Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

lasso, gun, spurs, and all. To "kiss and ride away like a rurale" has become a proverb of Mexico.

The military organization of the rurales is very simple. There are some three thousand men in all, divided into twelve troops of two hundred men each. These troops are distributed all over Mexico in isolated detachments, and the men in them are shifted about at will according to the needs of the hour. At the moment when this was written two thirds of the entire force of the rurales were doing scout and skirmish service in the disaffected districts of Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California. Very seldom, or never, so far as I am informed, have all the rurales been brought together to be viewed as one body. Still, every now and then, especially on September 16, the national holiday, there are grand reviews of rurales, at which a thousand and more of these wild horsemen may be seen cutting figures with their lassos, and performing other feats of daring horsemanship.

Every rurale troop is officered by one commandante, one captain, three first lieutenants, and twelve second lieutenants, called cabos,-"chiefs." Among the enlisted men in each troop are three top sergeants, twelve simple sergeants, twentyfour corporals, nine buglers, and two standard-bearers.

The commander-in-chief is General Francisco M. Ramirez, an old graybearded war veteran and hero of untold hairbreadth escapes and adventures, who is one of the popular idols of Mexico. Every peon boy old enough to swing his little lasso, knows the name and fame of Ramirez. Next under him comes Colonel Kosterlinsky, a Polish nobleman, who, so far as I am aware, is the only foreigner serving as an officer of rurales. There was another who served as a rough-rider under Roosevelt at San Juan hill, but he was killed in a fight with Yaqui Indians.

Compared to the rurales, our own regular cavalry and that of most European military establishments would have to be classed as mounted infantry. The rurales are horsemen and nothing else. Of other equipment, beyond what can be carried on the saddle, the rurales have none. Thus they have no machine-guns, no troop-wagons or pack-trains, no camp-kitchens, fieldsmithies, or tents. Every rurale carries

LXXXII-34

his own supplies, light cooking utensils and horseshoeing outfit. From the moment that he swings into his vaquero saddle, he and his mount are expected to live off the country. Generally they live very well. They also have scout dogs, trained to run down fugitives and to hold their masters' horses by the bridle.

In all other respects the service is essentially that of irregular cavalry, comparable only to such lines of service as that of the Northwest Mounted Police of Canada, of the State Rangers of Texas, or that of the Trans-Baikal Cossacks in Siberia and northern Manchuria. There is no crack cavalry in the world better mounted than the rurales, not even excepting the Imperial Cossack guards of the Czar, the Royal Horseguards of King George of England, the Black Hussars of Brunswick, or the superb mounted police of New York City. One reason why the rurale men and mounts are so much better than the crack cavalry troops of other countries is because both men and horses serve almost continuously in the open, so that they do not grow rusty under the influences of barrack life.

When rurales are sent to chase bandits they know they are expected to get their men dead or alive. When the bandits put up a fight, the rurales generally find it more convenient to get their bandits dead. This saves both trouble and food. In all such matters your honest rurale has a strong sense for the economies of life. Prisoners are regarded as a useless expense. prisoner happens to be a crack shot and horseman and has sense enough to wish to reform into a good rurale, well and good; but, otherwise, it is considered impracticable to burden the government with mere deadwood.

If a

There is a convenient law in Mexico which covers all such cases. It is called the ley fuga. By its terms soldiers and policemen are justified in shooting prisoners whenever they try to escape. In Mexico, it would seem, the instinct for liberty. is so powerful that few prisoners can resist it, at least few bandit prisoners. Almost invariably they try to break loose. This is the more remarkable since dangerous prisoners in Mexico on their way to jail are always marched along with elbows triced behind the back and with a loop of a lasso around the neck, the other end of

which is fastened to a rurale saddle-horn. Even at night their bonds are not loosened. Yet most of the bandits unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of the rurales, so it would appear from the rurales' reports, commit the singular error of trying to make a dash for freedom under the very muzzles of their captors' carbines. So they get themselves shot. At any rate, so say the official records. There is no bravery in such ferocity, when wreaked on helpless prisoners, yet it would be a mistake to call it cowardice.

No one who knows Mexico would ever call the rurales cowards.

Alone, or with a mere handful of comrades, they stake their lives against odds before which whole columns of regular soldiers recoil. When an outlaw crouching in ambush has been gunning for you, and has done his best to murder you and your comrades, it is hard for a simpleminded child of nature to see why such a man, once laid by the heels, should continue to live, any more than a rattlesnake? Though the rurales show themselves harsh and cruel under provoking circumstances, they make up for such faults by the bravery with which they expose themselves at the call of danger. Were not the rurales scouting and skirmishing in the van of the troops during Indian campaigns or rebel uprisings, the soldiers with their lumbering artillery and pack-trains would often be helpless.

During the present rebellion along the northern frontier of Mexico, the rurales of Chihuahua and Sonora have had to bear the brunt of the guerrilla fighting. Unlike the Federal troops, when meeting reverses, they have not scurried back into strong barracks, or settled down into intrenchments, but invariably have rallied and returned to the fray like wasps swarming around the head of a farmer. There was one instance, not long ago, when a detachment of thirty-five rurales ran into a band of some hundred insurrectos, whose advantage of position was such that the rurales were caught in a cross-fire and had to scatter for the open, leaving nine comrades dead on the field, and over a dozen horses. The affair was heralded as a great rebel victory. That night the scattered rurales got together again, and riding cautiously around the rebel stronghold, suddenly charged into it from the rear, taking the camp by surprise. A few men fell on both sides in the fierce night attack, but the bulk of the rebel force-more than a hundred strong-were taken unawares and surrendered.

After exploits like this, is it any wonder that the mere name of the rurales is enough to strike terror into the hearts of some nimble-footed people across people across the Rio Grande? Others in that country,-among them President Diaz,-proudly look upon the rurales as the flower of the best fighting forces of Mexico.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

THE

SUDDETH'S "EGERIA"

BY EDNA KENTON

Author of "Love Laughs at Lions," "A Prophet in his Country," etc.

I

HE critics at large had already spoken, but for Suddeth's Athens the final word was not uttered until Suddeth, in an address before the Doric club on its annual Guest Day, pronounced the "Letters of a Woman," published anonymously, to be the most remarkable compilation of wit and insight, revelation and admission, to be found in the world of modern belles-lettres. Suddeth was not given to untempered enthusiasms, but on this day he dropped the bridle upon the neck of his critical Pegasus, and let the winged creature soar. He devoted the latter fourth of his panegyrical tribute to a searching investigation into the identity of the author, a secret then known only to one member of The Sunrise Publishing Company. That the author of the "Letters" was sitting that afternoon in the fourth row, and that his eyes, during his address, rested often on her face, was a fact unknown at the time to Suddeth or to Athens.

Suddeth's Athens is a city set on a plain, lacking therefore mountains in the mass and the sweep of cliff and raging sea. But well-kept farms surround it; a pretty lake near by sways in its great cup alongside many acres of native forest that a wise Providence has preserved from the tasty hand of the landscape gardener; its streets are asphalted from limit to limit, and in spite of its two hundred thousand inhabitants, it has kept its wealth of trees. It is a city of homes, with vegetable gardens in the rear; of fine horses as well as motorcars; of two Country clubs; a University club; several fine hotels; two publishing houses; some world-famous canning factories; many Japanese servants; a number

of butlers and French governesses; a fiveo'clock tea hour that struggles still with a too extensive menu; a bitterly contested social leadership; two settlement houses; many Arts and Crafts shops; and a more or less nationally recognized "literary group." And this, in short, is Suddeth's Athens.

Vedder Suddeth was a native son of Athens, born of parents who had seen him safely through Harvard, with an extra two years in the law department. Then, to his parents' grief and the satisfied fulfilling of the prophecy of his father's law partner, he renounced the practice of law, and came home, to turn his hand to a little of everything but what the neighborhood pragmatists termed "honest work." He seemed to wish to write, and he did a little reporting for the Athens "Mail," and a little book reviewing for the Athens "Express," and, after a bit, quite a deal of dramatic criticism for the Athens "Sun." While at Harvard he had put in valuable time studying the drama from the front and rear of Boston stages, acquiring in the process some acquaintance among press-agents and minor members of casts-an experience which in Athens, at that time, amounted to a knowledge of the world, and which raised him at last to the position of dramatic editor.

Some are born to the manner of omniscience-this was Suddeth's major heritage. It showed in his carriage, in his full, rotund tones, and in his smile, unsneering, altruistic. Naturally, while Suddeth was young, this smile did not take among his elders, and there were those of his own generation who when he approached frivolously said: "Go to; let the dogs be hushed in their kennels; for here comes Sir Oracle!"

But Suddeth was unruffled and kind, even behind turned backs. He praised generously and never damned with praise, big or little-till many years later! For he had his ambition, as who has not? And he never allowed, then or later, personal feeling to become a stumbling-block to the feet of it. Therefore no sun set that did not see that ambition at least a pace on its way to his goal-arbiter to all of Athens's

sons.

Unless his bridal sun had set in cloudsunless his marriage were a misstep! This question was threshed out by Suddeth's friends and enemies until it was frayed and worn. He married quite suddenly a girl who was a Wellesley graduate, and who, coming to Athens for a visit, remained to be married to Suddeth at his parents' home. If he mistook her for her cousin who was the daughter of a wealthy broker, and if she mistook him for her ideal, neither mistake was ever admitted to the world, but there were those in Athens who affirmed that both these things were true.

After his marriage, it became necessary for him to cut off many bachelor extravagances, for his salary was intermittent and small, and his parents' death left him nothing but the Suddeth homestead. Here one daughter was born, and here, some years later, Suddeth's salon was set up. A salon is usually feminine, but for a long time Suddeth's salon was his. Mrs. Suddeth was an enigma to Athens. Every one conceded her cleverness and a certain charm, but unlike her husband, she did not fraternize with her peers, patronize her inferiors, nor run with the hounds of Athens's forty best families. She belonged to three of the city's forty-three clubsthese three musical organizations. "My wife is not literary in her tastes," Suddeth was fond of saying to visiting lions, the truth of the matter being that the Suddeth home could not hold at once two philoproteans. At all events Mrs. Suddeth kept to the musical side of the Suddeth fence, and left the dramatic-poeticcritical-fictional field to her spouse.

Velma Suddeth was fourteen when the Incident of the City Seal established her father at one bound as Athens's foremost critic and scholar. There has been great dissatisfaction with the old seal, which was in truth naught but an Indian's head and a

handful of ragged arrows, symbolical of the town's early struggles, and regardless of any of the gentle laws of heraldry. The new seal was an elaborate design by one of the Art Leaguers of Athens, introducing the civic goddess sitting with the lake on her right, the native forests on her left, the Two Forks creek parting in front of her right toe, and the University chapel, the Government building dome, the Art League façade, and a few smoke-stacks making the sky-line. About the circle ran the usual mixture of cannon-balls, sheaves, laurel, pens, oil lamps, and open books. And, surrounding all, scurried a Latin motto with a preposition followed by the ablative case.

Now every Latinist knows that the dative and ablative cases have differences not always clear to the careless mind. Suddeth, whose mind was of that woolly texture to which the most recondite and forgotten facts clung to be detached at his pleasure for the confusion of the scholar and the triumph of the scholiast, proved, the day after the hurrah of publication in the Athens "Mail," that in this instance the ablative was anathema, ergo, that its sponsors were beneath comment. Two weeks later, when interviewed concerning the resignation of the professor of Latin from Athens's University, Suddeth said that it was unfortunate that a man's career must be clouded by ignorance of a fundamental part of his subject, leaving unuttered his sympathy for the large Eastern University which was receiving the late professor of Latin at Athens with open arms.

Thus was Vedder Suddeth established at last as arbiter of Athens. Velma, aged fourteen, pursued her Gallic Wars with new ardor, and became her class's authority on all forms of the dative and ablative cases. Mrs. Suddeth received congratulations upon her husband's classic prowess with the equanimity that distinguished her at all times, and the lack of enthusiasm that she displayed for everything but her piano, Beethoven, Chopin, and Velma.

As for Suddeth, he became a member of the Beefsteak club of Athens, whose unconventional orgies with steaks and celery, sans knives, sans forks, filled with curiosity and envy all those who read the accounts of the club dinners; and he became a member of the Marathon club, limited in membership to Athens's forty best fami

lies. In other words Suddeth found himself the connecting link between convention and unconvention, between Olympus and Parnassus, between society and the Bohemia that existed in Athens. It was at this time that his salon bloomed in one night into the most interesting drawingroom of Athens-on that night when it was graced by Mrs. James Coyne, in the full flush of victory in the social leadership struggle; and this salon, at the time of his address on the "Letters of a Woman," was, with Velma, six years older.

II

As Mrs. Hale, stranger to Athens, slipped from the fourth row of chairs into the center aisle of Ionia Hall, she glanced back at Suddeth's distinguished figure descending the rostrum steps, and then at her friend, whose day guest she was.

"Dear Mrs. Coyne," she said simply, "you know Mr. Suddeth? I've told you of the little things I scribble now and then -I should like to meet him."

"Surely," smiled Mrs. Coyne. "He will come to me first of all, and anything he can do for you he will-Oh Veddie," as the arbiter approached, "what a stunning little talk! How strange it is that the woman will not let herself be known. Here is another unacknowledged genius however Mr. Suddeth, Mrs. Hale!who has come to Athens for a time and is staying at the Walton. Mrs. Hale writes."

Suddeth glanced appraisingly. Mrs. Hale was tall, slender, graceful, very lovely, and charmingly gowned. Their eyes met; hers were clear blue lakes, and he smiled charmingly.

"You 've published? No! But you write for technic, expression-what?"

[ocr errors]

"Because I must, Mrs. Hale said quietly. Her eyes looked through and beyond him. Suddenly she flushed. "That is what you said of the 'Letters' that they were written because they had to be-"

"It gave you a feeling of kinship," smiled Suddeth. "Well, frankly, those 'Letters' are the most wonderful expression of the mysterious feminine that has been given out for many years. Touches here and there recall tricks of our few great women writers, but as a whole it

shows a new spirit in literature. I am tremendously interested in the personality behind it-that, of course, is what counts in intimate literature. The woman in the case cherchez la femme! I want to find her it seems to me that I've never understood a woman so well as I understand the author of the 'Letters.'"

As he talked, oratorically as he always must, he was conscious of the swift growth of a new interest that bid fair to bloom into one of his many tropical friendships with women. He realized also that his wife was coming slowly toward them, and as he caught her indifferent glance at him, and the equally indifferent comprehension that developed as it traveled from him to Mrs. Hale and back again, he resented the keenness that read him to the dregs of him. Suddeth never liked to admit that there were dregs; these friends of his later years did not find them; it annoyed him beyond expression that his wife should make him conscious of his soul's muddy sediment. His friendships with women, to the rest of the world, were Platonic enough; it was perhaps his greatest source of annoyance with his wife that she too called them Platonic, and, with the world, encouraged them.

Resentful now of the intuition that caught with him the budding of a new flower in his garden of sensations, he covered it with a charming introduction of the two women that ended in a cordial invitation to the Suddeths' salon, and then Mrs. Suddeth passed slowly on, leaving her husband again alone with the new-comer. There were all but constant interruptions, however, for all of literary Athens was clamoring for a chance to discuss the moot question of identity; but he found a moment alone with Mrs. Coyne, whose lips were curved in that delicately aloof smile, at once all-intelligent and entirely maddening in its promise of obmutescence, which had won her first place against the old, dethroned leader. Suddeth grinned appreciatively at her smile, and asked a question.

"I don't know a thing about her," Mrs. Coyne answered succinctly. "We are staying at the Walton for a few months now as you know, and we met her through those pick-me-up Norrises the other evening. ning. She knows good people in the East and evidently has been used to luxury.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »