet of paper all the things that
he calls the Chief Needs of America, because he is always
busy like this and never still. I forget the whole list,
especially as he changes it every day according to the
way that people treat Uncle William on the street, but
the things that he always puts first are Culture, Religion,
and Light. These he says he can supply, and he thought
that the presidency of Harvard would be the best place
to do it from. In the end he accepted the position against
Cousin Ferdinand's advice, or at least I mean he said
that he would be willing to take it and he told Uncle
Henry to pack up all his degrees and diplomas and to send
them to Harvard and say that he was coming.
So it was dreadfully disappointing when all the diplomas
came back again by the next post. There was a letter with
them but I didn't see it, as Uncle William tore it into
fragments and stamped on it. He said he was done with
American universities for ever: I have never seen him so
furious: he named over on his fingers all the American
professors that he had fed at Berlin, one meal each and
sometimes even two,—Uncle has a wonderful memory for
things like that,—and yet this was their gratitude. He
walked up and down his room and talked so wildly and
incoherently that if I had not known and been told so
often by our greatest authorities in Germany how beautifully
balanced Uncle William's brain is, I should have feared
that he was wandering.
But presently he quieted down and said with deep earnestness
that the American universities must now go to ruin in
their own way. He was done with them. He said he would
go into a cloister and spend his life in quiet adoration,
provided that he could find anything to adore, which, he
said, in his station was very doubtful. But half an hour
later he was quite cheerful again,—it is wonderful how
quickly Uncle William's brain recovers itself,—and said
that a cloister was too quiet and that he would take a
position as Governor of a State; there are a great many
of these in this country and Uncle spent days and days
writing letters to them and when the answers came in—
though some never answered at all—Uncle William got into
the same state of fury as about the Presidency of Harvard.
So, naturally, each day seemed more disappointing than
the last, especially with the trouble that we have been
having with Cousin Willie, of which I have not spoken
yet, and I was getting quite disheartened until last
evening, when everything seemed to change.
We all knew, of course, that Uncle William is the greatest
artist in the world, but no one liked to suggest that he
should sell his pictures for money, a thing that no prince
was ever capable of doing. Yet I could not but feel glad
when Uncle decided yesterday that he would stoop to make
his living by art. It cost him a great struggle to make
this decision, but he talked it over very fully last
night with Uncle Henry, after Uncle Henry came home from
work, and the resolution is taken.
Of course, Uncle always had a wonderful genius for
painting. I remember how much his pictures used to be
admired at the court at Berlin. I have seen some of the
best painters stand absolutely entranced,—they said so
themselves,—in front of Uncle's canvasses. I remember
one of the greatest of our artists saying one day to
Uncle in the Potsdam Gallery, "Now, which of these two
pictures is yours and which is Michel Angelo's: I never
can tell you two apart." Uncle gave him the order of the
Red Swan. Another painter once said that if Uncle's genius
had been developed he would have been the greatest painter
of modern times. Uncle William, I remember, was dreadfully
angry. He said it WAS developed.
So it seemed only natural that Uncle should turn to Art
to make our living. But he hesitated because there is
some doubt whether a person of noble birth can sell
anything for money. But Uncle says Tintoretto the great
Italian artist had two quarterings of nobility, and
Velasquez had two and a half.
Luckily we have with us among our things Uncle's easel
and his paints that he used in Berlin. He had always to
have special things because he doesn't use little brushes
and tubes of colour as ordinary artists do, but had a
big brush and his paint in a tin can, so that he can work
more quickly. Fortunately we have with us three of Uncle's
pictures rolled up in the bottom of our boxes. He is
going to sell these first and after that he says that he
will paint one or two every day. One of the three canvasses
that we have is an allegorical picture called "Progress"
in which Progress is seen coming out of a cloud in the
background with Uncle William standing in the foreground.
Another is called "Modern Science" and in this Science
is seen crouched in the dark in the background and Uncle
William standing in the light in the foreground. The
other is called "Midnight in the Black Forest." Uncle
William did it in five minutes with a pot of black paint.
They say it is impressionistic.
So all the evening Uncle William and Uncle Henry talked
about the new plan. It is wonderful how Uncle William
enters into a thing. He got me to fetch him his old blue
blouse, which was with the painting things, and he put
it on over his clothes and walked up and down the room
with a long paint-brush in his hand. "We painters, my
dear Henry," he said, "must not be proud. America needs
Art. Very good. She shall have it."
I could see, of course, that Uncle William did not like
the idea of selling pictures for money. But he is going
to make that side of it less objectionable by painting
a picture, a very large picture, for nothing and giving
it to the big Metropolitan Art Gallery which is here.
Uncle has already partly thought it out. It is to be
called the "Spirit of America" and in it the Spirit of
America will be seen doubled up in the background: Uncle
has not yet fully thought out the foreground, but he says
he has an idea.
In any case he is going to refuse to take anything more
than a modest price for his pictures. Beyond that, he
says, not one pfennig.
So this morning Uncle rolled up his three canvasses under
his arm and has gone away to sell them.
I am very glad, as we have but little money, indeed hardly
any except Uncle Henry's wages. And I have been so worried,
too, and surprised since we came here about Cousin Willie.
He hardly is with the rest of us at all. He is out all
night and sleeps in the day time, and often I am sure
that he has been drinking. One morning when he came back
to the house at about breakfast time he showed me quite
a handful of money, but wouldn't say where he got it. He
said there was lots more where it came from. I asked him
to give me some to pay Mrs. O'Halloran, but he only
laughed in his leering way and said that he needed it
all. At another time when I went up to Cousin Willie's
room one day when he was out, I saw quite a lot of silver
things hidden in a corner of the cupboard. They looked
like goblets and silver dinner things, and there was a
revolver and a sheath-knife hidden with them. I began to
think that he must have stolen all these things, though
it seemed impossible for a prince. I have spoken to Uncle
William several times about Cousin Willie, but he gets
impatient and does not seem to care. Uncle never desires
very much to talk of people other than himself. I think
it fatigues his mind. In any case, he says that he has
done for Willie already all that he could. He says he
had him confined to a fortress three times and that four
times he refused to have him in his sight for a month,
and that twice he banished him to a country estate for
six weeks. His duty, he says, is done. I said that I was
afraid that Cousin Willie had been stealing and told him
about the silver things hidden in the cupboard. But Uncle
got very serious and read me a very severe lecture. No
prince, he said, ever stole. His son, he explained, might
very well be collecting souvenirs as memorials of his
residence in America: all the Hohenzollerns collected
souvenirs: some of our most beautiful art things at
Potsdam and Sans Souci were souvenirs collected by our
ancestors in France fifty years ago. Uncle said that if
the Great War had turned out as it should and if his
soldiers had not betrayed him by getting killed, we should
have had more souvenirs than ever. After that he dismissed
the subject from his mind. Uncle William can dismiss
things from his mind more quickly than anybody I ever
The Same Day. Later
I was so surprised this afternoon, when I happened to go
down to the door, to see Mr. Peters, the ice gentleman
that was on the ship, with his ice cart delivering ice
into the basement. I knew that he delivered ice in this
part of the city because he said so, and I think he had
mentioned this street, and two or three times I thought
I had seen him from the window. But it did seem surprising
to happen to go down to the door (I forget what I went
for) at the moment that he was there. He looked very fine
in his big rough suit of overalls. It is not quite like
a military uniform, but I think it looks better. Mr.
Peters knew me at once. "Good afternoon, Miss Hohen," he
said (that is the name, as I think I said, that we have
here), "how are all the folks?"
So we talked for quite a little time, and I told him
about Uncle trying to get work and how hard it was and
how at last he had got work, or at least had gone out to
get it, as a painter. Mr. Peters said that that was fine.
He said that painters do well here: he has a lot of
friends who are painters and they get all the way from
sixty to seventy-five cents an hour. It seems so odd to
think of them being paid by the hour. I don't think the
court artists at home were paid like that. It will be
very nice if Uncle William can mingle with Mr. Peters's
artist friends. Mr. Peters asked if he might take me out
some Sunday, and I said that I would ask Uncle William
and Uncle Henry and Cousin Ferdinand and Cousin Willie
and if they all consented to come I would go. I hope it
was not a forward thing to do.
I forgot when I was talking of work to say that Uncle
Henry got work the very second day that we were here. He
works down at the docks where the ships are. I think he
supervises the incoming and outgoing of the American
navy. It is called being a stevedore, and no doubt his
being an Admiral helped him to get it. He hopes to get
a certificate presently to be a Barge Master, which will
put him in charge of the canals. But there is a very
difficult examination to go through and Uncle Henry is
working for it at night out of a book. He has to take up
Vulgar Fractions which, of course, none of our High Seas
Command were asked to learn. But Uncle Henry is stooping
So now, I think, everything will go well.
Uncle's art has failed. It was only yesterday that I was
writing in my memoirs of how cheerful and glad I felt to
think that Uncle William was going to be able to make
his living by art, and now everything is changed again.
All the time that Uncle was out on his visit to the
picture dealers, I was making plans and thinking what we
would do with the money when it came in, so it is very
disappointing to have it all come to nothing. I don't
know just what happened because Uncle William never gives
any details of things. His mind moves too rapidly for
that. But he came home with his pictures still under his
arm in a perfect fury and raged up and down his room,
using very dreadful language.
But after a little while when he grew calmer he explained
to me that the Americans are merely swineheads and that
art, especially art such as his, is wasted on them. Uncle
says that he has no wish to speak harshly of the Americans,
but they are pig-dogs. He bears them no ill-will, he
says, for what they have done and his heart is free of
any spirit of vengeance, but he wishes he had his heel
on their necks for about half a minute. He said this with
such a strange dreadful snarl that for the moment his
face seemed quite changed. But presently when he recovered
himself he got quite cheerful again, and said that it
was perhaps unseemly in him, as the guest of the American
people, to say anything against them. It is strange how
Uncle always refers to himself as the guest of the American
people. Living in this poor place, in these cheap
surroundings, it seems so odd. Often at our meals in the
noisy dining-room down in the basement, in the speeches
that he makes to the boarders, he talks of himself as
the guest of America and he says, "What does America ask
in return? Nothing." I can see that Mrs. O'Halloran, the
landlady, doesn't like this, because we have not paid
her anything for quite a long time, and she has spoken
to me about it in the corridor several times.
But when Uncle William makes speeches in the dining-room
I think the whole room becomes transformed for him into
the banquet room of a palace, and the cheap bracket lamps
against the wall turn into a blaze of light and the
boarders are all courtiers, and he becomes more and more
grandiloquent. He waves his hand towards Uncle Henry and
refers to him as "my brother the Admiral," and to me as
"the Princess at my side." Some of the people, the meaner
ones, begin to laugh and to whisper, and others look
uncomfortable and sorry. And it is always on these
occasions that Uncle William refers to himself as America's
guest, and refers to the Americans as the hospitable
nation who have taken him to their heart. I think that
when Uncle says this he really believes it; Uncle can
believe practically anything if he says it himself.
So, as I say, when he came home yesterday, after failing
to sell his pictures, he was at first furious and then
he fell into his other mood and he said that, as the
guest of a great people, he had found out at last the
return he could make to them. He said that he would
organise a School of Art, and as soon as he had got the
idea he was carried away with it at once and seized a
pencil and paper and began making plans for the school
and drawing up a list of the instructors needed. He asked
first who could be Principal, or President, of the School,
and decided that he would have to be that himself as he
knew of no one but himself who had the peculiar power of
organisation needed for it. All the technical instructors,
he said, must be absolutely the best, each one a master
in his own line. So he wrote down at the top of his list,
Instructor in Oils, and reflected a little, with his head
in his hand, as to who could do that. Presently he sighed
and said that as far as he knew there was no one; he'd
have to do that himself. Then he wrote down Instructor
in Water Colour, and as soon as he had written it he said
right off that he would have to take that over too; there
was no one else that he could trust it to. Then he said,
"Now, let me see, Perspective, Freehand, and Crayon Work.
I need three men: three men of the first class. Can I
get them? I doubt it. Let me think what can be done."
He walked up and down the room a little with his hands
behind his back and his head sunk in thought while he
murmured, "Three men? Three men? But Ha! why THREE? Why
not, if sufficiently gifted, ONE man?"
But just when he was saying this there was a knock at
the door and Mrs. O'Halloran came in. I knew at once what
she had come for, because she had been threatening to do
it, and so I felt dreadfully nervous when she began to
say that our bill at the house had gone unpaid too long
and that we must pay her at once what we owed her. It
took some time before Uncle William understood what she
was talking about, but when he did he became dreadfully
frigid and polite. He said, "Let me understand clearly,
madame, just what it is that you wish to say: do I
apprehend that you are saying that my account here for
our maintenance is now due and payable?" Mrs. O'Halloran
said yes, she was. And Uncle said, "Let me endeavour to
grasp your meaning exactly: am I correct in thinking that
you mean I owe you money?" Mrs. O'Halloran said that was
what she meant. Uncle said, "Let me try to apprehend just
as accurately as possible what it is that you are trying
to tell me: is my surmise correct that you are implying
that it is time that I settled up my bill?"
Mrs. O'Halloran said, "Yes," but I could see that by this
time she was getting quite flustered because there was
something so dreadfully chilling in Uncle's manner: his
tone in a way was courtesy itself, but there was something
in it calculated to make Mrs. O'Halloran feel that she
had committed a dreadful breach in what she had done.
Uncle William told me afterwards that to mention money
to a prince is not a permissible thing, and that no true
Hohenzollern has ever allowed the word "bill" to be said
in his presence, and that for this reason he had tried,
out of courtesy, to give the woman every chance to withdraw
her words and had only administered a reprimand to her
when she failed to do so. Certainly it was a dreadful
rebuke that he gave her. He told her that he must insist
on this topic being dismissed and never raised again:
that he could allow no such discussion: the subject was
one, he said, that he must absolutely refuse to entertain:
he did not wish, he said, to speak with undue severity,
but he had better make it plain that if there were any
renewal of this discussion he should feel it impossible
to remain in the house.
While Uncle William was saying all this Mrs. O'Halloran
was getting more and more confused and angry, and when
Uncle finally opened the door for her with cold dignity,
she backed out of it and found herself outside the room
without seeming to know what she was doing. Presently I
could hear her down in the scullery below, rattling dishes
and saying that she was just as good as anybody.
But Uncle William seemed to be wonderfully calmed and
elevated after this scene, and said, "Princess, bring me
my flute." I brought it to him and he sat by the window
and leaned his head out over the back lane and played
our dear old German melodies, till somebody threw a boot
at him. The people about here are not musical. But meantime
Uncle William had forgotten all about the School of Art,
and he said no more about it.
To-day a dreadful thing has happened. The police have
come into the house and have taken Cousin Willie away.
He is now in a place called The Tombs, and Mr. Peters
says that he will be sent to the great prison at Sing-Sing.
He is to be tried for robbery and for stabbing with intent
It was very dreadful when they came to take him. I was
so glad that Uncle William was not here to see it all.
But it was in the morning and he had gone out to see a
steamship company about being president of it, and I was
tidying up our rooms, because Mrs. O'Halloran won't tidy
them up any more or let the coloured servant tidy them
up until we pay her more money. She said that to me, but
I think she is afraid to say it to Uncle William. So I
mean to do the work now while Uncle is out and not let
This morning, in the middle of the morning, while I was
working, all of a sudden I heard the street door open
and slam and some one rushing up the stairway: and then
Cousin Willie broke into the room, all panting and excited,
and his face grey with fright and gasping out, "Hide me,
hide me!" He ran from room to room whining and hysterical,
and his breath coming in a sort of sob, but he seemed
incapable of deciding what to do. I would have hidden
him if I could, but at the very next moment I heard the
policemen coming in below, and the voice of the landlady.
Then they came upstairs, big strong-looking men in blue,
any one of whom could have choked Cousin Willie with one
hand. Cousin Willie ran to and fro like a cornered rat,
and two of the men seized him and then I think he must
have been beside himself with fear for I saw his teeth
bite into the man's hand that held him, and one of the
policemen struck him hard with his wooden club across
the head and he fell limp to the floor. They dragged him
down the stairway like that and I followed them down,
but there was nothing that I could do. I saw them lift
Cousin Willie into a closed black wagon that stood at
the street door with quite a little crowd of people
gathered about it already, all excited and leering as if
it were a show. And then they drove away with him and I
came in and went upstairs and sat down in Uncle's room
but I could not work any more. A little later on Mr.
Peters came to the house,—I don't know why, because it
was not for the ice as he had his other clothes on,—and
he came upstairs and sat down and told me about what had
happened. It seemed a strange thing to receive him upstairs
in Uncle's bedroom like that, but I was so upset that I
did not think about it at the time. Mr. Peters had been
on our street with his ice wagon when the police came,
though I did not see him. But he saw me, he said, standing
at the door. And I think he must have gone home and
changed his things and come back again, but I did not
He told me that Cousin Willie had stabbed a man, or at
least a boy, that was in charge of a jewelry shop, and
that the boy might die. Cousin Willie, Mr. Peters says,
has been stealing jewelry nearly ever since we came here
and the police have been watching him but he did not know
this and so he had grown quite foolhardy, and this morning
in broad daylight he went into some sort of jewelry or
pawn shop where there was only a boy watching the shop,
and the boy was a cripple. Cousin Willie had planned to
hide the things under his coat and to sneak out but the
boy saw what he was doing and cried out, and when Cousin
Willie tried to break out of the shop he hobbled to the
door and threw himself in the way. And then it was that
Cousin Willie stabbed him with his sheath-knife,—the
one that I had seen in his room,—and ran. But already
there was a great outcry and the people followed on his
tracks and shouted to the police, and so they easily ran
All of this Mr. Peters told me, but he couldn't stay very
long and had to go again. He says he is going to see what
can be done for Cousin Willie but I am afraid that he
doesn't feel very sorry for him; but after Mr. Peters
had gone I could not help going on thinking about it all
and it seemed to me as if Cousin Willie had not altogether
had a fair chance in life. Common people are brought up
in fear of prison and punishment and they learn to do
what they should. But Cousin Willie was brought up as a
prince and was above imprisonment and things like that.
And in any case he seemed, when the big men seized hold
of him, such a paltry and miserable thing.
Later on in the day Uncle William came home and I had to
tell him all about Cousin Willie. I had feared that he
would be dreadfully upset, but he was much less disturbed
than I had thought. Indeed it is quite wonderful the way
in which Uncle can detach his mind from things.
I told him that Mr. Peters had said that Cousin Willie
must go to Sing-Sing, and Uncle said, "Ha! a fortress?"
So I told him that I thought it was. After that he asked
if Cousin Willie was in his uniform at the time, and when
I said that he was not, Uncle said "That may make it more
difficult." Of course Cousin Willie has no uniform here
in America and doesn't wear any, but I notice that Uncle
William begins to mix up our old life with our life here
and seems sometimes quite confused and wandering; at
least other people would think him so. He went on talking
quite a long time about what had happened and he said
that there is an almost exact precedent for the "incident"
(that's what he calls it) in the Zabern Case. I don't
remember much about that, as it was years ago, before
the war, but Uncle William said that it was a similar
case of an officer finding himself compelled to pass his
sword once through a cripple (only once, Uncle says) in
order to clear himself a way on the sidewalk. Uncle quoted
a good many other precedents for passing swords through
civilians, but he says that this is the best one.
In the evening Cousin Ferdinand and Uncle Henry came
over. Uncle Henry seemed very gloomy and depressed about
what had happened and said very little, but Cousin
Ferdinand was very much excited and angry. He said what
is the good of all his honesty and his industry if he is
to be disgraced like this: he asked of what use is his
uprightness and business integrity if he is to have a
first cousin in Sing-Sing. He said that if it was known
that he had a cousin there it would damage him with his
best trade to an incalculable extent. But later on he
quieted down and said that perhaps with a certain part
of his trade it would work the other way. Uncle Ferdinand
has grown to be much interested in what is called here
"advertising,"—a thing that he says all kings ought to
study—and he decided, after he had got over his first
indignation, that Cousin Willie being in Sing-Sing would
be a very good advertisement for him. It might bring him,
he said, quite a lot of new business; especially if it
was known that he refused to help Cousin Willie in any
way or to have anything more to do with any of the rest
of us, and not to give us any money. He said that this
was a point of view which people could respect and admire.
So before he went home he said that we must not expect
to see or hear from him any more, unless, of course,
things should in some way brighten up, in which case he
would come back.
It is a long time—nearly three months—since I have
added anything to my memoirs. The truth is I find it very
hard to write memoirs here. For one thing nobody else
seems to do it. Mrs. O'Halloran tells me that she never
thinks of writing memoirs at all. At the Potsdam palace
it was different. We all wrote memoirs. Eugenia of Pless
did, and Cecilia did, and I did, and all of us. We all
had our memoir books with little silver padlocks and
keys. We were brought up to do it because it helped us
to realise how important everything was that we did
and how important all the people about us were. It was
wonderful to realise that in the old life one met every
day great world figures like Prince Rasselwitz-Windischkopf,
the Grand Falconer of Reuss, and the Grand Duke of
Schlitzin-Mein, and Field Marshall Topoff, General-in-Chief
of the army of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. There are no such
figures as these in America.
But another reason for not writing has been that things
have been going so badly with us. Uncle William still
has no work and he seems to be getting older and more
broken and stranger in his talk every day. He is very
shabby now in spite of all I can do with my needle, but
he becomes more grandiloquent and consequential all the
time. Some of the mean looking young men at this boarding
house have christened him "The Emperor"—which seems a
strange thing for them to have picked upon, and they draw
him out in his talk, and when they meet him they make
mock salutes to him which Uncle returns with very great
dignity. Quite a lot of the people on the nearby streets
have taken it up and when they see Uncle come along they
make him military salutes. Uncle gets quite pleased and
flushed as he goes along the street and answers the
salutes with a sort of military bow.
He is quite happy when he is out of doors explaining to
me with his stick the plans he has for rebuilding New
York and turning the Hudson River to make it run the
other way. But when he comes in he falls into the most
dreadful depression and sometimes at night I hear him
walking up and down in his room far into the night. Two
or three times he has had the same dreadful kind of
seizures that he had on board the ship when we came over,
and this is always when there is a great wind blowing
from the ocean and a storm raging out at sea.
Of course as Uncle has not any work or any position, we
are getting poorer and poorer. Cousin Willie has been
sent to the fortress at Sing-Sing and Cousin Ferdinand
of Bulgaria refuses to know us any more, though, from
what we hear, he is getting on wonderfully well in the
clothing business and is very soon to open a big new
store of which he is to be the general manager. Cousin
Karl is now the Third Assistant Head-Waiter at the King
George Hotel, and in the sphere in which he moves it is
impossible for him to acknowledge any relationship with
us. I don't know what we should do but that Uncle Henry
manages to give us enough of his wages to pay for our
board and lodging. Uncle Henry has passed his Naval
Examination and is now appointed to a quite high command.
It is called a Barge Master. They refused to accept his
certificate of a German Admiral, so he had to study very
hard, but at last he got his qualification and is now in
charge of long voyages on the canals.
I am very glad that Uncle Henry's command turned out to
be on canals instead of on the high seas, as it makes it
so much more German. Of course Uncle Henry had splendid
experience in the Kiel Canal all through the four years
of the war, and it is bound to come in. So he goes away
now on quite long voyages, often of two or three weeks
at a time, and for all this time he is in chief charge
of his barge and has to work out all the navigation.
Sometimes Uncle Henry takes bricks and sometimes sand.
He says it is a great responsibility to feel oneself
answerable for the safety of a whole barge-full of bricks
or sand. It is quite different from what he did in the
German navy, because there it was only a question of the
sailors and for most of the time, as I have heard Uncle
William and Uncle Henry say, we had plenty of them, but
here with bricks and sand it is different. Uncle Henry
says that if his barge was wrecked he would lose his job.
This makes it a very different thing from being a royal
But Uncle William all through the last three months has
failed first at one thing and then at another. After all
his plans for selling pictures had come to nothing he
decided, very reluctantly that he would go into business.
He only reached this decision after a great deal of
anxious thought because, of course, business is a
degradation. It involves taking money for doing things
and this, Uncle William says, no prince can consent to
do. But at last, after deep thought, Uncle said, "The
die is cast," and sat down and wrote a letter offering
to take over the presidency of the United States Steel
Corporation. We spent two or three anxious days waiting
for the answer. Uncle was very firm and kept repeating,
"I have set my hand to it, and I will do it," but I was
certain that he was sorry about it and it was a great
relief when the answer came at last—it took days and
days, evidently, for them to decide about it—in which
the corporation said that they would "worry along" as
they were. Uncle explained to me what "worrying along"
meant and he said that he admired their spirit. But that
ended all talk of his going into business and I am sure
that we were both glad.
After that Uncle William decided that it was necessary
for me to marry in a way to restore our fortunes and he
decided to offer me to a State Governor. He asked me if
I had any choice of States, and I said no. Of course I
should not have wished to marry a state governor, but I
knew my duty towards Uncle William and I said nothing.
So Uncle got a map of the United States and he decided
to marry me to the Governor of Texas. He told me that I
could have two weeks to arrange my supply of household
linen and my trousseau to take to Texas, and he wrote at
once to the Governor. He showed me what he wrote and it
was a very formal letter. I think that Uncle's mind gets
more and more confused as to where he is and what he is
and he wrote in quite the old strain and I noticed that
he signed himself, "Your brother, William." Perhaps it
was on that account that we had no answer to the letter.
Uncle seemed to forget all about it very soon and I was
glad that it was so, and that I had escaped going to the
court of Texas.
All this time Mr. Peters has been very kind. He comes
to the house with his ice every day and sometimes when
Uncle Henry is here he comes in with him and smokes in
the evenings. One day he brought a beautiful bunch of
chrysanthemums for Uncle William, and another day a lovely
nosegay of violets for Uncle Henry. And one Sunday he
took us out for a beautiful drive with one of his ice-horses
in a carriage called a buggy, with three seats. Uncle
William sat with Mr. Peters in the front seat, and Uncle
Henry and Cousin Ferdinand (it was the last time he came
to see us) sat behind them and there was a little seat
at the back in which I sat. It was a lovely drive and
Uncle William pointed out to Mr. Peters all the things
of interest, and Cousin Ferdinand smoked big cigars and
told Uncle Henry all about the clothing trade, and I
listened to them all and enjoyed it very much indeed.
But I was afraid afterwards that it was a very bold and
unconventional thing to do, and perhaps Mr. Peters felt
that he had asked too much because he did not invite me
to drive again.
But he is always very kind and thoughtful.
One Sunday afternoon he came to see us, thinking by
mistake that Uncle William and Uncle Henry were there,
but they weren't, and his manner seemed so strange and
constrained that I was certain that there was something
that he was trying to say and it made me dreadfully
nervous and confused. And at last quite suddenly he said
that there was something that he wanted to ask me if I
wouldn't think it a liberty. My breath stopped and I
couldn't speak, and then he went on to ask if he might
lend us twenty-five dollars. He got very red in the face
when he said it and he began counting out the money on
the sofa, and somehow I hadn't expected that it was money
and began to cry. But I told Mr. Peters that of course
we couldn't think of taking any money, and I begged him
to pick it up again and then I began to try to tell him
about how hard it was to get along and to ask him to get
work for Uncle William, but I started to cry again. Mr.
Peters came over to my chair and took hold of the arm of
it and told me not to cry. Somehow his touch on the arm
of the chair thrilled all through me and though I knew
that it was wrong I let him keep it there and even let
him stroke the upholstery and I don't know just what
would have happened but at that very minute Uncle William
came in. He was most courteous to Mr. Peters and expressed
his apologies for having been out and said that it must
have been extremely depressing for Mr. Peters to find
that he was not at home, and he thanked him for putting
himself to the inconvenience of waiting. And a little
while after that Mr. Peters left.
The Next Day
Mr. Peters came back this morning and said that he had
got work for Uncle William. So I was delighted. He said
that Uncle will make a first class "street man," and that
he has arranged for a line of goods for him and that he
has a "territory" that Uncle can occupy. He showed me a
flat cardboard box filled with lead pencils and shoe-strings
and little badges and buttons with inscriptions on them,
and he says these are what is called a "line," and that
Uncle can take out this line and do splendidly. I don't
quite understand yet who makes the appointment to be a
street man or what influence it takes or what it means
to have a territory, but Mr. Peters explained that there
is a man who is retiring from being a street man and that
Uncle can take his place and can have both sides of the
Bowery, which sounds very pretty indeed.
At first I didn't understand—because Mr. Peters hesitated
a good deal in telling me about it—that if Uncle gets
this appointment, it will mean that he will sell things
in the street. But as soon as I understood this I felt
that Uncle William would scorn to do anything like this,
as the degradation would be the same as being President
of the Steel Corporation. So I was much surprised to find
that when Uncle came in he didn't look at it that way at
all. He looked at the box of badges and buttons and
things, and he said at once, "Ha! Orders of Distinction!
An excellent idea." He picked up a silly little white
button with the motto "Welcome to New York," and he said
"Admirable! That shall be the first class." And there
was a little lead spoon with "Souvenir of the Bowery"
that he made the second class. He started arranging and
rearranging all the things in the box, just as he used
to arrange the orders and decorations at the Palace. Only
those were REAL things such as the Order of the Red
Feather, and The Insignia of the Black Duck, and these
were only poor tin baubles. But I could see that Uncle
no longer knows the difference, and as his fingers fumbled
among these silly things he was quite trembling and eager
to begin, like a child waiting for to-morrow.
It is a year or nearly a year since I wrote in my memoirs,
and I only add to them now because things have happened
which mean that I shall never write any more.
Mr. Peters and I were married last autumn. He asked me
if I would marry him the day that he held the arm of my
chair in the boarding house where we used to live. At
first I never thought that Uncle William would permit
it, because of the hopeless difference of birth. But it
turned out that there was no difficulty at all. Uncle's
mind was always so wonderful that he could find a way
out of anything provided that he wanted to. So he conferred
on Mr. Peters an Order that raised him right up in birth
so that he came level with me. Uncle said that he could
have lifted him higher still if need be but that as I
was only, in our old life, of a younger branch of the
family, it was not necessary to lift Mr. Peters to the
very top. He takes precedence, Uncle said, just below
Uncle Henry of Prussia and just above an Archbishop.
It is so pleasant to think—now that poor Uncle William
is gone—that my marriage was with his full consent.
But even after Uncle William had given his formal consent,
I didn't want to get married till I could leave him
safely. Only he got along so well in his "territory" of
the Bowery from the very start that he was soon quite
all right. He used to go out every morning with his
trayful of badges and pencils and shoe-strings and he
was a success at once. All the people got to know him by
sight and they would say when they saw him, "Here comes
the Emperor," or "Here comes Old Dutch," and very often
there would be quite a little crowd round him buying his
things. Uncle regarded himself always as conferring a
great dignity on any one that he sold a badge to, but he
was very capricious and he had certain buttons and badges
that he would only part with as a very special favour
and honour. Uncle got on so fast that presently Cousin
Ferdinand decided that it would be all right to know him
again and so he came over and made a reconciliation and
took away Uncle's money,—it was all in small coins,—in
a bag to invest for him.
So when everything was all right with Uncle William, Mr.
Peters and I were married and it was on our wedding
morning that Uncle conferred the Order on my husband
which made me very proud. That was a year ago, and since
then we have lived in a very fine place of our own with
four rooms, all to ourselves, and a gallery at the back.
I have cooked all the meals and done all the work of our
apartment, except just at the time when our little boy
was born. We both think he is a very wonderful child. At
first I wanted to call him after the Hohenzollerns and
to name him William Frederick Charles Mary Augustus
Francis Felix, but somehow it seemed out of place and so
we have called him simply Joe Peters. I think it sounds
better. Uncle William drew up an act of abnegation of
Joe, whereby he gives up all claim to a reversion of the
throne of Prussia, Brunswick and Waldeck. I was sorry
for this at first but Uncle said that all the Hohenzollerns
had done it and had made just as great a sacrifice as
Joe has in doing it. But my husband says that under the
constitution of the United States, Joe can be President,
which I think I will like better.
It was one day last week that Uncle William met with the
accident that caused his death. He had walked far away
from his "territory" up to where the Great Park is,
because in this lovely spring weather he liked to wander
about. And he came to where there was a great crowd of
people gathered to see the unveiling of a new monument.
It is called the Lusitania Monument and it is put up in
memory of the people that were lost when one of our war
boats fought the English cruiser Lusitania. There were
a lot of soldiers lining the streets and regiments of
cavalry riding between. And it seems that when Uncle
William saw the crowd and the soldiers he was drawn nearer
and nearer by a sort of curiosity, and when he saw the
great white veil drawn away from the monument, and read
the word "Lusitania" that is carved in large letters
across the base, he screamed out in a sudden fear, and
clashed among the horses of the cavalry and was ridden
They carried him to the hospital, but he never spoke
again, and died on the next day but one. My husband would
not let me go to see him, as he was not conscious and it
could do no good, but after Uncle William was dead they
let me see him in his coffin.
Lying there he seemed such a pitiful and ghastly lump of
clay that it seemed strange that he could, in his old
life, have vexed the world as he did.
I had thought that when Uncle William died there would
have been long accounts of him in the papers; at least
I couldn't help thinking so, by a sort of confusion of
mind, as it is hard to get used to things as they are
and to remember that our other life is unknown here and
that we are known only as ourselves.
But though I looked in all the papers I could find nothing
except one little notice, which I cut out of an evening
paper and which I put in here as a conclusion to my
THE "EMPEROR" DEAD
Unique Character of the East Side Passes Away
A unique and interesting character, a familiar figure
of the East Side of the City, has been lost from our
streets with the death of William Hohen lost Thursday
in the Pauper Hospital, to which he had been brought
as the result of injuries sustained in a street accident
at the Lusitania celebration. Hohen, who was about
sixty-five years of age, was an immigrant out of
Germany after the troubles of the Great War. He had
been for a year or more a street pedler on the Bowery,
where he sold souvenir buttons and various little
trinkets. The old man appears to have been the victim
of a harmless hallucination whereby he thought himself
a person of Royal distinction and in his fancy converted
the box of wares that he carried into Orders of Chivalry
and decorations of Knighthood. The effect of this
strange fancy was heightened by an attempt at military
bearing which, comic though it was in so old and ragged
a figure, was not without a touch of pathos. Some
fancied resemblance to the former Kaiser had earned
for Hohen the designation of the "Emperor," of which
he appeared inordinately proud. But those who knew
Hohen by sight assure us that the resemblance to the
former ruler of Germany, who with all his faults made
a splendid and imposing appearance, was of a purely
superficial character. It would, alas! have been well
for the world if the lot of William Hohenzollern had
fallen on the lines of the simple and pathetic "Emperor"
of the Bowery.
II.—With the Bolsheviks in Berlin
Two years ago as my readers will remember,—but of course
they don't,—I made a secret visit to Germany during the
height of the war. It was obviously quite impossible at
that time to disclose the means whereby I made my way
across the frontier. I therefore adopted the familiar
literary device of professing to have been transported
to Germany in a dream. In that state I was supposed to
be conducted about the country by my friend Count Boob
von Boobenstein, whom I had known years before as a waiter
in Toronto, to see GERMANY FROM WITHIN, and to report
upon it in the Allied press.
What I wrote attracted some attention. So the German
Government—feeling, perhaps, that the prestige of their
own spy system was at stake—published a white paper,
—or a green paper,—I forget which,—in denial of all
my adventures and disclosures. In this they proved (1)
that all entry into Germany by dreams had been expressly
forbidden of the High General Command; (2) that astral
bodies were prohibited and (3) that nobody else but the
Kaiser was allowed to have visions. They claimed therefore
(1) that my article was a fabrication and (2) that for
all they knew it was humorous. There the matter ended
until it can be taken up at the General Peace Table.
But as soon as I heard that the People's Revolution had
taken place in Berlin I determined to make a second visit.
This time I had no difficulty about the frontier whatever.
I simply put on the costume of a British admiral and
"Three Cheers for the British Navy!" said the first
official whom I met. He threw his hat in the air and the
peasants standing about raised a cheer. It was my first
view of the marvellous adaptability of this great people.
I noticed that many of them were wearing little buttons
with pictures of Jellicoe and Beatty.
At my own request I was conducted at once to the nearest
"So your Excellency wishes to go to Berlin?" said the
"Yes," I replied, "I want to see something of the people's
The stationmaster looked at his watch.
"That Revolution is over," he said.
"Too bad!" I exclaimed.
"Not at all. A much better one is in progress, quite the
best Revolution that we have had. It is called—Johann,
hand me that proclamation of yesterday—the Workmen and
"What's it about?" I asked.
"The basis of it," said the stationmaster, "or what we
Germans call the Fundamental Ground Foundation, is
universal love. They hanged all the leaders of the Old
"When can I get a train?" I inquired.
"Your Excellency shall have a special train at once,
Sir," he continued with a sudden burst of feeling, while
a tear swelled in his eye. "The sight of your uniform
calls forth all our gratitude. My three sons enlisted in
our German Navy. For four years they have been at Kiel,
comfortably fed, playing dominos. They are now at home
all safe and happy. Had your brave navy relaxed its
vigilance for a moment those boys might have had to go
out on the sea, a thing they had never done. Please God,"
concluded the good old man, removing his hat a moment,
"no German sailor now will ever have to go to sea."
I pass over my journey to Berlin. Interesting and varied
as were the scenes through which I passed they gave me
but little light upon the true situation of the country:
indeed I may say without exaggeration that they gave me
as little—or even more so—as the press reports of our
talented newspaper correspondents. The food situation
seemed particularly perplexing. A well-to-do merchant
from Bremen who travelled for some distance in my train
assured me that there was plenty of food in Germany,
except of course for the poor. Distress, he said, was
confined entirely to these. Similarly a Prussian gentleman
who looked very like a soldier, but who assured me with
some heat that he was a commercial traveller, told me
the same thing: There were no cases of starvation, he
said, except among the very poor.
The aspect of the people too, at the stations and in the
towns we passed, puzzled me. There were no uniforms, no
soldiers. But I was amazed at the number of commercial
travellers, Lutheran ministers, photographers, and so
forth, and the odd resemblance they presented, in spite
of their innocent costumes, to the arrogant and ubiquitous
military officers whom I had observed on my former visit.
But I was too anxious to reach Berlin to pay much attention
to the details of my journey.
Even when I at last reached the capital, I arrived as I
had feared, too late.
"Your Excellency," said a courteous official at the
railway station, to whom my naval uniform acted as a
sufficient passport. "The Revolution of which you speak
is over. Its leaders were arrested yesterday. But you
shall not be disappointed. There is a better one. It is
called the Comrades' Revolution of the Bolsheviks. The
chief Executive was installed yesterday."
"Would it be possible for me to see him?" I asked.
"Nothing simpler, Excellency," he continued as a tear
rose in his eye. "My four sons,—"
"I know," I said; "your four sons are in the German Navy.
It is enough. Can you take me to the Leader?"
"I can and will," said the official. "He is sitting now
in the Free Palace of all the German People, once usurped
by the Hohenzollern Tyrant. The doors are guarded by
machine guns. But I can take you direct from here through
a back way. Come."
We passed out from the station, across a street and
through a maze of little stairways, and passages into
the heart of the great building that had been the offices
of the Imperial Government.
"Enter this room. Do not knock," said my guide. "Good bye."
In another moment I found myself face to face with the
chief comrade of the Bolsheviks.
He gave a sudden start as he looked at me, but instantly
He was sitting with his big boots up on the mahogany
desk, a cigar at an edgeways angle in his mouth. His hair
under his sheepskin cap was shaggy, and his beard stubbly
and unshaven. His dress was slovenly and there was a big
knife in his belt. A revolver lay on the desk beside him.
I had never seen a Bolshevik before but I knew at sight
that he must be one.
"You say you were here in Berlin once before?" he
questioned, and he added before I had time to answer:
"When you speak don't call me 'Excellency' or 'Sereneness'
or anything of that sort; just call me 'brother' or
'comrade.' This is the era of freedom. You're as good as
I am, or nearly."
"Thank you," I said.
"Don't be so damn polite," he snarled. "No good comrade
ever says 'thank you.' So you were here in Berlin before?"
"Yes," I answered, "I was here writing up Germany from
Within in the middle of the war."
"The war, the war!" he murmured, in a sort of wail or
whine. "Take notice, comrade, that I weep when I speak
of it. If you write anything about me be sure to say that
I cried when the war was mentioned. We Germans have been
so misjudged. When I think of the devastation of France
and Belgium I weep."
He drew a greasy, red handkerchief from his pocket and
began to sob. "To think of the loss of all those English
"Oh, you needn't worry," I said, "it's all going to be
"Oh I hope so, I do hope so," said the Bolshevik chief.
"What a regret it is to us Germans to think that
unfortunately we are not able to help pay for it; but
you English—you are so generous—how much we have admired
your noble hearts—so kind, so generous to the
His voice had subsided into a sort of whine.
But at this moment there was a loud knocking at the door.
The Bolshevik hastily wiped the tears from his face and
put away his handkerchief.
"How do I look?" he asked anxiously. "Not humane, I hope?
"Oh, no," I said, "quite tough."
"That's good," he answered. "That's good. But am I tough
He hastily shoved his hands through his hair.
"Quick," he said, "hand me that piece of chewing tobacco.
Now then. Come in!"
The door swung open.
A man in a costume much like the leader's swaggered into
the room. He had a bundle of papers in his hands, and
seemed to be some sort of military secretary.
"Ha! comrade!" he said, with easy familiarity. "Here are
the death warrants!"
"Death warrants!" said the Bolshevik. "Of the leaders of
the late Revolution? Excellent! And a good bundle of
them! One moment while I sign them."
He began rapidly signing the warrants, one after the
"Comrade," said the secretary in a surly tone, "you are
not chewing tobacco!"
"Yes I am, yes I am," said the leader, "or, at least, I
was just going to."
He bit a huge piece out of his plug, with what seemed to
me an evident distaste, and began to chew furiously.
"It is well," said the other. "Remember comrade, that
you are watched. It was reported last night to the
Executive Committee of the Circle of the Brothers that
you chewed no tobacco all day yesterday. Be warned,
comrade. This is a free and independent republic. We will
stand for no aristocratic nonsense. But whom have you
here?" he added, breaking off in his speech, as if he
noticed me for the first time. "What dog is this?"
"Hush," said the leader, "he is a representative of the
foreign press, a newspaper reporter."
"Your pardon," said the secretary. "I took you by your
dress for a prince. A representative of the great and
enlightened press of the Allies, I presume. How deeply
we admire in Germany the press of England! Let me kiss
"Oh, don't trouble," I said, "it's not worth while."
"Say, at least, when you write to your paper, that I
offered to kiss you, will you not?"
Meantime, the leader had finished signing the papers.
The secretary took them and swung on his heels with
something between a military bow and a drunken swagger.
"Remember, comrade," he said in a threatening tone as he
passed out, "you are watched."
The Bolshevik leader looked after him with something of
"Excuse me a moment," he said, "while I go and get rid
of this tobacco."
He got up from his chair and walked away towards the door
of an inner room. As he did so, there struck me something
strangely familiar in his gait and figure. Conceal it as
he might, there was still the stiff wooden movement of
a Prussian general beneath his assumed swagger. The poise
of his head still seemed to suggest the pointed helmet
of the Prussian. I could without effort imagine a military
cloak about his shoulders instead of his Bolshevik
Then, all in a moment, as he re-entered the room, I
recalled exactly who he was.
"My friend," I said, reaching out my hand, "pardon me
for not knowing you at once. I recognize you now…"
"Hush," said the Bolshevik. "Don't speak! I never saw
you in my life."
"Nonsense," I said, "I knew you years ago in Canada when
you were disguised as a waiter. And you it was who
conducted me through Germany two years ago when I made
my war visit. You are no more a Bolshevik than I am. You
are General Count Boob von Boobenstein."
The general sank down in his chair, his face pale beneath
its plaster of rouge.
"Hush!" he said. "If they learn it, it is death."
"My dear Boob," I said, "not a word shall pass my lips."
The general grasped my hand. "The true spirit," he said,
"the true English comradeship; how deeply we admire it
"I am sure you do," I answered. "But tell me, what is
the meaning of all this? Why are you a Bolshevik?"
"We all are," said the count, dropping his assumed rough
voice, and speaking in a tone of quiet melancholy. "It's
the only thing to be. But come," he added, getting up
from his chair, "I took you once through Berlin in war
time. Let me take you out again and show you Berlin under
"I shall be only too happy," I said.
"I shall leave my pistols and knives here," said
Boobenstein, "and if you will excuse me I shall change
my costume a little. To appear as I am would excite too
much enthusiasm. I shall walk out with you in the simple
costume of a gentleman. It's a risky thing to do in
Berlin, but I'll chance it."
The count retired, and presently returned dressed in the
quiet bell-shaped purple coat, the simple scarlet tie,
the pea-green hat and the white spats that mark the German
gentleman all the world over.
"Bless me, Count," I said, "you look just like Bernstorff."
"Hush," said the count. "Don't mention him. He's here in
"What's he doing?" I asked.
"He's a Bolshevik; one of our leaders; he's just been
elected president of the Scavengers Union. They say he's
the very man for it. But come along, and, by the way,
when we get into the street talk English and only English.
There's getting to be a prejudice here against German."
We passed out of the door and through the spacious
corridors and down the stairways of the great building.
All about were little groups of ferocious looking men,
dressed like stage Russians, all chewing tobacco and
redolent of alcohol.
"Who are all these people?" I said to the count in a low
"Bolsheviks," he whispered. "At least they aren't really.
You see that group in the corner?
"The ones with the long knives," I said.
"Yes. They are, or at least they were, the orchestra of
the Berlin Opera. They are now the Bolshevik Music
Commission. They are here this morning to see about
getting their second violinist hanged."
"Why not the first?" I asked.
"They had him hanged yesterday. Both cases are quite
clear. The men undoubtedly favoured the war: one, at
least, of them openly spoke in disparagement of President
Wilson. But come along. Let me show you our new city."
We stepped out upon the great square which faced the
building. How completely it was changed from the Berlin
that I had known! My attention was at once arrested by
the new and glaring signboards at the shops and hotels,
and the streamers with mottos suspended across the streets.
I realised as I read them the marvellous adaptability of
the German people and their magnanimity towards their
enemies. Conspicuous in huge lettering was HOTEL PRESIDENT
WILSON, and close beside it CABARET QUEEN MARY: ENGLISH
DANCING. The square itself, which I remembered as the
Kaiserplatz, was now renamed on huge signboards GRAND
SQUARE OF THE BRITISH NAVY. Not far off one noticed the
RESTAURANT MARSHAL FOCH, side by side with the ROOSEVELT
SALOON and the BEER GARDEN GEORGE V.
But the change in the appearance and costume of the men
who crowded the streets was even more notable. The uniforms
and the pointed helmets of two years ago had vanished
utterly. The men that one saw retained indeed their German
stoutness, their flabby faces, and their big spectacles.
But they were now dressed for the most part in the costume
of the Russian Monjik, while some of them appeared in
American wideawakes and Kentucky frock coats, or in
English stove-pipe hats and morning coats. A few of the
stouter were in Highland costume.
"You are amazed," said Boobenstein as we stood a moment
looking at the motley crowd. "What does it mean?" I
"One moment," said the count. "I will first summon a
taxi. It will be more convenient to talk as we ride."
He whistled and there presently came lumbering to our
side an ancient and decrepit vehicle which would have
excited my laughter but for the seriousness of the count's
face. The top of the conveyance had evidently long since
been torn off leaving, only the frame: the copper fastenings
had been removed: the tires were gone: the doors were
"Our new 1919 model," said the count. "Observe the
absence of the old-fashioned rubber tires, still used by
the less progressive peoples. Our chemists found that
riding on rubber was bad for the eye-sight. Note, too,
the time saved by not having any doors."
"Admirable," I said.
We seated ourselves in the crazy conveyance, the count
whispered to the chauffeur an address which my ear failed
to catch and we started off at a lumbering pace along
"And now tell me, Boobenstein," I said, "what does it
all mean, the foreign signs and the strange costumes?"
"My dear sir" he replied, "it is merely a further proof
of our German adaptability. Having failed to conquer the
world by war we now propose to conquer it by the arts of
peace: Those people, for example, that you see in Scotch
costumes are members of our Highland Mission about to
start for Scotland to carry to the Scotch the good news
that the war is a thing of the past, that the German
people forgive all wrongs and are prepared to offer a
line of manufactured goods as per catalogue sample."
"Wonderful," I said.
"Is it not?" said Von Boobenstein. "We call it the From
Germany Out movement. It is being organised in great
detail by our Step from Under Committee. They claim that
already four million German voters are pledged to forget
the war and to forgive the Allies. All that we now ask
is to be able to put our hands upon the villains who made
this war, no matter how humble their station may be, and
execute them after a fair trial or possibly before."
The count spoke with great sincerity and earnestness.
"But come along," he added. "I want to drive you about
the city and show you a few of the leading features of
our new national reconstruction. We can talk as we go."
"But Von Boobenstein," I said, "you speak of the people
who made the war; surely you were all in favour of it?"
"In favour of it! We were all against it."
"But the Kaiser," I protested.
"The Kaiser, my poor master! How he worked to prevent
the war! Day and night; even before anybody else had
heard of it. 'Boob,' he said to me one day with tears in
his eyes, 'this war must be stopped.' 'Which war, your
Serenity,' I asked. 'The war that is coming next month,'
he answered, 'I look to you, Count Boobenstein,' he
continued, 'to bear witness that I am doing my utmost to
stop it a month before the English Government has heard
While we were thus speaking our taxi had taken us out of
the roar and hubbub of the main thoroughfare into the
quiet of a side street. It now drew up at the door of an
unpretentious dwelling in the window of which I observed
a large printed card with the legend
REVEREND MR. TIBBITS
Private Tuition, English, Navigation,
and other Branches
We entered and were shown by a servant into a little
front room where a venerable looking gentleman, evidently
a Lutheran minister, was seated in a corner at a writing
table. He turned on our entering and at the sight of the
uniform which I wore jumped to his feet with a vigorous
and unexpected oath.
"It is all right, Admiral," said Count Von Boobenstein.
"My friend is not really a sailor."
"Ah!" said the other. "You must excuse me. The sight of
that uniform always gives me the jumps."
He came forward to shake hands and as the light fell upon
him I recognized the grand old seaman, perhaps the greatest
sailor that Germany has ever produced or ever will,
Admiral Von Tirpitz.
"My dear Admiral!" I said, warmly. "I thought you were
out of the country. Our papers said that you had gone to
Switzerland for a rest."
"No," said the Admiral. "I regret to say that I find it
impossible to get away."
