A RAW wind from the sea swept against the mammoth building of the New York Monthly Journal. The editor of that classic publication stretched his arms lazily, then crossed to the rattling window and looked at Broadway, far beneath. A few belated flakes of snow mingled with the dust that eddied about in little whirlpools of wind. Like gnomes, the people hurried on in an endless diverging torrent of humanity, slouch-hats of soldiers lending a strangely Western effect to the usual bizarre costumes.
The telephone rang, and the editor, Mr. E. H. Townsend, left the window to answer it.
“Yes!” he said. “Mr. Craighouse? Send him right in.”
He took from a drawer a box of notoriously expensive cigars and laid them on his desk. The reasonings of Dr. Watson himself could hardly have failed to deduce that the visitor was of some importance.
A moment later a young man, in the uniform of a United States officer, knocked, and, in response to the invitation, entered the inner temple. Mr. Townsend offered him the armchair, and reached for the cigars.
“You look well in uniform he said, after appropriate comments on the April weather had been made by both.
“Thanks. I received your note this morning asking me to call.”
“Ah yes. By-the-by, you are sailing soon, I believe?”
“Any time now; naturally, we don’t know to a day.”
“What branch of the Service are you with?”
The editor thrust his hands into his pockets. “That is odd,” he said. “Did you know anything about engineering?”
“A little.” The young man’s voice was abrupt, but not unmusical. His brain had always been alert, and army training was making his voice so. “I was a science grad, at Harvard.”
The editor gazed out of the window again. “You are a remarkable combination, Mr. Craighouse,” he said. “There is nothing more stifling to the artistic nature than a purely scientific training; in fact., the influence of this journal has always been used against absolutely technical schools. Almost the first requisite of any artist is a keen appreciation of the intangible; science deals only with things that can be proved. I often nurse along a young writer if he is incoherent, because, as frequently happens, his temperament is greater than his technique. Scientists always marshal their facts well, but they never soar to the heights.”
THE editor tapped the window gently, while the young officer gazed quizzically at him. They were a strangely contrasted pair, the editor in the autumn of life, with the calm voice and bearing of one who had fastened routine to art, and become jaded with the process; the young man keenly alert, with eyes that never lost, their restlessness, while thin, satirical lips mocked the high forehead of a philosopher.
“I am greatly interested in your writing,” said the editor, after rather a lengthy pause.
The officer smiled. “Is that, why you rejected my last two manuscripts?”
“Yes. Neither of them did you credit. Both of them betrayed rather a nasty cynicism in your style.”
“I meant them for satire.”
“Ah! there is a great, difference. Cynicism recoils on the cynic; satire is always delightful, and is never offensive. However, I may say, in spite of their faults, if you survive the war you should become one of America’s first writers.”
The young man flushed with pleasure. “Thanks very much, Mr. Townsend.”
“You have temperament and you have language,” went on the editor, “and, though your emotions are artificial and your judgments too impetuous—that is a natural condition of youth—nature has to keep something to recompense us for growing old. But you have big moments plus some most promising incoherency, as I said before and when that chaos becomes cosmos, the world will acknowledge you. You have never been to England before, have you?”
The officer shook his head, a little puzzled at the abrupt descent from the abstract.
Mr. Townsend smoked reflectively for a full minute. “England,” he said slowly, “is the paradox of the ages. In America we have the present and the future; England has the present and the past—principally the past. Inefficiency is often no bar to success there—as a matter of fact, an Englishman dislikes appearing efficient—but remember that the British Navy is the most thorough organization in the world. I have often thought that England’s success in colonization was largely due to her utter inability to understand the temperament of the people she governed. Look at Canada. There was never an Englishman who really appreciated the restless independence of the Canadian; yet when the old land goes to war, Canada sends and maintains a mighty fine army corps to help her. Listen, my boy. I want you to go to England with your pores open; receive impressions and make a note of them. I want a series cf articles explaining England to America—not as it is being done by these polished gentlemen who visit, us from London, but by an American for Americans. Don’t send me a description of the Strand nor Westminster Abbey, nor your thoughts on first seeing the Thames. Go deep. I want a series of articles that rises above journalism. I want the psychology of England written up in a light satirical vein by a clever man with red blood in his veins. You will be there for some time, I suppose?”
“Very likely, as we are the first of the vanguard.”
A half-hour later the young officer rose to go with a contract that promised him generous remuneration, in return for which he had agreed to write ten articles on England. He stood, facing the older man, and smiled slightly. He had removed his cap, and his black hair, struggling into an unruly curl, combined with his dark, brilliant eyes in an appearance of arresting virility.
“You are very encouraging, Mr. Townsend,” he said. “I had no idea that an editor could be so—so nearly human.”
“My son,” said the older man, “we are literature’s midwives, toiling year in and year out in the hope that some day we shall assist at the accouchement of a masterpiece.”
“But how is it that you don’t write yourself?”
The editor shrugged his shoulders. “Why does a hangman never commit a murder?” he said.
THREE weeks later a great ocean liner, known since the war as H.M. Transport No. —, dropped gracefully down the river towards the open sea. Craighouse, from the hurricane-deck, watched the amazing silhouette of New York, as her mighty buildings stood outlined against the darkening sky-line. From the wharf came the strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and hundreds of handkerchiefs fluttered in farewell.
A British cruiser was lying at anchor, and a thousand bluejackets roared three mighty British cheers for the new crusaders. A bedlam of shouting from the transport acknowledged the compliment, and one American soldier, whose constant attendance at baseball matches had produced stentorian qualities within him, boomed out the words, “Good old Roast Beef!”
