Puslapio vaizdai

impregnable defenses? Where were distinctions of class, fortifications of good taste, intrenchments of haughtiness? Where were reserve and other iron and concrete and barbed-wire entanglements? I tell you, they were as though they were not! This glib inquiry about my soul routed me, demoralized me so completely that I do not even remember what I said. I only know that I fled precipitately for safety into the covert of the nearest subject. Was there anything she needed? And how could I serve her?

At this she was eager.

'Well, I'll tell you! We need another comfort. Darius needs a comfort for his mule. Darius is a good man and his soul is saved. Now could n't you lend another comfort to the Lord?'

'Yes,' said I, in what now seems to me a kind of hypnotized state. 'I think I can find another for you.' And I went myself and took it from my bed.

She received it with hallelujahs and went away beaming, assuring me as she went, and as on the authority of an ambassador, that I would certainly have my reward.

I make no apology for all this. I know well that I was the weak and routed one. I know that this gypsy from nowhere, with her lack of advantages and her Cinderella training among the ashes and dregs of life, had me at an astonishing disadvantage. I know that, while I stood by, in my futile pride, she went off unaccountably, in a spangled coach, as it were, carrying with her salvation and all the satisfaction in the world, happily possessed of the bed-covers without which I was to sleep somewhat chilly that night.

But I think it due to myself to say that this weakness on my part was not single. For weeks, months as long as she stayed in the neighborhoodMajor Lobley swayed people as by a spell. One would have sworn her drum

stick was a wand. In theory, and out of her presence, we younger ones declared her presuming and impossible, but were reduced to serve her whenever she appeared. My mother and my elder sister, who were experienced and better judges, continued to give her and her thin ragged ranks daily help. Pans of biscuit, pots of soup, drifted in that northwesterly direction as by some gulf stream of sympathy which you might speculate and argue about all you liked, but whose course remained mystical and unchanged.


One point I must not fail to mention. I had worried somewhat concerning Darius's mule. There was, I knew, shelter for him save a tiny woodshed just about half his size. I pictured him standing there with only his forequarters or hindquarters sheltered, and the rest of him the sport of the elements and the biting weather. Needless anxiety; futile concern! I might have read a different fate for him in Orion and Pleiades! Such anxiety comes of thinking too meanly of life. Darius had a better opinion of it, and it may be with better cause. Perhaps he argued that a power that was able to save his soul was perfectly well able to look after his mule; and rendered expectant by this belief, Darius's eyes saw what my less faithful ones would certainly have overlooked, namely, that the comfortable kitchen of the little house, with its sunshine and its neat wainscoting, made an ideal abiding-place for his friend. Here, therefore, positively benefiting by misfortune and like an animal in a fairy tale, the mule of Darius abode, and no doubt more comfortably than ever in his life before; and if his meals remained meagre, he was enabled to eke them out with a generous attention to the wainscoting.

You see! What can be said of a people like that, able to turn the most unlikely things to strange and immediate

uses, for all the world as the fairy godmother did the pumpkin and the mice!

Here is, I am persuaded, something ancient and inherited, and acquired not in Major Lobley's brief span; something, rather, dating back to gypsy centuries, God knows how many æons ago something that had triumphed and ruled on countless occasions before now; some freedom, some innate selfapproval; some linking, it would almost seem, of the powers of poverty with the powers of the Deity.


Have it as you will, the finer appearance still clings to the improvident. They give you color and incident without your asking; they scatter romance and wonder with largesse, as kings. As mere memorable characters, were not the old blind man and Musgrove and Major Lobley worth the money and the anxiety they cost us? And who will contend that Darius's tradition is not to be valued above a mere wainscoting and the cost of a few repairs?

I have long believed that Æsop needs rewriting in many instances, and very especially in that of 'The Grasshopper and the Ant.' What should be told since Esop's creatures are intended to exemplify human behaviors and draw human morals - is how the Grasshopper spent the winter with the Ant, and ate up all the Ant's preserves and marmalades, and fiddled nightly and gayly by the Ant's fire, and managed somehow to make the Ant feel that the privilege had been all her own, to have labored long for the benefit of so interesting and so gifted a gentleman.

