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The Cup of Fury - A Novel of Cities and Shipyards
by Rupert Hughes
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She was quite childish about missing the great event. She wept because another hand swung the netted champagne-bottle against the bow as it lurched down the toboggan-slide.

Davidge wrote her about the launching, but it was a business man's letter, with the poetry all smothered. He told her that there had been an accident or two, and nearly a disaster—an unexploded infernal-machine had been found. A scheme to wreck the launching-ways had been detected on the final inspection.

Marie Louise read the letter aloud to Abbie, and, even though she knew the ship was safe, trembled as if it were still in jeopardy. Her shaken faith in humanity was still capable of feeling bewilderment at the extremes of German savagery. She cried out to her sister:

"How on earth can anybody be fiendish enough to have tried to destroy that ship even before it was launched? How could a German spy have got into the yard?"

"It didn't have to have been a German," said Abbie, bitterly.

"Who else would have wanted to play such a dastardly trick? No American would!"

"Well, it depends on what you call Amurrican," said Abbie. "There's some them Independent workmen so independent they ain't got any country any more 'n what Cain had."

"You can't suppose that Mr. Davidge has enemies among his own people?"

"O' course he has! Slews of 'em. Some them workmen can't forgive the man that gives 'em a job."

"But he pays big wages. Think of what Jake gets."

"Oh, him! If he got all they was, he'd holler he was bein' cheated. Hollerin' and hatin' always come easy to Jake. If they wasn't easy, he wouldn't do 'em."

Marie Louise gasped: "Abbie! In Heaven's name, you don't imply—"

"No, I don't!" snapped Abbie. "I never implied in my life, and don't you go sayin' I did."

Abbie was at bay now. She had to defend her man from outside suspicion. Suspicion of her husband is a wife's prerogative

Marie Louise was too much absorbed in the general vision of man's potential villainy to follow up the individual clue. She was frightened away from considering Jake as a candidate for such infamy. Her wildest imaginings never put him in association with Nicky Easton.

There were so many excursions and alarms in the world of 1917 that the riddle of who tried to sink the ship on dry land joined a myriad others in the riddle limbo.

When Marie Louise was well enough to go back to her business school she found riddles enough in trying to decide where this letter or that had got to on the crazy keyboard, or what squirmy shorthand symbol it was that represented this syllable or that.

She had lost the little speed she had had, and it was double drudgery regaining the forgotten lore. But she stood the gaff and found herself on the dizzy height of graduation from a lowly business school. She had traveled a long way from the snobbery of her recent years.

Davidge recognized her face and her voice when she presented herself before him. But her soul was an utter stranger. She did not invite him to call on her or warn him that she was coming to call on him.

She appeared in his anteroom and bribed one of the clerks to go to him with a message:

"A young lady's outside—wants a position—as a stenogerpher."

Davidge growled without looking up:

"Why bother me? Send her to the chief clerk."

"She wants to see you specially."

"I'm out."

"Said Miss Webling sent her."

"O Lord!—show her in."

Marie Louise entered. Davidge looked up, leaped up.

She did not come in with the drawing-room, train-dragging manner of Miss Webling. She did not wear the insolent beauty of Mamise of the Musical Mokes. She was a white-waisted, plain-skirted office-woman, a businessette. She had a neat little hat and gave him a secretarial bow.

He rushed to her hand, and they had a good laugh like two children playing pretend. Then he said:

"Why the camouflage?"

The word was not very new even then, or he would not have used it.

She explained, with royal simplicity:

"I want a job."

She brought out her diploma and a certificate giving her a civil-service status. She was quite conceited about it.

She insisted on displaying her accomplishments.

"Give me some dictation," she dictated.

He nodded, pummeled his head for an idea while she took from her hand-bag, not a vanity-case, but a stenographer's notebook and a sheaf of pencils.

He noted that she sat down stenographically—very concisely. She perched her notebook on the desk of one crossed knee and perked her eyes up as alertly as a sparrow.

All this professionalism sat so quaintly on the two Marie Louises he had known that he roared with laughter as at a child dressed up.

She smiled patiently at his uproar till it subsided. Then he sobered and began to dictate:

"Ready? 'Miss Mamise'—cross that out—'Miss Marie Louise Webling'—you know the address; I don't. 'Dear—My dear'—no, just 'Dear Miss Webling. Reference is had to your order of recent date that this house engage you as amanuensis.' Dictionary in the bookcase outside—comma—no, period. 'In reply I would—I wish to—I beg to—we beg to say that we should—I should just as soon engage Mona Lisa for a stenographer as you.' Period and paragraph.

"'We have,'—comma,—'however,'—comma,—'another position to offer you,'—comma,—'that is, as wife to the senior member of this firm.' Period. 'The best wages we can—we can offer you are—is the use of one large,'—comma,—'slightly damaged heart and a million thanks a minute.' Period. 'Trusting that we may be favored with a prompt and favorable reply, we am—I are—am—yours very sincerely, truly yours,'—no, just say 'yours,' and I'll sign it. By the way, do you know what the answer will be?"

"Yes."

"Do you mean it?"

"I mean that I know the answer."

"Let me have it."

"Can't you guess?"

"'Yes'?"

"No."

"Oh!"

A long glum pause till she said, "Am I fired?"

"Of course not."

More pause. She intervened in his silence.

"What do I do next, please?"

He said, of habit, "Why, sail on, and on, and on."

He reached for his basket of unanswered mail. He said:

"I've given you a sample of my style, now you give me a sample of yours, and then I'll see if I can afford to keep you as a stenographer instead of a wife."

She nodded, went to a typewriter in a corner of his office, and seated herself at the musicless instrument. Her heart pit-a-patted as fast as her fingers, but she drew up the letter in a handsome style while he sat and stared at her and mused upon the strange radiance she brought into the office in a kind of aureole.

He grew abruptly serious when Miss Gabus, his regular stenographer, entered and stared at the interloper with amazement, comma, suspicion, comma, and hostility, period. She murmured a very rasping "I beg your pardon," and stepped out, as Marie Louise rose from the writing-machine and brought him an extraordinarily accurate version of his letter.

And now he had two women on his hands and one on his heart. He dared not oust Miss Gabus for the sake of Miss Webling. He dared not show his devotion to Marie Louise, though as a matter of fact it made him glow like a lighthouse.

He put Mamise to work in the chief clerk's office. It was noted that he made many more trips to that office than ever before. Instead of pressing the buzzer for a boy or a stenographer, he usually came out himself on all sorts of errands. His buzzer did not buzz, but the gossip did.

Mamise was vaguely aware of it, and it distressed her till she grew furious. She was so furious at Davidge for not being deft enough to conceal his affection that she began to resent it as an offense and not a compliment.

The impossible Mamise insisted on taking up her residence in one of the shanties. When he took the liberty of urging her to live at a hotel or at some of the more comfortable homes she snubbed him bluntly. When he desperately urged her to take lunch or dinner with him she drew herself up and mocked the virtuous scorn of a movie stenographer and said:

"Sir! I may be only a poor typist, but no wicked capitalist shall loor me to lunch with him. You'd probably drug the wine."

"Then will you—"

"No, I will not go motoring with you. How dare you!"

"May I call, then?"

More as a punishment than a hospitality, she said:

"Yessir—the fourteenth house on the left side of the road is me."

The days were still long and the dark tardy when he marched up the street. It was a gantlet of eyes and whispers. He felt inane to an imbecility. The whole village was eying the boss on his way to spark a stenog. His little love-affair was as clandestine as Lady Godiva's famous bareback ride.

He cut his call short after an age-long half-hour of enduring the ridicule twinkling in Mamise's eyes. He stayed just late enough for it to get dark enough to conceal his return through that street. He was furious at the situation and at Mamise for teasing him so. But she became all the dearer for her elusiveness.



CHAPTER IV

After the novelty of the joke wore off Mamise grew as uncomfortable as he. She was beginning to love him more and her job less. But she was determined not to throw away her independence. Pride was her duenna, and a ruthless one. She tried to feed her pride on her ambition and on an occasional visit to the ship that was to wear her name.

She met Sutton, the prima donna riveter. He was always clattering away like a hungry woodpecker, but he always had time to stop and discuss his art with her.

Once or twice he let her try the riveter—the "gun," he called it; but her thumb was not strong enough to hold the trigger against that hundred-and-fifty-pound pressure per square inch.

One day Marie Louise came on Jake Nuddle and Sutton in a wrangle. She caught enough of the parley to know that Jake was sneering at Sutton's waste of energy and enthusiasm, his long hours and low pay. Sutton earned a very substantial income, but all pay was low pay to Jake, who was spreading the gospel of sabotage through the shipyard.

Meanwhile the good ship Clara, weaned from the dock, floated in the basin and received her equipment. And at last the day came when she was ready for her trial trip.

That morning the smoke rolled from her funnels in a twisted skein. What had once been ore in many a mine, and trees in many a forest, had become an individual, as what has been vegetables and fruits and the flesh of animals becomes at last a child with a soul, a name, a fate.

It was impossible to think now that the Clara was merely an iron box with an engine to push it about. Clara was somebody, a personality, a lovable, whimsical, powerful creature. She was "she" to everybody. And at last one morning she kicked up her heels and took a long white bone in her teeth and went her ways.

The next day Clara came back. There was something about her manner of sweeping into the bay, about the proud look of her as she came to a halt, that convinced all the watchers in the shipyard of her success.

When they learned that she had exceeded all her contract stipulations there was a tumult of rejoicing; for her success was the success of every man and lad in the company's employ—at least so thought all who had any instinct of team-play and collective pride. A few soreheads were glum, or sneered at the enthusiasm of the others. It was strange that Jake Nuddle was associated with all of these groups.

Clara was not permitted to linger and rest on her laurels. She had work to do. Every ship in the world was working overtime except the German Kiel Canal boats. Clara was gone from the view the next morning. Mamise missed her as she looked from the office window. She mentioned this to Davidge, for fear he might not know. Somebody might have stolen her. He explained:

"She's going down to Norfolk to take on a cargo of food for England—wheat for the Allies. I'm glad she's going to take breadstuffs to people. My mother used to be always going about to hungry folks with a basket of food on her arm."

Mamise had Jake and Abbie in to dinner that night. She was all agog about the success of Clara, and hoped that Mamise would one day do as well.

Jake took a sudden interest in the matter. "Did the boss tell you where the Clara was goin' to?"

"Yes—Norfolk."

Jake considered his unmentionable cigar a few minutes, then rose and mumbled:

"Goin' out to get some more cigars."

Abbie called after him, "Hay, you got a whole half-box left." But Jake did not seem to hear the recall.

He came back later cigarless and asked for the box.

"I thought you went out to git some," said Abbie, who felt it necessary to let no occasion slip for reminding him of some blunder he had made. Jake laughed very amiably.

"Well, so I did, and I went into a cigar-store, at that. But I hadda telephone a certain party, long-distance—and I forgot."

Abbie broke in, "Who you got to long-distance to?"

Jake did not answer.

Two days later Davidge was so proud that he came out into the main office and told all the clerks of the new distinction.

"They loaded the Clara in record time with wheat for England. She sails to-day."

At his first chance to speak to Marie Louise he said:

"You compared her to Little Red Riding Hood—remember? Well, she's starting out through the big woods with a lot of victuals for old Granny England. If only the wolves don't get her!"

He felt, and Mamise felt, as lonely and as anxious for her as if she were indeed a little red-bonneted forest-farer on an errand of mercy.

Ships have always been dear to humankind because of the dangers they run and because of the pluck they show in storms and fires, and the unending fights they make against wind and wave. But of late they had had unheard-of enemies to meet, the submarine and the infernal machine placed inside the cargo.

Marie Louise spoke of this at the supper-table that night:

"To think, with so little food in the world and so many starving to death, people could sink ships full of wheat!"

On the second day after the Clara set forth on the ocean Marie Louise took dictation for an hour and wrote out her letters as fast as she could. In the afternoon she took the typewritten transcripts into Davidge's office to drop them into his "in" basket.

The telephone rang. His hand went out to it, and she heard him say:

"Mr. Davidge speaking.... Hello, Ed.... What? You're too close to the 'phone.... That's better.... You're too far away—start all over.... I don't get that.... Yes—a life-boat picked up with what—oh, six survivors. Yes—from what ship? I say, six survivors from what ship?... The Clara? She's gone? Clara?"

He reeled and wavered in his chair. "What happened—many lost? And the boat—cargo—everything—everybody but those six! They got her, then! The Germans got her—on her first voyage! God damn their guts! Good-by, Ed."

He seemed to be calm, but the hand that held up the receiver groped for the hook with a pitiful blind man's gesture.

Mamise could not resist that blundering helplessness. She ran forward and took his hand and set the receiver in place.

He was too numb to thank her, but he was grateful. His mother was dead. The ship he had named for her was dead. He needed mothering.

Mamise put her hands on his shoulders and gripped them as if to hold them together under their burden. She said:

"I heard. I can't tell you how— Oh, what can we do in such a world!"

He laughed foolishly and said, with a stumbling voice:

"I'll get a German for this—somehow!"



CHAPTER V

Mamise shuddered when she heard the blood-cry wrung out of Davidge's agony.

She knew that the ship was more than a ship to him. Its death was as the death of many children. It might mean the death of many children. She stood over him, weeping for him like another Niobe among her slaughtered family. The business man in his tragedy had to have some woman at hand to do his weeping for him. He did not know how to sob his own heart out.

She felt the vigor of a high anger grip his muscles. When she heard him groan, "I'll get a German for this!" somehow it horrified her, coming from him; yet it was becoming the watchword of the whole nation.

America had stood by for three years feeding Europe's hungry and selling munitions to the only ones that could come and get them. America had been forced into the war by the idiotic ingenuities of the Germans, who kept frustrating all their own achievements, the cruel ones thwarting the clever ones; the liars undermining the fighters; the wise, who knew so much, not knowing the first thing—that torture never succeeded, that a reputation for broken faith is the most expensive of all reputations, that a policy of terror and trickery and megalomania can accomplish nothing but its own eventual ruin.

America was aroused at last. The German rhinoceros in its blind charges had wakened and enraged the mammoth. A need for German blood was the frank and undeniable passion of the American Republic. To kill enough Germans fast enough to crush them and their power and their glory was the acknowledged business of the United States until further notice.

The strangest people were voicing this demand. Preachers were thundering it across their pulpits, professors across their desks, women across their cradles, pacifists across their shattered dreams, business men across their counters, "Kill Germans!"

It was a frightful crusade; yet who was to blame for it but the Germans and their own self-advertised frightfulness? The world was fighting for its life and health against a plague, a new outrush from that new plague-spot whence so many floods of barbarism had broken over civilization.

They came forth now in gray streams like the torrent of rats that pursued the wicked Bishop Hatto to his tower. Only the world was not Bishop Hatto, and it did not flee. It gathered to one vast circular battle, killing and killing rats upon rats in a frenzy of loathing that grew with the butchery.

Countless citizens of German origin fought and died with the Americans, but nobody thought of them as Germans now, and least of all did they so think of themselves. In the mind of the Allied nations, German and vermin were linked in rhyme and reason.

It may be unjust and unsympathetic, but the very best people feel it a duty to destroy microbes, insects, and beasts of prey without mercy. The Germans themselves had proclaimed their own nature with pride. Peaceful Belgium—invaded, burned, butchered, ravished, dismantled, mulcted, deported, enslaved—was the first sample of German work.

Davidge had hated Germany's part in the war from the first, for the world's sake, for the sake of the little nations trampled and starved and the big nations thrown into desperation, and for the insolence and omnipresence of the German menace—for the land filled with graves, the sea with ships, the air with indiscriminate slaughter.

Now it had come straight home to himself. His own ship was assassinated; the hill of wheat she carried had been spilled into the sterile sea. Nearly all of her crew had been murdered or drowned. He had a blood-feud of his own with Germany.

He was startled to find Mamise recoiling from him. He looked at her with a sudden demand:

"Does it shock you to have me hate 'em?"

"No! No, indeed!" she cried. "I wasn't thinking of them, but of you. I never saw you before like this. You scared me a little. I didn't know you could be so angry."

"I'm not half as angry as I'd like to be. Don't you abominate 'em, too?"

"Oh yes—I wish that Germany were one big ship and all the Germans on board, and I had a torpedo big enough to blast them all to—where they belong."

This wish seemed to him to prove a sufficient lack of affection for the Germans, and he added, "Amen!" with a little nervous reaction into uncouth laughter.

But this was only another form of his anguish. At such times the distraught soul seems to have need of all its emotions and expressions, and to run among them like a frantic child.

Davidge's next mood was a passionate regret for the crew, the dead engineers and sailors shattered and blasted and cast into the sea, the sufferings of the little squad that escaped into a life-boat without water or provisions or shelter from the sun and the lashing spray.

Then he pictured the misery of hunger that the ship's cargo would have relieved. He had been reading much of late of the Armenian—what word or words could name that woe so multitudinous that, like the number of the stars, the mind refused to attempt its comprehension?

He saw one of those writhing columns winding through a rocky wilderness—old crones knocked aside to shrivel with famine, babies withering like blistered flowers from the flattened breasts of their mothers dying with hunger, fatigue, blows, violation, and despair. He thought of Poland childless and beyond pity; of the Serbian shambles. The talons of hunger a millionfold clutched him, and he groaned aloud:

"If they'd only stolen my wheat and given it to somebody—to anybody! But to pour it into the sea!"

He could not linger in that slough and stay sane. His struggling soul broke loose from the depths and hunted safety in self-ridicule:

"I might better have left the wheat at home and never have built the fool ship."

He began to laugh again, an imbecile ironic cachinnation.

"The blithering idiot I've been! To go and work and work and work, and drive my men and all the machinery for months and months to make a ship and put in the engines and send it down and load it, and all for some"—a gesture expressed his unspeakable thought—"of a German to blow it to hell and gone, with a little clock-bomb in one second!"

In his abysmal discouragement his ideals were all topsy-turvy. He burlesqued his own religion as the most earnest constantly do, for we all revolve around ourselves as well as our suns.

"What's the use," he maundered—"what's the use of trying to do anything while they're alive and at work right here in our country? They're everywhere! They swarm like cockroaches out of every hole as soon as the light gets low! We've got to blister 'em all to death with rough-on-rats before we can build anything that will last. There's no stopping them without wiping 'em off the earth."

She did not argue with him. At such times people do not want arguments or good counsel or correction. They want somebody to stand by in mute fellowship to watch and listen and suffer, too. So Mamise helped Davidge through that ordeal. He turned from rage at the Germans to contempt for himself.

"It's time I quit out of this and went to work with the army. It makes me sick to be here making ships for Germans to sink. The thing to do is to kill the Germans first and build the ships when the sea is safe for humanity. I'm ashamed of myself sitting in an office shooting with a telephone and giving out plans and contracts and paying wages to a gang of mechanics. It's me for a rifle and a bayonet."

Mamise had to oppose this:

"Who's going to get you soldiers across the sea or feed you when you get there if all the ship-builders turn soldier?"

"Let somebody else do it."

"But who can do it as well as you can? The Germans said that America could never put an army across or feed it if she got it there. If you go on strike you'll prove the truth of that."

Then she began to chant his own song to him. A man likes to hear his nobler words recalled. Here is one of the best resources a woman has. Mamise was speaking for him as well as for herself when she said:

"Oh, I remember how you thrilled me with your talk of all the ships you would build. You said it was the greatest poem ever written, the idea of making ships faster than the Germans could sink them. It was that that made me want to be a ship-builder. It was the first big ambition I ever had. And now you tell me it's useless and foolish!"

He saw the point without further pressure.

"You're right," he said. "My job's here. It would be selfish and showy to knock off this work and grab a gun. I'll stick. It's hard, though, to settle down here when everybody else is bound for France."

Mamise was one of those unusual wise persons who do not continue to argue a case that has already been won. She added only the warm personal note to help out the cold generality.

"There's my ship to finish, you know. You couldn't leave poor Mamise out there on the stocks unfinished."

The personal note was so warm that he reached out for her. He needed her in his arms. He caught her roughly to him and knew for the first time the feel of her body against his, the sweet compliance of her form to his embrace.

But there was an anachronism to her in the contact. She was in one of those moods of exaltation, of impersonal nationalism, that women were rising to more and more as a new religion. She was feeling terribly American, and, though she had no anger for him and saw no insult in his violence, she seemed to be above and beyond mere hugging and kissing. She was in a Joan of Arc humor, so she put his hands away, yet squeezed them with fervor, for she knew that she had saved him from himself and to himself. She had brought him back to his east again, and the morning is always wonderful.

She had renewed his courage, however, so greatly that he did not despair of her. He merely postponed her, as people were postponing everything beautiful and lovable "for the duration of the war."

He reached for the buzzer. Already Mamise heard its rattlesnake clatter. But his hand paused and went to hers as he stammered:

"We've gone through this together, and you've helped me—I can't tell you how much, honey. Only, I hope we can go through a lot more trouble together. There's plenty of it ahead."

She felt proud and meek and dismally happy. She squeezed his big hand again in both of hers and sighed, with a smile:

"I hope so."

Then he pressed the buzzer, and Miss Gabus was inside the door with suspicious promptitude. Davidge said:

"Mr. Avery, please—and the others—all the others right away. Ask them to come here; and you might come back, Miss Gabus."

Mr. Avery, the chief clerk, and other clerks and stenographers, gathered, wondering what was about to happen. Some of them came grinning, for when they had asked Miss Gabus what was up she had guessed: "I reckon he's goin' to announce his engagement."

The office force came in like an ill-drilled comic-opera chorus. Davidge waited till the last-comer was waiting. Then he said:

"Folks, I've just had bad news. The Clara—they got her! The Germans got her. She was blown up by a bomb. She was two days out and going like a greyhound when she sank with all on board except six of the crew who got away in a life-boat and were picked up by a tramp."

There was a shock of silence, then a hubbub of gasps, oaths, of incredulous protests.

Miss Gabus was the first to address Davidge:

"My Gawd! Mr. Davidge, what you goin' to do about it?"

They thought him a man of iron when he said, quietly:

"We'll build some more ships. And if they sink those we'll—build some more."

He was a man of iron, but iron can bend and break and melt, and so can steel. Yet there is a renewal of strength, and, thanks to Mamise, Davidge was recalled to himself, though he was too shrewd or too tactful to give her the credit for redeeming him.

His resolute words gave the office people back to their own characters or their own reactions and their first phrases. Each had something to say. One, "She was such a pretty boat!" another, "Was she insured, d'you suppose?" a third, a fourth, and the rest: "The poor engineer—and the sailors!" "All that work for nothin'!" "The money she cost!" "The Belgians could 'a' used that wheat!" "Those Germans! Is there anything they won't do?"

The chief clerk shepherded them back to their tasks. Davidge took up the telephone to ask for more steel. Mamise renewed the cheerful rap-rap-rap of her typewriter.

The shock that struck the office had yet to rush through the yard. There was no lack of messengers to go among the men with the bad word that the first of the Davidge ships had been destroyed. It was a personal loss to nearly everybody, as it had been to Davidge, for nearly everybody had put some of his soul and some of his sweat into that slow and painful structure so instantly annulled. The mockery of the wasted toil embittered every one. The wrath of the workers was both loud and ferocious.

Jake Nuddle was one of the few who did not revile the German plague. He was not in the least excited over the dead sailors. They did not belong to his union. Besides, Jake did not love work or the things it made. He claimed to love the workers and the money they made.

He was tactless enough to say to a furious orator:

"Ah, what's it to you? The more ships the Germans sink the more you got to build and the more they'll have to pay you. If Davidge goes broke, so much the better. The sooner we bust these capitalists the sooner the workin'-man gets his rights."

The orator retorted: "This is war-times. We got to make ships to win the war."

Jake laughed. "Whose war is it? The capitalists'. You're fightin' for Morgan and Rockefeller to save their investments and to help 'em to grind you into the dirt. England and France and America are all land-grabbers. They're no better 'n Germany."

The workers wanted a scapegoat, and Jake unwittingly volunteered. They welcomed him with a bloodthirsty roar. They called him vigorous shipyard names and struck at him. He backed off. They followed. He made a crucial mistake; he whirled and ran. They ran after him. Some of them threw hammers and bolts. Some of these struck him as he fled. Workmen ahead of him were roused by the noise and headed him off.

He darted through an opening in the side of the Mamise. The crowd followed him, chased him out on an upper deck.

"Throw him overboard! Kill him!" they shouted.

He took refuge behind Sutton the riveter, whose gun had made such noise that he had heard none of the clamor. Seeing Jake's white face and the mark of a thrown monkey-wrench on his brow, Sutton shut off the compressed air and confronted the pursuers. He was naked to the waist, and he had no weapon, but he held them at bay while he demanded:

"What's the big idea? What you playin'? Puss in a corner? How many of yous guys does it take to lick this one gink?"

A burly patriot, who forgot that his name and his accent were Teutonic, roared:

"Der sneagin' Sohn off a peach ain't sorry die Clara is by dose tam Chermans gesunken!"

"What!" Sutton howled. "The Clara sunk? Whatya mean—sunk?"

Bohlmann told him. Sutton wavered. He had driven thousands of rivets into the frame of the ship, and a little explosive had opened all the seams and ended her days! When at last he understood the Clara's fate and Nuddle's comments he turned to Jake with baleful calm:

"And you thought it was good business, did you? And these fellers was thinkin' about lynchin' you, was they? Well, they're all wrong—they're all wrong: we'd ought to save lynchin' for real guys. What you need is somethin' like—this!"

His terrific fist lashed out and caught Jake in the right eye. Jake in a daze of indignation and amazement went over backward; his head struck the steel deck, and his soul went out. When it came back he lay still for a while, pretending to be unconscious until the gang had dispersed, satisfied, and Sutton was making ready to begin riveting again. Then he picked himself up and edged round Sutton, growling:

"I'll fix you for this, you—"

Sutton did not wait to learn what Jake was going to call him. His big foot described an upward arc, and Jake a parabola, ending in a drop that almost took him through an open hatch into the depth of the hold. He saved himself, peering over the edge, too weak for words—hunched back, crawled around the steel abyss, and betook himself to a safe hiding-place under the tank-top till the siren should blow and disperse his enemies.



CHAPTER VI

The office force left pretty promptly on the hour. When Mamise noted that desks were being cleared for inaction she began mechanically to conform. Then she paused.

On other afternoons she had gone home with the crowd of employees, too weary with office routine to be discontent. But now she thought of Davidge left alone in his office to brood over his lost ship, the brutal mockery of such loving toil. It seemed heartless to her as his friend to desert him in the depths. But as one of his stenographers, it would look shameless to hang round with the boss. She shifted from foot to foot and from resolve to resolve.

Their relations were undergoing as many strains and stresses as a ship's frame in the various waves and weathers that confront it. She had picked up some knowledge of the amazing twists a ship encounters at rest and in motion—stresses in still water, with cargo and without, hogging and sagging stresses, seesaw strains, tensile, compressive, transverse, racking, pounding; bumps, blows, collisions, oscillations, running aground—stresses that crumpled steel or scissored the rivets in two.

It was hard to foresee the critical stress that should mean life or death to the ship and its people. Some went humbly forth and came home with rich cargo; some steamed out in pride and never came back; some limped in from the sea racked and ruined; some ran stupidly ashore in fogs; some fought indomitably through incredible tempests. Some died dramatic deaths on cliffs where tidal waves hammered them to shreds; some turned turtle at their docks and went down in the mud. Some led long and honorable lives, and others, beginning with glory, degenerated into cattle-ships or coastal tramps.

People were but ships and bound for as many destinations and destinies. Their fates depended as much and yet as little on their pilots and engineers, their engines and their frames. The test of the ship and of the person was the daily drudgery and the unforeseen emergency.

Davidge believed in preliminary tests of people and boats. Before he hired a man or trusted a partner he inquired into his past performances. He had been unable to insist on investigation in the recent mad scramble for labor due to the sudden withdrawal into the national army of nearly every male between twenty-one and thirty-one and of hundreds of thousands of volunteers of other ages.

He had given his heart to Marie Louise Webling, of whom he knew little except that she would not tell him much. And on her dubious voucher he had taken Jake Nuddle into his employ. Now he had to accept them as he had to accept steel, taking it as it came and being glad to get any at all.

Hitherto he had insisted on preliminary proofs. He wanted no steel in a ship's hull or in any part of her that had not behaved well in the shop tests, in the various machines that put the metal under bending stress, cross-breaking, hammering, drifting, shearing, elongation, contraction, compression, deflection, tension, and torsion stresses. The best of the steels had their elastic limits; there was none that did not finally snap.

Once this point was found, the individual metal was placed according to its quality, the responsibility imposed on it being only a tenth of its proved capacity. That ought to have been enough of a margin of safety. Yet it did not prevent disasters.

People could not always be put to such shop tests beforehand. A reference or two, a snap judgment based on first impressions, ushered a man or a woman into a place where weakness or malice could do incalculable harm. In every institution, as in every structure, these danger-spots exist. Davidge, for all his care and knowledge of people, could only take the best he could get.

Jake Nuddle had got past the sentry-line with ludicrous ease and had contrived already the ruin of one ship. His program, which included all the others, had had a little setback, but he could easily regain his lost ground, for the mob had vented its rage against him and was appeased.

Mamise was inside the sentry-lines, too, both of Davidge's shop and his heart. Her purposes were loyal, but she was drifting toward a supreme stress that should try her inmost fiber. And at the moment she felt an almost unbearable strain in the petty decision of whether to go with the clerks or stop with the boss.

Mamise was not so much afraid of what the clerks would say of her. It was Davidge that she was protecting. She did not want to have them talking about him—as if anything could have stopped them from that!

While she debated between being unselfish enough to leave him unconsoled and being selfish enough to stay, she spent so much time that the outer office was empty, anyway.

Seeing herself alone, she made a quick motion toward the door. Miss Gabus came out, stared violently, and said:

"Was you goin' in?"

"No—oh no!" said Mamise. "I left something in my desk."

She opened her desk, took out a pencil-nub and hurried away, ostentatiously passing the other clerks as they struggled across the yard to the gate.

She walked to her shanty and found it all pins and needles. She was so desperate that she went to see her sister.

Marie Louise found Abbie in her kitchen, sewing buttons on the extremely personal property of certain bachelors whom she washed for in spite of Jake's high earnings—from which she benefited no more than before. If Jake had come into a million, or shattered the world to bits and then rebuilt it nearer to his heart's desire, he would not have had enough to make much difference to Abbie. Mamise had made many handsome presents to Abbie, but somehow they vanished, or at least got Abbie no farther along the road to contentment or grace.

Mamise was full of the story of the disaster to the Clara. She drew Abbie into the living-room away from the children, who were playing in the kitchen because it was full of the savor of the forthcoming supper.

"Abbie dear, have you heard the news?"

Abbie gasped, "Oh God, is anything happened to Jake—killed or arrested or anything?"

"No, no—but Clara—the Clara—"

"Clara who?"

"The ship, the first ship we built, she's destroyed."

"For the land's sake! I want to know! Well, what you know about that!"

Abbie could not rise to very lofty heights of emotion or language over anything impersonal. She made hardly so much noise over this tragedy as a hen does over the delivery of an egg.

Mamise was distressed by her stolidity. She understood with regret why Jake did not find Abbie an ideal inspirational companion. She hated to think well of Jake or ill of her sister, but one cannot help receiving impressions.

She did her best to stimulate Abbie to a decent warmth, but Abbie was as immune to such appeals as those people were who were still wondering why America went to war with Germany.

Abbie was entirely perfunctory in her responses to Mamise's pictures of the atrocity. She grew really indignant when she looked at the clock and saw that Jake was late to dinner. She broke in on Mamise's excitement with a distressful:

"And we got steak 'n' cab'ge for supper."

"I must hurry back to my own shack," said Mamise, rising.

"You stay right where you are. You're goin' to eat with us."

"Not to-night, thanks, dear."

She kept no servant of her own. She enjoyed the circumstance of getting her meals. She was camping out in her shanty. To-night she wanted to be busy about something especially about a kitchen—the machine-shop of the woman who wants to be puttering at something.

She was dismally lonely, but she was not equal to a supper at Jake's. She would have liked a few children of her own, but she was glad that she did not own the Nuddle children, especially the elder two.

The Nuddles had given three hostages to Fortune. Jake cared little whether Fortune kept the hostages or not, or whether or not she treated them as the Germans treated Belgian hostages.

Little Sister was the oldest of the trio completed by Little Brother and a middle-sized bear named Sam. Sis and Sam were juvenile anarchists born with those gifts of mischief, envy, indolence, and denunciation that Jake and the literary press-agents of the same spirit flattered as philosophy or even as philanthropy. Little Brother was a quiet, patient gnome with quaint instincts of industry and accumulation. He was always at work at something. His mud-pie bakery was famous for two blocks. He gathered bright pebbles and shells. In the marble season he was a plutocrat in taws and agates. Being always busy, he always had time to do more things. He even volunteered to help his mother. When he got an occasional penny he hoarded it in hiding. He had need to, for Sam borrowed what he could and stole what he could not wheedle.

Little Brother was not stingy, but he saved; he bought his mother petty gifts once in a while when he had enough to pay for something.

Little Sister and Sam were capable in emotional crises of sympathy or hatred to express themselves volubly. Little Brother had no gifts of speech. He made gifts of pebbles or of money awkwardly, shyly, with few words. Mamise, as she tried to extricate herself from Abbie's lassoing hospitality, paused in the door and studied the children, contrasting them with the Webling grandchildren who had been born with gold spoons in their mouths and somebody to take them out, fill them, and put them in again. But luxury seemed to make small difference in character.

She mused upon the three strange beings that had come into the world as a result of the chance union of Jake and Abbie. Without that they would never have existed and the world would have never known the difference, nor would they.

Sis and Sam were quarreling vigorously. Little Brother was silent upon the hearth. He had collected from the gutter many small stones and sticks. They were treasures to him and he was as important about them as a miser about his shekels. Again and again he counted them, taking a pleasure in their arithmetic. Already he was advanced in mathematics beyond the others and he loved to arrange his wealth for the sheer delight of arrangement; orderliness was an instinct with him already.

For a time Mamise noted how solemnly he kept at work, building a little stone house and painfully making it stand. He was a home-builder already.

Sam had paid no heed to the work. But, wondering what Mamise was looking at, he turned and saw his brother. A grin stretched his mouth. Little Brother grew anxious. He knew that when something he had builded interested Sam its doom was close.

"Whass 'at?" said Sam.

"None yer business," said Little Brother, as spunky as Belgium before the Kaiser.

"'S'ouse, ain't it?"

"You lea' me 'lone, now!"

"Where d'you git it at?"

"I built it."

"Gimme't!"

"You build you one for your own self now."

"'At one's good enough for me."

"Maw! You make Sam lea' my youse alone."

Mrs. Nuddle moaned: "Sammie, don't bother Little Brother now. You go on about your own business."

Smash! splash! Sam had kicked the house into ruins with the side of his foot.

Mamise was so angry that before she knew it she had darted at him and smacked him with violence. Instantly she was ashamed of herself. Sam began to rub his face and yowl:

"Maw, she gimme a swipe in the snoot! She hurt me, so she did."

Mamise was disgusted. Abbie appeared at the door equally disgusted; it was intolerable that any one should slap her children but herself. She had accepted too much of Mamise's money to be very indignant, but she did rise to a wail:

"Seems to me, Mamise, you might keep your hands off my childern."

"I'm sorry. I forgot myself. But Sam is so like his father I just couldn't help taking a whack at him. The little bully knocked over his brother's house just to hear it fall. When he grows up he'll be just as much of a nuisance as Jake and he'll call it syndicalism or internationalism or something, just as Jake does."

Jake came in on the scene. He brought home his black eye and a white story.

When Abbie gasped, "What on earth's the matter?" he growled: "I bumped into a girder. Whatya s'pose?"

Abbie accepted the eye as a fact and the story as a fiction, but she knew that, however Jake stood in the yard, as a pugilist he was the home champion.

She called Little Sister to bring from the ice-box a slice of the steak she had bought for dinner. On the high wages Jake was earning—or at least receiving—the family was eating high.

Little Sister told her brother Sam, "It's a shame to waste good meat on his old black lamp." And Sam's regret was, "I wisht I'd 'a' gave it to um."

Little Sister knew better than to let her father hear any of this, but it was only another cruel evidence that great lovers of the public welfare are apt to be harshly regarded at home. It is too much to expect that one who tenderly considers mankind in the mass should have time to be kind to them in particular.

Jake was not even appreciated by Mamise, whom he did appreciate. Every time he praised her looks or her swell clothes she acted as if he made her mad.

To-night when he found her at the house her first gush of anxiety for him was followed by a remark of singular heartlessness:

"But, oh, did you hear of the destruction of the Clara?"

"Yes, I heard of the destruction of the Clara," he echoed, with a sneer. "If I had my way the whole rotten fleet would follow her to the bottom of the ocean!"

"Why, Jake!" was Abbie's best.

Jake went on: "And it will, too, or I'm a liar. The Germans will get them boats as fast as they build 'em." He laughed. "I tell you them Kaiser-boys just eats ships."

"But how were they able to destroy the Clara?" Mamise demanded.

"Easiest thing you know. When she laid up at Norfolk they just put a bomb into her."

"But how did they know she was going to Norfolk to load?"

"Oh, we—they have ways."

The little slip from "we" to "they" caught Mamise's ear. Her first intuition of its meaning was right, and out of her amazement the first words that leaped were:

"Poor Abbie!"

Thought, like lightning, breaks through the air in a quick slash from cloud to ground. Mamise's whole thought was from zig to zag in some such procedure as this, but infinitely swift.

"We—they? That means that Jake considers himself a part of the German organization for destruction, the will to ruin. That means that Jake must have been involved in the wreck of the Clara. That means that he deliberately connived at a crime against his country. That means that he is a traitor as well as a murderer. That means that my sister is the wife of a fiend. Poor Abbie!"

This thought stunned and blinded Mamise a long moment. She heard Jake grumbling:

"What ya mean—'poor Abbie!'?"

Mamise was afraid to say. She cast one glance at Jake, and the lightning of understanding struck him. He realized what she was thinking—or at least he suspected it, because he was thinking of his own past. He was realizing that he had met Nicky Easton through Mamise, though Mamise did not know this—that is, he hoped she did not. And yet perhaps she did.

And now Mamise and Jake were mutually afraid of each other. Abbie was altogether in the dark, and a little jealous of Mamise and her peculiar secrets, but her general mood was one of stolid thoughtlessness.

Jake, suspecting Mamise's suspicion of him, was moved to justify himself by one of his tirades against society in general. Abbie, who had about as much confidence in the world as an old rabbit in a doggy country, had heard Jake thunder so often that his denunciations had become as vaguely lulling as a continual surf. Generalizations meant nothing to her bovine soul. She was thinking of something else, usually, throughout all the fiery Jakiads. While he indicted whole nations and denounced all success as a crime against unsuccess she was hunting through her work-basket for a good thread to patch Sam's pants with.

Abbie was unmoved, but Mamise was appalled. It was her first encounter with the abysmal hatred of which some of these loud lovers of mankind are capable. Jake's theories had been merely absurd or annoying before, but now they grew monstrous, for they seemed to be confirmed by an actual crime.

Mamise felt that she must escape from the presence of Jake or attack him. She despised him too well to argue with him, and she rose to go.

Abbie pleaded with her in vain to stay to supper. She would not be persuaded. She walked to her own bungalow and cooked herself a little meal of her own. She felt stained once more with vicarious guilt, and wondered what she had done so to be pursued and lassoed by the crimes of others.

She remembered that she had lost her chance to clear herself of Sir Joseph Webling's guilt by keeping his secret. If she had gone to the British authorities with her first suspicion of Sir Joseph and Nicky Easton she would have escaped from sharing their guilt. She would have been branded as an informer, but only by the conspirators; and Sir Joseph himself and Lady Webling might have been saved from self-destruction.

Now she was in the same situation almost exactly. Again she had only suspicion for her guide. But in England she had been a foreigner and Sir Joseph was her benefactor. Here she was in her own country, and she owed nothing to Jake Nuddle, who was a low brute, as ruthless to his wife as to his flag.

It came to Mamise with a sharp suddenness that her one clear duty was to tell Davidge what she knew about Jake. It was not a pretty duty, but it was a definite. She resolved that the first thing she did in the morning would be to go to Davidge with what facts she had. The resolution brought her peace, and she sat down to her meager supper with a sense of pleasant righteousness.

Mamise felt so redeemed that she took up a novel, lighted a cigarette, and sat down by her lamp to pass a well-earned evening of spinsterial respectability. Then the door opened and Abbie walked in. Abbie did not think it sisterly to knock. She paused to register her formal protest against Mamise's wicked addiction to tobacco.

"I must say, Mamise, I do wisht you'd break yourself of that horbul habbut."

Mamise laughed tolerantly. "You were cooking cabbage when I was at your house. Why can't I cook this vegetable?"

"But I wa'n't cooking the cabbage in my face."

"You were cooking it in mine. But let's not argue about botany or ethics."

Abbie was not aware of mentioning either of those things, but she had other matters to discuss. She dropped into a chair, sighing:

"Jake's went out to telephone, and I thought I'd just run over for a few words. You see, I—"

"Where was Jake telephoning?"

"I d'know. He's always long-distancin' somebody. But what I come for—"

"Doesn't it ever occur to you to wonder?"

"Long as it ain't some woman—or if it is, as long as it's long distance—why should I worry my head about it? The thing I wanted to speak of is—"

"Didn't it rather make your blood run cold to hear Jake speak as he did of the lost ship?"

"Oh, I'm so used to his rantin' it goes in one ear and out the other."

"You'd better keep a little of it in your brain. I'm worried about your husband, even if you're not, Abbie dear."

"What call you got to worry?"

"I have a ghastly feeling that my brother-in-law is mixed up in the sinking of the Clara."

"Don't be foolish!"

"I'm trying not to be. But do you remember the night I told you both that the Clara was going to Norfolk to take on her cargo? Well, he went out to get cigars, though he had a lot, and he let it slip that he had been talking on the long-distance telephone. When the Clara is sunk, he is not surprised. He says, 'We—they have ways.' He prophesies the sinking of all the ships Mr. Davidge—"

Abbie seized this name as a weapon of self-defense and mate-defense.

"Oh, you're speakin' for Mr. Davidge now."

"Perhaps. He's my employer, and Jake's, too. I feel under some obligations to him, even though Jake doesn't. I feel some obligations to the United States, and Jake doesn't. I distrust and abhor Germany, and Jake likes her as well as he does us. The background is perfect. When such crimes are being done as Germany keeps doing, condoning them is as bad as committing them."

"Big words!" sniffed Abbie. "Can't you talk United States?"

"All right, my dear. I say that since Jake is glad the Clara was sunk and hopes that more ships will be sunk, he is as bad as the men that sank her. And what's more, I have made up my mind that Jake helped to sink her, and that he works in this yard simply for a chance to sink more ships. Do you get those words of one syllable?"

"No," said Abbie. Ideas of one syllable are as hard to grasp as words of many. "I don't know what you're drivin' at a tall."

"Poor Abbie!" sighed Mamise. "Dream on, if you want to. But I'm going to tell Mr. Davidge to keep a watch on Jake. I'm going to warn him that Jake is probably mixed up in the sinking of that beautiful ship he named after his mother."

Even Abbie could not miss the frightful meaning of this. She was one of those who never trust experience, one of those who think that, in spite of all the horrible facts of the past, horrible things are impossible in the future. Higher types of the same mind had gone about saying that war was impossible, later insisting that it was impossible that the United States should be dragged into this war because it was so horrible, and next averring that since this war was so horrible there could never be another.

Even Abbie could imagine what would happen if Mamise denounced Jake as an accomplice in the sinking of the Clara. It would be so terrible that it must be impossible. The proof that Jake was innocent was the thought of what would happen to him and to her and their children if he were found guilty. She summed it all up in a phrase:

"Mamise, you're plumb crazy!"

"I hope so, but I'm also crazy enough to put Mr. Davidge on his guard."

"And have him fire Jake, or get him arrested?"

"Perhaps."

"Ain't you got any sense of decency or dooty a tall?"

"I'm trying to find out."

"Well, I always knew a woman who'd smoke cigarettes would do anything."

"I'll do this."

"O' course you won't; but if you did, I'd—why, I'd—why, I just don't know what I'd do."

"Would you give up Jake?"

"Give up Jake? Divorce him or something?"

Mamise nodded.

Abbie gasped: "Why, you're positively immor'l! Posi-tive-ly! He's the father of my childern! I'll stick to Jake through thick and thin."

"Through treason and murder, too? You were an American, you know, before you ever met him. And I was an American before he became my brother-in-law. And I don't intend to let him make me a partner in his guilt just because he made you give him a few children."

"I won't listen to another word," cried Abbie. "You're too indecent to talk to." And she slammed the door after her.

"Poor Abbie!" said Mamise, and closed her book, rubbed the light out of her cigarette, and went to bed.

But not to sleep. Abbie had not argued well, but sometimes that is best for the arguments, for then the judge becomes their attorney. Mamise tossed on a grid of perplexities. Neither her mind nor her body could find comfort.

She rose early to escape her thoughts. It was a cold, raw morning, and Abbie came dashing through the drizzle with her shawl over her head and her cheeks besprent with tears and rain. She flung herself on Mamise and sobbed:

"I ain't slep' a wink all night. I been thinkin' of Jake and the childern. I was mad at you last night, but I'm sorry for what I said. You're my own sister—all I got in the world besides the three childern. And I'm all you got, and I know it ain't in you to go and send the father o' my childern to jail and ruin my life. I've had a hard life, and so've you, Mamise honey, but we got to be friends and love one another, for we're all that's left of our fambly, and it couldn't be that one sister would drive the other to distraction and drag the family name in the mud. It couldn't be, could it, Mamise? Tell me you was only teasin' me! I didn't mean what I said last night about you bein' indecent, and you didn't mean what you said about Jake, did you, Mamise? Say you didn't, or I'll just die right here."

She had left the door open, and a gust of windy rain came lashing in. The world outside was cold and wet, and Abbie was warm and afraid and irresistibly pitiful.

Mamise could only hug and kiss her and say:

"I'll see! I'll see!"

When people do not know what their chief mysteries, themselves, will do they say, "I'll see."

Mamise thought of Davidge, and she could not promise to leave him in ignorance of the menace imminent above him. But when at last she tore herself from Abbie's clutching hands and hurried away to the office she looked back and saw Abbie out in the rain, staring after her in terror and shaking her head helplessly. She could not promise herself that she would tell Davidge.



CHAPTER VII

She reached the office late in spite of her early start. Davidge had gone. He had gone to Pittsburgh to try to plead for more steel for more ships.

The head clerk told her this. He was in an ugly mood, sarcastic about Mamise's tardiness, and bitter with the knowledge that all the work of building another Clara had to be carried through with its endless detail and the chance of the same futility. He was as sick about it as a Carlyle who must rewrite a burned-up history, an Audubon who must repaint all his pictures.

Davidge had left no good-by for Mamise. This hurt her. She wished that she had stopped to tell him good night the afternoon before.

In his prolonged absence Mamise wondered if he were really in Pittsburgh or in Washington with Lady Clifton-Wyatt. She experienced the first luxury of jealousy; it was aggravated by alarm. She was left alone, a prey to the appeals of Abbie, who could not persuade her to promise silence.

But the next night Jake was gone. Abbie explained that he had been called out of town to a meeting of a committee of his benevolent insurance order. Mamise wondered and surmised.

Jake went to meet Nicky Easton and claim his pay for his share in the elimination of the Clara. Nicky paid him so handsomely that Jake lost his head and imagined himself already a millionaire. Strangely, he did not at once set about dividing his wealth among his beloved "protelariat." He made a royal progress from saloon to saloon, growing more and more haughty, and pounding on successive bars with a vigor that increased as his articulation effervesced. His secret would probably have bubbled out of him if he had not been so offensive that he was bounced out of every barroom before he had time to get to the explanation of his wealth. In one "poor man's club" he fell asleep and rolled off his chair to a comfortable berth among the spittoons.

Next morning Jake woke up with his head swollen and his purse vanished. He sought out Nicky and demanded another fee. Nicky laughed at his claim; but Jake grew threatening, and Nicky was frightened into offering him a chance to win another fortune by sinking another ship. He staked Jake to the fare for his return and promised to motor down some dark night and confer with him. Jake rolled home in state.

On the same train went a much interested sleuth who detached himself from the entourage of Nicky and picked up Jake.

Jake had attracted some attention when he first met Nicky in Washington, but the sadly overworked Department of Justice could not provide a squad of escorts for every German or pro-German suspect. Before the war was over the secret army under Mr. Bielaski reached a total of two hundred and fifty thousand, but the number of suspects reached into the millions. From Nicky Easton alone a dozen activities radiated; and studying him and his communicants was a slow and complex task.

