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I nodded, and then he wanted to know if it would be too much trouble for me to bring all of them to his state-room "for a bit o' sociable talk, like."
When the seven or eight of us were crowded into his state-room, he went direct to the heart of the thing in the downright way that was a part of the man himself.
"It's just as-what did he say his name was? Mortimer?-it 's just as Mortimer said," he began. "I did steal, dirty young scoundrel that I was- I did steal, and it ruined a man, and because of the man's daughter I was safe, and knew I was safe. There you are, gentlemen; that 's to start with."
He said it bluntly and unsparingly, as if the "dirty young scoundrel" he had in mind was not himself, but some one else. We stirred uneasily. Why should he be repeating this to us, SO many chance strangers?
"The man's name, " he went on, "was Dillard, an iron-worker by trade, but for some time past in contracting for himself, and I boarded with him. I was just a carpenter's, 'prentice, but with a mind a whole lot more on races and policy-shops than hammers and saws. Then there was old man Dillard's girl Effie. We was engaged, though what she saw in me beats me. Then there was the towhead little cub Artie; but he don't figure.
"Dillard had bitten off a pretty big bite for him, which was putting in the structural iron-girders and things-in a five-story bottling-works. He 'd managed the bond, but he 'd bid right close, and what he could draw on accepted work barely kept him going. One Saturday I was passing the place, having left my own. job at noon, and being on my way to put something on the Latonia races, when he quit the derrick he was at and called to
'Lute,' he says, 'my foreman has bu'sted his ankle, and I can't get away. I'm going to write you an order, and make it to bearer, and you hustle down to the office of these bottling people and get me the money on it, and hustle it back here. I ain't got a cent to pay off with.'"
Yell paused, looked at the floor, then faced us squarely. The man was weathered granite. "That, gentlemen," he said, "is what I stole."
"But-" one of us blurted out. He made a gesture for patience. "Seems," he said, "the money was an advance, and they grumbled when they paid it to me. Then I went and lost it before a smear of chalk-marks on a blackboard in a pool-room. I never went back to Dillard's. I guess Effie's the reason they did n't hunt me down. Whole neighborhood knew we was engaged, and—oh, well, figure it for yourselves. I knew I was safe."
"Then what?" one of us demanded involuntarily. Really it was a demand for the key.
"Well, I guess you do need more to understand," Yell admitted. "Some weeks later, then, I got a job on a skyscraper, and we was twelve stories up, and they was rigging up the boom for hoisting girders. It was a shallow building, and they had to project out a ten-byten beam to take the slant of the guy-rope on that side. One of the guy-ropes of the mast, you understand; I 'm trying not to be technical. Almost the first thing I was sent out on the ten-by-ten, sticking out into plain empty air, to nail a cleat across the end to keep the guy-rope from slipping back. I was daring in those days, or fresh; maybe that 's better. Anyway, out I walked on that ten-inch timber, and straddled the end of it, and nailed on the cleat. Then I had to get on my feet again, turn around, and come back. But as I got my feet under me, Turk fashion, I happened to look down. Men, it was all off. My head simply was n't there on my shoulders. My hands shook from the wrists like they was tied on by strings. I could n't have budged. I'd have gone. I'd have gone for the twelve-story drop. Then somebody called behind me:
""Hold on, kid. I'm coming out to get you.'
"I held on, thanking dear God in heaven. A heap of things got plain to me in the half-minute I was holding on. I guess human nature has got to be held up by eternity once to make it shell out the
stinking meanness that don't rightly belong to it. The man behind me came. supposed it would be some veteran riveter who 'd think nothing of walking a greased brass rail over the fiery pit. I did n't see him till he 'd steadied me to my feet by the elbows, and got me faced round, he a-hold of my hand. Then I saw him-saw who it was. And he saw who I was. Yes, it was Dillard. The poor old man was back at his trade. That pay-day when he could n't pay off had finished him. He was back at day-wages, as I said.
"Well," said Yell, "there was no reason why he should take me off that tenby-ten. There was no one to see, either. He could have left me where I was, and the rest would have happened naturally, like I deserved. I'd have gone on down. I supposed he'd leave me, of course. 'Go on,' I said, tugging to get my hand loose. I'd beat him to it, anyway. 'Come on,' he said, and he took me back. Just took me back. But," said Yell, with a certain grim satisfaction in the memory, "once my foot was safe beneath me, he dropped my hand like it was filth. I wish he had spit on me. I quit that job. I've never seen him since."
We had the key.
"But you paid him back the money," I said. This was not a question. Instinctively we knew he had, many times over. It was only a feeble shift at consolation.
Yell frowned impatiently.
"The money," he repeated. "The money, sent him in driblets as I earned it, how could that balance the lump-sum he had needed that Saturday afternoon? Could I bring that Saturday afternoon back with money, even with the lump-sum over again, or with ten times the lump-sum? Don't think it. Don't think it. Money was not restitution-not for a man once ruined and aging in his ruin."
So we perceived the thing that Luther Yell had faced through the years until this day, when he had faced it openly, as it was flung at him from the foul mouth of a drunken lout.
"I think now, gentlemen," said Yell in his quiet, grave way, "that after what you've heard, I can ask you not to testify against-what 's his name?-yes, Mortimer. The captain has him locked up. So far it 's only for drunkenness; but if any of you gentlemen spoke, at least before leaving the ship, it would be for attempted murder."
We gave our word, and Yell thanked
"Now I'll go see the captain," he said. "Mortimer? Humph! I wonder what Artie Dillard did to have to change his name. Looks like a life job for me, this Artie Dillard Mortimer, don't it, gentlemen? Sharks ain't a circumstance to it."
But we felt then more than before how competent he was.
AT THE CH'EN GATE
BY CALE YOUNG RICE
T dusk, as wild geese winged their aery way
sunset over proud Peking,
To where, darker than jade, the mountains lay, Set in the misty gold of dying day,
I stood upon the mighty Tatar wall,
By the great-towered gate, the Ch'en, and felt The yellow myriads move to it and melt, As in some opiate sleep's imagining. And slowly through there came a caravan
Of swinging camels out of far Tibet, Upon their tawny flanks the foam still wet, And in their eyes the desert's ancient span.
What dreams they bore to me I now forget, But through me rang the name of Kublai Khan.
THE CELTIC TIDE
BY EDWARD ALSWORTH ROSS
Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin. Author of "Changing America," "The Changing Chinese,” etc.
ROM the outbreak of the Revolution
of the nine
teenth century there was a lull in immigration. In a lifetime fewer aliens came than now debark in a single summer. During these sixty years powerful forces of assimilation were rapidly molding a unified people out of the motley colonial population. In the fermenting West, the meeting-place of men from everywhere, elements of the greatest diversity were blending into a common American type which soon began to tinge the streams of life that ran distinct from one another in the seaboard States. Then came another epoch of vast immigration, which has largely neutralized the effect of the nationalizing forces, and has brought us into a state of heterogeneity like to that of the later colonial era.
THE HIBERNIAN TIDE
AFTER the great lull, the Celtic Irish were the first to come in great numbers. From 1820 to 1850 they were more than two fifths of all immigrants, and during the fifties more than one third. More than a sixth of our 25,000,000 immigrants have brought in their aching hearts memories of the fresh green of the moist island in the Northern sea. The registered number is about 4,250,000, but the actual number is larger, for many of the earlier Irish, embarking in English ports, were counted as coming from England. No doubt the Irish who have suffered the wrench of expatriation to America outnumber the present population of the Green Isle, which is only a little more than one half of what it was before the crisis of famine, rebellion, and misery that came about the middle of the nineteenth century. It is, indeed, a question whether there is not more Irish blood now on this side of the Atlantic than on the other. It is possible that during Victoria's reign more of her subjects left Ireland in order to live under the Stars
and Stripes than left England in order to build a Greater Britain under the Union Jack.
In his "Coronation Ode," William Watson sees Ireland as
the lonely and the lovely Bride Whom we have wedded, but have never won.
The truth of this shows in the way the wandering Irish still shun the lands under the British crown. Most of the inviting frontier left on our continent lies in western Canada. Already the opportunities there have induced land-hungry Americans to renounce their flag at the rate of a hundred thousand in a single year. Yet the resentful Irish turn to the narrower opportunities of what they regard as their land of emancipation. During a recent nine-year period, while the English and Scottish emigrants preferred Canada to "the States," eleven times as many Irish sought admission in our ports as were admitted to Canada, although Canada's systematic campaign for immigrants is carried on alike in England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Very likely the Irish exodus is a closed chapter of history. Ireland's population has been shrinking for sixty years, and she has now fewer inhabitants than the State of Ohio. People are leaving the land of heather twice as fast as they are abandoning the land of the shamrock. The early marriage and blind prolificacy that had overpopulated the land until half the people lived on potatoes, and two out of five dwelt in one-room mud cabins, are gone forever, and Ireland has now one of the lowest birth-rates in Europe. Gradually the people are again coming to own the ground under their feet; native industries and native arts are reviving, and a wonderful rural coöperative movement is in full swing. The long night of misgovernment, ignorance, and superfecundity seems over, the star of home rule is high, and
the day may soon come when this homeloving people will not need to seek their bread under strange skies.
