« AnkstesnisTęsti »
ther. No one was admitted to the farm. 'Are you a man?' said she.
"'Yes,' I answered, 'and ever since I saw you from the car of the balloon that lately passed this way, I have had thoughts for none other. O adorable one, wilt thou share my life?" "
"How daring!" said Mrs. Trembly, a shadow of reproof in her tone.
"But inevitable in the circumstances, Charlotte," said the other, her head tilted to one side in a manner that was nothing else than lackadaisical.
"Although I could see that she recognized me and loved me, she had evidently been too well brought up by her father to fly into my arms with a murmured 'Yes!' Such things may happen in nonsensical novels, but they seldom happen in real life. And, I ask you, was the mere fact that this girl lived on a roof far removed from ordinary happenings sufficient to change her whole nature?"
"No, no," assented both old ladies. Evidently the thing they admired about this somewhat unusual story was its truth to nature. And, oh, what a good time Mr. Bolingbroke was having!
"And so she asked me for time to collect her thoughts. She had been tossing loose ends of hay into little mows against the next load, for in haying-time, it seems, she and her father worked all night from preference, as the sun was hot in the daytime, and when she heard the noise of the elevator she had supposed that it was her father coming up.
"'You shall have all the time there is if you will but be my bride,' I cried with ardor. Tell me, how long have you lived in this lovely place?' For it was lovely. I had noticed only the apple-tree in passing over, but I now saw there were graceful young elms and larches and basswood-trees and maples and sylvan birches and ashes. And there were bosky dells and murmuring fountains and a grot or two and a miniature tarn that might have hidden some dreadful miniature secret. Then, too, there were waterfalls and shaded lanes and a maze. Oh, it was a fit place for the lovely creature who dwelt there. Everything in harmony, but all on a small scale, quite as if some master Japanese hand had fashioned everything."
"I wish I might have seen it," said Mrs. Trembly, with a sigh.
"Again I asked her how long she had lived on the fairy farm, and she answered me as we sat side by side in the moonlight in the shade of the old apple-tree: 'I was only a year old when I came, and now I am seventeen,' said she. 'My early life ran as quiet as the brook by which I sported.'" This phrase reminded me, I do not know why, of an old school reader.
'The man who built this building wished to make some poor man happy, and so he sought out my father, who was a cabinetmaker on the East Side, an American, but very poor, and finding that he had been a farmer's boy, he told him that if he would live on the roof of his great sky-scraper, he would fashion it into an idyllic farm for him, and my father was only too glad. My mother had died when I was only six months old. I was only a white-faced tenement-house babe at the time of my coming up here,-so my father has told me, but I had not lived here a twelvemonth before I became the strong being you see.'
"I looked at her Juno-like proportions. and said, 'All in a twelvemonth?'
""The health, yes; the size, no,' said she.
"I took her hand in mine at these words, and like a new Paul and Virginia we walked hand in hand across the freshclipped mead until we came to the runlet. Together we sat on the edge of the purling brook, and listened to the subdued noises of the city below.
"Not consciously did we listen, for already we were all in all to each other, and to her there was no world but my voice, while I saw nothing but her pink and shell-like ear, into which I murmured the soft nothings that a lover finds ready, even though he has never known love before-even as a little chicken flies to a scrap of meat the first day after it is hatched, instinct, that great teacher, suggesting both actions.
"I told her that I was willing to renounce the world and live up there on the roof if she would be mine; that I had money, which I would gladly put into the farm in the purchase of new and up-todate machinery; that I would build her father new barns and a pergola and buy him a separator, if she would but say the one little word of three letters.
"And she was just about to say it, she
was just opening her lips to breathe the joy-producing word, when there came a dreadful sound from the street belowthe sound of engine sirens, the clanging of bells, the beat of horses' hoofs, and the shouts of excited men, and I knew that that dread thing, a fire at midnight, had come upon the city.
"And still I did not cease to press my suit. What was a fire to us? So selfish does love make us."
"Ah, yes," said Mrs. Trembly, sadly. "We are above these mundane happenings,' I said. 'Let me hear the fateful word-'
"Suddenly alongside the brook, in some dead grass, I saw a puff of smoke; a moment later a smoking bush caught fire, and then there was an explosion in a bed of geraniums, and loam and fire and smoke shot into the air-"
"What had happened?" cried both old ladies, visibly excited.
"The building was on fire. The farm of my loved one was doomed."
"How awful!" said Mrs. Trembly, sadly. "And just at the moment that meant so much to you!"
"It was awful, but my loved one did not blench, not even when the flames began licking the apple-tree on which she had sat when I flew by. It did not seem more than a minute before helmeted firemen, looking strangely out of place on that little glebe, poured into the rural scene, and with fierce streams of water literally hosed the brook out of its little bed, watered the crops to their death, and caused havoc and demolition to the little farm.
"The building was doomed from the start, and when a stalwart fireman said to me, 'Take the young lady and stay not on the order of your going, but go at once,' I lost not a moment. The firemen had come up in the passenger-elevators, but I went down in the freight-elevator, which was still standing there. The faithful man at the bottom of the shaft responded to my signal, and we were conveyed in safety to the sidewalk, on which my loved one's feet had never stepped since babyhood.
