Puslapio vaizdai
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

He looked up and down the street desperately for a possible conveyance. But there was nothing in sight, not even the Prewitt pony, which for once in his life he would have suffered gladly. Nothing, that is, except Juggernaut, waiting idly under the maples near by. Lady Sybil's eye lit upon this at the same moment as did Mr. Allerby's.

the Winfield populace was thrilled and aghast

"Do you know, it's the oddest thing about your little tram-car. I find it sitting about in different parts of town, and in the very early morning I fancy I hear it passing up the street; but I've never yet been able to catch it in action."

"Nor ever will," murmured Judge Cary. "You see, it-it feels the heat. Like the rest of us, yourself always excepted, Madam, it is not so young as it used to be."

"How absurd of you!" she laughed, tapping him deliciously with her fan.

The only hitch in in arrangements occurred at the very moment of departure, when Mr. Cassidy and his limousine, which was to carry the distinguished guests to their train in a final burst of elegance, failed to appear. Whether because of a more pressing need elsewhere, or because of the proximity of the mint-bed to Mr. Cassidy's private supply, is not known to this history. The weather was very hot, however.

Mr. Allerby, on his tenth trip from telephone to window, tasted despair. The train was due in half an hour, and

"There's that absurd little car! What a pity," she said, "that it is n't running to-day, or we could go to the train in it." Mr. Allerby flushed suddenly and deeply.

"I dare say I could manage to run you down in it, if you would n't mind."

"You? Why, Hal, do you actually know how to run a tram-car? But you were always so clever about everything!" "Oh, any child can run a car like that," he explained nonchalantly. "It 's that sort."

She gave a cry of pleasure.

"What, you mean to say it's automatic, like that lift we saw in New York? Why have n't I known this earlier! Nick, what a lark! We 're going to the train in an automatic tram-car." Nor would she consent to remain inconspicuously a passenger, but insisted

upon standing beside Mr. Allerby on the platform to see how it worked. Even that was not the worst; she soon demanded to be allowed to run the thing herself. And Sybil Allerby was not the sort of woman whose pleadings go unheeded.

"You must let me try it, you really must, Hal, there's a dear boy! I 've handled automobiles and motor-boats, and young Hal almost let me drive his plane, and I 've steered elephants in India and camels in Biskra, and I could n't possibly go back from the States without having once driven an automatic tram-car!"

"Better humor her in the interests of peace," advised the indulgent husband.

So that the Winfield populace was thrilled and aghast at the sight of the third daughter of a belted earl at the wheel of their humble public conveyance, her veils floating on the breeze, her musical laughter ringing gay and clear above the cheerful clanging of the gong. And one old lady, at least, hearing of the madcap performance, thought she knew why men still fell in love with Sybil Allerby at fifty.

"It's the jolliest lark we 've ever had together, Hal dear! I'll always

remember," called back a lovely voice from the departing train.

She would always remember!

Mr. Allerby did not lack for company on his homeward journey. Half the town seemed moved to go about its business by trolley that day, exchanging respectful pleasantries with the motorman. But people found him a trifle unresponsive; not "airy," quite, but rather reserved, as became the accredited scion of British nobility. Juggernaut went her ways softly, a consecrated trolley-car, and she has never since been quite the rampageous, sporting vehicle she used to be. Perhaps Mr. Allerby drives now with a ghost beside him, a spirit out of another life, her veils blowing fragrantly about him, her joyous laughter making him forget that romance can ever be fifty if a day, or that there is anything ignoble in a task her white hands made a "lark" of.

But when somebody asked him not long ago when he 'd be running over to visit his English relatives, he shook his head, murmuring words which only Miss Sara would have understood:

"O rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more."


At "the House of the Flirt"


An interesting and entertaining account of the history, past and contemporary, social and political, connected with President Wilson's official residence during the peace conference in Paris.

T was an American diplomat of the older generation who told me the story of "the House of the Flirt." We had motored up the Champs-Elysées, made a sharp detour to the left, near Etoile, and slowed down as we entered the parked seclusion of the Place des Etats-Unis, with its suggestion of numerous nooks and angles and peace.

"That is the President's house," said my friend, indicating a substantial, neutral-tinted villa on the opposite side of the green sod. A gendarme and a French staff-officer saluted us politely. Two young American gentlemen in khaki, spick and span, service rifles at the correct shoulder angle, guarded the approach to Mr. Wilson's Paris home. Except our own quiet conversation, only the twittering of the little birds welcoming the green shoots of May, making sounds into a silence that suggested the secrecy of the sacrosanct.

A good many years ago, when the nice, grandfatherly old gentlemen of to-day were gay young blades, with warm response for a sparkling eye and a Malibran shoulder, the dashing, daring Mamie Paine was the talk and the toast of Paris. That is merely another way of saying how Mamie was where every woman since Lilith or Mother Eve has loved and longed to be on the topmost limb of the tree of masculine adulation. She was the adored of young men and old. She was, they tell me, these gallants of dead decades, as pretty as a picture by David, and fully as tantalizing as the lady who was looked upon by another and still earlier David, in circumstances quite disapproved by the Nonconformist conscience and Mrs. Grundy. Mamie was très chic, and, unless I am

misinformed, she had a very expensive taste in clothes.

It was in the selfsame little room where Mamie tried on her dresses and worried the originating soul of the elder M. Worth that Mr. Woodrow Wilson tried to put together the broken fragments of a world smashed to smithereens, in a political, social, and economic sense, by William Hohenzollern, who was a youngster with a very vicious temper when Mistress Paine smashed hearts in Paris.

The young American beauty, Mamie Paine, after playing havoc with more than her fair share of young hearts and old, accepted the trembling old hand and experienced affections of the retired banker and sous-maire Bischoffen. And that was how Mamie came to live and to hold her captivating court in the house at 11, Place des Etats-Unis. But it was not thus called in that time.

The United States' legation in Paris was a "two-pair back," tucked away on a side street of little dignity and no importance, until Mr. Levi P. Morton became our minister to France. Mr. Morton leased a fine graystone mansion just a block on the north side of the house of Mamie's obedient husband, and then the Parisians discovered America. The frugal Frenchmen who were in the "inner circle" of the Government at Paris, and participants in the profits accruing from foresight in metropolitan real-estate investments, interpreted the Morton lease as a soothing shadow of an agreeable coming event: at last those dollar-decked Americans were going to act like real Europeans and buy an embassy building. To help the good work along, they called the peaceful, parked prospect the Place des EtatsUnis. It is not without significance

that Congress failed fully to appreciate the compliment. To this day we do not own an embassy building in Paris. Our ambassadors are "renters," in the French diplomatic circle, "unhindered and unhampered" by any act of congressional munificence.

It was by the merest accident, I am told, that the President came to live in "the House of the Flirt." When he made his first appearance in Paris, he went to the Hôtel Murat. The Hôtel Murat was not available when he planned his second trip, so "the House of the Flirt" was hired to witness the work of making a new world out of a badly battered, gasping, ghastly globe. It may have been as significant as it was accidental.


The President went to Paris to make peace, and the Place des Etats-Unis is a peaceful spot. He returned to France "unhindered and unhampered" by earlier aspirations for "open covenants of peace, openly arrived at." Secrecy set its guards on every quiet bit of the small, wooded circle. Even the cute little sparrows, a family of birds as notorious for impertinence and irreverence as regularly trained American reporters, seemed to sense the all-pervading presence of the very spirit of secrecy. The young leaves on the nodding trees whispered their warning, "Hush!" the gables were decently dignified and as perfectly proper-looking as if Mamie had never blown a coquettish kiss in their direction. Mamie was dead. The carved fireplace in the little room-that elegant fireplace was to hear and see many things that are destined to remain buried in a secrecy far more impenetrable than some of Mamie's most sacred secrets. What happened in that room was to go far to prove that modern diplomacy is still as close-mouthed as the grave no more so. What happened within the four walls that saw much of Mamie was to teach us all that flirtation is not confined to women.

It was in that room of "the House of the Flirt" that Woodrow Wilson is now charged with having played with the hearts of one out of every four of the inhabitants of the earth, crumpled up his "Fourteen Points," and cast them into the waste-paper-basket.

They were three. Newspapers and the people of a large part of the world spoke of "the Big Four." There might have been more. Still, the fact remains that they were three, Woodrow Wilson, Georges Clemenceau, and David Lloyd George. I have named them in the order of merit and actual importance.

His foes and critics notwithstanding, Woodrow Wilson was by far the ablest among the participants in the Conference of Paris. He towered over them all. As an idealist, he was the soul of the conference. From the purely intellectual point of view, he could hold his own with the best of them, and there were one or two intellectual giants in other delegations: Bourgeois for the French, Balfour for the British, but only one other at the top of his own "pile," Venizelos, the great Greek.

The use of the term "Conference of Paris" suggests correction of a popular error that ought to be excised from the columns of our newspapers and the public mind. The peace conference was the Conference of Paris. It was a conference confined to the Allied and Associated victor nations. The ritual reserved for the defeated Germans billeted in the Trianon Palace Hôtel at Versailles was that of a drumhead court martial, as was fit and proper. Nothing less would have satisfied Foch and the French. Fittingly and properly, the Conference of Paris respected the feeling of the outraged nation in whose capital the map of the new world was being charted. The Austrian affair at St. Germain-en-Laye was an inquest, sometimes solemn, sometimes comic, sometimes almost joyful. I cannot testify as to the other side-shows, because they did not begin until I left Paris. Relations with the Germans were restricted to exchange of notes between the German delegation in Versailles and the Allies and Associates in Paris. I really think that M. Clemenceau enjoyed his task, as president of the conference, of replying to Brockdorf-Rantzau and the tall, sallow count's successors. Usually, in each sharp sentence, you could feel the bite of "the Tiger's" teeth.

Georges Clemenceau is a droll figure of a man, and a little giant in his own

way. Standing alongside Mr. Wilson, Clemenceau instantly suggested "Little Jeff" to the President's "Mutt." I never saw him without the inseparable gray suède gloves. He wore them always when presiding over the plenary sessions. He would sit for long spells with clasped hands and his head cocked over a humped shoulder, with ear trained upon the speaker of the moment. Then, perhaps, he would wrinkle his large forehead, shake his head up and down, turn it around and glare at the gentleman who was taking up the time that stood between France and peace. France wanted peace in a hurry and with a fanfare. Clemenceau, as the political incarnation of France, wanted peace at a pen-stroke. I think we all liked his loyalty to his own people. That was the real secret of his hold upon Allied affections in Paris. He was so frank in his zeal for France! He tore everything else out of his path, just like a big cat springing to save her young


Clemenceau is a great French editor. Now, it must be confessed that the French press has still far to go before it can take its place with the British and American press as a dependable, honest force in the formation of democratic public opinion. The majority of the Paris newspapers are sadly corrupt and lax in their methods of gathering and presenting news. Georges Clemenceau is a working journalist, with a high sense of the mission of the newspaper. Apparently, he has strong opinions about some of the tendencies of French reporters. Certainly, he disfavored any attempt to open up the real proceedings of the conference to the reporters present from all parts of the world.

"Where shall we put the photographers?" an Allied intermediary asked, when press arrangements were being considered.

[blocks in formation]

George was sitting back in his chair, in a brown study; Mr. Wilson was leaning forward listening patiently. M. Clemenceau, leaning back, was listening impatiently.

He was addressing his remarks particularly to Mr. Wilson. Mr. Lloyd

"See," exclaimed the Italian premier, waving his arms and shivering his silvery crop, "the press of France is unanimously in our favor. Every newspaper echoes our desire 'Italy should have Italian Fiume!'"

Clemenceau tapped Orlando on the arm, cupped his gloved left over his lips, and roared into the left ear of the impassioned Roman, in a stage whisper:

"Would you like me to tell the President how much it cost?"

Never another word said Orlando. He swore under his breath as he took his defeated departure.

I HAD not seen David Lloyd George for almost twenty years when I shook hands with him in Paris. I found him much changed, and apparently for the better. Time has mellowed the once incoherent Welshman. The Lloyd George who supported Mr. Wilson's fine oration for a league of peace in the Hall of the Clock was a much finer figure than the obscure Welsh member who mobilized the "Nonconformist conscience," under the Liberal leadership of the jocular Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. His periods were more rounded, his rhetoric less flamboyant. Also, he was much better barbered and groomed. Some premiers feel it desirable to keep up appearances.

Lloyd George has indisputable claims upon American good-will. He is a selfmade man. He began as a small town attorney and Little Bethel lay preacher. He felt his way carefully over the shoulders of his Welsh miners, uttered orthodox Nonconformist views until, "with the Nonconformist conscience in the hollow of his fiercely clenched hand," he climbed upon the treasury bench, which is to say, the Government of the British Empire.

In height and general appearance. Lloyd George suggests a compromise between his American and French associates in the management of the conference. Usually, there is a subtle message in the twinkling eye and the ingratiating smile that greet the reporter or news

« AnkstesnisTęsti »