HotFreeBooks.com
Chit-Chat; Nirvana; The Searchlight
by Mathew Joseph Holt
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

To John it seemed the years had made Rosamond nearer the Rosamond of his dream than the youthful Rosamond who had wandered over the hills with him and to whom he had made love. The thought occurred that Caleb must prove a strong and zealous contender for this world's honors to satisfy his wife's ambition, else he might lose his handsome wife to a greater champion. He spoke of this impression to Mary and she shared his view, though Rosamond was in no sense flirtatious.

"Mary, I love all your family, except John Calhoun."

"Well, John, you married me, not the family, though I would have been unhappy had you not liked mother, father and Susie."

"You must make your mother visit us as soon as we are settled. I believe she really needs the rest. I know that she and mother will be great friends and I know your father would like to put in a month hunting up old friends and knocking about the hills; he must come, too."

They remained at the Saylor homestead for three days. The night before they left for home, they were entertained by Mrs. John Calhoun Saylor, who was really proud of these two members of her husband's family and desired to exhibit them to the friends and relatives of the Clays.

* * * * *

As the train drew near Harlan, winding in and out along the river and the foothills of Pine Mountain, Mary nestled close to John and, dreamily watching the big mountain, whose shadow was reflected in the deep pools of the river, said:

"I no longer call to you through space, John, wondering if you hear. Now we travel side by side our narrow, little way of life and read its meaning in each other's eyes. We will soon be home, John; and I for one am glad we are to live in the mountains. I love them more than plain, or rolling pasture, or woodland, or the sea. One of my favorite poems is:

"'Thou art a mountain stately and serene, Rising majestic o'er each earthly thing, And I a lake that 'round thy feet do cling, Kissing thy garment's hem, unknown, unseen. I tremble when the tempests darkly screen Thy face from mine. I smile when sunbeams fling Their bright arms 'round thee. When the blue heavens lean Upon thy breast, I thrill with bliss, O king! Thou canst not stoop—we are too far apart; I may not climb to reach thy mighty heart; Low at thy feet I am content to be. But wouldst thou know how great thou art, Bend thy proud head, my mountain love, and see How all thy glories shine again in me.'"

"Will your mother be glad to see me, John? Will she fear I shall steal too much of her boy's love?"

"Mary, mother is a little, old woman with a wonderfully big, young heart and a grand soul filled with tenderness and grace and love. There's not a joy in all the world she would not share with you. When she shares your sorrows, night changes quickly to the dusk of morning and as the day comes they flit away like shadows on the dewy grass. When she sees you she will kiss you and cry a bit and call you 'John's wife' for a day and then it will be 'Mary dear.' Were you a stranger, whose name had never been mentioned, she would take you in, first for my sake, then love you for your own. One day I said: 'Mother, your aim in life seems to be to live for and wait on me.' 'No, John, my aim in life is to live like Him!' She has kept some of earth's clay out of my soul."

As the train pulled into the station, Mary surreptitiously powdered her nose. Mrs. Cornwall, Mrs. Neal, Duffield and several other friends were there to meet them.

Mrs. Cornwall seemed not to see John. As she took Mary in her arms she called her "John's wife"; they cried a wee bit and as she let her go, John heard her say "Mary dear"; and he knew his mother's heart approved of his wife. Then he kissed his mother and they greeted his other friends.

Mrs. Neal was greatly surprised at Mary's appearance. "Mrs. Cornwall, you really mean to tell me that she was born on Straight Creek?"



CHAPTER XI.

HOME LIFE.

Mrs. Cornwall, upon the receipt of the telegram notifying her of John's marriage, went to his room and taking Mary's photograph, carried it to the window and in the strong light of the June day studied the face.

Even under her critical analysis, that of a mother-in-law whose love was centered in her son and who believed that he was entitled to the world's best, the picture met her approbation.

She held it in her arms, as one who loved might have held the original; and after a few tears of mingled sadness and joy—sadness for what had gone from her life and joy for what she thought had come into her son's—and after a prayer that God would bless the union of her son and this woman, making their life long and true and completing their happiness by giving them sweet children to make the union one of body and soul, she carried it down to her parlor and placed it on the center table beside that of her son's, wreathing and clustering them round with deep-red, velvety roses from the garden, and each day until they came gathered fresh ones, replacing those that withered. She telegraphed her blessing and love to them both and wrote Mary a long letter, telling her how happy she should be to welcome her home as John's wife and her daughter.

Though Mary several times had asked, John had told her very little about their home. She knew from descriptions Rosamond and Dorothy had given her that it was an attractive place. When they drove into the yard and up to the porch with its colonial pillars and the old-fashioned, arched doorway, he could see that she was artistically satisfied.

Then as they passed through the portal into the hall and the double parlors, she gave voice to her appreciation.

"Mrs. Cornwall, you have made the house indeed a home. No wonder John was so near remaining a bachelor. You made him entirely too comfortable; he will expect too much. John, see how your mother has bordered our photographs with roses."

"I hope you and John will be pleased with your rooms. If they are not just what you wish, satisfy yourselves; the house is large enough. Mary, you know the house is yours. I have been after John for ten years to marry and give me a chance to shift the responsibility of housekeeper to younger shoulders."

"You know they say comparisons are odious. I am sure if you were to force me to assume instant charge, John would never believe I could make a good housekeeper. Were the house inartistic or disordered, I might be tempted to do so, but everything is so harmonious, so comfortable, so home-like, that I must serve a long apprenticeship before you should force the responsibility upon me. You know I have been a teacher; I must be gradually taught housekeeping, and in the meantime am to be your daughter as John is your boy."

"Mother, when did you have all this done?"

"The day after I received your telegram I sent to Louisville and had Mr. Strassel come up; he, Mrs. Neal and I redecorated and refurnished these rooms for Mary."

"You have been very thoughtful. John, your mother has not given up her rooms for us, has she? If so, we must refuse to take them."

"No, one of them was mine; the other was a spare bedroom."

"Please come to this window. What a happy view, the garden, the river, the valley, the fields of grain and the distant, blue mountains! John, I love your mother and my home most as much as I do you!"

The neighbors and friends of the Cornwalls were very kind to Mary. She grew to be very fond of Mrs. Neal and Mrs. Duffield. Duffield, several years before, had married Helen Creech.

Mary was just beginning to feel thoroughly at home, and under Mrs. Cornwall's tutelage and diplomacy unconsciously assuming charge as mistress of the house, which was not so hard, as she had an efficient maid and had always helped her mother, when Dorothy and Bradford came on from Pittsburgh. Ever since their marriage they had spent the month of August with Mrs. Neal.

After their arrival they, with John and Mary, began wandering about the hills and playing the part of lovers as they had done years before, though the Bradfords were somewhat hampered in their rambles by a little son whom they had christened John Durrett Bradford.

Rosamond, who knew that the Bradfords were visiting Mrs. Neal, telegraphed Mary that she and her husband were coming to make her a visit, leaving home on the 12th of August; they would remain ten days. She answered, expressing her pleasure, and asked that they bring her mother with them.

While it was a matter of no importance to John Calhoun and, therefore, he made no objection, his wife refused to bring her, saying: "We will not mention that we intend going to her. She can go after we return. I am going on a pleasure trip; not to look after an old woman."

When they arrived, Mary was greatly disappointed that her mother had not come. When told by Rosamond that they had not asked her mother because she did not look well and the trip might prove too trying, she was worried about her mother's health and immediately wrote her sister.

In answer, her sister said: "Mother was very much disappointed when she learned John and Rosamond had gone to visit you, as had she known, she would have come with them. She is perfectly well and it is quite evident to me that they did not want her with them. You need not be surprised at anything that pair do."

John Calhoun did not care to wander about the hills or picnic along the river bank with his wife, saying: "I had enough of climbing hills and basket meetings when a boy." His wife accompanied Mary and John on their rambles, while he loafed around the hotel and the court house, making friends and acquaintances, or rode over to the mines, cultivating the miners and discussing politics with them.

He had acquired the knack under his wife's tutelage of beginning an argument with a man and gradually coming around to his antagonist's way of thinking; complimenting his opponent upon his way of making a difficult question clear. He would tell him: "Now I understand it for the first time. I was wrong, you are right." Thereupon he and his opponent usually began a sort of Alphonse and Gaston species of concessions which ended in Saylor convincing the man to his way of thinking. His wife said it was the Clay way of persuasion.

Several days after Rosamond and her husband arrived, John's mother had a slight illness which kept Mary at home. Rosamond insisted on continuing the rambles which had been planned, and her husband refusing to accompany her, John was forced to do so.

Thus, in a way, the relations of more than a half-dozen years before were re-established. When they were with Dorothy and Bradford she insisted on going where they with their little, two-year-old boy could not go, and in this way managed that she and John were much together.

When they passed some place she remembered from her former rambles of the years before, she had a way of recalling it and saying: "It was here, John, we sat on the rock and you brought me water from the spring in a cup of leaves; let's do it again for old-time's sake. It was here, John, we seined the minnows; it was here you taught me the jack-knife dive; it was here you picked me up, oh, so tenderly! and with so much anxious solicitude, I have half a mind to fall again" until John grew timid, and the next time begged Mary to come with them, and when she said it was impossible, sought to keep with the other members of the party, but Rosamond was the better manager and their solitary rambles continued.

A day or two before she was to return home, as they sat resting on a moss-grown rock in a secluded cove far up the mountainside, she placed her hand over John's and said:

"Tell me, John, what you were going to ask the night of the dance so many years ago, when you brought me out to the arbor and we found Dorothy and Howard Bradford there?"

"I thought I loved you and was going to ask you to be my wife."

"Why didn't you, John—do; didn't you love me?"

"I had a horrid dream about you and before I recovered from it you became offended and returned home. I never saw you afterwards until Mary and I were married."

"So you let a dream shatter my dreams of love and happiness."

"You should not say that, Rosamond. You are married and to a man of your own choosing and I to the wife of my choice."

"Mine was a marriage of convenience; I did it believing that I could manage my husband and, with even the crude material at hand, make a man. I am regretting it even now after less than four months. He either has less sense than I thought or is harder to manage. I do not even respect him and if you were still single and wished it, I could get a divorce. Why did you not follow me home, John? That's what I expected you to do."

"Don't; such talk is not right and you must not say such things to me. Even though I loved you once, I now love only one woman in the world and that is Mary. Were we both single, I could not marry you unless Mary was married to some other man. There is no use talking about such things; they are a forgotten past. I shall not go out with you again; I dare not; you are a fascinating woman and the old love might return."

"You coward!"

John rose from his seat and, deathly pale, walked ahead of Rosamond down the mountainside and she, pale and trembling with anger, followed after. Neither spoke until they joined Dorothy and Bradford under some old elms near the river.

From that day until the Saylors left for home John was too busy at the office for any more rambles. Rosamond was ill-tempered and spent most of her time in her room. When her door was opened the quiet of the house was occasionally disturbed by loud-voiced wrangling with her husband; though in the presence of strangers she always greeted him in a gently modulated voice and with a smile.

The following spring the Pittsburgh Coal & Coke Company sold out to a Detroit manufacturer of automobiles and John was instrumental in closing the deal. As fee and profit on the sale of his stock in the company he realized a little more than twenty-three thousand dollars.

He was retained by the new company as their local counsel at a salary of three thousand dollars and from his other business realized an income of four thousand dollars more. This seemed to be about the limit of earning capacity in the little, mountain city, though he and his wife never thought of moving. They were both satisfied and loved the mountains and their neighbors. Their mother was content where her children, John and Mary, were.

In the fall of 1911 he was the Democratic elector from the Eleventh Congressional District and made a few speeches which attracted some little attention. The following summer he was offered and declined the Assistant United States District Attorneyship for the Eastern Kentucky District.

On the 12th day of May, 1910, his thirty-eighth birthday, his wife presented him with a son. After a discussion lasting several days, in which he and Mary had less to say than his mother or Mrs. Neal or Mrs. Simeon Saylor, who was visiting her daughter, the boy was christened John Saylor Cornwall; and to avoid confusion in an otherwise quiet and well-regulated household, was called Saylor.

His father called him "Sailor Boy" and wanted to take him down to the river to sail toy boats before he cut his stomach teeth but the boy's grandmothers would not permit it.

The two grandmothers were constantly quarrelling as to who should hold John Saylor Cornwall, while the baby was either crying to go to his father or squirming to get down and crawl on the floor.

His grandfather, who was now Colonel Simeon Saylor (i. e., by courtesy, since he was quite an extensive land-owner), began to think that John Saylor Cornwall in the years to come might grow to be almost as great as his Uncle John Calhoun, who was now Congressman from the Eighth District.

He began telling the boy how great he was going to be until his mother put a stop to it by threatening to send him home before the boy's second birthday, the celebration of which event the grandfather and two grandmothers looked forward to with excited expectancy, as he was the only grandchild in either family.

On his second birthday he was showered with presents. Everybody remembered him, except his Aunt Rosamond. She left the Cornwall family alone after her visit in August, following the marriage of John and Mary.

She was now in Washington with her husband; or, as some of her friends put it, she was in Washington, accompanied by her husband.

As a politician, he was not in her class. She some time since had ceased in her attempts to gratify ambition by reflective honors from her husband and had marched forth under the leadership of Mrs. Catt as a most trusted lieutenant. She was head of the Woman's Suffrage Organization of Kentucky; was in great demand as a public speaker and heralded by an extensive following as the probable successor of Mrs. Catt in the fight for the emancipation of women.

Her husband, in spite of his distinguished air and faculty as a personal press agent, was slowly losing his identity. He was not infrequently referred to, particularly in Washington, as the husband of Mrs. Rosamond Clay Saylor.

* * * * *

On the way home from his visit. Grandpa Saylor stopped off at Pineville and spent a day or two on the head of Straight Creek with his former neighbors.

The old home place was occupied by Jim Helton, who, when he sold his land to the coal company, moved into the Saylor house. He spent a day with the Heltons; he even visited the old cliff-house still and at twilight started down the creek for Pineville. In the valley it was very dark, as the moon had not yet risen above the mountain.

When opposite Elhannon Howard's, the horse he was riding stumbled over something in the middle of the road and horse and rider were hurled over the bank into the creek. Elhannon, hearing the noise made by the horse floundering around in the water and old man Saylor swearing, came out bearing a flaming pine knot, and the two old enemies faced each other.

Saylor's horse had stumbled over one of Elhannon's cows asleep in the road and the frightened cow, struggling to her feet, had thrown horse and rider over the bank. The rider was unhurt, but the horse's right foreleg was broken.

"Damn you, Elhannon, why don't you and your wife sleep out in the middle of the road, too. You will certainly pay for that horse and my wetting. I am too old to fight you, but I will law you in Squire Ingram's court."

"All right, Sim Saylor; I'll be thar."

"And if I lose thar, I'll take it to the Circuit Court."

"All right, Sim Saylor, I'll be thar."

"And if I lose in the Circuit Court, I'll take it to the Court of Appeals."

"All right, Sim Saylor; I'll be thar."

"And if I lose in the Court of Appeals, I'll take it to hell, the next place."

"All right, Sim Saylor, I won't be thar, but my lawyer will. Keep on your shirt, Sim, and come into the house. The old woman can make you comfortable for the night."

They went to the house and Mr. Saylor took off his wet clothes and went to bed. When he awoke the next morning they hung on a chair, dry and nicely cleaned; there was even a fashionable crease down the trouser legs. Elhannon's dude son had pressed them for him.

As he and Elhannon sat at breakfast they talked about the bees and the old Southdown ram which several years before had been gathered to his fathers, leaving several noble scions behind.

When breakfast was over Elhannon's boy, the dude, drove up in front of the house in a buckboard, and Saylor climbed in beside him. As the boy started off Elhannon called: "Look here, dood, don't drive that horse over any cows in the road."

Old man Saylor laughed and called back: "You and I are too old to law; you settle with old man Samuels for his horse and we'll call it square. You and the old woman come down to the fair and stop with us."

"All right, Sim Saylor; I'll be thar; so long and good luck."



PART II.



Seeing Italy at Mrs. O'Flannagan's Expense.



CHAPTER I.

Mrs. O'Flannagan lived in Limerick, the Irish colony of Louisville. Her husband, a policeman under the Grainger administration, was "doped by a friend" and, being found in a stupor, was fired by the Board of Public Safety. His friend's brother inherited the beat and the Tenth-street or side door of the saloon at —— West Green Street, swung more loosely of hinge on Sunday than formerly.

Some days after his dismissal O'Flannagan, passing the cart of a hot-tamale man at the entrance to the ball park, became involved in an argument between the vendor, a Sicilian, and a boy and was knifed by the vendor. He was buried three days later after a convivial wake, the success of which was in some measure a consolation for his widow.

His estate, besides his widow, consisted of a four-room, shot-gun cottage, meagerly furnished, and three boys, Tim, Pat and Jerry.

Tim was fourteen, and after school sold papers at Fourth and Broadway. The other two boys were of sufficient years of discretion to dodge a motorcycle if the rider gave stentorian warning.

Mrs. O'Flannagan, a husky, rawboned dame, adopted the profession of a washlady, and found many ladies who were anxious to procure her services since the colored ladies had deserted their washtubs to work in the Axton tobacco factory.

Tim always brought home the worn outside paper of his bundle, or else one that some customer had glanced through and thrown away, for his mother to read. She was deeply interested in the progress of the World War.

After ten hours over the washtub, she would change her sud-soaked dress, get the boys their supper, clean and dry the dishes, scrub the two little chaps and put them to bed; then, after eight o'clock, sit down at the window where the street light shone in and read about those "devilish Huns," her moist, strong face, to which clung her brown hair, stringy from sweat, working and changing expression with feelings of sympathy and patriotism.

After she had read all about the war and the Red Cross, but nothing else, she got out a ball of gray yarn and needles and knitted till 10:30. She had promised to knit two pairs of socks a week for the Limerick Red Cross Unit. Then after her prayers, which were wholly intercessory, for her boys and their daily bread and the motherless boys in Flanders, her day's work was done. She went to the big bed by the window and kissed her three boys, then to her cot in the corner and slept the sound sleep of the faithful and the true.

She had not been to a picture show in three years; had never been in an automobile, nor to the derby, nor the State Fair, but each Sunday morning walked in to the Cathedral to early mass.

She was always at home, except when she made the trip to the grocery, or to The Puritan to deliver the wash, or to the knitting unit to exchange the pair of well-knitted socks (on the tops of which she always made a narrow border of red, white and blue) for more yarn.

She gave the boys twenty cents each every Saturday night to go to the picture show and for peanuts. They knew all the knot-holes in the ball park fence and all the home players by name and sight. They argued and sometimes fought over the umpire's decision.

The Government selected and named a training camp site, out the Preston Street car line, Camp Taylor. It was soon rumored around Limerick how they were burning down practically new buildings to make immediate room for barracks and were paying unheard-of prices for labor. Every one who owned a saw, hammer and square and who could hit the hammer with the nail, called himself a carpenter and journeyed thither. The paper boys became water boys at three dollars per day. So Tim gave up his paper stand and became a water boy.

Mrs. O'Flannagan, going down to the store for a pair of shoes and taking three dollars to pay for them, the price she had been paying for the same shoe for ten years, was forced to return home for three dollars more, as she was told: "Last week the price was raised to $5.98." Everywhere she went to buy some simple necessity she was told of a sudden similar raise.

The husbands and sweethearts of the few remaining colored washladies having procured jobs at the camp and the women themselves receiving liberal offers at other occupations, deserted the washtub. The ladies of The Puritan were forced to get Mrs. O'Flannagan or buy an electric washer and iron or surreptitiously do the family wash in the bathtub and dry it in the kitchenette.

Three or four times daily a limousine or sedan drove up in front of Mrs. O'Flannagan's and a daintily bedecked creature in a fifty-dollar hat and a two-hundred-dollar dress, wearing twenty-dollar shoes, stepped out exhibiting a none too slender calf encased in a five-dollar stocking, though her father might have gotten his start as a section-hand at two dollars per day on the L. & N. or have driven a huckster's wagon, or tended bar, or curried horses. She tripped into the house and, after shaking hands with the washlady (she was hard pushed), who was forced to quit work, wipe her hands on the roller towel and entertain her visitor, said:

"Oh, Mrs. O'Flannagan, Mrs. Rothchilds says you are a beautiful laundress and that you always return all the things when you promise. I had a nigger doing my work and she was an awful nuisance. I do believe she wore my stockings and my teddy-bears. Mrs. Rothchilds is a friend of mine; we live in adjoining apartments. There are four in her family and only three in mine and her son Leo has so many shirts. She tells me you have been her laundress for three years and that she pays you a dollar and a half a week. Now that's too cheap. You give up her washing and take mine. I will pay you three dollars a week and send it round in the car by Charles."

"I have been doing Mrs. Rothchilds' wash for more than three years. When prices went up so much she offered to pay me more, saying high prices had cut the heart out of the dollar. I said: 'No, you furnish the soap and starch and what you pay is enough. I want to do what I can to help these times, and the way to put the heart back in the dollar is to put prices down; we can all help do that. All I want is to make an honest living and bring up my three boys to be good men.' I sometimes think happiness consists in having few wants. I am glad to see you are doing so well. I believe I know you. You are Rachael Reubenstein, the daughter of Herman Reubenstein, who used to have the old-clothes store at Ninth and Market. You and I used to play dolls together. Father went on your father's bond when he bought all those clothes and jewelry from two coons for twenty dollars."

"Charles, start the car; let us leave this low neighborhood, and wash the car when you get back to the garage."

* * * * *

The National War Work Council of the Y. M. C. A. and kindred organizations, having started their work and particularly that most important portion of soliciting funds from the general public, Mrs. Breckenridge Crittenden Clay, of 4897 Third Avenue, was elected as head of the women's committee.

Fair, young girls in fluffy dresses and of just that age supposed to be most appealing and irresistible to men, were placed in the office and bank buildings and were directed to shower their smiles upon the strangers in the hotel lobbies, while certain fat and willing dames past forty were given the residence sections of the great common people and told to make a house-to-house canvass. They were instructed, however, to omit the factories and business houses intermittently located in such sections, as they were to be looked after by a selected coterie who called in state and were supposed to be specially fitted for just such solicitations.

Mrs. Weissinger Robinson, who was not on the best of terms with Mrs. Clay, but who always helped in such campaigns for contributions, was assigned to the residence section of Limerick, while Mrs. Clay's most intimate friend, Mrs. Castleman Smith, was assigned to Third and Fourth avenues between Kentucky and Hill streets.

One hot afternoon, while Mrs. O'Flannagan was hanging out the wash, the car of Mrs. Robinson drove up to her door.

"Horace, climb out and tell whoever lives here to come to the car."

The chauffeur knocked on the door and when Mrs. O'Flannagan opened it, delivered his message. She came out, wiping her wet, water-wrinkled hands upon her flour-sack apron, supposing that here was another lady looking for a laundress.

"I am Mrs. Weissinger Robinson and this is Mrs. Decatur Jones. We are asking subscriptions for the Y. M. C. A. and other kindred institutions, the money to be used for the comfort and entertainment of our soldier boys in Europe, to furnish them with shelter huts near the front line where they may rest, have picture shows, theatricals, innocent games, a library and be given hot coffee, chocolate and other home-like things; they will also be given writing materials. We have been asked to visit each house in this section and ask contributions."

"How nice and home-like that will be for the boys! If every mother gives, she can be sure her boy over there will share in the giving. I have saved up forty dollars for winter clothes for my boys, but we will give ten of it. I am sorry I can not do more."

At night when the canvass of that section was completed Mrs. Robinson had collected $843.50, while Mrs. Castleman Smith, of the Third Avenue section, had collected $327.00.

Mrs. Decatur Jones, talking about the contributions with Mrs. Robinson, said: "I am so glad we put it over that Mrs. Castleman Smith. My husband gave me twenty-five dollars to contribute, but I thought that was too much, so gave Mrs. Smith, who had our district, two dollars. I knew there would be no trouble in collecting this city's apportionment. We always 'go over the top.' Limerick certainly did beautifully, and I might just as well have given all the twenty-five dollars, as I lost it playing bridge."

* * * * *

The necessary fund having been raised by popular subscription, the Y. M. C. A., K. of C. and Salvation Army began the process of preparation to send over a corps of workers to look after the spiritual and physical welfare of the American boys sent overseas and assigned for training or fighting service to camp or trench in England, France, Italy, Russia and Mesopotamia.

In the list of recruits for International Y service there were barbers and lawyers, truck farmers and preachers, mechanics and professors, dentists and veterinarians, meat-eaters and vegetarians—an average lot of Americans picked up in the hurley-burley and hasty preparation for war.

All were recommended by men of standing in their respective communities. If among them there were a few black sheep, the responsibility rested with the local Y which made the investigation, or on those respectable local citizens who indorsed them, and not on the International Y. The Government, when applications for passports were filed, made an investigation by special agent of the applicant's loyalty and character.

Thus were gathered together several thousand men whose average of age was probably forty, nearly all starting from home with a conscientious desire to render real patriotic service in the great war.

There were a few young men who joined the Y to avoid more serious military service. There were a few others who had no other object than to see France and Italy at Mrs. O'Flannagan's expense. There were perhaps a very few who sought sinful adventure and experience.

The majority left home upon the receipt of a telegram ordering them to report in New York at once, prepared to sail for Europe. They were fired with zeal and patriotism, expecting to sail at once and upon arrival in Europe to serve in the front line under the very muzzle of German big Berthas.

When they arrived in New York they reported at the Hotel St. Andrews and were then assigned to that or some other hotel and directed to report the following morning at 347 Madison Avenue, where the International Y had its offices.

Then they stood in line a day or two, usually snubbed if they asked some one of the smaller office men a question, and when they sought information, or to comply with certain regulations at the desk designated in their printed instructions as the proper one, they were referred to some one else or told by a stenographer that the gentleman was out just at present, or that the applicant must first go to some other desk before he could attend to him. This was the ground-floor experience, where the utmost inexperience was slowly ground down to competency and the green Y men were gradually knocked and buffeted through in accordance with the regulations. In this way their patriotism and resolutions were given a dush and first shock, from which they never wholly recovered because of many subsequent similar experiences.

The office building was arranged much on the order of a Chinese restaurant; in that as you journeyed skyward conditions improved. The ground floor was the worst, but as the elevator ascended you met with more courtesy and consideration. By the time you passed the fourth floor the man behind the desk had time to answer a relevant question, as he was not riled by his own incompetency.

After they had been in New York a day or two they learned that their passports had not been issued and therefore there was no immediate prospect for sailing. They were then ordered to a training conference for ten days, which many attended for months, retaining their rooms and eating at an expensive hotel at the expense of Mrs. O'Flannagan.

At the conference, with the exception of lessons in the language of the country where they were to be located and the physical training given them, to many the time seemed wasted. They were subjected to daily lectures on morals and patriotism by professors who talked to them as to a group of fourth-grade boys, and sought to impress upon them that it would be unbecoming in a Y secretary to flirt with the girls of the street of Paris and London, or to lie around drunk in a front-line trench. But the professors could not help it; they were fifty and their habits were formed. They had been talking to boys from eight to sixteen years old for thirty years. They could not understand that a lawyer or dentist or preacher past forty might be a little set in his ways and might know almost half as much about the girls of the street and a plain drunk as a Boston college professor. The pupil might even have had the experience.

Possibly some of the men before sailing during their hundred nights on Broadway received a few instructions first-hand about the girls of the street and the evils of intemperance, which in a small measure prepared their innocent souls for the shock of a short sojourn in Paris. Certainly that experience with what the professors had told them was sufficient to keep them from unconsciously being led astray, though I have been told that some of them offered the new and heretofore unheard-of excuse: "She did tempt me and I did eat."

Then they were further trained to march and to sing; since when they landed upon foreign shores they undoubtedly would spend most of their time marching in bands about the streets of London and Paris and Rome and possibly in due course Berlin, singing: "The Yanks are Coming" and "America Done It," because the French, Italians and Germans know little or nothing about music, and any American Y man, especially a blacksmith from Shoulder Blade, Kentucky, could give them a few lessons. And the British—why, they could do nothing, or would do nothing, till they got there. They were drilled for a month or more in squads right and squads left and taught by music masters to sing: "Here We Are, Hear the Eagle Scream."

The last time they marched was when they marched off the boat on the other shore; after that when they walked they hoofed it. And the last time they sang was just before they heard the Italians sing. The first performance by comparison with the second sounded as a tom-tom concert in competition with the celestial choir. Talk about carrying coals to Newcastle; the most absurd performance of the Y was exporting American singers to entertain the Italian army.

Have you thought about it? Since Woodrow Wilson has been President, America has been afflicted with what might be called the Professors' Age. The professors in the Y certainly had the pull. If a kitchen was opened in Flanders, a professor of chemistry was the director in charge; a chef was no better than a kitchen scullion. If a tooth was to be pulled, a professor of anatomy performed the operation because he knew the root from the crown, while a dentist handled freight in a warehouse. A professor of mathematics was put in charge of motor vehicles, while a machinist arranged the programme for a vocal concert. A professor of languages would be made chief accountant, while an expert accountant was put in charge of a moving-picture machine. Professor Brown was given charge in France; Professor Greene in England, and Professor Black in Italy; and their regional directors were professor this and that; a professor of penmanship in Rome, a professor of biology in Genoa, a professor of languages in Brescia, and a professor of something else in Naples, Milan, Venice, Trieste and Palermo. There was as much of school-teacher dictatorship in the foreign Y as Secretary Lansing found at the head of the State Department. When a doughboy referred to the Y as "the damn Y," it is possible he recognized the secretary in charge as his former professor of mathematics or languages.

But slowly as these professors returned to America order came out of chaos; the Y adjusted itself and became an efficient machine. We can probably look upon it as a permanent organization in foreign lands by the time these gifted and well-trained executives, these learned expatriates, have all been called home.

Because of mismanagement and disorganization in the beginning, many a Y man who had left home with the best intentions, became disappointed and disgusted and so unfit for service.

He began by traveling from pillar to post and ended by seeing France and Italy at Mrs. O'Flannagan's expense. He returned home saying unkind things of the Y. Those who saw him traveling about, usually in an expensive car, burning gasoline which cost more than a dollar a gallon or traveling free on overcrowded trains, needed to transport troops or civilians on imperative business, said unkind things of the Y.

The men in the service of the Y had no reason for complaint at the reception or courtesy extended them by the foreign governments where they were placed. In Italy they had free first-class transportations and could frank their baggage. The organization was given free freight, express, postal and telegraph service. Certain government monopolies were waived and customs' charges revoked in its favor.

Nor could the men complain of the Y in the allowance for expenses and salaries, as the organization in every instance more than lived up to its agreement. No great criticism can be found with the organization. A man who wanted to work and serve had the opportunity. Just criticism for incompetence was local, and for discourtesy and dishonesty was individual.



CHAPTER II.

"Y" SERVICE.

One evening in the spring of 1918 John Calhoun Saylor, ex-Congressman, sat before the open fire in the old Clay residence, reading the Courier-Journal.

"Just as I expected, thirty-five, that gets me. I was born in 1885." Then he read to his wife that the draft age would be raised to thirty-five.

"But, John, you are married."

"Yes, thoroughly—but that makes no difference in my case. We have no children; you and I have some little property, enough of an income to live on; there's no one dependent upon me; I'm as strong as a mule, feet, eyes, ears and teeth all right; no chance for rejection; they'll get me sure. I guess it would have been better if I had gone to an officer's training camp. My friends know I am no coward; I have been shot at before, but I do not want some spindley, little dry-goods clerk of a lieutenant telling me where to get off at; and I don't fancy living in Washington as a dollar-a-year man. I rebel against restraint and routine."

"John, though I would miss you greatly, as you know a few months' foreign service would help you politically. All the boys and younger men in the eastern end of the State are in Europe, or preparing for foreign service. It would be a mistake to wait and be drafted. When the women begin voting, as they will in a year or two, they will vote for the ex-soldier."

"Foreign service is all right, if the war don't last too long. It is the training camp I want to dodge. Well, this might help out—'The International Y. M. C. A. desires several hundred men for immediate service abroad. Kentucky is expected to furnish thirty of this number. They must be over the present draft age and contract to serve one year or for duration of the war. Applicants please write or call upon Mr. Theobald Burton, Y. M. C. A. Building, Louisville, Ky.'

"Suppose we go to Louisville tomorrow? Then I will call upon Mr. Burton and learn what would be expected of me."

Mr. and Mrs. Saylor went to Louisville and to see Mr. Burton. John Calhoun made out an application for service, which was held up until he furnished a physician's health certificate and the declarations of three reputable citizens, including the pastor of the church he attended, as to his moral fitness for the work. Then his application was forwarded for approval to the general offices.

Then he made application for a passport for service in Italy and France, which was forwarded by the Clerk of the United States District Court to Washington. He was then vaccinated and given the typhoid serum treatment—precautions required under army regulations.

Feeling assured that the Y. M. C. A. could not do without his services, he returned home and made preparation for a year's absence.

He so managed that the local papers gave him quite a boost. They told how he had gone to Louisville, where he had made repeated efforts to enlist in both the army and the navy, but had been rejected. He then made application to enter the International Y. M. C. A. for foreign service and had been accepted. "This Mr. Saylor had done at great personal inconvenience and considerable business sacrifice, feeling that it was his duty to serve his country. He expects to sail for Europe before the end of the month."

On the morning of the 2d of June he received a telegram from the International Y to report in New York, prepared to sail immediately upon arrival. He left home that afternoon and on the night of the 3d reported at the Hotel St. Andrews, where he was assigned quarters, sharing his room with another Y man. There he remained, his expenses paid by the Y, until he sailed three months later.

The morning after arrival, reporting at the main office, 347 Madison Avenue, he was told that his passport had not been received and it was impossible to tell when it might be.

Speaking a little Italian, which Luigi Poggi had taught him when a boy, he was directed to prepare for Y service with the Italian army and sent to take the training course at the university.

There he was taught to march and to sing "The Yanks are Coming" and other choice vocal selections; was lectured on patriotism and cautioned against intemperance, lewd and lascivious conduct and the great temptations held out to innocent and inexperienced Y secretaries in the great foreign cities. He was given lessons in Italian and at the end of three months could speak that language more fluently than his professor.

On the 26th of August his passport arrived and he was notified to be prepared to sail on September 1st. From that time until he left New York he stood in line before different clerks and officials, receiving instructions, signing papers and procuring his outfit. He was furnished everything except his underclothing, including a fund for incidental expenses over actual transportation.

Standing in line with more than a hundred others, he was surprised to see, only a short way behind him, his brother-in-law, John Cornwall.

* * * * *

Cornwall, in January, 1918, had made application to enter the Officers Training Camp at Port Benjamin Harrison, but had been rejected because he was past forty-five. He had then tried to enlist as a private, but had been rejected for the same reason. He had tendered his services to the Judge Advocate General's department, but had heard nothing from his application. As a last opportunity he offered his services to the International Y and had been accepted.

He arrived in New York on the night of August 27th and learned that his passport had been received, and he and three hundred and sixteen other Y men were to sail on September 1st.

In the early morning of that date they boarded a train for Montreal, where they arrived past midnight and were marched aboard the Burmah, a British transport of seven thousand tons burden. At two a. m. they were given a meal of tea, bread, condensed milk, boiled potatoes and a most horrible sausage and told to turn in. As their bunks were hold hamocks, quite a few turned out.

About daylight the thousand-mile journey down the St. Lawrence began. When they reached the ocean they joined a convoy of a dozen ships, screened in a cold mist and rocked by a choppy sea. Then began the ocean voyage of twelve days, through fog and rain and over a rough, gray sea. At night it was early to bed, because lights were not allowed.

The fare shows the ship's registry, and for breakfast, dinner and supper was the same—tea, oatmeal, mutton, marmalade, condensed milk, cheese, oleomargarin, bread and boiled potatoes. The ship was redolent with mutton. Those whose stomachs were upset by a first voyage, more than sixty per cent, declared they could never again look a sheep in the face and live through it. Several gave their sheep skin coats away, believing they added to the prevailing odor.

Every day of the voyage they marched in the morning and held a song service in the afternoon, followed by an address by some diplomatic preacher or professor, who, being on a British transport, considered it an opportune time to tell the captain and crew what the Yanks intended doing and why the soldiers of all the other allied nations had failed in the war.

When they were off the Irish coast a half-dozen British destroyers steamed out of the fog and met them and, like greyhounds at full speed, chased one another in great circles around the more slowly moving convoy.

At Liverpool they marched ashore singing, "The Yanks are Coming" and never marched again. Then they traveled by train to London and a day or two later to Southampton, then by channel steamer to Havre, then by train to Paris, where most of the men were assigned to service in France.

Those going to Italy, some thirty-five, including Saylor and Cornwall, several days later traveled by train through Southwestern France to Modane, then by way of Turin to Bologna.

There they made settlement of their incidental expense accounts, which did not include transportation charges; and though they traveled together and stopped at the same hotels, Saylor rendered an account for two hundred and twenty-five dollars and Cornwall one for eighty-three dollars.

In Bologna they were lectured and cautioned, particularly against having anything to say about the Protestant religion in a Catholic country, or making themselves conspicuous by attending Protestant churches and gatherings. Then they were indiscriminately scattered from the Austrian boundary to Syracuse.

John Calhoun was given a high-powered car and stationed at Cento, a place within convenient distance of Florence, Venice, Verona, Brescia and Milan. He always left Cento on Saturday a. m. and returned Monday p. m. He saw these and more distant cities. The cafes on the shores of lakes Garda, Iseo, Como and Maggiore knew the resonant sound of his Klaxon horn.

But his weekly reports of work done, sent into Bologna, showed magnificent accomplishments. There were but seven thousand soldiers in his district, and only four huts or places of entertainment for the soldiers. At night some thirty or forty soldiers gathered in each place, their wants attended to by a sergeant of the Italian army, who called at his rooms when supplies were needed; yet this report recited that an average of three thousand visited the four places each night of the week, making a weekly attendance of more than twenty thousand. He made out his weekly report Friday night, with directions to his orderly to mail it to Bologna on Monday morning. The report came in promptly, though John Calhoun might be in Venice or Verona.

How he did enjoy these week-end outings. It was a break in the monotony of sitting quietly at ease in quarters furnished by the Italian Government, when the only recreation was lunch and dinner at the officers' mess, where he drank his share of the red and white wines and learned to eat macaroni seasoned with grated cheese and red tomato sauce, wrapping it around his fork and picking it up in great mouthfuls.

He was wonderfully kind to Colonel Rocca, the commanding officer, keeping him supplied with cigarettes and tobacco from the supply furnished for distribution among the privates. When the colonel expressed a desire to accompany him on one of his week-end outings or even to be carried to some neighboring city (the army only allowing a horse and cart for his personal service), the Y Fiat was always at his service. This courtesy resulted in John Calhoun being awarded the Croce di Guerra, for distinguished service at the front, though Cento was seventy-five miles from the front line and he never so much as heard the roar of a distant gun. He did visit the battlefields, the whole front line from the Adriatic Sea, along the Piave, Mt. Grappa and the Trentino, westward to Tonale Pass and northward to Innsbruck, but it was after the armistice. He made a choice collection of war relics and photographs, which he subsequently used in his lecture: "Personal Experiences at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, or How I Won the War Cross."

He had spent his boyhood on the trails of Pine Mountain, often riding to mill straddle of a mule. When the family moved to Madison County he drove a speedy trotter to a side-bar buggy over the turnpike, then in his own Pierce-Arrow over excellent roads, then in Italy a Y Fiat. He was educated by gradation to speedy locomotion and was a most competent judge of good roads.

He knew what he was talking about when he said that there were no other roads in the world like the old Roman roads of the plain and no other highways exhibited such engineering skill and perfection as those of the mountains, north from Brescia along Lake Iseo to Tonale Pass, with its tunnels, curves and gradual ascents.

How he did enjoy riding over the old Roman road from Bologna to Milan with Colonel Rocca, telling him about what he had done and had seen! One of his lectures, descriptive of this road, was reported, and I quote a portion of it:

"There is no place more attractive in the ripe days of spring than the Lombardy plain. The old Roman road as direct as the truth and a straight, though broad, way intersects it as though a great master road builder with the power of a czar had laid down a hundred-mile rule and, drawing a single line at an angle of twenty degrees north of west, declared the survey complete and the route fixed.

"The road is built above and overlooks the plain. No pains in the original construction of twenty-odd centuries ago, nor since in its remodification or repair, has been spared towards making it an eternal highway down which as a vast speedway a half-dozen cars might race abreast.

"The Po and its tributaries are spanned by great arched bridges of stone, seemingly cut and placed by Titans of past ages who spent their full days and plenteous strength and skill in placing stone on stone.

"The whole plan seems laid off with a rule. The distant cloud-capped Alps to the north, the Apennines of verdant foothills and snow-clad peaks nearer to the south seem pressing down to meet and clash as two vast armies contending for the plain—as so many times have the men of the north with the men of the south until the Master of All, drawing a line with His sceptre, said: 'Thus far only.' Then He made the river which surges forward in a straight flight from Valenza to the sea and swarthy barefooted peasants of the plain flanked it with parallel dikes.

"On either side of the whole way are long rows of mulberry trees for silk culture, and vineyards for red wine, and between the grass grows rank and green.

"But three times yearly the geni of the garden comes forth, on moist, moony nights, and changes the rugs of green in the aisles of the vineyards and the groves and the carpets of the fields.

"When the time of the singing of the birds is come and the locust and the cherry bloom, then he spreads the rugs and carpets of promise and of gold, embossed with yellow tulips and bordered with royal purple, Parma violets.

"When nature is voluptuously mature the geni spreads his rugs and carpets of poppies. It is the season to wound and to garner; the red of the fields is as the wounds of the slain.

"The geni grows old, his beard and hair are white as lamb's wool. White oxen drew great tanks on wheels into the vineyards. The grapes are gathered and trampled into wine. The trees and vines look sad. The rugs are faded and worn. It is the season of death; the sleep before the resurrection. So for the last time the geni comes forth and spreads his rugs and carpets of white—the last flowers of the year.

"You will pass several ancient churches along the way. When the interior walls are scraped it is not uncommon to find frescoes by some forgotten master, generally in the nude. The father of the church, being something of an artist himself, mixes a pot of paint and dresses the exhumed Saint Anthony in yellow pants, his conception of how that saint should appear in public.

"This reminds me of the stars painted on the dome of the 'Star Chamber' of Westminster Abbey. The Jewish money lenders of ancient London were permitted to deposit the bonds of their Christian debtors in a chamber of the abbey. The Hebrew word for 'bond' being 'star,' the chamber was so named. The reason for the name in time became obscure. A subsequent custodian, having his own conception, had stars painted on the dome and walls of the chamber.

"On this trip I was told by an Italian antiquarian how the names 'White' (Bianca), 'Green' (Verdi) and 'Black' (Nero) first were given people.

"In ancient Rome when a foundling was left upon a doorstep and parentage could not be traced, he was given the name of some color. Some of the most illustrious and ancient Italian families of today bear these names."

* * * * *

The first of April, 1919, John Calhoun Saylor was transferred from Cento to the general offices of the Y. M. C. A. in the Hotel Regina, Bologna. This hotel had been requisitioned by the Italian government from its owners and turned over to the Y at a nominal rental.

John Calhoun, by his flatteries, ingratiated himself into most satisfactory relations with Professor Black, general secretary of the Y. M. C. A. in Italy and, speaking Italian almost as fluently as the professor, who spoke it like an educated native, was frequently called upon to transact business with the Italians.

There was great excitement in Italy and many unfriendly demonstrations against Americans when President Wilson's attitude on the Fiume question became generally known.

Bologna, politically, has always been one of the most demonstrative and volatile of Italian cities. On the 25th of April, 1919, a great demonstration was made by the populace in favor of the annexation of Fiume, and word was sent by the police authorities to Professor Black that a great crowd was preparing for a demonstration in front of the hotel, in protest against President Wilson's attitude. Professor Black, having important business in a distant city, left about the time the crowd began gathering in front of the Hotel Regina; and John Calhoun, in his absence, spoke for him to the assembled multitude on behalf of the Y, explaining its position on the Fiume question.



As he stood facing the ten thousand excited Italians, there was no tremor of voice or limb. It was just the chance he was looking for; he was in his element; he was having the best time he had had since leaving America. In the uniform of an officer of the American army he spoke in criticism of the Commander in Chief of that army, the President of the United States.

The Bologna paper, Il Resto del Carlino, reported the proceeding as follows:

"* * * E' un momento d'incertezza, Qualcuno impreca a Wilson e fischia. Altri protestano giustamente affermandi che non se deve confondere Wilson coi populo d'America.

"E giustamente Ci resulta infatti che i rappresentanti a Bologna della Y. M. C. A. hanno a pertamente disapprovato il contegno di Wilson.

"I benemeriti dirigenti la sede Centrale di Bologna hanno publicamente cio dichiarato e itri, nei vestibolo dell' Hotel Regina il ritratto del Presidente e stato sostituito della prima pagina del Resto del Carlino nella qualle erano sottolineate le frasi salienti del Messaggio di Orlando e cancellati i punti del Messaggio di Wilson nei quali il Presidente si arroga di parlare in nome del populo degli Stati Uniti.

"Ma questo e ignorato dalla folla la quale continua a protestare.

"Alle finestre si affacciano vari ufficiali e sventolano bandiere italiane; poi il maggiore Saylor accenna a parlare.

"Si fa un gran silenzio.

"Il giovane ufficiale della Fratellanza americana grida:

"Nessun Wilson potra togliere all'Italia il diritto al conseguimento del sou diritto al diritto che i tricolore italiano sventoli per sempre sulla Torre di Fiume. Io e i miei colleghi sentiama per Fiume lo stesso sentimento che provate voi, o cittadini di Bologna e d'Italia. Togliervi Fiume e una delle piu grandi barbarie del secolo. Non disperate; lasciate che Wilson rinsavisca! Fiume sara italiana!

"E' fra un delirio di acclamazioni conclude gridando.

"Viva Italia! Viva Fiume! Viva Orlando! Viva Sonnino! Viva l'America!

"Viva l'America risponde la folla in una esplosione di riconoscente entusiasmo.

"Altri discorsi

"Intanto la prima parte del corteo ritorna da piazza VIII Agos to e i dimostranti, aumentati ancora di numero ripetono le acclamazioni dinanzi alla sede della Fratellanza Americana.

"Piazza Garibaldi e gremita. Intorno al monumento dell'eroe si dispongono le bandiere e le rappresentanze e vengone pronunciati altri discorsi.

"Parla per primo un vecchio garabaldino il quale afforma che se continueranno le opposizione per Fiume andremo laggiu non col grigioverde ma con la camicia rossa e conclude mandando un caldo saluto al populo americano mentre impreca al tradimento di Wilson; poi segue Pietro Nenni che invita i cittadini americani graditi e amati ospiti di Bologna a far conoscere ei loro connazionali il vero sentimento del populo d'Italia la sua fermezza nei pretendere cio che gli spetta di diritto. In attesa che quella giustizia che ci nega Wilson—conclude—ci venga dal popolo della libera America, noi gridiamo; Guai a chitocco i tre colori della bandiera italiana. * * *

"Parla di nuovo, per ultimo, il maggiore Saylor, il quale ripete il sentimento suo e dei suoi colleghi concorde con quello dei populo italiano. Wilson-esclama-ha lasciato il cervello in America; se non avvera in lui un rinsavimento dovra presto fare un triste ritorno pensando agli effetti disastrosi della sua megalomania!

"Nuivi applausi scroscianti poi il corteo si ricompont e si avviva per via del Mille gli uffici del Giornale del Mattino.

"Parla, applaudito, il college Lucchesi. Indi la folla si reca in via Galliera soffermandosi dinanzi al palazzo ove e la sede del Corpo d'Armata."

The mob was appeased; peace was declared; the day was saved, and several of the Y-men fell on John Calhoun's neck and wept tears of gratitude because he had saved their lives.

There were quite a few Y secretaries scattered over Italy who vehemently disclaimed that John Calhoun spoke for them or their sentiments. Among this number was his brother-in-law, John Cornwall, and two truculent and undiplomatic secretaries who had charge of the work with the Twenty-seventh Army Corps at Carpi.

They sent a communication to General Antonio Di Giorgi in command of that corps; mailed a copy of this letter and one written Professor Black to the American Ambassador at Rome; and, so their position might be understood, addressed a communication to the paper Il Resto Del Carlino, published at Bologna, which was commented upon by that paper as follows:

"Il signor John Smith direttore regionale della Y. M. C. A. ci scrive da Carpi che, pur avendo le maggior simpatie per l'Italia e per il suo glorioso esercito, non puo associarsi alle critiche fatte da alcuni membri della Y. M. C. A. di Bologna contro l'opera di Wilson.

"Come cittadino degli Stati Uniti indossante la divisa dell'esercito di cui il presidente Wilson e il capo-scrive il Signor Smith—non faccio in Italia o altrove la critica della sue espressioni; se egli parla a nome della Nazione, io devo essere solidale con lui.

"Alla protesta del signor Smith si assicia il senor E. R. Clarke, insegnante di educazione fisica presso la missione americana Y. M. C. A.

"Diamo atto volentiere ai due egregi gentiluomi delle loro dichiarazioni, inspirate a uno scrupolo patriottico che altamente apprezziamo.

"Non vorremmo pero con questo togliere valore all'atteggiamento generosi di quei membri della benemerita associazione che nei giorni scorsi si associana spontaneamente alla protesta del popolo italiano contro la politica di Wilson, stimando che ogni libero cittadino possa, in ogni circostanza, apportamente esprimere un giudizio sullopera del proprio Governo senza rendersi colpevole d'indisciplina ne dar luogo a malevoli interpretazioni."

The letter written to General Di Giorgi was as follows:

"Carpi, Italy, April 26, 1919.

"His Excellency, General Antonio Di Giorgi:

"I have been in the Y. M. C. A. service in Italy since September 28, 1918. I am fond of the people of Italy and at all times have been justly and fairly treated by them; and the officers and soldiers constituting her great army have been especially kind to me.

"I have just had read to me from the journal Il Resto del Carlino La Patria, addresses said to have been made by certain representatives of the Y. M. C. A. at Bologna. If they are correctly quoted, they do not express my views.

"As a citizen of the United States, with President Wilson the head of the nation, I do not in Italy or elsewhere criticize his expressions. If he speaks for the nation, I am controlled by and concur in those statements.

"Most respectfully and with sincere regret, I am,

"John Smith.

"N. B.—I concur in the sentiment expressed by Mr. Smith.

"Edw. R. Clarke."

On April 26th in an interview, after the delivery of his letter, Mr. Smith asked General Di Giorgi: "What would be the punishment of a soldier who criticized his king as John Calhoun had President Wilson."

"Mr. Smith, you must excuse me from answering; I am not a politician, but a soldier." (The general is considered one of the most astute politicians in Italy.)

A major who was present said: "We would turn his face to the wall and shoot him in the back."

On April 28th Professor Black sailed for America on a three-months' vacation, a very inopportune time, as the Y work was in a chaotic state and his more than two hundred subalternate secretaries exposed to personal danger.

General Treat, Commander of the American forces in Italy, after an investigation, ordered Saylor stripped of his uniform, and he was sent home. Before he left Italy he was made a Cavaliere. His friends among the Italian officers, who had repeatedly enjoyed the hospitality of his Fiat, dubbed him "Sir Knight of the Highway."

He returned by way of France and attended the first convention of the American Legion in Paris. He returned on an American transport with several thousand soldiers. As he looked at these boys he thought of the vast horde returning and how in less than ten years they would rule the nation, and the idea of pushing prominently into the organization of the Legion took deeper root in his brain.

Aboard the transport he did not recount his adventures on the battlefields of Italy. He was fearful some officer having knowledge that his uniform had been taken from him, or having private instructions from General Treat, might question the value of his services in the determination of the World War. But when he reached Kentucky it would be a different proposition; he would be a rooster on his own dunghill.

He remained a few days in New York and so managed as to make himself conspicuous as one of the founders of the Legion.

When he reached home he was a zealous advocate against the League of Nations, and declared himself a political maverick until that issue was settled.

It seemed to have been settled when he arrived at the conclusion that Morrow, the Republican candidate, would be elected Governor.

Then he found time to discontinue his series of lectures on "Italy in the War" and stumped the Eighth District for Morrow—all the while having his eye on John Calhoun's tomorrow.

One of his most interesting lectures was "Personal Experiences at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto," an extract from which follows:

"* * * I have heard and seen enough to know that it is to be the final great effort and to commence on October 24th, commemorative of the anniversary, and to wipe out the stain, of the Italian defeat at Caparetto.

"For more than a month I have heard the monotonous, familiar, easily distinguished, never-to-be-forgotten sound of preparation—of the tramp of the feet of thousands of men and mules; of the rumble of the wheels of countless moving vans, guns and wagons going back and forth in apparent utter confusion from Tonale and Aprica passes down the valley from Edelo to new assignments, necessary in the organization of the attacking army of nearly a million men.

"The front line extends from Stelvio Pass in the Ortler Alps along the then Italian-Austrian boundary to Tonale Pass to Lake Garda, thence a little south of Altissimo, Asiago, to Mt. Grappa, Corduna and along the Piave to the sea.

"The initial plan of battle decided upon is to separate the Austrian forces in the Trentino from those on the Piave by a breach at the junction of the Fifth and Sixth Austrian armies.