"In the street a frantic old man with an empty wain called on high heaven to save his child."
"How fortunate that you had gone up!" said Mrs. Trembly, who was more loquacious, but no more appreciative, than her companion.
"My words were short and to the point. 'She's yours,' I said, handing the beautiful girl to her parent. 'May she be mine also?'
"My goodness!" said Mr. Bolingbroke, interrupting himself. "They are closing the restaurant."
"Oh, what did the old man say?" asked both old ladies as they rose from their
Mr. Bolingbroke helped them on with their wraps before he answered. Then he said in a voice full of feeling:
"What could any man with a spark of gratitude say? He said, 'She shall be yours.'"
And perfectly contented, the romantic old ladies went through the restaurant door, which Mr. Bolingbroke held open for them.
WHAT ABOUT RUSSIA?
BY JAMES DAVENPORT WHELPLEY
Author of "The Commercial Strength of Great Britain," "Germany's Foreign Trade," etc.
HROUGH a series of diplomatic blunders, misunderstandings, and unfortunate incidents, the United States is now in a fair way to destroy one of her great foreign friendships, one which has stood the test of the most notable and trying century in the history of human affairs. Notwithstanding vivid contrasts in the lives of her people and in her forms and methods of government as compared with those of the United States, the people and the rulers of Russia have long shown the keenest and most friendly interest in the progress and continued prosperity of the American people. This friendly attitude has been of so marked a character, and even minor controversies have been so infrequent, that a treaty made in 1832 held the two countries together until 1911, or for a period of nearly eighty years.
In the year 1911 a successful politician, who had become chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the American House of Representatives, though he lacked broad statesmanlike qualifications for that exalted position, brought forth an idea that could but canker or sacrifice that friendship, affronting Russia and surprising the world. It may be stated here that the evidence of some of the ablest and most prominent of the Hebrew race of American citizens is to the effect that this attack made upon Russia was a serious error in that, while at the time it seemed to serve political purposes in America, the ultimate result has been to do harm rather than good to the Russian people it was intended to benefit.
Instead of conveying to the Russian Government in the usual way through diplomatic channels the expression of a desire to revise a treaty which in many details was obsolete and needed revision, a resolution was introduced in Congress, violent in its language and arbitrary in its intended result. This resolution was the medium through which was discharged
the political thunder of those who were about to enter upon a national and local campaign for office. With that notorious cowardice which is bred of elections to office by an unrestricted franchise, nearly all of those who disapproved of the intent or purpose of the resolution or those who, while approving its alleged object, disapproved of the method adopted, held their peace in public at least. The debate on the resolution was a one-sided affair, for no man of great influence or weight in the nation's councils led the opposition, and the friendship of Russia and the Russian people was swept aside as an inconsiderable factor in the international situation.
As a result, the Russian Government was notified that the treaty was to be terminated by the United States. The language of this notification was rendered as diplomatic as possible by President Taft, and the disagreeable task of conveying the American ultimatum to the Russian Government by the American ambassador at St. Petersburg was performed in a manner calculated to do the least harm. The fact remained, however, and soften it as one may, it was received by the Russian Government as a man might take an unexpected blow from some one he trusted and looked upon as a friend. The Government was first surprised, then hurt, and then angry. The crux of the American contention was to the effect that an American passport entitled its holder to enter Russia and there enjoy a liberty of action and occupation denied to Russian subjects.
The British, French, and German governments were promptly called upon by their own people to express themselves as to the merits of the controversy, as this was not a case where American passports had been or were to be discriminated against. The citizens of all foreign countries are placed upon a basis of equal rights in the administration of Russian in
terior affairs. Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Minister, in reply to a question in the House of Commons, promptly repudiated the action of the United States, stating briefly that his Government did not maintain that the holder of a British passport was exempt in any way from observing the laws and regulations of Russia when traveling or attempting to travel in that country. France and Germany quickly followed suit with like declarations, thus leaving the United States alone in a position held to be untenable not only by Russia, but by other European countries even more deeply and intensely concerned in the welfare of foreign peoples than the United States. It may be noted also that in all these countries the native-born and the naturalized citizens of Russian origin and those bound to them by ties of race or religion play a far greater part in the government of the country than they do in the United States.
The Russian Government was at first inclined to active resentment against the United States, and promptly called attention to the indignation which would be aroused in America should Russia attempt to dictate as to the administration of the American immigration laws under which several million Russian subjects are ineligible for admission to the United States, passport or no passport. It was also recalled that in a given period of sixty days nearly two hundred Russians had been deported from America, while in the same time two American passports had been refused the visé required for travel in interior Russia. When the first and most acute stage of indignation and regret had passed, however, and it was tided over with skill and efficiency by the American ambassador then stationed in St. Petersburg, it was succeeded by an attitude of indifference, which still maintains.
