Ainsi parlent nos morts. Et ils disent encore:
FRANCAIS, aimez-vous les uns les autres d'un amour fraternal et, pour prevaloir contre l'ennemi, mettez en commun vos biens et vos pensees. Que parmi vous les plus grands et les plus forts soient les serviteurs des faibles. Ne marchandez pas plus vos richesses que votre sang a la patrie. Soyez tous egaux par la bonne volonte. Vous le devez a vos morts.
VOUS nous devez d'assurer, a notre exemple, par le sacrifice de vous-memes, le triomphe de la plus sainte des causes. Freres, pour payer votre dette envers nous, il vous faut vaincre, et il vous faut faire plus encore: il vois faut meriter de vaincre.
Nos morts nous ordonnent de vivre et de combattre en citoyens d'un peuple libre, de marcher resolument dans l'ouragan de fer vers la paix qui se levera comme une belle aurore sur l'Europe affranchie des menaces de ses tyrans, et verra renaetre, faibles et timides encore, la JUSTICE et L'HUMANITE etouffees par le crime de l'Allemagne.
Voila ce qu'inspirent nos morts a un Francais que le detachement des vanites et le progres de l'age rapprochent d'eux.
What our Dead Say to Us
There is no need to recall to the minds of our people those who were dear to us and have passed hence, for they are celebrating—and with good cause—the anniversaries of their deaths. Was it not in France, in the 19th century, that there was born that philosophy which placed in the rank of the foremost duties of mankind gratitude towards those generations who have preceded us to the grave, and have left us the fruits of their thoughts and of their labors? Indeed, ancestral worship prevails in all climes and at all periods; in fact, with certain Oriental nations it is the only religion. But in what country is the link between the dead and the living so strong as it is in France—the rites at the same time so solemn and so intimate? With us, as a rule, our dead, beloved and venerated, never entirely depart from the homes in which they have dwelt, but take up their abode in the hearts of the living who imitate them, consult them, pay heed to them.
I recollect, too vaguely to make full use of it here, a beautiful scene from the heroic song, "Girart de Roussillon," I think it is, where one is shown a king's daughter, one night after a battle gazing across the battlefield where lay the innumerable warriors who had fallen in the fight. "She felt a desire," said the poet, "to embrace them all." And from the depths of my far-away memories this apparition of the daughter of a royal house arises before me as an image of our France to-day, weeping for the flower of our race so abundantly cut down.
My object in writing these lines is not to exhort my fellow-citizens to commemorate to-day our noble dead, according to immemorial custom, but to honor as a united people those who have sacrificed their lives for their country and to meditate upon the lesson that comes to us from their scattered burial places.
First, with the memory of our own, let us with all piety associate the memory of those brave ones who have shed their blood under all the Allies' standards, from the streams of the Yser to the banks of the Vistule; from the mountains of Frioul to the defiles of Morava, and on the vast seas.
Then, let us offer our choicest flowers of memory to the innocent victims of an atrocious cruelty, to the women, the child martyrs, to that young English nurse, guilty only of generosity, whose assassination aroused the indignation of the entire universe.
And our dead, our beloved dead! May a grateful country open wide enough its great heart to contain them all, the humblest as well as the most illustrious, the heroes fallen with glory to whom have been erected monuments of bronze and marble, who will live in history, and those simple ones who drew their last breath thinking of the green fields of home.
Blessed be all those whose blood has been shed for their country! Not in vain have they sacrificed their lives. At the glorious encounter at Artois, Champagne, and Argonne they repulsed the invader who could not advance one step farther on the ground made sacred by their fallen bodies. Some weep for them, all admire them, more than one envies them. Let us listen to them. They speak. Let us make every effort to hear them. Let us prostrate ourselves on this ground, torn up by shot and shell, where many of them sleep in their blood-dyed garments. Let us kneel in the cemetery at the foot of the flower-strewn graves of those who were brought back to their country, and there listen to the whispers, scarcely audible but powerful, which mingle through the night with the murmur of the breeze and the rustle of the falling leaves. Let us make every effort to understand their inspired words. They say:
BROTHERS, live, fight, accomplish our work. Win victory and peace for the sake of your dead. Drive out the intruder who has already retreated before us, and bring back your plows into the fields now saturated with our blood.
Thus speak our dead. And they say, further:
FRENCHMEN, love one another with brotherly love, and, in order that you may prevail against the enemy, put into common use your possessions and your ideas. Let the greatest and strongest among you serve the weak. Be as willing to give your money as your blood for your country. Be willing that perfect equality shall exist amongst you. You owe this to your dead. Because of our example, you owe us the assurance that by your self-sacrifice ours will be the triumph in this holiest of all causes. Brothers, in order to pay your debt to us you must conquer, and you must do still more: you must deserve to conquer.
Our dead demand that we shall live and fight as citizens of a free country; that we shall march resolutely through the hurricane of steel toward Peace, which shall arise like a beautiful aurora over Europe freed from the menace of her tyrants, and shall see reborn, though weak and timid, Justice and Humanity, for the time being crushed through the crime of Germany.
Thus are the French, detached from the vanities and progress of the age, drawn nearer to our dead and inspired by them.
Anatole France Translation by E. M. Pope.
Poetical version of Sully Prud'homme's "Les Berceaux"
The long tide lifts each might boat Asleep and nodding on the dock, Of the little cradles they take no note Which the tender-hearted mothers rock.
But time brings round the Day of Good-Byes For it's women's fate to weep and endure, While curious men attempt the skies And follow wherever horizons lure.
Yet the mighty boats on that morning tide When they flee away from the dwindling lands Will feel the clutch of mother hands And the soul of the far-off cradleside.
La Priere Du Poilu
(Written in the Trenches, before Verdun, December, 1915)
Et alors, le poilu, levant la tete derriere son parapet, se mit, dans la nuit froide de decembre, a fixer une etoile qui brillait au ciel d'un feu etrange. Son cerveau commenca a remeur de lointaines pensees; son coeur se fit plus leger, comme s'il voulait monter vers l'astre; ses levres fremirent doucement pour laisser passer une priere:
"O Etoile, murmura-t-il, je n'ai pas besoin de ta lueur, car je connais ma route! Elle a pu me paraitre sombre au debut, quand mes yeux n'etaient point accoutumes a ses rudes contours; mais, depuis un an, elle est pour moi eblouissante de clarte. On a beau me l'allonger chaque jour, on n'arrivera pas a me l'obscurcir. On a beau y multiplier les ronces et les pierres, apres lesquelles je laisse de ma chair et de mon sang, on n'arrivera pas a m'y arreter. Je sais que j'irai jusqu'au bout. Je vois devant moi la victoire.... Mais, la-bas, derriere moi, il y a une foule qui parfois s'inquiete dans les tenebres. Au moment ou la vieille anne va tourner sur ses gonds vermoulus, elle repasse en son esprit agite les evenements qui la marquerent. Elle songe aux peuplades barbares d'Orient que le Germain a entraenees derriere son char: Turcs et Bulgares, Kurdes et Malissores, et elle oublie les grandes nations qui s'enrolerent sous la banniere de la civilisation. Elle songe aux territoires que foule la lorde botte tudesque, et elle oublie les empires que nous detenons en gages: ici, l'ouest et l'est Africains, grands comme quatre fois toute l'Allemagne, avec leurs 5000 kilometres de voies ferrees et leurs mines de diamants; la, ces eles d'Oceanie et cette forteresse d'Asie: Kiao-Tcheou, que le kaiser avait proclame la perle de ses colonies. Elle s'alarme de toutes les pailles que, dans sa course desordonnee, ramasse l'Allemagne et ne voit pas les poutres enormes qui soutiennent la France.... Nous autres, qui sommes la poutre, nous savons mieux, nous voyons mieux.
"O Etoile, apprends a ceux qui ne sont pas dans la tranchee la confiance!...
"Le passe est la qui enseigne l'avenir. Chaque fois qu'une armee quelconque, prise de la folie de l'espace, a voulu s'enfoncer dans les terres lointaines et abandonner le berceau ou elle puisait sa force et ses vivres, elle est morte de langueur et d'epuisement, elle s'est effritee comme la pierre qu'on arrache de l'assemblage solide des maisons, elle n'est pas plus revenue que ne reviennent les grains de poussiere qu'emporte le vent.... Voici plus d'un siecle que des legions ont tente la conquete de l'Egypte et ces legions etaient les plus magnifiques du monde. Elles avaient des chefs qui s'appelaient Desaix, Kleber et Bonaparte; mais elles n'avaient pas la maitrise de la mer et rien ne revint des sables brulants du desert. Voici un siecle aussi qu'une armee la plus formidable d'Europe, conduite par le plus fameux conquerant qu'ait connu l'univers, tenta de submerger l'immense empire russe; mais l'empire etait trop grand pour la grande armee et rien ne revint des solitudes glacees de la steppe.... Puisse, de meme, aller loin, toujours plus loin, l'armee allemande deja decimee, haletante, epuisee! Puisse-t-elle pousser jusqu'au Tigre, jusqu'a l'Euphrate, jusqu'a l'Inde!...
"O Etoile, apprends a ceux qui ne sont pas dans la tranchee, l'Histoire!...
"Certes ces nuits d'hiver sont longues. Et tous tes scintillements, Etoile, ne valent pas le sourire de la femme aimee au logis. Cependant, tu as quelque chose de la femme, puisque tant d'hommes te suivent aveuglement: tu en as la grace et l'eclat; et toi, au moins, nul couturier boche ne t'habilla jamais!... Tu possedes meme des vertus que ne possede pas toujours la femme: tu as la patience et le calme. Les nuages ont beau s'interposer entre tes adorateurs et toi, l'aurore a beau chaque matin eteindre tes feux, tu t'inclines devant la loi supreme de la nature et nulle revolte ne vint jamais de toi.... Tache d'inspirer ta soumission a tes soeurs terrestres qui, dans les villes, attendent le retour des guerriers.
"O Etoile, apprends a celles qui ne sont pas dans les tranchees, la Discipline!...
"Que tous, que toutes sachent qu'il y a quelque chose au-dessus du Nombre, au-dessus de la Force, au-dessus meme du Courage: et c'est la Perseverance.... Il y eut, une fois, un match de lutte qui restera a jamais celebre dans l'histoire du sport: celui de Sam Mac Vea contre Joe Jeannette. Le premier, trapu, massif, tout en muscles: un colosse noir du plus beau noir. Le second, plus leger, plus harmonieux, tout en nerfs: un metis jaune du plus beau cuivre. Le combat fut epique: il se poursuivit pendant quarantedeux rounds et dura trois heures. Au troisieme round, puis au septieme, Sam Mac Vea jetait Joe Jeannette a terre et sa victoire ne paraissait plus faire de doute. Cependant, Joe Jeannette peu a peu revint a la vie, se cramponna, se defendit, vecut sur ses nerfs, puis attaqua a son tour. Au quarante-deuxieme round, epaule contre epaule, haletants, ruisselants de sang, ils se portaient les derniers coups; mais le ressort de Sam Mac Vea etait casse et, devant l'assurance de son adversaire, il se sentit vaincu... Alors on vit le grand geant noir lever les bras et s'ecrouler en disant: I GUESS I CAN NOT.... (Je crois que je ne peux pas...) Ainsi, bientot peut-etre, verrons-nous s'ecrouler l'Allemagne, en avouant: "Je ne peux pas...."
"O Etoile, apprends a ceux qui ne sont pas dans la tranchee, la Boxe!..."
The Prayer of "Le Poilu"
Then "Le Poilu" standing, in the cold December night, behind the breastworks, fixed his gaze upon a star that was shining with a strange brilliance in the sky above. His mind was stirred with thoughts of far away things. His heart grew lighter, as though it yearned to reach the star; his lips trembled, and softly he breathed a prayer.
"O Star," he murmured, "I need not thy glimmering light, for I know my way. The road may have appeared dark at first when my eyes were unaccustomed to its sharp turns, but for a year it has been divinely illumined for me. Even if it grew longer each day, it will never seem dark again. Although torn by thorns and cut by stones, nothing can make me turn back. I know that I shall go on, steadfast to the end. I behold before me Victory.... But there,—behind me, is a multitude sorely troubled in the darkness.
"Now, as the old year revolves on its rusty hinges, those who wait at home live over in their troubled hearts the events which marked its passing. They think of the barbarous hordes of the Orient which the German has caught in his train; Turks and Bulgarians, Kurds and Malissores, and they overlook the great nations enrolled under the banner of civilization. They brood over lands ground under the iron heel of the Teuton and overlook the Empires that we hold; here, West and East Africa, four times as large as all Germany, with their thousands of miles of railroads and their diamond mines; there, the Islands of Oceania and the fortress of Asia: Kiao-Tcheou, which the Kaiser has proclaimed the pearl of his colonies. They are alarmed at the chaff that Germany gathers in her lawless course and they do not see the mighty girders that stay France. But we who are the girders, we know better, we see farther.
"O Star, teach those who are not in the trenches.... Confidence!
"By the light of the past we behold the future. Whenever an army, seized with the frenzy of conquest, has forced its way into a far land, abandoning the cradle whence it drew its life and strength, it has wasted away, it has perished from utter exhaustion. Like stones loosened from a solid wall, it has disintegrated. Like the grain of dust which the wind has blow away, it has vanished never to return.
"More than a century ago legions attempted the conquest of Egypt. They were the most magnificent in the world. Their chiefs bore the names of Desaix, Kleber and Bonaparte. But they had not the mastery of the seas, and returned not from the burning sands of the desert.... Think also of the time when the most formidable army of Europe, led by the greatest conqueror the world has ever known, tried to overwhelm the vast Russian Empire. But the empire was mightier than the Great Army, and it returned not from the glacial solitude of the steppes.... So let it go far, ever farther on, that German army already decimated, panting, exhausted; let it reach the Tigris, the Euphrates, even far off India! It will not return.
"O Star, teach those who are not in the trenches.... History!
"Truly the winter nights are long, and all the rays, O Star, are not worth the smile of the loved woman at the hearth. And yet, thou hast something of woman, since so many men follow thee blindly: thou hast her grace and splendor. [No German couturier will ever clothe you!] Thou hast even virtues that women do not possess, for thou art patient and calm. Clouds come between thy worshipers and thee, dawn each morning extinguishes thy light, yet dost thou bow before the supreme law of nature without a murmur. I pray thee inspire with submission thy sisters of the earth; teach them calmly and patiently to await the return of their warriors.
"O Star, teach those who are not in the trenches.... Discipline!
"Would that all men, that all women might know that there is something above Numbers, above Force, above even Courage, and that is PERSEVERANCE! A few years ago there was a boxing match between Sam Mac Vea and Joe Jeannette that will remain famous in the history of the sport. Mac Vea was a heavy weight, strong, all muscle: a veritable black giant. Joe Jeannette, light, well proportioned, all nerve: a mongrel of the best sort. The match was epic. It went on for forty-two rounds and lasted three hours. At the third round, and again in the seventh, Sam Mac Vea threw Joe Jeannette, and his victory seemed assured. But little by little Joe Jeannette revived, pulled himself together, defended himself, and through sheer nerve, began to attack. At the forty-second round, shoulder to shoulder, panting, dripping wet and covered with blood they struck the last blow. The resources of Sam Mac Vea were exhausted, and through the very assurance of his adversary he felt himself beaten.... Suddenly the great giant lifted his arms and gave way, saying: 'I guess I cannot.'...
"Thus shall we soon see Germany fall to the earth, saying brokenly, 'I cannot.'...
"O Star, teach those who are not in the trenches...to be game!"
Translation by Madame Carlo Polifeme.
A Tribute to England
It may be said of this war, as the master mind of all the ages said of adversity, that "its uses are sweet," even though they be as a precious jewel shining in the head of an ugly and venomous toad. While the world-war has brutalized men, it has as a moral paradox added immeasurably to the sum of human nobility. Its epic grandeur is only beginning to reveal itself, and in it the human soul has reached the high water marker of courage and honor.
The war has enriched our language with many new expressions, but none more beautiful than that of "Somewhere in France." To all noble minds, while it sounds the abysmal depths of tragic suffering, it rises to the sublimest heights of heroic self-sacrifice.
The world has paid its tribute to the immortal valor of France, and no words could pay the debt of appreciation which civilization owes to this heroic nation; but has there been due recognition of the equal valor and the like spirit of self-sacrifice which has characterized Great Britain in this titanic struggle?
When the frontier of Belgium was crossed, England staked the existence of its great empire upon the issue of the uncertain struggle. It had, as figures go in this war, only a small army. If it had been niggardly in its effort to defend Belgium, and save France in her hour of supreme peril, England might have said, without violating any express obligation arising under the ENTENTE CORDIALE, that in giving its incomparable fleet it had rendered all the service that its political interests, according to former standards of expediency, justified; and it could have been plausibly suggested that the ordinary considerations of prudence and the instinct of self-preservation required it, in the face of the deadly assault by the greatest military power in the world, to reserve its little army for the defense of its own soil. England never hesitated, when the Belgian frontier was crossed, but moved with such extraordinary speed that within four days after its declaration of war its standing army was crossing the channel, and within a fortnight it had landed upon French soil the two army corps which constituted the backbone of her military power.
What follows will be remembered with admiration and gratitude by the English speaking races as long as they endure, for nothing in the history of that race is finer than the way in which the so called "contemptible little British Army," as the Kaiser somewhat prematurely called it—outnumbered four to one, and with an even greater disproportion in artillery—withstood the powerful legions of Von Kluck at Mons. Enveloped on both flanks they stood as a stone wall for three days against an assault of one of the mightiest armies in recorded history, and only retreated when ordered to do so by the high command of the Allied forces in order to conform to its strategic plans. The English were not defeated at Mons. It was a victory, both in a technical and moral sense.
The retreat from Mons to the Marne was one of terrible hardship and imminent danger. For nearly fourteen days, in obedience to orders, the British soldiers,—fighting terrific rear guard actions, which, in retarding the invaders, made possible the ultimate victory,—slowly retreated, never losing their morale, although suffering untold physical hardships and the greater agony of temporary defeats, which they could not at that time understand, and yet it is to their undying credit, in common with their brave comrades of the French Army, that when the moment came to cease the retreat and to turn upon a foe, which flushed with unprecedented victory still greatly outnumbered the retreating armies, the British soldier struck back with almost undiminished power. The "miracle of the Marne" is due to Tommy Atkins as well as to the French Poilu.
Even more wonderful was the defense of Ypres. There was a time in the first battle of Ypres when the British high command, denuded of shells, were allotting among their commands, then engaged in a life-and-death struggle, ammunition which had not yet left England. So terribly was the "first seven divisions" of glorious memory decimated in this first battle of Ypres, that at a critical time, the bakers, cobblers and grooms were put into the trenches to fill the gaps made by the slain soldiers in that great charnel house. The "thin red line" held back—not for days, but for weeks,—an immensely superior force, and the soldiers of England unflinchingly bared their breasts to the most destructive artillery-fire that the world at that time had ever known. They held their ground and saved the day, and the glory of the first and second battles of Ypres, which saved Calais, and possibly the war itself, will ever be that of the British Army.
Over four million Britons have volunteered in the war, and although very few of them had ever had an previous military experience, yet their stamina and unconquerable courage were such that the youth of the great Empire, on more than one occasion, when called upon, as on the Somme, to attack as well as defend, swept the famed Prussian guard out of seemingly impregnable positions, as for example at Contalmaison.
Will the world ever forget the children of the Mother Empire who came so freely and nobly from far distant Canada, who wrenched Vimy and Messines ridges from a powerful foe?
I hear still the tramp of marching thousands in the first days of the war, as they passed through the streets of Winchester en route to France via Southampton, singing with cheer and joy, "It is a long way to Tipperary." Alas! It is indeed a "long, long way," and many a gallant English boy has fallen in that way of glory.
To-day, from the Channel to the Vosges, there are hundreds of thousands of graves where British soldiers keep the ghostly bivouac of the dead. They gave their young lives on the soil of France to save France, and when the great result is finally accomplished, a grateful world will never forget that "fidelity even unto death" of the British soldier. Their place on Fame's eternal camping ground is sure.
What just man can fail to appreciate the work of the English sailor? It has been said by Lord Curzon, that never has an English mariner in this war refused to accept the arduous and most dangerous service of patrolling the great highways of the deep. No soldier can surpass in courage or fortitude the mine sweepers, who have braved the elemental forces of nature, and the most cruel forces of the Terror, which lurks under the seas.
The spirit of Nelson still inspires them, for every mariner of England has done his duty in this greatest crisis of the modern world.
And how can words pay due tribute to the work and sacrifices of the women and children of England? They have endured hardships with masculine strength, and have accepted irreparable sacrifices with infinite self-sacrifice.
When the three British cruisers were sunk early in the war by a single submarine, and many thousand British sailors perished, the news was conveyed to a seaport town in England, from which many of them had been recruited, by posting upon a screen the names of the pitifully few men who had survived that terrible disaster. Thousands of women, the wives and daughters of those who had perished, waited in the open square in the hope, in most cases in vain, to see the name of some one who was dear to them posted among the survivors; and yet when the last names of the rescued were finally posted, and thousands of English women, there assembled, realized that those who were nearest and dearest to them had perished beneath the waves, these women of England, instead of lamentations or tears, in the spirit of loftiest and most sacred patriotism united their voices and sang "Britannia Rules the Waves," and re-affirmed their belief that, notwithstanding all the powers of Hell, that "Britons never would be slaves."
Who shall then question England's right to a conspicuous place in this worldwide tournament of Fame? In all her past history, there has never been any page more glorious. Without her, as without France, civilization would have perished. To each nation be lasting honor!
The spirit of Shakespeare has animated his people, and that mighty spirit still says to them in his own flaming words—-
"In God's name, cheerily on, courageous friends, To reap the harvest of perpetual peace By this one bloody trial of sharp war."
[signed]James M. Beck
Unity and Peace
Great Britain and the United States were politically separated nearly a century and a half ago, because Britain was not in those days governed by the will of the people as she has been for the last eighty years and more. But the ideals of the two nations have been for many generations substantially the same. Both have loved Liberty ever since the time when their common ancestors wrested it from feudal monarchs. A time has now come when both nations are called to defend, and to extend in the world at large, the freedom they won within their own countries. America has harkened to the call. Renouncing her former isolation, she has felt that duty to mankind requires her to contend in arms for the freedom she has illustrated by her example. The soldiers of Britain and France welcome the stalwart sons of America as their comrades in this great struggle for Democracy and Humanity. With their help, they look forward confidently to a decisive victory, a victory to be followed by a lasting peace.
[caption under a picture] The Right Honourable Arthur James Balfour
"Here was a great British statesman equal to his place and fame. He will long be remembered in America. He has done a high service to Great Britain and all democracies." — New York Times (Editorial)
Our Common Heritage
Not very long ago I happened to be dining in The Savoy Restaurant in London one evening at a table close to the screen, when suddenly there was a stir. People looked away from their dinners. The band abruptly stopped the air it was playing, and after an instant's pause struck up another. Every one in the crowded restaurant stood up. And then there came in slowly from the outer hall a procession of serious looking men in uniform, who, walking in couples, made their way to a large table almost in the middle of the room. They gained their places. The air ceased. The new comers sat down. And we all went on with our dinners and our interrupted conversations.
What did we talk about? Well, I will dare forswear that at all the tables the same subject was discussed. And that subject was—America. For the air we had heard was "The Star Spangled Banner," and the men we had seen were General Pershing, commanding the first American contingent to France, and his Staff, who had landed that day in England. It was a great moment for Britishers, and those of us who were there will probably never forget it. For it meant the beginning of a New Era, and, let us hope, of a new sympathy and a new understanding.
Since then we have learnt something of what America is doing. We know that ten millions of men have registered as material for the American army, that a gigantic aircraft scheme and a huge shipbuilding program are in process of realization; that enormous camps and cantonments have been established for the training of officers and men, that American women have crossed the Atlantic, in spite of the great danger from submarines, to act as nurses at the front, that the regular army has been increased to thrice its former size, that the volunteer militia has been doubled through voluntary enlistment, and that an immense expenditure has been voted for war purposes. We know all this and we are glad, and thankful that hands have been held out to us across the sea.
True sympathy and true understanding are very rare in this world. Even between individuals they are not easy to bring about, and between nations they are practically unknown. Diversity of tongues builds up walls between the peoples. But the Americans and the British ought to learn to draw near to each other, and surely the end of this war, whenever it comes, will find them more inclined for true friendship, for frank understanding, than they have ever been yet, less critical of national failings, less clearsighted for national faults. The brotherhood of man, which the idealistic Russian sighs for, may only be a far away dream, but the brotherhood of those who speak one language, have one great aim, and fight side by side for freedom against force, law against lawlessness, justice against persecution, right against evil, is a reality, and must surely endure long after the smoke of the world war has faded into the blue sky of peace, and the roar of the guns has died away into the silence of the dawn for which humanity is longing.
The happy warriors lead us. Let us follow them and we shall attain a goodly heritage.
[signed] Robert Hichens.
The blow fell without warning, and a typewritten notice informed the Poet that the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation required the tiny, thread-bare chambers in Stafford's Inn, where he had lived unobtrusively for seven happy, insolvent years.
"'There was no worth in the fashion; there was no wit in the plan,'" murmured the Poet. The rooms were too small even for a Deputy-Director-General, and he knew that not one of the silk-stockinged, short-skirted, starling-voiced young women with bare arms and regimental badges, who acted as secretaries to Deputy-Director-Generals, would consent to walk up four flights of creaking, uncarpeted stairs to the dusty sparrows' nest on the housetop that was his home.
For a while he scented a vendetta, but—deleterious poetry apart—he had injured no man, and the personnel of the Cabinet Committee was as little known to him as his poetry to the Cabinet Committee. In general, too, he was the object of a certain popularity and pitying regard; the Millionaire sent him presents of superfluous game each year, the Iron King invited him at short notice to make a fourteenth at dinner and the Official Receiver unloaded six bottles of sample port wine when the Poet succumbed to his annual bronchitis. Even the notice of eviction was politely worded and regretful; it was also uncompromising in spirit, and the Poet made his hurried way to four house-agents. No sooner had he started his requirements to be a bed-sitting-room (with use of bath) within the four-mile radius than all four agents offered him a Tudor manor house in Westmoreland; further, they refused to offer him anything else, but on his own initiative he discovered a studio in Glebe Place and a service-flat in Victoria Street.
"I saw in the paper that you'd been turned out," said the Millionaire that night, when the Poet trudged home, footsore and fretful, to find his chambers occupied by the Iron King, the Private Secretary, the Lexicographer, the Military Attache and their friends. "What are you going to do about it?" he continued with the relentlessness of a man who likes a prompt decision, even if it be a wrong one. "You know nothing about business, I'm sure; leases, premiums, insurance, all that sort of thing. You're in a hole; I don't see what more there is to be said."
So far the Poet, his mind wavering wearily between Glebe Place and Victoria Street, had said nothing; he turned silently to the Iron King, wondering how, without being rude, to indicate his desire for bed.
"I saw rather a decent place that might suit you," drawled the Private Secretary, smoothing a wrinkle out of his shapely silk socks. "It's next to my Chief's in Belgrave Square. Of course, I don't know what rent they want for it..."
The Iron King shook his head.
"He couldn't afford it," he said, speaking through and around and over the Poet. "Now I'm told that there are some very comfortable and cheap boarding-houses near Kensington Palace Gardens...."
The Poet drew the cork of a fresh bottle of whisky and collected four unbroken tumblers, a pewter mug and two breakfast cups without handles. As so often before, his destiny seemed to be slipping out of his control into the hands of the practical, strong-voiced men who filled his sitting-room to overflowing and would not let him go to bed. The Military Attache knew of a maisonnette in Albemarle Street; the Official Receiver had been recently brought into professional contact with a fine Georgian property in Buckinghamshire, where they could all meet for a week-end game of golf at Stoke Pogis. Somewhere in Chelsea—not Glebe Place—the Lexicographer had seen just the thing, if only he could be quite sure about the drains.... With loud cheerfulness they accepted the Millionaire's postulate that the Poet knew nothing of business; unselfishly they placed all their experience and preferences at his disposal.
"Of course, there's the servant problem," an undistinguished voice remarked two hours later; and the Poet, settling to an uneasy sleep in his chair, mentally ruled out the Chelsea studio.
"The ordinary surveyor's no use," broke in the Lexicographer, pursuing his own line of thought. "What you want is a drainage expert."
"I know these good, honest, middle-aged couples," cried the Iron King with the bitterness of an oft-defrauded widower. "The woman always drinks, and them man always steals the cigars..."
"I have nothing but gas in my place," said the decorous voice of the Private Secretary, "and I have it on pretty good authority that there'll be a great coal shortage this winter. I don't want that to go any further, though..."
The Millionaire rose to his feet with a yawn.
"He must get an experienced woman-friend to help him with things like carpets and curtains," he ordained with mellow benevolence. "When my wife comes back from Wales.... How soon do you have to turn out, Poet?"
The Poet woke with a start and looked at the clock. The time was a quarter to two, and he still wanted to go to bed.
"Ten days," he murmured drowsily.
"Jove! You haven't much time," said the Millionaire. "Now, look here; the one thing NOT to do is to be in a hurry. Any place you take now will probably have to serve you for several years, and you'll find moving a lot more expensive than you think. If you can get some kind of shake-down for a few days,—" he turned expansively to his friends—"we may be able to give you a few hints."
The Poet became suddenly wakeful and alert.
"Do I understand that you're offering me a bed until you find me permanent quarters?" he enquired with slow precision.
"Er—yes," said the Millionaire a little blankly.
"Thank you," answered the Poet simply. "I say, d'you men mind if I turn you out now? It's rather late, and I haven't been sleeping very well."
A week later the Poet walked up Park Lane, followed by an elderly man trundling two compressed cane trunks on a barrow with a loose wheel. It was a radiant summer afternoon, and taxis stood idle in long ranks, when they were not drawing in to the curb with winning gestures. The Poet, however, wished to make his arrival dramatic, and it was dramatic enough to make the Millionaire's butler direct him to the tradesman's entrance, while the Millionaire, remembering little but suspecting all, hurried away by a side door, leaving a message that he was out of England for the duration of the war. The lot fell on the Millionaire's wife to invent such excuses as would rid the house of the Poet's presence before dinner. The Millionaire's instincts were entirely hospitable, but that night's party had been arranged for the entertainment and subsequent destruction of four men with money to invest and, like the Poet, "no knowledge of business, investments, all that sort of thing."
"No, we have not met before," explained the Poet coldly and uncompromisingly, abandoning the rather gentle voice and caressing manners which caused women to invite him to dinner when they could think of no one else. "Your husband and one or two of our common friends have kindly undertaken to find me new quarters, and I have been invited to stay here until something suitable has been found."
There was silence for a few moments, and the Millionaire's wife looked apprehensively at the clock, while the Poet laid the foundations of a malignantly substantial tea.
"H-how far have you got at present?" she asked with an embarrassed laugh.
"Your husband told me to leave it to him," answered the Poet, "and I've left it to him. There was a general feeling that I didn't know what I wanted—house or flat, north or south of the Park, all the rest of it—; they said there would be a scandal if I employed a young maid, I couldn't afford two, and an old one would pawn my clothes to buy gin. I am quoting your husband now; I know nothing of business. Every one agreed, too, that I must have a drain of some kind. Would you say it took long to find a bed-sitting room with use of bath?"
The Millionaire's wife hurriedly pushed back her chair?
"My husband's going abroad for the duration of the war," she said in loyal explanation, "but it's just possible that he hasn't started yet."
The Millionaire, returning on tip-toe from the loft over the garage, had sought asylum in the library, where he was smoking a cigar and reading the evening paper. As his wife entered he looked up with welcoming expectancy.
"How did you get rid of him?" he asked.
The Millionaire's wife pressed her hands to her temples.
"My dear! What HAVE you been promising him?" she cried.
The Millionaire swore softly, as the truth sank into his brain.
"Have another place laid for dinner," he ordered; "book two seats for a music-hall and take him out to supper afterwards. I can't afford to be disturbed to-night. To-morrow I must get in touch with the Iron King.... I don't see what more there is to be said."
Four weeks later the Poet drove in a six-cylinder car from Park Lane to Eaton Square on an indeterminate visit to the Iron King. He was looking better for the month's good wine and food, in which the Millionaire's house abounded; but now the Millionaire, who based his fortune on knowing the right people in every walk of life, was arranging to have his house taken over by the Red Cross authorities. In a week's time the house was to be found unsuitable and restored to him, but henceforth the Iron King was to have the honor of entertaining the Poet.
"How you ever came to make such a promise!" wailed the Millionaire's wife for the twentieth time, as they drove to Claridge's. "London's so full that you might have known it's impossible to get ANYthing."
"I feel that we have exhausted this subject," answered the Millionaire with the bruskness of a man whose nerves have worn thin; with the menace, too, of one who, having divorced his first wife, would divorce the second on small provocation.
The Iron King was not at home when the Poet arrived in Eaton Squire, but a pretty, young secretary, cultured to the point of transforming all her final "g's" into "k's" received him with every mark of welcome. She admired the Iron King romantically and was in the habit of writing his surname after her own Christian name to see how the combination looked; and, when he had departed each morning to contest his latest assessment for excess profits, she would wander through the house, planning little changes in the arrangement of the furniture and generally deploring the sober, colorless taste of the first Iron Queen. So far her employer returned none of her admiration. He addressed her loosely as "Miss—er" and forgot her name; he never noticed what clothes she was wearing or the pretty dimples that she made by holding down the inside flesh of her cheeks between her eye-teeth; further, he criticized her spelling spitefully and, on the occasion of the Millionaire's second marriage, had dictated a savage half sheet beginning, "A young man may marry once, as he may get drunk once, without the world thinking much the worse of him; habitual intemperance is, on first principles, to be deplored...."
The pretty young secretary knew from fiction and the drama that the Iron King would never appreciate her until he stood in danger of losing her. She welcomed the Poet as a foil and misquoted his poetry twice before tea was over; then she invited him to accompany her to a picture palace, but the Poet, once inside the citadel, was reluctant to leave it until his position was more firmly established.
Scarcely entrenched at Claridge's, the Millionaire telephoned derisively to the city, so that the Iron King returned home half an hour before his usual time, prepared to deal with the Poet as he dealt with querulous or inquisitive shareholders at General Meetings. The Poet, however, was long and painfully accustomed to combat with enraged editors and lost no time in assuming the offensive, demanding indignantly in a high head-voice, before the Iron King had crossed his own threshold, why no quarters had been found for him and how much longer any one imagined that he would put up with the indignity of being bandied from one wretched house to another.
The flushed cheeks and hysterical manner put the Iron King temporarily out of countenance.
"My dear fellow!" he interrupted ingratiatingly.
"I'm not a business man," continued the Poet hotly. "You all of you told me that, and I'm disposed to say: 'Thank God, I'm not.'"
The Iron King put his hat carefully out of reach and forced a smile.
"You mustn't take it like that, old chap," he said soothingly. "I—we—all of us are doing our best. Now we won't bother about dressing; let's go straight in and thrash the thing out over a bottle of wine."
Instructing his butler very audibly to open a bottle of the 1906 Lanson, he slipped his arm through the Poet's and led him, sullenly murmuring, into the dining-room. With the second bottle of champagne, his guest ceased to be aggrieved and became quarrelsome; when the port wine appeared, he had the Iron King cowed and broken in moral.
"If you find fault with everything, why do you come here, why stay here?" complained the Iron King with a last flickering effort to recover his independence.
"Why don't you find me some other place to go to, as you promised?" the Poet retorted, as he made his way to the morning-room and sat down to order a month's supply of underclothes from his hosier.
The Iron King always boasted that honesty was the best policy and that he was invariably willing to put his cards on the table. The Millionaire had once professed himself likely to be satisfied if the Iron King would only remove the fifth ace from his sleeve, and a certain coolness between the two men resulted. In general, however, he had the reputation of a frank, bluff fellow.
On the morrow of the Poet's arrival, he remained in bed and announced in the quavering pencil-strokes of a sick man, that he was suffering from anthrax, which, he might add, was not only painful but infectious. The Poet scrawled across one corner of the note that anthrax was usually fatal, but that, as he himself had twice had it, he would risk taking it a third time in order to be with his friend. Thereupon the Iron King departed to the city, leaving the Poet to dictate blank verse to the pretty young secretary, who curled both feet round one leg of her chair, told him that she "loved his potry more'n anythink she'd ever read" and asked how all the hard words like "chrysoprase" and "asphdel" were spelt. That night a telegram arrived shortly before dinner, and the Iron King announced that the Ministry of Munitions was sending him to America to stabilize iron prices.
"Why can't you finish one thing before starting another?" demanded the Poet hectoringly. "You haven't YET found me any quarters, and you call yourself a business man. I shall of course stay on here till your return..."
The Iron King shook his head gravely.
"That's impossible," he interrupted. "My young secretary..."
"You must take her with you," answered the Poet obstinately.
The subject was not pursued, but at bed time the Iron King roundly asked the Poet how much he would take to go away.
"I require a home," answered the Poet frigidly, remembering the weary day spent by him in discovering the Glebe Place studio and the weary night spent by the Iron King in recommending Kensington boarding houses. "I do not want your money."
"We shan't fall out over a pound or two," urged the Iron King with a meaning motion of the hand towards his breast pocket.
"A thing is either a promise or it is not a promise," replied the Poet, as he turned on his heel. "I know nothing of business or what people are pleased to term 'commercial morality.'"
Four weeks later the Poet left Eaton Square for the Private Secretary's rooms in Bury Street. He looked thin and anemic after his month of privations, for the Iron King, improving in morale and recapturing something of the old strike-breaking spirit, had counter-attacked on the third day of the Poet's visit. The chauffeur, butler and two footmen, all of military age, had been claimed on successive appeals as indispensable, but on their last appearance at the Tribunal the Iron King had unprotestingly presented them to the Army. This he followed by breakfasting in bed, lunching in the city, dining at his club and leaving neither instructions nor money for the maintenance of the household. For a time the Poet was saved from the greater starvation by the care of the pretty young secretary, but without an Iron King there was no need for a foil. Sharp words were exchanged one morning over the propriety of grounds in coffee; the pretty young secretary declared that she would "have nothink more to do with him or his old potry"; and in the afternoon he packed his trunks with his own hands and with his own hands dragged them downstairs on to the pavement, leaving the pretty young secretary biting viciously at the corner of a crumpled handkerchief drenched in "White Rose."
The Private Secretary received him in a manner different from that adopted by either the Millionaire or the Iron King. The two men were of nearly the same age, but in a deferential, if mis-spent life the Private Secretary had learned to be non-committal. Well he knew that he had but one bedroom; well he knew that, on admitting it, the Poet would claim it from him.
"A spare bed?" he echoed, when the Poet dragged his trunks into the middle of a tiny sitting room. "Really, I have no statement to make."
"At least you will not deny," said the Poet with truculent emphasis, "that you undertook to find me suitable accommodation and to supply me with a bed until it was found."
"I must refer you to the reply given to a similar question on the twenty-third ultimo," answered the Private Secretary loftily. for a rich reward he could not have said where he had been or what he had done on the twenty-third ultimo, but to the Poet the reply was new and disconcerting.
"Where's my flat anyway?" he pursued doggedly.
"I have no statement to make," reiterated the Private Secretary.
After an awkward silence, during which neither yielded an inch of ground, the Poet dragged his trunks destructively downstairs and drove to the flat of the Official Receiver. Glowing with the consciousness of victory, the Private Secretary dressed for dinner and started out to his club. His good-humor was impaired, when he observed in his hall a pendant triangle of wall-paper flapping in the draught of the open door through which the Poet had dragged his trunks. Further on, the paint was scarred on the stairs, and the carpet of the main hall was rucked and disordered; there was also a lingering suggestion of escaping gas, and the Secretary observed a bracket hanging at a bibulous angle.
"This," he murmured through grimly set teeth, "is sheer frightfulness."
Returning to his rooms, he drawled a friendly warning by telephone to the Millionaire, who instantly gave orders that no one of any sex or age was to be admitted. Next he called up the Iron King and repeated the warning; then the Lexicographer, the Official Receiver and the Military Attache were similarly placed on their guard, and there was nothing to do but to proceed to his belated dinner.
The Great War, which had converted staff officers into popular preachers, novelists into strategical experts and everyone else into a Minister of the Crown, had left the Poet (in name, at least) a poet and in nothing else anything at all. He acted precisely as the Private Secretary had intended him to act, driving first to the Lexicographer's house, where he was greeted by a suspiciously new "TO LET" board, and thence to the Official Receiver's flat, where a typewritten card informed him that this bell was out of order. Embarrassed but purposeful, he directed his four-wheeler to Eaton Square, but the blinds were down, and a semblance of mourning draped the Iron King's house. In Park Lane a twenty-yard expanse of straw, nine inches thick, prayed silence for the Millionaire's quick recovery.
"I don't know where to go to next," murmured the Poet dejectedly.
"Well, I'm blest if I do," grumbled the driver. "And it's past my tea-time. Doncher know where yer live?"
"Years ago I had rooms in Stafford's Inn," began the Poet. "Then the Cabinet Committee..."
The cabman descended from his box for a heart to heart conversation.
"Now you look 'ere," he said. "I got a boy at 'ome the livin' image of you..."
"But how nice!" interrupted the Poet, wondering apprehensively whether an invitation was on its way to him.
The cabman sniffed.
"Not quite righ in 'is 'ead 'e ain't. THEREfore I don't want to be 'arsh with yer. Jump inside, let me drive yer ter Stafford's Inn, pay me me legal fare and a bob ter drink yer 'ealth—and we'll say no more abaht it. If yer don't—" He made a threatening gesture towards the Poet's precariously strapped trunks—"I'll throw the blinkin' lot on ter the pivement, and yer can carry 'em 'ome on yer 'ead. See?"
"I couldn't, you know," objected the Poet gently.
"Jump inside," repeated the cabman.
One hope was as forlorn as another, and the Poet was too sick with hunger to think of resistance. In time the four-wheeler rumbled its way to think of resistance. In time the four-wheeler rumbled its way to Stafford's Inn; in time and by force of habit the Poet was mounting the bare, creaking, wooden stairs; in time he found himself fitting his unsurrendered latch key into his abandoned lock.
Beyond an eight week's layer of dust on chairs and table, the threadbare rooms were little changed. A loaf of bread, green and furred with mold, lay beside an empty marmalade pot from which a cloud of flies emerged with angry buzzing; a breakfast cup without a handle completed the furniture of the table, and in the rickety armchair was an eight-week-old "Morning Post."
"The Cabinet Committee has neglected its opportunities," grumbled the Poet, surveying with disfavor the dusty, derelict scene.
Then his eye was caught by a long envelope, thrust half-way under the door, from the Cabinet Committee itself. An indecipherable set of initials, later describing itself as his obedient servant, was directed to inform him on a date two months earlier that it had been decided not to requisition the offices and chambers of Stafford's Inn. The formal notice was accordingly to be regarded as canceled.
The Poet, who knew nothing of business, wrote instructing his solicitors to claim for two months' disturbance from the Defense of the Realm Commission on Losses and to include all legal costs in the claim.
Three weeks later the Private Secretary was strolling across the Horse Guard's Parade on his way to luncheon, when he caught sight of the Poet. Since their last altercation his conscience had been as uneasy as a Private Secretary's conscience can be, and he strove to avoid the meeting. The Poet, however, was full of sunshine and smiles.
"I've not seen you for weeks!" he cried welcomingly. "How's everybody and what's everybody doing? Is the Millionaire all right again? I understand he's been ill."
The Private Secretary eyed his friend suspiciously.
"He has not left his house for three weeks," he answered.
"And the Iron King."
"He has not either."
The Poet's eyes lit up with dawning comprehension.
"What about the Lexicographer and the Official Receiver?" he asked. "The same? What an infernal nuisance! I wanted to call round and see whether they had got me a flat."
The Private Secretary shook his head.
"It's not the least use," he said emphatically. "None of them has been outside his front door for three weeks, no one knows when they'll come out again, no one is allowed inside. Last night I had a box given me for the theater, and I tried to make up a party; all their telephones were disconnected, and, when I drove round in person, I couldn't even get the bell answered." He paused and then enquired carelessly, "By the way, have you got into your new quarters yet? They would be interested to know."
"I haven't got any new quarters," answered the Poet. "You remember that you and the others were going to find them for me. I know nothing of business—and I'm not likely to get new rooms until I see the Millionaire and the Iron King."
At the steps of his club the Private Secretary paused, as though wondering whether to say that the Poet was unlikely to see the Iron King or the Millionaire until he had got his new rooms. This prolonged voluntary self-internment was a source of inconvenience, for in the peaceful days before the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation had stepped in, there were pleasant parties in Eaton Square and Park Lane. Now the Private Secretary was reduced to paying for his own dinners more often than was agreeable. He said nothing, however, for fear of concentrating the Poet's fire on himself.
"It must be simply wrecking their business," said the Poet to himself, as he walked to Bedford Row to see how the claim for disturbance was progressing. "It serves them right, though, for talking drains when I wanted to go to bed."
The Spell of the Kilties
What made the crowds turn out in their applauding thousands in New York, Boston, Chicago, Brooklyn, and wherever the "Kilties" from Canada appeared during their visit to the United States of America on their British Recruiting Mission, during the summer of 1917?
Or why do the inhabitants of Paris single out the kilted regiments when a March Past of the forces of the Allies is held on a National Fete Day, and press upon the soldiers with showers of flowers and tokens of admiration?
Is it simply because the dress worn is somewhat out of the common, giving a touch of color to these gray times, and bringing associations of days of old, as the men swing along, with a swish of their kilts, to the skirl of the Pipes?
Or is there not a deeper meaning in this spontaneous welcome which comes so evidently from the hearts of the onlookers, and one which is reflected in the popularity of Colonel Walter Scott's New York kilted Highlanders, and by the many find bodies of men turned out—mostly at their own expense—by the Scottish Clan and Highland Dress Associations, in various cities of the U. S. A.?
The truth is that deep down in the hearts of the majority of the human race there exists a profound attachment to the ideals of gallantry and chivalry which were nourished by the stories we loved in childhood, and by the tales of Scottish prowess, in prose and poetry, selected for the school-books in use by the children of the English-speaking peoples.
Scotland has indeed been blessed by the possession of poets and bards who have preserved her annals and sung the deeds of her patriot heroes in so alluring a form, that her sons and daughters are assured of a welcome in any part of the world, and start with the great asset of being always expected to "make good" in every land of their adoption. Wherever they may roam, we find them occupying positions of influence, and still cherishing and promulgating the traditions and customs of the Land of the Heather, which impel to high thinking, resolute doing, and the upholding of old standards, such as build up the lives both of individuals and of nations.
And thus, when the moment of emergency arrives when "to every man and nation comes the moment to decide" you will find the men and women of Scottish descent to the forefront in every fight for liberty and righteousness in every part of the globe.
And in the midst of the clash and din of arms you will catch ever and anon the sound of the up-lifting cadence of some grand old Scottish Psalm tune, bringing comfort, and courage, and clam,—and then the call of the Pipes, inspiring war-worn troops to accomplish impossible tasks, such as the feats which have made the Gordon Highlanders and their Pipers immortal—as at Dargai, and have brought fresh glory to many a Scottish Regiment in this great war—aye, and to many a regiment of brother Gaels from Ireland also, of whose exploits we have heard as they rushed into the fray, preceded by their Irish War-Pipes.
A few weeks ago, a young widow with her two months' old baby in her arms, was following the remains of her husband to his warrior's grave "somewhere in France." She was dry-eyed and rebellious in her youthful despair, as she walked at the head of the sad little procession of her husband's comrades;—and then the party met a Highland Pipe Band, whose Pipe-Major, quick to understand the situation, halted his men, wheeled them round, and gave the signal to play the lovely Lament: "Lochaber no more!"
At the sound of the familiar strains the founts of sorrow were unsealed, and weeping, but comforted, the child-wife mother was able to commit her dead hero's dust to the grave in sure and certain confidence of a glorious re-union, and turned to face life again with his little son, with strength and faith renewed.
This is but a little incident, but it illustrates the hold that the music of the Gael has on the hearts of its children, and of its power to evoke memories and associations full of inspiration both in joy and in sorrow.
AND IS NOT THIS THE INTERPERTATION OF THE SPELL OF THE "KILTIES"?
[signed] Lady Aberdeen and Temain
Sherston's Wedding Eve
In the gathering twilight a man stood at the eastern window of a room which formed the top story of one of the houses in Peter the Great Terrace—that survival from the early nineteenth century which forms a kind of recess in the broad thoroughfare linking Waterloo Bridge with the Strand. The man's name was Shirley Sherston, and among the happy, prosperous few who are concerned with such things, he was known for his fine, distinguished work in domestic architecture.
It was the evening of October 13, 1915, and Sherston was to be married to-morrow.
Now, for what most people would have thought a puerile reason, that with him 13 had always proved a luck number, he had much wished that to-day should be his wedding day. And Helen Pomeroy, his future wife, who never thought anything he did or desired to do puerile or unreasonable, had been quite willing to fall in with his fancy. The lucky day had actually been chosen. Then a tiresome woman, a sister of Miss Pomeroy's mother, had said she could not be present at the marriage if it took place on the thirteenth, as on that day her son, who had been home on leave, was going back to the Front. She had also pointed out quite unnecessarily, that 13 is an unlucky number.
Staring out into the darkness, Sherston's stormy, eager heart began to quiver with longing, with regret, and with the half-painful rapture of anticipation. He had suddenly visioned—and Sherston was a man given to vivid visions—where he would have been now, at this moment, had his marriage indeed taken place this morning. He saw himself, on this beautiful starlit, moonless night, standing, along with his dear love, on the platform of a medieval tower, which, together with the picturesque farmhouse which had been tacked on to the tower about a hundred years ago, rose, close to the seashore, on a lonely stretch of the Sussex coast.
But what was not true tonight would be true to-morrow night, twenty-four hours from now.
He had bought tower and house three years ago, and he had spent there many happy holidays, boating and fishing, alone, or in company of some man chum. Sherston had never thought to bring a woman there, for the morrow's bridegroom, for some six to seven years past, had had an impatient contempt for, as well as fear of, women.
Sherston was a widower, though he never used the word, even in his innermost heart, for to him the term connoted something slightly absurd, and he was sensitive to ridicule.
Very few of the people at preset acquainted with the brilliant, pleasantly eccentric architect, knew that he had been married before. But of course the handful of old Bohemian comrades whom he had faithfully kept from out of the past, were well aware of the fact. They were not likely to forget it either, for whenever it was mentioned, each of them at once remembered that which at the time it had happened, Sherston had every reason to tell rather than to conceal, namely, that the woman who had been his wife had gone down with the Titanic.
But how long ago that now seemed!
The outbreak of war, which caused so much unmerited misfortune to English artists and their like, and which at one moment had threatened to wreck his own successful opening career, had brought to Shirley Sherston a piece of marvelous good fortune..
Early in the memorable August, 1914, at a time when the fabric of his life and work seemed shattered, and when the lameness which he had so triumphantly coped with during his grown up life as to cause those about him scarcely to know it was there, made it out of the question for him to respond to his country's first call for men, the architect happened to run across James Pomeroy, a cultivated millionaire with whom he had once had a slight business relation. Acting on a kindly impulse which even now Mr. Pomeroy hardly knew whether to remember with pleasure or regret, the older man had pressed the younger to spend a week in a country house which he had taken for the summer near London.
That was now fourteen months ago, but Sherston, standing there, remembered as if it had happened yesterday, his first sight of the girl who was to become his wife to-morrow. Helen Pomeroy had been standing on a brick path bordered with holly hocks, and she had smiled, a little shyly and gravely, at her father's rather eccentric-looking guest. But on that war-summer morning she had appeared to the stranger as does a mirage of spring water to a man who is dying of thirst in the desert.
Up to that time Sherston had always supposed himself to be attracted to small women. He was a big, fair man, with loosely hung limbs, and his wife—poor little baggage—had been a tiny creature, vixenish at her worst, kittenish at her best. But Helen Pomeroy was tall, with the noble proportions and tapering limbs of a goddess, and gradually—not for some time, for all social life was dislocated in England during that strange summer—Sherston became aware, with a kind of angry revolt of soul, that he was but one of many worshipers at the shrine.
Following an irresistible impulse, he early in their acquaintance told Helen Pomeroy more of himself than he had ever told any other human being; and his confidences at last included a bowdlerized account of his wretched marriage. But though they soon became friends, and though he went on seeing a great deal of her, all through that autumn and winter, Sherston feared to put his fate to the touch, and he was jealous—God alone knew how hideously, intolerably jealous—of the khaki-clad soldiers who came and went in her father's house in town.
and then, one day, during the second summer of their acquaintance, a word let drop by Mr. Pomeroy, who had become fond of the odd, restless fellow, opened a pit before Sherston's feet. It was a word implying that now, at last, Helen's father and mother hoped she would "make up her mind." A very distinguished soldier, whom she had refused as a girl of twenty, had come back unchanged, after six years, from India, and Helen, or so her parents hoped and thought, was seriously thinking of him.
Sherston had kept away. He had even left two of her letters—the rather formal letters which had come to mean so very much in his life—unanswered. A fortnight had gone by, and then there had reached him a prim little note from Mrs. Pomeroy, asking him why he had not been to see them lately. There was a postscript: "If you do not come soon, you will not see my daughter. She has not been well, and we are thinking of sending her up to Scotland, to friends who are in Skye, for a good long holiday."
He had gone to Cadogan Square (it was August 13th) as quickly as a taxi could take him, and by a blessed stroke of luck he had found Miss Pomeroy alone. In a flash all had come right between them. That had only been nine weeks ago, and now they were to be married to-morrow...
Sherston had been standing a long time at that casement of his which commanded the huge gray mass of Somerset House, when at last he turned round, and went quickly across the room to the other, western, window.
Even in the gathering darkness what a faery view was there! Glad as he was to know that after to-night he would never again see this living room in its present familiar guise—for he had arranged with a furniture dealer to come and take everything left in it away, within an hour of his departure—he told himself that never again could he hope to live with such a view as that on which he was gazing out now.
The yellowing branches of the trees which have their roots deep in the graveyard of the old Savoy Chapel formed, even in mid-October, a delicious screen of living, moving leaves. Far below, to his left, ran the river Thames, its rushing waters full of a mysterious, darksome beauty, and illumined, here and there, with the quivering reflection of shadowed white, green and red lights. Sherston in his heart often blessed the Sepelin scare which had banished the monstrous, flaring signs which, till a few months ago, had so offended his eyes each time that he looked out into the night, towards the water.
The lease of a fine old house in Cheyenne Walk had been chosen by Mr. Pomeroy as his daughter's wedding gift, and already certain of Sherston's personal possessions had been moved there. But he was taking with him as little as possible, and practically nothing from this memory-haunted room.
It was the big, light, airy, loft-like apartment which had attracted him in these chambers fifteen years ago, when he had first come to London from the Midlands, at the age of three-and-twenty. It was here, five years later, that he had come straight back from the Soho Registry Office with the young woman whom he had quixotically drawn up out of a world—the nether world—where she had been happier than she could ever hope to become with him. For Kitty Brawle—her very surname was symbolic—was one of those doomed creatures who love the mud, who never really wish to leave the mud—who feel scraped and sad when clean.
Unhappy Sherston! The noblest thing he had ever done, or was ever likely to do, in his life, proved, for a time at least, his undoing. Kitty had made him from generous mean, from unsuspecting suspicious, and during the wretched year they had spent together she had had a disastrous effect on his work. At last, acting on the shrewd advice of one of those instinctive men of the world of which Bohemia is full, he had bought her a billet in a theatrical touring company. There, by an extraordinary chance, Kitty made a tiny hit—sufficiently of a hit to bring her from an American impresario a creditable offer, contingent on her fare being paid to the States.
Gladly, how gladly only he himself had known—Sherston had taken her passage in the Titanic, Kitty's own characteristic choice of a boat. And he had done more. though short of money, he had given Kitty a hundred pounds.
Four days after their parting had come the astounding news of the sinking of the liner, followed, by Sherston, by a period of strange, painful suspense, filled with the eager scanning of lists, cables to and from America, finally terminated by an official intimation that poor Kitty had gone down in, and with, the ship.
Sherston's imagination was inconveniently vivid, and for a few poignant weeks his wife's horrible end haunted him. But after a while he forced himself to take a long holiday in Greece, and from there he came back with his nerves in better order than they had ever been.
Fate, which so seldom interferes with kindly intention in the lives of men, had cut what had become a strangling knot, and Kitty, from a dreadful, never-forgotten burden, had become a rather touching, piteous memory, growing ever dimmer as first the months, and then the years, slipped by.
Even so, her ghost sufficiently often haunted this large room, and the other apartments which composed Sherston's set of chambers, to make him determine that Miss Pomeroy should never come there. And she, being in this as unlike other, commonplace, young woman as she was in everything else, had never put him to the pain of finding an insincere excuse for his unwillingness to show her the place in which he lived and worked....
The coming night stretched long and bleak before to-morrow's bridegroom. There were fourteen hours to live through before he could even see Helen, for the time of the marriage had been fixed for eleven o'clock.
Sherston was not looking forward to the actual ceremony—no man ever does; and though it was to be a war wedding, a great many people, as he was ruefully aware, had been bidden to the ceremony. But it was comfortable to know that none of the guests had been asked to go back to the house from which he and his bride were to start for Sussex at one o'clock, in the motor which was Mrs. Pomeroy's marriage gift to her daughter.
Suddenly Sherston discovered the he was very hungry! He had lunched at Cadogan Square at a quarter to two, but he had felt too inwardly excited in that queer atmosphere of tears and laughter, of trousseau and wedding presents, to eat.
Even the least earthly of Romantics cannot forget for long the claims of the flesh, and so, smiling a little wryly in the darkness, he now told himself that the best thing he could do was to go out and get some supper. Acquainted with all the eating houses in the region, he was glad indeed that after to-night he would never have to enter one again.
Pulling down the green blind in front of him, Sherston walked across the room and pulled down the blind of the other window, for the London lighting orders had become much stricter of late. Then he turned on the electric light switch, took up his hat and stick, and went out into the little lobby.
Before him was a narrow aperture which opened straight on to the steep, short flight of steps connecting his chambers with the stone staircase of the big old house. This latter-like set of steps had a door top and bottom, but the lower door, which gave on to the landing, was generally left open. Turning out the light in the lobby, Sherston put his left hand on the banister and slid down in the darkness, taking the dozen steps as it were in one stride.
As he reached the bottom he suddenly became aware that the door before him, that giving on the landing, was shut, and that some one, almost certainly a child—for there was not room on the mat for a full-grown person—was crouching down just within the door.
Sherston felt sharply, perhaps unreasonably, irritated. Known in the neighborhood as open-handed and kindly, it had sometimes happened, but generally only in wintry weather, that he had come home to find some poor waif lying in wait for him. Man, woman or child who had wandered in, maybe, before the big door downstairs was closed, or who, if still blessed with some outer semblance of gentility, had managed cunningly to get past the Cerberus who lived in the basement, and whose duty it was to open the front door, after eight at night, to non-residents.
He felt in his pocket for a half-a-crown, and then, pretending still to be unaware that there was any one there, he fumbled for the spring lock.
The door burst open—he saw before him the shaft of glimmering whiteness shed by the skylight, for since the Zeppelin raid of the month before, the staircase was always left in darkness—and the figure of his unknown guest rolled over, picked itself up, and stood revealed, a woman, not a child, as he had at first thought. And then a feeling of sick, shrinking fear came over Sherston, for there fell on his ears the once horribly familiar accents—plaintive, wheedling, falsely timorous—of his dead wife's voice....
"Is that you, Shirley? I didn't know that you was at home. The windows were all dark, and—" In an injured tone this: "I've been waiting here ever so long for you to come in!"
The wraith-like figure before him was only too clearly flesh and blood, and, as he stepped forward, it moved quickly across, and stood, barring his way, on the top stone step of the big staircase.
Sherston remained silent. He could think of nothing to say. But his mind began to work with extraordinary rapidity and lucidity.
There was only one thing to do, here and now. That was to give the woman standing there a little money—not much—and tell her to come back again the next day. Having thus got rid of her—he knew that on no account must she be allowed to stay here the night—he must go at once to Mr. Pomeroy and tell him of this terrible, hitherto unimaginable, calamity. He told himself that it would be, if not exactly easy, then certainly possible to arrange a divorce.
Determinedly, in these tense, terrible moments, he refused to let himself face the coming anguish and dismay of the morrow. It was just a blow, straight between the eyes from fate—that fate who he had foolishly thought had been kind.
"Well? Are you going to let me stand here all night?"
"No, of course not. Wait a minute—I'm thinking." He spoke in a quick, hoarse tone, a tone alas! which Kitty at one time in their joint lives had come to associate with deep feeling on his part, in those days when she used to come and tell the lonely man of her sorrows, of her temptations, and of her vague, upward aspirations....
She lurched a little towards him. Everything was going far better than she could have hoped; why, Sherston did not seem angry, hardly annoyed, at her unheralded return!
Suddenly he felt her thin, strong arms closing round his body, in a horrible vice-like grip—
"Don't touch me!" he cried fiercely; and making a greater physical effort than he would have thought himself capable of, he shook himself violently free.
He saw her reel backwards and fall, with a queer grotesque movement, head over heels down the stone steps. The dull thud her body made as she fell on the half landing echoed up and down the bare well of the staircase.
Sherston's heart smote him. He had not meant to do THAT. Then he reminded himself bitterly that drunkards always fall soft. She could not have hurt herself much, falling that little way.
He waited a few moments; then, as she made no effort to raise herself, he walked down, slowly, unwillingly, towards her. From the little he could see in the dim light cast from above, Kitty was lying very oddly, all in a heap, her head against the wall.
He knelt down by her side.
"Kitty," he said quietly. "Try and get up. I'm sorry if I hurt you, but you took me by surprise. I—I—"
But there came no word, no moan even, in answer.
He felt for her limp hand, and held it a moment, but it lay in his, inertly. Filled with a queer, growing fear, he struck a match, bent down, and saw, for the first time that night, her face. It looked older, incredibly older, than when he had last seen it, five years ago! The hair near the temples had turned gray. Her eyes were wide open—and even as he looked earnestly into her face, her jaw suddenly dropped. He started back with an extraordinary feeling of mingled fear and repugnance.
Striking match after match as he went, he rushed up again into his chambers, and looked about for a hand mirror.... He failed to find one, and at last he brought down his shaving glass.
With shaking hands he laid it close against that hideous, gaping mouth, for five long dragging minutes. The glass remained clear, untarnished.
Putting a great constraint on himself, he forced himself to move her head. And the truth came to him! In that strange short fall Kitty had broken her neck. For the second time he was free. But this time her death, instead of cutting a knot, bound him as with cords of twisted steel to shame, and yes, to deadly peril.
Slowly he got up from his knees. Unless he went and jumped over the parapet of the Embankment into the river—a possibility which he grimly envisaged for a few moments—he knew that the only thing to do was to go off at once for the police, and make, as the saying is, a clean breast of it. After all he was innocent—innocent of even a secret desire of encompassing Kitty's death. But would it be possible to make even the indifferent, when aware of all the circumstances, believe that? Yes, there was one such human being—and as he thought of her his heart glowed with gratitude to God for having made her known to him. Helen would believe him, Helen would understand everything—and nothing else really mattered. It was curious how the thought of Helen, which had been agony an hour ago, now filled him with a kind of steadfast comfort.
As Sherston turned to go down the staircase, there came the distant sound of the bursting of a motor tire, and the unhappy man started violently. His nerves were now in pieces, but he remembered, as he went down the stone steps, to feel in one of his pockets, to be sure he had what he so seldom used, a card-case on him.
On reaching the front door he was surprised to find it open, and to see just within the hall, their white caps and pale faces dimly illumined by the little light that glimmered in from outside, two trained nurses with bags in their hands. They were talking eagerly, and took no notice of him as he passed.
For a moment Sherston wondered whether he ought to tell them of the terrible accident which had just happened upstairs—but after a momentary hesitation he decided that it would be better to go straight off to the Police Station. Already his excited brain saw a nurse standing in the witness-box at a trial where he himself stood in the dock on a charge of murder. So, past the two whispering women, he hurried out into the darkness.
Even in the grievous state of mental distress in which he now found himself, Sherston noticed that the street lamps were turned so low that there only shone out, under their green shades, pallid spots of light. And as he stumbled across the curb of the pavement, he told himself, with irritation, that that was really rather absurd! More accidents proceeded from the absence of light than were ever likely to be caused by the Zeppelins.
Perforce walking warily, he hastened towards the Strand. There was less traffic than usual, fewer people, too, on the pavement, but it was just after nine o'clock, the quietest time of the evening.
Suddenly a huge column of flame shot up some thirty yards in front of him, and then (it seemed to all to happen in a moment) a line of men, police, and special constables, spread across the thoroughfare in which he now was, barring off the Strand.
Sherston quickened his footsteps. For a moment his own disturbed and fearsome thoughts were banished by the extraordinary and exciting sight before him. Higher and higher mounted the pillar of fire, throwing a sinister glare on the buildings, high and low, new and old, round about it. "Good Heavens!" he exclaimed involuntarily. "Is that the Lyceum on fire?" A policeman near whom he was now standing, turned round and said shortly, "Can't say, I'm sure, sir."
He witnessed in the next few minutes a strange scene of confusion, of hurrying and scurrying hither and thither. Where there had been almost pitch darkness, was now a glittering, brilliant bath of light, in which the figures of men and women, moving swiftly to and fro, appeared like animated silhouettes. But even as he stared before him at the extraordinary Hogarthian vision, the roadway and the pavements of the Strand became strangely and suddenly deserted, while he began to hear the hoot, hoot of the fire-engines galloping to the scene of the disaster. Before him the line of police and of special constables remained unbroken, and barred his further progress.
"I don't want to go past the theater," he whispered urgently. "I only want to get to Bow Street, as quickly as possible, on a very important matter." He slipped the half-crown he had meant to give the waif he had taken Kitty to be, into a policeman's hand, and though the man shook his head he let him through.
Sherston shot down the Strand, to his left. Almost filling up the steep, lane-like street which leads down to the Savoy Hotel, were rows of ambulances, groups of nurses, and Red Cross men, and absorbed though he was once more in his own sensations, and the thought of the terrible ordeal that lay in front of him, Sherston yet found himself admiring the quickness with which they had been rushed hither.
On he went, and crossed the empty roadway. How strange that so little attention was being paid to the fire! Instead of a hurrying mob of men and women, the Strand was now extraordinarily empty, both of people and of vehicles, and now and again he could hear the sound of knocking, of urgent knocking, as if some one who has been locked out, and is determined to be let in.
He strode quickly along, feeling his way somewhat, for apart from the reflection of the red sky, it was pitch dark in the side streets, and soon he stood before the Police Station. The big old-fashioned building was just within the outer circle of light cast by the huge fire whose fierceness seemed to increase rather than diminish, and Sherston suddenly espied an Inspector standing half in the open door. "I've some very urgent business," he said hurriedly. "Could you come inside for a moment, and take down a statement?"
"What's your business about?" said the man sharply, and in the wavering light Sherston thought his face looked oddly distraught and pale.
"There's a woman lying dead at No. 19 Peter the Great Terrace," began Sherston curtly—
The man bent forward. "There's many women already lying dead about here, sir, and likely to be more—babies and children too—before we're through with this hellish business!" he said grimly. "If she's dead, poor thing, we can do nothing for her. But if you think there's any life left in her—well, you'll find plenty of ambulances, as well as doctors and nurses, down Strand way. But if I was you, I'd wait a bit before going back. They're still about—" and even as he uttered the word "about" he started back into the shelter of the building, pulling Sherston roughly in with him as he did so, and there came a loud, dull report, curiously analogous to that which a quarter of an hour ago—it seemed hours rather than minutes—Sherston had taken for the bursting of a motor tire. But this time the sound was at once followed by that of shattered glass, and of falling masonry.
"Good God!" he cried. "What's that?"
"A goodish lot of damage this time, I should think," said the Inspector thoughtfully. "Though they're doing wonderfully little considering how they—"
"Zeppelins, of course, sir! Why didn't you guess that? They say there're two over us if not three." Then in a voice, so changed, so charged with relief, that his own mother would not have known it for the same, the man exclaimed, "Look up, sir—there they are! And they're off—the hellish things!" And Sherston throwing up his head, did indeed see what looked to his astonished eyes like two beautiful golden trout swimming across the sky just above him.
As he stood awestruck, fascinated at the astounding sight, he also saw what looked like a falling star shoot down from one of the Zeppelins, and again there fell on his ears that strange explosive thud.
The man by his side uttered a stifled oath. "There's another—let's hope it's the last in this district!" he exclaimed. "See! They're off down the river now!"
Even as he said the words the space in front of the Police Station was suddenly filled with a surging mass of people, men, women, even children, making their way Strandward, to see all that there was to see, now that the immediate danger was past.
"If I were you, sir, I think I'd stay here quietly a bit, till the crowd has thinned, and been driven back. I take it you can't do that poor woman of whom you spoke just now any good—I take it she's dead, sir?" the Inspector spoke very feelingly.
"Yes, she certainly is dead," said Sherston dully.
"Well, I must be going now, but if you like to stay here a while, I'm sure you're welcome, sir."
"No," said Sherston. "I think I'll go out and see whether I can do anything to help."
The two passed out into the roadway, and took their place among the slowly moving people there, the Inspector make a way for himself and his companion through the excited, talkative, good-humored Cockney crowd. "There it is! Can't you see it? Up there just like a little yellow worm." "There's naught at all! You've got the cobble-wobbles!" and then a ripple of laughter.
Sherston was borne along with the human stream, and with that stream he suddenly found himself stopped at the westward end of Wellington Street. Over the heads of the people before him—they were, oddly enough, mostly women—he could see the column of flame still burning steadily upwards, and scarcely affected at all by the huge jets of water now playing on it.
It seemed to start from the ground, a massive pillar of fire, and all round it was an empty space—a zone no human being could approach for fear of being at once roasted and shriveled up to death. "The bomb got down to the big gas main," observed a voice close to him. "It'll be days before they get THAT fire under!"
He, Sherston, felt marvelously calm. This strange, awful visitation had made for him a breathing space in which to reconsider what he had better do, and suddenly he decided that he would go and consult Mr. Pomeroy. But before doing that he must force himself to go back and fetch certain documents which fortunately he had kept....
He made his way, with a great deal of difficulty—for it was as if all London had by now flocked to this one afflicted area—by a circuitous way to the Strand. Tramping through a six-inch-deep flood of broken glass he made his way by the Embankment and the Waterloo Bridge steps to the upper level, that leading to, and past, Peter the Great Terrace.
A vast host was now westward from over the river, and he felt the electric currents of joyous excitement, retrospective fear, and, above all, of eager, almost ferocious, curiosity, linking up rapidly about him. The rough and ready cordon of special constables seemed powerless to dam the human tide, and caught in that tide's eddies, Sherston struggled helplessly.
"Let me through," he shouted at last. "I MUST get through!"
"You can't get through just here—there's a house been struck in Peter the Great Terrace! 'Twas the last bomb did it!"
Sherston uttered a groan—Ah! If only that were true! But he had just now glanced up and seen the row of big substantial eighteenth century houses, of which his was the end one, solidly outlined against the star-powdered sky, though every pane of glass had been blown out.
Then some one turned round. "It's the corner house been struck. Bomb fell right through the skylight. They've sent for the firemen to see what damage was done. You can't see anything from this side."
THROUGH THE SKYLIGHT?
Sherston was a powerful man. He forced his way, he did not know how, blindly, to the very front of the crowd.
Yes, there were two firemen standing by the low, sunk-in door, that door through which he had come and gone hundreds, nay thousands, of times, in his life. So much was true, but everything else was as usual. "I live here," he said hoarsely. "Will you let me through?"
The fireman shook his head. "No, sir. I can't let any one through. And if I did 'twould be no good. The staircase is clean gone—a great big stone staircase, too! It's all in bits, just like a lot of rubble. The front of the house ain't touched, but the center and behind—well, sir, you never did see such a sight!"
"Any one hurt?" asked Sherston in a strangled tone. He felt a most extraordinary physical sensation of lightness—of—of—was it dissolution?—sweep over his mind and body. He heard as in a far away dream the answer to his question.
"There was no one in the house at all, from what we can make out. The caretaker had a lucky escape, or he'd be buried alive by now, but he and his missus had already gone out to see the sights."
A moment later the fireman was holding Sherston in his big brawny arms, and shouting, "An ambulance this way—send a long a nurse please—gentleman's fainted!" The crowd parted eagerly, respectfully. "Poor feller!" exclaimed one woman in half piteous, half furious tones. "Those damned Germans—they've gone and destroyed the poor chap's little all. I heard him explaining just now as what he lived here!"
[signed]Maid Belloc Lowndes
A Canadian Soldier's Dominion Day at Shorncliffe
"Is there a holiday next Thursday?" inquired a Canadian officer of an English confrere.
"A holiday? Not that I know of. Why should there be?"
"Why? Because it's Dominion Day."
"Dominion Day?" blankly echoed the English Officer.
"Yes! Did you never hear of it, you benighted Islander?"
"I really am afraid not," replied the English Officer, convicted by the Canadian's tone of nothing less than crime. "Just what is it?"
"Perhaps you have never heard of Canada?"
"Well, RATHER, we hear something of Canada these days."
Then, as the light began to break in on his darkened soul, "Ah, I see, that is your Canadian National Day, is it not?"
"It is. And the question is, 'Are we going to have a holiday?'"
"Well, you see the King specially requested that there be no holiday on his birthday."
"The King's birthday! Oh, that's right—but this is different, you see."
The Englishman looked mildly surprised.
"Oh, the King's all right," continued the Canadian, answering the other's look, "we think a lot of him these days. But—you know—Dominion Day—"
"I hope you may get it, old chap, but I fancy we are in for the usual grind."
The Canadian officer had little objection to the grind nor had his men. The Canadians eat up work. But somehow it did not seem right that the 1st of July slide past without celebration of any kind. He had memories of that day, of its early morning hours when a kid he used to steal down stairs to let off a few firecrackers from his precious bunch just to see how they would go. Latterly he had not cared for the fireworks part of it except for the Kiddies. But somehow he was conscious of a new interest in Canada's birthday. Perhaps because Canada was so far away and the Kiddies would be wanting some one to set off their crackers. It was good to be in England, the beautiful old motherland, but it was not Canada and it did not seem right that Canada's birthday should be allowed to pass unmarked. So too through the Commandant of the Shorncliffe Camp, a right good Canadian he.
"I have arranged a Tattoo for the evening," he announced in conversation with the Canadian Officer the day before the First.
"What about a holiday, Colonel?" The Commandant shook his head.
"Well, then, a half-holiday?"
"No. At least," remembering the officer's ancestry and that he was a Canadian Highlander, "not officially, whateffer."
"Shall I get a rope for the Tug of War, do you think?"
"I think," replied the Commandant slowly with a wink in his left eye, "you might get the rope."
This was sufficient encouragement for the 43rd to go on with and so the rope was got and vaulting pole and standards with other appurtenances of a day of sports. And the preparations went bravely on. So also went on the Syllabus which for Dominion Day showed, Company Drill, Instruction Classes, Lectures, Physical for the forenoon, Bayonet fighting and Route marching for the afternoon.
"All right, let her go," and so the fields and plains, the lanes and roads are filled with Canadian soldiers celebrating their Dominion Day, drilling, bayonet fighting, route marching, while overhead soars thrumming the watchful airship, Britain's eye. For Britain has a business on hand. Just yonder stretches the misty sea where unsleeping lie Britain's men of war. Beyond the sea bleeding Belgium has bloodsoaked ground crying to Heaven long waiting but soon at length to hear. And France fiercely, proudly proving her right to live an independent nation. And Germany. Germany! the last word in intellectual power, in industrial achievement, in scientific research, aye and in infamous brutality! Germany, the might modern Hun, the highly scienced barbarian of this twentieth Century, more bloody than Attila, more ruthless than his savage hordes. Germany doomed to destruction because freedom is man's inalienable birthright, man's undying passion. Germany! fated to execration by future generations for that she ahs crucified the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame. Germany! for the balking of whose insolent and futile ambition, and for the crushing of whose archaic military madness we Canadians are tramping on this Dominion Day these English fields and these sweet English lanes 5,000 miles from our Western Canada which dear land we can not ever see again if this monstrous threatening cloud be not removed forever from our sky. For this it is that 100,000 Canadian citizens have left their homes with 500,000 eager more to follow if needed, other sons of the Empire knit in one firm resolve that once more Freedom shall be saved for the race as by their sires in other days.
But the Tattoo is on—the ground chosen is the little plateau within the lines of the 43rd just below the Officer's tents, flanked on one side by a sloping grassy hill on the other by a row of ancient trees shading a little hidden brook that gurgles softly to itself all day long. On the sloping hill the soldiers of the various battalions lie stretched at ease in khaki colored kilts and trews, caps and bonnets, except the men of the 43rd who wear the dark blue Glengarry. In the center of the plateau a platform invites attention and on each side facing it rows of chairs for officers and their friends, among the latter some officers' wives, happy creatures and happy officers to have them so near and not 5,000 miles away.
The Commandant has been called away on a sad business, a soldier's funeral, hence the Junior Major of the 43rd as chairman of that important and delicately organized Committee of the Bandmasters and Pipe Majors of the various battalions is in charge of the program. Major Grassie is equal to the occasion, quiet, ready resourceful. With him associated is Major Watts, Adjutant of the 9th, as Musical Director; in peaceful times organist and choir master of a Presbyterian congregation in Edmonton far away.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
The drums in the distance begin to throb and from the eastern side of the plain march in the band of the 9th playing their regimental march, "Garry Owen," none the less. From the west the band of the 11th, then that of the 12th, finally (for the 43rd Band is away on leave, worse luck) the splendid Band of the 49th, each playing its own Regimental march which is taken up by the bands already in position. Next comes the massed buglers of all the regiments, their thrilling soaring notes rising above the hills, and take their stand beside the bands already in place. Then a pause, when from round the hill shoulder rise wild and weird sounds. The music of the evening, to Scottish hearts and ears, has begun. It is the fine pipe band of the 42nd Royal Highlanders from Montreal, khaki clad, kilts and bonnets, and blowing proudly and defiantly their "Wha saw the Forty-twa." Again a pause and from the other side of the hill gay with tartan and blue bonnets, their great blooming drones gorgeous with flowing streamers and silver mountings, in march the 43rd Camerons. "Man, would Alex Macdonald be proud of his pipes to-day," says a Winnipeg Highlander for these same pipes are Alex's gift to the 43rd, and harkening to these great booming drones I agree.