Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

France and America, Partners

By JULES BOIS

Author of "L'Eve nouvelle," "La Douler d'aimer," etc.

THE

HE great European War has already lasted long; it may still last long. Save for some unforeseen event, unhappily it can be brought to a closeand the fault is not ours-only through an increase of destruction.

But the world does not come to an end: it is simply transformed. Death is only one aspect of eternal life; destruction is only the troubled sleep of resurrections. Let us turn our eyes for a moment from this wild crisis. We know that it will end in the triumph of right. Let us try from now on not to picture in mind a theoretical renascence of the dreams of visionaries, but to correct the balancesheet of our deficits, to face our difficulties like men, and, recognizing our mistakes and meditating on our faults, strive to escape their recurrence. Let us seek the remedies that exist for all ills.

But how reconstruct? Reconstruct the body and the soul? It is not too early to consider all this, because it will demand much time and attention. We must deliberate, discuss, exercise our critical faculties, cultivate enthusiasm, coördinate our endeavors. During peace Germany had prepared for war; we must not await the end of war to prepare for peace.

WHEN the husbandman sees his fields laid waste by hail, storm, drought, or fire, if he is wise he does not wring his hands, curse the heavens, or collapse in fruitless despair; but he turns to his granaries, where in years of abundance he has put aside a reserve store of wheat and provender, and at once prepares for a new sowing and a new harvest. In just such a sense Europe has a granarya granary that has made itself. America is that granary. For several centuries certain men, fired

by the love of adventure or impatient at the restraint imposed on them by old laws. or too constricted territory, have crossed the Atlantic to form themselves into a new nation, freer, more energetic, more idealistic, and at the same time more practical, settling there in an immense land the degenerate natives of which, in their ignorance of any way to turn it to the best account, had left barren of man's cultivation.

Sometimes these hardy pioneers had sought unknown regions under the spur of persecution; sometimes they had gone through a longing for adventure, drawn to the New World by the great expectations it held out. They were not exiled; they uprooted themselves from their country's soil, impelled by that migratory impulse that in the past as well as to-day has always been the point of departure of new civilizations.

Now, these men, after having won their independence through a foreign war, and cemented their different racial tendencies and aspirations by civil war, have enjoyed and continue to enjoy a security and prosperity that their native lands no longer know. But although they are Americans. and only Americans, they cannot forget, and ought not forget, that their ancestors were Europeans. Most certainly they have worked out their own destiny in the New World: they have cleared the land and peopled the wilderness, with their own hands they have built opulent and flourishing cities that rival the most famous cities of ancient times; but this stupendous economical and moral development they have accomplished well through the European training and culture that they carried with them, and which have brought forth results wholly unexpected.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Their boy was born at Mamaroneck, and fat Arthur came out next day with an expensive coral teething-ring.

"Oh, gorgeous!" said Eben. "Jud 'll be crazy over it. Take it up an' see if he yells."

Time passed. Men nodded to Eben in the streets and apologized, saying how much he looked like a young chap at their broker's down-town. He declined invitations to dinners at the Princeton Club. He avoided Wall Street, this easily enough. He had a sweetly painful morning when Marie bore him twin sons, and he was plagued by curly heads seen across theaters, wide shoulders that swung by in the twilight. He bought back Edgar's house near Gloucester, and wheeled little Jud along the crescent beach. His name went into "Who 's Who" before Europe took to war, and he had bad nights remembering Jud's military passion. A great broker smirked to him at a dinner party over his brother.

"Travels for me. Customers think he 's the best ever."

"He is," said Eben, proudly.

They had many friends, dull and interesting, and the babies had the proper diseases of babies, and Eben allowed a pastel of little Jud to appear in a Sunday edition, hoping that the smile for this would have no hate behind it. The daily pain gave birth to a deep ambition. Judson need not despise him. Art harpies shrugged and said he had no "temperament." His studio was as ascetic as a sick ward. Popular actors sent their valets to price portraits, ladies adjured him to give them some little thing for the Belgian relief.

