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The sergeant stood up. In the cool, impersonal way made second nature by the training of the force, he rapidly weighed the situation. Here was he, Sergeant Stout of the Pennsylvania State Police, at midnight, alone, in the back room of an obscure dwelling in a mean place. He had in his possession two prisoners - one handcuffed and cowed, the other for the moment safe by reason of a rapidly passing daze.
If this were all, the situation would be of an extreme simplicity. His second prisoner revived, he would march them both to the waiting trolley and take them back to Unionville jail. But this was not quite all. He, Sergeant Stout, had been shot through the head. His head seemed to be growing bigger,
bigger. Blood was pouring down his throat in a steady stream. It would make him sick if he stopped to think of it; and his head was growing bigger -curiously bigger. Presumably, like other persons shot through the head, he would presently die. If he died before he handed these men over into safe keeping, that would be a pity, because they would get away. Further, if he could not maintain sufficient grip on himself to handle prisoner number two, prisoner number two, beyond any doubt, would shortly shoot again. As long, however, as he did keep that grip on himself, just so long prisoner number two was a 'prisoner under control.' And prisoners under control, by the code of the force, must be protected by their captors. Obviously then, there was just one course for Sergeant Stout to pursue: since he must, beyond question, complete these arrests, and since he must not permit his second captive to make the move that would justify disabling him, he must hang on to his own life and wavering senses long enough to march the two men to that trolley car. It had to be done, though his head was growing bigger - bigger (surely it must be spreading the skull apart!) and the thick, choking blood was pouring down his throat.
He kicked the rifle away from the threshold, out of the left-handed gunman's reach. The gunman was moving now-consciousness fully returned. The sergeant, motioning with the point of his Colt, brought him up standing. Then, with another gesture of his revolver too simple to be misunderstood, he indicated to the two the door to the street.
It must have seemed to them like taking orders from a spectre - from one of those awful beings through whose charmed substance bullets pass without effect. They looked at him aslant, fearfully. This Presence had
been shot through its brain, there was the mark, yet it gave no sign of human vulnerability. It was not good - not natural! For the last hour they had been amusing themselves, this well-met pair, in firing at a mark on the kitchen wall. Their bullets had been striking through, into the house next door, arousing a spicy echo of women's screams. With relish they had awaited some attempt at restraint. But they had not expected just this! Scarcely daring to meet each other's eyes, they filed out of the door, into the yard, into the street. Little they guessed how the trooper's head was sailing.
'I've got to make it!' said the sergeant to himself, clenching his teeth. And he would not think how many blocks it was to "'s far's we go.'
'One block at a time'll do it,' he told himself. One block at a time, he was steering them rapidly along, when upon his unsteady hearing broke the sound of footsteps, approaching on the
'Another thug to their rescue, maybe!' thought the sergeant and the idea pulled him together with a jerk.
As the footsteps rang close, he held himself braced for an onset. They neared the corner ahead, his Colt waited ready, but the flying figure, rounding under the street lamp, showed, heaven be praised! the uniform of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Trooper Lithgow, returning to the sub-station from detached duty, and passing through the town of Republic, had learned from the waiting trolley men of his sergeant's presence, with some hint of the errand which had brought him there. Thinking that help might not be amiss, he had started out to join his officer, and was hastening
along the way, when the sound of the two shots, distinct on the midnight silence, had turned his stride to a run.
Together they walked to the trolley, herding the prisoners before them. Together they rode to Unionville, with the prisoners between them. From time to time the two trolley men looked at Sergeant Stout, with the bleeding hole between his eyes, then looked at each other, and said nothing. Very rarely, Trooper Lithgow looked at Sergeant Stout, then at the trolley men, but said nothing. A proud man he was that night. But he did not want those trolley men to know it. He wanted them to see and to understand for all time that this thing was a matter of course that you couldn't down an officer of the Pennsylvania State Police on duty.
They got their two prisoners jailed. Then they walked over to the hospital (the last lift of the way up the hospital hill, Lithgow lent a steadying arm) and there, in the doctor's presence, Sergeant Stout gently collapsed.
'I'm glad you came, Lithgow. But you see - I could have fetched it!' he said, with the makings of a grin, just before he went over.
There were four days when he might have died. Then his own nature laid hold on him and lifted him back again into the world of sunshine. 'It's one of those super-cures effected by pure optimism. The man expected to get well,' the surgeon said.
But they dared not cut for the bullet: it lay too close to the spinal cord. And so First Sergeant Stout, when his head gets stuck fast, has yet to take it in his two hands and shift it free again. Still, with a head as steady as that, what does it matter?
THE SPIRIT OF '17
BY MARY HERRICK SMITH
EN ROUTE from Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, to Detroit, whither my husband was ordered to join his base hospital, we were delayed in Ithaca, New York. While waiting in the hotel lounge, I chanced to overhear an interesting conversation.
I had noticed a fine-looking man near me, reading the morning paper: he was distinctly the very prosperous city business man, his well-kempt appearance bespoke culture, money, and intelligence. While I was occupied with my speculations about him, a young man, just a boy, in fact, came in. He was a well-set-up chap, with the fresh healthy skin and clear-eyed eagerness of a country lad. He had never been far from the up-country farm where they raised the best breeds of livestock. He could n't have given a college yell to save his life, and he was innocent of fraternity decorations and secrets. Just the kind of boy I would like to have call me 'mother.' His clothes were good, but evidently from the general store of the small town. He carried a good-sized box, which he put across his knees as he seated himself. I knew that it was his luncheon which mother had packed, and that it included fried chicken and cold home-made sausage, cakes, sandwiches, fried cakes, crullers, mince pie and cheese, apples and winter pears; and a few relishes besides. Why, I could smell the luncheon that my mother had put up for my brother forty years ago.
The Boy gazed all around, took in
each detail of the room and its furnishings, with all the quiet dignity and interest of a well-born American country youth. You know a real Yankee country boy is n't like any other; there is a balance, an understanding, that is natural. It is inborn to be at home in any surrounding, however new and strange, so long as it is real.
After the Boy had surveyed the room, he looked over at the man reading. He sat perfectly still a few minutes, then 'Oh, hummed,' and waited again, and fidgeted a bit; but nobody spoke. I could see that he was fairly bursting with news of something. Finally, to the man, 'Can you tell me how far it is to Syracuse, sir?'
'Well,'-lowering his paper, -'not exactly, but three or four hours, I'd say. Going to Syracuse?'
'Yes, I've enlisted. I passed one examination, but I'm going to Syracuse for another and then I'm going to Spartansburg. Senator Wadsworth says, and it looks that way to me, that it is just as much our fight as theirs, and we ought to have been in it three years ago; they are getting tired over there. I'd hate to be drafted. I'd feel mean to think I had to be dragged in; besides I want to do my part. Every fellow ought to get into it.' 'What part of the service did you elect?'
'The infantry, sir. I'm going to Spartansburg to the training-camp.' Silence for some moments; then, showing that his bridges were burned, 'I've sold my clothes; sold 'em for four dol
lars and I'm to send 'em right back soon's I get my uniform. I hope I don't have to wait for the soldier clothes. I think I got a good bargain and so did the fellow I sold 'em to. I thought I would n't need 'em while I was in the army, and when I got back they'd be all out of style; and then I may never come back.' A ripple of seriousness passed over his boyish face. 'But it was a good chance and I took it. Have you a son, sir?'
'Yes, I have a son just eighteen, at Cornell. He expects to go next year if they need him in the aviation.'
'I'm just nineteen. I thought I'd better enlist. It's just possible they might draft 'em later, and I just could n't stand it to be drafted. Do you think I'll be able to go home for Thanksgiving?' he asked eagerly.
'I would n't think quite so soon. You'll hardly get there by that time.' 'Well, I think I can go home for Christmas, don't you?' And a shade of anxiety crept into his tone. 'I live up the road here a way, Wellsville, you know, about forty miles. Don't you think I'll get to Syracuse to-night if I go right on? I'd like to get through so I could be ready for work to-morrow morning. I don't want to waste any time now that I'm all ready.'
The Boy settled back with a look of forced patience, and the man held up his paper again; but I could see that he was not reading, and there was a look of suffused sadness in his face.
The Boy had taken from his pocket a pair of big, dark-blue, home-knitted mittens; on the palms was sewn red woolen to reinforce them. He carefully drew them on, folded his hands, thumbs up, on his luncheon-box, edged to the front of his chair, and sat thinking with eyes fixed on the far-away places of his dream. He was going over it all again; there was no haste, no excitement, no foolish sentiment, but sure determination and the courage of youth suddenly turned to manhood. With a little start he came back to the present, and, rising, said, 'I guess I'd better be going. You said I could get a train in about half an hour?'
'Before you go, will you tell me, my boy, why you chose the infantry?'
'Well, when you read of anything real hard that has to be done you will notice that it is always the infantry that does it. They have to be strong, young fellows they can depend on for the real hard things. So I chose the infantry, sir.'
There was a silence, which he broke with the quiet words, 'I think I'll be going. Good-bye, sir."
Springing from his chair, the man grasped the boy's hand. 'God bless you, son, and good luck!'
With misty vision we both stood and watched him out of sight; then, with all previous convention of acquaintance forgotten as we looked into each other's eyes, the man said, 'It is the spirit of '17 gone to the colors.'
REFITTING DISABLED SOLDIERS
BY L. V. SHAIRP
THERE are some tasks which appeal so directly and with such force to sentiment, that they stand in considerable danger of being ill performed for lack of prudent sense. There are few sights more pathetic than that of strong men who have lost their strength, and who stand helplessly before us, lacking sight or lacking limbs, or, perhaps worse than all, lacking 'nerve,' with all mind and will-power in abeyance, dependent upon others for every want in life. We are filled with feelings of pity, admiration, and gratitude which almost preclude the exercise of judgment. And yet there is nothing more certain than that, if the best is to be done for disabled soldiers the task of 'refitting' and otherwise helping them to reënter civil life as useful citizens must be undertaken with the utmost care, caution, and forethought.
The experience of previous wars helps us very little; not only because there has never been a war upon so great a scale, but because for the first time the whole resources of modern science have been ruthlessly employed in the destruction of life, resulting in a variety of casualties which has never before been known, and because the ranks of our great armies have been filled by men of every degree of education and every variety of occupation, the great majority of them unseasoned and unfamiliar with the sights and sounds of war. At the same time economic conditions have been so
strangely disturbed that, instead of a partly disabled man finding it necessary to take every opportunity of increasing his earning capacity, he finds a temporarily depleted labor market and the lure of high wages for very little skill. He does not realize that this condition will pass, and he is naturally enough inclined to take the short view, to neglect opportunities of training, and to take employment which will very likely cease and leave him stranded, at a time when the country has begun to believe the debt to its soldiers liquidated, and to be unwilling to repeat the efforts that it now so willingly makes for their satisfactory resettlement in civil life.
Considering that Great Britain was wholly unprepared for a great war on land, it follows that there was no organization for dealing with any large numbers of disabled men. Very prompt measures were, however, taken to provide for general distress occasioned by the war. But there was a strong feeling against any suggestion of 'charity' understood in its least noble sense
in the relief of men who had fought for the country, and in some quarters there was an almost fierce objection to voluntary bodies, such as the Soldiers' and Sailors' Help Society, having anything to do with the administration of public money or even of the National Relief Fund. Illogical as this
1 A brief sketch of the successive steps in
organization, beginning with the opening of the
National Relief Fund, will be found in the Contributors' Column.