Page images

We learned early that it is not wise to treat a marin treacherously. He will wade through a machine-gun to wipe it out. Once the Germans near Nieuport made a sudden sortie and overtook a marin doctor, wounded, but still caring for his wounded. They gave him and his patients the bayonet.

Then the sailors, reinforced, came back with a counter attack, and reached the Red Cross post. There they found their favorite doctor dead. They swept on, surrounded the German detachment, and bayoneted the men and the officer who had ordered the murder. One man they spared, and they sent him back to the German lines to tell what marins do to an enemy that strikes foully.

We had known that doctor. Later, at Nieuport, we learned to know many of the Fusiliers Marins and to grow fond of them. How else could it be when we went and got them, sick and wounded, dying and dead, two, six, ten of them a day, for many weeks, and brought them in to the Red Cross post for a dressing, and then on to the hospital? I remember a young man in our ambulance. His right foot was shot away, and the leg above was wounded. He lay unmurmuring for all the tossing of the road over the eight miles of the ride. We lifted him from the stretcher, which he had wet with his blood, into the white cot in "Hall 15" of Zuydcoote Hospital. The wound and the journey had gone deeply into his vitality. As he touched the bed, his control ebbed, and he became violently sick at the stomach. I stooped to carry back the empty stretcher. He saw I was going away, and said, "Thank you." I knew I should not see him again, not even if I came early next day.

There is one unfading impression made on me by those wounded. If I call it good nature, I have given only one element in it. It is more than that: it is a dash of fun. They smile, they wink, they accept a light for their cigarette. It is not stoicism at all. Stoicism is a grim holding on, the jaws clenched, the spirit dark, but enduring. This is a thing of

wings. They will know I am not making light of their pain in writing these words. I am only saying that they make light of it. The judgment of men who are soon to die is like the judgment of little children. It does not tolerate foolish words. Of all the ways of showing you care that they suffer there is nothing half so good as the gift of tobacco. As long as I had any money to spend, I spent it on packages of cigarettes.

When it came my time to say good-by, my sailor friend, who had often stopped by my car to tell me that all was going well, ran over to see the excitement. I told him I was leaving, and he gave me a smile of deep-understanding amusement. Tired so soon? That smile carried a live consciousness of untapped power, of the record he and his comrades had made. It showed a disregard of my personal feelings, of all adult human weakness. That was the picture I carried away from the Nieuport line-the smiling boy with his wounded arm, alert after his year of war, and more than a little scornful of one who had grown weary in conditions so prosperous for young men.

I rode away from him, past the Coxyde encampment of his comrades. There they were as I had often seen them, with the peddlers cluttering their camp-candy men, banana women; a fringe of basket merchants about their grim barracks; a dozen peasants squatting with baskets of cigarettes, fruit, vegetables, foolish, bright trinkets. And over them hovered the boys, dozens of them in blue blouses, stooping down to pick up trays, fingering red apples and shining charms, chaffing, dickering, shoving one another, the old loves of their childhood still tangled in their being.

So when I am talking about the sailors as if they are heroes, suddenly something gay comes romping in. I see them again, as I have so often seen them in the dunes of Flanders, and what I see is a race of children.

"Don't forget we are only little ones," they say. "We don't die; we are just at play."

[graphic][merged small]

"The Pearl Necklace," by Jan van der Meer

[ocr errors]


O lift a melody of Wagner's from its harmony is not harder upon the composer than to take a detail out of the ensemble of color, light, and shade created by an artist like Jan van der Meer. But that is what has happened here to the little lady in the gray satin and canarycolored jacket, edged with ermine, who keeps her vigil before a hanging mirror in the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum of Berlin. Here, alas! the mirror has disappeared, and all but a little of the intervening mass of shadowed blue drapery heaped about the gleaming blue of a large Oriental jar. Gone, too, is the slit of window through which soft sunshine plays upon a saffron curtain, and then spreads in a web of vibrating luminosity over the bare, gray wall. Not less lightly than one strand of floss-silk lies upon another, the luminosity envelops the girl's profile, the blonde hair drawn back by a scarlet ribbon, and the fingers toying with the necklace of pearls. The face is homely, no shapeliness is wedded to the plumpness of her arms, no grace to her figure; yet there are few little ladies in art for whom exists such a unanimity of admiration.

She is part of one of her creator's choicest harmonies, a standing instance of the truth that beauty is not so much a positive as a relative thing, a product of values or qualities organized into a unity of harmonious relations. The values or tone qualities in this case are based upon the combi

nation of blue and yellow, a favorite color scheme of Meer's, whose preference in the works of his maturity, of which this is one, was for cool harmonies, saved from chillness by a little introduction of warm colors; in this picture, for example, the dull, dark red of the chair and the lively note of scarlet in the hair. Upon this simple base, by modulating the tones of the colors and the rhythms of greater and less degrees of light, in a dancing scale that runs from the opaque black of the frame of the mirror up to the white high lights of the ermine, the artist has created a harmony of relations that not only is completely unified, but also has the lifelike quality of vibration. The picture thrills as thrills a movement of music executed by a string quartet.

Meer had been forgotten even in his native city of Delft, and his few pictures -thirty in all-had been attributed to other painters, when early in the sixties of the last century his name and his fame were resuscitated by the French critic E. J. T. Thoré, better known by his penname, "W. Bürger." It was then recognized that the work of this artist, done during a comparatively short life of fortythree years (1632-1675) with exacting taste and a skill of craftsmanship marvelously accomplished, had anticipated with consummate realization the modern motives of painting. He was hailed as par excellence the painters' painter.


The Get-away

By MARY HEATON VORSE Author of "A Child's Heart," "The Highest Power," etc.

Illustrations by Everett Shinn

N the first place, I want it clearly understood that this story is no burlesque, but a straight record of fact. Indeed, I am almost afraid to write it, since the generation in which we live is as yet so wrongminded that instead of extending sympathy to Paul Brockway, as it should, it may be inclined to laugh at him. But there is more than one young man walking about upon two legs to-day who has shared Paul's fate; many a young man who reads this will feel the blush of hot shame mounting to his face as he remembers ignominious get-aways that he himself has been forced to make, awful palpitating moments when, torn with embarrassment, chivalry, and false modesty, he has been forced into positions like Paul's.

This is frankly a story with a message; far from being written with levity, this is propaganda. I say it openly, I am not serving you a sugar-coated pill; so when you read the sad story of Paul Brockway, pause and think. Face boldly the conditions of life which actually confront us, and which, because of the European War, are going to grow steadily worse and worse, and then set briskly about creating a public opinion by which men may meet circumstances of this kind with the grace and dignity of self-approval with which women may meet them. Talk about a double standard of morality! Here's a double standard with a vengeance. When it is all right and decent for women, why it is made so fiendish, so soul-searing, so ignominious, and so low-down for men, I can't tell you. It is, and it ought not to be-not with the world as it is.

Paul's tragedy began by listening to the venomous counsels of Hemmingway, the philosopher. Hemmingway sat upon his piazza surrounded by beautiful children of his own begetting, a charming and able wife, whose eye was at once both humorous and cynical, and a philosophy that harked back from some forgotten era of the nineteenth century.

"Women," he boomed, "need to be made love to; only by making love to women can you get to know them. It 's the only way for a man of intelligence to begin an acquaintance with a woman—to make love to her." A beautiful blond child perched itself on each of his capacious knees. Caressing their heads, he continued to talk convincingly a philosophy of life suited to an earlier and lessdangerous day. "Marriage," he continued, with an optimism totally unsupported by any fact, "as we now see it in its binding bourgeois phases, will shortly disappear. Men and women are too far apart. More men should know more women. Don't you agree with me, Consuela?" He appealed to that slender and deep-bosomed daughter of Neptune, Consuela Dare, Paul's betrothed. Consuela turned a smoldering eye on Hemmingway.

"No," she said coldly.

"Now, what Paul needs is to make love to some woman if he 's to make you happy, Consuela."

"I'll attend to being happy myself," said Consuela, darkly. At this Hemmingway's wife laughed a short and mocking laugh. Subtly it was turned against Hemmingway.

"But you, Consuela, you like to be made love to. I make love to you myself."

"Do you?" said Consuela, flushing angrily under her tan.

"Don't you know it, Consuela? You slapped me the last time I kissed you. No, it was the time before the last that you slapped me.”

"How could I know you were doing what you call 'making love'!" said Consuela.

Hemmingway's wife again laughed maddeningly.

"You 're very subtle, Consuela," Hemmingway went on, "and how shall an inexperienced man like Paul-"

"I'm not so darned inexperienced," Paul broke in. Poor fellow, he was easily drawn.

Here it was that Peggy DeWitt spoke. "Paul, don't you want some more experience?" said she, putting her face about four inches from his and smiling mockingly into it.

"Sure!" said Paul.

"We're both engaged," Peggy reminded him; "it 's our duty to enrich our lives for the partners of our joys. Come ahead!" They disappeared, Paul having the rejoicing emotion of a small boy playing hooky; besides, he had not relished the fact that right under his eyes Consuela had been flirting with Hemmingway. Obviously he owed her one.

Paul Brockway had led an unusually sheltered life. He had lived in groups of people where men preponderated over women. Since leaving college, four years before, he had spent time in some strange places: he had been in the far North, he had gone to Africa with a moving-picture man. On his latest return from the wild places of the earth he had seen Consuela and become engaged to her. He knew as little about modern life or women as Hemmingway, who, looking at it over a frieze of his children's heads, could still talk in terms of the nineteenth century.

When Paul returned alone, with the irritating look of a cat who has swallowed a canary, Consuela was there waiting for him. The atmosphere was sultry.

"Surely, Consuela, you 're not so bourgeoise," inquired Hemmingway, "as not to perceive that Paul has done this for you alone?"

"I can't stand Peggy DeWitt," replied Consuela, her bosom heaving, "and I will not see her make a monkey out of Paul!"

"You 're unreasonable," said Paul. He did not like the phrase "make a monkey of."

Consuela clenched her fists.

"I will not have you act like a fool with girls I perfectly dislike," she asserted.

Despite Hemmingway's saying admiringly, "I'd give ten years of my life to have a girl love me like that," they quarreled.

With a feeling that marriage was about to shut confining jaws upon him and that he must have one little day of experience before that time arrived, -these ideas had carefully been inserted there by Hemmingway,-Paul flung himself into his motor.

"Don't come back," said Consuela, flamingly, "until you can stop acting like a fool." "Which means," Hemmingway interpreted, "until you can do everything she tells you to."

The automobile has had a profound effect upon the course of courtship. A man can arrive and leave with a celerity and unexpectedness that has been impossible hitherto. Paul let the road lead him; he did n't know this part of New England well. Nightfall found him in a quiet and beautiful village. An old white church with a lovely and aspiring tower fronted a green common; the wide streets on each side held a double row of elms. Even the town hall had escaped burning up. No one knows why New England town halls do burn up, but this has been for a long time their characteristic. Ancient houses, their yards full of flowering shrubs, slumbered under the shady elms. A motor-car seemed almost an impertinence here, so much did one appear to have turned back the hand of time.

Paul, whose senses and sensibilities had all been sharpened by the exciting occurrences of the day, fancied himself in a fabled country. The town had a dream

« PreviousContinue »