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Léonie touched the piano very lightly, and then the music of that most tragic, bravest, and most magnetic tune seized the evening and shook it stark awake. There was no silence left, and no peace in the garden. It was suddenly thronged with battles and with ghosts. Even the general was moved. There was nothing banal to him in those familiar tones; they smote upon him afresh with dignity and severe intent. His eyes lost their hardness and became reflective. In a few weeks time the sons of England would go forward in their thousands, in their tens of thousands, and would die. There was no help for it, and on how well they died, and how hard they fought before they died, lay the issue of the profound and senseless tragedy which was impoverishing the world.
The general straightened himself, and stood up; he looked over the moonlit garden, and ceased to see the flowers.
The white fields of the orchards below him changed to darker, sodden fields,
torn up and broken, where no blossoms lay; only the flower of all the youth of France.
Léonie came to him and laid her hand softly upon his shoulder.
"Now," she said, "I am a Frenchwoman; I am ignorant of war, but I have been very patient. When will England strike? My friends tell me she is letting us stand and bleed ourselves white to save herself. For your sake, and for the sake of your honor, I want to free myself of doubt."
"We shall strike soon," said the general, and his lips closed over the words with ominous finality.
"Tell me," she urged, "the moment. I wish to pray for it."
"If you want to pray," replied the general, "pray all the time. It will not be too much."
"No! no!" she said urgently, "give me your faith! You trust me, you are a generous man. I have given you all I have; give me, then, this in return. Do you not see what it is for me to share the future with you? On my soul I ask it of you!"
"But you must not ask it," said the general, firmly. "It is the secret of England."
"And to whom," asked Léonie, gravely, "should England tell her secret but to France?"
It did not sound absurd even to the general, who disliked rhetoric. The last note of "The Marseillaise" still held the listening air. The general looked at her, gravely.
"No," he said; "I can't do that."
Her lips quivered, and with the sudden abandon of a child she flung herself into his arms in a storm of tears.
"Ah," she sobbed, "tell me! tell me! Don't you see I am exhausted, broken with the strain? I have not the fermeté of the English; I can bear no more. Always my mind is on that moment of terror. I want. I fear it. I want it for France and for you. How can I bear it? Give me a reprieve, a few days' rest! Help my divided heart!"
"Do not let it be divided," said the general, with unaccustomed gentleness. "When we strike, it will be for the good of all of us; and I have told you before, I shall be in no great personal danger."
"Ah," she said, dragging herself suddenly from his arms, "you speak so calmly, so dispassionately! It is, after all, only I who suffer. Show me that you love me not as you love all those light women. Do you not remember what I asked of you-an intimacy of the heart? If I were a man and your friend, you would not hide this from me. Why, even Captain Pollock knows what I may not be told!"
"Did he tell you that he knows?" asked the general, grimly.
Léonie sobbed incoherently. Something in the grimness of the general's voice warned her that though she could easily destroy Captain Pollock by her answer, her cause might not be advanced by his destruction.
"No," she murmured at length, "he has not told me; but I know he knows. I feel it in him, as I feel it in you, beloved. Oh, for the sake of our love together, for the sake of this little hour, tell me, and I ask no more questions. I am then like a wife, a soldier's wife, brave and content with a shared peril."
"I should not tell my wife that," said the general, "and I should expect her to be brave without being told."
"Ah," said Léonie, "but I am not a wife. I can only be brave if I am trusted, infinitely trusted."
The general bit his iron-gray mustache and thought deeply. He was genuinely moved, and he had none of the obstinacy of a weak man against the appeals of a woman. He did trust Léonie; it had never for a moment occurred to him to doubt her. But he was before everything else a soldier, in possession of a military secret, and it was inconceivable to him that he should part with it; and yet many men do what is inconceivable. Even the general wavered for an instant.
Then he gave a sigh of relief. He had appeased her, he could feel the tension of her whole figure relax in his arms; and he had told her a lie. The date he had given her was a fortnight after the actual
Léonie's head was once more on his heart, her uplifted, beseeching eyes were full of a torment of love and supplication. She had never looked so beautiful as she looked now, and passion was the only power that ever shook the general's caution; but even when he was reckless, he was not reckless for himself.
He bent his head and kissed her lips. "Good!" he said. "I'll trust you. The date is the twenty-eighth of July."
"There was something else, sir," Captain Pollock murmured, crimsoning, and turning his unhappy eyes away from the general's blazing ones.
"Out with it!" snapped the general. "I'm not a gun-shy retriever, am I? I ought to be used to departmental idiocy by this time."
"They are censoring all her letters to you, sir."
"What the hell?" thundered the outraged general.
"And I gather they advise," finished the now desperate Pollock, "our people taking the same steps with regard to yours."
"My letters?" gasped the general. Then his mouth shut. He had gone beyond the mere forms of speech, however decorated. Nor did he open his mouth again till they had pulled up at G. H. Q.
The general dismissed Captain Pollock after giving him a few curt orders, and strode into the dining-room of an old French château where the conference was to be held.
He eyed a collection of gilded mirrors on each side of the long narrow table with secret discomfort; but he had, after all, taken his precautions against anything sharper than discomfort. He greeted his colleagues briefly, and took his place.
Everything went smoothly and a little interminably until the commander-inchief rose and said he had an announcement to make. He gathered their eyes in his, and, leaning over the table, spoke slowly and distinctly.
He had, he explained, to submit to them an alteration in the date of the offensive. It was thought better in certain quarters to postpone it for a fortnight. The attack would therefore now take place upon the twenty-eighth of July.
General Montrose felt as if first his body and then his heart were turning to stone.
The perspiration that stood out on his forehead was icy cold, and the heat of the room was powerless to reach him. He had never known fear in his life, but the anger that shook him now was one of the forms of fear.
Nobody noticed his frozen stillness. In the excitement of the moment a hundred sharp objections poured out upon the subject nearest all their hearts. His voice alone was unheard. He accepted the decision of his chief as final, as involuntarily and beyond all protest, as if he had received a mortal wound.
As soon as he could, the general excused himself from the conference.
Captain Pollock had done what he was told and was therefore not immediately recoverable, but he had to pay for his obedience when he was found. The general's language tore through all his reasonable excuses like a prairie fire through dead leaves. Captain Pollock got hold of the chauffeur with an expedition beyond the powers of any other A. D. C. in the force, only to be told that he was slower than a specified snail.
Several times in their wild scrimmage through the landscape of France they edged calamity by the thinness of a hair, but the general only urged them to drive faster.
They arrived at Mon Plaisir before the first western shadows covered the green terrace.
Mme. Nibaud was not at home. She had gone suddenly, it appeared, to Paris, nor was she expected to return. Nobody knew quite where she could be found. She was to meet, it appeared, M. Nibaud at one of the amicable interviews which still occasionally took place between them to their mutual advantage. M. Nibaud was a Swiss, and he ran a paper which was not very well thought of by the French police.
The general walked to and fro on the terrace for half an hour without speaking.
Captain Pollock watched him very unhappily from the drawing-room window. It seemed to him that every time the general turned and passed him, he looked a year older.
At the end of the half-hour the general gave him a signal.
"Send for the car again," he said sternly. "We must return to headquarters."
The general had been making up his mind whether to save himself or to save England, and he had decided that he could not save himself. This was the cost which Mme. Nibaud had prepared for him.
SNUBBING DEMOCRACY AT MONTE CARLO-A RADICAL LOOKS AT HIS WORLD -FRENCH IDEAS ON THE PRESIDENCY-SLANG AND JARGON-A DEBAUCH OF THE AMERICAN MIND-VILLAGE STATESMANSHIP-THE LIPS OF THE SPHINX MOVE "MOSULISME" AND "IDEALISME."
SNUBBING DEMOCRACY AT MONTE CARLO
R. CHESTERTON has overlooked a paradox. A people has been found who spurns democracy and turns with disdain from self-determination. A prince has been found who protests against the political lethargy of his people and insists upon surrendering his absolute powers to the demos. This plays havoc with several very aged and respectable epigrams. We have been saying that reform never comes from the top, and that good government will never be accepted as a substitute for self-government. And, it must be admitted, convincing history is behind such assertions.
Peoples the world over seem to prefer the blunders of democracy to the blessings of paternalism. The rôle of an eternal Lazarus, however nutritious the crumbs that fall from the master's table, seems not to appeal to the masses as an inspiring rôle. The passion for control which has been the eternal ferment of politics was freshly vitalized by the Everywhere audacious dreams are being dreamed. Our time seems singularly marked by a convulsive clutching at the reins of government by all classes
and all groups. All the more paradoxical, then, is a people who rejects selfgovernment and demands that the autocrat keep his power. Just this political paradox, however, is staged in tiny Monaco, the picturesque principality which is the setting for the famed kingdom of chance, Monte Carlo.
Monaco is the smallest sovereign principality in Europe. It boasts an area of only about eight square miles: It is two and a quarter miles in length, with a width varying from one hundred and sixty-five to eleven hundred yards. It lies on the Mediterranean coast, and is bounded on its land sides by the French department of Alpes-Maritimes. It includes the towns of Monaco, Condamine, and Monte Carlo.
It has long been under the absolute rulership of the Prince of Monaco. There has been no parliament in the principality. The prince has been advised in matters of state by a small council created by his arbitrary appointment. The prince has likewise appointed the maire and other municipal authorities. The prince does not himself administer the gambling industry from which he receives so handsome an income. In 1861 François Blanc secured a concession for gambling-tables at
Monte Carlo for a term of fifty years. This concession later passed into the hands of a joint-stock company-Société Anonyme des Bains de Mer et Cercle des Etrangers capitalized at 30,000,000 francs. In addition to the annual rental paid to the prince, this company pays the expenditures of the Government, maintains the charitable and religious institutions of the principality, takes care of the palace grounds, and the like. The terms of the concession give an idea of the prince's royal income. Estimating pounds at five dollars, for the sake of easy comparison, the prince was to receive $2,000,000 in 1899, $3,000,000 in 1913, while the annual tribute of $250,000 was to be raised to $350,000 in 1907, to $400,000 in 1917, to $450,000 in 1927, and to $500,000 in 1937. despite the chaotic and uncertain state of international exchange, the prince, since he is not a victim of New York rents and American prices in general, will be able to eke out a fairly comfortable existence.
The inhabitants of Monaco do not have access to the gambling-tables. They enjoy exemption from taxation, to the everlasting envy of American captains of industry, and large prices are paid for their lands. In the essential sense of the words, there is neither industry nor commerce in the principality. The place is essentially parasitic, its financial cannibalism finding satisfaction in the endless stream of tourists and gamesters that pours through its portals.
This, then, is the stage setting for the political paradox hinted at in the opening paragraphs of this comment. The story of the paradox itself is interestingly told in a recent issue of "The Christian Science Monitor" as follows:
According to a recent interview with the reigning prince of Monaco, the inhabitants of this small principality are willing to work for their livings, but can scarcely be persuaded to work at governing their country. They feel that they have a prince to do the governing, and that ruling over them is his business. Why should he expect them to do this for him unless he is lazy?
The prince, until ten years ago absolute ruler, wishes his subjects to enjoy all the
modern governmental improvements, and thinks absolute rulers are as out of style as hoop skirts. He divided his estate into twenty-four sections and asked that each section choose a representative for a legislature. The people would have none of such a scheme. Who had the time, they asked? Finally they agreed when the prince offered to reduce the number of representatives to twelve. One condition they insisted upon that the prince must have power to veto any law the twelve might make. The prince refused. He wanted to be an ordinary citizen. The people grew angry, organized demonstrations, threatened revolt. What did they know of ruling? They had consented to a legislature because the prince asked it; they really could not think of trusting the persons whom they had elected. The prince came near weeping, but he accepted the veto power.
Following the best French forms, a constitution was drawn up, and democracy started on its way to Monaco. The prince tries to be optimistic. Surely his eight or nine thousand subjects, with the twenty-five thousand foreigners who live there, will bear patiently with this democracy for which the whole world fights.
This picture of the weeping prince and the reluctant masses should bring joy to the hearts of all tories. Here is one spot on the heated surface of the political world where Bolshevism is unpopular and self-determination regarded as an unwelcome burden. With the whole world apparently a "sooty hell of mutiny," tories have been quoting Carlyle to themselves: "How, in conjunction with inevitable Democracy, indispensable Sovereignty is to exist; certainly it is the hugest question heretofore propounded to Mankind." The trouble has been that nowhere could a people be found who, like the tories, agreed with Carlyle's conclusion which the tories feel a world bent on Bolshevism greatly needs to ponder. Carlyle said:
The Toiling Millions of Mankind, in most vital need. . . of Guidance, shall cast away False-Guidance; and hope, for an hour, that No-Guidance will suffice them; but it can be for an hour only. The smallest item of human Slavery is the oppression of man by his Mock-Superiors; the palpablest, but I say at bottom the smallest. Let him shake