I can recall from time to time, all through my childhood and girlhood, that I and mine made a kind of festival of a like circumstance, and how gladly we toiled for the benefit of that class which might be said to winter perpetu

ally on our sympathies. I do not allude merely to tableaux, fairs, private theatricals, musicales, and the like, given for the benefit of those who neither sowed nor gathered into barns. I would be afraid to say how many times, from my early years, I was for their sake a spangled fairy, a Queen Elizabeth court dame, an 'Elaine,' white, pallid, on a barge, dead of unrequited love, a Gainsborough or Romney portrait, or a Huguenot lady parting from her lover, or a demure 'Priscilla,' or a dejected 'Mariana,' or a shaken-kneed reciter of verses, or a trembling performer on the piano. I remember that there was a huge trunk in the old attic at home given over to nothing but amateur theatrical properties. I remember coming home often from dragging, wearisome rehearsals, how tired, but happy! What fun it was to toil and practice and rehearse and labor until your little bones ached 'for the benefit of —!'

'For the benefit of'! I tell you it is a magic phrase! I remember my mother coming home again and again from some charitable conclave I suppose radiant and eager, as she so often was, to announce that we were once more to be permitted to labor in response to its magic. Once, after her attendance on some missionary meeting, it was conveyed to us that we were to be allowed to dress fifty dolls 'for the benefit of' as many gregarious little grasshoppers of Senegambia, to the end that their Christmas and our own should be the happier.

It had all the air of a fine adventure. It was a fine adventure. I really would not have missed it. Yet unless you have dressed, let us say, thirty dolls, and know that twenty more remain naked, you can hardly guess how dolldressmaking may hang heavy, even on the most eager fingers. I can still see them all in their pretty and varied dresses, ranged triumphant at last on

top of the old square piano, that we might behold the labor of our hands their feet straight ahead of them, their eyes fixed, staring but noncommittal, supposedly on Senegambia. It seems to me now a gay, even though at the same time a somewhat futile, thing to have done; but turn it as you will, the true privilege was ours.

We and our forebears, you see, had in perfect innocence laid by a few stores through the generations. We had preserved and retained certain standards and comfortable customs and conveniences of living; certain traditions too of education and treasures of understanding; by which token it became our privilege to entertain and provide for those cicada souls who had followed the more romantic profession of fiddling; and that we might have our privilege to the full, we were graciously permitted to set our preserves, not merely for the swarming grasshoppers of our own land: it was vouchsafed us to sustain and supply with dolls and other delights the appealing little grasshoppers of Senegambia.

Recalling all my childhood and girlhood experience with the poor, I am led by every path of logic to believe that they have some secret power of their own some divine right and authority by which they rule, beside which the most ancient dynasties are but tricks of evanescence, and the infallibility of the Pope a mere political exigency. The powers they wield would seem to me unique. Show me a dictatorship, empire, oligarchy, system or suzerainty, seignory or pashawlic, which presides over and possesses anything commensurate with their realm; which sways and commands anything comparable to their wide dominion!

Will you show me any other people outside of the fairy-books who can put

the most fearful calamity on like a cloak and doff it at will, who can augment their families to seven or eight children overnight, and reduce them as readily to five or six the following day if it but seem to them advisable? Where outside their ranks is there any one capable of persuading you that it is a privilege to sleep cold so that some Darius you never saw or care to see shall, he and his allegorical mule, go better warmed? Who else, being neither of your kith nor kin, has such power over you that, with a mere bloodshot eye and shiver of the shoulders, they can turn your automobile, your furs, your warmth, and all your pleasant pleasures into Dead Sea apples of discomfort? Or, did any of your own class, by merely playing 'Ben Bolt,' raggedly and horribly off the key, under a grapearbor, exercise so great a power over you that, having given him what you had, you went awed and chastened of all vanity, and set his name in your prayers that night as the Church service does the king? Are these people of rank who can do this? Or will you still cling to your aristocracies?

It is likely that I shall be accused of sentimentality. Some will say that to talk of the power of the poor is but cruel irony. If I would speak wisely and not as one of the foolish women, let me live and work among the poor, or better still, be of them. This is the only way fairly to judge them.

I am of a like opinion; and am therefore resolved to ask you to let me speak of a later time, when I myself was poor, and of the wider knowledge of the powers of the poor which that circumstance afforded me. For, in my advantageous days, I was permitted only to serve the poor, the discouraged, the improvident; later, I was promoted to be, at least in a measure, of their fellowship.

(To be continued)




I AM an easy-going sort of a man, and in my wanderings up and down the earth, I have had many dealings with people of many kinds and very little trouble with any of them. I had long been familiar with what it means to live in a community of mixed nationalities, and have tried it as successfully in Guiana, Venezuela, and Mexico as in New York City. So I hope that the reader will not ascribe too much of the fault to me when I recount my adventures with the emigrants of another country, which took place while I was employed as manager of a large plantation in southern Mexico.

On assuming control of this enterprise, I found myself in a sparsely settled territory, where, within a radius of ninety miles, some twenty-five Americans, and a like number of Germans, were engaged in developing a rich but wild country.

That the neighborhood should be half German seemed to me of good augury, for I had always found Germans excellent citizens of the country to which they had emigrated; and in the United States I had been accustomed to regard them as an important and reliable element of our citizenship. But I reckoned without due discrimination. The Germans I had known elsewhere were solid bourgeois-simple-minded, straightforward, and hardworking. My new neighbors, on the other hand, were Junker-born. Most of them were university men of the

military caste. Their point of view, their code of ethics and of morals were as rigid and definite as they seemed prescribed and universal. In all essentials of manners, taste, and character, my Teutonic neighbors were as alike as nursery, school, university, and army life could mould them.

The history which follows consists of a few episodes culled from a somewhat rich experience. If in these pages I dwell on my business and personal dealings with a single individual, it is because Neighbor Hans, although he may have been a trifle more aggressive than many of his fellow Germans, was accurately representative of the entire group in his tenets and his methods.

When I first took charge of the Finca San Fernando, in 1909, the retiring manager gave me my first intimation of possible trouble. Neighbor Hans, he said, who controlled the abutting property of Santa Clara, had made life so unlivable for his own predecessor, an American, Pratt by name, that before two years were up, poor Pratt had returned to the States a nervous wreck; and my informant added that he himself was relinquishing the position for a far less desirable one, in order to escape 'the German plague.'

To these warnings I listened politely; but after all the years I had spent doing business with English, Irish, Scotch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegians, Chinese, Negroes, Indians, Venezuelans, and other Latin Americans, I anticipated no real difficulty with educated Germans; and in

my own mind set down both Pratt and Cook as 'poor mixers.'

For a time my forecast seemed justified. Everything started auspiciously, and one of the first calls I received was from Neighbor Hans himself, who paid his respects and expressed the hope that we should be good neighbors; for, as he added, 'Cook was never quite satisfactory, while Pratt was so utterly impossible that I could do nothing with him and finally had to drive him away.'

Almost my first care on taking charge of my new duties was to render myself familiar with the geography of the neighborhood. The three fincas of San Lorenzo, Santa Clara, and San Fernando were on an eight-mile trail, and were presided over respectively by Friend Cook, Neighbor Hans, and the writer. The three properties were all American in ownership, and a longstanding agreement permitted San Lorenzo and San Fernando to maintain a telephone line along the communicating trail which connected the three and which Santa Clara used, but the maintenance of which Neighbor Hans had long ago abandoned to the care of his neighbors. Quite satisfied to save himself from all difficulties of road-maintenance, Neighbor Hans was of no mind to forego the convenience of telephone communication, and he quietly attached himself to our telephone wire. When asked by what right he had tapped our wire, and if he thought it honorable to 'listen in' on our conversation as he did, his reply was my first experience with the new German Kultur.

'What stuff about right and honor are you talking?' exclaimed the outraged Hans. 'I will tell you what they mean. They are words for preachers to scare old women and children. Men with brains know nothing of such things. Right! What is right? Anything

that is worth doing, and that an intelligent man can do, is right. If it cannot be done it is wrong! I use your wire! Why should n't I? Can you prevent it? Try it and then see whether the wire does not break out there in the woods; and I could yet make difficulties when to repair the line your men come over. Honor? What has honor to do with it? I wish the news and listen. Besides, I must know if you and Cook talk about me. I tap your wire. I listen. It is no secret. You know I do it. I tell you I do it. There is nothing dishonorable such as you talk about. Let us speak no more about nonsense. Have a cigar? Of course now you stay to dinner. Can you loan me some corn?' And so on, and so on.

As I listened to this tirade, it was hard to believe that the speaker was a German army officer, educated and highly intelligent, and withal so interesting and entertaining that one's feelings of indignation and outraged justice would become anæsthetized under the influence of his hospitality and the conviction that his attitude was wholly impersonal, and his ideas of right and wrong the result of tradition and training which left him honest - from his point of view at least.

One day I was startled to count eighty oxen being driven across my land, and headed into a much-prized bridle-path which led nowhere except to a newly cultivated area. The oxen belonged to Neighbor Hans, and his men informed my courier that they were bound for the 'señor's' mahogany camp down the river. Puzzled as to how Neighbor Hans could reach his camp through my jungle, and angry at this lawless invasion of my territory, I ordered my horse and rode forth to investigate. My indignation may be imagined when I discovered that my favorite trail had been reduced to a hog-wallow, and that many of the new

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