During its earlier period, Irish immigration brought in a desirable class, which assimilated readily. Later, the enormous assisted immigration that followed the famine of 1846-48 brought in many of an inferior type, who huddled helplessly in the poorer quarters of our cities and became men of the spade and the hod. After the crisis was past, then again came a type that was superior to those who remained behind. Of course the acquiescent property-owning class never migrated, and those rising in trade or in the professions rarely came unless they had fallen into trouble through their patriotism. But of the common people there is evidence that the more capable part leaked away to America. The Earl of Dunraven testifies:
Owing to this exodus of the young and energetic, Ireland has become the country
of old men and old women. An eighth of her people are more than sixty-five years old as against an eleventh in England. In half a century the proportion of lunatics and idiots in the population of Ireland rose from one in 657 to one in 178. In 1906 the inspector of lunatics reported:
A CLOSE study of two hundred workingmen's families in New York City shows that the typical German family is thirty dollars ahead at the end of the year, while the average Irish family of about the same income has spent ten dollars more than it has earned. Charity visitors know that the Irish are often as open-handed and improvident as the Bedouins. A Catholic educator accounts for the scarcity of Irish millionaires by declaring that his people. are too generous to accumulate great fortunes. They are free givers, and no peo
Those who have remained have, for the
most part, been the least physically fit, the ple are more ready to take into the fam
most mentally deficient, and those who correspond to the lowest industrial standard. . . . For half a century and more the best equipped, mentally and physically, of the population have been leaving Ireland. The survival of the unfittest has been the law, and the inevitable result, deterioration of the race, statistics abundantly prove.
ily the orphans of their relatives. In a county of mixed nationalities there will be more mortgages and stale debts against Irish farmers than against any others. In a well-paid class of workers there will be more renters and fewer home-owners among the Irish than among any other nationality of equal pay. Less habitually than others do the Irish make systematic provision for old age. They depend on the earnings of their children, who, in
deed, are many and loyal enough. But if the children die early or scatter, the daylaborer must often eat the bread of char
ity. A decade ago the Irish were found to be relatively thrice as numerous in our almshouses as in the country at large. In the Northeast, where they formed a quarter of the population, they furnished three fifths of the paupers. In Massachusetts, and in Boston as well, they were four times as common in the almshouses as out of them. Nor do their children provide much better for the future. In Boston, those of Irish parentage produce two and one half times their quota of paupers. In both the first generation and the second, the frugal and fore-looking Germans have less than a tenth of the pauperism of the Irish. Dr. Bushee, who has investigated the conditions in Boston, says:
The emigration of the strong and healthy members of the community not alone increases the ratio of the insane who are left behind to the general population, but also lowers the general standard of mental and bodily health by eliminating many of the members of the community who are best fitted to survive and propagate the race.
The change for the better is remarkable when it is remembered that it was the younger and better educated who emigrated . . . during this period, while the majority of the illiterate were persons who were too old to leave their homes.
He may not have known that, compared with the rest of our immigrants, the Irish have thrice their share of insanity. The commissioners of national education, after pointing with pride to half a century's great reduction of illiteracy, add:
THE IRISH IN THE STRUGGLE
It cannot be said that the ordinary Irishman is of a provident disposition; he lives
MAP SHOWING DISTRIBUTION OF 3,493.732 PERSONS OF IRISH
PARENTAGE IN THE UNITED STATES dot this size represents 200 people • dot this size represents 2000 people
in the present and worries comparatively little about the future. He is not extravagant in any particular way, but is wasteful in every way; it is his nature to drift when he ought to plan and economize. This disposition, combined with an ever-present tendency to drink too much, is liable to result in insecure employment and a small income. And, to make matters worse, in families of this kind children are born with reckless regularity.
In extenuation, let it not be forgotten that at home the earlier Irish immigrants had lived under perhaps a more demoralizing social condition than that from which any other of our immigrants have come. Fleeing from plague and starvation, great numbers were dumped at our ports with no means of getting out upon the land. What was there for them to do but to rush their labor into the nearest market and huddle sociably together in wretched slums, where, despite their sturdy physique, they fell an easy prey to sickness and died off twice as fast as they should? They lived as poorly as do the Russian Jews when first they come; but, being a green country-folk, they understood less than do the town-bred Jews
· dot this size represents 20,000 people
how to withstand the noxious influences of cities and slums.
Certainly, along with their courage and loyalty, the Irish did not bring the economic virtues. Straight from the hoe they came, without even the thrift of the farmer who owns his own land. Many of them were no better fitted to succeed in the modern competitive order than their ancestors of the septs in the days of Strongbow. In value-sense and foresight, how far they stand behind Scot, Fleming, or Yankee! In the acquisitive mêlée most of them are as children compared with the Greek or the Semite. An observant settlement worker has said:
The Irish are apt to make their occupation a secondary matter. They remain idle if no man hires them; but not so the Jew. If he can get no regular employment, it is possible to gather rags and junk and sell them. . . . If employed under a hard master, he still works on under conditions that would drive the Irishman to drink and the
American to suicide until finally he sees an opportunity to improve his condition.
We must not forget that Irish development had been forcibly arrested by the