Puslapio vaizdai
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"I know. I was in this district before the war. I motored through." He had motored through on a truck repairing telephone wires.

That evening, as Leaf had prophesied, brought a full moon into the sky, and as it rose above a horizon of trees, the two started out. She was still dressed in light green, with a little black bow of ribbon at her neck, and black slippers and stockings. Her hair, as before, was fixed low. It almost completely hid the soft nape of an exquisite young neck. She was lovely, he thought; so lovely that he would not have to mention the fact.

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"These days it does. Not a lot, but you have to have something."

"The landscape-gardener has money, has n't he?"

"He will have, but-" "But what?"

"Oh, I don't know. This road is bad. It hurts my feet. Shall we turn back? We can talk better there."

"If you like. My shoes are made for walking. I don't know if you have noticed them, but I have had them for years. I don't use them for anything else, of course."

"I did notice them. They look comfortable."

"Too comfortable to be good-looking." They went several minutes in silence when Leaf suddenly asked:

"Why are you sad, Bokker?"

"Do I seem sad? I don't know why." "Your voice has been different since late this afternoon. You must be tired." "No, it is n't that. I guess it 's-oh, I feel useless, Leaf; not useless, but hopeless."

"That 's foolish. You have everything to look forward to."

"Everything? I have nothing." "But you have." She stopped. They knew that they were adventuring in sensitive places.

"What?" he asked, afraid of her answer, and yet insisting on it. She was quiet for a minute before she replied, deeply troubled:

"Does n't this mean anything to you?" "God! yes to me."

She did not continue. No more was said until they were back at her home, and decided to go behind one of the glass greenhouses and watch the moon before going to bed. It was not yet nine o'clock. Leaf found that she was too cold without a coat when they came to the bench she had promised, and she excused herself, saying that she would tell her father where they were and bring back a covering. Bokker was left alone.

The full, transparent beauty of the night permeated his heart as he stood under it, and he was aware of a tension. He and Leaf had been very much at ease together, unrestrained, but now that she had gone he realized that the last hour had been pregnant. Leaf had known him as a man, and he had listened to the poignant sentences of her girlhood. In other words, he had progressed in the direction of her heart, and there was going to be an hour of moonlight-an hour too lovely to be spent sensibly.

He felt terrified, frightened in a way he could not explain or understand. And it suddenly seemed to him that he must go, flee the situation, unburden himself. He must avoid seeing her again.

And yet, he thought, standing still, if she returned, a new page would be opened to him: she was ready to allow him the freedom of her circle of possibilities. It was queer, inexplicable, but he was certain that he had actually touched her heart, that she even knew the foolishness of being beside him underneath the night. In the brief space of a

day they had come closer to one another than in a month of ordinary acquaintanceship, and he had risen to a new world, all that he had ever dreamed of -a position in some one's affections, the position not of a tramp, a wanderer, a failure, but of a man, some one to be considered, even married.

But to go ahead was to destroy himself, what to her he had been, because after to-night he could not lie again.

She would forget him, too; he would not have the consolation of denying it, as he had been so ephemeral a cloud in her sky; and he might forget her, if only because he had found her so perfect.

The same moon as that of the evening before sailed in the sky like a disk of yellow wax, a bruised gardenia; rifts of nettled clouds, like formless animals, bacteria, swam over it, shadowed on the tiny fields, the woods, and houses, and roads of a baring autumn countryside. Far away a dog was howling in his own loneliness, and chickens somewhere were clucking; a cock was crowing.

Bokker sighed and left the greenhouse, the trysting-place.

And if he did not let her come back, he could always have that before himthe prospect of his heaven realizable, his dreams tangible. She would always, in his heart, be waiting for him in the evening; and, successful, he would always be waiting for her. It was a ground, a memory, on which he would tread with happiness; yes-if she did not return.

He was on the road again in a minute, walking, swinging his arms, looking through his pockets for a cigarette he knew was not there. He had found a dream, a vision, that could not die because it had never lived-Leaf. But he was going away. Life was balanced, of course: he had lost a cherry-knotted stick that had been presented to him, also a little hat, a felt, pheasantfeathered hat with a narrow brim.

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Far and Wide on the Argentine Pampas

By HARRY A. FRANCK

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HE traveler who visits Buenos Aires only will almost certainly carry away a very mistaken notion of the Argentine. There is perhaps no national capital in the world so far in advance of, so out of proportion with, its nation as is the great city on what the English call the "Plate." We of the northern hemisphere are not accustomed to cities which are their countries to the extent that Buenos Aires is the Argentine. American editors and publicists expressed astonishment, and in some cases misgiving, when the latest census showed that one tenth the population of the United States dwells in its three largest cities. Of all the people inhabiting the Argentine Republic virtually one fourth live in the capital.

The contrast between this and the great background of pampas is incredible; Buenos Aires is far more closely allied to Paris or Rome than to the broad country over which it rules. There are several reasons for this disparity, in addition to the general South American tendency to dress up the capital like an only son, and trust that the rest of the country will pass unnoticed, like a flock of poor relatives or servants. The two principal crops of the Argentine, cattle and wheat, do not require a compact rural population. Being the chief port as well as the metropolis and capital, Buenos Aires has first choice of those who cross the sea seeking new occupations and homes. It sucks the life blood from the constant stream of immigration, and has left the "camp" a sparsely settled expanse of boundless plain and the other cities mere provincial towns, sometimes pleasant places to live in, but wholly devoid of metropolitan features. Buenos Aires is as large as Philadelphia; the second city of the Argentine is smaller than Akron, Ohio. Numerous efforts have been made to

bring about a better balance. The Government offers the immigrant free transportation to any part of the country. Down on the Paseos ob Colon, and Julio, beneath the arcades of which Spanish and Armenian petty merchants, cheap Italian restaurants, and den-like second-hand shops make the first appeal to the thin purse of the newly arrived fortune-seeker, the broad brick pillars are covered with the enticements of employment agencies,-a cuadrilla of such a size wanted for railroad work three hundred miles west; so many laborers needed on an estancia in a distant province, free fare, nominal fee, -just such signs as may be seen on the corner of Madison and Canal streets in Chicago and in a score of our Western cities. The wages offered are from twenty to thirty per cent. lower than for the same grade of labor in the United States at the same period, and the cost of meals somewhat higher. But it is something more than this that causes the majority of immigrants to pause and read and wander on in quest of some occupation financially less attractive in or near the capital. Possibly it is a subconscious dread of the horizonless pampas which stretch away into the unknown beyond the city; some attribute it to the now happily decreasing autocracy of grafting rural officials and the lack of government protection in districts out of touch with the capital; or it may be nothing more than the world-wide tendency to congregate in cities.

A railroad map of the Argentine is perhaps the most striking illustration of this concentration of population. As all roads once led to Rome, so do the scores of railway lines of the Argentine converge upon Buenos Aires. Tracks radiate from the capital in every direction in which there is Argentine territory, a dense network which suggests on a

large scale the railroad yards of our great centers of transportation. No other city of the land is more than a way station compared with the all-absorbing capital. There is probably no country in the world in which it is easier to lay rails than in the Argentine, though it is sometimes difficult to keep them above the surface. With the beginning of its real exploitation, therefore, new lines sprang up almost overnight. As in the United States beyond the Alleghanies, railroads came in most cases before highways; for though Spaniards settled in the Argentine four centuries ago, the scattered estancieros and their peons were content to ride their horses across the open plains, and the modern movement is as yet scarcely a generation old.

The great drawback of traveling in the Argentine is the cost both in time and money. Distances are so great, places of any importance so far apart, that while fares are not much higher than in the United States, it takes many hours and many pesos to get anywhere worth going. Towns which look but a cannon-shot apart on the map may be reached only by several hours of travel, saddened by the despairing flatness and monotony of the desolate pampas, where there is rarely a tree to give a pleasing touch of shade, no spot of green to attract and rest the eyes, a landscape as uninviting as an apartment without furniture.

However, in my double capacity of consular protégé and prospective "booster" I was furnished with general passes by all the important railways, and time is no object to a mere wanderer. But for this official recognition of my unstable temperament I should probably have seen little of the Argentine; for even the man who has tramped the length of the Andes would scarcely have the patience to face on foot the endless horizon of the pampas, and "hoboing" has never been properly developed on Argentine railways. Barely had I been given temporary carte blanche on almost every train in the country when, as a second stroke of fortune, consular business turned up which took me into various sections of the "camp" without cutting me off from my modest official income.

A general pass is more than a saving of money; it gives train officials an exalted notion of the holder's importance, and it permits him to jump off anywhere on the spur of the moment. Yet for many miles south I saw nothing worthy of a stop. When one has already visited La Plata, capital of the Province of Buenos Aires, a short hour below the metropolis and noted for its university and its rows of venerable eucalyptustrees, there remains little to attract the eye in the endless expanse of that province as it unrolls hour after hour on any of the lines of the Great Southern. Several dairies, which maintain their own lecherias throughout the federal capital, punctuate the first few miles; otherwise the landscape is a mere reminder of our own Western prairies. Here is the same scanty grass and clumps of bushes resembling sage-brush, the same flat plain, with its horizon barely rising and falling perceptibly with the motion. of the train. The only unfamiliar note is the ostrich, scattered groups of which go scuttling away like huge, ungainly chickens as the noise of our passing disturbs them at their feeding. At least we should call this Argentine curiosity an ostrich, though science distinguishes it from a similar species in the Old World under the name of Rhea darwini, and to the natives it is a nandu. Time was when tawny horsemen pursued these mammoth birds across the pampas, entangling their legs in the bolas, the two or three ropes ending in as many heavy balls which they swung over their heads as they rode; but that is seen no more. Even the waving plains of grass, across which the nomadic Indian roamed and the gaucho careered lassooing wild cattle, are gone. Wheat-fields, bare with the finished harvest in this autumn season, alternate with short, brown grass, cropped by the cattle which sprinkle the landscape everywhere for hour after monotonous hour. The gaucho, with his long, sharp facón stuck through his belt, who lighted his fogón out on the open pampa to prepare his asado con cuero, his beef roasted in the hide, who killed a steer for his morning beefsteak or slaughtered a lamb for a lone feast of more tender provender, who rolled up in his saddle-blanket with his daytime

leather seat as a pillow wherever night overtook him, has degenerated into the "hired man," the mere peon, usually from Spain or Italy, who would be dismayed at the thought of a night without shelter or a day without prepared food. Only a scattered remnant of the real cow-boys of the pampas are left, just enough to show the present domesticated generation the stuff of which their forerunners were forged, and even these are usually tucked away in the remotest corners of the country.

The plain, which seems never to have an end, converges at last, like all the railroads to the south, in Bahia Blanca. This bustling port and considerable city, with its immense grain-elevators and its facilities for transferring half the produce of the Argentine from trains to ships, is the work of a generation. It is nearly a century now since the Federal Government sent a colonel to establish a line of defense against the Indians of Patagonia in the neighborhood of this great bay, but the town itself took on importance only toward the end of the last century. From a cluster of huts among the sand-dunes it sprang to the size of Duluth, to which it bears a resemblance in occupation, point of view, and paucity of historical background. The Argentine is second only to the United States in all the world as a wheat-producing country, and of late years Bahia Blanca, natural focal point of all the great Southern pampas, has outstripped even Buenos Aires as a grain port, to say nothing of the frozen meat from its immense frigorificos. Of all the cities of the Argentine it is the most nearly autonomous, for though La Plata remains the capital of the province in which it is situated, the overwhelming commercial importance of Bahia Blanca has given it a self-assertiveness which threatens some day to make it the capital of a newly formed province.

The mud-bespattered countrymen at the stations which appeared with the dull autumn daylight seemed to be largely Spanish in origin, some still wearing boínas and other reminders of Europe that looked out of keeping with the soil-caked saddle-horses awaiting them behind the railroad building.

Most of the rustics appeared to have ridden in to buy lottery-tickets or to find which tickets had won in the latest drawing. The raucous-voiced train boys sold more to these modern gauchos than on the train, especially the list of winning numbers at ten centavos. The thought came to us that even if there are no other reprehensible features to a national lottery, the habit it breeds. among workmen who spend their time hoping for a prize a week instead of pitching in and earning a weekly prize is at least sufficient to condemn it.

My companion was making the trip for the purpose of studying the soil; a splendid chance he had to do so with most of it under water! The distribution of rain seems to be poorly managed in the Argentine; if the country is not suffering from drought, it is apt to be complaining of floods, or, in the warmer and more fertile North, of the locusts, which sometimes sweep in from the wilderness of the Chaco in such clouds that the project has seriously been considered of erecting an enormous net, supported, perhaps, by balloons, against them.

We brought up late that afternoon in the frontier town of Neuquen, in the national territory of the same name, one of the half-dozen which hope some day to become provinces. A garçon corseted into a dinner jacket served us dinner-for so they dared to call it-in a rambling, one-story wooden hotel scattered over the block nearest the station, the only thing worth considering on the bill of fare being "bife" (beefee) or, as the waiter more exactly put it, "asado de vaca," requiring the teeth of a stone-crusher and the digestion of a nandu. There is something of the atmosphere of our own frontier towns in those of the Argentine, but not the same studied roughness of character or display of shooting-irons. The tamest of our Western cow-boys would undoubtedly have shot those prancing jacketed waiters on sight, and sent the proprietor to join them for the atrociousness of his meals. Just what would have been his reaction to the beds to which we were afterward assigned, skyblue and pink landscapes so gorgeously painted on foot- and head-boards that

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