"And I wish you 'd be in the tableaux," Your said one, "in the Greek scene. brother is, and the pair of you—”

"I'm so sorry," Eben said.

He did not see the Greek scene. Marie did. He knew she would, and that night managed to look asleep when she came home. The photograph in the Sunday paper he laid carefully away in a desk of his studio. No dust gathered on it.

"A man would think you were twentysix hundred 'stead of twenty-six," Arthur complained. "Why won't you go to the Marengo?"

"Such a jam," said Eben.

It would be hideous to meet Judson in a crowd. But he began to feel that he I could endure this for the sake of knowing

Arthur shifted from foot to foot and twisted his mustache.

"I wrote Jud," he said.

Eben looked up from the ring and out past Arthur down the melting lawn to the roof of the church where the boy would be christened.

"Thank you. I'd-let's go up-stairs." But Eben and his heir were the only

Harlands at the christening. Marie put a jeweler's box and its cup away in her father's safe, saying nothing, and left it there when they moved to an apartment off Park Avenue.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

46

. . . and lived for eight months in Paris, while he studied under Roll"

that his brother's skin was still whitely
smooth and his arms as full of grace. The
spring sent his soul wandering, and he
dreamed of his brother. They were no
longer boys, and love had outlasted the
old nearness; it might still leap a gate. In
his dream he said to Judson: "You don't
hate me.
You can't." And Judson
changed the smile to a brother's grin.
"What makes you so restless?" asked
Marie.

"Oh, I don't know. The rotten

weather, this Mexican row. Remember I was born in Texas."

Marie wiped milk off young Arthur's chin.

"I've often thought what a fine soldier you 'd make, dear. You 're so self-controlled and you 'd look so splendid. And your men would do anything for you."

Eben blushed. He was perpetually surprised that she could love him at all, a man his own brother hated, a man who could lie in her breast and long for an

It

hour of mere talk with that brother. He "Judson Harland, son of the late Captain kissed her humbly. Eben Harland, killed in action." jerked before him on the rainfalls. "He's nearly mad," said Marie to her brother later.

"If there is a row I sha'n't go," he said. "I'd worry about the kids an' you so I'd forget to shoot and get court-martialed."

"You never forget anything, Ben." "No," Eben said; "I don't." Presently, because he would not dishonor her with a lie, he said:

"And it's worse than ever right now, my not forgetting. It's that that 's making me so miserable. I can't help it, Ria."

"He's in this new thing," said Marie, "the armored motor battalion. Sid Waters told me."

How splendid he must look in khaki! Eben thought. Then all his imagination glittered to a scene of dusty cactus and the smile fixed on approaching death, the fair body.

"O Ben," cried his wife, "I should n't have told you!"

THAT night the newsboys had a fresh surprising bellow from the wire, and the next day a man in Washington called on the militia of the several States to protect the border.

"By gosh!" said Arthur, "do you see me sweating under a cactus-tree? Let's go to a revue to-night."

Eben assented. His girl model was sniffling for a brother in the Sixty-ninth, and Marie's eyes were gleaming at his face. He was in hell, sending out hourly for the extras that might tell him what regiments were under arms; and in the rainy glare of Broadway he saw Judson through their taxicab window, glorious in his khaki service cap on the guard of an open car splashed with uniforms. And he sat until dawn, his arms gripped under his knees, glaring at the dark.

"I can't work," he told Marie. "Have 'em tell the models to go to blazes."

The streets showed spurts of mustard cloth while he tramped, and he met men he knew, savagely irritated, uplifted, awkward in stiff belts. In his imagination he heard the trailed notes of the dead march; the volley of a burial squad came back from the shadow of Fort Leavenworth.

"So am I," Arthur said, his eyes scarred under with black. "If Jud goes and gets killed he 'll never- You never saw them together. Don't say a word."

"Is he ordered?"

"Can't say. How can a man go on loving a fool that won't even come to his wedding? The-"

"He does. Let it go," said Marie, sternly.

THE next noon Eben woke with a lucid mind and a perfect resolve. He belonged to Marie, to his sons, not to Judson, who had cast him away for a word or so, for a dollar's worth of green striped silk. It seemed quite clear. He must go on loving Judson, bear unconquered to the verge of being that high and holy warmth, guard it, cherish it, and protect it. He bathed in icy water and sat down at his desk.

"Dear Jud," he wrote, "I am sending this to your office as I can't find you in the telephone-book. Since this order to the militia was published I have been in a horrible state of mind. Come and see me before you go if you can bring yourself to it. I have never stopped thinking of you as my best and dearest friend, and nothing. has altered my feeling for you. If you hate me so much that you cannot do this, I-"

A cloud passed over his brain, the pen broke in his fingers.

"O Lord!" he said, "he might n't even read it." He wrote: "I will put up with it the best I can, but I think more of you than of any one else in the world. Ben."

He addressed the envelop carefully, and put a special-delivery stamp upon it. His brain had become confused once more, and in cure of this he walked into the nursery before luncheon. Young Juddy was playing with a large red elephant, the twins were engrossed in their noontime orangejuice, and the Yankee nurse told Eben she thought it was real dreadful about this

war. Her brother was in the Seventyfirst.

"Oh," said Eben, "that 's just down here at Thirty-fourth Street, the armory."

She was going down to see her brother, it appeared. Eben gave her his letter to post, and carried Juddy, plus the elephant, into the dining-room. He would have taken the twins also had that been sensible. He wanted anything dear. about him for chains to his feet.

Mr. Letellier was lunching with them, and he began at once upon the war.

"By Jove!" he said, "Wilson can't get out of it now! No. We 're in for it, dirty, ugly business."

"What kind of cocktail do you want, sir?" gasped Eben by the sideboard.

"Martini. Gives an old man quite a thrill, the boys down by the armory; and, by Jove! I had a turn. Come here, Grandson."

"What sort of turn, Dad?" asked Marie.

"Saw a young chap going into a hotel near, artillery clothes, big, strapping fellow. I thought it was Ben for a minute; dead image of him. That was why I asked you if he was here when I came in."

"That must have been Judson," said Eben, spilling gin on the Portuguese embroidery.

"Oh, yes, your brother. Well, you must be pretty worried," said Mr. Letellier, heartily.

"My name's Judson," said Judson, reverting to his father's knee. "Why 'm I named Judson?"

"For your uncle, of course," Mr. Le

tellier stated, steering the red elephant among the table covers.

"Yes, but why?" Juddy persisted, without interest.

"Judson raised his hand in a gesture"

Eben bent his lips on the soft head. "Because he 's the finest man alive," he said softly. "Will you excuse me, sir? I'd forgotten to 'phone some one."

He descended into Park Avenue and

turned down the wide, rain-pooled street. It was quite empty; only shuttered windows looked upon his going. The June sun had burned through the oily clouds of the morning and lit the drenched flag of the armory tower. Even so far off he could see a mustard uniform on the steps before the arched grill, and the wet granite beckoned him. People strolled or scurried from the pausing trolleys. No one passed Eben as he walked, cursing himself, down the pleasant, wealthy street, and he reasoned that New York, the world, would be like this vacancy with Jud gone from it, a stolid desolation, a sunny tomb.

He came to the last block of the east side, which ends at the armory corner in a lawn, iron fenced, with almost rural shrubs and a faded Tudor house, inept residue of some less urban day. Eben kept his eyes on the armory tower, stupidly archaic, crushing the vista of further commerce, and brushed his hand on the pickets of the iron fence. A man in uniform cut obliquely from the subway stairs and came toward him. The color brought his gaze down, and he saw Judson, his artillery cap a little pushed from his brow, the trim coat lining his unchanged splendor,

[graphic]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »