Imágenes de páginas

every governmental regulation or suggestion, and let drop the fact that he had contributed largely to the Red Cross, Y. M. C. A., and other sorts of war relief, and had as well invested twenty-five thousand dollars in Liberty Bonds.

I let him rave on. What use was it to point out to my well-meaning but misguided friend that though his four courses were literally within the Hooverian limit, every one of them violated it in spirit, since in each case the most lavish use was made of expensive condiments, seasonings, and preserves, requiring large quantities of butter and sugar. The fact that these were used on fish instead of meat was the merest incident. He would have retorted that he was obeying orders in having a meatless and wheatless day, and that that was all there was to it.

Well, it might have seemed ungracious for a guest to discuss the champagne, and on the whole we concluded to hold our peace. But the sight of the two sturdy young Englishmen, solemnly stalking around the table passing liqueurs when they ought to have been in the trenches, gave me an unpleasant feeling, as well as the inclination later to lure one or both of them out of the ambush of their pantry and stand them up against the wall and find out why they were not where they belonged.

But I find that butlers, second men, and chauffeurs "are different," somehow. It is so easy to become

dependent upon particular servants. Most women would rather have a chop handed round by dear old stupid James than a golden pheasant served by a maid, however chic. Knee-breeches for some are the insignia of respectability, and, of course, one can be nothing if not respectable!

Last autumn the following appeared in a leading New York daily in the column devoted to "society":

Sept. 12-Possibility of the drafting of aliens, as proposed by the joint resolution in Congress, has caused consternation among the big villas, in most of which English and French men servants are employed. On the estates many Breton French are employed as gardeners and caretakers.

Mrs. . . . has an English butler and four other men servants who would be subject to the draft. Mrs. has four English


[ocr errors]

and Mrs.

[ocr errors]

men servants. Mr. and Mrs. . . ., Mrs. . . ., Mr. and Mrs. . . . and others would lose either their butlers or helpers in the draft.

In spite of the calls to service many aliens employed in the cottages have remained in this country, tempted by increases in wages and other inducements. Besides men who handle the affairs of the butlers' pantries others in the cottagers' kitchens would be affected by the resolution. The wealthy sojourners hold these men to be indispensable in serving dinners and conducting entertainments.

Though the rich woman has cheerfully given out of her abundance, has bravely watched her sons go off to the front and her husband intern himself in Washington for the period of the war, she has generally flinched so far when it came to the lesser sacrifices involving

discomfort or even merely inconvenience. She has procrastinated in the hope that the war might end or some valid excuse turn up which would relieve her of the disagreeable necessity of giving up her cherished butler and second man.

Up to this time the patriotism of the wealthy has been shown far less in the direction of household economy than in their public activities. To be sure, dinners are shorter on the whole; there are fewer ablebodied butlers and second men about; the dressmakers complain that their fashionable customers are wearing their last year's gowns, but there are still dinners and butlers and dresses very much as before.

No change is as yet particularly noticeable. It is really easier for a rich woman to give ten thousand dollars to the Red Cross than to give up her maid; far easier to work several hours at the local War Relief than to surrender the chauffeur and the motor in which she drives there. These thoughts occurred to me as my wife and I partook of the war dinner provided by our host, a meal that would probably have caused a considerable elevation of Mr. Hoover's eyebrows.

The paper that morning had contained a table showing the comparative wealth and man power of the Central Powers and the Allies. Everybody had read it, and since it was so striking, Sanderson had cut it out and kept it.

[blocks in formation]

*A D. McLaren, of the Manchester Daily Guardian, says (Atlantic Monthly, Dec., 1917) that there was in 1913 a total colonial population of Germans of 24,389, including officers and soldiers in garrisons.

"The boches haven't a chance!" confidently proclaimed our host after dinner on the strength of the foregoing figures. "Not a chance! It's all over but the shouting! The Allies have five times as much money and eight times as many men."

Unfortunately, the average New York bond-broker is not only statistically sophisticated but sceptical as well.

"My dear Sanderson," I returned, "I don't wish to discourage you, but those figures are highly misleading. A hundred thousand men on the firing-line are worth a hundred million in Siam, Bechuanaland, and Hindu Kush. You've got to have your men where they'll be some good to you. So you can just eliminate all the Hottentots and Esquimaux that are figured in on the Entente side of the balance-sheet. And what good do Russia's one hundred and eighty millions do us? Or Japan's seventy-two millions, for that matter? On the other hand, the Teutonic allies draw on populations exclusively within their own frontier battle-line. No; you can't dope out the winner on any such general basis as that, interesting as the figures may be."

Sanderson seemed unconvinced.

"Well, anyhow," he argued, "money counts! Germany can't win if she's only got one hundred and eight billion dollars as against five hundred and seventy-six billion on the side of the Allies. Why,

« AnteriorContinuar »