« AnkstesnisTęsti »
small like a dwarf. Thirst for this sacrament had made Chris strike away the cup of lies about life that Kitty's white hands held to him and turn to Margaret with this vast trustful gesture of his loss of memory. And helped by me, she had forgotten that it is the first concern of love to safeguard the dignity of the beloved, so that neither God in his skies nor the boy peering through the hedge should find in all time one possibility for contempt, and had handed him the trivial toy of happiness. We had been utterly negligent of his future, blasphemously careless of the divine essential of his soul. For if we left him in his magic circle there would come a time when his delusion turned to a senile idiocy; when his joy at the sight of Margaret disgusted the flesh because his smiling mouth was slack with age; when one's eyes no longer followed him caressingly as he went down to look for the first primroses in the wood, but flitted here and there defensively to see that nobody was noticing the doddering old man. Gamekeepers would chat kindly with him, and tap their foreheads as they passed through the copse; callers would be tactful and dangle bright talk before him. He who was as a flag flying from our tower would become a queer-shaped patch of eccentricity on the country-side, the full-mannered music of his being would become a witless piping in the bushes. He would not be quite a man.
I did not know how I could pierce Margaret's simplicity with this last cruel subtlety, and turned to her, stammering. But she said:
"Give me the jersey and the ball."
The rebellion had gone from her eyes, and they were again the seat of all gentle wisdom.
"The truth 's the truth," she said, "and he must know it."
I looked up at her, gasping, yet not truly amazed; for I had always known she could not leave her throne of righteousness for long, and she repeated, "The truth's the truth," smiling sadly at the strange order of this earth.
We kissed not as women, but as lovers
do; I think we each embraced that part of Chris the other had absorbed by her love. She took the jersey and the ball, and clasped them as though they were a child. When she got to the door she stopped and leaned against the lintel. Her head fell back; her eyes closed; her mouth was contorted as though she swallowed bitter drink.
I lay face downward on the ottoman and presently heard her poor boots go creaking down the corridors. Through the feeling of doom that filled the room as tangibly as a scent I stretched out to the thought of Chris. In the deep daze of devotion which followed recollection of the fair down on his cheek, the skin burned brown to the rim of his gray eyes, the harsh and diffident masculinity of him, I found comfort in remembering that there was a physical gallantry about him which would still, even when the worst had happened, leap sometimes to the joy of life. Always, to the very end, when the sun shone on his face or his horse took his fences well, he would screw up his eyes and smile that little stiff-lipped smile. I nursed a feeble glow at that. "We must ride a lot," I planned. And then Kitty's heels tapped on the polished floor, and her skirts swished as she sat down in the armchair, and I was distressed by the sense, more tiresome than a flickering light, of some one fretting.
"I wish she would hurry up. She 's got to do it sooner or later."
My spirit was asleep in horror. Out there Margaret was breaking his heart. and hers, using words like a hammer, looking wise, doing it so well.
"Are n't they coming back?" asked Kitty. "I wish you 'd look."
There was nothing in the garden; only a column of birds swimming across the lake of green light that lay before the
A long time after Kitty spoke once
"Jenny, do look again."
There had fallen a twilight which was a wistfulness of the earth. Under the
cedar-boughs I dimly saw a figure mothering something in her arms. Almost had she dissolved into the shadows; in another moment the night would have her. With his back turned on this fading unhappiness Chris walked across the lawn. He was looking up under his brows at the overarching house as though it were a hated place to which, against all his hopes, business had forced him to return. He stepped aside to avoid a patch of brightness cast by a lighted window on the grass; lights in our house were worse than darkness, affection worse than hate elsewhere. He wore a dreadful, decent smile; I knew how his voice would resolutely lift in greeting us. He walked not loose-limbed like a boy, as he had done that very afternoon, but with the soldier's hard tread upon the heel. It recalled to me that, bad as we were, we were yet not the worst circumstance of his
return. When we had lifted the yoke of our embraces from his shoulders he would go back to that flooded trench in Flanders, under that sky more full of flying death than clouds, to that no-man's-land where bullets fall like rain on the rotting faces of the dead.
"Jenny, are n't they there?" Kitty asked again.
"They 're both there." "Is he coming back?" "He 's coming back."
"Jenny! Jenny! How does he look?" "Oh,"-how could I say it?-"every inch a soldier."
She crept behind me to the window, peered over my shoulder and saw.
I heard her suck in her breath with satisfaction.
"He's cured!" she whispered slowly. "He 's cured!"
The Drafted Man
By BADGER CLARK
Kissed me from the saddle, and I still can feel it burning;
Riding down the cañon to the smoke-blue plains?
Oh, the smoke-blue plains! How I used to watch them sleeping, Thinking peace had dimmed them with the shadow of her wings; Now their gentle haze will seem a smoke of death a-creeping,
Drifted from the fighting in the country of the kings.
Joked me to the last, and in a voice without a quaver,
Man o' mine; but underneath the brown his cheek was pale.
Never did the nation breed a kinder or a braver
Since our fathers landed from the long sea-trail.
Oh, the long sea-trail he must leave me here to follow,
Down beyond the plains, among the fighting and the dying,
WORLD JUSTICE FOR
By HERBERT ADAMS GIBBONS
Author of "The New Map of Europe," "The New Map of Africa,"
[The importance of Dr. Gibbons' article to a correct understanding of the feelings of the French people cannot be exaggerated. The article will appear simultaneously in France.-THE Editor.]