A careful study of Russian trade with America shows that, treaty or no treaty, friendship or no friendship, her people can buy what they must from the United States without let or hindrance, and that a large percentage of what is bought from Russia will be taken regardless of international complications. Unfortunately, the arbitrary termination of the treaty is not the only cause for irritation. When Congress adopted the idea of a
five per cent. differential tariff rate in favor of goods imported in American bottoms, this provision was held to be inoperative against countries with which the United States had favored-nation treaties. There being no treaty with Russia at the time, and this being exceptional, the adoption of the differential was held to be purposely unfriendly to Russian. trade. Whether the differential clause holds in the end or not, this impression naturally still prevails.
Closely following upon this action comes the unfortunate scandal attached to the appointment of an American ambassador to St. Petersburg, a place which has been vacant since June, 1913, when, by all rights, to fill this post promptly and efficiently, in view of the strained relations existing between the two countries, it should have been a first consideration of a newly inaugurated state department. The whole impression given by the incidents attendant upon the selection of a man for St. Petersburg is one of American indifference not only to the critical situation which actually exists, but to the importance of Russia as a possible friend and a valuable business colleague, one more than ready to facilitate a free exchange of civilities and commodities between the two countries.
If instead of terminating the treaty of 1832 between the United States and Russia in the brutal manner in which it was done, the United States Government had suggested the making of a new convention, such suggestion would have been agreed to. The pourparler preceding such a convention would have given opportunity for a full and free discussion of all points at issue and allowed of final compromise, which could only have resulted advantageously for all American citizens, native-born or naturalized. It would also have made possible an agreement with Russia providing for a relinquishment of all claims upon Russian subjects who became citizens of the United States. This principle was first brought into treaty obligations by the United States, and obtains with all countries with which this country has made treaties in recent years. In the case of Russia, however, there having been no recent treaty, no such agreement exists. It was time that a new convention should have been projected in order that
new and more intelligent relations might be brought about. It was not necessary, however, that the then-existing treaty should be beaten to death with a club. It would have died a natural and easy death when its successor appeared as a result of the joint and friendly efforts of the two governments. The fact remains, however, that the United States chose the offensive and destructive method without a hint from constructive statesmanship as to what should take the place of that which was destroyed.
The diplomatic attitude of Russia today is easily stated. It is in effect that the United States, having seen fit to do away with the treaty, it rests with the United States to ask for a new agreement. It is also equally well understood that Russia cannot and will not yield on the main point which has held public attention in the United States, and this not through any obstinacy, but because of interior political and economic conditions requiring, in the judgment of the Russian authorities, a continuation for a while at least of the present policy toward foreigners visiting Russia, no matter from what country they may come. It is believed in Russia not only by the people at large, but by the government officials themselves, that the present passport system should be thoroughly revised and simplified. As now administered, it is a cumbersome and vexatious affair, acting in restraint of social intercourse and commerce. The legislative program of the Duma for the near future includes a plan for a revision of this now obsolete institution, but such revision will not be dictated by any foreign government, nor will it, when finally complete, take from the Russian government authorities supervisory rights over the comings and goings of those who travel to and from the empire. The purpose is to make travel easier and to make the ordinary tourist less aware of police surveillance. That free hand should be given, however, to those who wilfully or unwittingly are ready to add to the great difficulties attendant upon the maintenance of order and safety in that vast and complex community can hardly be expected by any one with even a cursory knowledge of Russian conditions.
In the meantime, while diplomacy waits upon action at Washington, the Russian
Government, as a matter of courtesy to its own and foreign peoples, has maintained the status quo existing under the recent treaty in its treatment of Americans and American commerce. This, however, will not go on forever, and uncertainty as to the future has given a halt to an expansion of American trade in Russia, which two years ago promised to become one of the most notable features of American enterprise abroad. Millions of American money are in Russian banks to guarantee American securities; thousands of men are employed in America in manufacturing goods for shipment to Russia; fifty million dollars' worth of American cotton goes annually to serve the Russian spinners, whose cloth is sewed into shape by American machines in Russian hands. The virgin ground of southern Siberia is being turned over by American machinery, and the shiploads of grain that find their way out to the trade channels of the world are made ready for market by instruments born of the ingenuity of American inventive genius.
To sacrifice principle for material gain is no part of American purpose, and such a course, if pursued by the Government at Washington, would bring a prompt verdict of disapproval throughout the country; but to destroy American opportunity in a mistaken and futile effort to control the domestic affairs of a great and solvent European nation is a justing against windmills which brings only harm and humiliation to an international Don Quixote, and accentuates the troubles of those in that foreign land through a natural reactionary feeling of irritation at the part they play in bringing about an attempt at interference by outsiders.
It is difficult to grasp the potentialities of the Russian Empire. A bald statement of its size, population, and activities conveys some comparative idea, but even this fails to call up the picture as it exists. With an area of nearly nine million square miles as compared with the fewer than four million of the United States; with an annual ordinary expenditure of over fifteen hundred million dollars as against the less than seven hundred millions disbursed by the United States; with a population of nearly one hundred and sixty millions, increasing without immigration at the rate of nearly three mil