Puslapio vaizdai

the gate. But her fingers lay paralyzed on the latch, without power to lift it. She was unable to go forward. Scheherazade had uttered again her annihilating cry, and Jane was powerless to move or to speak. Not until the stranger had disappeared in the direction of the wharves, did the curious paralysis go out of her. She turned away from the gate, exhausted by the veil of impotence that had been flung upon her and then snatched away. She looked at Scheherazade and a fire of resentment went swirling through her.

'O Scheherazade, what is your secret?' she thought, 'and why do I feel so ill and so strange?'

anchor. Her log and her bills had been taken to her owner, in the countinghouse, where his clerk made long satisfactory columns of pounds, shillings, and pence.

Against the increasing brightness of the water at the bottom of the street, Jane's eyes suddenly beheld the thrilling color, yellow and faded red, emerging, soft and brilliant, in the crystal atmosphere. The stranger was coming up at daybreak from the empty ship, where he was still a privileged guest.

When he reached Jane's fence, he stopped and turned about, facing the harbor. She saw him go down on his knees. He dipped forward, his tunic falling round him, and his head and hands touched the stones. There he remained, motionless in his morning prayer, while the sun came over the harbor and bathed his figure, and the

When Jane returned to the diningroom, without the slightest thought in her mind of fresh cake, William jumped up at the sight of her, and held his own glass of wine to her lips. 'You're very white! What has hap- cool leaves rustled overhead. pened?' he said.

She could not explain, and she could not reject his solicitude. She sank into her chair, and William hung over her for the rest of the evening.

On the following morning the compelling spirit within her roused Jane from sleep, and made her dress and go down into the garden. She heard the infinitesimal and steady trill of crickets in the grass. There was a gentle, cold breeze from the west. She took a halfknit stocking from the kitchen shelf, and wandered round the garden, clicking her needles. Dawn gave her scarcely light enough to see her stitches, and she went to the gate to watch the eastern sky.

The air touched her eyelids and her throat with autumnal freshness. Darkness was lifting from the horizon, and day was burning just below. Masts moved gently in the harbor, rocked on the tide. There was no sound from the wharves. The hold of the Black Pearl had been emptied, and she rode high at

Jane felt as if he were her captive, kneeling there. She thought, 'I will go and stand at the gate. And when he gets up, he will be looking at me. Nothing shall hinder me.'

She felt that a great moment had come at last. Romance was at her feet. She made one step toward the gate. Scheherazade was slowly turning in her cage. Her long, shimmering feathers swept slowly round, and in her throat was the beginning of the fateful cry.

Jane came forward in a flash of hope and fear, and in passing, she gave the cage a flying blow with her strong, willful hand. The cage broke and fell to the ground. The stranger got up from his prayer and stood beside the gate.

He looked into the garden, attracted by the shattering of the cage and by Jane's sudden advance. She met his mature, powerful eyes for a moment only, for they instantly left her face to gaze beyond her with burning intent


She felt the stir of another human

presence near her. She turned to look. The splintered bird-cage lay on the grass, and beside it a young woman was standing. Her dark, slender feet pressed the grass beside the broken wood. Round her smooth ankles were golden anklets. In her ears were silver hoops, and over her breast hung countless silver chains and enamels. A spangled veil was thrown back from her face and hung down her back.

The young woman stood for a moment perfectly still. She was fresh and stainless as if she had emerged from the crystal air, or as if, like the goddess of antiquity, she had risen out of the foam. A curious shimmer like the shimmer of heat enfolded her for an instant, and then left her, alive in mortal beauty. She moved a step. The thrill of daybreak was in her motion. Her face was a dark jewel, clear-cut and flawless. Yet in her face, in spite of its new-created look, there was emotion long remembered - the strength of an inviolable love.

The man burst open the gate as if he were breaking into paradise. The mute despair which had sunk so deep into his face was all gone, changed into a lifting adoration. He spoke to her in a strange tongue, only a few words, which gushed from his throat in pain and joy.

Jane saw how their hands touched, and how their eyes held each other in a magnet look. Long moments went by. He pressed her head between his hands. Her ear-rings shook, and she gave him a smile which restored in one moment the years that had been lost.

At last Jane saw them move instinctively away from the alien enclosure. She watched the man lay his hand on the gate, and open it, while he and

his love went slowly out. With them went romance.

They vanished toward the wharf, where now the sun had risen warm. The day's activity began. The Isis was to sail at noon for the East Indies, and the usual clatter and shouting, the hurry and excitement of a departing vessel were heard through the streets.

All day long Jane's mother battered against the inscrutable mystery of the broken cage and the bird that had flown.

Jane went through the day entranced. Occasionally she left her work, and stood for a few moments beneath the hawthorn tree, gazing with reminiscent eyes at the empty air.

At dusk, when William Gregory opened the garden gate, he found Jane sitting in the doorway, over the Chinese work-box. She looked at him with an enigmatic, yet warm smile.

Although he saw nothing enigmatic in his chosen one, her smile gave him a glow of confidence such as he had not felt since he had disembarked from the Black Pearl.

After his single-minded greeting, the news of the day occurred to him.

'You know, Jane, the foreigner who came on the Black Pearl? He found his prize. A lady, as brown as he is, is sailing home with him on the Isis. A strange foreign lady no man, woman, or child ever laid eyes on before. He conjured her right up out of the ground. Honestly, it is an unfathomable thing. She was hidden away somewhere or other. He's contented now at last. But he's not the only man who feels happy - Jane.'

She gave him a warm look, and it came over her suddenly that William was an irresistibly sweet person.




WE lack labor. The railroads are crippled for want of it. The farmers hesitate to plant seed for fear they cannot get labor for the harvest. Factories, public utilities, ammunition factories, shipyards, send up a cry for men.. Strangely enough, tens of thousands of men walk the streets of our cities in idleness in the midst of the labor shortage. Appeals to patriotism apparently go unheeded. High wages, instead of attracting them into steady employment, lead only to more frequent periods of idleness. They profiteer in the nation's day of stress as willingly as many of their employers. Neither impairment of our military efficiency nor the sufferings of millions who lack the necessities of life move them. What is the explanation? Why this anomaly? Why a labor surplus in the face of a labor shortage?

An explanation which at least points to one important cause of the phenomenon is this: labor is standing idle during a labor shortage because an unorganized labor market has impaired the efficiency and morale of hundreds of thousands of workers. Men have become accustomed to idleness, unaccustomed to sustained efforts. Irregularity of employment, migration from industry to industry, the cheap lodginghouse, the saloon, pawnshop, brothel, municipal police court, and lack of continuing responsibilities have done their deadly work. Men who started out with ambition and promise have

degenerated into inefficient, irresponsible, migratory laborers tens of thousands of them into almost unemployable 'bums.'

Labor is not scarce in America, so far as quantity is concerned. I question the probability of any quantitative shortage of labor during the war. If such shortages should occur, potential supplies of female and minor labor will fill up the gap. But labor of qual ity is scarce in every manual occupation in agriculture, mining, forestry, manufactures, transportation; and there is no reservoir from which that quality shortage can be relieved. Our hope for relief rests solely in such mobilization as will place the existing skilled labor where it will do the most good, in subdivision and specialization of tasks so that partly skilled persons may be able to perform them, and in intensive training of promising young workers for such work as they can be prepared for during the emergency.

One of the most striking phases of the labor shortage is the scarcity of good common labor. Any one knows that an employer who needs a machinist cannot use a casual laborer. It is not difficult to realize that a farmer who needs a dairyman cannot use a But many people do

harvest-hand. harvest-hand.

not yet appreciate the fact that there are different classes or types of common laborers, just as there are different classes of mechanics. Degrees of reliability, intelligence, steadiness, and physical efficiency are of just as great importance among common laborers as

degrees of skill among mechanics; and the presence or absence of these qualities means the presence or absence of ability to earn wages.

The shortage of competent American labor is not simply a war shortage. A considerable portion of our skilled labor-supply has always come from Europe, and a relative decline in the emigration of skilled laborers to America has been the mainspring of our interest in industrial education in recent years. Every one familiar with the labor market has known likewise that the Italian and Slavic immigrants from southeastern Europe have furnished us with our principal supply of common laborers during the past two generations, and that American common laborers have been, on the whole, of declining value.

The shortage is no new one. But Europe has heretofore protected us against the pressure of our lack. The war, with its stoppage of immigration, contemporaneous with a sharp increase in the demand for American products, raw and manufactured, suddenly made the shortage acute. It twisted the tourniquet. We suddenly became conscious that we were no more independent of Europe's birth-rate than we were of her dyes. We need labor now. After the war, when millions of Europeans will have died in arms or been crippled in action, will immigration relieve our shortage again? If it would, is it sane public policy to permit conditions to continue which destroy the efficiency of hundreds of thousands of men, simply because we can find others to take their places? Will a pation that is willing, if necessary, to lay down the lives of millions of men and billions of treasure to 'make the world safe for democracy' allow social arrangements to continue which condemn whole armies of men to economic inefficiency and moral deterioration?

One of the principal reasons why uncounted thousands of American laborers are of such low quality that employers do not 'want to give them standing-room,' and prefer the immigrants, is a disorganized labor market. Erroneous labor policies stimulate labor turnover and labor migration, and result in a progressive deterioration of the laborer. We educate them for inefficiency instead of efficiency, and train them in shifting instead of in sticking; we discourage self-respect, encourage thriftlessness, and compel continuous movement. If we had set ourselves to devise ways and means of destroying the efficiency of American labor, we could not have chosen methods better suited to our purpose than the conditions characterizing our present labor market. Constant labor turnover and constant labor migration will demoralize a working force as rapidly as it can be accomplished.

I am not ignorant of the fact that many personal causes contribute heavily to labor inefficiency. No man can watch the flow of migratory labor through any distributing point, like Minneapolis, without witnessing tragedies of drink, of drugs, of feeblemindedness, of bad home training, of defective education, and of moral failure, that wring his heart. But contact with tens of thousands of laborers of every type and description has forced the conclusion upon me that the moral failure of a very large percentage of these men is the result of the industrial and social conditions that surround them rather than of initial viciousness on their part. Initial personal fault accounts for some of them. But economic conditions beyond their control or understanding account for more. They are victims of drink, vice, drugs, and women, largely because the nature of their work prevents a normal home life, normal community life, normal citizenship.

You are familiar with common laborers. You see them daily, standing on street corners, riding in street cars, sweating in excavations, loafing at saloon or pool-room doors. You have probably hired them at one time or another. You may have shared their life. But have you ever really become acquainted with them? Do you know where the common laborer comes from, what his experiences are, what becomes of him, what his types are? Or is he one of those commonplace experiences that you are so familiar with that you do not really know anything about him? You know that there are more than a dozen different kinds of machinists, and that different kinds of carpenters have different types of skill which bring varying rates of pay. Do you realize also that there are at least five distinct classes of common laborers, varying in skill, in the kinds of work they follow, in productive capacity, in earning power, in social significance?


I was in a gas-retort house one night in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It was the hour for drawing the coke and recharging the retorts. Three stokers opened the little retort doors and drew the red-hot coke out on the floor. Then, standing twelve or fifteen feet away from the red-hot open retorts they threw from four to six hundred pounds of coal, with scoop shovels, into openings twentyone inches wide and fourteen inches high, and filled nine retorts without letting a single piece of coal fall on the floor. They were common laborers. They worked twelve hours a day and seven days a week. Their job consisted simply in drawing coke, cleaning retorts, and shoveling coal into the retorts. But they had the skill of men who had thoroughly learned a job, who had developed an expert skill in that

job, who remained steadily on the job. They were a part of that plant. But more than that, they were heads of families, citizens of Oshkosh, integral parts of the economic, political, and social life of the nation.

Here is the first and highest type of the common laborer: the man who is a part of an industry, who has an occupation, who is a citizen in a community, is the father of a family, perhaps a member of a lodge, a club, or a church. You find this man by the million in our industrial and social life. He runs the bulk of our simpler machinery, operates our street cars, furnishes our watchmen, janitors, and a thousand other kinds of steady help. Upon his shoulders rests a heavy portion of our social fabric. He represents no social problem so long as he can maintain this status - except the problem of an income inadequate to provide his family with a safe subsistence and a dependable future. Probably four out of every ten workmen are found in this category.

But this is not the only type of common laborer who is a permanent factor in the life of the community. A second important type is the man who works irregularly, who has a continuous succession of employers. He works for a while for contractor Jones, then for Smith, then for Brown. He gets a temporary job in a factory, then in a brickyard, and next in an excavation. At his best he is a man with a family struggling for existence. His wife commonly assists in the bitter struggle by keeping boarders, or by doing washing or sewing; his children are found at the work-bench as early as the law allows, and high-school education is not a thing that his family can think about. In a somewhat lower variation of the type we find this family intermittently on the rolls of the charities, whenever two or three weeks of con- .

« AnkstesnisTęsti »