"Your Allied press," interjected the count, "has greatly
maligned our German patriots by reporting that they have
left the country. Where better could they trust themselves
than in the bosom of their own people? You noticed the
cabman of our taxi? He was the former chancellor Von
Hertling. You saw that stout woman with the apple cart
at the street corner? Frau Bertha Krupp Von Bohlen. All
are here, helping to make the new Germany. But come,
Admiral, our visitor here is much interested in our plans
for the restoration of the Fatherland. I thought that
you might care to show him your designs for the new German
"A new navy!" I exclaimed, while my voice showed the
astonishment and admiration that I felt. Here was this
gallant old seaman, having just lost an entire navy,
setting vigorously to work to make another. "But how can
Germany possibly find the money in her present state for
the building of new ships?"
"There are not going to be any ships," said the great
admiral. "That was our chief mistake in the past in
insisting on having ships in the navy. Ships, as the war
has shown us, are quite unnecessary to the German plan;
they are not part of what I may call the German idea.
The new navy will be built inland and elevated on piles
and will consist—"
But at this moment a great noise of shouting and sudden
tumult could be heard as if from the street.
"Some one is coming," said the admiral hastily. "Reach
me my Bible."
"No, no," said the count, seizing me by the arm. "The
sound comes from the Great Square. There is trouble. We
must hasten back at once."
He dragged me from the house.
We perceived at once, as soon as we came into the main
street again, from the excited demeanour of the crowd
and from the anxious faces of people running to and fro
that something of great moment must be happening.
Everybody was asking of the passer-by, "What is loose?
What is it?" Ramshack taxis, similar to the one in which
we had driven, forced their way as best they could through
the crowded thoroughfare, moving evidently in the direction
of the government buildings.
"Hurry, hurry!" said Von Boobenstein, clutching me by
the arm, "or we shall be too late. It is as I feared."
"What is it?" I said; "what's the matter?"
"Fool that I was," said the count, "to leave the building.
I should have known. And in this costume I am helpless."
We made our way as best we could through the crowd of
people, who all seemed moving in the same direction, the
count, evidently a prey to the gravest anxiety, talking
as if to himself and imprecating his own carelessness.
We turned the corner of a street and reached the edge of
the great square. It was filled with a vast concourse of
people. At the very moment in which we reached it a great
burst of cheering rose from the crowd. We could see over
the heads of the people that a man had appeared on the
balcony of the Government Building, holding a paper in
his hand. His appearance was evidently a signal for the
outburst of cheers, accompanied by the waving of
handkerchiefs. The man raised his hand in a gesture of
authority. German training is deep. Silence fell instantly
upon the assembled populace. We had time in the momentary
pause to examine, as closely as the distance permitted,
the figure upon the balcony. The man was dressed in the
blue overall suit of a workingman. He was bare-headed.
His features, so far as we could tell, were those of a
man well up in years, but his frame was rugged and
powerful. Then he began to speak.
"Friends and comrades!" he called out in a great voice
that resounded through the square. "I have to announce
that a New Revolution has been completed."
A wild cheer woke from the people.
"The Bolsheviks' Republic is overthrown. The Bolsheviks
are aristocrats. Let them die."
"Thank Heaven for this costume!" I heard Count Boobenstein
murmur at my side. Then he seized his pea-green hat and
waved it in the air, shouting: "Down with the Bolsheviks!"
All about us the cry was taken up.
One saw everywhere in the crowd men pulling off their
sheepskin coats and tramping them under foot with the
shout, "Down with Bolshevism!" To my surprise I observed
that most of the men had on blue overalls beneath their
Russian costumes. In a few moments the crowd seemed
transformed into a vast mass of mechanics.
The speaker raised his hand again. "We have not yet
decided what the new Government will be"—
A great cheer from the people.
"Nor do we propose to state who will be the leaders of it."
"But this much we can say. It is to be a free, universal,
Pan-German Government of love."
"Meantime, be warned. Whoever speaks against it will be
shot: anybody who dares to lift a finger will be hanged.
A proclamation of Brotherhood will be posted all over
the city. If anybody dares to touch it, or to discuss
it, or to look at or to be seen reading it, he will be
hanged to a lamp post."
Loud applause greeted this part of the speech while the
faces of the people, to my great astonishment, seemed
filled with genuine relief and beamed with unmistakable
"And now," continued the speaker, "I command you, you
dogs, to disperse quietly and go home. Move quickly,
swine that you are, or we shall open fire upon you with
With a last outburst of cheering the crowd broke and
dispersed, like a vast theatre audience. On all sides
were expressions of joy and satisfaction. "Excellent,
wunderschoen!" "He calls us dogs! That's splendid. Swine!
Did you hear him say 'Swine'? This is true German Government
again at last."
Then just for a moment the burly figure reappeared on
"A last word!" he called to the departing crowd. "I
omitted to say that all but one of the leaders of the
late government are already caught. As soon as we can
lay our thumb on the Chief Executive rest assured that
he will be hanged."
"Hurrah!" shouted Boobenstein, waving his hat in the air.
Then in a whisper to me: "Let us go," he said, "while
the going is still good."
We hastened as quickly and unobtrusively as we could
through the dispersing multitude, turned into a side
street, and on a sign from the count entered a small
cabaret or drinking shop, newly named, as its sign showed,
THE GLORY OF THE BRITISH COLONIES CAFE.
The count with a deep sigh of relief ordered wine.
"You recognized him, of course?" he said.
"Who?" I asked. "You mean the big working-man that spoke?
Who is he?"
"So you didn't recognize him?" said the count. "Well,
well, but of course all the rest did. Workingman! It is
Field Marshal Hindenburg. It means of course that the
same old crowd are back again. That was Ludendorf standing
below. I saw it all at once. Perhaps it is the only way.
But as for me I shall not go back: I am too deeply
compromised: it would be death."
Boobenstein remained for a time in deep thought, his
fingers beating a tattoo on the little table. Then he
"Do you remember," he said, "the old times of long ago
when you first knew me?"
"Very well, indeed," I answered. "You were one of the
German waiters, or rather, one of the German officers
disguised as waiters at McConkey's Restaurant in Toronto."
"I was," said the count. "I carried the beer on a little
tray and opened oysters behind a screen. It was a
wunderschoen life. Do you think, my good friend, you could
get me that job again?"
"Boobenstein," I exclaimed, "I can get you reinstated at
once. It will be some small return for your kindness to
me in Germany."
"Good," said the count. "Let us sail at once for Canada."
"One thing, however," I said. "You may not know that
since you left there are no longer beer waiters in Toronto
because there is no beer. All is forbidden."
"Let me understand myself," said the count in astonishment.
"Absolutely not. All drinking, except of water, is
The count rose and stood erect. His figure seemed to
regain all its old-time Prussian rigidity. He extended
"My friend," he said. "I bid you farewell."
"Where are you going to?" I asked.
"My choice is made," said Von Boobenstein. "There are
worse things than death. I am about to surrender myself
to the German authorities."
III.—Afternoon Tea with the Sultan
A Study of Reconstruction in Turkey
On the very day following the events related in the last
chapter, I was surprised and delighted to receive a
telegram which read "Come on to Constantinople and write
US up too." From the signature I saw that the message
was from my old friend Abdul Aziz the Sultan.
I had visited him—as of course my readers will instantly
recollect—during the height of the war, and the
circumstances of my departure had been such that I should
have scarcely ventured to repeat my visit without this
express invitation. But on receipt of it, I set out at
once by rail for Constantinople.
I was delighted to find that under the new order of things
in going from Berlin to Constantinople it was no longer
necessary to travel through the barbarous and brutal
populations of Germany, Austria and Hungary. The way now
runs, though I believe the actual railroad is the same,
through the Thuringian Republic, Czecho-Slovakia and
Magyaria. It was a source of deep satisfaction to see
the scowling and hostile countenances of Germans, Austrians
and Hungarians replaced by the cheerful and honest faces
of the Thuringians, the Czecho-Slovaks and the Magyarians.
Moreover I was assured on all sides that if these faces
are not perfectly satisfactory, they will be altered in
any way required.
It was very pleasant, too, to find myself once again in
the flagstoned halls of the Yildiz Kiosk, the Sultan's
palace. My little friend Abdul Aziz rose at once from
his cushioned divan under a lemon tree and came shuffling
in his big slippers to meet me, a smile of welcome on
his face. He seemed, to my surprise, radiant with happiness.
The disasters attributed by the allied press to his
unhappy country appeared to sit lightly on the little man.
"How is everything going in Turkey?" I asked as we sat
down side by side on the cushions.
"Splendid," said Abdul. "I suppose you've heard that
"Bankrupt!" I exclaimed.
"Yes," continued the Sultan, rubbing his hands together
with positive enjoyment, "we can't pay a cent: isn't it
great? Have some champagne?"
He clapped his hands together and a turbaned attendant
appeared with wine on a tray which he served into
"I'd rather have tea," I said.
"No, no, don't take tea," he protested. "We've practically
cut out afternoon tea here. It's part of our Turkish
thrift movement. We're taking champagne instead. Tell
me, have you a Thrift Movement like that, where you come
from—Canada, I think it is, isn't it?"
"Yes," I answered, "we have one just like that."
"This war finance is glorious stuff, isn't it?" continued
the Sultan. "How much do you think we owe?"
"I haven't an idea," I said.
"Wait a minute," said Abdul. He touched a bell and at
the sound of it there came shuffling into the room my
venerable old acquaintance Toomuch Koffi, the Royal
Secretary. But to my surprise he no longer wore his
patriarchal beard, his flowing robe and his girdle. He
was clean shaven and close cropped and dressed in a short
jacket like an American bell boy.
"You remember Toomuch, I think," said Abdul. "I've
reconstructed him a little, as you see."
"The Peace of Allah be upon thine head," said Toomuch
Koffi to the Sultan, commencing a deep salaam. "What wish
sits behind thy forehead that thou shouldst ring the bell
for this humble creature of clay to come into the sunlight
of thy presence? Tell me, O Lord, if perchance—"
"Here, here," interrupted the Sultan impatiently, "cut
all that stuff out, please. That ancient courtesy business
won't do, not if this country is to reconstruct itself
and come abreast of the great modern democracies. Say to
me simply 'What's the trouble?"'
Toomuch bowed, and Abdul continued. "Look in your tablets
and see how much our public debt amounts to in American
The secretary drew forth his tablets and bowed his head
a moment in some perplexity over the figures that were
scribbled on them. "Multiplication," I heard him murmur,
"is an act of the grace of heaven; let me invoke a blessing
on FIVE, the perfect number, whereby the Pound Turkish
is distributed into the American dollar."
He remained for a few moments with his eyes turned, as
if in supplication, towards the vaulted ceiling.
"Have you got it?" asked Abdul.
"And what do we owe, adding it all together?"
"Forty billion dollars," said Toomuch.
"Isn't that wonderful!" exclaimed Abdul, with delight
radiating over his countenance. "Who would have thought
that before the war! Forty billion dollars! Aren't we
the financiers! Aren't we the bulwark of monetary power!
Can you touch that in Canada?"
"No," I said, "we can't. We don't owe two billion yet."
"Oh, never mind, never mind," said the little man in a
consoling tone. "You are only a young country yet. You'll
do better later on. And in any case I am sure you are
just as proud of your one billion as we are of our forty."
"Oh, yes," I said, "we certainly are."
"Come, come, that's something anyway. You're on the right
track, and you must not be discouraged if you're not up
to the Turkish standard yet. You must remember, as I told
you before, that Turkey leads the world in all ideas of
government and finance. Take the present situation. Here
we are, bankrupt—pass me the champagne, Toomuch, and
sit down with us—the very first nation of the lot. It's
a great feather in the cap of our financiers. It gives
us a splendid start for the new era of reconstruction
that we are beginning on. As you perhaps have heard we
are all hugely busy about it. You notice my books and
papers, do you not?" the Sultan added very proudly, waving
his hand towards a great pile of blue books, pamphlets
and documents that were heaped upon the floor beside him.
"Why! I never knew before that you ever read anything!"
I exclaimed in amazement.
"Never did. But everything's changed now, isn't it,
Toomuch? I sit and work here for hours every morning.
It's become a delight to me. After all," said Abdul,
lighting a big cigar and sticking up his feet on his pile
of papers with an air of the deepest comfort, "what is
there like work? So stimulating, so satisfying. I sit
here working away, just like this, most of the day.
There's nothing like it."
"What are you working at?" I asked.
"Reconstruction," said the little man, puffing a big
cloud from his cigar, "reconstruction."
"What kind of reconstruction?"
"All kinds—financial, industrial, political, social.
It's great stuff. By the way," he continued with great
animation, "would you like to be my Minister of Labour?
No? Well, I'm sorry. I half hoped you would. We're having
no luck with them. The last one was thrown into the
Bosphorous on Monday. Here's the report on it—no, that's
the one on the shooting of the Minister of Religion—ah!
here it is—Report on the Drowning of the Minister of
Labour. Let me read you a bit of this: I call this one
of the best reports, of its kind, that have come in."
"No, no," I said, "don't bother to read it. Just tell me
who did it and why."
"Workingmen," said the Sultan, very cheerfully, "a
delegation. They withheld their reasons."
"So you are having labour troubles here too?" I asked.
"Labour troubles!" exclaimed the little Sultan rolling
up his eyes. "I should say so. The whole of Turkey is
bubbling with labour unrest like the rosewater in a
narghile. Look at your tablets, Toomuch, and tell me what
new strikes there have been this morning."
The aged Secretary fumbled with his notes and began to
murmur—"Truly will I try with the aid of Allah—"
"Now, now," said Abdul, warningly, "that won't do. Say
simply 'Sure.' Now tell me."
The Secretary looked at a little list and read: "The
strikes of to-day comprise—the wig-makers, the dog
fanciers, the conjurers, the snake charmers, and the
"You hear that," said Abdul proudly. "That represents
some of the most skilled labour in Turkey."
"I suppose it does," I said, "but tell me Abdul—what
about the really necessary trades, the coal miners, the
steel workers, the textile operatives, the farmers, and
the railway people. Are they working?"
The little Sultan threw himself back on his cushions in
a paroxysm of laughter, in which even his ancient Secretary
was feign to join.
"My dear sir, my dear sir!" he laughed, "don't make me
die of laughter. Working! those people working! Surely
you don't think we are so behind hand in Turkey as all
that! All those worker's stopped absolutely months ago.
It is doubtful if they'll ever work again. There's a
strong movement in Turkey to abolish all NECESSARY work
"But who then," I asked, "is working?"
"Look on the tablets, Toomuch, and see."
The aged Secretary bowed, turned over the leaves of his
"tablets," which I now perceived on a closer view to be
merely an American ten cent memorandum book. Then he
"The following, O all highest, still work—the beggars,
the poets, the missionaries, the Salvation Army, and the
instructors of the Youths of Light in the American
"But, dear me, Abdul," I exclaimed, "surely this situation
is desperate? What can your nation subsist on in such a
"Pooh, pooh," said the Sultan. "The interest on our debt
alone is two billion a year. Everybody in Turkey, great
or small, holds bonds to some extent. At the worst they
can all live fairly well on the interest. This is finance,
is it not, Toomuch Koffi?"
"The very best and latest," said the aged man with a
"But what steps are you taking," I asked, "to remedy your
"We are appointing commissions," said Abdul. "We appoint
one for each new labour problem. How many yesterday,
"Forty-three," answered the secretary.
"That's below our average, is it not?" said Abdul a little
anxiously. "Try to keep it up to fifty if you can."
"And these commissions, what do they do?"
"They make Reports," said Abdul, beginning to yawn as if
the continued brain exercise of conversation were fatiguing
his intellect, "excellent reports. We have had some that
are said to be perfect models of the very best Turkish."
"And what do they recommend?"
"I don't know," said the Sultan. "We don't read them for
that. We like to read them simply as Turkish."
"But what," I urged, "do you do with them? What steps do
"We send them all," replied the little man, puffing at
his pipe and growing obviously drowsy as he spoke, "to
Woodrow Wilson. He can deal with them. He is the great
conciliator of the world. Let him have—how do you say
it in English, it is a Turkish phrase—let him have his
stomach full of conciliation."
Abdul dozed on his cushions for a moment. Then he reopened
his eyes. "Is there anything else you want to know," he
asked, "before I retire to the Inner Harem?"
"Just one thing," I said, "if you don't mind. How do you
stand internationally? Are you coming into the New League
The Sultan shook his head.
"No," he said, "we're not coming in. We are starting a
new league of our own."
"And who are in it?"
"Ourselves, and the Armenians—and let me see—the Irish,
are they not, Toomuch—and the Bulgarians—are there any
"There is talk," said the Secretary "of the Yugo-Hebrovians
and the Scaroovians—"
"Who are they?" I asked.
"We don't know," said Abdul, testily. "They wrote to us.
They seem all right. Haven't you got a lot of people in
your league that you never heard of?"
"I see," I said, "and what is the scheme that your league
is formed on?"
"Very simple," said the Sultan. "Each member of the league
gives its WORD to all the other members. Then they all
take an OATH together. Then they all sign it. That is
He rolled back on his cushions in an evident state of
boredom and weariness.
"But surely," I protested, "you don't think that a league
of that sort can keep the peace?"
"Peace!" exclaimed Abdul waking into sudden astonishment.
"Peace! I should think NOT! Our league is for WAR. Every
member gives its word that at the first convenient
opportunity it will knock the stuff out of any of the
others that it can."
The little Sultan again subsided. Then he rose, with some
difficulty, from his cushions.
"Toomuch," he said, "take our inquisitive friend out into
the town; take him to the Bosphorous; take him to the
island where the dogs are; take him anywhere." He paused
to whisper a few instructions into the ear of the Secretary.
"You understand," he said, "well, take him. As for me,"—he
gave a great yawn as he shuffled away, "I am about to
withdraw into my Inner Harem. Goodbye. I regret that I
cannot invite you in."
"So do I," I said. "Goodbye."
IV.—Echoes of the War
1.—The Boy Who Came Back
The war is over. The soldiers are coming home. On all
sides we are assured that the problem of the returned
soldier is the gravest of our national concerns.
So I may say it without fear of contradiction,—since
everybody else has seen it,—that, up to the present
time, the returned soldier is a disappointment. He is
not turning out as he ought. According to all the
professors of psychology he was to come back bloodthirsty
and brutalised, soaked in militarism and talking only of
slaughter. In fact, a widespread movement had sprung up,
warmly supported by the business men of the cities, to
put him on the land. It was thought that central Nevada
or northern Idaho would do nicely for him. At the same
time an agitation had been started among the farmers,
with the slogan "Back to the city," the idea being that
farm life was so rough that it was not fair to ask the
returned soldier to share it.
All these anticipations turn out to be quite groundless.
The first returned soldier of whom I had direct knowledge
was my nephew Tom. When he came back, after two years in
the trenches, we asked him to dine with us. "Now, remember,"
I said to my wife, "Tom will be a very different being
from what he was when he went away. He left us as little
more than a school boy, only in his first year at college;
in fact, a mere child. You remember how he used to bore
us with baseball talk and that sort of thing. And how
shy he was! You recall his awful fear of Professor Razzler,
who used to teach him mathematics. All that, of course,
will be changed now. Tom will have come back a man. We
must ask the old professor to meet him. It will amuse
Tom to see him again. Just think of the things he must
have seen! But we must be a little careful at dinner not
to let him horrify the other people with brutal details
of the war."
Tom came. I had expected him to arrive in uniform with
his pocket full of bombs. Instead of this he wore ordinary
evening dress with a dinner jacket. I realised as I helped
him to take off his overcoat in the hall that he was very
proud of his dinner jacket. He had never had one before.
He said he wished the "boys" could see him in it. I asked
him why he had put off his lieutenant's uniform so quickly.
He explained that he was entitled not to wear it as soon
as he had his discharge papers signed; some of the fellows,
he said, kicked them off as soon as they left the ship,
but the rule was, he told me, that you had to wear the
thing till your papers were signed.
Then his eye caught a glimpse sideways of Professor
Razzler standing on the hearth rug in the drawing room.
"Say," he said, "is that the professor?" I could see that
Tom was scared. All the signs of physical fear were
written on his face. When I tried to lead him into the
drawing room I realised that he was as shy as ever. Three
of the women began talking to him all at once. Tom
answered, yes or no,—with his eyes down. I liked the
way he stood, though, so unconsciously erect and steady.
The other men who came in afterwards, with easy greetings
and noisy talk, somehow seemed loud-voiced and
Tom, to my surprise, refused a cocktail. It seems, as he
explained, that he "got into the way of taking nothing
over there." I noticed that my friend Quiller, who is a
war correspondent, or, I should say, a war editorial
writer, took three cocktails and talked all the more
brilliantly for it through the opening courses of the
dinner, about the story of the smashing of the Hindenburg
line. He decided, after his second Burgundy, that it had
been simply a case of sticking it out. I say "Burgundy"
because we had substituted Burgundy, the sparkling kind,
for champagne at our dinners as one of our little war
Tom had nothing to say about the Hindenburg line. In
fact, for the first half of the dinner he hardly spoke.
I think he was worried about his left hand. There is a
deep furrow across the back of it where a piece of shrapnel
went through and there are two fingers that will hardly
move at all. I could see that he was ashamed of its
clumsiness and afraid that someone might notice it. So
he kept silent. Professor Razzler did indeed ask him
straight across the table what he thought about the final
breaking of the Hindenburg line. But he asked it with
that same fierce look from under his bushy eyebrows with
which he used to ask Tom to define the path of a tangent,
and Tom was rattled at once. He answered something about
being afraid that he was not well posted, owing to there
being so little chance over there to read the papers.
After that Professor Razzler and Mr. Quiller discussed
for us, most energetically, the strategy of the Lorraine
sector (Tom served there six months, but he never said
so) and high explosives and the possibilities of aerial
bombs. (Tom was "buried" by an aerial bomb but, of course,
he didn't break in and mention it.)
But we did get him talking of the war at last, towards
the end of the dinner; or rather, the girl sitting next
to him did, and presently the rest of us found ourselves
listening. The strange thing was that the girl was a mere
slip of a thing, hardly as old as Tom himself. In fact,
my wife was almost afraid she might be too young to ask
to dinner: girls of that age, my wife tells me, have
hardly sense enough to talk to men, and fail to interest
them. This is a proposition which I think it better not
But at any rate we presently realized that Tom was talking
about his war experiences and the other talk about the
table was gradually hushed into listening.
This, as nearly as I can set it down, is what he told
us: That the French fellows picked up baseball in a way
that is absolutely amazing; they were not much good, it
seems, at the bat, at any rate not at first, but at
running bases they were perfect marvels; some of the
French made good pitchers, too; Tom knew a poilu who had
lost his right arm who could pitch as good a ball with
his left as any man on the American side; at the port
where Tom first landed and where they trained for a month
they had a dandy ball ground, a regular peach, a former
parade ground of the French barracks. On being asked
WHICH port it was, Tom said he couldn't remember; he
thought it was either Boulogne or Bordeaux or Brest,—at
any rate, it was one of those places on the English
channel. The ball ground they had behind the trenches
was not so good; it was too much cut up by long range
shells. But the ball ground at the base hospital (where
Tom was sent for his second wound) was an A1 ground. The
French doctors, it appears, were perfectly rotten at
baseball, not a bit like the soldiers. Tom wonders that
they kept them. Tom says that baseball had been tried
among the German prisoners, but they are perfect dubs.
He doubts whether the Germans will ever be able to play
ball. They lack the national spirit. On the other hand,
Tom thinks that the English will play a great game when
they really get into it. He had two weeks' leave in London
and went to see the game that King George was at, and
says that the King, if they will let him, will make the
greatest rooter of the whole bunch.
Such was Tom's war talk.
It grieved me to note that as the men sat smoking their
cigars and drinking liqueur whiskey (we have cut out port
at our house till the final peace is signed) Tom seemed
to have subsided into being only a boy again, a first-year
college boy among his seniors. They spoke to him in quite
a patronising way, and even asked him two or three direct
questions about fighting in the trenches, and wounds and
the dead men in No Man's Land and the other horrors that
the civilian mind hankers to hear about. Perhaps they
thought, from the boy's talk, that he had seen nothing.
If so, they were mistaken. For about three minutes, not
more, Tom gave them what was coming to them. He told
them, for example, why he trained his "fellows" to drive
the bayonet through the stomach and not through the head,
that the bayonet driven through the face or skull sticks
and,—but there is no need to recite it here. Any of the
boys like Tom can tell it all to you, only they don't
want to and don't care to.
They've got past it.
But I noticed that as the boy talked,—quietly and
reluctantly enough,—the older men fell silent and looked
into his face with the realisation that behind his simple
talk and quiet manner lay an inward vision of grim and
awful realities that no words could picture.
I think that they were glad when we joined the ladies
again and when Tom talked of the amateur vaudeville show
that his company had got up behind the trenches.
Later on, when the other guests were telephoning for
their motors and calling up taxis, Tom said he'd walk to
his hotel; it was only a mile and the light rain that
was falling would do him, he said, no harm at all. So he
trudged off, refusing a lift.
Oh, no, I don't think we need to worry about the returned
soldier. Only let him return, that's all. When he does,
he's a better man than we are, Gunga Dinn.
2.—The War Sacrifices of Mr. Spugg
Although we had been members of the same club for years,
I only knew Mr. Spugg by sight until one afternoon when
I heard him saying that he intended to send his chauffeur
to the war.
It was said quite quietly,—no bombast or boasting about
it. Mr. Spugg was standing among a little group of
listening members of the club and when he said that he
had decided to send his chauffeur, he spoke with a kind
of simple earnestness, a determination that marks the
character of the man.
"Yes," he said, "we need all the man power we can command.
This thing has come to a showdown and we've got to
recognise it. I told Henry that it's a showdown and that
he's to get ready and start right away."
"Well, Spugg," said one of the members "you're certainly
setting us a fine example."
"What else can a man do?" said Mr. Spugg.
"When does your chauffeur leave?" asked another man.
"Right away. I want him in the firing line just as quick
as I can get him there."
"It's a fine thing you're doing, Spugg," said a third
member, "but do you realise that your chauffeur may be
"I must take my chance on that," answered Mr. Spugg,
firmly. "I've thought this thing out and made up my mind:
If my chauffeur is killed, I mean to pay for him,—full
and adequate compensation. The loss must fall on me, not
on him. Or, say Henry comes back mutilated,—say he loses
a leg,—say he loses two legs,—"
Here Mr. Spugg looked about him at his listeners, with
a look that meant that even three legs wouldn't be too
much for him.
"Whatever Henry loses I pay for. The loss shall fall on
me, every cent of it."
"Spugg," said a quiet looking, neatly dressed man whom
I knew to be the president of an insurance company and
who reached out and shook the speaker by the hand, "this
is a fine thing you're doing, a big thing. But we mustn't
let you do it alone. Let our company take a hand in it.
We're making a special rate now on chauffeurs, footmen,
and house-servants sent to the war, quite below the rate
that actuarial figures justify. It is our little war
contribution," he added modestly. "We like to feel that
we're doing our bit, too. We had a chauffeur killed last
week. We paid for him right off without demur,—waived
all question of who killed him. I never signed a check
(as I took occasion to say in a little note I wrote to
his people) with greater pleasure."
"What do you do if Henry's mutilated?" asked Mr. Spugg,
turning his quiet eyes on the insurance man and facing
the brutal facts of things without flinching. "What do
you pay? Suppose I lose the use of Henry's legs, what
"It's all right," said his friend. "Leave it to us.
Whatever he loses, we make it good."
"All right," said Spugg, "send me round a policy. I'm
going to see Henry clear through on this."
It was at this point that at my own urgent request I was
introduced to Mr. Spugg, so that I might add my
congratulations to those of the others. I told him that
I felt, as all the other members of the club did, that
he was doing a big thing, and he answered again, in his
modest way, that he didn't see what else a man could do.
"My son Alfred and I," he said, "talked it over last
night and we agreed that we can run the car ourselves,
or make a shot at it anyway. After all, it's war time."
"What branch of the service are you putting your chauffeur
in?" I asked.
"I'm not sure," he answered. "I think I'll send him up
in the air. It's dangerous, of course, but it's no time
to think about that."
So, in due time, Mr. Spugg's chauffeur, Henry, went
overseas. He was reported first as in England. Next he
was right at the front, at the very firing itself. We
knew then,—everybody in the club knew that Mr. Spugg's
chauffeur might be killed at any moment. But great as
the strain must have been, Spugg went up and down to his
office and in and out of the club without a tremor. The
situation gave him a new importance in our eyes, something
"This seems to be a terrific business," I said to him
one day at lunch, "this new German drive."
"My chauffeur," said Mr. Spugg, "was right in the middle
"He was, eh?"
"Yes," he continued, "one shell burst in the air so near
him it almost broke his wings."
Mr. Spugg told this with no false boasting or bravado,
eating his celery as he spoke of it. Here was a man who
had nearly had his chauffeur's wings blown off and yet
he never moved a muscle. I began to realize the kind of
resolute stuff that the man was made of.
A few days later bad news came to the club.
"Have you heard the bad news about Spugg?" someone asked.
"His chauffeur's been gassed."
"How is he taking it?"
"Fine. He's sending off his gardener to take the chauffeur's
So that was Mr. Spugg's answer to the Germans.
We lunched together that day.
"Yes," he said, "Henry's gassed. How it happened I don't
know. He must have come down out of the air. I told him
I wanted him in the air. But let it pass. It's done now."
"And you're sending your gardener?"
"I am," said Spugg. "He's gone already. I called him in
from the garden yesterday. I said, 'William, Henry's been
gassed. Our first duty is to keep up our man power at
the front. You must leave to-night.'"
"What are you putting William into?" I asked
"Infantry. He'll do best in the trenches,—digs well and
is a very fair shot. Anyway I want him to see all the
fighting that's going. If the Germans want give and take
in this business they can have it. They'll soon see who
can stand it best. I told William when he left. I said,
'William, we've got to show these fellows that man for
man we're a match for them.' That's the way I look at
it, man for man."
I watched Mr. Spugg's massive face as he went on with
his meal. Not a nerve of it moved. If he felt any fear,
at least he showed no trace of it.
After that I got war news from him at intervals, in little
scraps, as I happened to meet him. "The war looks bad,"
I said to him one day as I chanced upon him getting into
his motor. "This submarine business is pretty serious."
"It is," he said, "William was torpedoed yesterday."
Then he got into his car and drove away, as quietly as
if nothing had happened.
A little later that day I heard him talking about it in
the club. "Yes," he was saying, "a submarine. It torpedoed
William,—my gardener. I have both a chauffeur and a
gardener at the war. William was picked up on a raft.
He's in pretty bad shape. My son Alfred had a cable from
him that he's coming home. We've both telegraphed him to
stick it out."
The news was the chief topic in the club that day. "Spugg's
gardener has been torpedoed," they said, "but Spugg
refuses to have him quit and come home." "Well done,
Spugg," said everybody.
After that we had news from time to time about both
William and Henry.
"Henry's out of the hospital," said Spugg. "I hope to
have him back in France in a few days. William's in bad
shape still. I had a London surgeon go and look at him.
I told him not to mind the expense but to get William
fixed up right away. It seems that one arm is more or
less paralysed. I've wired back to him not to hesitate.
They say William's blood is still too thin for the
operation. I've cabled to them to take some of Henry's.
I hate to do it, but this is no time to stick at anything."
A little later William and Henry were reported both back
in France. This was at the very moment of the great
offensive. But Spugg went about his daily business unmoved.
Then came the worst news of all. "William and Henry," he
said to me, "are both missing. I don't know where the
devil they are."
"Missing?" I repeated.
"Both of them. The Germans have caught them both. I
suppose I shan't have either of them back now till the
war is all over."
He gave a slight sigh,—the only sign of complaint that
ever I had heard come from him.
But the next day we learned what was Spugg's answer to
the German's capture of William and Henry.
"Have you heard what Spugg is doing?" the members of the
club asked one another.
"He's sending over Meadows, HIS OWN MAN!"
There was no need to comment on it. The cool courage of
the thing spoke for itself. Meadows,—Spugg's own man,—his
house valet, without whom he never travelled twenty miles!
"What else was there to do?" said Mr. Spugg when I asked
him if it was true that Meadows was going. "I take no
credit for sending Meadows nor, for the matter of that,
for anything that Meadows may do over there. It was a
simple matter of duty. My son and I had him into the
dining room last night after dinner. 'Meadows,' we said,
'Henry and William are caught. Our man power at the front
has got to be kept up. There's no one left but ourselves
and you. There's no way out of it. You'll have to go.'"
"But how," I protested, "can you get along with Meadows,
your valet, gone? You'll be lost!"
"We must do the best we can. We've talked it all over.
My son will help me dress and I will help him. We can
manage, no doubt."
So Meadows went.
After this Mr. Spugg, dressed as best he could manage
it, and taking turns with his son in driving his own
motor, was a pathetic but uncomplaining object.
Meadows meantime was reported as with the heavy artillery,
doing well. "I hope nothing happens to Meadows," Spugg
kept saying. "If it does, we're stuck. We can't go
ourselves. We're too busy. We've talked it over and we've
both decided that it's impossible to get away from the
office,—not with business as brisk as it is now. We're
busier than we've been in ten years and can't get off
for a day. We may try to take a month off for the
Adirondacks a little later but as for Europe, it's out
of the question."
Meantime, one little bit of consolation came to help Mr.
Spugg to bear the burden of the war. I found him in the
lounge room of the club one afternoon among a group of
men, exhibiting two medals that were being passed from
hand to hand.
"Sent to me by the French government," he explained
proudly. "They're for William and Henry. The motto means,
'For Conspicuous Courage"' (Mr. Spugg drew himself up
with legitimate pride). "I shall keep one and let Alfred
keep the other till they come back." Then he added, as
an afterthought, "They may never come back."
From that day on, Mr. Spugg, with his French medal on
his watch chain, was the most conspicuous figure in the
club. He was pointed out as having done more than any
other one man in the institution to keep the flag flying.
But presently the limit of Mr. Spugg's efforts and
sacrifices was reached. Even patriotism such as his must
have some bounds.
On entering the club one afternoon I could hear his voice
bawling vociferously in one of the telephone cabinets in
the hall. "Hello, Washington," he was shouting. "Is that
Washington? Long Distance, I want Washington."
Fifteen minutes later he came up to the sitting room,
still flushed with indignation and excitement. "That's
the limit," he said, "the absolute limit!"
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"They drafted my son Alfred," he answered.
"Just imagine it! When we're so busy in the office that
we're getting down there at half past eight in the morning!
Drafted Alfred! 'Great Caesar' I said to them! 'Look
here! You've had my chauffeur and he's gassed, and you've
had my gardener and he's torpedoed and they're both
prisoners, and last month I sent you my own man! That,'
I said, 'is about the limit.'"
"What did they say," I asked.
"Oh, it's all right. They've fixed it all up and they've
apologized as well. Alfred won't go, of course, but it
makes one realise that you can carry a thing too far.
Why, they'd be taking me next!"
"Oh, surely not!" I said.
3.—If Germany Had Won
Sometimes, in the past, we have grown a little impatient
with our North American civilisation, with its strident
clamour, its noisy elections, its extremes of liberty,
its occasional corruption and the faults that we now see
were the necessary accompaniments of its merits. But let
us set beside it a picture such as this, taken from the
New York Imperial Gazette of 1925—or from any paper of
the same period, such as would have been published if
Germany had won.
General Boob of Boobenstiff, Imperial Governor of New
York, will attend divine (Imperial) service on Sunday
morning next at the church of St. John the (Imperial)
Divine. The subway cars will be stopped while the General
is praying. All subway passengers are enjoined (befohlen),
during the thus-to-be-ordered period of cessation, to
remain in a reverential attitude. Those in the seats will
keep the head bowed. Those holding to the straps will
elevate one leg, keeping the knee in the air.
On Monday evening General Boob von Boobenstiff, Imperial
Governor of New York, will be graciously pleased to attend
a performance at the (Imperial) Winter Garden on Upper
(Imperial) Broadway. It is ordered that on the entrance
of His Excellency the audience will spontaneously rise
and break into three successive enthusiastic cheers. Mr.
Al Jolson will remain kneeling on the stage till the
Gubernatorial All Highest has seated itself. Mr. Jolson
will then, by special (Imperial) permission, be allowed
to make four jokes in German to be taken from a list
supplied by the Imperial Censor of Humour. The Governor,
accompanied by his military staff, will then leave, and
the performance will close.
It is ordered that, on Tuesday afternoon, as a sign of
thankfulness for the blessings of the German peace, the
business men of New York shall walk in procession from
the Battery to the Bronx. They will then be inspected by
Governor Boobenstiff. If the Governor is delayed in
arriving at the hereafter-to-be-indicated point of general
put-yourself-there, the procession will walk back to the
Battery and back again, continuing so, pro and con, till
the arrival of the Governor.
The approaching visit of His Royal and Imperial Solemnity
the Prince Apparent of Bavaria shall be heralded in the
(Imperial) City of New York with general rejoicing. The
city shall be spontaneously decorated with flags. Smiles
of cordial welcome shall appear on every face. Animated
crowds of eager citizens shall move to and fro and shouts
of welcome shall, by order of the Chief of Police, break
from the lips. Among those who are expected to be in
the Imperial city to welcome his Royal Solemnity will be
the Hereditary Grand Duke of Schlitzin-Mein (formerly
Milwaukee), the Prince Margrave of Wisconsin and the
Hereditary Chief Constable of Nevada.
We are delighted to be able to chronicle that on the
morning of the 14th there was born at the Imperial
Residence of His Simplicity the Hereditary Governor of
the Provinz (formerly State) of New York, in the (Imperial)
city of Albany a tenth son to the illustrious Prince and
Princess who rule over us with such fatherly care. The
boy was christened yesterday at the (Imperial) Lutheran
Church and is to bear the name Frederick Wilhelm Amelia
Mary Johan Heinrich Ruprecht. The whole city of Albany
is thrown into the wildest rejoicing. The legislature
has voted an addition of $400,000 per annum to the civil
list for the maintenance of the young prince. Joy suffuses
every home. This being the tenth son born to their
Highnesses in ten years it is felt that the future of
the dynasty is more or less secured. Even the humblest
home is filled with the reflected joy that streams out
from the Residency. Their Royal Highnesses appeared
yesterday on the balcony amid the wild huzzoos of the
people transported with joy. His Simplicity the Prince
wore the full dress uniform of an Imperial Jaeger of the
Adirondacks, and Her Royal Highness was attired as a
Colonel of Artillery. It is impossible to express the
jubilation of the moment.
We regret to report that owing to the jostling (possibly
accidental, but none the less actual) of an Imperial
officer—Field-Lieutenant Schmidt—at the entrance to
Brooklyn Bridge, the bridge is declared closed to the
public until further notice. We are proud to state the
Field Lieutenant at once cut down his cowardly assailant
with his saber. It has pleased His Unspeakable Loftiness,
the German Emperor, to cable his congratulations to the
Lieutenant, who will receive The Order of the Dead Dog
for the noble way in which he has maintained the traditions
of his uniform.
A striking feature of the now-taking-place Art Exhibition
at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (formerly Metropolitan
Gallery) in the Thiergarten (formerly Central Park) is
offered by the absolutely marvellous paintings exhibited by
the Princess Marie Paul Cecilie Hohenzollern-Stickitintothem,
a cousin of Our Noble Governor. The paintings which the
Princess has been preciously pleased to paint and has even
stooped to exhibit to the filled-with-wonder eye of the
public have been immediately awarded the first prize in
each class. While it would be invidious even to suggest that
any one of Her High Incipiency's pictures is better than any
other, our feeling is that especially the picture Night on
the Hudson River is of so rare a quality both of technique
and of inspiration that it supersedes the bounds of the
hitherto-thought-to-be-possible art in America. The
Princess's conception of night, black as a pall and yet
luminous as a polished stove pipe, is only equalled by
her feeling towards the Hudson which lies extended in
soporific superficiality beneath the sable covering of
darkness in which Her Highness has been pleased to
overwhelm it. Throughout the day an eager-to-see crowd
of spectators were beaten back from the picture by the
police with clubs.
We are permitted officially to confirm the already
gladly-from-mouth-to-mouth-whispered news of an approaching
marriage between Prince Heinrich of Texas and the Princess
Amelia Victoria Louisa, Hereditary Heir Consumptive of
the Imperial Provinz of Maine. The marriage, so it is
whispered, although performed in accordance with the
wishes of the Emperor as expressed by cable, is in every
way a love match. What lends a touch of romance to the
betrothal of the Royal Younglings is that the Prince had
never even seen the Princess Amelia until the day when
the legislature of the Provinz of Maine voted her a
marriage portion of half a million dollars. Immediately
on this news a secret visit was arranged, the Prince
journeying to Bangor incognito as the Count of Flim-Flam
in the costume of an officer of the Imperial Scavengers.
On receipt of the Emperor's telegram the happy pair fell
in love with one another at once. What makes the approaching
union particularly auspicious for the whole country is
that it brings with it the union of Maine and Texas,
henceforth to form a single grateful provinz. The Royal
Pair, it is understood, will live alternately in each
province a month at a time and the legislature, the
executive officials, the courts of law and the tax
collectors will follow them to and fro.
We cannot but contrast this happy issue with the turbulence
and disorder in which our country lived before the Great
War of Liberation.
We are delighted to learn from our despatches from Boston
that the Hohenzollern Institute (formerly Harvard
University) is to be opened next autumn. By express
permission of the Imperial Government, classes in English
will be permitted for half an hour each day.
By the clemency of the Emperor the sentences of W. H.
Taft, and W. Wilson have been commuted from the sentence
of fifty years imprisonment to imprisonment for life. We
hope, in a special supplement, to be able to add the full
list of sentences, executions, imprisonments, fines, and
attainders that have been promulgated in honour of the
birthday of our Imperial Sovereign.
4.—War and Peace at the Galaxy Club
The Great Peace Kermesse at the Galaxy Club, to which I
have the honour to belong, held with a view to wipe out
the Peace Deficit of the Club, has just ended. For three
weeks our club house has been a blaze of illumination.
We have had four orchestras in attendance. There have
been suppers and dances every night. Our members have
not spared themselves.
The Kermesse is now over. We have time, as our lady
members are saying, to turn round.
For the moment we are sitting listening, amid bursts of
applause, to our treasurer's statement. As we hear it we
realise that this Peace Kermesse has proved the culmination
and crown of four winters' war work.
But I must explain from the beginning.
Our efforts began with the very opening of the war. We
felt that a rich organisation like ours ought to do
something for the relief of the Belgians. At the same
time we felt that our members would rather receive
something in the way of entertainment for their money
than give it straight out of their pockets.
We therefore decided first to hold a public lecture in
the club, and engaged the services of Professor Dry to
lecture on the causes of the war.
In view of the circumstances, Professor Dry very kindly
reduced his lecture fee, which (he assured us) is generally
two hundred and fifty dollars, to two hundred and forty.
The lecture was most interesting. Professor Dry traced
the causes of the War backwards through the Middle Ages.
He showed that it represented the conflict of the
brachiocephalic culture of the Wendic races with the
dolichocephalic culture of the Alpine stock. At the time
when the lights went out he had got it back to the eighth
century before Christ.
Unfortunately the night, being extremely wet, was
unfavourable. Few of our members care to turn out to
lectures in wet weather. The treasurer was compelled to
announce to the Committee a net deficit of two hundred
dollars. Some of the ladies of the Committee moved that
the entire deficit be sent to the Belgians, but were
overruled by the interference of the men.
But the error was seen to have been in the choice of the
lecturer. Our members were no longer interested in the
causes of the war. The topic was too old. We therefore
held another public lecture in the club, on the topic
What Will Come After the War. It was given by a very
talented gentleman, a Mr. Guess, a most interesting
speaker, who reduced his fee (as the thing was a war
charity) by one-half, leaving it at three hundred dollars.
Unhappily the weather was against us. It was too fine.
Our members scarcely care to listen to lectures in fine
weather. And it turned out that our members are not
interested in what will come after the war. The topic is
too new. Our receipts of fifty dollars left us with a
net deficit of two hundred and fifty. Our treasurer
therefore proposed that we should carry both deficits
forward and open a Special Patriotic Entertainment Account
showing a net total deficit of four hundred and fifty
In the opinion of the committee our mistake had been in
engaging outside talent. It was felt that the cost of
this was prohibitive. It was better to invite the services
of the members of the club themselves. A great number of
the ladies expressed their willingness to take part in
any kind of war work that took the form of public
Accordingly we presented a play. It was given in the ball
room of the club house, a stage being specially put up
for us by a firm of contractors. The firm (as a matter
of patriotism) did the whole thing for us at cost, merely
charging us with the labour, the material, the time, the
thought and the anxiety that they gave to the job, but
for nothing else. In fact, the whole staging, including
lights, plumbing and decorations was merely a matter of
five hundred dollars. The plumbers very considerately
made no charge for their time, but only for their work.
It was felt that it would be better to have a new play
than an old. We selected a brilliant little modern
drawing-room comedy never yet presented. The owner of
the copyright, a theatrical firm, let us use it for a
merely nominal fee of two hundred dollars, including the
sole right to play the piece forever. There being only
twenty-eight characters in it, it was felt to be more
suitable than a more ambitious thing. The tickets were
placed at one dollar, no one being admitted free except
the performers themselves, and the members who very kindly
acted as scene shifters, curtain lifters, ushers, door-keepers,
programme sellers, and the general committee of management.
All the performers, at their own suggestion, supplied their
own costumes, charging nothing to the club except the material
and the cost of dressmaking. Beyond this there was no expense
except for the fee, very reasonable, of Mr. Skip, the
professional coach who trained the performers, and who asked
us, in view of the circumstances, less than half of what he
would have been willing to accept.
The proceeds were to be divided between the Belgian Fund
and the Red Cross, giving fifty per cent to each. A motion
in amendment from the ladies' financial committee to give
fifty per cent to the Belgian Fund and sixty per cent to
the Red Cross was voted down.
Unfortunately it turned out that the idea of a PLAY was
a mistake in judgment. Our members, it seemed, did not
care to go to see a play except in a theatre. A great
number of them, however, very kindly turned out to help
in shifting the scenery and in acting as ushers.
Our treasurer announced, as the result of the play, a
net deficit of twelve hundred dollars. He moved, with
general applause, that it be carried forward.
The total deficit having now reached over sixteen hundred
dollars, there was a general feeling that a very special
effort must be made to remove it. It was decided to hold
Weekly Patriotic Dances in the club ball room, every
Saturday evening. No charge was made for admission to
the dances, but a War Supper was served at one dollar a
Unfortunately the dances, as first planned, proved again
an error. It appeared that though our members are
passionately fond of dancing, few if any of them cared
to eat at night. The plan was therefore changed. The
supper was served first, and was free, and for the dancing
after supper a charge was made of one dollar, per person.
This again was an error. It seems that after our members
have had supper they prefer to go home and sleep. After
one winter of dancing the treasurer announced a total
Patriotic Relief Deficit of five thousand dollars, to be
carried forward to next year. This sum duly appeared in
the annual balance sheet of the club. The members,
especially the ladies, were glad to think that we were
at least doing SOMETHING for the war.
At this point some of our larger men, themselves financial
experts, took hold. They said that our entertainments
had been on too small a scale. They told us that we had
been "undermined by overhead expenses." The word "overhead"
was soon on everybody's lips. We were told that if we
could "distribute our overhead" it would disappear. It
was therefore planned to hold a great War Kermesse with
a view to spreading out the overhead so thin that it
But it was at this very moment that the Armistice burst
upon us in a perfectly unexpected fashion. Everyone of
our members was, undoubtedly, delighted that the war was
over but there was a very general feeling that it would
have been better if we could have had a rather longer
notice of what was coming. It seemed, as many of our
members said, such a leap in the dark to rush into peace
all at once. It was said indeed by our best business men
that in financial circles they had been fully aware that
there was a danger of peace for some time and had taken
steps to discount the peace risk.
But for the club itself the thing came with a perfect
crash. The whole preparation of the great Kermesse was
well under way when the news broke upon us. For a time
the members were aghast. It looked like ruin. But presently
it was suggested that it might still be possible to save
the club by turning the whole affair into a Peace Kermesse
and devoting the proceeds to some suitable form of relief.
Luckily it was discovered that there was still a lot of
starvation in Russia, and fortunately it turned out that
in spite of the armistice the Turks were still killing
So it was decided to hold the Kermesse and give all the
profits realised by it to the Victims of the Peace.
Everybody set to work again with a will. The Kermesse
indeed had to be postponed for a few months to make room
for the changes needed, but it has now been held and, in
a certain sense, it has been the wildest kind of success.
The club, as I said, has been a blaze of light for three
weeks. We have had four orchestras in attendance every
evening. There have been booths draped with the flags of
all the Allies, except some that we were not sure about,
in every corridor of the club. There have been dinner
parties and dances every evening. The members, especially
the ladies, have not spared themselves. Many of them have
spent practically all their time at the Kermesse, not
getting home until two in the morning.
And yet somehow one has felt that underneath the surface
it was not a success. The spirit seemed gone out of it.
The members themselves confessed in confidence that in
spite of all they could do their hearts were not in it.
Peace had somehow taken away all the old glad sense of
enjoyment. As to spending money at the Kermesse all the
members admitted frankly that they had no heart for it.
This was especially the case when the rumour got abroad
that the Armenians were a poor lot and that some of the
Turks were quite gentlemanly fellows. It was said, too,
that if the Russians did starve it would do them a lot
So it was known even before we went to hear the financial
report that there would be no question of profits on the
Kermesse going to the Armenians or the Russians.
And to-night the treasurer has been reading out to a
general meeting the financial results as nearly as they
can be computed.
He has put the Net Patriotic Deficit, as nearly as he
can estimate it, at fifteen thousand dollars, though he
has stated, with applause from the ladies, that the Gross
Deficit is bigger still.
The Ladies Financial Committee has just carried a motion
that the whole of the deficit, both net and gross, be
now forwarded to the Red Cross Society (sixty per cent),
the Belgian Relief Fund (fifty per cent), and the remainder
invested in the War Loan.
But there is a very general feeling among the male members
that the club will have to go into liquidation. Peace
has ruined us. Not a single member, so far as I am aware,
is prepared to protest against the peace, or is anything
but delighted to think that the war is over. At the same
time we do feel that if we could have had a longer notice,
six months for instance, we could have braced ourselves
better to stand up against it and meet the blow when it
I think, too, that our feeling is shared outside.
5.—The War News as I Remember it
Everybody, I think, should make some little contribution
towards keeping alive the memories of the great war. In
the larger and heroic sense this is already being done.
But some of the minor things are apt to be neglected.
When the record of the war has been rewritten into real
history, we shall be in danger of forgetting what WAR
NEWS was like and the peculiar kind of thrill that
accompanied its perusal.
Hence in order to preserve it for all time I embalm some
little samples of it, selected of course absolutely at
random,—as such things always are—in the pages of this
Let me begin with:—
I—THE CABLE NEWS FROM RUSSIA
This was the great breakfast-table feature for at least
three years. Towards the end of the war some people began
to complain of it. They said that they questioned whether
it was accurate. Here for example is one fortnight of
Petrograd, April 14. Word has reached here that the
Germans have captured enormous quantities of grain on
the Ukrainian border.
April 15. The Germans have captured no grain on the
Ukrainian border. The country is swept bare.
April 16. Everybody in Petrograd is starving.
April 17. There is no lack of food in Petrograd.
April 18. The death of General Korniloff is credibly
reported this morning.
April 19. It is credibly reported this morning that
General Korniloff is alive.
April 20. It is credibly reported that General
Korniloff is hovering between life and death.
April 21. The Bolsheviki are overthrown.
April 22. The Bolsheviki got up again.
April 23. The Czar died last night.
April 24. The Czar did not die last night.
April 25. General Kaleidescope and his Cossacks
are moving north.
April 26. General Kaleidescope and his Cossacks
are moving south.
April 27. General Kaleidescope and his Cossacks
are moving east.
April 28. General Kaleidescope and his Cossacks
are moving west.
April 29. It is reported that the Cossacks under General
Kaleidescope have revolted. They demand the Maximum.
General Kaleidescope hasn't got it.
April 30. The National Pan-Russian Constituent Universal
Duma which met this morning at ten-thirty, was
dissolved at twenty-five minutes to eleven.
My own conclusion, reached with deep regret, is that the
Russians are not yet fit for the blessings of the Magna
Carta and the Oklahama Constitution of 1907. They ought
to remain for some years yet under the Interstate Commerce
II—SAMPLE OF SPECIAL CORRESPONDENCE
New York (through London via Holland and coming out at
Madrid). Mr. O. Howe Lurid, our special correspondent,
writing from "Somewhere near Somewhere" and describing
the terrific operations of which he has just been an
"From the crest where I stood, the whole landscape about
me was illuminated with the fierce glare of the bursting
shells, while the ground on which I stood quivered with
the thunderous detonation of the artillery.
"Nothing in the imagination of a Dante could have equalled
the lurid and pyrogriffic grandeur of the scene. Streams
of fire rose into the sky, falling in bifurcated
crystallations in all directions. Disregarding all personal
danger, I opened one eye and looked at it.
"I found myself now to be the very centre of the awful
conflict. While not stating that the whole bombardment
was directed at me personally, I am pretty sure that it
I admit that there was a time, at the very beginning of
the war, when I liked this kind of thing served up with
my bacon and eggs every morning, in the days when a man
could eat bacon and eggs without being labelled a
pro-German. Later on I came to prefer the simple statements
as to the same scene and event, given out by Sir Douglas
Haig and General Pershing—after this fashion:
"Last night at ten-thirty P.M. our men noticed signs of
a light bombardment apparently coming from the German
III—THE TECHNICAL WAR DESPATCHES
The best of these, as I remember them, used to come from
the Italian front and were done after this fashion:—
"Tintino, near Trombono. Friday, April 3. The Germans,
as I foresaw last month they would, have crossed the
Piave in considerable force. Their position, as I said
it would be, is now very strong. The mountains bordering
the valley run—just as I foresaw they would—from
northwest to southeast. The country in front is, as I
anticipated, flat. Venice is, as I assured my readers it
would be, about thirty miles distant from the Piave,
which falls, as I expected it would, into the Adriatic."
IV—THE WAR PROPHECIES
Startling Prophecy in Paris. All Paris is wildly excited
over the extraordinary prophecy of Madame Cleo de Clichy
that the war will be over in four weeks. Madame Cleo,
who is now as widely known as a diseuse, a liseuse, a
friseuse and a clairvoyante, leaped into sudden prominence
last November by her startling announcement that the
seven letters in the Kaiser's name W i l h e l m represented
the seven great beasts of the apocalypse; in the next
month she electrified all Paris by her disclosure that
the four letters of the word C z a r—by substituting
the figure 1 for C, 9 for Z, 1 for A, and 7 for R produce
the date 1917, and indicated a revolution in Russia. The
salon of Madame Cleo is besieged by eager crowds night
and day. She may prophesy again at any minute.
Startling Forecast. A Russian peasant, living in
Semipalatinsk, has foretold that the war will end in
August. The wildest excitement prevails not only in
Semipalatinsk but in the whole of it.
Extraordinary Prophecy. Rumbumbabad, India. April 1. The
whole neighbourhood has been thrown into a turmoil by
the prophecy of Ram Slim, a Yogi of this district, who
has foretold that the war will be at an end in September.
People are pouring into Rumbumbabad in ox-carts from all
directions. Business in Rumbumbabad is at a standstill.
Excitement in Midgeville, Ohio. William Bessemer Jones,
a retired farmer of Cuyahoga, Ohio, has foretold that
the war will end in October. People are flocking into
Midgeville in lumber wagons from all parts of the country.
Jones, who bases his prophecy on the Bible, had hitherto
been thought to be half-witted. This is now recognised
to have been a wrong estimate of his powers. Business in
Midgeville is at a standstill.
Dog's Foot. Wyoming. April 1. An Indian of the Cheyenne
tribe has foretold that the war will end in December.
Business among the Indians is at a standstill.
These were sent out in assortments, and labelled Vienna,
via London, through Stockholm. After reading them with
feverish eagerness for nearly four years, I decided that
they somehow lack definiteness. Here is the way they ran:
"Special Correspondence. I learn from a very high authority,
whose name I am not at liberty to mention, (speaking to
me at a place which I am not allowed to indicate and in
a language which I am forbidden to use)—that
Austria-Hungary is about to take a diplomatic step of
the highest importance. What this step is, I am forbidden
to say. But the consequences of it—which unfortunately
I am pledged not to disclose—will be such as to effect
results which I am not free to enumerate."
VI—A NEW GERMAN PEACE FORMULA
Dr. Hertling, the Imperial Chancellor, speaking through
his hat in the Reichstag, said that he wished to state
in the clearest language of which he was capable that
the German peace plan would not only provide the fullest
self determination of all ethnographic categories, but
would predicate the political self consciousness
(politisches Selbstbewusztsein) of each geographical and
entomological unit, subject only to the necessary
rectilinear guarantees for the seismographic action of
the German empire. The entire Reichstag, especially the
professorial section of it, broke into unrestrained
applause. It is felt that the new formula is the equivalent
of a German Magna Carta—or as near to it as they can
VII—THE FINANCIAL NEWS
The war finance, as I remember it, always supplied items
of the most absorbing interest. I do not mean to say that
I was an authority on finance or held any official position
in regard to it. But I watched it. I followed it in the
newspapers. When the war began I knew nothing about it.
But I picked up a little bit here and a little bit there
until presently I felt that I had a grasp on it not easily
It was a simple matter, anyway. Take the case of the
rouble. It rose and it fell. But the reason was always
perfectly obvious. The Russian news ran, as I got it in
my newspapers, like this:—
"M. Touchusoff, the new financial secretary of the Soviet,
has declared that Russia will repay her utmost liabilities.
"M. Touchusoff, the late financial secretary of the
Soviet, was thrown into the Neva last evening. Roubles
"M. Gorky, speaking in London last night, said that Russia
was a great country. Roubles rose."
"A Dutch correspondent, who has just beat his way out of
Russia, reports that nothing will induce him to go back.
"Mr. Arthur Balfour, speaking in the House of Commons
last night, paid a glowing tribute to the memory of Peter
the Great. Roubles rose."
"The local Bolsheviki of New York City at the Pan-Russian
Congress held in Murphy's Rooms, Fourth Avenue, voted
unanimously in favor of a Free Russia. Roubles never
With these examples in view, anybody, I think, could
grasp the central principles of Russian finance. All that
one needed to know was what M. Touchusoff and such people
were going to say, and who would be thrown into the Neva,
and the rise and fall of the rouble could be foreseen to
a kopeck. In speculation by shrewd people with proper
judgment as to when to buy and when to sell the rouble,
large fortunes could be made, or even lost, in a day.
But after all the Russian finance was simple. That of
our German enemies was much more complicated and yet
infinitely more successful. That at least I gathered from
the little news items in regard to German finance that
used to reach us in cables that were headed Via Timbuctoo
and ran thus:—
"The fourth Imperial War Loan of four billion marks, to
be known as the Kaiser's War Loan, was oversubscribed
to-day in five minutes. Investors thronged the banks,
with tears in their eyes, bringing with them everything
that they had. The bank managers, themselves stained with
tears, took everything that was offered. Each investor
received a button proudly displayed by the
too-happy-for-words out-of-the-bank-hustling recipient."
6.—Some Just Complaints About the War
No patriotic man would have cared to lift up his voice
against the Government in war time. Personally, I should
not want to give utterance even now to anything in the
way of criticism. But the complaints which were presented
below came to me, unsought and unsolicited, and represented
such a variety of sources and such just and unselfish
points of view that I think it proper, for the sake of
history, to offer them to the public.
I give them, just as they reached me, without modifications
of any sort.
The just complaint of Mr. Threadler, my tailor, as
expressed while measuring me for my Win-the-War autumn
"Complaint, sir? Oh, no, we have no complaint to make in
our line of business, none whatever (forty-two, Mr.
Jephson). It would hardly become us to complain (side
pockets, Mr. Jephson). But we think, perhaps, it is rather
a mistake for the Government (thirty-three on the leg)
to encourage the idea of economy in dress. Our attitude
is that the well dressed man (a little fuller in the
chest? Yes, a little fuller in the chest, please, Mr.
Jephson) is better able to serve his country than the
man who goes about in an old suit. The motto of our trade
is Thrift with Taste. It was made up in our spring
convention of five hundred members, in a four day sitting.
We feel it to be (twenty-eight) very appropriate. Our
feeling is that a gentleman wearing one of our thrift
worsteds under one of our Win-the-War light overcoats
(Mr. Jephson, please show that new Win-the-War overcoating)
is really helping to keep things going. We like to reflect,
sir (nothing in shirtings, today?) that we're doing our
bit, too, in presenting to the enemy an undisturbed nation
of well dressed men. Nothing else, sir? The week after
next? Ah! If we can, sir! but we're greatly rushed with
our new and patriotic Thrift orders. Good morning, sir."
The just complaint of Madame Pavalucini, the celebrated
contralto. As interviewed incidentally in the palm-room
of The Slitz Hotel, over a cup of tea (one dollar), French
Win-the-War pastry (one fifty) and Help-the-Navy cigarettes
"I would not want to creetecize ze gouvermen' ah! non!
That would be what you call a skonk treeck, hein?" (Madame
Pavalucini comes from Missouri, and dares not talk any
other kind of English than this, while on tour, with any
strangers listening.) "But, I ask myself, ees it not just
a leetle wrong to discourage and tax ze poor artistes?
We are doing our beet, hein? We seeng, we recite! I seeng
so many beautiful sings to ze soldiers; sings about love,
and youth, and passion, and spring and kisses. And the
men are carried off their feet. They rise. They rush to
the war. I have seen them, in my patriotic concerts where
I accept nothing but my expenses and my fee and give all
that is beyond to the war. Only last night one arose,
right in the front rank—the fauteuils d'orchestre, I do
not know how you call them in English. 'Let me out of
zis,' he scream, 'me for the war! Me for the trenches!'
Was it not magnifique—what you call splendide, hein?
"And then ze gouvermen' come and tell me I must pay zem
ten thousan' dollars, when I make only seexty thousan'
dollars at ze opera! Anozzer skonk treeck, hein?"
The just complaint of Mr. Grunch, income tax payer, as
imparted to me over his own port wine, after dinner.
"No, I shouldn't want to complain: I mean, in any way
that would reach the outside,—reach it, that is, in
connection with my name. Though I think that the thing
ought to be said by SOMEBODY. I think you might say it.
(Let me pour you out another glass of this Conquistador:
yes, it's the old '87: but I suppose we'll never get any
more of it on this side: they say that the rich Spaniards
are making so much money they're buying up every cask of
it and it will never be exported again. Just another
illustration of the way that the war hits everybody
alike.) But, as I was saying, I think if YOU were to
raise a complaint about the income tax, you'd find the
whole country—I mean all the men with incomes—behind
you. I don't suppose they'd want you to mention their
names. But they'd be BEHIND you, see? They'd all be there.
(Will you try one of these Googoolias? They're the very
best, but I guess we'll never see them again. They say
the rich Cubans are buying them up. So the war hits us
there, too.) As I see it, the income tax is the greatest
mistake the government ever made. It hits the wrong man.
It falls on the man with an income and lets the other
man escape. The way I look at it, and the way all the
men that will be behind you look at it, is that if a man
sticks tight to it and goes on earning all the income he
can, he's doing his bit, in his own way, to win the war.
All we ask is to be let alone (don't put that in your
notes as from me, but you can say it), let us alone to
go on quietly piling up income till we get the Germans
licked. But if you start to take away our income, you
discourage us, you knock all the patriotism out of us.
To my mind, a man's income and his patriotism are the
same thing. But, of course, don't say that I said that."
The just complaint of my barber, as expressed in the
pauses of his operations.
"I'm not saying nothing against the Government (any facial
massage this morning?). I guess they know their own
business, or they'd ought to, anyway. But I kick at all
this talk against the barber business in war time (will
I singe them ends a bit?). The papers are full of it,
all the time. I don't see much else in them. Last week
I saw where a feller said that all the barber shops ought
to be closed up (bay rum?) till the war was over. Say,
I'd like to have him right here in this chair with a
razor at his throat, the way I have you! As I see it,
the barber business is the most necessary business in
the whole war. A man'll get along without everything
else, just about, but he can't get along without a shave,
can he?—or not without losing all the pep and self-respect
that keeps him going. They say them fellers over in France
has to shave every morning by military order: if they
didn't the Germans would have 'em beat. I say the barber
is doing his bit as much as any man. I was to Washington
four months last winter, and I done all the work of three
senators and two congressmen (will I clip that neck?)
and I done the work of a United States Admiral every
Saturday night. If that ain't war work, show me what is.
But I don't kick, I just go along. If a man appreciates
what I do, and likes to pay a little extra for it, why
so much the better, but if he's low enough to get out of
this chair you're in and walk off without giving a cent
more than he has to, why let him go. But, sometimes, when
I get thinking about all this outcry about barber's work
in war time, I feel like following the man to the door
and slitting his throat for him… Thank you, sir; thank
you, sir. Good morning. Next!"
The just complaint of Mr. Singlestone;—formerly Mr.
Einstein, Theatre Proprietor.
"I would be the last man, the very last, to say one word
against the Government. I think they are doing fine. I
think the boys in the trenches are doing fine. I think
the nation is doing fine. But, if there's just one thing
where they're wrong, it's in the matter of the theatres.
I think it would be much better for the Government not
to attempt to cut down or regulate theatres in any way.
The theatre is the people's recreation. It builds them
up. It's all part of a great machine to win the war. I
like to stand in the box office and see the money come
in and feel that the theatre is doing its bit. But, mind
you, I think the President is doing fine. So, all I say
is, I think the theatres ought to be allowed to do fine,
The just complaint of Mr. Silas Heck, farmer, as
interviewed by me, incognito, at the counter of the
Gold Dollar Saloon.
"Yes, sir, I say the Government's in the wrong, and I
don't care who hears me. (Say, is that feller in the
slick overcoat listening? Let's move along a little
further.) They're right to carry on the war for all the
nation is worth. That's sound and I'm with 'em. But they
ought not to take the farmer offen his farm. There I'm
agin them. The farmer is the one man necessary for the
country. They say they want bacon for the Allies. Well,
the way I look at it is, if you want bacon, you need
hogs. And if there are no men left in the country like
me, what'll you do for hogs!
"Thanks, was you paying for that? I guess we won't have
another, eh? Two of them things might be bad for a feller."
So, when I used to listen to the complaints of this sort
that rose on every side, I was glad that I was not
President of the United States.
At the same time I DO think that the Government makes a
mistake in taxing the profits of the poor book writers
under the absurd name of INCOME. But let that go. The
Kaiser would probably treat us worse.
I.—Some Startling Side Effects of the War
"There is no doubt," said Mr. Taft recently, "that the
war is destined to effect the most profound uplift and
changes, not only in our political outlook, but upon our
culture, our thought and, most of all, upon our literature."
I am not absolutely certain that Mr. Taft really said
this. He may not have said "uplift." But I seem to have
heard something about uplift, somewhere. At any rate,
there is no doubt of the fact that our literature has
moved—up or down. Yes, the war is not only destined to
affect our literature, but it has already done so. The
change in outlook, in literary style, in mode of expression,
even in the words themselves is already here.
Anybody can see it for himself by turning over the pages
of our fashionable novels or by looking at the columns
of our great American and English newspapers and
But stop,—let me show what I mean by examples. I have
them here in front of me. Take, for example, the London
Spectator. Everybody recognised in it a model of literary
dignity and decorum. Even those who read it least, admitted
this most willingly; in fact, perhaps all the more so.
In its pages to-day one finds an equal dignity of thought,
yet, somehow, the wording seems to have undergone an
alteration. One cannot say just where the change comes
in. It is what the French call a je ne sais quoi, a
something insaisissable, a sort of nuance, not amounting
of course to a lueur, but still,—how shall one put
The example that is given below was taken almost word
for word (indeed some of the words actually were so) from
the very latest copy of The Spectator.
EDITORIAL FROM THE LONDON "SPECTATOR"
Showing the Stimulating Effect of the War on Its
"There is no doubt that our boys, and the Americans, are
going some on the western front. We have no hesitation
in saying that last week's scrap was a cinch for the
boys. It is credibly reported by our correspondent at
The Hague that the German Emperor, the Crown Prince and
a number of other guys were eye witnesses of the fight.
If so, they got the surprise of their young lives. While
we should not wish to show anything less than the chivalrous
consideration for a beaten enemy which has been a tradition
of our nation, we feel it is but just to say that for
once the dirty pups got what was coming to them. We are
glad to learn from official quarters that His Majesty
King George has been graciously pleased to telegraph to
General Pershing, 'Soak it to 'em—and THEN some.'
"Meantime the situation from the point of view both of
terrain and of tactics remains altogether in our favour.
The deep salient driven into the German lines near Soissons
threatens to break up their communications and force a
withdrawal on a wide front. We cannot make the position
clearer to our English readers than by saying that our
new lines occupy, as it were, the form of a baseball
diamond, with Soissons at second base and with our
headquarters at the home plate and our artillery support
at third. Our readers will at once grasp the fact that,
with our advance pivoted on the pitcher's box and with
adequate cover at short, the thing is a lead-pipe cinch,
—in fact, we have them lashed to the mast.
"Meantime the mood of the hour should be one, not of
undue confidence or boastfulness, but of quiet resolution
and deep thankfulness. As the Archbishop of Canterbury
so feelingly put it in his sermon in Westminster Abbey
last Sunday, 'Now that we have them by the neck let us
go on, in deep and steadfast purpose, till we have twisted
the gizzard out of them.'
"The Archbishop's noble words should, and will, re-echo
in every English home."
Critical people may be inclined to doubt the propriety,
or even the propinquity, of some of the literary changes
due to the war. But there can be no doubt of the excellent
effect of one of them, namely, the increasing knowledge
and use among us of the pleasant language of France. It
is no exaggeration to say that, before the war, few people
in the United States, even among the colored population,
spoke French with ease. In fact, in some cases the
discomfort was so obvious as to be almost painful. This
is now entirely altered. Thanks to our military guide-books,
and to the general feeling of the day, our citizens are
setting themselves to acquire the language of our gallant
ally. And the signs are that they will do it. One hears
every day in metropolitan society such remarks as, "Have
you read, 'Soo le foo?'" "Oh, you mean that book by
Haingri Barbooze? No, I have not read it yet, but I have
read 'Mong Swassant Quinz' you know, by that other man."
This is hopeful indeed. Nor need we wonder that our best
magazines are reflecting the same tendency.
Here for instance are the opening sentences of a very
typical serial now running in one of our best periodicals:
for all I know the rest of the sentences may be like
them. At any rate, any magazine reader will recognize
them at once:
BONNE MERE PITOU
A Conte of Old Normandy
Bonne Mere Pitou sat spinning beside the porte of the
humble chaumiere in which she dwelt. From time to time
her eyes looked up and down the gran' route that passed
"Il ne vient pas," she murmured (he does not come).
She rose wearily and went dedans. Presently she came out
again, dehors. "Il ne vient toujours pas," she sighed
(he still does not come).
About her in the tall trees of the allee the percherons
twittered while the soft roucoulement of the bees murmured
drowsily in the tall calice of the chou-fleur.
"Il n'est pas venu," she said (perfect tense, third
singular, he is not, or has not, come).
Can we blame him if he didn't? No doubt he was still
studying his active verb before tackling Mere Pitou.
But there! Let it pass. In any case it is not only the
magazines, but the novels themselves, that are being
transformed by the war. Witness this:
BY ONE OF OUR MOST POPULAR NOVELISTS
"It was in the summer house, at the foot of the old
garden, that the awaited declaration came. Edwin kneeled
at Angelina's feet. At last they were alone! The successful
barrage of conversation which he had put up at breakfast
had compelled her mother to remain in her trenches, and
had driven her father to the shelter of his dug-out. Her
younger brother he had camouflaged with the present of
a new fishing rod, thus inducing him to retire to the
river. The communications with the servants had been cut.
Of the strict neutrality of the gardener he was already
assured. Edwin felt that the moment had come for going
over the top. Yet being an able strategist, he was anxious
not to attempt to advance on too wide a front.
"Angelina!" he exclaimed, raising himself to one knee
with his hands outstretched toward her. The girl started
as at the sound of an air bomb; for a moment she elevated
her eyes and looked him full in the tangent, then she
lowered them again but continued to observe him through
her mental periscope.
"Angelina," he repeated, "I have a declaration to make."
"As from what date?" she questioned quietly. Edwin drew
his watch from his pocket.
"As from this morning, at ten-forty-six," he said. Then,
emboldened by her passive attitude, he continued with
rising passion in his tone.
"Ever since I first met you I have felt that I could not
live without you. I am a changed man. My calibre is
altered. I feel ten centimeters wider in the mouth than
I did six weeks ago. I feel that my path is altered. I
have a new range and an angle of elevation such as I
never experienced before. I have hidden my love as best
I could till now. I have worn a moral gas-mask before
your family. I can do so no longer. Angelina, will you
be mine, forming with me a single unit, drawing our
rations from the same field kitchen and occupying the
same divisional headquarters?"
The girl seemed to hesitate. She raised her eyes to his.
"We know one another so little," she murmured.
Edwin felt that his offensive was failing. He therefore
hastened to bring up his means of support.
"I have an ample income of my own," he pleaded.
Angelina raised her eyes again. It was evident that she
was about to surrender. But at this moment her mother's
voice was heard calling, "Angelina, Angelina, my dear,
where are you?"
The barrage had broken down.
"Quick," said the girl, "mobilize yourself. Pick up that
tennis racket and let us hurry to the court and dig
"But my declaration," urged Edwin eagerly.
"Accepted," she said, "as from eleven-two this morning."
1.—The Art of Conversation
I—HOW TO INTRODUCE TWO PEOPLE TO ONE ANOTHER
Nothing is more important in introducing two people to
each other than to employ a fitting form of words. The
more usually recognized forms are easily learned and
committed to memory and may be utilized as occasion
requires. I pass over such rudimentary formulas as "Ed,
shake hands with Jim Taylor," or, "Boys, this is Pete,
the new hand; Pete, get hold of the end of that cant-hook."
In fact, we are speaking only of polite society as graced
by the fair sex, the only kind that we need care about.
The Third Avenue Procedure
A very neat and convenient form is that in vogue in Third
Avenue circles, New York, as, for instance, at a
fifty-cents-a-head dance (ladies free) in the hall of
the Royal Knights of Benevolence.
"Miss Summerside, meet Mr. O'Hara," after which Miss
Summerside says very distinctly, "Mr. O'Hara," and Mr.
O'Hara says with equal clearness "Miss Summerside." In
this circle a mark of exquisite breeding is found in the
request to have the name repeated. "I don't quite catch
the name!" says Mr. O'Hara critically; then he catches
it and repeats it—"Miss Summerside."
"Catching the name" is a necessary part of this social
encounter. If not caught the first time it must be put
over again. The peculiar merit of this introduction is
that it lets Miss Summerside understand clearly that Mr.
O'Hara never heard of her before. That helps to keep her
in her place.
In superior circles, however, introduction becomes more
elaborate, more flattering, more unctuous. It reaches
its acme in what everyone recognizes at once as
The Clerical Method
This is what would be instinctively used in Anglican
circles—as, for example, by the Episcopal Bishop of Boof
in introducing a Canon of the Church to one of the "lady
workers" of the congregation (meaning a lady too rich to
work) who is expected to endow a crib in the Diocesan
Home for Episcopal Cripples. A certain quantity of soul
has to be infused into this introduction. Anybody who
has ever heard it can fill in the proper accentuation,
which must be very rich and deep.
"Oh, Mrs. Putitover, MAY I introduce my very dear old
friend, Canon Cutitout? The Canon, Mrs. Putitover, is
one of my DEAREST friends. Mrs. Putitover, my dear Canon,
is quite one of our most enthusiastic workers."
After which outburst of soul the Bishop is able to add,
"Will you excuse me, I'm afraid I simply MUST run."
Personally, I have never known or met a Bishop in society
in any other situation than just about to run. Where they
run to, I do not know. But I think I understand what they
The Lounge Room of the Club
Equally high in the social scale but done quite differently
is the Club Introduction. It is done by a club man who,
for the life of him, can't remember the names of either
of the two club men whom he is introducing, and who each,
for the life of him, can't think of the name of the man
they are being introduced by. It runs—
"Oh, I say, I beg your pardon—I thought, of course, you
two fellows knew one another perfectly well—let me
Later on, after three whiskey-and-sodas, each of the
three finds out the names of the other two, surreptitiously
from the hall porter. But it makes no difference. They
forget them again anyway. Now let us move up higher, in
fact, very high. Let us approach the real thing.
Introduction to H.E. the Viceroy of India, K.C.B.,
The most exalted form of introduction is seen in the
presentation of Mr. Tomkins, American tourist, to H.E.
the Viceroy of India. An aide-de-camp in uniform at the
foot of a grand staircase shouts, "Mr. Tomkins!" An
aide-de-camp at the top (one minute later) calls "Mr.
Thompson"; another aide, four feet further on, calls "Mr.
Then a military secretary, standing close to His Excellency,
takes Mr. Tomkins by the neck and bends him down toward
the floor and says very clearly and distinctly, "Mr.
Torpentine." Then he throws him out by the neck into the
crowd beyond and calls for another. The thing is done.
Mr. Tomkins wipes the perspiration from his hair with
his handkerchief and goes back at full speed to the Hoogli
Hotel, Calcutta, eager for stationery to write at once
to Ohio and say that he knows the Viceroy.
The Office Introduction, One-sided
This introduction comes into our office, slipping past
whoever keeps the door with a packet of books under its
arm. It says—
"Ledd me introduze myself. The book proposition vidge I
am introduzing is one vidge ve are now pudding on the
Then, of two things, one—
Either a crash of glass is heard as the speaker is hurled
through the skylight, or he walks out twenty minutes
later, bowing profusely as he goes, and leaving us gazing
in remorse at a signed document entitling us to receive
the "Masterpieces of American Poetry" in sixty volumes.
On the Stage
Everything on the stage is done far better than in real
life. This is true of introductions. There is a warmth,
a soul, in the stage introduction not known in the chilly
atmosphere of everyday society. Let me quote as an example
of a stage introduction the formula used, in the best
melodramatic art, in the kitchen-living-room (stove right
centre) of the New England farm.
"Neighbour Jephson's son, this is my little gal, as good
and sweet a little gal, as mindful of her old father, as
you'll find in all New England. Neighbour Jephson's son,
she's been my all in all to me, this little gal, since
I laid her mother in the ground five Christmases ago—"
The speaker is slightly overcome and leans against a
cardboard clock for strength: he recovers and goes
on—"Hope, this is Neighbour Jephson's son, new back from
over the seas, as fine a lad, gal, if he's like the folk
that went before him, as ever followed the sea. Hope,
your hand. My boy, your hand. See to his comfort, Hope,
while I go and read the Good Book a spell in the barnyard."
The Indian Formula
Many people, tired of the empty phrases of society, look
back wistfully to the simple direct speech of savage
life. Such persons will find useful the usual form of
introduction (the shorter form) prevalent among our North
American Indians (at least as gathered from the best
"Friends and comrades who are worthy,
See and look with all your eyesight,
Listen with your sense of hearing,
Gather with your apprehension—
Bow your heads, O trees, and hearken.
Hush thy rustling, corn, and listen;
Turn thine ear and give attention;
Ripples of the running water,
Pause a moment in your channels—
Here I bring you,—Hiawatha."
The last line of this can be changed to suit the particular
case. It can just as easily read, at the end, "Here is
Henry Edward Eastwood," or, "Here is Hal McGiverin,
Junior," or anything else. All names fit the sense. That,
in fact, was the wonderful art of Longfellow—the sense
being independent of the words.
The Platform Introduction
Here is a form of introduction cruelly familiar to those
who know it. It is used by the sour-looking villain
facetiously called in newspaper reports the "genial
chairman" of the meeting. While he is saying it the victim
in his little chair on the platform is a target for the
eyes of a thousand people who are wondering why he wears
"The next speaker, ladies and gentlemen, is one who needs
no introduction to this gathering. His name" (here the
chairman consults a little card) "is one that has become
a household word. His achievements in" (here the chairman
looks at his card again, studies it, turns it upside down
and adds) "in many directions are familiar to all of
you." There is a feeble attempt at applause and the
chairman then lifts his hand and says in a plain
business-like tone—"Will those of the audience who are
leaving kindly step as lightly as possible." He is about
to sit down, but then adds as a pleasant afterthought
for the speaker to brood over—"I may say, while I am on
my feet, that next week our society is to have a REAL
treat in hearing—et cetera and so forth—"
II—HOW TO OPEN A CONVERSATION
After the ceremony of introduction is completed the next
thing to consider is the proper way to open a conversation.
The beginning of conversation is really the hardest part.
It is the social equivalent to "going over the top." It
may best be studied in the setting and surroundings of
the Evening Reception, where people stand upright and
agonise, balancing a dish of ice-cream. Here conversation
reaches its highest pitch of social importance. One must
talk or die. Something may be done to stave it off a
little by vigorous eating. But the food at such affairs
is limited. There comes a point when it is absolutely
necessary to say something.
The beginning, as I say, is the hardest problem. Other
communities solve it better than we do.
The Chinese System
In China conversation, between strangers after introduction,
is always opened by the question, "And how old are YOU?"
This strikes me as singularly apt and sensible. Here is
the one thing that is common ground between any two
people, high or low, rich or poor—how far are you on
your pilgrimage in life?
The Penetentiary Method
Compare with the Chinese method the grim, but very
significant formula that is employed (I believe it is a
literal fact) in the exercise yards of the American
penitentiaries. "What have YOU brought?" asks the San
Quentin or Sing Sing convict of the new arrival, meaning,
"And how long is your sentence?" There is the same human
touch about this, the same common ground of interest, as
in the Chinese formula.
But in our polite society we have as yet found no better
method than beginning with a sort of medical diagnosis—"How
do you do?" This admits of no answer. Convention forbids
us to reply in detail that we are feeling if anything
slightly lower than last week, but that though our
temperature has risen from ninety-one-fifty to
ninety-one-seventy-five, our respiration is still normal.
Still worse is the weather as an opening topic. For it
either begins and ends as abruptly as the medical diagnosis,
or it leads the two talkers on into a long and miserable
discussion of the weather of yesterday, of the day before
yesterday, of last month, of last year and the last fifty
Let one beware, however, of a conversation that begins
The Mutual Friends' Opening
This can be seen at any evening reception, as when the
hostess introduces two people who are supposed to have
some special link to unite them at once with an
instantaneous snap, as when, for instance, they both come
from the same town.
"Let me introduce Mr. Sedley," said the hostess. "I think
you and Mr. Sedley are from the same town, Miss Smiles.
Miss Smiles, Mr. Sedley."
Off they go at a gallop. "I'm so delighted to meet you,"
says Mr. Sedley. "It's good to hear from anybody who
comes from our little town." (If he's a rollicking
humourist, Mr. Sedley calls it his little old "burg.")
"Oh, yes," answers Miss Smiles. "I'm from Winnipeg too.
I was so anxious to meet you to ask if you knew the
McGowans. They're my greatest friends at home."
"The—who?" asks Mr. Sedley.
"The McGowans—on Selkirk Avenue."
"No-o, I don't think I do. I know the Prices on Selkirk
Avenue. Of course you know them."
"The Prices? No, I don't believe I do—I don't think I
ever heard of the Prices. You don't mean the Pearsons?
I know them very well."
"No, I don't know the Pearsons. The Prices live just near
"No, then I'm sure I don't know them. The Pearsons live
close to the college."
"Close to the College? Is it near the William Kennedys?"
"I don't think I know the William Kennedys."
This is the way the conversation goes on for ten minutes.
Both Mr. Sedley and Miss Smiles are getting desperate.
Their faces are fixed. Their sentences are reduced to—
"Do you know the Petersons?"
"No. Do you know the Appleby's?"
"No. Do you know the Willie Johnsons?"
Then at last comes a rift in the clouds. One of them
happens to mention Beverley Dixon. The other is able to
"Beverley Dixon? Oh, yes, rather. At least, I don't KNOW
him, but I used often to hear the Applebys speak of him."
And the other exclaims with equal delight—
"I don't know him very well either, but I used to hear
the Willie Johnsons talk about him all the time."
They are saved.
Half an hour after they are still standing there talking
of Beverly Dixon.
The Etiquette Book
Personally I have suffered so much from inability to
begin a conversation that not long ago I took the extreme
step of buying a book on the subject. I regret to say
that I got but little light or help from it. It was
written by the Comtesse de Z—. According to the preface
the Comtesse had "moved in the highest circles of all
the European capitals." If so, let her go on moving there.
I for one, after trying her book, shall never stop her.
This is how the Comtesse solves the problem of opening
"In commencing a conversation, the greatest care should
be devoted to the selection of a topic, good taste
demanding that one should sedulously avoid any subject
of which one's vis-a-vis may be in ignorance. Nor are
the mere words alone to be considered. In the art of
conversation much depends upon manner. The true
conversationalist must, in opening, invest himself with
an atmosphere of interest and solicitude. He must, as we
say in French, be prepared to payer les rais de la
conversation. In short, he must 'give himself an air.'"
There! Go and do it if you can. I admit that I can't. I
have no idea what the French phrase above means, but I
know that personally I cannot "invest myself with an
atmosphere of interest." I might manage about two per
cent on five hundred dollars. But what is that in these
days of plutocracy?
At any rate I tried the Comtesse's directions at a
reception last week, on being introduced to an unknown
lady. And they failed. I cut out nearly all the last
part, and confined myself merely to the proposed selection
of a topic, endeavouring to pick it with as much care as
if I were selecting a golf club out of a bag. Naturally
I had to confine myself to the few topics that I know
about, and on which I can be quite interesting if I get
"Do you know any mathematics?" I asked.
"No," said the lady.
This was too bad. I could have shown her some good puzzles
about the squares of the prime numbers up to forty-one.
I paused and gave myself more air.
"How are you," I asked, "on hydrostatics?"
"I beg your pardon," she said. Evidently she was ignorant
"Have you ever studied the principles of aerial navigation?"
"No," She answered.
I was pausing again and trying to invest myself with an
air of further interest, when another man was introduced
to her, quite evidently, from his appearance, a vapid
jackass without one tenth of the brain calibre that I
"Oh, how do you do?" he said. "I say, I've just heard
that Harvard beat Princeton this afternoon. Great, isn't it?"
In two minutes they were talking like old friends. How
do these silly asses do it?
When Dressed Hogs are Dull
An equally unsuccessful type of conversation, often
overheard at receptions, is where one of the two parties
to it is too surly, too stupid, or too self-important
and too rich to talk, and the other labours in vain.
The surly one is, let us say, a middle-aged, thick-set
man of the type that anybody recognizes under the name
Money Hog. This kind of person, as viewed standing in
his dress suit, mannerless and stupid, too rich to have
to talk and too dull to know how to, always recalls to
my mind the head-line of the market reports in the
newspapers, "Dressed Hogs are Dull."
The other party to the conversation is a winsome and
agreeable woman, trying her best to do her social duty.
But, tenez, as the Comtesse of Z—— would say, I can
exactly illustrate the position and attitude of the two
of them from a recollection of my childhood. I remember
that in one of my nursery books of forty years ago there
was a picture entitled "The Lady in Love With A Swine."
A willowy lady in a shimmering gown leaned over the rail
of a tessellated pig-sty, in which an impossibly clean
hog stood in an attitude of ill-mannered immobility. With
the picture was the rhyming legend,
There was a Lady in love with a swine,
"Honey," said she, "will you be mine?
I'll build you a silver sty
And in it you shall lie."
"Honk!" said He.
There was something, as I recall it, in the sweet
willingness of the Lady that was singularly appealing,
and contrasted with the dull mannerless passivity of the
In each of the little stanzas that followed, the pretty
advances of the Lady were rebuffed by a surly and
monosyllabic "honk" from the hog.
Here is the social counterpart of the scene in the
picture-book. Mr. Grunt, capitalist, is standing in his
tessellated sty,—the tessellated sty being represented
by the hardwood floor of a fashionable drawing-room. His
face is just the same as the face of the pig in the
picture-book. The willowy lady, in the same shimmering
clothes and with the same pretty expression of eagerness,
is beside him.
"Oh, Mr. Grunt," she is saying, "how interesting it must
be to be in your place and feel such tremendous power.
Our hostess was just telling me that you own practically
all the shoemaking machinery factories—it IS shoe-making
machinery, isn't it?—east of Pennsylvania."
"Honk!" says Mr. Grunt.
"Shoe-making machinery," goes on the willowy lady (she
really knows nothing and cares less about it) "must be
absolutely fascinating, is it not?"
"Honk!" says Mr. Grunt.
"But still you must find it sometimes a dreadful strain,
do you not? I mean, so much brain work, and that sort of
"Honk!" says Mr. Grunt.
"I should love so much to see one of your factories. They
must be so interesting."
"Honk!" says Mr. Grunt. Then he turns and moves away
sideways. Into his little piggy eyes has come a fear that
the lady is going to ask him to subscribe to something,
or wants a block of his common stock, or his name on a
board of directors. So he leaves her. Yet if he had known
it she is probably as rich as he is, or richer, and hasn't
the faintest interest in his factories, and never intends
to go near one. Only she is fit to move and converse in
polite society and Mr. Grunt is not.
2.—Heroes and Heroines
"What are you reading?" I asked the other day of a blue-eyed
boy of ten curled up among the sofa cushions.
He held out the book for me to see.
"Dauntless Ned among the Cannibals," he answered.
"Is it exciting?" I enquired.
"Not very," said the child in a matter-of-fact tone. "But
it's not bad."
I took the book from him and read aloud at the opened page.
"In a compact mass the gigantic savages rushed upon our
hero, shrieking with rage and brandishing their huge
clubs. Ned stood his ground fearlessly, his back to a
banana tree. With a sweep of his cutlass he severed the
head of the leading savage from his body, while with a
back stroke of his dirk he stabbed another to the heart.
But resistance against such odds was vain. By sheer weight
of numbers, Ned was borne to the ground. His arms were
then pinioned with stout ropes made of the fibres of the
boobooda tree. With shrieks of exultation the savages
dragged our hero to an opening in the woods where a huge
fire was burning, over which was suspended an enormous
caldron of bubbling oil. 'Boil him, boil him,' yelled
the savages, now wrought to the point of frenzy."
"That seems fairly exciting, isn't it?" I said.
"Oh, he won't get boiled," said the little boy. "He's
So I knew that the child has already taken his first
steps in the disillusionment of fiction.
Of course he was quite right as to Ned. This wonderful
youth, the hero with whom we all begin an acquaintance
with books, passes unhurt through a thousand perils.
Cannibals, Apache Indians, war, battles, shipwrecks,
leave him quite unscathed. At the most Ned gets a flesh
wound which is healed, in exactly one paragraph, by that
wonderful drug called a "simple."
But the most amazing thing about this particular hero,
the boy Ned, is the way in which he turns up in all the
great battles and leading events of the world.
It was Ned, for example, who at the critical moment at
Gettysburg turned in his saddle to General Meade and said
quietly, "General, the day is ours." "If it is," answered
Meade, as he folded his field glass, "you alone, Ned,
have saved it."
In the same way Ned was present at the crossing of the
Delaware with Washington. Thus:—
"'What do you see, Ned?' said Washington, as they peered
from the leading boat into the driving snow.
"'Ice,' said Ned. 'My boy,' said the Great American
General, and a tear froze upon his face as he spoke, 'you
have saved us all.'"
Here is Ned at Runningmede when King John with his pen
in hand was about to sign the Magna Carta.
"For a moment the King paused irresolute, the uplifted
quill in his hand, while his crafty, furtive eyes indicated
that he might yet break his plighted faith with the
"Ned laid his mailed hand upon the parchment.
"'Sign it,' he said sternly, 'or take the consequences.'
"The King signed.
"'Ned,' said the Baron de Bohun, as he removed his iron
vizor from his bronze face, 'thou hast this day saved
In the stories of our boyhood in which Ned figured, there
was no such thing as a heroine, or practically none. At
best she was brought in as an afterthought. It was
announced on page three hundred and one that at the close
of Ned's desperate adventures in the West Indies he
married the beautiful daughter of Don Diego, the Spanish
governor of Portobello; or else, at the end of the great
war with Napoleon, that he married a beautiful and
accomplished French girl whose parents had perished in
Ned generally married away from home. In fact his marriages
were intended to cement the nations, torn asunder by
Ned's military career. But sometimes he returned to his
native town, all sunburned, scarred and bronzed from
battle (the bronzing effect of being in battle is always
noted): he had changed from a boy to a man: that is, from
a boy of fifteen to a man of sixteen. In such a case Ned
marries in his own home town. It is done after this
"But who is this who advances smiling to greet him as he
crosses the familiar threshold of the dear old house?
Can this tall, beautiful girl be Gwendoline, the
child-playmate of his boyhood?"
Well, can it? I ask it of every experienced reader—can
it or can it not?
Ned had his day, in the boyhood of each of us. We presently
passed him by. I am speaking, of course, of those of us
who are of maturer years and can look back upon thirty
or forty years of fiction reading. "Ned," flourishes
still, I understand, among the children of today. But
now he flies in aeroplanes, and dives in submarines, and
gives his invaluable military advice to General Joffre
and General Pershing.
But with the oncoming of adolescent years something softer
was needed than Ned with his howling cannibals and his
fusillade of revolver shots.
So the "Ned" of the Adventure Books was supplanted by
the Romantic Heroine of the Victorian Age and the
Long-winded Immaculate who accompanied her as the Hero.
I do not know when these two first opened their twin
career. Whether Fenimore Cooper or Walter Scott began
them, I cannot say. But they had an undisputed run on
two continents for half a century.
This Heroine was a sylph. Her chiefest charm lay in her
physical feebleness. She was generally presented to us
in some such words as these:
"Let us now introduce to our readers the fair Madeline
of Rokewood. Slender and graceful and of a form so fragile
that her frame scarce fitted to fulfil its bodily
functions…she appeared rather as one of those ethereal
beings of the air who might visit for a brief moment this
terrestrial scene, than one of its earthly inhabitants.
Her large, wondering eyes looked upon the beholder in
Sounds simple, doesn't it? One might suspect there was
something wrong with the girl's brain. But listen to
"The mind of Madeline, elegantly formed by the devoted
labours of the venerable Abbe, her tutor, was of a degree
of culture rarely found in one so young. Though scarce
eighteen summers had flown over her head at the time when
we introduce her to our readers, she was intimately
conversant with the French, Italian, Spanish, and Provencal
tongues. The abundant pages of history, both ancient and
modern, sacred and profane, had been opened for her by
her devoted instructor. In music she played with exquisite
grace and accuracy upon both the spinet and the harpsichord,
while her voice, though lacking something in compass,
was sweet and melodious to a degree."
From such a list of accomplishments it is clear that
Madeline could have matriculated, even at the Harvard
Law School, with five minutes preparation. Is it any
wonder that there was a wild rush for Madeline? In fact,
right after the opening description of the Heroine, there
follows an ominous sentence such as this:—
"It was this exquisite being whose person Lord Rip de
Viperous, a man whose reputation had shamed even the most
licentious court of the age, and had led to his banishment
from the presence of the king, had sworn to get within
Personally I don't blame Lord Rip a particle; it must
have been very rough on him to have been banished from
the presence of the king—enough to inflame a man to do
With two such characters in the story, the scene was set
and the plot and adventures followed as a matter of
course. Lord Rip de Viperous pursued the Heroine. But at
every step he is frustrated. He decoys Madeline to a
ruined tower at midnight, her innocence being such and
the gaps left in her education by the Abbe being so wide,
that she is unaware of the danger of ruined towers after
ten thirty P.M. In fact, "tempted by the exquisite clarity
and fulness of the moon, which magnificent orb at this
season spread its widest effulgence over all nature, she
accepts the invitation of her would-be-betrayer to gather
upon the battlements of the ruined keep the strawberries
which grew there in wild profusion."
But at the critical moment, Lord de Viperous is balked.
At the very instant when he is about to seize her in his
arms, Madeline turns upon him and says in such icy tones,
"Titled villain that you are, unhand me," that the man
is "cowed." He slinks down the ruined stairway "cowed."
And at every later turn, at each renewed attempt, Madeline
"cows" him in like fashion.
Moreover while Lord de Viperous is being thus cowed by
Madeline the Heroine, he is also being "dogged" by the
Hero. This counterpart of Madeline who shared her popularity
for fifty years can best be described as the Long-winded
Immaculate Hero. Entirely blameless in his morals, and
utterly virtuous in his conduct, he possessed at least
one means of defending himself. He could make speeches.
This he did on all occasions. With these speeches he
"dogged" Lord de Viperous. Here is the style of them:—
"'My Lord,' said Markham…" (incidentally let it be
explained that this particular brand of hero was always
known by his surname and his surname was always Markham)
—"'My lord, the sentiments that you express and the
demeanour which you have evinced are so greatly at variance
with the title that you bear and the lineage of which
you spring that no authority that you can exercise and
no threats that you are able to command shall deter me
from expressing that for which, however poor and inadequate
my powers of speech, all these of whom and for what I am
what I am, shall answer to it for the integrity of that,
which, whether or not, is at least as it is. My lord, I
have done. Or shall I speak more plainly still?'"
Is it to be wondered that after this harangue Lord Rip
sank into a chair, a hideous convulsion upon his face,
murmuring—"It is enough."
But successful as they were as Hero and Heroine, Markham
and Madeline presently passed off the scene. Where they
went to, I do not know. Perhaps Markham got elected in
the legislature of Massachusetts. At any rate they
disappeared from fiction.
There followed in place of Madeline, the athletic sunburned
heroine with the tennis racket. She was generally called
Kate Middleton, or some such plain, straightforward
designation. She wore strong walking boots and leather
leggings. She ate beef steak. She shot with a rifle. For
a while this Boots and Beef Heroine (of the middle
nineties) made a tremendous hit. She climbed crags in
the Rockies. She threw steers in Colorado with a lariat.
She came out strong in sea scenes and shipwrecks, and on
sinking steamers, where she "cowed" the trembling stewards
and "dogged" the mutinous sailors in the same fashion
that Madeline used to "cow" and "dog" Lord Rip de Viperous.
With the Boots and Beef Heroine went as her running mate
the out-of-doors man, whose face had been tanned and
whose muscles had been hardened into tempered steel in
wild rides over the Pampas of Patagonia, and who had
learned every art and craft of savage life by living
among the wild Hoodoos of the Himalayas. This
Air-and-Grass-man, as he may be called, is generally
supposed to write the story… He was "I" all through.
And he had an irritating modesty in speaking of his own
prowess. Instead of saying straight out that he was the
strongest and bravest man in the world, he implied it
indirectly on every page.
Here, for example, is a typical scene in which "I" and
Kate figure in a desperate adventure in the Rocky Mountains,
pursued by Indians.
"We are about to descend on a single cord from the summit
of a lofty crag, our sole chance of escape (and a
frightfully small chance at that) from the roving band
"With my eye I measured the fearsome descent below us.
"'Hold fast to the line, Miss Middleton,' I said as I
set my foot against a projecting rock. (Please note that
the Air-and-Grass Hero in these stories always calls the
Heroine Miss Middleton right up to the very end.)
"The noble girl seized the knotted end of the buckskin
line. 'All right, Mr. Smith,' she said with quiet
"I braced myself for the effort. My muscles like tempered
steel responded to the strain. I lowered a hundred fathoms
of the line. I could already hear the voice of Kate far
down the cliff.
"Don't let go the line, Miss Middleton,' I called. (Here
was an excellent piece of advice.)
"The girl's clear voice floated up to me… 'All right,
Mr. Smith,' she called, 'I won't.'"
Of course they landed safely at the foot of the cliff,
after the manner of all heroes and heroines. And here
it is that Kate in her turn comes out strong, at the
evening encampment, frying bacon over a blazing fire of
pine branches, while the firelight illuminates her leather
leggings and her rough but picturesque costume.
The circumstances might seem a little daring and improper.
But the reader knows that it is all right, because the
hero and heroine always call one another Miss Middleton
and Mr. Smith.
Not till right at the end, when they are just getting
back again to the confines of civilization, do they depart
Here is the scene that happens… The hero and heroine
are on the platform of the way-side depot where they are
to part… Kate to return to the luxurious home of her
aunt, Mrs. van der Kyper of New York, and the Air-and-Grass
Man to start for the pampas of Patagonia to hunt the
hoopoo. The Air-and-Grass Man is about to say goodbye.
Then… "'Kate,' I said, as I held the noble girl's gloved
hand in mine a moment. She looked me in the face with
the full, frank, fearless gaze of a sister.
"'Yes?' she answered.
"'Kate,' I repeated, 'do you know what I was thinking of
when I held the line while you were half way down the
"'No,' she murmured, while a flush suffused her cheek.
"'I was thinking, Kate,' I said, 'that if the rope broke
I should be very sorry.'
"'Edward!' she exclaimed.
"I clasped her in my arms.
"'Shall I make a confession,' said Kate, looking up
timidly, half an hour later, as I tenderly unclasped the
noble girl from my encircling arms, …'I was thinking
the same thing too.'"
So Kate and Edward had their day and then, as Tennyson
says, they "passed," or as less cultivated people put
it, "they were passed up in the air."
