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to the storehouse. He still had the key to the room, and he wanted to put back a very old Lowestoft bowl, with rose decoration, that she had loaned him, and which he felt was now rightfully hers. But the door was open a little way, and beyond it he heard a woman's sobbing. It was deep, but dainty, a perfectly refined outburst that would have been approved of by the very best families. Of course it was Clarissa.
"For me!" Tommy thought, a painful, yet ecstatic, lump forming in his throat. "Weeping for me!" He felt cozily important again.
But Clarissa did not look in the least as if she belonged in his possessive case. Panting, her skin gone drab, she was unwinding him as she would a snake.
"The Lowestoft bowl!" Clarissa gasped. "Rare specimen-rose decoration-broken!"
"Darling!" he whispered. "The-Lowestoft -"
"Oh, to hell with the Lowestoft bowl!" He gave a wild, gay laugh, clutched her, and held her prisoner in a stifling, devouring kiss. "My own!" Tommy murmured in a burning tone as he let her breathe.
"Leave this room, and never speak to me again!" she said in an icy, remote voice. "A man who could laugh at breaking an old Lowestoft bowl-and curseand presume to kiss me in that coarse way, is a man I would not include even among my acquaintances!"
Tommy stood frozen. His mouth hung open. He began wrinkling his nose and winking as if he had come out of sleep to find himself all "pins and needles." Then words began to trickle from him as notes come from a clock running down:
"Clarissa," said Tommy, and put the bit of exquisite china on a card-table that was shaped like a half-moon and stacked on a fender, "can't you forgive me?"
"I guess my grandfather was right. You 're the sort-to think more of that broken egg-shell china-than of a man
She looked at him thoughtfully.
"Since last night I am in a sense be- and his love-and his needs, for you 're trothed to Nicholas Gansevoort."
egg-shell china yourself. You-why, Clarissa-you 're not human!"
"Go!" she said thinly, with a pale stare.
"Your cousin! That anemic little curate!" Tommy gasped. "You don't love him. Clarissa, think it over! O darling, take me back, and I'll do anything! I'll even buy that apple savings-bank you 're so keen about, and save car-fare!"
He swayed out blindly, like a drunkard, a bit of the Lowestoft bowl sticking in his boot-sole.
They had almost made up-almost. Clarissa had allowed him to take her hand when, in his eagerness, his elbow knocked against something that fell with a splintery crash. Tommy paid no attention to it. With eyes alight he tried to put his arm around her, not seeing that horror was crimping her face as she gazed over his shoulder.
"I'm hungry for you!" Tommy confided passionately.
He received a letter from the admiral a week or so later. This was in answer to his own, telling of the broken engagement, to which bit of news he had added that his heart was a cinder, that he would never love again, that the beastly, rotten game of life was over for him, and so why could n't he just die?
"Dear Tom," the admiral wrote, "I received your welcome letter. Thank God you 're not going to hardtack and water by way of the altar. I am sending you a check. You need a change. Take a year off. Get one of your pals and go round the world. Cultivate the girls you meet-all sorts of girls. Study them. Play around. Be a gentleman. Have a good time. Don't drink.
"YOUR AFFECTIONATE GRANDFATHER.
"P.S. Try hard not to get married till you come back, so I can size her up for you!"
TO POSEIDON OF SUNIUM
BY JAMES S. MARTIN
'ER waiting harpstrings of the gods there sweeps
A pang of melody, whene'er some strong,
A tender largess and a power among
That merges with the gean symphony,
My song falls through the golden evening toward
Of course this sounds like one of those Arabian Nights travelogues produced by the well-known Sindbad of Bassora. Sindbad, however, limited himself to easily credible matters, such as Islands of Diamonds. He protected himself also against the short, ugly word by concealing the latitude and longitude of his islands. I shall give the precise name of mine. Even the most unadventurous will find it an easy trip. One does not sail from Bassora, but from New York, which is not at all like Bassora except in being fully as dirty. The price is forty-five dollars.
In compliance with the copyright laws, Christopher Columbus must be credited with having discovered this island first. But it was not an Island of Servants at that time. It was an Island of Servant Problems. A steady correspondent to the old chronicles who signed himself Lopez Val describes these servant problems under date of 1587 as:
Being Indians of so hard a heart that they murthered themselves rather than they would serve the Spaniards. Never was there any people knowen of so resolute and desperate mindes; for oftentimes a great number of them being put together over night, they should be found all dead before the morning. Such extreme hate did this brutish people beare against the Spaniards!