Every one laughed. Why not? Men always laugh readily when their emotions are playing leap-frog with each other.
The strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner” sounded fainter; the handkerchiefs were blurred into a fluttering white cloud. A French battleship lay a quarter of a mile from them. As they passed it a bugle sounded on board, followed by a salvo of cheers from the crew. Craighouse noticed that the French cheers were a full third higher in pitch than the British.
Another roar came from the transport, and all eyes were turned towards the stentorian. He took a deep breath.
“Good old Froggy!” he bellowed, and two or three soldiers laughed. To America, France is the martyr of the ages, and there is a strange sense of the feminine in the affection which the Old World republic inspires in the New. Truly, the ways of an extempore humorist are unhappy.
They passed the battery, and, nearing the open sea, received the blessing of the statue of Liberty beckoning her welcome to all those who are weary and discouraged.
Craighouse felt a thrill of patriotism, and, feeling that he must express it in language, turned to his nearest neighbor, who happened to be a British officer. “That’s an inspiring sight,” he said.
“Which?” said the Englishman briefly.
“The statue of Liberty,” answered Craighouse with the tone of a 4th of July orator. “That is the spirit of America—equality for all, freedom of thought and action, liberty for every one.”
“Oh yes—splendid,” commented the Englishman politely.
There was silence for a moment, and then, in a burst of inexcusable chauvinism, Craighouse said, “You haven’t anything like that in England, have you?”
“No,” he said casually; “but we had an army in France two weeks after war was declared. I say, do come and have a drink.”
THREE months later the editor of the New York Journal received a letter from Craighouse. Adjusting his glasses, he settled comfortably into his chair and read it.
“My Dear Patron,—I hope you have not been disappointed at my lack of articles, but, to be candid, I have not struck the proper mental balance yet.
“England is delightful; England is absurd. I was on a bus yesterday, and the conductress gave the signal to go ahead by hammering the side of the fare-box. It fascinated me. En passant, the girls have wonderful complexions over here, but they do not dress as cleverly as ours. I know you will say it is war-time, but nothing is powerful enough to interfere with anything so fundamental as a woman’s clothes.” (“A bit labored, but quite good,” muttered the editor.)
“The country, as you know, is like a garden, with all a garden’s charm and limitations. I don't feel yet that I can take a deep breath. There are woods; but the trees seem to huddle together for lack of space, and one always feels that just the other side of the woods there is a town or village. England is lovely, but I feel the lack of immensity. To me, the whole effect is that the country is complete; there is nothing more to do. Everything that can be built has been built.” (“And well built, too,” muttered Mr. Townsend.) “In fact, I don’t see what there is over here to employ to the full the brains, the nerves, and the imagination of a full-blooded homo. Again I return to the garden simile. Is the task of maintenance big enough for the splendid specimens of manhood that England rears?
“I feel that there is something wrong with the public-school system. Not that it is inefficient, but rather that it is too thorough in its results. Judging superficially, of course, it seems that the public school ignores the fact that every one is born an individual, and proceeds to turn out type. To use a vulgarism, it is a high-class scholastic sausage-machine. It takes in variegated ingredients, and turns out uniformity of product. It instructs the youth of the land in the manly virtues of past ages, but appears to ignore the creative instinct. Public-school men are the Greek chorus of England’s national drama; they seldom supply either the dramatist or the principal actors.
“My biggest disappointment has been the English stage. I know our ‘playsmiths’ are futile enough, but we would never endure in New York what is put on at many first-class London theatres. At a time when her grandsons from the four corners of the world are paying, in most cases, their first visit to the Old Country, England offers them the spectacle of a once classic stage given over to inanity and vulgarity. Of course, there are two or three producers who still maintain a standard of art, but in the majority of first-class London theatres one finds a coarseness of innuendo, an utter lack of refinement, and an almost total elimination of humor. In their musical shows the producers still go in for the type of comedian known on Broadway as ‘hard-boiled’—the kind that carries his own jests in a valise, and whose piece de resistance is the word ‘damn,’ which seldom fails to convulse the audience. If I may coin a phrase, I would say that the aim of some London producers appears to be ‘to be vulgar without being funny.’ ” (“I wonder if that is original,” observed the editor.)
“I like the restraint of the better English newspapers, and there are still five or six monthly journals that demand a high standard of writing from their contributors. Some of the popular English magazines, however, publish stories that would hardly do credit to a blushing schoolgirl’s first attempt at authorship. I remember my mother used to say to me, ‘Out of nothing, nothing comes.’ She had obviously never seen one of these fiction magazines.
“Judging by the advertisements in these publications and in the society illustrated papers, I would say that manufacturing women’s underwear, or ‘undies,’ as they are coyly called, is the greatest commercial industry here. The advertisements state that an officer can send a lady a complete set of these garments with his regimental crest on them. I am still trying to gauge the mental attitude of an officer who would do so.
“The political situation puzzles me. Lloyd George looks like a mighty big man, but he has to spend most of his time dodging snipers from behind. Nero fiddled while Rome was burning, but a certain section of the English House goes in for absolute symphonies while Britain is locked in the death-grip with Germany. But she’s a dear old country, and her people are as brave and cheery as in the days when she was Merrie England, and not England of Many Sorrows.
“To hear her people talk, you would think that the Canadians and Australians had done all the fighting, and that the United States was the saviour of the world; but I know there’s hardly a home in England or Scotland that hasn’t lost a son—and often the last son too. And when the old families send their boys, it’s right into the trenches, not back on the lines of communication.
“There—you can see why I have not written before. Incoherency alone is hardly sufficient. I haven’t seriously sorted my impressions as yet. As you would say, the chaos has not yet become cosmos.
“By-the-by, the British Navy mothered us from the coast of Ireland like an eagle with her young.
“Every one is most cordial, and invitations are showered on us from every quarter. I’m going to-morrow to visit the Earl of Lummersdale, who seems to want to entertain a real, live American. As I have six days’ leave, I’m going to let him. They tell me he comes of a very old family, so look out for an article on the aristocracy.
“This letter is rambling most aimlessly. I suppose you are bored to tears. Just a minute, till I read over what I have written. . . . Yes—I might add in my comments on the English theatre that a chap named Beecham is doing opera in English, and it’s pretty nearly the finest opera I have ever heard. Then, of course, Barrie produces a play every now and then, just to show that he hasn’t lost his genius of tenderness and whimsical charm.
“Perhaps my visit to the Earl of Lummersdale will crystallize some of my vagrant impressions. Good-bye, dear patron. — Faithfully yours, Lawrence Craighouse, (Lt.), (c/o American Officers* Club, London.
“P.S.—We’re working like beavers getting things ready for the American Army which is coming, lt looks slow, but when Uncle Sam’s men are ready, Fritz is going to enjoy a real avalanche. This I promise you. L. C.”
NEXT morning a south coast train contained a first-class compartment which was shared by Lieutenant Craighouse, U.S.A., and a timorously proper gentleman who read the Times for twenty minutes, and then stared at nothing very intently—an art highly developed amongst those who worship at the shrine of good form.
Craighouse was silent also for over an hour, which was a feat of the first magnitude for him. He was thinking of some official figures shown to him, in confidence, a week past—figures which gave the totals of England’s manufacture of munitions and guns, her construction of aeroplanes and tanks, her production of all the minutias of war essentials, in quantities which his brain could hardly grasp.
Judged by any standard, the achievement was amazing. For a nation at peace it would have been stupendous; but, in addition, this country that amused Americans, this nations of obsolete methods and lack of organization, had held the seas open, frustrated Germany’s plans on land. He wondered if he had been a fool—if, after all, the English were not the most efficient race on earth. Just then an advertisement, conspicuously placed beside the mirror in the compartment, smote his eye, and he gasped.
“How many people ride in a carriage like this in one day?” he asked abruptly.
The well-bred one cleared his throat and shook his head. They had never been introduced; and, besides, he didn’t know.
“Ten—twenty—forty—say thirty?” said Craighouse.
“Very probably—oh yes—rather—quite.” The words were decorously languid.
“Thirty people a day,” went on Craighouse rapidly; “say a thousand a month. In a year that would mean, roughly—oh, put it at ten thousand. Am I right?”
The Englishman shifted uneasily. “Very probably— oh yes—rather—quite.”
“The war has been going on for three years.” The American was warming to his subject. “Three years mean approximately that thirty thousand passengers have travelled in this compartment since the beginning of the war, eh?”
His companion reached for his cigarettes. “Very probably,” he said. “Oh yes—rath”-
“How many of these carriages are in use?” interrupted Craighouse. “Two hundred—four hundred— say three hundred?”
“Very probably—oh yes”-
“I may be short or long on that estimate, but putting it at three hundred, this line has had about—well, roughly, nine million first-class passengers. Is that correct?”
“Then, great Scott! look at the advertisement behind you, the most prominent one in the compartment. This line has had a chance to have a heart-to-heart talk with nine million average, well-to-do passengers. From the standpoint of propaganda, figure out the national importance of that. From the commercial point of view, estimate the value of that space; and yet, after three years of war, it says that the steamship line from Newhaven to Dieppe is the shortest route to Austria, south Germany, and Spain; and it gives a map! Austria, south Germany, and Spain”The American’s tirade ended in a splutter of indignation.
The train stopped at a junction station, and both men emerged, the Englishman proffering his cigarettes.
“Thanks very much,” said Craighouse, taking one. “Good-morning.” And he disappeared into the crowd.
The Englishman paused to light his cigarette.
“What extraordinary people these Americans are!” he said to himself—which recalls the well-known saying of a Quaker to his wife, “Every one is queer but thou and me; and thou be a little queer.”
WHEN one passed the lodge which guarded the entrance to the Lummersdale estate, all sense of present-day responsibilities fell away like a cloak. Decades made no impression upon Oaklands; centuries made very little. The family was surrounded by traditions; the past pointed the way to each succeeding family, as sign-posts direct itinerant motor-cars upon their course. A Lummersdale never was forced to plan his own future, and there is no record of one ever having done so. Whoever bore the proud title felt that his children did not really belong to him; he was but a pruner, and they were branches to be trimmed to an absolute uniformity. A Lummersdale must resemble nothing so much as a Lummersdale; the associations of Oaklands and a judicious period spent at a public school succeeded admirably in effecting the required standardization.
To this home Lieutenant Craighouse, of the U.S.A. Engineers, brought his ultramodern and Western Hemispheric personality. Like all men born in a republic, he had instinctive leanings towards Socialism ; like most men of artistic tastes, he was distinctly susceptible tp luxury. He snorted disapprovingly when the castle-like turrets of Oaklands appeared, but he drank in the green of the lawns and the colors of the flowers like a desert traveler who finds a pool in his path.
The earl and his wife welcomed him with simple dignity, spoke of the pleasure it afforded them to entertain an American officer; and the butler then took charge of him. He made a facetious remark to that gentleman as they went upstairs, but received no encouragement. Within the precincts of his chamber he made another attempt with creditable bonhomie, but Mr. Watkins reply was not stimulating.
“Your bath, sir, is next door, and will be ready for you immediately. The family breakfasts at nine; lunch is at one-thirty; tea at five; and dinner is served at eight-fifteen. The gong is sounded, and the family assembles in the salon.”
Whereupon, with an air of deferential superiority, Mr. Watkins cruised from the room with no apparent physical effort whatever.
LUNCHEON produced Second Lieutenant Viscount Oaklands, the twenty-year-old son and heir, who was leaving that afternoon to join the —th Horse Guards in France. He was of good, athletic physique, and had a high, clear complexion which spoke not only of an out-of-door life, but a clean one as well. He was rather languid, and, in an amiable, impersonal way. appeared somewhat bored. The second son, on three days’ leave from Dartmouth, was two years younger, but differed very little from the viscount in any other respect.
There was also a daughter. (Craighouse felt instinctively, if the countess had been enumerating her family, that she would have said, “I also have a daughter”). She was apparently twenty-three or twenty-four years of age, possessed of an exquisite skin, eyes which were both blue and deep, and a golden luxury of hair. With all these fundamentals of feminine beauty, her appearance was rather disappointing—a lack of animation in the eyes, a stolidity about the mouth. Craighouse felt, like Pygmalion, that if his statue could only come to life she would be irresistible.
The conversation at lunch consisted of flattering questions about America’s preparations—questions to which Craighouse, who was never an economist in words, did full justice. They all said that it was perfectly splendid of America to come into the war; in fact, they didn’t know what Britain would have done without her.
“I know.” blurted Craighouse. “She’d have gone on fighting until every family was drained to the last man; and, by Jove! I believe the women would have carried on then. America is going to make victory possible, thank God; but England never would have been beaten.”
He stopped, surprised at his own vehemence. The Earl of Lummersdale protested that he was too generous. The countess echoed her husband’s opinion. The officer and cadet sons supported their parents’ protests languidly. The daughter, in acknowledged order of precedence, ended the chorus by the statement that it was ripping of him to say so. Had they been discussing the commentaries of Cæsar they could not have shown less enthusiasm. Craighouse pictured a similar situation at home if an English officer had paid a corresponding compliment. He had not learned as yet that carrying emotional moderation to excess is part of the English paradox.
AT four that afternoon a trap drove to the door, and the hit of Viscount Oaklands appeared, followed a moment later by that young gentleman himself. He kissed his mother, and gave his sister a half-embrace; then he shook hands with his paternal progenitor, and
“Good-bye, old man,” he said, shaking hands with Craighouse. “Look me up if you ever get near the regiment, won’t you?”
For a few minutes every one spoke of the military situation, the delightful fellow-officers he would have, and other things which well-bred people talk of. Amidst all this the trap started, then stopped at a sign from the viscount.
“I say, dad.”
“Do tell Edwards to see that the hounds get some exercise this week.—Cheer-o, mater!” And thus the eldest son and heir to Oaklands, which he was never to see again, went to the war.
DAZED at the bloodlessness of the scene, feeling his heart torn by the apparent lack of depth in the most primeval of all emotions, the parent love, Craighouse strolled away, to find that the daughter was by his side.
“You will miss your brother,” he said.
“We shall,” she said, “though, as a matter of fact, I haven’t seen much of Douglas the last three or four years.”
“How is that?”
“Oh, he was at Eton, and only home during the holidays. I was always away at those times; and, of course, he’s been training for the last year.”
“He is joining the —th Horse Guards?”
“Yes. The eldest son always goes into the army until he succeeds to the title.”
“And the second son?”
A smile lurked in the corners of his mouth. “Supposing the second son proved a bad sailor, what then?” She shrugged her shoulders. “I suppose he would stay on shore, and probably go to the devil.”
He stooped to pick a blade of grass, and munched it meditatively. “And what happens to the girls?” he asked, after a pause.
Her lips, which were like pomegranates, straightened into a line. “The girls are not of great account,” she said, a note of suppressed tension in her voice, which he quite failed to sense. “We are educated in a sort of a way, introduced to the arts, but not allowed to pursue the acquaintanceship; then we marry, if at all, some one of our set, and everybody says, 'Didn’t she do well to get him?’ ”
Again she made a pretty shrug with her shoulders. “Then we move into our new homes, which are much the same as the old ones, and we bring up a family of descendants for our husbands. When the husband dies, the eldest male child takes over the estate, and his wife rules in the mother’s place.”
“And she leaves, in her declining years, the home which, naturally, she has grown to love?”
“Yes. Why not?”
FOR several moments neither spoke. Always hasty in his judgments, his brain was fired with a rankling sense of injustice. He thought he saw the explanation of the bloodless good-bye to the viscount. The mental inertia of the sons and the emotional placidity of the girl were natural consequences of a hereditary system which dulled personalities and drove initiative into the scrap-heap of tradition. It was monstrous that one’s future and entity should be planned like that of a hot-house plant; it was no longer a puzzle to him that England’s real leaders and thinkers sprang from obscurity. He thanked “whatever gods there be” that he was born in a country which had only one tradition—that it once rebelled against the past.
He turned towards the girl and gazed argumentatively into her very deep and very blue eyes; then he gasped, and a far-away look crept into his own dark, restless ones.
“Galatea,” he said, “is coming to life.”
Subconsciously she had caught his spirit of resentment, and, being a woman, she thrilled to the sense of rebellion in his nature. With the unlocking of her emotion had come the sparkle in the blue depths of her eyes, and the animation which had lit at once the dormant radiancy of her beauty—and his sudden admiration. In addition—a totally unnecessary one— the mellowing sun lingered on her hair till it seemed like strands of gold.
“You look like a wild rose,” he said irrelevantly, then dashed on into a sea of words. “Are you content with this? Do you never feel a divine restlessness in your nature, urging you to be the architect of your own fate? Are you satisfied to be a mere link in the chain of generations? Surely the individualistic instinct is not dead in this country?”
He paused, rather astonished, but quite pleased with his burst of oratory.
“What would you have me do?”
“Anything—everything that expresses your own personality. Be yourself, and get away from type.”
“I have done a little.”
“What! appeared in a few charity tableaux vivants? Posed for your photo in the Sketch as a woman interested in war work?”
“I am sorry,” she said demurely, “that you disapprove of me.”
“Great Scott!” he said, thrusting his hands into his pockets with an air of defiance, “you are one of the most charming women I’ve ever seen.” He drew himself up to his full height. “But before I succumb to the beauty of these surroundings and the—the—loveliest”—
“Yes? Please don’t hesitate.”
“You are mocking me.”
“Not at all, Don Quixote. Only why shy at the windmill?”
He surveyed her carefully with his head cocked to one side. “I believe you have a sense of humor,” he said.
“The daughter of an earl humorous?" She laughed gaily, and her beauty was exceeding good to look upon.
An uncomfortable feeling that, though armed with the broadsword of masculine self-assurance, he was being worsted by the stiletto of feminism, crept into the mind of Lawrence Craighouse, officer and satirist. His embarrassment, however, was broken by the approach of a servant.
“Pardon me,” said Lady Dorothy. “It’s the mail.”
She took from the salver a letter, which bore the stamp of the Red Cross, and opened it.
“I am so glad,” she said, looking up at him; “I have been accepted for France.”
“As a V.A.D., my dear knight. I have been one for two years.”
He began to think that his broadsword was decidedly worsted, but he made one final and thoroughly masculine attempt to retain the pedestal of superiority.
“I suppose you soothed a great many convalescent and gallant second lieutenants?” he said airily. It was a lamentable attempt, but he felt a sudden jealousy of all wounded subalterns.
She piroueted daintily.
“I was in a Tommies' hospital,” she said; “and when I - wasn’t scrubbing floors I was waiting on the nurses at table—-and you have no idea what cats some of them were.”
Whereupon Lawrence Craighouse of New York handed over his sword and surrendered unconditionally.
THREE days later Craighouse wrote another letter to Mr. Townsend. That gentleman read it with great interest, and noted particularly these passages: “They have a library, but nearly every book I have opened has uncut pages.” “The daughter, Lady Dorothy Oaklands by name, is quite good-looking, but mentally and emotionally she is asleep.” “The old boy showed me the portraits of his ancestors this morning.
I made the mistake of asking what each one did. It appears that they merely were.” “I am trying an experiment in feminine psychology—I am acting Pygmalion to Lady Dorothy’s Galatea.”
“The earl appears to be very rich, but quite respectable.” “We had some titled women to lunch to-day. I have at last found out what countesses talk about— how to secure exemption for their gardeners. It has quite done away with the former vice of gossip.” “Lady Dorothy plays the piano rather nicely, but with no soul.” “Have I mentioned the daughter, Lady Dorothy? She is refreshingly beautiful at times.” “I do like the speaking voices of English women when they are not putting on side. Lady Dorothy has a contralto lilt in her voice that is rather pleasing.” “Dinner is a tremendous affair. A prune may constitute a course, but nothing reduces the ritual performed by the high priest and his assistant.”
That evening Mr. Townsend looked over the table at his wife.
“My dear,” he said, “what happens when an American young man falls in love with the daughter of an English earl ?”
“Why, both families object, naturally,” said the companion of his joys and sorrows.
IT was the last evening before his departure, and Lady Dorothy had played for him for an hour; played little melodies from La Boheme, lesser gems from Chit Chin Chow, and twice had explored the delightful memories of Gilbert and Sullivan. Once he sang very softly to her accompaniment, and when they finished she turned abruptly to him.
“You have a voice,” she said.
“You play beautifully,” he answered.
“It is easy to play when an artist is listening.”
“Have you found that, too?”
She turned to the piano and softly fingered the opening strains of Rudolpho’s aria in the first act of La Boheme.
“It is just a matter of personality,” he said softly. “One woman chokes a man’s artistry; another reveals the heights which are in his soul. I suppose it is the same with men?”
She played on in silence for a few moments, then murmured, “What happened to the statue when it came to life?”
“You mean Galatea?”
She nodded her head.
“I don’t know,” he said pensively. “I have quite forgotten the ending.”
She went on playing, and in the soothing light of the music-room she made a picture that lingered for months in the memory of the American.
“Some day I will tell you,” she said i suddenly. “Here are mother and dad.”
That night, while in the act of disrobing, he heard the calm knock of Mr. Watkins at his door.
“Come in,” he said. “I am going at seven to-morrow morning.”
“Very good, sir.”
Mr. Watkins carefully placed a pitcher of hot water on the stand.
“Are you married, Watkins?”