As the years went by they failed to please. Kate was a
great improvement upon Madeline. But she wouldn't do.
The truth was, if one may state it openly, Kate wasn't
TOUGH enough. In fact she wasn't tough at all. She turned
out to be in reality just as proper and just as virtuous
So, too, with the Air-and-Grass Hero. For all of his
tempered muscles and his lariat and his Winchester rifle,
he was presently exposed as a fraud. He was just as
Long-winded and just as Immaculate as the Victorian Hero
that he displaced.
What the public really wants and has always wanted in
its books is wickedness. Fiction was recognised in its
infancy as being a work of the devil.
So the popular novel, despairing of real wickedness among
the cannibals, and in the ruined tower at midnight, and
on the open-air of the prairies, shifted its scenes again.
It came indoors. It came back to the city. And it gave
us the new crop of heroes and heroines and the scenes
and settings with which the fiction of to-day has replaced
the Heroes and Heroines of Yesterday. The Lure of the
City is its theme. It pursues its course to the music of
the ukalele, in the strident racket of the midnight
cabaret. Here move the Harvard graduate in his dinner
jacket, drunk at one in the morning. Here is the hard
face of Big Business scowling at its desk; and here the
glittering Heroine of the hour in her dress of shimmering
sequins, making such tepid creatures as Madeline and Kate
look like the small change out of a twenty-five cent
3.—The Discovery of America;
Being Done into Moving Pictures and Out Again
"No greater power for education," said President Shurman
the other day, "has come among us during the last forty
years than the moving picture."
I am not certain that it was President Shurman. And he
may not have said it the other day. Nor do I feel absolutely
sure that he referred to the LAST forty years. Indeed
now that I come to think of it, I don't believe it WAS
Shurman. In fact it may have been ex-President Eliot. Or
was it, perhaps, President Hadley of Yale? Or did I say
it myself? Judging by the accuracy and force of the
language, I think I must have. I doubt if Shurman or
Hadley could have put it quite so neatly. There's a touch
about it that I recognise.
But let that pass. At any rate it is something that
everybody is saying and thinking. All our educators have
turned their brains towards the possibility of utilising
moving pictures for the purpose of education. It is being
freely said that history and geography, and even arithmetic,
instead of being taught by the slow and painful process
of books and memory, can be imparted through the eye.
I had no sooner heard of this idea than I became impassioned
to put it into practice. I have therefore prepared, or
am preparing, a film, especially designed for the elementary
classes of our schools to narrate the story of the
discovery of America.
This I should like the reader to sit and see with me, in
the eye of his imagination. But let me first give the
plain, unvarnished account of the discovery of America
as I took it from one of our school histories.
"Christopher Columbus, otherwise Christoforo Colombo,
the celebrated discoverer of America, was born of poor
but honest parents in the Italian city of Genoa. His
mother, Teresa Colombo, seems to have been a woman of
great piety and intelligence. Of his father, Bartolomeo
Colombo, nothing is recorded. From his earliest youth
the boy Christopher developed a passion for mathematics,
astronomy, geodesy, and the other sciences of the
But, no,—stop! I am going too fast. The reader will get
it better if we turn it into pictures bit by bit as we
go on. Let the reader therefore imagine himself seated
before the curtain in the lighted theatre. All ready?
Very good. Let the music begin—Star Spangled Banner,
please—flip off the lights. Now then.
DISCOVERY OF AMERICA
BY THE BOARD OF CENSORS OF
NEW YORK STATE
There we are. That gives the child the correct historical
background right away. Now what goes on next? Let me see.
Ah, yes, of course. We throw an announcement on the
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS.. Mr. Quinn
Here the face of Mr. Quinn (in a bowler hat) is thrown
on the screen and fades out again.
We follow him up with
SPIRIT OF AMERICA.. Miss E. Dickenson
Now, we are ready to begin in earnest. Let us make the
scenario together. First idea to be expressed:
"Christopher Columbus was the son of poor but honest parents."
This might seem difficult to a beginner, but to those of
us who frequent the movies it is nothing. The reel spins
and we see—a narrow room—(it is always narrow in the
movies)—to indicate straitened circumstances—cardboard
furniture—high chairs with carved backs—two cardboard
beams across the ceiling (all this means the Middle
Ages)—a long dinner table—all the little Columbuses
seated at it—Teresa Colombo cutting bread at one end of
it—gives a slice to each, one slice (that means poverty
in the movies)—Teresa rolls her eyes up—all the little
children put their hands together and say grace (this
registers honesty). The thing is done. Let us turn back
to the history book and see what is to be put in next.
"…The father of Christopher, Bartolomeo Colombo, was
a man of no especial talent of whom nothing is recorded."
That's easy. First we announce him on the screen:
BARTOLOMEO COLOMBO.. Mr. Henderson
Then we stick him on the film on a corner of the room,
leaning up against the cardboard clock and looking at
the children. This attitude in the movies always indicates
a secondary character of no importance. His business is
to look at the others and to indicate forgetfulness of
self, incompetence, unimportance, vacuity, simplicity.
Note how this differs from the attitudes of important
characters. If a movie character—one of importance—is
plotting or scheming, he seats himself at a little round
table, drums on it with his fingers, and half closes one
eye. If he is being talked to, or having a letter or
document or telegram read to him, he stands "facing full"
and working his features up and down to indicate emotion
sweeping over them. If he is being "exposed" (which is
done by pointing fingers at him), he hunches up like a
snake in an angle of the room with both eyes half shut
and his mouth set as if he had just eaten a lemon. But
if he has none of these things to express and is only in
the scene as a background for the others, then he goes
over and leans in an easy attitude against the tall
That then is the place for Bartolomeo Colombo. To the
clock with him.
Now what comes next?
"…The young Christopher developed at an early age a
passion for study, and especially for astronomy, geometry,
geodesy, and the exact science of the day."
Quite easy. On spins the film. Young Christopher in a
garret room (all movie study is done in garrets). The
cardboard ceiling slopes within six inches of his head.
This shows that the boy never rises from his books. He
can't. On a table in front of him is a little globe and
a pair of compasses. Christopher spins the globe round.
Then he makes two circles with the compasses, one after
the other, very carefully. This is the recognised movie
symbol for mathematical research.
So there we have Christopher—poor, honest, studious,
full of circles.
Now to the book again.
"…The young Columbus received his education at the
monastery of the Franciscan monks at Genoa. Here he spent
Yes, but we can put that on the screen in seven seconds.
Turn on the film.
Movie Monastery—exterior, done in grey cardboard—ding,
dong, ding, dong (man in the orchestra with triangle and
stick)—procession of movie friars—faces more like thugs,
but never mind—they are friars because they walk two
and two in a procession, singing out of hymn books.
Now for the book again.
"…Fra Giacomo, the prior of the monastery, delighted
with the boy's progress, encourages his studies."
Wait a minute.
FRA GIACOMO… Mr. Edward Sims
Mr. Sims's face, clean-shaved under a round hat fades in and out.
Then the picture goes on. Movie monastery interior—young
Christopher, still at a table with compasses—benevolent friar
bending over him—Christopher turns the compasses and looks up
with a what-do-you-know-about-that look—astonishment and delight
of friar (registered by opening his eyes like a bull frog). All
this shows study, progress, application. The friars are delighted
with the boy.
"…Christopher, after seven years of study, reaches the
firm conviction that the world is round."
Picture. Christopher—with his globe—jumps up from
table—passes his fingers round and round the
globe—registers the joy of invention—seats himself at
table and draws circles with his compasses furiously. He
"…Fired with his discovery Christopher sets out from
Stop a minute, this is a little hard. Fired. How can we
show Christopher "fired." We can't. Perhaps he'll be
fired if the film is no good, but we must omit it just
"He sets out."
One second only for this. Monastery door (double cardboard
with iron across it)—Christopher leaving—carries a
wallet to mean distance. Fra Giacomo blessing him—fade
"…For eighteen years Columbus vainly travelled through
the world on foot offering his discovery at the courts
of Europe, in vain, though asking nothing in return for
it except a fleet of ships, two hundred men and provisions
for two years."
To anybody not used to scenarios this looks a large order.
Eighteen years seems difficult to put on the screen. In
reality this is exactly where the trained movie man sees
his chance. Here he can put in anything and everything
that he likes, bringing in, in a slightly mediaeval form,
all his favourite movie scenes.
Thus, for example, here we have first the good old midnight
cabaret supper scene—thinly disguised as the court of
the King of Sardinia. To turn a cabaret into a court the
movie men merely exchange their Fifth Avenue evening
dress for short coats and knee breeches, heavily wadded
and quilted, and wear large wigs. Quilted pants and wigs
register courtiers, the courtiers of anybody—Charlemagne,
Queen Elizabeth, Peter the Great, Louis Quatorze, anybody
and everybody who ever had courtiers. Just as men with
bare legs mean Romans, men in pea-jackets mean detectives,
and young men drunk in evening dress Harvard graduates.
The ladies at the court of Sardinia wear huge paper frills
round their necks. Otherwise it is the cabaret scene with
the familiar little tables, and the ukaleles going like
mad in one corner, and black sarsaparilla being poured
foaming into the glasses.
In this scene Columbus moves up and down, twirling his
little globe and looking appealingly in their faces. All
laugh at him. His part is just the same as that of the
poor little girl trying to sell up-state violets in the
The Court of Sardinia fades and the film shows Columbus
vainly soliciting financial aid from Lorenzo the
Stop one minute, please.
LORENZO THE MAGNIFICENT… Mr. L. Evans
This scene again is old and familiar. It is the well-known
interior representing the Grinding Capitalist, or the
Bitter Banker refusing aid to the boy genius who has
invented a patent pea-rake. The only change is that
Lorenzo wears a huge wig, has no telephone, and handles
a large quill pen (to register Middle Ages) which he
wiggles furiously up and down on a piece of parchment.
So the eighteen years, with scenes of this sort turn out
the easiest part of the whole show.
But let us to the book again.
"…After eighteen years Columbus, now past the prime of
life, is presented at the Court of Queen Isabella of
Just half a moment.
QUEEN ISABELLA.. Miss Janet Briggs
There will be very probably at this point a slight applause
from the back of the hall. Miss Briggs was here last
week, or her astral body was—as Maggie of the Cattle
Ranges. The impression that she made is passed on to
"The Queen and her consort, King Ferdinand of Aragon…"
Stop, stick him on the film.
FERDINAND OF ARAGON.. Mr. Edward Giles
(Large wig, flat velvet cap and square whiskers—same
make-up as for Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Ferdinand of Bohemia,
or any of the Ferdinands.)
"…were immediately seized with enthusiasm for the
marvellous discovery of the Genoese adventurer."
Picture. Columbus hands his globe to Isabella and his
compasses to Ferdinand. They register delight and
astonishment. The Queen turns the globe round and round
and holds it up to Ferdinand. Both indicate with their
faces, well-what-do-you-know-about-this. Ferdinand makes
a circle with the compasses on a table—the courtiers,
fickle creatures, crowd around. They are still dressed
as in Sardinia eighteen years ago. In fact, one recognises
quite a lot of them. When Ferdinand draws the circle they
fall back in wild astonishment, gesticulating frantically.
What they mean is, "It's a circle, it's a circle."
"The King and Queen at once place three ships at the
disposal of Columbus."
On with the picture. The harbour of the port of Palos—
ships bobbing up and down (it is really the oyster boats
in Baltimore Bay but it looks just like Palos, or near
enough). Notice Queen Isabella on the right, at the top
of a flight of steps, extending her hand and looking at
Columbus. Her gesture means, "Pick a ship, any ship you
like, any colour." Just as if she were saying, "Pick a
card, any card you like."
We turn again to the history.
"…Christopher Columbus, now arrived at the height of
his desire, sets out upon his memorable voyage accompanied
by a hundred companions in three caravels, the Pinta,
the Nina and the Espiritu Santo."
Ah, here we have the movie work—the real thing. Cardboard
caravel tossing on black water—seen first right close
to us—we are almost on board of it. Notice the movie
sailors with black whiskers and bare feet (bare feet in
the movies always means a sailor, and black whiskers mean
Spaniards). Now we see the caravel a little way out—whoop!
How she bobs up and down! They give her that jolt (it's
done with the machine itself) to mean danger. There are
all three caravels—Hoop—er—oo! See them go up and
down—stormy night coming all right. See the sun setting
in the west, over the water? They're heading straight
for it. Good-night Columbus—take care of yourself out
there in the blackness.
"During the voyage Columbus remained continually on deck.
Sleeping at the prow, his face towards the new world, he
saw already in his dreams the accomplishment of his
On goes the picture. Christopher in the prow of the
caravel (in the movies a prow is made by putting two
little board fences together and propping up a bowsprit
lengthwise over them). Columbus sits up, peers intently
into the darkness, his hand to his brow—registers a
look. Do I see America? No. Lies down, shuts his eyes
and falls into an instantaneous movie sleep. His face
fades out slowly to music, which means that he is going
to dream. Then on the screen the announcement is shown:
SPIRIT OF AMERICA… Miss E. Dickenson
and here we have Miss Dickenson floating in the air above
Columbus. She wears nothing except mosquito netting, but
she has got on enough of it to get past the censor of
the State of New York. Just enough, apparently.
Miss E. Dickenson is joined by a whole troop of Miss Dickensons
all in white mosquito netting. They go through a series of
beautiful evolutions, floating over the sleeping figure of
Columbus. The dance they do is meant to typify, or rather to
signify,—as a matter of fact we needn't worry much about what
it signified. It is an allegory, done in white mosquito netting.
That is generally held to be quite enough. Let us go back to
"After a storm-tossed voyage of three months…"
Wait a bit. Turn on the picture again and toss the caravels
up and down.
"…during which the food supply threatened to fail…"
Put that on the screen, please. Columbus surrounded by
ten sailors, dividing up a potato.
"…the caravels arrived in safety at the beautiful island
of San Salvador. Columbus, bearing the banner of Spain,
stepped first ashore. Surrounded by a wondering crowd of
savages he prostrated himself upon the beach and kissed
the soil of the New World that he had discovered."
All this is so easy that it's too easy. It runs into
pictures of itself. Anybody, accustomed to the movies,
can see Columbus with his banner and the movie savages
hopping up and down around him. Movie savages are gay,
gladsome creatures anyway, and hopping up and down is
their chief mode of expressing themselves. Add to them
a sandy beach, with palm trees waving visibly in the wind
(it is always windy in the movies) and the thing is done.
Just one further picture is needed to complete the film.
"Columbus who returned to Europe to lay at the feet of
the Spanish sovereigns the world he had discovered, fell
presently under the disfavour of the court, and died in
poverty and obscurity, a victim of the ingratitude of
Last picture. Columbus dying under the poignant
circumstances known only in the movies—a garret
room—ceiling lower than ever—a truckle bed, narrow
enough to kill him if all else failed—Teresa Colombo
his aged mother alone at his bedside—she offers him
medicine in a long spoon—(this shows, if nothing else
would, that the man is ill)—he shakes his head—puts
out his hand and rests it on the little globe—reaches
feebly for his compasses—can't manage it—rolls up his
eyes and fades.
The music plays softly and the inexorable film, like
the reel of life itself, spins on, announcing
At this theatre
All next week
IS IT WORTH IT
And after that I can imagine the audience dispersing,
and the now educated children going off to their homes
and one saying as he enters—
"Gee, I seen a great picture show at school to-day."
"Yes?" says his mother, "and what was it?"
"Oh, it was all about a gink that went round the cabarets
trying to sell an invention what he'd got but nobody
wouldn't look at it till at last one dame gave him three
oyster boats, see? and so he and a lot of other guys
loaded them up and hiked off across the ocean."
"And where did he go to?"
"Africa. And he and the other guys had a great stand in
with the natives and he'd have sold his invention all
right but one old dame got him alone in a hut and poisoned
him and took it off him."
That, I think, is about the way the film would run. When
it is finished I must get President Shurman, or whoever
it was, to come and see it.
4.—Politics from Within
To avoid all error as to the point of view, let me say
in commencing that I am a Liberal Conservative, or, if
you will, a Conservative Liberal with a strong dash of
sympathy with the Socialist idea, a friend of Labour,
and a believer in Progressive Radicalism. I do not desire
office but would take a seat in the Canadian Senate at
five minutes notice.
I believe there are ever so many people of exactly this
way of thinking.
Let me say further than in writing of "politics" I am
only dealing with the lights and shadows that flicker
over the surface, and am not trying to discuss, still
less to decry, the deep and vital issues that lie below.
Yet I will say that vital though the issues may be below
the surface, there is more clap-trap, insincerity and
humbug on the surface of politics than over any equal
area on the face of any institution.
The candidate, as such, is a humbug. The voters, as
voters—not as fathers, brothers or sons—are humbugs.
The committees are humbugs. And the speeches to the extent
of about ninety per cent are pure buncombe. But, oddly
enough, out of the silly babel of talk that accompanies
popular government, we get, after all, pretty good
government—infinitely better than the government of an
autocratic king. Between democracy and despotic kingship
lies all the difference between genial humbug and black
For the candidate for popular office I have nothing but
sympathy and sorrow. It has been my fortune to walk round
at the heels of half a dozen of them in different little
Canadian towns, watching the candidate try in vain to
brighten up his face at the glad sight of a party voter.
One, in particular, I remember. Nature had meant him to
be a sour man, a hard man, a man with but little joy in
the company of his fellows. Fate had made him a candidate
for the House of Commons. So he was doing his best to
belie his nature.
"Hullo, William!" he would call out as a man passed
driving a horse and buggy, "got the little sorrel out
for a spin, eh?"
Then he would turn to me and say in a low rasping voice—
"There goes about the biggest skunk in this whole
A few minutes later he would wave his hand over a little
hedge in friendly salutation to a man working in a garden.
"Hullo, Jasper! That's a fine lot of corn you've got
Jasper replied in a growl. And when we were well past
the house the candidate would say between his teeth—
"That's about the meanest whelp in the riding."
Our conversation all down the street was of that pattern.
"Good morning, Edward! Giving the potatoes a dose of
Paris green, eh?"
And in an undertone—
"I wish to Heaven he'd take a dose of it himself."
And so on from house to house.
I counted up, from one end of the street to the other,
that there were living in it seven skunks, fourteen low
whelps, eight mean hounds and two dirty skinflints. And
all of these merely among the Conservative voters. It
made me wish to be a Liberal. Especially as the Liberal
voters, by the law of the perversity of human affairs,
always seemed to be the finer lot. As they were NOT voting
for our candidate, they were able to meet him in a fair
and friendly way, whereas William and Jasper and Edward
and our "bunch" were always surly and hardly deigned to
give more than a growl in answer to the candidate's
greeting, without even looking up at him.
But a Liberal voter would stop him in the street and
shake hands and say in a frank, cordial way.
"Mr. Grouch, I'm sorry indeed that I can't vote for you,
and I'd like to be able to wish you success, but of course
you know I'm on the other side and always have been and
can't change now."
Whereupon the Candidate would say. "That's all right,
John, I don't expect you to. I can respect a man's
convictions all right, I guess."
So they would part excellent friends, the Candidate saying
as we moved off:
"That man, John Winter, is one of the straightest men in
this whole county."
Then he would add—
"Now we'll just go into this house for a minute. There's
a dirty pup in here that's one of our supporters."
My opinion of our own supporters went lower every day,
and my opinion of the Liberal voters higher, till it so
happened that I went one day to an old friend of mine
who was working on the Liberal side. I asked him how he
"Oh, well enough!" he said, "as a sort of game. But in
this constituency you've got all the decent voters; our
voters are the lowest bunch of skunks I ever struck."
Just then a man passed in a buggy, and looked sourly at
my friend the Liberal worker.
"Hullo, John!" he called, with a manufactured hilarity,
"got the little mare out for a turn, eh?"
"There's one of them," said my friend, "the lowest pup
in this county, John Winter."
"Come along," said the Candidate to me one morning, "I
want you to meet my committee."
"You'll find them," he said confidingly, as we started
down the street towards the committee rooms, "an awful
bunch of mutts."
"Too bad," I said, "what's wrong with them?"
"Oh, I don't know—they're just a pack of simps. They
don't seem to have any PUNCH in them. The one you'll meet
first is the chairman—he's about the worst dub of the
lot; I never saw a man with so little force in my life.
He's got no magnetism, that's what's wrong with him—no
A few minutes later the Candidate was introducing me to
a roomful of heavy looking Committee men. Committee men
in politics, I notice, have always a heavy bovine look.
They are generally in a sort of daze, or doped from
smoking free cigars.
"Now I want to introduce you first," said the Candidate,
"to our chairman, Mr. Frog. Mr. Frog is our old battle
horse in this constituency. And this is our campaign
secretary Mr. Bughouse, and Mr. Dope, and Mr. Mudd, et
Those may not have been their names.
It is merely what the names sounded like when one was
looking into their faces.
The Candidate introduced them all as battle horses, battle
axes, battle leaders, standard bearers, flag-holders,
and so forth. If he had introduced them as hat-racks or
cigar holders, it would have been nearer the mark.
Presently the Candidate went out and I was left with the
"What do you think of our chances?" I asked.
The battle-axes shook their heads with dubious looks.
"Pretty raw deal," said the Chairman, "the Convention
wishing HIM on us." He pointed with his thumb over his
shoulder to indicate the departed Candidate.
"What's wrong with him?" I asked.
Mr. Frog shook his head again.
"No PUNCH," he said.
"None at all," agreed all the battle horses.
"I'll tell you," said the Campaign secretary, Mr. Bughouse,
a voluble man, with wandering eyes—"the trouble is he
has no magnetism, no personal magnetism."
"I see," I said.
"Now, you take this man, Shortis, that the Liberals have
got hold of," continued Mr. Bughouse, "he's full of
MAGNETISM. He appeals."
All the other Committee men nodded.
"That's so," they murmured, "magnetism, Our man hasn't
a darned ounce of it."
"I met Shortis the other night in the street," went on
Mr. Bughouse, "and he said, 'Come on up to my room in
the hotel.' 'Oh,' I said, 'I can't very well.' 'Nonsense,'
he said, 'You're on the other side but what does that
matter?' Well, we went up to his room, and there he had
whiskey, and gin, and lager,—everything. 'Now,' he says,
'name your drink—what is it?' There he was, right in
his room, breaking the law without caring a darn about
it. Well, you know the voters like that kind of thing.
It appeals to them."
"Well," said another of the Committee men,—I think it
was the one called Mr. Dope, "I wouldn't mind that so
much. But the chief trouble about our man, to my mind,
is that he can't speak."
"He can't?" I exclaimed.
All the Committee shook their heads.
"Not for sour apples!" asserted Mr. Dope positively.
"Now, in this riding that won't do. Our people here are
used to first class speaking, they expect it. I suppose
there has been better speaking in this Constituency than
anywhere else in the whole dominion. Not lately, perhaps;
not in the last few elections. But I can remember, and
so can some of the boys here, the election when Sir John
A. spoke here, when the old Mackenzie government went
He looked around at the circle. Several nodded.
"Remember it as well," assented Mr. Mudd, "as if it were
"Well, sir," continued Mr. Dope, "I'll never forget Sir
John A. speaking here in the Odd Fellows' Hall, eh?"
The Committee men nodded and gurgled in corroboration.
"My! but he was PLASTERED. We had him over at Pete
Robinson's hotel all afternoon, and I tell you he was
plastered for fair. We ALL were. I remember I was so
pickled myself I could hardly help Sir John up the steps
of the platform. So were you, Mudd, do you remember?"
"I certainly was!" said Mr. Mudd proudly. Committee men
who would scorn to drink lager beer in 1919, take a great
pride, I have observed, in having been pickled in 1878.
"Yes, sir," continued Mr. Dope, "you certainly were
pickled. I remember just as well as anything, when they
opened the doors and let the crowd in: all the boys had
been bowling up and were pretty well soused. You never
saw such a crowd. Old Dr. Greenway (boys, you remember
the old Doc) was in the chair, and he was pretty well
spifflocated. Well, sir, Sir John A. got up in that hall
and he made the finest, most moving speech I ever listened
to. Do you remember when he called old Trelawney an
ash-barrel? And when he made that appeal for a union of
hearts and said that the sight of McGuire (the Liberal
candidate) made him sick? I tell you those were great
days. You don't get speaking like that now; and you don't
get audiences like that now either. Not the same calibre."
All the Committee shook their heads.
"Well, anyway, boys," said the Chairman, as he lighted
a fresh cigar, "to-morrow will decide, one way or the
other. We've certainly worked hard enough,"—here he
passed the box of cigars round to the others—"I haven't
been in bed before two any night since the work started."
"Neither have I," said another of the workers. "I was
just saying to the wife when I got up this morning that
I begin to feel as if I never wanted to see the sight of
a card again."
"Well, I don't regret the work," said the Secretary, "so
long as we carry the riding. You see," he added in
explanation to me, "we're up against a pretty hard
proposition here. This riding really is Liberal: they've
got the majority of voters though we HAVE once or twice
swung it Conservative. But whether we can carry it with
a man like Grouch is hard to say. One thing is certain,
boys, if he DOES carry it, he doesn't owe it to himself."
All the battle horses agreed on this. A little after that
And twenty-four hours later the vote was taken and to my
intense surprise the riding was carried by Grouch the
I say, to MY surprise. But apparently not to anybody else.
For it appeared this (was in conversations after the
election) that Grouch was a man of extraordinary magnetism.
He had, so they said, "punch." Shortis, the Liberal, it
seemed, lacked punch absolutely. Even his own supporters
admitted that he had no personality whatever. Some wondered
how he had the nerve to run.
But my own theory of how the election was carried is
I feel certain that all the Conservative voters despised
their candidate so much that they voted Liberal. And all
the Liberals voted Conservative.
That carried the riding.
Meantime Grouch left the constituency by the first train
next day for Ottawa. Except for paying taxes on his house,
he will not be back in the town till they dissolve
5.—The Lost Illusions of Mr. Sims
In the club to which I belong, in a quiet corner where
the sunlight falls in sideways, there may be seen sitting
of an afternoon my good friend of thirty years' standing,
Mr. Edward Sims. Being somewhat afflicted with gout, he
generally sits with one foot up on a chair. On a brass
table beside him are such things as Mr. Sims needs. But
they are few. Wealthy as he is, the needs of Mr. Sims
reach scarcely further than Martini cocktails and Egyptian
cigarettes. Such poor comforts as these, brought by a
deferential waiter, with, let us say, a folded newspaper
at five o'clock, suffice for all his wants. Here sits
Mr. Sims till the shadows fall in the street outside,
when a limousine motor trundles up to the club and rolls
And here of an afternoon Mr. Sims talks to me of his
college days when he was young. The last thirty years of
his life have moved in so gentle a current upon so smooth
a surface that they have been without adventure. It is
the stormy period of his youth that preoccupies my friend
as he sits looking from the window of the club at the
waving leaves in the summer time and the driving snow in
I am of that habit of mind that makes me prone to listen.
And for this, perhaps, Mr. Sims selects me as the recipient
of the stories of his college days. It is, it seems, the
fixed belief of my good friend that when he was young he
belonged at college to a particularly nefarious crowd or
group that exists in his mind under the name of the "old
gang." The same association, or corporate body or whatever
it should be called, is also designated by Mr. Sims, the
"old crowd," or more simply and affectionately "the boys."
In the recollection of my good friend this "old gang"
were of a devilishness since lost off the earth. Work
they wouldn't. Sleep they despised. While indoors they
played poker in a blue haze of tobacco smoke with beer
in jugs and mugs all round them. All night they were out
of doors on the sidewalk with linked arms, singing songs
in chorus and jeering at the city police.
Yet in spite of life such as this, which might appear to
an outsider wearing to the intellect, the "old gang" as
recollected by Mr. Sims were of a mental brilliancy that
eclipses everything previous or subsequent. McGregor of
the Class of '85 graduated with a gold medal in Philosophy
after drinking twelve bottles of lager before sitting
down to his final examination. Ned Purvis, the football
half-back, went straight from the football field after
a hard game with his ankle out of joint, drank half a
bottle of Bourbon Rye and then wrote an examination in
Greek poetry that drew tears from the President of the
Mr. Sims is perhaps all the more prone to talk of these
early days insomuch that, since his youth, life, in the
mere material sense, has used him all too kindly. At an
early age, indeed at about the very time of his graduation,
Mr. Sims came into money,—not money in the large and
frenzied sense of a speculative fortune, begetting care
and breeding anxiety, but in the warm and comfortable
inheritance of a family brewery, about as old and as
well-established as the Constitution of the United States.
In this brewery, even to-day, Mr. Sims, I believe, spends
a certain part, though no great part, of his time. He is
carried to it, I understand, in his limousine in the
sunnier hours of the morning; for an hour or so each day
he moves about among the warm smell of the barley and
the quiet hum of the machinery murmuring among its dust.
There is, too, somewhere in the upper part of the city
a huge, silent residence, where a noiseless butler adjusts
Mr. Sims's leg on a chair and serves him his dinner in
But the residence, and the brewery, and with them the
current of Mr. Sims's life move of themselves.
Thus has care passed Mr. Sims by, leaving him stranded
in a club chair with his heavy foot and stick beside him.
Mr. Sims is a bachelor. Nor is he likely now to marry:
but this through no lack of veneration or respect for
the sex. It arises, apparently, from the fact that when
Mr. Sims was young, during his college days, the beauty
and charm of the girls who dwelt in his college town was
such as to render all later women mere feeble suggestions
of what might have been. There was, as there always is,
one girl in particular. I have not heard my friend speak
much of her. But I gather that Kate Dashaway was the kind
of girl who might have made a fit mate even for the sort
of intellectual giant that flourished at Mr. Sims's college.
She was not only beautiful. All the girls remembered by
Mr. Sims were that. But she was in addition "a good head"
and "a good sport," two of the highest qualities that, in
Mr. Sims's view, can crown the female sex. She had, he
said, no "nonsense" about her, by which term Mr. Sims
indicated religion. She drank lager beer, played tennis as
well as any man in the college, and smoked cigarettes a
whole generation in advance of the age.
Mr. Sims, so I gather, never proposed to her, nor came
within a measurable distance of doing so. A man so prone,
as is my friend, to spend his time in modest admiration
of the prowess of others is apt to lag behind. Miss
Dashaway remains to Mr. Sims, as all else does, a retrospect
and a regret.
But the chief peculiarities of the old gang—as they
exist in the mind of Mr. Sims—is the awful fate that
has overwhelmed them. It is not merely that they are
scattered to the four corners of the continent. That
might have been expected. But, apparently, the most awful
moral ruin has fallen upon them. That, at least, is the
abiding belief of Mr. Sims.
"Do you ever hear anything of McGregor now?" I ask him
"No," he says, shaking his head quietly. "I understand
he went all to the devil."
"How was that?"
"Booze," says Mr. Sims. There is a quiet finality about
the word that ends all discussion.
"Poor old Curly!" says Mr. Sims, in speaking of another
of his classmates. "I guess he's pretty well down and
out these days."
"What's the trouble?" I say.
Mr. Sims moves his eyes sideways as he sits. It is easier
than moving his head.
"Booze," he says.
Even apparent success in life does not save Mr. Sims's
"I see," I said one day, "that they have just made Arthur
Stewart a Chief Justice out west."
"Poor old Artie," murmured Mr. Sims. "He'll have a hard
time holding it down. I imagine he's pretty well tanked
up all the time these days."
When Mr. Sims has not heard of any of his associates for
a certain lapse of years, he decides to himself that they
are down and out. It is a form of writing them off. There
is a melancholy satisfaction in it. As the years go by
Mr. Sims is coming to regard himself and a few others as
the lonely survivors of a great flood. All the rest,
brilliant as they once were, are presumed to be "boozed,"
"tanked," "burnt out," "bust-up," and otherwise consumed.
After having heard for so many years the reminiscences
of my good friend about the old gang, it seemed almost
incredible that one of them should step into actual living
being before my eyes. Yet so it happened.
I found Mr. Sims at the club one day, about to lunch
there, a thing contrary to his wont. And with him was a
friend, a sallow, insignificant man in the middle fifties,
with ragged, sandy hair, wearing thin.
"Shake hands with Tommy Vidal," said Mr. Sims proudly.
If he had said, "Shake hands with Aristotle," he couldn't
have spoken with greater pride.
This then was Tommy Vidal, the intellectual giant of whom
I had heard a hundred times. Tommy had, at college, so
Mr. Sims had often assured me, the brightest mind known
since the age of Pericles. He took the prize in Latin
poetry absolutely "without opening a book." Latin to
Tommy Vidal had been, by a kind of natural gift, born in
him. In Latin he was "a whale." Indeed in everything. He
had passed his graduation examination with first class
honours; "plastered." He had to be held in his seat, so
it was recorded, while he wrote.
Tommy, it seemed, had just "blown in" to town that morning.
It was characteristic of Mr. Sims's idea of the old gang
that the only way in which any of them were supposed to
enter a town was to "blow in."
"When did you say you 'blew in,' Tommy?" he asked about
half a dozen times during our lunch. In reality, the
reckless, devil-may-care fellow Vidal had "blown in" to
bring his second daughter to a boarding school—a thing
no doubt contemplated months ahead. But Mr. Sims insisted
in regarding Tommy's movements as purely fortuitous, the
sport of chance. He varied his question by asking "When
do you expect to 'blow out' Tommy?" Tommy's answers he
forgot at once.
We sat and talked after lunch, and it pained me to notice
that Tommy Vidal was restless and anxious to get away.
Mr. Sims offered him cigars, thick as ropes and black as
night, but he refused them. It appeared that he had long
since given up smoking. It affected his eyes, he said.
The deferential waiter brought brandy and curacoa in long
thin glasses. But Mr. Vidal shook his head. He hadn't
had a drink, he said, for twenty years. He found it
affected his hearing. Coffee, too, he refused. It affected,
so it seemed, his sense of smell. He sat beside us, ill
at ease, and anxious, as I could see, to get back to his
second daughter and her schoolmistresses. Mr. Sims, who
is geniality itself in his heart, but has no great powers
in conversation, would ask Tommy if he remembered how he
acted as Antigone in the college play, and was "plastered"
from the second act on. Mr. Vidal had no recollection of
it, but wondered if there was any good book-store in town
where he could buy his daughter an Algebra. He rose when
he decently could and left us. As Mr. Sims saw it, he
Mr. Sims is kindliness itself in his judgments. He passed
no word of censure on his departed friend. But a week or
so later he mentioned to me in conversation that Tommy
Vidal had "turned into a kind of stiff." The vocabulary
of Mr. Sims holds no term of deeper condemnation than
the word "stiff." To be a "stiff" is the last form of
It is strange that when a thing happens once, it forthwith
happens twice or even more. For years no member of the
"old gang" had come in touch with Mr. Sims. Yet the visit
of Tommy Vidal was followed at no great distance of time
by the "blowing in" of Ned Purvis.
"Well, well!" said Mr. Sims, as he opened one afternoon
a telegram that the deferential waiter brought upon a
tray. "This beats all! Old Ned Purvis wires that he's,
going to blow in to town to-night at seven."
Forthwith Mr. Sims fell to ordering dinner for the three
of us in a private room, with enough of an assortment of
gin cocktails and Scotch highballs to run a distillery,
and enough Vichy water and imported soda for a bath. "I
know old Ned!" he said as he added item after item to
At seven o'clock the waiter whispered, as in deep
confidence, that there was a gentleman below for Mr.
It so happened that on that evening my friend's foot was
in bad shape, and rested on a chair. At his request I
went from the lounge room of the club downstairs to
welcome the new arrival.
Purvis I knew all about. My friend had spoken of him a
thousand times. He had played half-back on the football
team—a big hulking brute of a fellow. In fact, he was,
as pictured by Mr. Sims, a perfect colossus. And he played
football—as did all Mr. Sims's college chums—"plastered."
"Old Ned," so Mr. Sims would relate, "was pretty well
'soused' when the game started: but we put a hose at him
at half-time and got him into pretty good shape." All
men in any keen athletic contest, as remembered by Mr.
Sims, were pretty well "tanked up." For the lighter,
nimbler games such as tennis, they were reported
"spifflocated" and in that shape performed prodigies of
"You'll know Ned," said Mr. Sims, "by his big shoulders."
I went downstairs.
The reception room below was empty, except for one man,
a little, gentle-looking man with spectacles. He wore
black clothes with a waistcoat reaching to the throat,
a white tie and a collar buttoned on backwards. Ned Purvis
was a clergyman! His great hulking shoulders had gone
the way of all my good friend's reminiscences.
I brought him upstairs.
For a moment, in the half light of the room, Mr. Sims
was still deceived.
"Well, Ned!" he began heartily, with a struggle to rise
from his chair—then he saw the collar and tie of the
Rev. Mr. Purvis, and the full horror of the thing dawned
upon him. Nor did the three gin cocktails, which Mr. Sims
had had stationed ready for the reunion, greatly help
its geniality. Yet it had been a maxim, in the recollections
of Mr. Sims, that when any of the boys blew in anywhere
the bringing of drinks must be instantaneous and uproarious.
Our dinner that night was very quiet.
Mr. Purvis drank only water. That, with a little salad,
made his meal. He had a meeting to address that evening
at eight, a meeting of women—"dear women" he called
them—who had recently affiliated their society with the
work that some of the dear women in Mr. Purvis's own town
were carrying on. The work, as described, boded no good
for breweries. Mr. Purvis's wife, so it seemed, was with
him and would also "take the platform."
As best we could we made conversation.
"I didn't know that you were married," said Mr. Sims.
"Yes," said Mr. Purvis, "married, and with five dear boys
and three dear girls." The eight of them, he told us,
were a great blessing. So, too, was his wife—a great
social worker, it seemed, in the cause of women's rights
and a marvellous platform speaker in the temperance
"By the way, Mr. Sims," said Mr. Purvis (they had called
one another "Mr." after the first five minutes), "you
may remember my wife. I think perhaps you knew her in
our college days. She was a Miss Dashaway."
Mr. Sims bowed his head over his plate, as another of
his lost illusions vanished into thin air.
After Mr. Purvis had gone, my friend spoke out his
mind—once and once only, and more in regret than anger.
"I'm afraid," he said, "that old Ned has turned into a
It was only to be expected that the visits of later
friends—the "boys" who happened to "blow in"—were
disappointments. Art Hamilton, who came next, and who
had been one of the most brilliant men of the Class of
'86 had turned somehow into a "complete mutt." Jake Todd,
who used to write so brilliantly in the college paper,
as recollected by Mr. Sims, was now the editor of a big
New York daily. Good things might have been expected of
him, but it transpired that he had undergone "wizening
of the brain." In fact, a number of Mr. Sims's former
friends had suffered from this cruel disease, consisting
apparently of a shrinkage or contraction of the cerebellum.
Mr. Sims spoke little of his disappointments. But I knew
that he thought much about them. They set him wondering.
There were changes here that to the thoughtful mind called
So I was not surprised when he informed me that it was
his intention to visit "the old place" and have a look
at it. The "old place," called also the "old shop,"
indicated, as I knew, Mr. Sims's college, the original
scene of the exploits of the old gang. In the thirty
years since he had graduated, though separated from it
only by two hundred miles, Mr. Sims had never revisited
it. So is it always with the most faithful of the sons
of learning. The illumination of the inner eye is better
than the crude light of reality. College reunions are
but for the noisy lip service of the shallow and the
interested. The deeper affection glows in the absent
My friend invited me to "come along." We would, he said,
"blow in" upon the place and have a look at it.
It was in the fullness of the spring time that we went,
when the leaves are out on the college campus, and when
Commencement draws near, and when all the college, even
the students, are busy.
Mr. Sims, I noted when I joined him at the train, was
dressed as for the occasion. He wore a round straw hat
with a coloured ribbon, and light grey suit, and a necktie
with the garish colours of the college itself. Thus
dressed, he leaned as lightly as his foot allowed him
upon a yellow stick, and dreamed himself again an
I had thought the purpose of his visit a mere curiosity
bred in his disappointment. It appeared that I was wrong.
On the train Mr. Sims unfolded to me that his idea in
"blowing in" upon his college was one of benefaction. He
had it in his mind, he said, to do something for the "old
place," no less a thing than to endow a chair. He explained
to me, modestly as was his wont, the origin of his idea.
The brewing business, it appeared, was rapidly reaching
a stage when it would have to be wound up. The movement
of prohibition would necessitate, said Mr. Sims, the
closing of the plant. The prospect, in the financial
sense, occasioned my friend but little excitement. I was
given to understand that prohibition, in the case of Mr.
Sims's brewery, had long since been "written off" or
"written up" or at least written somewhere where it didn't
matter. And the movement itself Mr. Sims does not regard
as permanent. Prohibition, he says, is bound to be washed
out by a "turn of the tide"; in fact, he speaks of this
returning wave of moral regeneration much as Martin Luther
might have spoken of the Protestant Reformation. But for
the time being the brewery will close. Mr. Sims had
thought deeply, it seemed, about putting his surplus
funds into the manufacture of commercial alcohol, itself
a noble profession. For some time his mind has wavered
between that and endowing a chair of philosophy. There
is, and always has been, a sort of natural connection
between the drinking of beer and deep quiet thought. Mr.
Sims, as a brewer, felt that philosophy was the proper
We left the train, walked through the little town and
entered the university gates.
"Gee!" said Mr. Sims, pausing a moment and leaning on
his stick, "were the gates only as big as that?"
We began to walk up the avenue.
"I thought there were more trees to it than these," said
"Yes," I answered. "You often said that the avenue was
a quarter of a mile long."
"So the thing used to be," he murmured.
Then Mr. Sims looked at the campus. "A dinky looking
little spot," he said.
"Didn't you say," I asked, "that the Arts Building was
built of white marble?"
"Always thought it was," he answered. "Looks like rough
cast from here, doesn't it."
"We'll have to go in and see the President, I suppose,"
continued Mr. Sims. He said it with regret. Something of
his undergraduate soul had returned to his body. Although
he had never seen the President (this one) in his life,
and had only read of his appointment some five years
before in the newspapers, Mr. Sims was afraid of him.
"Now, I tell you," he went on. "We'll just make a break
in and then a quick get-away. Don't let's get anchored
in there, see? If the old fellow gets talking, he'll go
on for ever. I remember the way it used to be when a
fellow had to go in to see Prexy in my time. The old guy
would start mooning away and quoting Latin and keep us
there half the morning."
At this moment two shabby-looking, insignificant men who
had evidently come out from one of the buildings, passed
us on the sidewalk.
"I wonder who those guys are," said Mr. Sims. "Look like
bums, don't they?"
I shook my head. Some instinct told me that they were
professors. But I didn't say so.
My friend continued his instructions.
"When the President asks us to lunch," he said, "I'll
say that we're lunching with a friend down town, see?
Then we'll make a break and get out. If he says he wants
to introduce us to the Faculty or anything like that,
then you say that we have to get the twelve-thirty to
New York, see? I'm not going to say anything about a
chair in philosophy to-day. I want to read it up first
some night so as to be able to talk about it."
To all of this I agreed.
From a janitor we inquired where to find the President.
"In the Administration Building, eh?" said Mr. Sims.
"That's a new one on me. The building on the right, eh?
"See the President?" said a young lady in an ante-office.
"I'm not sure whether you can see him just now. Have you
Mr. Sims drew out a card. "Give him that" he said. On
the card he had scribbled "Graduate of 1887."
In a few minutes we were shown into another room where
there was a young man, evidently the President's secretary,
and a number of people waiting.
"Will you kindly sit down," murmured the young man, in
a consulting-room voice, "and wait? The President is
engaged just now."
We waited. Through the inner door leading to the President
people went and came. Mr. Sims, speaking in whispers,
continued to caution me on the quickness of our get-away.
Presently the young man touched him on the shoulder.
"The President will see you now," he whispered.
We entered the room. The "old guy" rose to meet us, Mr.
Sims's card in his hand. But he was not old. He was at
least ten years younger than either of us. He was, in
fact, what Mr. Sims and I would almost have called a boy.
In dress and manner he looked as spruce and busy as the
sales manager of a shoe factory.
"Delighted to see you, gentlemen," he said, shaking hands
effusively. "We are always pleased to see our old graduates,
Mr. Samson—No, I beg pardon, Mr. Sims—class of '97, I
see—No, I beg your pardon, Class of '67, I read it
I heard Mr. Sims murmuring something that seemed to
contain the words "a look around."
"Yes, yes, exactly," said the President. "A look round,
you'll find a great deal to interest you in looking about
the place, I'm sure, Mr. Samson, great changes. I'm
extremely sorry I can't offer to take you round myself,"
here he snapped a gold watch open and shut, "the truth
is I have to catch the twelve-thirty to New York—so
Then he shook our hands again, very warmly.
In another moment we were outside the door. The get-away
We walked out of the building and towards the avenue.
As we passed the portals of the Arts Building, a noisy,
rackety crowd of boys—evidently, to our eyes, schoolboys
—came out, jostling and shouting. They swarmed past us,
accidentally, no doubt, body-checking Mr. Sims, whose
straw hat was knocked off and rolled on the sidewalk.
A janitor picked it up for him as the crowd of boys
"What pack of young bums are those?" asked Mr. Sims.
"You oughtn't to let young roughs like that come into
the buildings. Are they here from some school or something?"
"No sir," said the janitor. "They're students."
"Students?" repeated Mr. Sims. "And what are they shouting
like that for?"
"There's a notice up that their professor is ill, and so
the class is cancelled, sir."
"Class!" said Mr. Sims. "Are those a class?"
"Yes, sir," said the janitor. "That's the Senior Class
Mr. Sims said nothing. He seemed to limp more than his
custom as we passed down the avenue.
On the way home on the train he talked much of crude
alcohol and the possibilities of its commercial manufacture.
So far as I know, his only benefaction up to date has
been the two dollars that he gave to a hackman to drive
us away from the college.
6.—Fetching the Doctor: From Recollections of
Childhood in the Canadian Countryside
We lived far back in the country, such as it used to be
in Canada, before the days of telephones and motor cars,
with long lonely roads and snake fences buried in deep
snow, and with cedar swamps where the sleighs could hardly
pass two abreast. Here and there, on a winter night, one
saw the light in a farm house, distant and dim.
Over it all was a great silence such as people who live
in the cities can never know.
And on us, as on the other families of that lonely
countryside, there sometimes fell the sudden alarm of
illness, and the hurrying drive through the snow at night
to fetch the doctor from the village, seven miles away.
My elder brother and I—there was a long tribe of us, as
with all country families—would hitch up the horse by
the light of the stable lantern, eager with haste and
sick with fear, counting the time till the doctor could
Then out into the driving snow, urging the horse that
knew by instinct that something was amiss, and so mile
after mile, till we rounded the corner into the single
street of the silent village.
Late, late at night it was—eleven o'clock, perhaps—and
the village dark and deep in sleep, except where the
light showed red against the blinds of the "Surgery" of
the doctor's rough-cast house behind the spruce trees.
"Doctor," we cried, as we burst in, "hurry and come.
I can see him still as he sat there in his surgery, the
burly doctor, rugged and strong for all the sixty winters
that he carried. There he sat playing chess—always he
seemed to be playing chess—with his son, a medical
student, burly and rugged already as himself.
"Shut the door, shut the door!" he called. "Come in,
boys; here, let me brush that snow off you—it's my move
Charlie, remember—now, what the devil's the matter?"
Then we would pant out our hurried exclamations, both
"Bah!" he growled, "ill nothing! Mere belly ache, I
That was his term, his favorite word, for an undiagnosed
disease—"belly ache." They call it supergastral aesthesia
now. In a city house, it sounds better. Yet how we hung
upon the doctor's good old Saxon term, yearning and hoping
that it might be that.
But even as he growled the doctor had taken down a lantern
from a hook, thrown on a huge, battered fur coat that
doubled his size, and was putting medicines—a very
shopful it seemed—into a leather case.
"Your horse is done up," he said. "We'll put my mare in.
Come and give me a hand, Charlie."
He was his own hostler and stable-man, he and his burly
son. Yet how quickly and quietly he moved, the lantern
swinging on his arm, as he buckled the straps. "What kind
of a damn fool tug is this you've got?" he would say.
Then, in a moment, as it seemed, out into the wind and
snow again, the great figure of the doctor almost filling
the seat of the cutter, the two of us crushed in beside
him, with responsibility, the unbearable burden, gone
from us, and renewed comfort in our hearts.
Little is said on the way: our heads are bent against
the storm: the long stride of the doctor's mare eats up
the flying road.
Then as we near the farm house and see the light in the
sick-room window, fear clutches our hearts again.
"You boys unhitch," says the doctor. "I'll go right in."
Presently, when we enter the house, we find that he is
in the sick-room—the door closed. No word of comfort
has come forth. He has sent out for hot blankets. The
stoves are to be kept burning. We must sit up. We may be
needed. That is all.
And there in that still room through the long night, he
fights single-handed against Death. Behind him is no
human help, no consultation, no wisdom of the colleges
to call in; only his own unaided strength, and his own
firm purpose and that strange instinct in the fight for
a flickering life, that some higher power than that of
colleges has planted deep within his soul.
So we watch through the night hours, in dull misery and
fear, a phantom at the window pane: so must we wait till
the slow morning shows dim and pale at the windows.
Then he comes out from the room. His face is furrowed
with the fatigue of his long vigil. But as he speaks the
tone of his voice is as that of one who has fought and
"There—he'll do now. Give him this when he wakes."
Then a great joy sweeps over us as the phantom flees
away, and we shudder back into the warm sunshine of life,
while the sound of the doctor's retreating sleighbells
makes music to our ears.
And once it was not so. The morning dawned and he did
not come from the darkened room: only there came to our
listening ears at times the sound of a sob or moan, and
the doctor's voice, firm and low, but with all hope gone
And when at last he came, his face seemed old and sad as
we had never seen it. He paused a moment on the threshold
and we heard him say, "I have done all that I can." Then
he beckoned us into the darkened room, and, for the first
time, we knew Death.
All that is forty years ago.
They tell me that, since then, the practice of medicine
has been vastly improved. There are specialists now, I
understand, for every conceivable illness and for every
subdivision of it. If I fall ill, there is a whole battery
of modern science to be turned upon me in a moment. There
are X-rays ready to penetrate me in all directions. I
may have any and every treatment—hypnotic, therapeutic
or thaumaturgic—for which I am able to pay.
But, oh, my friends, when it shall come to be my lot to
be ill and stricken—in the last and real sense, with
the Great Fear upon me, and the Dark Phantom at the
pane—then let some one go, fast and eager—though it be
only in the paths of an expiring memory—fast and eager,
through the driving snow to bring him to my bedside. Let
me hear the sound of his hurrying sleighbells as he comes,
and his strong voice without the door—and, if that may
not be, then let me seem at least to feel the clasp of
his firm hand to guide me without fear to the Land of
Shadows, where he has gone before.