It was an unsatisfactory condition. One could hardly have guests for dinner with a cook who, instead of performing on the victuals, was likely to perform on herself. One Spanish gentleman of undoubted genius told his Indians that if they went to the other world, he would kill himself, too, and meet them there, where he intended to make them work still harder. They objected so strenuously to his company for eternity that they settled down to temporary work on earth.
But the solution came too late, or was not effective with all the brutish people. A traveler, visiting the West Indies a few years after Val, was able to report that "some of these people are yet living, but very few."
The Spaniards do not own the island now. They turned it over to the English in Cromwell's time, in consideration of a handsome consignment of shot and shell. Its name is Jamaica.
Mr. John Hawkins, afterward knighted by Queen Elizabeth for distinguished services to civilization, was a chief instrument in making it the Island of Servants. He was a great lover of the Spanish Main, and highly indignant at the Spaniards for owning it. He was specially indignant at their cruel treatment of the Indians, and often expressed himself very feelingly on the subject to Elizabeth.
However, he was blessed with one of those consciences that a man can use in real life. So he always went to the Caribbean by way of Africa, where he took on as large a cargo of Africans as his conscience or cargo-space permitted. These he sold to the Spaniards in the West Indies. There was a Spanish law against the traffic, but the Spaniards had wiped out their original labor problem so successfully that they were eager for a new one. Besides, John used to train his guns on their towns as a sort of inducement to the open door.
Thus the British, when they moved into the island, found it one of the best-filled white man's burdens in the world, and it is getting fuller all the time, owing to an enthusiastic avoidance of race suicide.
Before eager housekeepers or speculators rush to the steamship offices to lay down their forty-five dollars with the intention of returning to the States with a ship-load of servants, they must take warning. They can get the ship-load. They need merely announce their desire from the deck on arrival in Jamaica, and the ship-load will deliver itself so impetuously that the entire royal constabulary will be needed to save the ship from being submerged below its Plimsoll's mark. But immediately on arriving in the States, or soon after, the ship-load will have become just the same old American problem.
To enjoy the Island of Servants, one must live where the island is. The crop will not transplant. One must not try to live in the port and city of Kingston. Kingston is a city, and a city is full of houses, and the law of supply and demand is inimical to human peace even in Jamaica.
In Kingston the servant problem is a perennial topic, as it is everywhere else. To sufferers fresh from the problem as it assaults one in the North, the Kingston problem may not be worthy of being called a problem. But to escape problems altogether, the way to do is to go to the railroad station instantly on arriving in Kingston, and demand a ticket for as far away as it is possible to go. You must demand it. Kingston dotes on strangers, and pretends to them that if they leave its protecting arms for the interior they will be devoured by ticks, mongooses, crocodiles, and natives.
Having extracted the ticket from the government railway, you enter a train the leading feature of which is simplicity of construction. In a few hours the simple train enters a city less land of mountain cones and deep-slashed valleys. Here and there, not too often, gleaming white spots amid the vast tumult of green show where there is a "great house," as the plantation residences are called. Probably its master owns as far as he can see and beyond. The population works for him or rents small holdings.
and before we got near enough to Jamaica to tell whether a fantastic wonder swimming in the sky was cloud or Blue Mountain Peak, somebody in Montego Bay was engaging a house for us on the coral shore a mile and a half out of town.
We strolled into a merchant's office on arrival, and proclaimed that we wanted servants at once. We did not know the merchant, but we knew the strains that West Indian hospitality will withstand. In half an hour there was a little regiment, men and women, before the door. In five minutes the merchant had singled out those whom he could recommend. We gave the house-keys to the one we hired as cook, and told her what we wanted for breakfast, meaning what is called luncheon in the North. She trotted off to market, followed by the others who had been hired-and followed, too, by a dozen unhired, who went in the hope of discovering some unfilled position in the retinue.
When we reached the house after a few hours' shopping, the table was ready and the meal was cooking. Also, the hopeful dozen, with some reinforcements, were sitting under the mango and poinciana trees in the garden, smiling hopefully and pleading, "Please, Marster," and "Good marneen, Missees." In the pantry the butler was mixing a planters' punch. The estimable creature had borrowed the rum from another household. I am aware that Mr. Sindbad would have worked this into a much more effective climax. But he was strikingly unhampered by truth. When one is constrained to tell only the truth, and the truth is so simple, it must perforce be told simply.
The truth has been as simple as that ever since. Some of it, indeed, seems too good to be truth. There is cook, for instance. She has been with us through three years, and she has never spoiled a meal except on one terrible day when she burned the soup. We know that it is preying on her mind, for she mentions it grimly at times.
Cook is jealous of her title. Her own daughter, who is of the retinue, would not dream of addressing her by any other name; and the country people who climb our coral stone path every morning with head-loads of provisions fresh from the fields have awe of her.