"In conformity with this plan the action was instituted as scheduled by attacks by the Fourth army in the Grappa area, by the Tenth army on the Piave south of Vittorio, supplemented by attacks instituted by the Eighth and Twelfth armies and diversion raids by the Sixth army. The primary offensive covered the whole front from Asiago on the west to a point east on the Piave, a little east of south of Vittorio.

"Opposite the Tenth Austrian army were the Seventh and First Italian armies; opposite the Eleventh Austrian army was the Sixth and part of the Fourth Italian army. The Fourth and Twelfth Italian armies faced the Belluno Group, and the Eighth, Tenth and Third Italian armies were confronted by the Sixth and Fifth Austrian armies.

"The Austrian force consisted of sixty-three divisions; thirty-nine on the front line, thirteen in the second and eleven in reserve. A total of 1,070,000 men and 7,500 guns and mortars.

"The Italians had opposing this force fifty-one Italian, three British, two French, one Czecho-Slovak divisions and the 332d American infantry regiment—a total of 912,000 men and 8,900 guns and mortars.

"The forty-eighth British and the forty-second French divisions were with the Sixth army. General Earl of Cavan, commanding the British forces in Italy, was given the command of the Tenth army, which included the seventh and twenty-third British divisions, the twenty-third, thirty-third, thirty-seventh and fifty-sixth Italian divisions, the Como brigade and the 332d American regiment, all of whom rendered very distinguished service.

"By October 29th it was apparent, by reasons of breaches made in the Austrian lines and advances effected, that a great victory by an aggressive policy was assured.

"Beginning the night of the 30th, the enemy commenced retiring under the protection of rear guard actions. On the 31st the enemy's forces had collapsed on the Grappa front. The Eighth army had driven the enemy back into the Belluno valley and the way was open for advances to the Cadore, the Agordino and the Val Cismon. Opportunity was presented for a complete destruction of the Austrian forces in the Trentino. Whereupon the whole Italian army by general orders issued on November 1st was directed to press down upon the Austrian army as a great, solid wave of men from the Ortler Alps to the sea.

"The order was followed by the recapture of the Asiago Plateau, the occupation of Trent on November 2d, the advance of the Tenth army to Livenza, of the Eighth army to Belluno and of the Seventh and First armies to Riva.

"Although the armistice between the Italians and the Austrians was signed in Trieste on the evening of November 3d, the advance continued into the afternoon of the 4th.

"When the fighting ceased there had been an advance occupation of territory by the Italians of approximately 3,500 square miles. More than 450,000 prisoners and 5,000 guns and mortars had been taken.

"On November 3d an Italian force landed in Trieste, which city was occupied without opposition.

"It was essentially an Italian victory won by Italian troops.

"The result was the destruction of the great army of Austria-Hungary, the armistice and surrender of Austria of November 3d and the hastening by weeks of the armistice of November 11th.

"I have always felt that the British and French appropriated for themselves too much of this victory, won by the united efforts of a million men, mostly Italians.

"An army or division engaged in one sector of a great battle is prone to take to itself more than its quota of the success from the united efforts of many divisions. A division may be so placed as to bear the brunt of an offensive and by a stubborn, bloody stand stop a disastrous defeat; but it takes many combined divisions fighting with equal valor and success under a great staff to put over a great offensive, such as was the battle of Vittorio Veneto; in result, at least, the greatest battle of the world.

"After the battle the same noises and apparent confusion of the advance was repeated; of soldiers moving north by way of Tonale Pass to the front; now far in enemy country beyond the cities of Male, Cles and Bolzano to Innsbruck; of prisoners, Austrian, Hungarian and German, taken south to labor in the fields of the plain of Lombardy, or even to the Riviera to work in the quarries and upon the roads on the foothills of the Apennines, overlooking the blue Mediterranean.

"Many feel that the final, fatal stroke to the Central Powers was given by Italy when driving the Austrian army north and east, she took more than 450,000 prisoners. More she might have had, but they were permitted to move on, a disheveled, discouraged host, witnesses to the Austrian and German people of a last, fatal defeat; they tramped northward self-stripped of all equipment as a half-drowned man might throw away his clothes, hoping to reach a distant shore.

"After the battle, in which I took a prominent part, I followed behind these half-starved, half-naked soldiers, first a fleeing army, then a mighty horde of discouraged tramps, then corraled and organized and under guard. The road was pock-marked with shell holes, which were being filled by laboring soldiers, first with Austrian dead, then stones, then earth. The way was strewn with weapons and clothing and blankets and helmets and love tokens and overturned trucks and cannon and dead horses and dead men.

"The weak and famished died by the roadside or gorged themselves on the dead artillery horses or those ridden to death by fleeing cavalry and officers. Their hunger appeased, many sat in the sun, naked to the waist ridding themselves of vermin or lay in exhausted stupor. The stench was as revolting as the picture.

"Such was the panorama all the way from Tonale Pass east, to Fucina, Male, Cles, Bolzano and south to Trent and Rovereto and along the Piave to the sea.

"Now, if you will pardon personal allusions, I will tell you how I was wounded and how I obtained the Croce di Guerra. I—, etc. I—, etc," (We will omit the account.)

* * * * *

As John Calhoun now called himself a Republican, his residence at Richmond in a congressional district normally Democratic, did not suit his political ambitions; so in December, following Governor Morrow's election, he removed to Pineville in the Eleventh Congressional District, which was overwhelmingly Republican, and for a lawyer a better business location than Richmond.

He built a very handsome, brick residence on one of the foothills of Pine Mountain overlooking the little, mountain city and the broad valley in the bend of the Cumberland.

He felt satisfied that after a couple of years' residence in Pineville he could procure the nomination for Congress, which was equivalent to an election.

The change of residence he found perfectly satisfactory from every standpoint, but Mrs. Rosamond Clay Saylor was not satisfied. She closed one of their very common wrangles, and she usually closed such bouts, by saying: "Well, John Calhoun, you have grown very arbitrary and headstrong since your experiences in the World War. I shall acquiesce since most of my time will be taken up on the lecture platform, advocating woman suffrage. I suppose I can find the place bearable during the heated term if you make yourself a little more agreeable. I wish I had married your brother-in-law, John Cornwall, when he asked me; he at least is a gentleman."



CHAPTER III.

JOHN CORNWALL TRAVELS A BIT AND RETURNS HOME.

I believe it is Victor Hugo who declares sixty the age of adventure. To the regret of many an adventurous soul past forty-five, this view was not shared by those organizing Uncle Sam's oversea fighting force, and these men, regardless of physical fitness, found their opportunities limited to camp-follower service in the capacity of Red Cross, K. C. or Y. M. C. A. worker.

So John Cornwall, Y. M. C. A. worker, in due course arrived at Bologna and was assigned for service with the Seventh Italian army, located in the head of the Val Camonica and holding the front line around Tonale Pass and Mt. Adamello, a glacier 11,700 feet high.

This was hardly a satisfactory winter assignment, as fuel was scarce and the icy winds and Austrian guns kept him burrowed in the chiseled caverns of the dolomite peaks like a prairie dog in winter quarters until the first of November, when Tonale Pass, which had been in possession of the Austrians for several years, was crossed and the advance made into the Trentino, followed by the surrender of the Austrian armies and the Italian-Austrian armistice of November 3-4th.

Then, after following the advancing army several days towards Innsbruck, he returned to Pontagna and a winter in the Alpine snow fields, where, above nine thousand feet, you find the arctic ptarmigan and perpetual snow, where the telephone lines occasionally fail to function because under snows, and the magnificent mountain roads approaching the passes are closed for several months by deep snows, despite a struggle to keep open a narrow trail with snow plows on which, if you meet another vehicle, all hands shovel snow for an hour, making room to pass.

There nothing was to be seen except snow and scenery and soldiers and guns and snow dogs.

The Mt. Adamello snow or sled dogs are a cross between the Canadian and Russian husky, big, white, woolly, impressive war veterans, snarling and snapping at one another and their keepers, barking little, knowing that silence is salvation. White and hard to see, they are sent between lines into territory where nothing living and seen can live.

These dogs are allowed half the rations of a soldier; are marked with indelible ink on the pink skin inside the ear; and a pair, with apparent ease, draw a sled load of three hundred pounds.

It would be hard to picture John's loneliness that winter. Though the officers and soldiers were most kind, he did not speak Italian and none of the officers in the mess to which he was assigned spoke English. At first he could not ask for a piece of bread; but the service was excellent and his wants were anticipated. Bearing in mind their example and kindness, he made up his mind always to be kind to any foreigner he might meet when he returned home.

He longed for someone to talk with; and when his work was done he would walk out upon the mountain side in the bright winter sunlight of those great heights and hold an imaginary conversation with his wife or little son, and come home whistling and happy.

There were no books to read. He was left alone with his thoughts which, though sometimes sad and lonely, were never unhappy ones. These six months of silence and thought changed his disposition. He grew older in spirit. He acquired a habit of silence he never outgrew; of introspective reflection, such as the old have who sit silently in the chimney corner.

