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"Do you mean to say there are men in our army who can't speak English?"
"Sure!" he retorted. "My thirty were birds! We had to begin at the very beginning-put 'em in line, point at their right foot, and say: 'Foot! Right foot! That-is-your-right-foot!' Gradually we got 'em so they could face to the right and left, and most of them now can ask for meat and beans. Why, there is one fellow down here who not only couldn't speak any English, but he couldn't tell us who he was. Nobody knows now where he came from, how he got here, where he was born, or anything about him. We tried every kind of interpreter on him in the camp, and they all gave him up in despair. He just made queer noises with his mouth. Finally I got a piece of paper and wrote the word Smith on it and pinned it on his cuff. 'You're Smith !' I said. And Smith he is!
"There's a place called Tiflis, over in the Caucasus, where they say you can hear one hundred and sixty-seven languages spoken. I tell you it's got nothing on us. The first seventeen men on my musterroll, for instance, represent twelve different nationalities; and the first one, Abend, is a German, with two brothers in the boche army fighting on the western front. Then there's Aristopoulous, a Greek; and little Baracca, an Italian; Badapol-I don't know what he is-some kind of Slav, I guess; Castaigne, he's French extraction; Callahan, Irish; Conant, Welsh;
Korbel, Bohemian; Dikirian, he's a Syrian rug-seller— I forget just how they come; but further along there's Zriek, an Arab; Potopoff, a Russian; Pacheco, who comes from Sonora, Mexico; a whole bunch of Lithuanians and a lot from little Russian places you never heard of at all.
"They're not half so green, though, as some of the chaps right from the U. S. A. I've got two New York men from the Adirondacks who never were on a railroad-train until they were drafted, and one from way up near the Canadian border who never had seen an electric light or a moving picture! But they're bully stuff, most of them. Army life brings out what's best in each one and sort of distributes it around among the others. I've learned a lot from some of them."
How about those fellows that have been forced into the service?" I asked. "After all, it isn't as if they were volunteers."
"No," he admitted, "not exactly-yet. But it's gradually getting to be so, and by the time we sail I don't believe there'll be ten per cent of the men who won't have what I call 'the volunteer spirit.' Of course, at the beginning there's a difference between the attitude of the volunteer and the selected man. But the extraordinary part about the life down here is that, after they have been here a few days and seen how things are done, most of the men get an entirely
new point of view and are proud and glad to be here. It may be due in part to the feeling that, having been drafted, they might as well make the best of it, and that the only way to save their own lives-which is what I tell 'em every day-is to make themselves as efficient as possible so that when they come out of the trenches they can put the boches on the run. Or it may be something else." He hesitated. "I don't know.
"There's a kind of feeling about the whole thing that I can't explain! Anyhow, it gets hold of 'em! Now, I am telling you the honest truth when I say that, in spite of the fact that seventy-five per cent of my own men claimed exemption in the first place, seventy-five per cent of all of them to-day have absolutely the volunteer spirit. The other twenty-five are still grumbling-frankly. They say they didn't want to fight; that they're being made to fight against their will; and that the decision of the exemption boards in their respective cases was unfair and unjust. But they're getting over it. They're getting to see that, when you come right down to it, the only really democratic army is a selected army."
"How about socialism?" I inquired timidly.
"I don't hear much about it," he said, "except the backhanded kind you get in some newspapers. There isn't any pamphleteering as yet. I think there's something about how our men are treated and their rela
tion to their officers which makes against that kind of thing. It's so different from the way things used to be in the regular army and the way, as I understand it, things are on the other side."
"How do you mean?" I asked. "How, different?"
"Why," he replied, "we do everything we can to encourage intercourse between the men and the officers. Every man in the company is free to come to me at any time to ask questions, and to have the reasons for doing a particular thing in a particular way explained to him. That, I understand, was something unheard of in the regular army."
"Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die,'
"That was the old idea," responded Jack. "Now, I bet you that my men will do and die just as readily if, before they reach the point of doing and dying, they feel that their government wants them to know and understand the reason. The noncoms sent down here from the regular army don't understand it at all; but I think it is going to make a big difference, and it certainly makes for the right sort of democracy."
"Do you find them quick to learn? How about their intelligence?"
"It's really wonderful!" he exclaimed with enthusiasm. "In the first place it's astonishing what a high
grade of men we have got in the draft. There are about a dozen college men in my company alone, and there are any number of fellows who have held rather responsible business positions. We have two noncom instructors from the regular army, and the way the fellows pick it all up is perfectly astonishing.
"There's another thing, too, you'd be interested in, and that's the general tone of the whole place. Perhaps you don't know it, but there used to be a kind of convention among the enlisted men at an army post which required them to curse every other word. Nobody ever spoke of a rifle as a plain rifle—it was rifle. It was the same way about everything. Now this new army of ours is really a new army. It hasn't got any traditions of swearing or carousing. Uncle Sam has started in perfectly fresh, without the handicap in morals that a huge regular army would have involved. The men haven't been used to profane and smutty talk, and they don't want it. Those that do, get it kicked out of them pretty quick. The Y. M. C. A. centres are simply great! Do you know that we've got a Y. M. C. A. house for every regiment? No Sunday-school talk, either! Anybody can go there -Jews, Roman Catholics, Hindus, atheists! A fellow doesn't have a Bible shoved into one hand and a hymn-book into the other if he wants to write a letter home.
"I have a vaudeville show every ten days that,