The butler considered deferentially. “No sir,” he said, after mature reflection.
“You ought to be,” said the American.
The butler carefully drew the window-curtains together. “Are you, sir?”
“No,” said Craighouse with great energy; “but when I do marry, it will be with some girl born in the United States of America.”
Mr. Watkins drifted towards the door. “Your bath will be ready at six, and breakfast at six-thirty,” he said.
What Mr. Watkins had taken for persiflage was in reality another American declaration of independence.
IT was late in March, 1918, that two : American officers sat by the side of a road in France and watched a stream of refugees go by in an endless pageant of misery. Old men crawled along on bleeding, ill-shod feet; women were carrying grotesque bundles and leading absurd ponies that drew household goods on rickety carts; and there were girls, half-women, who bore infants in their arms, and who looked neither to right or left, but followed on in mute fatigue and tearless agony.
Craighouse, who wore the badges of a captain, swore softly to himself. His companion bit his lip.
“I hear the Germans are smashing through everywhere,” said the latter.
“God! I wonder if we have been too late.”
Several ambulances passed in rapid succession, their bandaged and bleeding occupants lying crowded together.
A girl, less than eighteen years of age, dropped to the ground opposite to them.
In a bound Craighouse was by her side and had lifted her to her feet. For a moment his strong hands gripped her arms tenaciously as though he would transmit some of his strength to her.
Without a word, without a look at him, she freed herself and staggered on, her face livid except where a slight flush showed beneath the black hollows of her eyes.
Craighouse went back to the other officer, but his face was gray and drawn, while his clenched fists drove the nails into his palms until they bled. His companion cursed blasphemously.
The roar of the guns grew louder, like a storm that is driven on the wings of a hurricane. They heard the snorting of engines behind them, and looking quickly, they saw a long line of London omnibuses crowded with English soldiers. They were shouting encouragement to the refugees, and waved gaily as they passed the Americans.
“Those chaps will be in action in an hour,” said Craighouse, and swallowed noticeably. “Simpson,” he went on, “do you realize that it’s little England who "has kept this thing from us for three and a half years? It’s England who stood "by her word ; and now that she’s drained of her men and boys, she doesn’t reproach Russia for letting her down; she hasn’t uttered a word of impatience for our slow arrival—asking nothing for "herself, blaming no one. It’s little England that is gathering the spear-points into her breast that your children and mine may live like human beings!”
His companion rose to his feet, and his jaw stiffened ominously. He felt for his revolver-holster, and adjusted his haversack.
“Tell the O.C. I’ve deserted,” he said grimly. “I’m going up the line to join the first bunch that’ll take me. There’s some vermin up there that I reckon need exterminating.”
Craighouse muttered something about discipline.
“To hell with discipline!” said Lieutenant Simpson, ex-mining engineer of Colorado, “I’m going”-
A corporal had halted before them and saluted. “O.C.’s compliments,” he said tersely, “and the company is to go up the line as auxiliary infantry. Parade falling in now, sir. We move off in an hour.”
WHEN the officers reached their headquarters they found a scene of bustling activity. Gas-masks were being inspected, ammunition supplied, first-aid packages given out where they' had been lost, rifles cleaned and inspected, and all the accoutrements of war checked and shortages replaced.
Craighouse strode up to his section, ignoring the sergeant’s salute. “We’re going into this scrap,” he said quietly, though his voice vibrated oddly, “and I want every mother’s son of you to see wed. There’s a girl out on that road who is dying of fever, and it’s fear of the Hun that is driving her on, and before night she’ll be lying dead by the side of the road. She’s somebody’s daughter—somebody's sister—and, by Heaven, we’ll make the Hun nay’ for it! What do you say, you Yankee sons o’ guns?”
They cheered him to the echo, and some of them swore, and some of them laughed (but the laugh had a cruel ring to it), and some of them felt the salt tears stinging their eyes—but every one saw red.
Craighouse slowly walked over to his hut to superintend the packing of his own things. In his heart was a great exaltation and a mad love for the men Who looked to him for leadership. In the seclusion of his hut he did what he had not done for years. He knelt for a moment by the side of his kit and prayed that he might quit himself like a man.
There are moments in war when men’s very souls are touched by a nobility, by a compassion, by a reverence that rises above all creeds. Out of the depths they have risen to heights supernal.
In a private ward at Abbeville an American officer lay in great pain, and tossed restlessly in a delirium of fever.
A young woman in the uniform of a V.A.D. watched by his side, and, sponging his palms and forehead, sought to soothe him with a gentleness and tenderness that a mother would show to her child. The man was badly wounded in his chest and leg, and exposure had brought a fever to torment his sufferings. Once he sat up and glared wildly at her.
“Did the guns get away?” he cried. “Did they get away?”
“Hush!” she said softly'. “You must not talk. You are very ill.”
He sank back on the pillows and laughed. “There’s a girl lying dead on the road,” he said; “but there’s a crowd of Huns who are answering the roll-call ; in hell this morning.”
He was silent for several minutes, then frowned heavily. “Look here,” he said sternly; “I wish you would stop driving nails into my knee. Who do you think I am—Hindenburg?”
He laughed again, then groaned, and great drops of perspiration stood out on his brow. The woman ministered to him with the gentle firmness of her sex that rises to its best when face to face with suffering. She smoothed his pillows and shifted his position so that he would not irritate his wounds; and, as if soothed by her presence, he sighed weakly and broke into a little negro melody:
‘All dat I got on de whole plantation,
All dat I love in de whole creation,
In de big roun’ worl’ or de deep-blue skies,
Is dat fat li’l feller wid his mammy’s eyes,
Li’l feller wid his mammy’s eyes.’
His voice was very low and soft. Then he suddenly sat up in bed and pointed past her. "Look!” he cried. “The cavalry! The cavalry! By Heaven, how they' ride! Look at that officer! Great Scott! it’s Oaklands!—Good old Oaklands!—Come on, men—one last fight.—Get those guns away—d’ you ! hear? Get those guns away—now!” Weak from the effort he had made, he sank back with a moan ; and the woman stroked his brow, and kept back the tears which welled to her eyes. For half-an-hour he did not speak; then he went through the pantomime of lighting a cigarette.
“The reason I can’t marry her,” he said abruptly, “is the same reason that East is East and West is West. What can I offer her? She can’t dress on two manuscripts a month; and, besides, she knows nothing of building bridges. If I made a great success I might come to her, but—as I am now—no—no.” He solemnly shook his head and flicked the ash from the imaginary cigarette. “Can you picture Lady Dorothy in a pretty little cottage outside New York, helping me to write—my constant inspiration— the mother of my children? Can you picture her sharing my discouragements, telling me I can write if the whole world says I cannot; believing in me when I’ve lost belief in myself? Can you see her motoring into New York with me, and the two of us dining at Rector's to celebrate the acceptance of a play? Would she be happy in such a life? No—no—no; as Euclid says, ‘It is absurd.’ By the way, my dear fellow, you might shift, the grand piano, will you? It is resting on my knee.”
His voice trailed into silence, and he sank into a slumber. Twilight was throwing its cloak over the earth when he spoke again. His hand reached out, and she took it in both of hers.
“I thought I was dying,” he murmured. “I think I would have died there—in that ditch—but Dorothy—Dorothy—was beside me......
She held my hand when everything went dark—she wept a little. . . . It was only a dream, I know, but I lived. She must never know I loved her—because”—
“Lawrence!” The words were low and soft. “Lawrence!” That was all. Then she leaned over and kissed his lips. Galatea had come to life......
THE first darkening shadows of an August night crept over the lawns of Oaklands, and settled about the turrets of the house like a mist. Inside, in the music-room, a pale American officer was telling some story—a story that kept his listeners silent and made the distant cry of a hawk sound strangely eerie and loud. He had three auditors— an elderly man, who held an unlit cigarette in his fingers; a woman, with gray locks, who sat, motionless, with folded hands; and a young woman, whose brown hair was like gold, and in whose deep-blue eyes there was a mingled look of pain and love.
“We knew when dawn broke,” went on the American, “that we were outflanked, and we tried to get the guns away; but the Huns saw our move, and came at us with bayonets. We formed a line in front of the guns, Scots and Englishmen, and the few of our fellows who were left, and we did our best to give the gunners a chance, but they were on us too soon. Everything looked over, when we beard the cavalry coming. God ! how our men shouted as they saw the squadron—for that is all there were —bear down on the Germans! Their officer seemed to bear a charmed life, for he parried and thrust and cut like a demon, while his commands rang out above the whole shock and crash of the fight. The Germans fell back, and this officer wheeled about, shouting instructions for the guns and rallying his men. For the first time I saw his face as he rode up to me. It was your boy.”
There was a deathly silence for a moment, unbroken by a sound from his bearers, though a solitary tear fell slowly on the older woman’s cheek.
“We contrived to get the guns started back, and we retreated to a sunken road which gave us protection. It was on the way there that I was shot in the knee, but managed to keep up, when a shell lit between two guns and killed some of the horses. We had to leave them, and went on; but a few minutes later we heard a shout. The Germans were surging about the guns, and the little group of cavalry had turned and charged right into the centre of them. Then I was hit again, and dropped; but Simpson, one of our officers from Colorado, led our men back to their assistance, and they fought till only Simpson and eight others were left. Then he fell dead beside the body of your lad who had led the cavalry.”
There was a long silence, broken finally by the voice of the older woman. “I am glad that Douglas died bravely,” she said, and her voice was low and calm, “and I am proud that he lies in France beside a very gallant American gentleman.”
As if by mutual consent, every one rose, and the two women left the room together.
The old nobleman stood by the fireplace and gazed wistfully at the undulating lawns that showed from the windows in the deepening shroud of night. “It was good of you to tell us that,” he said; “it will make my wife’s sorrow more easy to bear.” He walked slowly to a window and passed his hand wearily over his brow. “Sometime,” he went on gently, “I must show you his room. We are keeping it just as it was.”
Craighouse said nothing, but in his heart was a great understanding.
The first silver rays of the moon were dancing on the grass, when the earl spoke again. “It is hard for my wife,” he said; “but she will be proud to know that she gave everything she had for— for England.”
The American’s heart sank. “Everything?” he stammered. “You mean”-
The older man’s head was bowed with the simple dignity of his grief. “I have not told her yet,” he said, “but I received an Admiralty message to-day that my second son’s destroyer has gone down. He is reported ‘missing.’ ”
IT was nearly an hour later, when Craighouse was wandering about the lawns in the glistening moonlight, that he heard the rustle of skirts behind him. It was Lady Dorothy, and her eyes were shining like twin-stars.
“I thought you would be here,” she said. “It is a night that draws one to it.”
“It is a night for memories,” he said quietly. “What bitter-sweet things they have become since we had war!”
“Yes” and she sighed.
