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The bed-rock, the granite formation, upon which great civilizations and powerful governments are built, is obedience to the law. That is the beginning and the end of all good government. Without it we cannot hope for happiness and prosperity at home nor for prestige and power abroad. We have arrived at the time when we can afford to, when indeed we must, invoke the old virtues, appeal again to the simple precepts of government, and make obedience to law a cardinal tenet of our political faith. We do not need a new faith. We need the simplicity, the directness, and the self-surrender of the old.
Throughout the land we need to preach the creed of Washington, Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln with a tongue of fire. We need to have constitutional morality declared as was the Gospel of old to the high and to the low, for against this neither "things present nor things to come shall prevail." You can no more leave behind the fundamental principles of right and justice, of respect for and obedience to law, without paying the frightful penalty, than can a people, however high and strong in their material power, abandon the simple pronouncements of Sinai without sinking into utter degradation.
Some woman planted all of these, I know,
And knelt to watch them grow;
Something of her radiance and grace
Still clings above this place.
Surely I think the day she went away,
She turned and wept to stay,
Knowing how tender all the young plants were,
And how they needed her.
I wonder is she living still-somewhere
And longs to give them care?
Or, sleeping through the bright blue summer hours,
THEODORA DU BOIS
ARMTH of the summer afternoon lay upon him like soft silk coverings, and small dancing winds brought fragrances, pouring them about for his delight; the faint smell of salt from the south marshes, and cut grass from the lawn and roses from the moon-bowl on the terrace table. He was lulled by the hum and buzz of summer insects, and he swung the hammock drowsily as he read. Odysseus was in the hall of Circe, and her four handmaidens, they that were "born of the wells and of the woods and of the holy rivers that flow forward into the salt sea," were serving them. "Of these one cast upon the chairs goodly coverlets of purple above, and spread a linen cloth thereunder. And, lo, another drew up silver tables to the chairs, and thereon set for them golden baskets. And a third mixed honeyhearted wine in a silver bowl and set out cups of gold."
He was there himself in the halls of Circe, in that place with the "wide prospect"; and the walls of his mother's house of stucco and timber were gone, and there instead were walls of polished stone. And the wicker chairs of the terrace were silver, and the magazines on the table, with the wind idly flapping their pages as though trying to see if they held anything worth reading, were no longer magazines, but, miraculously, bas
kets and goblets of gold. And the warm and somewhat melted "choc'late ammon' bar" he himself was eating was sweet honey-hearted wine and wheaten bread.
A cold nose poked itself into his hand, and for a second it was the snout of one of his enchanted companions; then, with a bark, it became the small black muzzle of Jock the terrier, Scot to the tip of his plumy tail. Shouts and tumult rent the spell of silence, and a whirl of lithe blue bodies and brown arms and legs burst from the house, slammed the screen door, leaped upon Derek's back, and resolved itself into Sonia and Charley, his young brother and sister just released from French.
"C'm on and be a brigand with us, Derek," Charley panted. "We're going to hide in the syringa-bush and shoot up some of the guys who come for tea and lift their jewels."
"No, no, not for tea, Charley, you poor cheese," Sonia objected. "Later on we said, don't you know, at night. It'll be more exciting. C'mon Derek, be a sport.
She draped herself over an end of the hammock, and her black bobbed hair swept the pages of Derek's book. The edge of the hammock must have severed her nearly in two, but she betrayed no inconvenience. And Charley bounced up and down on Derek's back shouting vehemently:
"Cheer for Princeton, Cheer for Yale,
peace by licking any face that came within tongue's reach. Then Derek,
Put old Harvard in the garbage- with a mighty heave, tipped Charley
with a pound for each accent, Derek being bound for Harvard in some future year.
"Oh, come on Derek," Sonia pleaded, still inverted. "I've cut masks out of mademoiselle's black silk stockings-and we've got a—”
"Shut up," Charley stopped her. “Well, never mind, but it'll be swell sport. It'll be the cat's pajamas."
"Why don't you cut out that rough line of talk," Derek growled; "cat's pajamas isn't girls' talk." At sixteen one may be an idealist about girls.
"Don't be an old grandpa," she retorted. "The syringa-bush'll make a swell brigands' cave."
"Forget it. Brigands are rotten things, and you kids have no business reading the papers and getting fool ideas in your beans. Charley, that's my back, old son. I'm no springboard. Cut it out, will you?" They struggled, grunting and panting, Derek playing the unwilling rôle of bronco, Charley digging knees and knuckles into his back. Amid the plungings the remains of the "choc'late ammon' bar" were ground into a lemon-colored cushion, and Sonia aided the fray by swinging the hammock high and wildly, and taking up Charley's refrain:
"Cheer for Princeton,
Cheer for Yale."
While Jock, his literal soul always worried by signs of strife and tumult, barked shrilly and strove to establish
over upon the floor, and a thud and siren yells ensued, amid Sonia's protesting, in loud vituperation against Derek's brutality.
For a second Derek lay on his back in the hammock panting, strangely exhausted, wondering why he had so little wind this summer, why he was as tired as if he'd run the half-mile, and only after a rough-house with a kid. But Charley, at nine years old, had no business to yell like that.
"Shut up," Derek ordered gruffly. "Gosh, can't you stand anything?”
And then, of course, somebody had to come out and spoil everything— the worst possible person, too, their stepfather, nervous and annoyed.
"What's the matter here? What's the matter here? Is Charley hurt?"
"He threw me on the floor and nearly broke my wrist," Charley bellowed.
"What a gyp!" Derek growled, disgusted at such perfidy of tale-bearing. "It was only a rough-house."
But his stepfather's eyes stared at him as understandingly as brown glass globules. "I suppose sometime you will develop out of the Neolithic period, Derek. For the present, Charley, we must all suffer from your brother's barbaric urges." And the man gave an involuntary glance around as if looking for an audience to applaud his brilliant remark. He always did it, Derek had noticed, after he'd said something unusually clever and ironic. "What is that disgusting brown stain on the cushion?"
Foolish to feel so frightened about a simple question; nor did Derek see how a brown stain could be his fault,
but probably it was. Things were always going dreadfully wrong and be ing his fault this summer. He sat up in the hammock, rumpled and disheveled, and focussed his thoughts on the cushion. Oh, yes, it was the ruins of the "ammon' bar."
"Must be chocolate," and his changing voice sounded so alarmingly like a stevedore's that he didn't dare add, "I'm sorry," which he was. "Chocolate!" If it had been bloodstains from a slain and dismembered Charley the man's voice could not have registered more horror and disgust. "Of course it's impossible to eat chocolate without smearing it over the entire landscape." And again he gave that little complacent glance about. "I thought you weren't to eat between meals, Derek?"
"He's always eating between meals, aren't you, Derek?" Sonia piped in cheerfully. "He's always trying to lift things from the kitchen, but the new cook won't let him-" And Charley added pleasantly:
"Derek's a pig-hunc-hunc-hunc!" Then before any one could carry the agreeable discussion further, the picture changed as if some one had turned the pages of a book to another illustration. Three guests came up the terrace steps and Will Courtthat was the stepfather-hurried toward them, the perfect urbane host, having flung a hasty aside to Derek to "straighten up those cushions. The hammock's not a sty, you know." Sonia and Charley leaped from the terrace edge and chased each other across the lawn, with Jock, a swift black streak in mad pursuit. And Derek's mother came out of the house, tall and fair. Her hair seemed painted on her head, and she wore a
sea-green dress that Court said was the color of her soul or something, and a long string of strange gold and sea-green beads was about her neck and dripping earrings were pendant from her ears. The butler followed bearing silver tea things solemnly as if votive offerings to an oracle or god. And more people came from the house and up the terrace steps and eddied about the tea-table in whites and blues and yellows, while talk surged into waves of laughter and broke and surged and broke again.
And poor Derek, stranded in a small island of silence by the hammock, pretended to be busying himself straightening cushions, and wished unhappily that he could make his escape without being seen. He had hidden his "Odyssey" under his jacket, and he wanted to go off somewhere and lie down in the sun and read. He was tired, awfully sort of tired, and that beastly hunger that had possessed him all summer was urging him to some utterly crazy deed-to rush over and grab a handful of cakes from the basket on the table, for instance, or stuff a dozen or more sandwiches in his mouth at once. If they really meant that rule about not eating between meals, he thought he'd go off his bean, like the men you read of in the deserts, raving about food and water. Perhaps he was a little daffy now. He seemed to think about food the whole time; and he'd had to sneak so much dry breakfast food out of the pantry that the butler locked up the boxes now, and he couldn't get anything out of the new cook even by bribery. He'd soaked Derek with a rolling-pin last time and reported it to Court, and there'd been the dickens to pay.
Now his mother was beckoning to him. He went over to her, awkwardly, miserably aware of his ungainly height, his red hair standing on end, his interminable arms and legs, and that vile untrustworthy voice within him that squeaked or growled as if it were some unknown being speaking through his lips. He hated it. And now she was telling him to pass things, and he knew he'd spill them all over the place. Oh, heck! Why had there ever been that rotten divorce, and why couldn't the judge have given him to his own father, so that he might now be happy and free building bridges with him in Yucatan, instead of passing piffling little cakes to overfed females in green. "Sandwich," he squeaked, shoving the plate up to the portly bosom of a matron who looked like an emerald pigeon. Absent-mindedly she took three. His mouth watered, and he felt suddenly weak. He had had one very small chicken patty for lunch and a foolish salad, no more filling than so much green tissuepaper. He'd been late for breakfast, and when he was late he was only allowed toast and fruit. And supper was sure to be a total loss. It always was a boiled egg perhaps and another dab of salad left over from lunch. His mother and stepfather were never hungry themselves. "Hunger" to them was a literary term applied only to peculiar people in books or charity reports, a word as impersonal and unreal as "famine" or "plague." Moreover they were always out or having a party at home, and Sonia and Charley had regular nursery food, and it was easy for the servants to forget Derek. Perfectly natural, of course.
"Can I have some sandwiches?" he growled hoarsely to his mother, trying not to hope so desperately that she would say yes. But of course she didn't. She looked at him for a second as if he'd suggested snatching the food from the mouths of their guests.
"Must you be eating all the time, Derek?" she asked coldly, and, to his horror, he felt tears burn in his eyes. She could hurt so unbearably. Perhaps if he hadn't loved her it would have been different. But he did love her, and she always seemed to think he was such a beast. He took a cup of tea from her, and his hand shook, and he spilled some on her dress. Oh, agony! If one got much hotter with humiliation, one would surely flame up in spontaneous combustion like that old man in Dickens.
"Gosh, I'm sorry," he growled, and she said resignedly, coolly as clear water down a mountainside,
"Pass the cakes, Derek; perhaps you won't spill those."
So he passed them, wondering, forlornly, what came over him when he was with his mother. When he was here at home, what was he? Not himself surely. Not the self he knew he was at school-Derek Pyne, "Piledriver Pyne," head of the form in Latin and English, lowest in math, fair in foot-ball, rotten in hockey, in line for president of students, and liked-he knew they liked him well enough-by both masters and boys. And his own father had thought him decent enough. That last year before the divorce he'd talked to him like a man and a friend. But his motherwhy he was always afflicted with unutterable uncouthness in her presence, always spilling and bumping and growling and knocking over