Mr. Larrey decided that the best way to get a line on Jake would be to take a job alongside him and "watch his work." It was the easiest thing in the world to get a job at Davidge's shipyard; and it was another of the easiest things in the world to meet Jake, for Jake was eager to meet workmen, particularly workmen like Larrey, who would listen to reason, and take an interest in the gentle art of slowing up production. Larrey was all for sabotage.

One evening Jake invited him to his house for further development. On that evening Mamise dropped in. She did not recognize Larrey, but he remembered her perfectly.

He could hardly believe his camera eyes at first when he saw the great Miss Webling enter a workman's shanty and accept Jake Nuddle's introduction:

"Larrey, old scout, this is me sister-in-law. Mamise, shake hands with me pal Larrey."

Larrey had been the first of her shadows in New York, but had been called off when she proved unprofitable and before she met Easton. And now he found her at work in a shipyard where strange things were happening! He was all afire with the covey of spies he had flushed. His first impulse was to shoot off a wire in code to announce his discovery. Then he decided to work this gold-mine himself. It would be pleasanter to cultivate this pretty woman than Jake Nuddle, and she would probably fall for him like a thousand of brick. But when he invited himself to call on her her snub fell on him like a thousand of brick. She would not let him see her home, and he was furious till Jake explained, "She's sweet on the boss."

Larrey decided that he had better call on Davidge and tip him off to the past of his stenographer and get him to place her under observation.

The next day Davidge came back from his protracted journey. He had fought a winning battle for an allotment of steel. He was boyish with the renewal of battle ardor, and boyish in his greeting of Mamise. He made no bones of greeting her before all the clerks with a horribly embarrassing enthusiasm:

"Lord! but I've been homesick to see you!"

Miss Gabus was disgusted. Mamise was silly with confusion.

Those people who are always afraid of new customs have dreaded public life for women lest it should destroy modesty and rob them of the protection of guardians, duennas, and chaperons. But the world seems to have to have a certain amount of decency to get along on, at all, and provides for it among humans about as well as it provides for the protection of other plants and animals, letting many suffer and perish and some prosper.

The anxious conservatives who are always risking their own souls in spasms of anxiety over other people's souls would have given up Mamise and Davidge for lost, since she lived alone and he was an unattached bachelor. But curiously enough, their characters chaperoned them, their jobs and ambitions excited and fatigued them, and their moods of temptation either did not coincide or were frustrated by circumstances and crowds.

Each knew well what it was to suffer an onset of desperate emotion, of longing, of reckless, helpless adoration. But in office hours these anguishes were as futile as prayers for the moon. Outside of office hours there were other obstacles, embarrassments, interferences.

These protections and ambitions would not suffice forever, any more than a mother's vigilance, maidenly timidity, convent walls or yashmaks will infallibly prevail. But they managed to kill a good deal of time—and very dolefully.

Mamise was in peculiar peril now. She was beginning to feel very sorry for herself, and even sorrier for Davidge. She remembered how cruelly he had been bludgeoned by the news of the destruction of his first ship, and she kept remembering the wild, sweet pangs of her sympathy, the strange ecstasy of entering into the grief of another. She remembered how she had seized his shoulders and how their hands had wrestled together in a common anguish. The remembrance of that communion came back to her in flashes of feverish demand for a renewal of union, for a consummation of it, indeed. She was human, and nothing human was alien to her.

Davidge had spoken of marriage—had told her that he was a candidate for her husbandcy. She had laughed at him then, for her heart had been full of the new wine of ambition. Like other wines, it had its morning after when all that had been so alluring looked to be folly. Her own loneliness told her that Davidge was lonely, and that two lonelinesses combined would make a festival, as two negatives an affirmative.

When Davidge came back from his trip the joy in his eyes at sight of her kindled her smoldering to flame. She would have been glad if he had snatched her to his breast and crushed her there. She had that womanly longing to be crushed, and he the man's to crush. But fate provided a sentinel. Miss Gabus was looking on; the office force stood by, and the day's work was waiting to be done.

Davidge went to his desk tremulous; Mamise to her typewriter. She hammered out a devil's tattoo on it, and he devoured estimates and commercial correspondence, while an aromatic haze enveloped them both as truly as if they had been faun and nymph in a bosky glade.

Miss Gabus played Mrs. Grundy all morning and at the noon hour made a noble effort to rescue Mamise from any opportunity to cast an evil spell over poor Mr. Davidge. Women have a wonderful pity for men that other women cultivate! Yet all that Miss Gabus said to Miss Webling was:

"Goin' to lunch now, Mi' Swebling?"

And all that Miss Webling said was:

"Not just yet—thank you."

Both were almost swooning with the tremendous significance of the moment.

Miss Webling felt that she was defying all the powers of espionage and convention when she made so brave as to linger while Miss Gabus left the room in short twitches, with the painful reluctance of one who pulls off an adhesive plaster by degrees. When at last she was really off, Miss Webling went to Davidge's door, feeling as wicked as the maid in Ophelia's song, though she said no more than:

"Well, did you have a successful journey?"

Davidge whirled in his chair.

"Bully! Sit down, won't you?"

He thought that no goddess had ever done so divine a thing so ambrosially as she when she smiled and shook her incredibly exquisite head. He rose to his feet in awe of her. His restless hands, afraid to lay hold of their quarry, automatically extracted his watch from his pocket and held it beneath his eyes. He stared at it without recognizing the hour, and stammered:

"Will you lunch with me?"

"No, thank you!"

This jolted an "Oh!" out of him. Then he came back with:

"When am I going to get a chance to talk to you?"

"You know my address."

"Yes, but—" He thought of that horrible evening when he had marched through the double row of staring cottages. But he was determined. "Going to be home this evening?"

"By some strange accident—yes."

"By some strange accident, I might drop round."

"Do."

They laughed idiotically, and she turned and glided out.

She went to the mess-hall and moved about, selecting her dishes. Pretending not to see that Miss Gabus was pretending not to see her, she took her collation to another table and ate with the relish of a sense of secret guilt—the guilt of a young woman secretly betrothed.

Davidge kept away from the office most of the afternoon because Mamise was so intolerably sweet and so tantalizingly unapproachable. He made a pretext of inspecting the works. She had a sugary suspicion of his motive, and munched it with strange comfort.

What might have happened if Davidge had called on her in her then mood and his could easily be guessed. But there are usually interventions. The chaperon this time was Mr. Larrey, the operative of the Department of Justice. He also had his secret.

He arrived at Davidge's home just as Davidge finished the composition of his third lawn tie and came down-stairs to go. When he saw Larrey he was a trifle curt with his visitor. Thinking him a workman and probably an ambassador from one of the unions on the usual mission of such ambassadors—more pay, less hours, or the discharge of some unorganized laborer—Davidge said:

"Better come round to the office in the morning."

"I can't come to your office," said Larrey.

"Why not? It's open to everybody."

"Yeh, but I can't afford to be seen goin' there."

"Good Lord! Isn't it respectable enough for you?"

"Yeh, but—well, I think it's my duty to tip you off to a little slick work that's goin' on in your establishment."

"Won't it keep till to-morrow evening?"

"Yeh—I guess so. It's only one of your stenographers."

This checked Davidge. By a quaint coincidence he was about to call on one of his stenographers. Larrey amended his first statement: "Leastways, I'll say she calls herself a stenographer. But that's only her little camouflage. She's not on the level."

Davidge realized that the stenographer he was wooing was not on the level. She was in the clouds. But his curiosity was piqued. He motioned Larrey to a chair and took another.

"Shoot," he said.

"Well, it's this Miss Webling. Know anything about her?"

"Something," said Davidge. He was too much amused to be angry. He thought that Larrey was another of those amateur detectives who flattered Germany by crediting her with an omnipresence in evil. He was a faithful reader of Ellis Parker Butler's famous sleuth, and he grinned at Larrey. "Well, Mr. Philo Gubb, go on. Your story interests me."

Larrey reddened. He spoke earnestly, explained who he was, showed his credentials, and told what he knew of Miss Webling. He added what he imagined Davidge knew.

Davidge found the whole thing too preposterous to be insolent. His chivalry in Mamise's behalf was not aroused, because he thought that the incident would make a good story to tell her. He drew Larrey out by affecting amazed incredulity.

Larrey explained: "She's an old friend of ours. We got the word from the British to pick the lady up when she first landed in this country. She was too slick for us, I guess, because we never got the goods on her. We gave her up after a couple of weeks. Then her trail crossed Nicky Easton's once more."

"And who is Nicky Easton?"

"He's a German agent she knew in London—great friend of her adopted father's. The British nabbed him once, but he split on the gang, and they let him off. Whilst I was trailin' him I ran into a feller named Nuddle—he come up to see Easton. I followed him here, and lo and behold! Miss Webling turns up, too! And passin' herself off for Nuddle's sister-in-law! Nuddle's a bad actor, but she's worse. And she pretends to be a poor workin'-girl. Cheese! You should have seen her in New York all dolled up!"

Davidge ignored the opportunity to say that he had had the privilege of seeing Miss Webling all dolled up. He knew why Mamise was living as she did. It was a combination of lark and crusade. He nursed Larrey's story along, and asked with patient amusement:

"What's your theory as to her reason for playing such a game?"

He smiled as he said this, but sobered abruptly when Larrey explained:

"You lost a ship not long ago, didn't you? You got other ships on the ways, ain't you? Well, I don't need to tell you it's good business for the Huns to slow up or blow up all the ships they can. Every boat they stop cuts down the supplies of the Allies just so much. This Miss Webling's adopted father was in on the sinking of the Lusitania, and this girl was, too, probably. She carried messages between old Webling and Easton, and walked right into a little trap the British laid for her. She put up a strong fight, and, being an American, was let go. But her record got to this country before she did. You ask me what she's up to. Well, what should she be up to but the Kaiser's work? She's no stenographer, and she wouldn't be here playin' tunes on a typewriter unless she had some good business reason. Well, her business is—she's a ship-wrecker."

The charge was ridiculous, yet there were confirmations or seeming confirmations of it. The mere name of Nicky Easton was a thorn in Davidge's soul. He remembered Easton in London at Mamise's elbow, and in Washington pursuing her car and calling her "Mees Vapelink."

Davidge promised Larrey that he would look into the matter, and bade him good night with mingled respect and fear.

When he set out at length to call on Mamise he was grievously troubled lest he had lost his heart to a clever adventuress. He despised his suspicions, and yet—somebody had destroyed his ship. He remembered how shocked she had been by the news. Yet what else could the worst spy do but pretend to be deeply worried? Davidge had never liked Jake Nuddle; Mamise's alleged relationship by marriage did not gain plausibility on reconsideration. The whim to live in a workman's cottage was even less convincing.

Mr. Larrey had spoiled Davidge's blissful mood and his lover's program for the evening. Davidge moved slowly toward Mamise's cottage, not as a suitor, but as a student.

Larrey shadowed him from force of habit, and saw him going with reluctant feet, pausing now and then, irresolute. Davidge was thinking hard, calling himself a fool, now for trusting Mamise and now for listening to Larrey. To suspect Mamise was to be a traitor to his love: not to suspect her was to be a traitor to his common sense and to his beloved career.

And the Mamise that awaited the belated Davidge was also in a state of tangled wits. She, too, had dressed with a finikin care, as Davidge had, neither of them stopping to think how quaint a custom it is for people who know each other well and see each other in plain clothes every day to get themselves up with meticulous skill in the evening like Christmas parcels for each other's examination. Nature dresses the birds in the mating season. Mankind with the aid of the dressmaker and the haberdasher plumes up at will.

But as Caesar had his Brutus, Charles I his Cromwell, and Davidge his Larrey, so Mamise had her sister Abbie.

Abbie came in unexpectedly and regarded Mamise's costume with no illusions except her own cynical ones:

"What you all diked up about?"

Mamise shrugged her eyebrows, her lips, and her shoulders.

Abbie guessed. "That man comin'?"

Mamise repeated her previous business.

"Kind of low neck, don't you think? And your arms nekked."

Mamise drew over her arms a scarf that gave them color rather than concealment. Abbie scorned the subterfuge.

"Do you think it's proper to dress like that for a man to come callin'?"

"I did think so till you spoke," snapped Mamise in all the bitterness of the ancient feud between loveliness unashamed and unlovely shame.

Abbie felt unwelcome. "Well, I just dropped over because Jake's went out to some kind of meetin'."

"With whom? Where?"

"Oh, some of the workmen—a lot of soreheads lookin' for more wages."

Mamise was indignant: "The soldiers get thirty dollars a month on a twenty-four-hour, seven-day shift. Jake gets more than that a week for loafing round the shop about seven hours a day. How on earth did you ever tie yourself up to such a rotten bounder?"

Abbie longed for a hot retort, but was merely peevish:

"Well, I ain't seen you marryin' anything better. I guess I'll go home. I don't seem to be wanted here."

This was one of those exact truths that decent people must immediately deny. Mamise put her arms about Abbie and said:

"Forgive me, dear—I'm a beast. But Jake is such a—" She felt Abbie wriggling ominously and changed to: "He's so unworthy of you. These are such terrible times, and the world is in such horrible need of everybody's help and especially of ships. It breaks my heart to see anybody wasting his time and strength interfering with the builders instead of joining them. It's like interfering with the soldiers. It's a kind of treason. And besides, he does so little for you and the children."

This last Abbie was willing to admit. She shed a few tears of self-esteem, but she simply could not rise to the heights of suffering for anything as abstract as a cause or a nation or a world. She was like so many of the air-ships the United States was building then: she could not be induced to leave the ground or, if she got up, to glide back safely.

She tried now to love her country, but she hardly rose before she fell.

"Oh, I know it's tur'ble what folks are sufferin', but—well, the Lord's will be done, I say."

"And I say it's mainly the devil's will that's being done!" said Mamise.

This terrified Abbie. "I wisht you'd be a little careful of your language, Mamise. Swearin' and cigarettes both is pretty much of a load for a lady to git by with."

"O Lord!" sighed Mamise, in despair. She was capable of long, high flights, but she could not carry such a passenger.

Abbie continued: "And do you think it's right, seein' men here all by yourself?"

"I'm not seeing men—but a man."

"But all by yourself."

"I'm not all by myself when he's here."

"You'll get the neighbors talkin'—you'll see!"

"A lot I care for their talk!"

"Why don't you marry him and settle down respectable and have childern and—"

"Why don't you go home and take care of your own?"

"I guess I better." And she departed forthwith.



CHAPTER VIII

The two sisters had managed to fray each other's nerves raw. The mere fact that Abbie advocated marriage and maternity threw Mamise into a cantankerous distaste for her own dreams.

Larrey had delayed Davidge long enough for Mamise to be rid of Abbie, but the influence of both Larrey and Abbie was manifest in the strained greetings of the caller and the callee. Instead of the eagerness to rush into each other's arms that both had felt in the morning, Davidge entered Mamise's presence with one thought dominant: "Is she really a spy? I must be on my guard." And Mamise was thinking, "If he should be thinking what Abbie thought, how odious!"

Thus once more their moods chaperoned them. Love could not attune them. She sat; he sat. When their glances met they parted at once.

She mistook his uncertainty for despondency. She assumed that he was brooding over his lost ship. Out of a long silence she spoke:

"I wonder if the world will ever forget and forgive?"

"Forget and forgive who—whom, for what?"

"Germany for all she's done to this poor world—Belgium, the Lusitania, the Clara?"

He smiled sadly. "The Clara was a little slow tub compared to the Lusitania, but she meant a lot to me."

"And to me. So did the Lusitania. She nearly cost me my life."

He was startled. "You didn't plan to sail on her?"

"No, but—" She paused. She had not meant to open this subject.

But he was aching to hear her version of what Larrey had told.

"How do you mean—she nearly cost you your life?"

"Oh, that's one of the dark chapters of my past."

"You never told me about it."

"I'd rather not."

"Please!" He said it with a surprising earnestness. He had a sudden hope that her confession might be an absolving explanation.

She could not fathom this eagerness, but she felt a desire to release that old secret. She began, recklessly:

"Well, I told you how I ran away from home and went on the stage, and Sir Joseph Webling—"

"You told me that much, but not what happened before you met him."

"No, I didn't tell you that, and I'm not going to now, but—well, Sir Joseph was like a father to me; I never had one of my own—to know and remember. Sir Joseph was German born, and perhaps the ruthlessness was contagious, for he—well, I can't tell you."

"Please!"

"I swore not to."

"You gave your oath to a German?"

"No, to an English officer in the Secret Service. I'm always forgetting and starting to tell."

"Why did you take your oath?"

"I traded secrecy for freedom."

"You mean you turned state's evidence?"

"Oh no, I didn't tell on them. I didn't know what they were up to when they used me for— But I'm skidding now. I want to tell you—terribly. But I simply must not. I made an awful mistake that night at Mrs. Prothero's in pretending to be ill."

"You only pretended?"

"Yes, to get you away. You see, Lady Clifton-Wyatt got after me, accused me of being a spy, of carrying messages that resulted in the sinking of ships and the killing of men. She said that the police came to our house, and Sir Joseph tried to kill one of them and killed his own wife and then was shot by an officer and that they gave out the story that Sir Joseph and Lady Webling died of ptomaine poisoning. She said Nicky Easton was shot in the Tower. Oh, an awful story she told, and I was afraid she'd tell you, so I spirited you away on the pretext of illness."

Davidge was astounded at this confirmation of Larrey's story. He said:

"But it wasn't true what Lady C.-W. told?"

"Most of it was false, but it was fiction founded on fact, and I couldn't explain it without breaking my oath. And now I've pretty nearly broken it, after all. I've sprained it badly."

"Don't you want to go on and—finish it off?"

"I want to—oh, how I want to! but I've got to save a few shreds of respectability. I kidnapped you the day you were going to tea with Lady C.-W. to keep you from her. I wish now I'd let you go. Then you'd have known the worst of me—or worse than the worst."

She turned a harrowed glance his way, and saw, to her bewilderment, that he was smiling broadly. Then he seized her hands and felt a need to gather her home to his arms.

She was so amazed that she fell back to stare at him. Studying his radiant face, she somehow guessed that he had known part of her story before and was glad to hear her confess it, but her intuition missed fire when she guessed at the source of his information.

"You have been talking to Lady Clifton-Wyatt, after all!"

"Not since I saw her with you."

"Then who told you?"

He laughed now, for it pleased him mightily to have her read his heart so true.

"The main thing is that you told me. And now once more I ask you: will you marry me?"

This startled her indeed. She startled him no less by her brusquerie:

"Certainly not."

"And why not?"

"I'll marry no man who is so careless whom he marries as you are."



CHAPTER IX

The whimsical solemnity of this made him roar. But a man does not love a woman the less for being feminine, and when she thwarts him by a womanliness she delights him excruciatingly.

But Mamise was in earnest. She believed in one emotion at a time. It offended her to have Davidge suggest that the funeral baked meats of her tragedy should coldly furnish forth a wedding breakfast. She wanted to revel awhile in her elegiac humor and pay full honor to her sorrow, full penalty for her guilt. She put aside his amorous impatience and returned to her theme.

"Well, after all the evil I have done, I wanted to make some atonement. I was involved in the sinking of I don't know how many ships, and I wanted to take some part in building others. So when I met you and you told me that women could build ships, too, you wakened a great hope in me, and an ambition. I wanted to get out in the yards and swing a sledge or drive a riveting-gun."

"With those hands?" He laughed and reached for them.

She put them out of sight back of her as one removes dangerous toys from the clutch of a child, and went on:

"But you wouldn't let me. So I took up the next best thing, office work. I studied that hateful stenography and learned to play a typewriter."

"It keeps you nearer to me."

"But I don't want to be near you. I want to build ships. Please let me go out in the yard. Please give me a real job."

He could not keep from laughing at her, at such delicacy pleading for such toil. His amusement humiliated her and baffled her so that at length she said:

"Please go on home. It's getting late, and I don't like you at all."

"I know you don't like me, but couldn't you love me?"

"That's more impossible than liking you, since you won't let me have my only wish."

"It's too brutal, I tell you. And it's getting too cold. It would simply ruin your perfect skin. I don't want to marry a longshoreman, thank you."

"Then I'll thank you to go on home. I'm tired out. I've got to get up in the morning at the screech of dawn and take up your ghastly drudgery again."

"If you'll marry me you won't have to work at all."

"But work is the one thing I want. So if you'll kindly take yourself off I'll be much obliged. You've no business here, anyway, and it's getting so late that you'll have all the neighbors talking."

"A lot I care!"

"Well, I care a lot," she said, blandly belying her words to Abbie. "I've got to live among them."

It was a miserable ending to an evening of such promise. He felt as sheepish as a cub turned out of his best girl's house by a sleepy parent, but he had no choice. He rose drearily, fought his way into his overcoat, and growled:

"Good night!"

She sighed "Good night!" and wished that she were not so cantankerous. The closing of the door shook her whole frame, and she made a step forward to call him back, but sank into a chair instead, worn out with the general unsatisfactoriness of life, the complicated mathematical problem that never comes out even. Marriage is a circle that cannot be quite squared.

She sat droopily in her chair for a long while, pondering mankind and womankind and their mutual dependence and incompatibility. It would be nice to be married if one could stay single at the same time. But it was hopelessly impossible to eat your cake and have it, too.

Abbie, watching from her window and not knowing that Davidge had gone, imagined all sorts of things and wished that her wild sister would marry and settle down. And yet she wished that she herself had stayed single, for the children were a torment, and of her husband she could only say that she did not know whether he bothered her the more when he was away or when he was at home.

When Davidge left Mamise he looked back at the lonely cottage she stubbornly and miserably occupied and longed to hale her from it into a palace. As he walked home his heart warmed to all the little cottages, most of them dark and cheerless, and he longed to change all these to palaces, too. He felt sorry for the poor, tired people that lived so humbly there and slept now but to rise in the morning to begin moiling again.

Sometimes from his office window he surveyed the long lines at the pay-windows and felt proud that he could pour so much treasure into the hands of the poor. If he had not schemed and borrowed and organized they would not have had their wages at all.

But now he wished that there might be no poor and no wages, but everybody palaced and living on money from home. That seemed to be the idea, too, of his more discontented working-men, but he could not imagine how everybody could have a palace and everybody live at ease. Who was to build the palaces? Who was to cut the marble from the mountains and haul it, and who to dig the foundations and blast the steel and fasten the girders together? It was easy for the dreamers and the literary loafers and the irresponsible cartoonists to denounce the capitalists and draw pictures of them as obese swine wallowing in bags of gold while emaciated children put out their lean hands in vain. But cartoons were not construction, and the men who would revolutionize the world could not, as a rule, keep their own books straight.

Material riches were everywhere, provided one had the mental riches to go out and get them. Davidge had been as poor as the poorest man at his works, but he had sold muscle for money and brains for money. He had dreamed and schemed and drawn up tremendous plans while they took their pay and went home to their evenings of repose in the bosoms of their families or the barrooms of idleness.

Still there was no convincing them of the realization that they could not get capital by slandering capitalists, or ease by ease, but only by sweat. And so everybody was saying that as soon as this great war was over a greater war was coming upon the world. He wondered what could be done to stay that universal fury from destroying utterly all that the German horror might spare.

Thinking of such things, he forgot, for the nonce, the pangs of love.



BOOK V

IN WASHINGTON



CHAPTER I

The threat of winter was terrifying the long-suffering world. People thought of the gales that would harass the poor souls in the clammy trenches, the icy winds that would flutter the tents of the men in camps, the sleety storms that would lash the workers on the docks and on the decks of ships and in the shipyards; the final relentless persecution of the refugees, crowded upon the towns that had not enough for themselves.

To be cold when one is despondent is a fearsome thing. Mamise woke in the chill little cottage and had to leap from her snug bed to a cold bathroom, come out chattering to a cold kitchen. Just as her house grew a little warm, she had to leave it for a long, windy walk to an office not half warm enough.

The air was full of orphan leaves, and Cossack whirlwinds stampeded them down the roads as ruthlessly as Uhlans herding Belgian fugitives along. The dour autumn seemed to wrench hopes from the heart like shriveled leaves, and to fill the air with swirling discouragements. The men at work about the ships were numb and often stopped to blow upon their aching fingers. The red-hot rivets went in showers that threatened to blister, but gave no warmth.

The ambitions of Mamise congealed along with the other stirring things. She was sorely tempted to give up the unwomanly battle and accept Davidge's offer of a wedding-ring. She had, of course, her Webling inheritance to fall back upon, but she had come to hate it so as tainted money that she would not touch it or its interest. She put it all into Liberty Bonds and gave a good many of those to various charities. Not the least of her delights in her new career had been her emancipation from slavery to the money Mr. Verrinder had spoken of as her wages for aiding Sir Joseph Webling.

A marriage with Davidge was an altogether different slavery, a thoroughly patriotic livelihood. It would permit her to have servants to wait on her and build her fires. She would go out only when she wished, and sleep late of mornings. She would have multitudinous furs and a closed and heated limousine to carry her through the white world. She could salve her conscience by taking up some of the more comfortable forms of war work. She could manage a Red Cross bandage-factory or a knitting-room or serve hot dishes in a cozy canteen.

At times from sheer creature discomfort she inclined toward matrimony, as many another woman has done. These craven moods alternated with periods of self-rebuke. She told herself that such a marriage would dishonor her and cheat Davidge.

Besides, marriage was not all wedding-bells and luxury; it had its gall as well as its honey. Even in divorceful America marriage still possesses for women a certain finality. Only one marriage in nine ended in divorce that year.

Mamise knew men and women, married, single, and betwixt. She was far, indeed, from that more or less imaginary character so frequent in fiction and so rare in reality, the young woman who knows nothing of life and mankind. Like every other woman that ever lived, she knew a good deal more than she would confess, and had had more experience than she would admit under oath. In fact, she did not deny that she knew more than she wished she knew, and Davidge had found her very tantalizing about just how much her experience totaled up.

She had observed the enormous difference between a man and a woman who meet occasionally and the same people chained together interminably. Quail is a delicacy for invalids and gourmets, but notoriously intolerable as a steady diet. On the other hand, bread is forever good. One never tires of bread. And a lucky marriage is as perennially refreshing as bread and butter. The maddening thing about marriage is what makes other lotteries irresistible: after all, capital prizes do exist, and some people get them.

Mamise had seen happy mates, rich and poor. In her lonelier hours she coveted their dual blessedness, enriched with joys and griefs shared in plenty and in privation.

Mamise liked Davidge better than she had ever liked any other man. She supposed she loved him. Sometimes she longed for him with a kind of ferocity. Then she was afraid of him, of what he would be like as a husband, of what she would be like as a wife.

Mamise was in an absolute chaos of mind, afraid of everything and everybody, from the weather to wedlock. She had been lured into an office by the fascinating advertisements of freedom, a career, achievement, doing-your-bit and other catchwords. She had found that business has its boredoms no less than the prison walls of home, commerce its treadmills and its oakum-picking no less than the jail. The cozy little cottage and the pleasant chores of solitude began to nag her soul.

The destruction of the good ship Clara had dealt her a heavier blow than she at first realized, for the mind suffers from obscure internal injuries as the body does after a great shock. She understood what bitter tragedies threaten the business man no less than the monarch, the warrior, the poet, and the lover, though there has not been many an AEschylos or Euripides or Dante to make poetry of the Prometheus chained to the rocks of trade with the vulture pay-roll gnawing at his profits; the OEdipos in the factory who sees everything gone horribly awry; or the slow pilgrim through the business hell with all the infernal variations of bankruptcy, strikes, panics, and competition.

The blowing up of the Clara had revealed the pitiful truth that men may toil like swarming bees upon a painful and costly structure, only to see it all annulled at once by a careless or a malicious stranger. The Clara served as a warning that the ship Mamise now on the stocks and growing ever so slowly might be never finished, or destroyed as soon as done. A pall of discontent was gathering about her. It was the turn of that season in her calendar. The weather was conspiring with the inner November.

The infamous winter of 1917-18 was preparing to descend upon the blackest year in human annals. Everybody was unhappy; there was a frightful shortage of food among all nations, a terrifying shortage of coal, and the lowest temperature ever known would be recorded. America, less unfortunate than the other peoples, was bitterly disappointed in herself.

There was food in plenty for America, but not for her confederates. The prices were appalling. Wages went up and up, but never quite caught the expenses. It was necessary to send enormous quantities of everything to our allies lest they perish before we could arrive with troops. And Germany went on fiendishly destroying ships, foodstuffs, and capital, displaying in every victory a more insatiable cruelty, a more revolting cynicism toward justice, mercy, or truth.

The Kaiserly contempt for America's importance seemed to be justified. People were beginning to remember Rome, and to wonder if, after all, Germany might not crush France and England with the troops that had demolished Russia. And then America would have to fight alone.

At this time Mamise stumbled upon an old magazine of the ancient date of 1914. It was full of prophecies that the Kaiser would be dethroned, exiled, hanged, perhaps. The irony of it was ghastly. Nothing was more impossible than the downfall of the Kaiser—who seemed verifying his boasts that he took his crown from God. He was praising the strong sword of the unconquerable Germany. He was marshaling the millions from his eastern front to throw the British troops into the sea and smother the France he had bled white. The best that the most hopeful could do was to mutter: "Hurry! hurry! We've got to hurry!"

Mamise grew fretful about the delay to the ship that was to take her name across the sea. She went to Davidge to protest: "Can't you hurry up my ship? If she isn't launched soon I'm going to go mad."

Davidge threw back his head and emitted a noise between laughter and profanity. He picked up a letter and flung it down.

"I've just got orders changing the specifications again. This is the third time, and the third time's the charm; for now we've got to take out all we've put in, make a new set of drawings and a new set of castings and pretty blamed near tear down the whole ship and rebuild it."

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