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Adventures of an Illustrator

VII—Getting Arrested

By JOSEPH PENNELL
Drawings by the author made at the time

WHO am the most inoffensive of mortals, am always getting arrested; that is, since I have come to years of discretion and the world has gone mad about spies. I have never fired a gun, and I always run away from a fight and faint at the sight of blood; yet governments have over and over again regarded me as a dangerous character, spied upon me, and, after due precautions, arrested me, and then apologized, or made laws for my benefit or my hindrance.

Now, from these arrests I have had so much experience that I would make an admirable spy. One thing in my favor is my innocent face and my unmilitary figure. But if I really wanted to spy, I could do it easily and would be a valuable asset to a government. The thing would be perfectly simple in this country. If I wished to obtain detailed and accurate information concerning a fort or a harbor, I would stroll innocently and aimlessly about the place and sit down for half an hour and look at it. An hour later, in my own room, I could draw an accurate picture of it. I know I could do so, for I have trained myself, and I have done it.

I was in Essen after Germany declared war on France in 1914. I was there officially, but I was perfectly certain I would not be allowed to see

the gun-fitting shops; I was warned away by sentries from anywhere near the testing-grounds. But I know Essen, or did so before the war, and I saw it was only necessary to follow, or, rather, go with the clerks into the shops, get busy looking about with my eyes wide open, remember what I saw, and then walk out, though I felt it ticklish; and even in Essen, at the end of July, 1914, there were illustrated post-cards of the very gun-fitting shop, or, rather, turret shop, I wanted to see.

And over here what a mystery was made of Ford's Eagles! I knew nothing about them when the War or the Navy Department-I think it was the War Department-sent me to Detroit to draw Ford's place; but as I was taken around I was told I must not draw. The first Eagle boat-destroyer was almost finished, and no one but those in the bay where it was being built, and they were mostly working on it, were supposed to have seen it. Luckily, while I looked, some one called the military guide away, and I kept on looking hard, and went straight back to the hotel, locked myself in my room, and before night the drawing was finished, though I had absolutely nothing but my memory to work on. But I could see on the paper the boat in the shop; I can see it now. The naval authorities who have seen the

drawing in the national collection at Washington will not believe a word of this, though I should think a real memory for a real naval officer might be of as much value as dancing or even base-ball. But is there a sailorman in the navy with a memory? I doubt it.

A few years ago at the Gatun Lock I saw the workmen for probably ten seconds mount as I have drawn them, clinging to a chain, the most decorative thing I ever saw. The subject never could occur again. Take rapidly running water. Anybody can draw it if he learns to look at it. Thaulow drew from photographs,-snap-shots, and it killed him. And as for crowds, it's only a question of memory and observation. This is very simple, for people and animals are only machines, and do the same things over and over and over again, and one has only to look at and remember these repeated motions. As for nocturnes, Whistler showed the way. The Japanese had, he thought, taught him how; but I believe great observers among them, like Hokusai and Hiroshige, are no more common than with us, though they are better trained.

The first time I was arrested was at Pontailler, in France with Hamerton; and so was the second. But the third-after that they are SO numerous that I can't keep track of them in order was the most amusing of all. This was in Avignon. I was working away, drawing the old broken bridge across the Rhone. I had sat all the morning on the Ile de la Barthelasse and drawn the bridge jutting out from the opposite shore toward the

island, behind the half-demolished walls of the city beyond the Rocher des Domes, the tower of the cathedral, and the palace of the popes. I noticed a seedy person loafing about, and when

Pontailler, on the old Saône

I packed up my numerous traps, sketch-book, camp-stool, and watercolor-box, he gruffly invited me to come with him. I asked where and why, and he said, to the commissaire de police, and that he would show me why. I of course refused till he pulled a package from somewhere within his blouse, wrapped in a dirty handkerchief, and from that a dirty card, "Agent de Police." I then produced a brandnew permit from the ministre des Beaux Arts, which he quietly consulted upside down before he announced that it was no good. It is useless to argue with such people, so I went to the town hall with him, refusing to walk by his side, however, but went at such a pace that he almost had to run to keep up with me. There I was shown into not a cell, but a sort of official tomb, and waited and waited. By and by an official came, and I was asked to follow him to the commissaire, from whose room I saw the agent departing by another door, for one is never confronted in France by one's accusers.

"Have you been drawing in Avignon?"

"Of course; for a week."

"Had you a permit-for Avignon?" "No."

"Then it is serious."

"But I had for the whole of France." I showed it to him. He had never seen anything of the sort; how did he know I had n't stolen it? Well, here was a letter from M. Jusserand of the Foreign Office, vouching for me. Of course he had never heard of M. Jusserand, and as they had found out where I lived, a very easy matter, as one has to write one's name in the hotel-book, as well as one's nationality, birthplace, and profession,-if I were a spy, I should sign that of my favorite enemy,-they had brought my traps, and they were most incriminating, full of drawings and machines and things. And I must be examined and meantime be confined until they heard from Paris or I could prove my innocence; for one is guilty in France till one can do that, and here, too, nowadays.

"Well," said I, "you say I have stolen the papers and you never heard of M. Jusserand. Unless you telegraph instantly to him and the minister, I will telegraph to the American ambassador." And I produced my battered passport. "If they

deny me, do what

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In ten minutes I had the paper. Yet within a few miles of this town Carnot was killed after he had passed through it, and the wise commissaire never spotted the assassin, who doubtless was also in Avignon. The only use the paper was-and this I meant it to be was that a few days later I was arrested for drawing in the Castle of Beaucaire from Tarascon, and when I showed my paper to the maire of that immortal city, his delight at the discomfiture of the hated Avignonais resulted in my instant release and an adjournment to a café on the shady cours, where the stupidity of ces gens là haut was roared over.

The last time I was arrested in France was when I was cycling down the tow-path of the Marne. The lock-keepers' houses, embowered in flowers, got prettier and prettier, and at a point I believed could not be prettier I began to make a drawing. That part of France, it is true, is almost in sight of Germany, and I had not been at work long when the lock-keeper came round behind me and, seeing what I was doing, seized hold of the drawing, yelling to some men unloading a barge, "L'Espion! L'Espion! Au secours! Au secours!"

They dropped their work and secured me and the bicycle. It was useless to explain: they had caught me in the act of making maps! "Voici qu 'il tire des plans!" I mildly protested, but a garde champêtre coming up at

the moment, I

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the gendarmes could be sent for, and they would take me to Châlons-surMarne, back to the old Saône scrape, and I would there be tried, imprisoned, and shot. And how long would this take? Châlons being some ten or twelve miles off,-I had ridden from there that morning,-oh, two or three days, because one must write, and there were always formalities with those gentlemen. I suggested as an alternative-it was about 5:30 that if there was a train, we might all take it to Châlons at my expense, and so expedite justice and have a little excursion.

There was a train. My bicycle was left in the mairie, the maire and the garde champêtre and I started, accompanied by a crowd of eminent citizens and citizenesses. I bought three single third-class fares to Châlons. I treated them to coffee at the station, for they said the officials would not be up. I was taken to the commissire de police. He said it was the concern of the gendarmes, and they said it was the

affair of the préfet. To him, just up, we went. They went in first, carrying the drawings, and then I was called in. He said pleasantly, Could I prove that these excellent works were mine? I did in about five minutes, and then he rang a bell and said to an attendant, "Fait entrer ces gens-là!" And they heard something before they got out, and I went up considerably in my own estimation.

But why discuss things with such people? I explained it was n't discussion, but what might be called force majeure. Then I went back to the station, and there were the maire and the guard. I returned first-class to the town at my expense, and the maire and the guard third-class at theirs. Crowds filled the station when we arrived. The maire, good patriot, would be reëlected, and doubtless I was in prison already. The scene in the station when we got out, and on the streets, was indescribable; but all the same I thought it best to get the bicycle and leave, and I did not even wait to hear the maire explain the conduct of the sale cochon d' un préfet, but left for the next county as fast as possible, and saw them no more. I hope the maire was reëlected!

There have been lots more. One was in Italy, where, in Mestre, on a motor-tricycle, when the piazza was crowded and I was just moving, I knocked down a fisherman whom I dodged right and dodged left, and then I hit him fair and knocked him ten feet. He was picked up bleeding, and I promptly fainted. Luckily, the mayor was there, and saw I did all I could, and as I paid the doctor's bill for the broken head, stood a lunch for the mayor, a journalist of the "Gazettina di Venezia," and the doctor, I was

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allowed to go, leaving the machine as security. I notified the authorities when I was coming back, and the first person I met on the pier was the fisherman, who said he had had a delightful holiday, and would be willing to be knocked down on the same terms again.

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The last one I remember was in New York, or, rather, on Governor's Island. General Grant had given me a permit, and I had had no trouble. I was hardly asked to show it. I was only reasoned with by a sergeant, I am sure from the Middle West,who, when he read it and saw I was doing "the statue," said that that was not New York, which the permit said I was to draw. As he was an American and I was, too, and this was my country, I am afraid I made fun of him in the presence of his men, who, if he did not, seemed to appreciate my remarks. But a few days later an American citizen, with a brogue, who seemed to be employed to pull down flags at

The bridge near Châlons

sunset, a trick he would do, I know, if the British ever got near New York, -spotted me and told me to stop. I think I told him to mind his own business and let me alone.

"Oh, I'll let yer alone, you an' yer

permits. I fotch the liveteenent," and he vanished. Time passed, and nothing happened; the effect also passed, and I took the General Hancock back to New York; but as she pulled out of the dock, I saw the American-Irish patriot and a corporal making a flank movement behind some lumber piles to surprise me. to surprise me. Which was the most surprised when they did n't find me, or what they did, I don't know, only I hope they sent the fool Briton back to his native bog. It's a pity there are not enough Americans to make an American army, if we have to have one to ape other countries!

When I was doing the "New New York" with John Van Dyke, a delightful person,-I should not care to have anything to do with the other one,-I had a police pass for the city, though I was told never to show it till I had to. And one day I was working on the end of the elevated platform at Brooklyn Bridge,-it was open then,and as I worked, I noticed a policeman watching me while he fanned himself with his club, walking up and down; and then when people got in front of me, I stood at the top of the stairs on the side where they could not see, and when they got behind me, I backed over to the stairs on the other side, and they fell down them. But I went on, and soon the policeman came over and said:

"Well, gov'ner, when I seen yer fust I thought I'd have ter ask yer to retire; but when I seen the way yer got on to them rubber-necks, you 's is all right." And after that he fanned the populace. In London once I got in a corner at Ludgate Hill, and the people got in front and blocked the pavement; but I could see over them, and a bobby came and told me I was obstructing

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