In early March, he received word of the death of his mother. He was not surprised, and, though he loved her very much, was not overly grieved by it. She had led a useful, unselfish, happy life; she was old and for several years had been losing her vitality without apparent pain. Her life had been a peaceful one; she expected the peace of the righteous after death; she believed those of her family she left behind would be happy. John looked upon her going as a vanishing from sight merely. She seemed in an adjoining room or near place; a little too far away to see or hear, but near enough to feel her presence and love.

Just when it seemed that winter was the perpetual season, when his fingers were swollen and discolored by the cold and he had forgotten how it felt to be warm unless in bed or shoveling snow, the valley below took on emerald tints and the snow line crept up the mountain.

Then John thought, "the hill country will be fine this summer;" but he was told to come out of his dolomite burrow and dwell in a tent with the Arabs in Tripolitania for the summer. A place so near the equator that his shadow at noon was hid by a none too prominent stomach; where the thermometer feels comfortable and perfectly at home at 130 in the shade and where the snow dogs of his winter home were replaced by the camel, the only reliable conveyance in the summer.

The Bedouin, the Tuaregs and some of the blacks, ride the camel with ease and dignity; but an Englishman, Italian or American on a camel looks and feels wholly out of place, and at the end of a day's journey is an object of pity and a subject for soothing lotions.

The impression that John Cornwall formed of Tripoli was that it was a vastly overcrowded city, due to a host of visiting and trading natives and the more than ten thousand soldiers, at that time, quartered in the city.

The blue Mediterranean, the white beach, the brilliancy of the sun, the palm trees and the crescent city, in the main of cement or plaster buildings, with flat or beehive roofs, all white except an occasional red or green tiled one, merely emphasizing by contrast the uniformity of the building color; make an interesting picture.

The varieties of nationality, costume and color are striking in the extreme. Here are seen men and women, white, brown, yellow, black and shades and combinations of two or all. Here are youthful forms, graceful and like living bits of ebony or bronze; antiques weatherworn and wind-dried, who when asleep upon the sidewalk, which is quite the custom, look like recently disentombed mummies; old and wrinkled women with hair dyed a brilliant red; Italian soldiers in the national green uniform; native or colonial troops in khaki; some native regiments and police in vivid blue or brown with red fez topped with a huge yellow tassel; beggars and children with little more than a breech cloth; women with faces covered and breasts and limbs uncovered; women wrapped as ghosts, with just the feet showing and one eye peeping and twinkling, encircled about the middle with many folds of cloth; the medicine or dance man in his costume of rags, crane heads and feathers, with a girdle of jangling tin and bones, his little drum with curved sticks, his dance and music the convulsions and noises of a stupid beggar; and many, very many, blind;—who seem to have no home but the sidewalk, where you see them asleep at any time, day or night, waiting in darkness for alms and the judgment day.

A certain sect shave the head and grow a crown lock, Chinaman style, except it is unplatted. The blessed dead must not be denied by the hands of the living, so the lock is left to handle the corpse.

The chief business is fighting. The chief export, a desert grass used in the manufacture of a fine paper. Business is stagnant, as the war between the Italians and the Arabs shifted barter by caravan with the interior to the British colony on the east and the French on the west.

Each trade or business is segregated or localized. The jewelers, an apparently thrifty lot and mostly Turkish Jews, are bunched on a street near one of the hotels.

The meat market is quite interesting if you can stand the smell. The natives eat the whole carcass.

The milkman, morning and evening, calls at the door of his customer with his goods in the original package. The goats are more docile and better behaved than the children. They stand and deliver the quantity demanded. There is neither chance for nor great economy in adulteration—water is too scarce. It is brought to the city mule-back in porous jars. You can have your milk from the black, white or brown nanny as desired. A goat is a respected member of the family and his odor by comparison not offensive.

Never after four months in Tripolitania did John laugh at the Englishman who carried his tub with him. He is an experienced traveler and knows what he is about. A cold bath cost John $1.50. The Bedouins and Tuaregs are proud, aristocratic, heroic-looking people; but they bathe in the sand much as a mother hen dusts herself in a neighbor's flower bed.

John Cornwall was forced to go fifty miles south of Tripoli to Azizia in the desert, where he found the thermometer 130 in the shade. At another time when he went to Zavia, he found six had recently died of the bubonic plague.

In this land of heat, of blindness, of leprosy, of flies, of fleas and sandstorms, where the sun goes down red as the wounds of the slain, he was required as regional director of a district seven hundred by sixty miles to visit some thirty case del soldato, (houses of the soldier) in any manner the gods of opportunity presented.

It was necessary to get something that beat the coast line vessels, which with oriental slowness and uncertainty of schedule visited the coast hamlets. A mule would not answer; a truck was furnished by the army but almost impossible; a camel was too hard on the backbone; besides at certain seasons they are vicious as a Hun and unless muzzled will snatch your arm in their strong jaws and snap it as a clap pipe stem.

In this land of rugs, where is the magic carpet? Why an army Caproni—and the Italian army, until the Fiume question arose, refused nothing to an American. So John went to the Governo della Tripolitania Stato Maggiore and was given a general permit to make his trips from Tripoli to Homs and Zuara in the Caproni mail plane.

The mail to Homs is carried on Wednesday and that to Zuara on Saturday. The planes are more than twenty meters from tip to tip and can ascend to six thousand meters; they are 18 cylinder, 450 horsepower with three complete engines, either of which is sufficient to operate a machine in case of accident. Then, the cost of building such a machine was approximately $16,000.00. They carry two thousand pounds of mail matter or explosives or ten men. The seat John occupied was in the very bow. When occupying this seat the pressure of the wind from the speed of flying is quite a strain on the neck, chest and back. Your head will be twisted as though wrenched by strong invisible hands, your back grows tender from pressure on the back rail and must be rested by leaning forward with your head adjusted at a certain angle with the wind.

The distance from the aviation field near Tripoli to Homs is 110 kilometers and is usually made in fifty minutes. It takes seven hours by steamer. The steamer follows no schedule and may return in a few days or sail on to Genoa or Syracuse or Bengasi.

The plane route in general follows the shore line. The blue Mediterranean from two thousand meters above is not blue but black. You can see to quite a depth and where the bottom is distinct the white sand looks blue and not the water. The colors do not blend—the inky black deep water, the blue shallows, the brown desert, with rare patches of white rectangular houses and the green oases of corn, alfalfa and palm trees. The palms, almost the only trees, look like inverted green feather dusters.

And so, on to the aviation field near the magnificent ruins of ancient Lebna. The extent of these ruins, great arches, portals and columns of marble, porphyry and cut stone overlooking the sea, though half buried by sand dunes, presents conclusive evidence of a former populous and magnificent city.

In the morning, when they expected to return to Tripoli, a heavy fog drifting from the southwest rested over the sea, and though conditions were not ideal, they started home.

The fog, far below, covering the sea as far as vision reached, looked like an immense broken billowy ice field, or millions of big powder puffs jammed together in an immense plain. Following the distinguishable shore line they came within fifteen miles of Tripoli where the fog, with dangerous perverseness, extended far into the desert. Earth passed out of sight and they were in a private world of much space and no substance, as might have been before land and sea were formed. Far below on the cloud-like surface of the fog a circular rainbow preceded them and when the operators, thinking the camp near, descending, drew near the fog, in the white center of the rainbow-circle, ghost-like, appeared a perfect silhouette of their airplane.

Then through the fog, as cold as a winter mist, they came in sight of earth; much too close for comfort, where a little dip or swerve might land them in the palm tops, and the edge of the landing field a quarter of a mile to the right, then up into the fog again and to a safe landing.

On a day in July, they started for Zuara at six o'clock in the morning; and the higher up they went the hotter it grew. The operators, returning to camp, refused to make the trip as the thermometer registered 60 centigrade at five hundred meters, stating a ghibli was raging at a higher altitude. Five hours later Tripoli and the whole desert country south, suddenly and without warning, became a blast furnace of heat and a place of dust and torture.

Those familiar with the hot winds which at times devastate the crops and make life miserable southwest of the one hundredth meridian in Oklahoma and Texas would consider them the cool breeze of a summer twilight in comparison with the ghibli or Sahara sandstorm.

Some writer tells that "a geologist has estimated that a single windstorm across the Sahara once carried nearly 2,000,000 tons of dust from Africa and deposited it over Italy, Austria, France and Germany."

At the end of four months spent in Tripolitania, John Cornwall's contract for a year's service with the Y expired and he asked for transportation to America. He made the trip across the sea from Tripoli to Syracuse, from Syracuse to Bologna by rail except across the strait of Messina, and then in a day or so to Genoa, where he took passage on the Giuseppe Verdi for America.

As he journeyed second-class, which was the way the Y men were sent home, his fellow-passengers were in the main Italians on their way to labor in the vineyards and orchards of California. While he spoke Italian, it was too laborious and incomplete for general conversation. He had much time to study the ways of the sea, and the infrequent ships they passed were cause for reflection.

He thought how trite from use and yet how true, truer than any of us even dream, is the comparison that life is a great sea and we who journey through, as ships, that at distant intervals dot the surface.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse