Puslapio vaizdai

log. Despite herself, her eyes and her voice softened, though, unfortunately, she took too much for granted.

the heavy step with which he was returning to his young wife and newly born child. She started as she felt something tick

"I have no objection to your saying ling her cheek. She brushed it away, that I hope the little girl"

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Miss Brown fell back across her threshold and shut the door in his face.

"It's just like him," she muttered to herself, bitterly. "I might have known it!"

To have the door banged in his face did Richard good in a way. It pulled him up and steadied his nerves, as a bucket of cold water might have done. He laughed gently to himself as he thought, "She was going to give me a message of some kind, and I won't go back without it if I can help it."

He heard Miss Brown's voice, and guessing it came through some open window near at hand, followed the sound round a corner of the house. It was the kitchen window, and the lower sash being raised, he thrust in his head.

"Miss Brown," he said, "do, please! Just a few kind words! It won't cost you much to say them, and they'll be worth a lot to her."

Miss Brown was quite angry, first, at the sex of her new relative; next, at being attacked a second time, before a staring country wench with round eyes and an open mouth, who stopped in her work to listen. The first thing she did was to close the window with such violence that Richard had to withdraw his head rapidly to avoid being guillotined. Then she left the kitchen and ascended to her own chamber, whither he could not follow her without a ladder. She heard his lingering step below, and, standing a little back within the room, she watched to see him fairly off the premises.

At last, slowly and with bowed head, he went down the path toward the gate. As he passed it he turned with a longing

glance and a face so sad she would hardly

have known it. When he went on again she saw how different from the brisk, eager tread of a few minutes before was

like a fly, and said, "Hester Brown, don't be a fool!" But the thought of Bella awaiting her husband's return with a longing which was doomed to disappointment would intrude itself; and, willy-nilly, Hester Brown was destined to make a fool of herself.

WHEN Merryweather came within sight of his own house his heart sank as he thought of the task before him. How could he tell Bella the result of his errand to Miss Brown? How could he comfort her when she knew? Should he hasten back to Hollybush Farm, and once more entreat Miss Brown or upbraid her with her hardness, and try to move her in that way? Move her! Could anything move her?

Suddenly, as he looked back along the road, he gave a gasp of astonishment. Round a far-off bend a tall, vigorous woman was coming rapidly toward him with swift strides. There was no mistaking Miss Brown, though he could scarcely credit his eyes, even when she stood in front of them.

"Have you seen her yet?" she asked. "No, not yet," he answered, still regarding her with amazement.

He thought she looked greatly relieved as they walked on together without another word.

When they came to the house she stopped and said:

"Don't you think she ought to know I am here before we meet?"

"Miss Brown," broke out Richard, in unbounded gratitude for the turn things had taken so unexpectedly, "she will be overjoyed. It will do her more good than all the- this really is kind of you— I am deeply-"

"Answer my question," commanded Miss Brown.

"Yes," said Richard, "it will be such a surprise that I think I really do think it would be better for her to know you are here before she sees you."

sternly to the door, "go and tell her!" "Then," replied Miss Brown, pointing

"IT's wonnerful," said Farmer Dobbs, a day or so after, when he and his cronies

were assembled at The Load of Hay. "It's downright wonnerful. Who'd ha' thought as he 'd ha' worked a reg'lar miracle wi' that there baby and wi' a woman like Miss Brown?"

"Worked a miracle wi' a baby?" sneered Giles Jobson. "It wor n't him nor it wor n't the baby. Him and his baby! It was Miss Brown as thought she 'd do it, and did it; just as she thought, for the last twelve months, as she would n't do it, and did n't."

"Well, she's been there pretty reg'lar ever since," said Dobbs.

What would Dredgefield have thought if it had witnessed a little incident that happened when Bella's baby was a few months old? One day when Miss Brown was present, Richard held the infant in his arms, and, uttering certain parental inanities, swung it gently to and fro in front of her. She looked on in grim silence until, during one of these oscilla

tions, its head seemed to go dangerously

near the edge of a good solid table that stood in the middle of the room. Then she started up.

"Tut, tut!" she cried in angry alarm. "Give it to me!"

And she took it! Miss Brown actually took the baby; and, what is more, she did not give it up again until she rose to go, when she restored it to its mother with a caution against masculine incompetence.

Bella laid it asleep in its little cot and accompanied her aunt into the garden to take leave of her.

"I'll be very careful, Aunt," she said. "Perhaps Dick is a little clumsy with baby. But, Aunt dear," she added coaxingly, "is n't he a good fellow?"

Miss Brown hesitated. She had yielded so much already that she found the words difficult to say; but they came at last.

"He might be worse."

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The Enchantment of Distance


URING the last five years the linking together for common ends of the Allied nations has heightened a process which could not fail to be a source of innocent merriment to the impartial observer. The illusions of one country about another are always diverting, but a numerous alliance provided an endless field for such exercises of the popular fancy, and drew attention to the incomparable absurdities of reciprocal myth-making. An idea, or a reputation, when exploded in Washington, could linger peacefully in more distant regions, until the circuit of disillusionment had been completed.

By that time another myth would have started in London or Paris, and would in due course arrive in America with renewed vigor, after having exhausted the indigenous credulity of its birthplace. For the purposes of the war, the process might be described by saying that you could pass for a statesman of genius with all of the Allies some of the time, if not with some of them all of the time. As the war and its problems are still with us, the method in question continues to bemuse and console the plain people, as they confidingly await the temporarily postponed millennium.

Recent investigations in the undevastated and un-Bolshevized regions of Europe showed that there are happy neutral countries where the superhuman attributes of Mr. Lloyd George are still believed in, to a degree undreamed of in Great Britain, except in the not wholly disinterested philosophy of his pressagents and political supporters in the House of Commons. Even in this rugged republic there is a perceptible tendency to bewail the paucity of such far-sighted nation-builders as are now occupied in adding chapters to the story of the island race. Disaffected persons

who profess to be unable to envisage with enthusiasm either the Republican or the Democratic candidates for President, seem to discover in the British equivalents of those two gentlemen virtues which more expert analysis has failed to trace. That is the peculiar quality of the enchantment which distance lends to the current views mutually held by nations concerning their affairs. During the war its effect was to convince each ally that the other would work the desired miracle. For many months the Liberal press in England raged furiously at the shortcomings and chicaneries of the Coalition government, while they assured their readers that America was fortunately innocent of such weaknesses. Dr. Woodrow Wilson was held up before the eyes of the faithful as an example of all that a great Anglo-Saxon idealist ought to be, and tearful humanitarians beat their breasts and rent their garments for shame at England's unworthiness to be associated with so noble a soul.

To attempt to hint that all was not well, that the suave phrase-making of liberalism is no more effective here than in Europe, was merely to incur the charge of cynicism. Then no sooner had the Wilsonian mirage faded than his erstwhile champions sought and found a substitute, for they could not bear the thought of a world peopled by Coalition propheteers. They rediscovered Mr. Asquith, whom they at once endowed with all the necessary virtues. Thus it became possible for English Liberals to reproach Mr. Lloyd George with responsibility for all the ills which harass the victorious democracies. He is denounced as the instrument whereby Ireland is scourged to the greater glory of Carson, although it is evident to the merest child that the Asquithian method in 1914 directly provoked all the events that have since become Irish history.

If militaristic folly possesses Europe, the guilt is laid at the door of the Churchills and others of that sort, whom the unregenerate Welsh leader has grouped about him. Yet these same people are aware that the whole foreign policy of Europe is determined by the obligations incurred by the Liberal imperialists, of whom Asquith and Grey were the most powerful. But the enchantment of distance works to the advantage of the remoter persons and policies, so it is easier to blame Lloyd George for deporting Irishmen than to realize Asquith's responsibility in failing to do so when "Ulster" rebelled in 1914.

As the new idol of Liberalism resolutely failed to give any tangible material for legend-making, displaying an ineffectiveness which passed even the understanding of the Nonconformists, there has been as yet no echo of the Asquith boom on this side of the Atlantic. Instead, there is much play with the blessed word "labor," with which Liberals have been trying to frighten naughty Coalitionists evidently unimpressed by the resuscitation of the corpse of what is sardonically termed free Liberalism. The legendary prowess of British labor has come to be the favorite illusion of the moment for that and other reasons. Chief among the latter is the general Bolshiephobia, which terrorizes right-thinking citizens and enchants the hearts of enlightened radicals. Lloyd George made his own flesh creep by the dread specter of a Bolshevized English labor movement, and this curious fiction has preoccupied both opponents and sympathizers in this country. The former shudder at the alleged Leninolatry of the working classes, as if the sound hearts of those incorrigible bourgeois could ever be poisoned with the cult of class consciousness. On the other hand, the devotees of the new faith are busy at the familiar occupation of bedecking the labor icons with votive offerings of all the qualities which they imagine the new saviors of mankind must possess.

America is suffering from house-shortage. Alas! cry the admirers of English labor, why have we not got constructive thinkers like those who are settling this problem in England? There are affect

ing references to the Manchester Building Guild, as if, in the first place, the gild idea can be credited to British labor, and as if, in the second, the housing question can thereby be settled. The master minds of British labor have consistently ignored and boycotted the national gild propaganda, just as if they were the ordinary American Federation of Labor bosses, to whose disadvantage they are flatteringly compared by American critics. The Clyneses and the Hendersons and the Smillies and the Hodges are not the intellectual giants who bestride the narrow world of those who do not hesitate to jeer irreverently at their American equals. The measure of their statesmanship is given in their helpless wail for nationalization precisely at a time when the whole trend of public opinion is in revolt against state capitalism, and about twenty years after the abandonment of the theory by the intelligent economists of the left wing in Great Britain. The discourses of English labor leaders have all the faded charm of that happy era in the eighties, when the Fabian essays were the revolutionist's handbook, and Bernard Shaw passed for an advanced thinker and a dangerous fellow. As for the gild experiment in Manchester, it has been made despite the conspiracy of silence maintained by the labor leaders against the doctrines out of which this gild has come. Moreover, neither the Manchester Building Guild nor any other labor group can explain by what magic the housing difficulty can be solved so long as the currently accepted laws of supply and demand are allowed to operate. For it is evident that luxury building can outbid all other forms. Consequently, cinemas on a giant scale are produced with amazing ease, garages and expensive hotels, houses and office buildings can be had for the askingand the price. There is no shortage here. It is only the houses "fit for heroes" which have failed to materialize either at the touch of the Welsh wizard's wand or under the incantations of labor statesmen.

Such is the enchantment of distance, which in war-time enabled every prominent soothsayer to prolong the interval before the inevitable disillusion, and

now enables every nation to envy the priceless possessions of its neighbor. It is the supreme manifestation of the will to believe, and thanks to modern progress (to which we owe the annihilation of distance!), it gives a new lease of life to every panacea. It is said that the intellectuals live by taking in one another's washing. International opinion lives by the mutual exchange of worn-out fallacies and synthetic supermen. With their inimitable and invaluable faculty for changing the form without altering the substance, the English nation has manipulated its political parties, so that Coalition and Labor are the current terms for what was once known as Tories and Whigs, and Conservatives and Liberals. Liberalism was one of the fortunate casualties of the Great War, but its soul, if the word can be applied so incongruously, breathes in the body of English labor. All the pallid hopes, the prevarications, and the compromises so dear to the mind of the average victim of intellectual anemia are enshrined upon the altar of British labor. They have neither the honesty to acquiesce nor the constructive power for successful revolt, and can engender only restlessness, until they are thrust aside by the relentless pressure of realities. Then, while the supporters of such charlatanry are still mocking their former idols, a new avatar appears, and the blessed enchantment once more envelops the people.

IN the field of literature the enchantment of distance does not produce those reciprocal illusions which are noticeable in politics. Europe does from time to time discover some great-souled American idealist whose glory dims for a moment that of the autochthonous idols, but there is no disposition to return the compliments so generously bestowed in this country on European authors. The literary stars all rise in the east, and it is only the eyes turned in that direction which are glamoured by the sight of prodigies. The enchantment, moreover, is all the more absolute and remarkable because of the self-determination of the victims, who are undeterred by the fact that the object of their attentions may have no reputation whatever in

the country of origin. The new comets of literature swim into the ken of America with a tail composed of nothing more substantial than a series of carefully selected press-cuttings, or perhaps with a tale that is told by some ingenious press-agent. Frequently the genius of the latter is so much more positive than that of the candidate for fame that the ingenuous stranger is himself deceived by the manifestations of the power of publicity, whose arts are not so employed in Europe.

That is not to say that the Old World of letters has forsworn the gentle art of log-rolling. As with most of the phenomena denounced as American corruption and vulgarity, the creation of artificial publicity is familiar to Europe. But, as in politics, favoritism and corrupt practices do not show themselves in that almost naïve fashion which permits the typical European to feel virtuous. Good form and discretion, those secrets of England's greatness, save London from the opprobrium which the franker methods of American cities have brought upon them. When X- is appointed editor of a literary periodical, he at once proclaims his old college friend Y the greatest living English poet. Whereupon Y, who hopes to become a contributor to the aforesaid periodical, or has already been placed among the strenuously select list of contributors, announces that X- is the finest critic in England since the death. of Arnold. As most of these pæans are published in unsigned articles, they provoke smiles only among the initiated, and are seriously quoted by the publishers concerned. These in turn transmit the joyful tidings to their American colleagues, and in most cases the press here takes the hint. To make assurance doubly sure, X- and Yprobably the London correspondents of different American reviews, and they seize the opportunity of sharing with a distant public their undisguised pleasure in each other's work.


By that time conditions are ripe for a lecture tour by these great men, and in due course they appear before a defenseless, or apparently defenseless, public. They display a lordly condescension toward American literature, of which

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