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often, to the subject of prohibition the pièce de résistance of all conversational repasts. Here is an issue so controversial and inflammatory in its nature that it divides all people into sharply clashing factions. It is scarcely human to remain indifferent or undecided when a question like this is broached. To retain a shred of selfrespect, one should feel violently about it, for, unlike many of the things we argue about, this one strikes home. I feel violently about it, myself. But the trouble is, I seem to feel violently on both sides.

I am sure of one thing - or I think I am. Prohibition does n't prohibit. But, you never can tell; perhaps in time it will. You can't put over a reform like this in a day. On the other hand, is it not true that the prohibition of any natural or acquired taste tends to heighten our pleasure in the thing forbidden and makes indulgence in it more frequent? Or is it? Still, I know that many of us would be better off without alcohol in any form, and, since we have n't the moral courage to abstain, why is n't it wise to have some form of outward discipline? Has n't it decreased crime, and is n't that a strong point in its favor? Although I believe, on further reflection, that it has increased crime. There are certainly figures enough to support this contention. But who can attack a measure that has wiped out that pernicious evil, the saloon? Or has it wiped out the saloon? How can we say it has wiped out the saloon when there are over ten thousand of them now running in New York City alone?

Still, weighing all the familiar arguments for and against prohibition, I am of the opinion that it is a mockery and an imposition. But you would never get me to mount a platform and set forth any such argument. As likely argument. As likely

as not, before I had gone far, I should be talking with some feeling on the other side of the question.


One begins to see, without my floundering further in the fogs of controversy, or inflicting upon others a torment which I must bear alone, that this is no trifling indisposition. Such frailties, as Mack Sennett once indignantly said about his motion-picture comedies, are not to be laughed at. Among sane and positive people who know precisely what they think, it is not pleasant to wander aloof and alone. a wretched outcast from the world of conclusions, without a single staunch conviction to lean upon. If I could only be sure that I preferred blondes. But brunettes

The disease, unless I am mistaken, has an Eastern origin; for, whereas cases of it are rare in this country, in Russia, which is more than half Oriental, it is as common as the measles. Arguing with a Russian is a nimble and diverting form of mental calisthenics; for the Russian reserves the privilege, whenever the whim seizes him, of bouncing over to your side of the argument, whereupon it is only courteous of you to take up the side he has just abandoned. He loves to set up a case as solidly as he can, and then, scampering to the other end of the arena, to come charging back upon it full tilt, shivering his lances, so to speak, upon the dummy of his own creation. I always feel at home in Russia.

Many years ago Mr. Paul Milyukov, later to become foreign minister of the first revolutionary government, was spending a term in jail, as the result of a revolutionary speech delivered before Russian students. Count Witte. conservative head of the government

at that time, being in some quandary over domestic or foreign affairs, decided, in true Russian fashion, to seek the counsel of a man of views radically opposed to his own. He therefore had Milyukov released from jail and brought to his house, where they enjoyed an evening of amiable controversy. After a while Witte, impressed by the political sagacity of his antagonist, and partly succumbing to his views, offered him a post in the ministry. It was precisely as if President Harding had sent for Eugene Debs, when the latter was in a federal prison, and given him a place in the cabinet. To make the incident perfectly apposite, Milyukov should have come around to Witte's way of thinking, and they should have gone on arguing. But, as a matter of record, Milyukov said he would rather go back to jail than become a member of Witte's government. And back he


But I should not be true to the character of the confirmed invalid that I am if I did not try to soften somewhat the asperity of my complaint, and claim for it certain compensations and advantages - translate it perhaps into a virtue. You cannot live for any length of time even with a weakness without becoming in a way attached to it. I suppose that the man with a cast in his eye comes in time to view it in the mirror with something like affection.

Is not, then, something to be said in favor of an honest state of doubt, a twinkling uncertainty in the mind about many things, a pleasure more in the pursuit of knowledge than in the eager apprehension of conclusions? Is there some new Kantian categorical imperative that for the good of our souls we must go around bristling with convictions on every conceivable question?

There are compensations to be found in the unhurried mental journey, which does not race like an express train to a conclusion, but ambles slowly forward, falls into pleasant byways, loses its direction, and finally turns home without reaching its destination. It has n't taken us anywhere in particular, but we have had a lot of fun getting lost. And we have seen many diverting spectacles that do not grow along railroad tracks. Even the sense of frustration is pleasant and stimulating, for it leads to fresh exploration. After all, when a journey is finished or a question is answered, curiosity is stilled, wonder is gone, and the fun is over.

But wait! What drivel is this? How can one seriously attempt to make a virtue out of vacillation? What indeed is the purpose of thinking, if not to take us to conclusions? What a vanity is all the travail of thought, if it bears no offspring! It would probably be better for me to have firm convictions like other people. But I am far from being sure about it.



WHEN I told the chef de province at Fort Dauphin that I wished to cross from there to Tulear, three hundred miles through one of the wildest parts of Madagascar, he was not enthusiastic. He pointed out that it was the hot season and that the natives were somewhat restless because of a recent increase in the tax on their cattle. In fact they had attacked three wagon trains during the previous three weeks. It would be better for me to wait for a month in Fort Dauphin, where, as he said, the climate was delightful. It would be better still if I waited two months, until the tax collecting was finished. However, if I had determined to go, he would get me Antandroy bearers, the local Tanosy men being of no use in the desert, and give me a military escort.

The afternoon before my departure the bearers came, convoyed by two native soldiers. As I looked them over I thought I had never seen a more mixed lot. All were thin, with the hard, driedup leanness of desert people the world over, and all had quick, bright eyes with a hint of wildness in them; but their color ranged from light tan to nearly black and their features from the flat nose and thick lips of the pure negro to thin, clear-cut faces that would not have been out of place in Yemen. They were dressed in broad white loin cloths with bands of bright-colored embroidery or beadwork at the ends, and nearly all wore necklaces of charms. Some had curious mitre-shaped hats of woven


grass or hide, others were bareheaded, their hair done up in concentric rows of little knots and smeared thick with grease. One wore a belt covered with plates of sheet brass and several had massive silver bracelets, as heavy as handcuffs. Most of them seemed sullen, but the man with the brass belt grinned broadly as he caught my eye and threw up his hand with a 'Salama, Ronga.' Another man saluted and stepped forward, pointedly ignoring the soldiers. Over six feet tall, with the hawk nose and thin, cruel lips of an Assyrian king, I put him down at once as a person likely to be present whenever there was trouble. Looking me up and down, he demanded: 'How many men will you have to carry you?'


'Good! You are too big for eight. Give us each ten francs advance.'

'I will give you five,' I said, 'and the rest at the end of the trip. And remember this is business under the fansakana (government). I am no missionary.' He dropped back somewhat crestfallen and the men grumbled, but they be came cheerful when they saw that they would receive their advance pay in metal money. They disliked paper and would gladly exchange fifteen francs in bills for five in silver.

The safari was a small one, ten baggage bearers and twenty men to carry my interpreter and me in our filanzanas, working in shifts of four. The filanzanas are canvas chairs slung between

two twelve-foot poles which the bearers take on their shoulders. It is an unwritten law in Madagascar that a white man must be carried, as the native chiefs were carried in ancient times. To travel on foot would be to confess that one was poor and of no account, and would mean constant trouble with the natives. No respectable European can travel with less than eight filanzana men, while an important, or a heavy, one should have twelve. Baggage is usually divided into two-man loads and carried lashed to poles. I told the baggagemen to make up their bundles that night, so that we could start at dawn.

Next morning I was awakened by the voices of the baggage bearers, who had arrived in advance of the others. They were going over the lashings of their loads and tying on their own luggage: water gourds, mats, and big bunches of dry corn on the cob. As each pair finished they swung the loaded pole to their shoulders and trotted off, determined to cover as much of the way as possible before the heat began. I knew that when we came to the village where we were to halt at noon I should find everything waiting for me. Nothing would be lost or stolen, for each couple is responsible for a load until the end of the journey. On one occasion I found that the bearers who had my canned food had carefully retrieved the empty tins thrown away at each stop and carried them along.

The filanzana men came before I had finished breakfast, and squatted before my door in a compact group, shivering in the dawn chill and wishing I would hurry. The moment I came out they jumped up and brought the filanzanas. I seated myself, and four men lifted me to their shoulders. We were off.

Most of my bearers were experienced men and they made good time, traveling at a fast walk and now and then breaking into a trot. Every thirty or

forty yards one of the forward men would thump the pole with his palm and all four would change over to the other shoulder, ducking their heads and sliding under. Every hundred yards or so four fresh men would take the place of the others, waiting poised like basketball players, catching the poles and swinging them to their shoulders without stopping. Presently a man began to sing, the others joining in on the chorus, but they broke off to shout at a boy who was herding cattle beside the road, demanding why he did not salute the vazaha (white man). He did so with scared alacrity. They laughed, and became uproarious when I returned the salute in my smartest military manner.

Wayfarers passed-tall men from the forest, dressed like my bearers, disconsolate-looking Hovas and Betsileos in misfit European clothes, carrying their shoes in their hands, and groups of Tanosy women with baskets of vegetables on their heads. These were dressed in long blue cloths that left their arms and shoulders bare, and had many bead necklaces, with big disks of silver or shell hanging on their breasts. The older ones ignored us, but the girls laughed and exchanged spicy repartee with my men. One old woman who carried a huge basket of melons was surrounded and plundered in an instant, in spite of her shrill yells of protest. When I tossed her the equivalent of four cents these turned to equally shrill blessings. The man who had demanded the ten francs advance the night before emerged from the scrimmage with one of the largest melons clasped to his stomach, skillfully cracked it on the filanzana pole, and offered half of it to me with a grin. I thanked him and he nodded slightly, as much as to say, 'Everything is all right again.' I felt that the trip was beginning well.

As the sun rose the heat increased, until by ten o'clock it was like the blast

from a furnace. I later discovered that the noon temperature was usually around one hundred and forty. The bearers dripped sweat, the trickles making lighter-colored patterns on their unwashed backs, and their shadows wavered and danced grotesquely in the heat waves. My eyes smarted in spite of my dark glasses and my lips were beginning to blister. It was with a general sigh of relief that we sighted the village where we were to eat dinner.

The tranombahiny (strangers' house) stood at the farther end of the town and the bearers made a good finish, trotting through the village and bringing up at the gate with a jolt that almost unseated me. Then they scattered in all directions, shouting as they went, 'Chefa! Chefa! Avia! Vazaha lebe.' ('Chief! Chief! Come! Here is a big white man.') The chief came, a withered, poorly dressed old man, who wore a battered sun helmet and carried a spear as a sign of his office. I demanded milk, a chicken, eggs, and melons, and the cook asked for two iron pots, as he never used my own aluminum utensils if he could help it. The bearers returned with borrowed pots and bunches of manioc or bananas, and half a dozen fires sprang up. One man cooked for the bearers from each village, while his companions looked on. The men gorged themselves, returned the pots with a little food in them, as etiquette required, then went to sleep in the shade.

At about three o'clock the baggage men rose with many grunts, tightened their loin cloths, and started off with their loads. The filanzana men came straggling up and we were soon under way again. They marched heavily and silently at first, but as the sun sank their spirits rose and they began to shout and sing. The man with the brass belt trotted beside me and made me a long speech in a confidential tone. I understood very little of it, for I

was not used to the Antandroy dialect, and answered, 'Tsy mahay teny Gasy.' (I do not speak Malagasy well.') He looked at me doubtfully, then drew closer and patted the filanzana pole with little fluttering gestures, like a child that strokes an animal of which it is half afraid, and said pleadingly, 'Kadao, Ronga, kadao.' He was asking for a gift when we should arrive. I promised, and the news was shouted back along the line.

The sun went down, flinging long streamers of gold and purple across the sky. The twilight faded swiftly and great stars came out. The road was a white line between masses of vague shadow. Night birds called, and lemurs laughed and wailed, like hysterical children. The men drew closer together and fell silent. Then, far off, a light appeared. They began to trot, shouting rhythmically. We passed the first houses of the straggling village, the people in their doorways black silhouettes against wavering firelight. The bearers called to them and they called back. The black bulk of the strangers' house loomed before us. The forward men dropped the filanzana poles with a thud and they all clustered around me demanding the promised tip. The moment they had received it they melted into the darkness.

I found that my own baggage had been piled inside the house and that the men had not taken the trouble to unrope it. My cook and interpreter had gone off together to find the chief, and as I struggled with the knots and then assembled my bed and hung my mosquito net I reflected on the disadvantages of being white. The bearers, with no baggage at all, could find the comforts of home everywhere. Immemorial custom prescribed that a householder must take in any stranger who came to the door asking shelter. The traveler might be courteously directed to

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