For a little time they spoke of the sorrows and tragedies of their world; they talked of Oaklands, which would pass from her family because there was no heir; they played on the minor chords of life, and in their voices the melancholy elegy for beautiful things that had died found expression in their hushed and murmuring tones.
But they were young, and in the heart of youth there is always Spring; and the witchery of a moonlight night was calling to it. The minor strains trembled into silence, and the melody of hearts that are young took its place. She had deep-blue eyes that were never meant for tears, and he had a nature that responded to the beauty of life like an æolian harp to the moods of the wind.
As men and maids have done for generations, they talked of themselves. (A dangerous topic when the moon is making fairy-rings upon the grass.) They traced their friendship from his first visit, and lightly touched on the weary hours when she watched by his bedside in France. They laughed, they sighed, and once their fingers touched by accident, and he felt a thrill as the hot blood rushed to his cheeks. He experienced a sudden resentment against her wild-rose coloring, the marble fullness of her throat, and the luxury of silky, brown hair which held a vagrant moonbeam in a lingering caress. It was the protest of the brain to the senses against the allurement of beauty.
“We must never meet again,” he said severely.
“You are right,” she answered wistfully, and something like a smile lurked mischievously in the corners of her mouth. The moon plays havoc with men, but lends great discernment to the daughters of earth.
Another half-hour passed, full of words that meant so little and silence that meant so much. Then, with a quick contraction of his shoulders and a deepening frown, he turned and faced her squarely.
“I came to your home,” he said, “to gather material for satire. I found it in your parents—in your brothers—in you. In my room are ten completed articles which I am going to send to New York. They are my impressions of the English. They will be published as the psychology of England studied under the microscope of a satirist.
“And I form one of your satirical studies?”
“Yes. I referred to you as Galatea, and to myself as Pygmalion. You supply the feminine interest which is so necessary. I pictured you as a statue amidst stifling conventionality, and I was the artist who tried to bring you to life.”
“With what success?”
He thrust his hands into his pockets, and his shoulders drooped listlessly. “The artist,” he said, “fell in love with her the moment the marble became human. He was a fool.”
“I am so sorry,” she said gently; and for a brief moment—a very brief moment—her hand rested in his. Whereupon the moon was constrained to disappear behind a cloud to hide her smile. “And what happened to her?”
“Oh,” he said, “being a woman, she decided to torture Pygmalion. She came out on the lawn at night with him, and, by the music of her voice and the charm of her beauty, inflicted an hour’s exquisite pain. I am like a man,” he said, with an abrupt descent from the impersonal, “who knows that on the morrow he will be stricken with blindness, and is looking for the last time on a sunset.”
WHEREUPON Captain Craighouse sighed like the classic furnace, and Lady Dorothy Oaklands smiled again, though her eyes were glistening with a mysterious dew. “To-morrow morning,” he went on, “the sculptor, sometimes known as Don Quixote, is going away to forget about the statue. It is the only thing he can do.”
Her eyes were lowered to the ground, and her breast rose and fell with her trembling breath. “The woman — Galatea,” she murmured—“she just forgets, I suppose.”
“Women forget easily,” he said, and thought he spoke the truth.
“Listen,” she said, and her voice was so soft that he could just make out the half-whispered words; “let me tell you the real story of Pygmalion and Galatea. When the marble became life, she loved the artist who had created her soul. But *he didn't return her love; it has been an experiment with him. And so the woman in her froze and died, and Galatea became a statue again.”
He caught her hands in his, and his eyes flashed like brilliants. “Dorothy!” he cried, “you are not jesting? You are not just-—cruel?”
She said nothing; but, oh, what eloquence sometimes lies in a woman’s silence! Then did Captain Craighouse of New York say many things which would look absurd in the cold medium of print, but which sounded like sweet music to his companion on that moonlight August night. He likened her to a motif that remained in his life, as a melody that haunts the memory. He told her he would scale the heights of fame to cast its laurels at her feet.
“You stupid boy,” she laughed caressingly; “as if anything you could ever do would be finer than just this—that you are fighting for your country.”
In some mysterious way his hands reached her shoulders; and in an equally inexplicable manner she was suddenly in his arms, and her hot cheek was against his.
“Lawrence dear,” she murmured, “Galatea only knew one thing about Pygmalion—that he had brought her into being, and so she loved him. That was all.'”
And the moon, feeling that her evening had been a complete success, disappeared behind a cloud, and stayed there.
A RAW wind from the sea swept against the mammoth building of the New York Monthly Journal. The editor of that classic publication crossed to the rattling window and looked at Broadway, far beneath. A few drops of rain mingled with the dust that eddied about in little whirlpools of wind.
In his hand he held a long letter from Craighouse, and, after a pause, he reread the ending. . . . “and so I crept downstairs in the early morning and built a fire of my articles in a grate. I am sorry to have failed you; but, if one would ridicule England, first let him go to the sea and watch the men that go out in ships—and the men that never come back from the sea. If he would scoff at the simple folk of England, first let him stop at a farm I saw, where an old man of seventy is toiling in the fields, that the King’s horses and men may be fed; while his four sons sleep in France. If he would laugh at the old families of England, let him come to the old homes where every son went without a murmur, and where, too often, the last one fell beside his brothers, because England had called for men.
“If he would make the mothers of England a study for satire, first he should mock the woman at the foot of the Cross, for her love and their love, her grief and their grief, are one.”
Like gnomes, the people on Broadway hurried on in an endless diverging torrent of humanity.