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that didn't countenance, if not order, the cutting off of women's breasts, the poisoning of wells, the drowning of babes in arms with their mothers, the violation of young and innocent girls! But you might as well consider the feelings of a ruffian who had debauched your daughter and refrain from locking him up because his confinement in jail "would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at an intolerable sacrifice, and would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory" after he finally got out. That was how I felt about it.
The President's speech of February 3, 1917, delivered upon the severance of relations with Germany -which we picked up in Mindanao-had cheered me somewhat. That, I admitted, looked more like business. But I felt by no means sure that it was not put forth with a belief almost approaching certainty that the German Government would back down; and if it backed down I knew we should never go to war. The sentence "We are the sincere friends of the German people and earnestly desire to remain at peace with the government which speaks for them" bore an olivebranch that I expected would herald the return of Bernstorff.
Of course I know better to-day; for we all are aware now of what Mr. Wilson knew then-what Germany had been doing here in the way of distributing bloodmoney and hiring criminals, and of what the Kaiser
and his ministers had planned and even threatened against the United States.
Even if finally we actually declared war, I did not believe that that act would have any concrete result. We were entirely unprepared, and the war would be over long before we could send a properly trained and adequately armed body of troops to Europe. I figured the thing out in about the same way the German General Staff had figured it out. Nobody wanted war except a few jingoes in the East; free Americans would never stand for conscription, and our entry would have no effect except to divert back into the United States the tide of munitions flowing steadily to England and France. To that extent Germany would actually profit by our action.
We were visiting a native village, I remember, in one of the coral islands the first week in April when the captain of our revenue cutter picked up the news by wireless from Manila that the President had proclaimed a state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government. Naturally, the news occasioned a good deal of excitement on the steamer and the captain dressed ship and fired a salute, which sent the natives scurrying to the woods. Helen's first thought, of course, was of our son, a junior at Harvard. Looking at me a little anxiously, she said:
"Jack's not old enough to go, is he?"
"Oh, no!" I answered resolutely. "Jack's only a boy at college. Besides, the war will be over long before we can send any troops across. They'd send the regular army first, anyhow."
I told her that quite sincerely. It never dawned upon me to think otherwise. Jack was a kid. He didn't have sense enough to change his shoes after he had been out in the rain. Only a year or so ago I had had to stand over him with a club to make him brush his teeth, and he had hated a bath just as much as the devil is supposed to hate consecrated water. "Oh, no!" I reassured her. "You don't need to worry a single minute about Jack. He might go to the next war, but he'll get no chance at this."
And so we steamed on among the islands, under cloudless skies, reading novels and playing bridge, until, six weeks later, we again reached Manila and regretfully bade farewell to our captain.
From Manila we took a steamer for Honolulu, and a week later arrived by coasting vessel at Ilao, where Tom Blanchard's sugar-factory is situated, and began our lotos-eating life on the plantation. There for several months we led the existence commonly referred to as idyllic, keeping no hours, sleeping fourteen out of the twenty-four when we chose, swimming in crystalline water inside the reefs, fishing for rainbowhued pauu and hilu outside the islands, and waited upon hand and foot by impassive Chinese servants,
who anticipated every thought we either had or should have had.
The bungalow was half a mile from the sugar-factory, on the other side of a point, and had its own dock. There was no telegraph; we had no neighbors; and there was no one to speak to except a taciturn superintendent, who looked like an ex-convict and who lived with a half-caste wife named Mo-a. Once a week a small steamer dropped a bag of mail at our landing, including a bundle of morning, evening, and Sunday New York papers about as big as a hogshead.
At first we used to rush down to the jetty and tear off the wrappers before the Chink could bring them up to the veranda-just couldn't wait! We wanted to know exactly what the government was doing; how many hundred yards the French and English had gained from the boches since the week before; how much nearer Cadorna was to Triest; and whether the Czar had been put at peeling potatoes or wheeling a barrow. Gradually, however, we lost interest. It took all the joy out of life to spend whole days waisthigh in newspapers-all alike and full of vain repetitions-trying to arrange the stuff in its proper sequence. When you get about forty newspapers at once there is a striking monotony, even about war
Finally we reached the point when we couldn't look at them-except for the head-lines. To see my
namesake, John-Head or Number One Boy-come staggering up the beach with that huge load of brownwrapped rolls of printed matter on his back filled us with gloom. In the first place, it was all weeks old when it got to us; and then there was so much of it! Stale tons of it! Usually after lying unopened for days, those papers found their way down to Mo-a, who liked to cut out the pictures in the supplements and paste them on the wall of her house with fishglue that she boiled herself.
I would occasionally find her gazing rapturously at some rotogravure print of George M. Cohan, William Jennings Bryan, or Colonel House, and murmuring "Beau'fu' man!" In ladies she took no interest, and she would look contemptuously at the reproductions of our most brilliant Broadway stars-at Jane Cowl, Billie Burke, or our own Maxine, and shake her head and mutter "No-a-good!"
You see, the atmosphere was somehow antipathetic to intellectual exertion. Our previous New York ideas seemed-how shall I say?—"irrelevant, incompetent, and immaterial." We lived like princes and it cost us only a few cents a day; we couldn't have bought anything even if we had needed it-which we didn't; there was nothing in the world of Ilao to spend a single cent on, and I don't believe that literally there was more than six dollars Mex. in the place. There was nothing to worry us, no duties to per