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Yet in the bottom of her heart Aglaia felt an inexplicable relief that Mme. Linkow had not heard her sing.
She, too, had grown distrait. Every Every day she was more impatient to get on to Italy. An old English lady in their hotel, who claimed to know all the prima donnas except Mme. Linkow, had told her that there lived in Florence a singingteacher named Valentino Mughetto who was "the last master of the true bel canto." One night when the Goodchilds were sitting in a gay music-hall Aglaia's exasperation reached its climax.
It was their first experience with the Parisian revue. On the stage, set to represent a statue-scattered grove, the chorus kept reappearing in ever scantier costumes. Throughout the first act the principals expressed by pantomime enough of their purpose to make Mr. Goodchild doubt his sight. But when the curtain fell, the last tableau illustrating "A Frolic in the Parc-aux-Cerfs," Aurelius rose, his head high, his eyes a-flash.
Frossie, her cheeks suffused, gained her feet, but hardly before Aglaia. The latter, for Thallie's benefit, exclaimed:
"Fine reasons for hanging on in Paris, to see such shows as this!"
As they marched up the aisle, Thallie felt that all the shame of this adventure had been unloaded upon her shoulders. She wondered if she could pass the last rows of chairs before bursting into tears.
But behind the orchestra-rail, the foyer, too, was crowded. Here, on all sides, the demi-mondaines were engaged in their evening promenade.
Aurelius and his daughters stared at this flaunting femininity of many types, so insidiously bedizened, so similar to the frank flagrance of the stage. All the brilliants, all the aigrettes arranged like Apache war-bonnets, all the painted eyes, swam together into a mist of sensuality, in which these simple souls from Zenasville found themselves swallowed up. Suddenly, in the core of that glitter, Thallie caught sight of him.
He was with his big, sulky-looking
friend whom she had noticed on the tender at Cherbourg. In evening dress, their glossy hats well back on their heads, gardenias in their buttonholes, cigars between their white-gloved fingers, they teasing a yellow-haired girl who leaned back against a pillar with a peculiar smile. And Thallie perceived that he was treating this creature to the same patronizing, flirtatious airs with which, on the starlit boat-deck, he had paid court to her!
Late that night, when all was still, she threw back her coverlet and turned on the bedside lamp.
Frossie did not awake. From her face, framed by ruddy braids, half-buried in the pillow, slumber and shadows smoothed away whatever had been too "strong." Her half-open mouth showed an eager, nearly infantile curve. One would have said that her soul was contemplating distant regions which some day might afford, in her waking hours, an equal beauty.
Thallie approached the window. The café across the way was dark; the street was almost deserted. A taxicab passed, bearing home two belated revelers: a woman who resembled those of the musichall supported against her shoulder the profile of a slumbering man. Thallie watched that couple until they disappeared. Her thoughts pursued them still further indefinite thoughts, here and there illumined by intuition with crimson flashes. Then all her conjectures recoiled across the secret roofs of Paris. With a shiver, she turned from the window and entered Aglaia's room.
On nearing the bed, she saw her eldest sister's eyes fixed steadily on hers. Aglaia, as if she had been all the while awake, demanded:
"Well, what is it now?"
Lying motionless, the bedclothes clinging about her form, she appeared in the faint light like a fragile image chiseled out of pale gold. Around her hung a faint odor of roses from the cold cream with which of late she covered her face at night.
"What is it?" Aglaia repeated none too warmly. "Perhaps you 've thought of
some other nice little thing that you 'd like to see in Paris!"
Sinking down on the edge of the bed, Thallie lowered her face.
"O Aggie, don't be mean to me now! I'm ready to go to-morrow,-to-day, that is,-if you want."
Aglaia studied her sister without any sign of satisfaction.
"Why did you work it to stay on here, anyhow? You have n't been near your precious Louvre in three days."
Thallie's head sank lower.
"All the while that you 've been so pettish and needed so much babying, what were you up to?"
Thallie began to weep.
"I wish I'd never left Zenasville! I wish I'd never set foot on that old ship!"
Little by little, half incoherently, between loud sobs, she confessed the tête-àtête on the boat-deck, the long, long waiting, her glimpse of him to-night in the music-hall.
Aglaia's surprise gave place to a halfcontemptuous pity. While patting Thallie's hand, she reflected: "Love at twenty! A moment of talk in the starlight, and all these tears!" Aloud, with unusual gentleness:
"Come, Babykins, don't spoil your bright eyes any more. Whatever your young man may be, he 's not worth that." "I know he is n't. He's not worth a good girl's second thought."
But Thallie wept all the harder. "Hush, now, or dad 'll wake up and come in. We'll go right away from here. Before you know it you'll have forgotten him."
"Yes," Thallie uttered in a strangled wail, "I'll wipe him right out of my mind." But she felt that a lifetime would not suffice to heal the wound in her heart. "Oh! oh! oh!"
Aglaia's breast. Between gulps and hiccoughs she moaned:
"It's not what you think. It's just my pride that 's hurt."
"So sensitive, Babykins! What 's life going to do to you, if you go on so-" Aglaia ended without the words "over such trifles!"
"Not any more! Not ever, ever again! They'll see after this, men shall! I'll show them! Oh, how I hate them all! And right before every one, with that brazen French thing, and nothing at all on her skinny back, and her big, ugly feet like gunboats! O Aggie, I 've got your ruffles all sopping! Forgive me for all those spats! I 've learned my lesson now. From this night I'll live for nothing but my art. And some day when I'm worldfamous, if only I should ever meet him then-"
The future reappeared before her like one of the bizarre hallucinations of childhood. A wonderful staircase, the summit of which was lost in a silvery glory, seemed thronged with all the great artists of ancient and modern times. Among them she recognized Michelangelo, Tintoretto, Rembrandt, Correggio, Degas, Raphael, Manet, Reynolds, even Apelles. They smiled at her tenderly; they held out their hands to her, and the tableau of her reception into those ranks recalled to her Titian's "Presentation in the Temple." Then, as she turned, to look down triumphantly on the past, she saw far below, gaping up at her in despair, the young man of the boatdeck, the blonde girl cringing beside him.
Her head in the hollow of Aglaia's arm, Thallie fell asleep. But Aglaia, though even her shoulder grew numb, did. not stir. To forget her discomfort, she planned their next movements-through Switzerland as fast as possible, down into Italy. Italy, the birthplace of modern melody and of opera! Florence, where dwelt the Maestro Valentino Mughetto, last teacher of the true bel canto! (To be continued)
"Here, you climb into bed with me." Gratefully Thallie crept into that warm nest, snuggled close, and shed her tears, in a soft, rose-scented luxury, on
The Writing on the Wall
The Truth about Preparedness
By ERIC FISHER WOOD
ERIC FISHER WOOD was an attaché at the American embassy in Paris shortly after the outbreak of the war, where his executive and linguistic abilities became of extraordinary value in the critical days when most of the embassies had fled from the capital of France and their affairs had been turned over to the capable hands of our American representatives. Because of Mr. Wood's unusual opportunities for observation, his intimate connection with military and diplomatic affairs, his present views on military preparedness should have special weight with our readers. A peace-man in the truest sense, he yet believes that we shall have to fight for peace. His recently published volume, "The Note-book of an Attaché," which has been characterized by Professor Phelps of Yale as the best book on the war yet published, develops clearly and dramatically the mental processes by which he has arrived at the unavoidable conclusions set forth in the following pages. -THE EDITOR.
O Americans are alive to-day who saw Washington burned and sacked in 1814, and few still live who dwelt in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864. This generation of Americans have passed their lives in quiet pastures and beside the still waters. It is difficult for them to picture what war and invasion really involve. They do not clearly distinguish between the war of history and romance and that other war which is hell. They fail, for instance, to comprehend that it is not the soldier-boy who suffers most in war-time, but the women of an unprepared country who in the day of reckoning have no trained and organized bodies of men to defend them from the poverty and degradation which invariably exist in a conquered land. The real agony of war is endured by the civil population of the defeated and invaded nation; beside that the
suffering of the boy who dies in battle is as nothing. The suffering of the civil population stretches out beyond its own generation to future generations, robbed of their very birthright; it stretches out for twenty-five, fifty, even a hundred years, and is the penalty which a nation pays for being over-confident and unwilling to face facts.
With the exception of a few persons like myself whom chance has thrust amidst scenes of war in foreign countries, no Americans have beheld the horrible reality with their own eyes; few have seen, and therefore few have understood. We who have worked in the ruined countries know what invasion means. We have seen the proud cities of yesterday to-day smoldering in ashes. We have seen nations of happy artisans and farmers reduced in a twinkling to a starving mob of dumb creatures whom Fate has robbed of
all the fruits of a life of faithful toil. We have seen dear old white-haired men and women wandering cold, hungry, and penniless across a desolated land. We have seen refined women, the élite of a nation, insane with fear, pain, and sorrow. We have seen the counterpart of every American woman we know, alone, unprotected, and hopeless, with the look of a hunted animal in her eyes. Verily the supreme agony of war is not to be found on the march, in camp, or upon the field of battle.
We who have beheld the present gigantic struggle with our own eyes feel and understand how far-reaching it is, and how much more far-reaching it may well become. When we return from Europe and find Our countrymen apparently asleep to all this, we are utterly amazed at their apathy. We become possessed by an almost irrepressible impulse to shake them until they are thoroughly awake; we long to open their sleepy eyes to the full significance of the fact that the casualties of the first year of this war are probably greater than the casualties of all the other wars in the last thousand years. We wish to impress upon them the fact that in 1815, at the close of the last world war, the combined total of all the armies of the allies and of Napoleon numbered only 250,000 men, while the armies now embattled number more than one hundred times that many. That last world conflict eventually reached across the broad Atlantic to bring America the War of 1812 and the Louisiana Purchase. How soon will the present struggle spread across the now narrowed ocean, and what fate will it bring to America? At present her citizens do not consider that there is any possibility that it may ever touch them except slightly to increase or decrease their business.
We who have beheld the very letters of the writing on the wall and have copied them down to bring to our fellowcountrymen are met with reserve. We are called jingoes, the one thing which men who have looked upon the actual face of war can never be. Having now seen
the suddenness with which glowering war may burst in upon a tranquil nation, we are surprised to find Americans lacking in any stronger sentiments than a conventional disapproval of the violation of Belgium. and an equally conventional pity for the sufferings of the soldier on the fightingline. We know full well that modern wars are such complicated affairs that even latent power is valueless if it has not been organized in advance. We know that it is equally useless if it has been wrongly or inefficiently developed. The volunteer system by which armies are organized only after the beginning of hostilities is doomed to certain failure. It is curious to find that America's great men have ever opposed it even since the very birth of the nation. Washington inveighed against it; so did Hamilton and Monroe. In 1790, Washington said, "In time of peace prepare for war." Later, in the first year of his Presidency, when addressing a joint session of Congress, he cried, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." Four years later, in his annual address, he said:
The United States ought not to indulge a persuasion that, contrary to the order of human events, they will forever keep at a distance those painful appeals to arms with which the history of every other nation abounds. There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be withheld if not absolutely lost by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful in-. struments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for
In 1787, Alexander Hamilton stated that "The rights of neutrality will only be respected when they are defended by an adequate power."
In 1822, James Monroe said, "The history of the late wars in Europe furnishes a complete demonstration that no system of conduct, however correct in principle, can protect neutral powers from injury
from any party; that a defenseless position and distinguished love of peace are the surest invitations to war; and that there is no way to avoid it, otherwise than by being always prepared and willing, for just cause, to meet it."
Reasonable military preparedness does not necessarily imply the possession of an increased standing army, but only of an efficient military system for defense. It does not even entail for America a larger expenditure than is now devoted to the maintenance of our army. It does, however, require that what is spent shall be efficiently spent; it implies that our military budget must be laid out by the nation's competent military experts, and not by party politicians. The citizens of other great countries do not permit their politicians to juggle and traffic with the national safety. Among the nations of the earth we are almost the only one which still allows laymen almost entirely to manage the expenditures of the budget for national defense. In consequence, our ineffective standing army now costs us $100,000,000 a year, but can put into the field to protect our land fewer than 50,000 men. The efficient Swiss system of military preparedness, which is run by trained military experts, costs only $8,000,000 a year in peace-time, and yet can promptly put into the field a compact army of nearly 400,000 trained soldiers. This comparison shows that it costs the United States one hundred times more per year for each man available to repel invasion than it does Switzerland.
There are very strong arguments against our possessing a large standing army, but there is no valid argument against reasonable military preparedness. In this country those who do not demand better preparation for national defense have either not had sufficient opportunity to study the matter, or they suffer from a mental blind spot-a blind spot like that which renders the habitual criminal incapable of seeing that crime does not pay.
My various observations and experiences in the war-zone have led me to a
conclusion that is concurred in by each and every American who has had opportunity to study the appalling conditions now prevailing in Europe, which is that the only rational insurance against unprovoked attack is reasonable military preparedness. Among the most ardent of its advocates whom I have interviewed since the war's beginning are Americans who had journeyed to Switzerland as delegates to an international peace conference, and were there caught by the sudden outbreak of hostilities. They could not fail to perceive that reasonable military preparedness, and that alone, had saved Switzerland from war. They still demand peace, but they now demand it at the price of preparedness.
The nations of the earth have entered upon a political era of cold-blooded aggression wherein burglary and violation are ordinary proceedings and wherein the individual nations are acting with brutal selfishness. Each works solely for its own interest, and without the least consideration for the interests of the others. Germany's violation of Belgium is, alas! only typical of this era. It has become notorious in the eyes of America because Germany happens to be the nation which gave the first and most spectacular demonstration of the modern political immorality. In the more recent months of the war neither Great Britain nor Russia has shown any respect for Persian neutrality. They violated it just as Germany violated that of Belgium. In the operations against Constantinople Great Britain has violated Greek neutrality by seizing an island for a naval base. It has thus been shown that any great nation will unhesitatingly violate the neutrality of a country which is unprepared vigorously to defend herself. Even the United States did not arbitrate with Colombia over Panama; nor did our forefathers arbitrate with the American Indians, driven step by step from the land they loved and in which they had lived for a thousand years; nor did the Southern States arbitrate with the unprepared Union. No world power of to-day would arbitrate any vital matter