EFORE August 1, 1914, the leaders in the political and intellectual life of France had given up hope of the return of the lost provinces. Most of them deplored the propaganda of a few exaltés, in which they saw a menace to the relations between France and Germany. The Peace of Frankfort was regarded as having definitely settled the status of Alsace and Lorraine. Even after Agadir, France remained profoundly pacifist. The Alsatians and Lorrainers realized this. They saw clearly that France did not intend to become the aggressor in a European war. Germany had proved herself stronger than France in 1870, and every decade since then had seen Germany grow more rapidly than France in population and in wealth. To offset this increasing inferiority, France made an alliance with Russia and an "entente" with Great Britain. But both these arrangements were purely defensive. Whatever German apologists may write about the ante-bellum encircling policy of their present enemies, they are unable to cite a single text in the arrangements between France on the one hand, and Russia and Great Britain on the other, to justify the inference, let alone the fact, of an aggressive coalition. France devoted her energies to extra-European expansion. If her diplomacy can be said to have been detrimental to German interests or to have hampered Germany, the conflict of
interests was in Africa and not in Europe. Alsace-Lorraine and the Peace of Frankfort were not in question.
Those who were most interested in the attitude of France toward Alsace and Lorraine were naturally the inhabitants of the lost provinces. If any could be expected and relied upon to interpret accurately French public opinion and the aims. of French diplomacy, they were the Alsatian leaders. Despite the many incidents. that followed the granting of a wholly inadequate constitution in 1910, despite the false interpretation that might have been given to the Agadir crisis in 1911, the Alsatian irreconcilables did not look to France for aid. Quite the contrary. Instead of asking for a revision of the Peace of Frankfort, they made autonomy their program, and insisted that their antiPrussian agitation had as its aim only, to quote the words of Herr Wolff, "the elevation of Alsace-Lorraine to the rank of an independent and federated state, like the other twenty-five component parts of the German Empire." On May 6, 1912, the following motion, presented by leaders. of four of the political groups in the Reichsland, was voted without discussion by the Landtag:
The Chamber invites the Staathalter to instruct the representatives of Alsace-Lorraine in the Bundesrath to use all the force they possess against the idea of a war between Germany and France, and to influ
ence the Bundesrath to examine the ways which might possibly lead to a rapprochement between France and Germany, which rapprochement will furnish the means of putting an end to the race of armaments.
What more striking, more conclusive proof of the contention, first, that the French Government was not a party, even indirectly, to the agitation for self-government in Alsace-Lorraine, and, secondly, that the inhabitants of Alsace-Lorraine had no reason to believe that France intended to be drawn into a war for their liberation and return to the status of French provinces?
Germany cannot reproach France with not having stood loyally by the treaty she was compelled to sign at Frankfort. Nor can Germany reproach the people that she took forcibly from France with not having done their best to adapt themselves to their changed political allegiance rather than have Europe once more plunged into a bloody war on their account. Germany had her chance during forty-three years to assimilate Alsace-Lorraine without interference from France or France's friends. Europe, the whole world, accepted the Peace of Frankfort. Alsatians and Lorrainers, although they could not acquiesce in the treaty of which they were the victims, submitted to force, and as time passed with no attempt on the part of France to win them back, they tried to make the best of the terrible situation in which they were placed. If in 1914 there was still an Alsace-Lorraine question, the fault was entirely Germany's. No fair-minded man who reads the history of Alsace and Lorraine under German rule can possibly arrive at any other opinion than this.
When on the morning of August 2, 1914, the Germans crossed the frontier of France near Longwy, they annulled by their own act the Peace of Frankfort. They themselves brought up again, for decision by the test of arms, the fate of the lost provinces. France had to accept the challenge. This time, however, the war deliberately entered upon did not turn out to be a duel between two unequally
matched nations and did not end quickly, as the Germans confidently expected, in the crushing of France. Great Britain entered the war on the side of France. Other nations, forced into the struggle by Germany's disregard of treaty obligations. and their own sovereignty and interests, joined what has come to be virtually a world coalition. Only if Germany is successful in dictating her own terms of peace at the point of the sword will she be able to prevent many questions, among which that of Alsace-Lorraine is one of the most important, from coming before the Areopagus of nations. Sensing the impossibility of victory by arms, Germany is already preparing throughout the world at propaganda to confuse and mislead the jury, if she fails to prevent the meeting of the jury by corrupting the jurors.
The Central powers, during the year 1917, by skilful manipulation and leadership of their armies, were able to gain new victories. But the odds against Germany and Austria Hungary, from the purely military point of view, are too great to secure their final triumph on the field of battle. With the lesson of what has happened in Russia and Italy before us, however, we should be fools to believe that their chances are equally poor of winning by diplomacy what is denied them by arms. Even if the powers of the Entente coalition hold together long enough to defeat Germany and her allies and assume to pass judgment upon the vanquished, there remains the hope of confusing, of tricking, the jurors. Democracies are inherently weak in waging war. Each one of Germany's enemies has been handicapped by the difficulty of securing and maintaining unity in the internal body politic. Unity in the conduct of the war has so far proved impossible of attainment. Unless there is a determined effort in each of the Allied countries to educate public opinion on leading questions that must be met and solved, the weakness of the coalition in war will be found to have been a less important disaster than the weakness of the coalition in making peace. For, since the war has become a war in which