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tle body against his breast and but- of exhaustion held him. He lay quite toned his coat over his burden. motionless, head and shoulders resting

The sound of marching feet could against the tree-trunk, and the newnow be heard. Swiftly he ran to the born babe enveloped in the warmth door. As he reached the threshold he of his body and arms slept also. The turned. His mother, her eyes shining feeble cry of the child woke him. The with love and hope, was waving a last sun was coming over the horizon and good-bye. Down the stairs, out the the air was alive with the twitter of back door, and across the fields sped the birds. child. Over grass and across streams At first he thought he was at home flew the sure little feet. His heart and had awakened to a long happy tugged fiercely to go back, but that look summer's day. Then the fretful little in his mother's face sustained him. cries brought back memory with a rush.

He knew the road to Holland. It was His new-born love flooded him. Tenstraight to the north; but he kept to derly he laid the little sister down. the fields. He did n't want the baby Stretching his stiff and aching body he discovered. Mile after mile, through hurried for water. Very carefully he hour after hour he pushed on, until put a few drops in the little mouth and twilight came. He found a little spring wet the baby's lips with his little brown and drank thirstily. Then he moisten- finger. This proved soothing and the ed the baby's mouth. The little crea- cries ceased. The tug of the baby's lips ture was very good. Occasionally she on his finger clutched his heart. The uttered a feeble cry, but most of the helpless little thing was hungry, and he time she slept. The boy was intensely too was desperately hungry. What weary. His feet ached. He sat down should he do? His mother had spoken under a great tree and leaned against of milk. He must get milk. Again he it. Was it right to keep a baby out all gathered up his burden and buttoned night? Ought he to go to some farm- his coat. From the rising ground on house? If he did, would the people take which he stood he could see a farmbaby away? His mother had said, 'Run house with smoke issuing from its straight to Holland.' But Holland was chimney. He hurried down to the twenty miles away. He opened his coat friendly open door. A kindly woman and looked at the tiny creature. She gave him food. She recognized him as slept peacefully.

a little refugee bound for Holland. He The night was very warm. He decid- had difficulty in concealing the baby, ed to remain where he was. It had but fortunately she did not cry. The grown dark. The trees and bushes woman saw that he carried something, loomed big. His heart beat quickly. but when he asked for milk she conHe was glad of the warm, soft, live lit- cluded he had a pet kitten. He accepttle creature in his arms. He had come ed this explanation. Eagerly he took on this journey for his mother, but sud- the coveted milk and started on. denly his boy's heart opened to the But day-old babies do not know tiny clinging thing at his breast. His how to drink. When he dropped milk little hand stroked the baby tenderly. into the baby's mouth she choked and Then he stooped, and softly his lips sputtered. He had to be content with touched the red wrinkled face. Pres- moistening her mouth and giving her a ently his little body relaxed and he milk-soaked finger. slept. He had walked eight miles. Refreshed by sleep and food, the boy Through the long night the deep sleep set off briskly. Holland did not now

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seem so far off. If only his mother were stiffly a small boy slid to the ground. safe! Had the Germans been good to He had been picked up just over the her? These thoughts pursued and tor- border by a friendly farmer and driven mented him. As before, he kept off the to camp. He was dirty, bedraggled, and beaten track, making his way through footsore. Very kindly the ladies' comopen meadows and patches of trees. mittee received him. He was placed at But as the day advanced, the heat grew a table and a bowl of hot soup was set intense. His feet ached, his arms ached, before him. He ate awkwardly with his and, worst of all, the baby cried fret- · left hand. His right hand held somefully.

thing beneath his coat, which he never At noon he came to a little brook shel- for a moment forgot. The women tried tered by trees. He sat down on the to get his story, but he remained bank and dangled his swollen feet in strangely silent. His

strangely silent. His eyes wandered the cool, fresh stream. But his tiny sis- over the room and back to their faces. ter still cried. Suddenly a thought He seemed to be testing them. Not for came to him. Placing the baby on his an hour, not until there was a faint knees he undid the towel that envel- stirring in his coat, did he disclose his oped her. There had been no time for burden. Then, going to her whom he clothes. Then he dipped a dirty pocket had chosen as most to be trusted, he handkerchief in the brook and gently opened his jacket. In a dirty towel lay sponged the hot, restless little body. a naked, miserably thin, three-daysVery tenderly he washed the little arms old baby. and legs. That successfully accom- Mutely holding out the forlorn obplished he turned the tiny creature and ject, the boy begged help. Bit by bit bathed the small back. Evidently this they got his story. Hurriedly a Belgian was the proper treatment, for the baby Refugee mother was sent for. She was grew quiet. His heart swelled with told what had happened, and she took pride. Reverently he wrapped the tow- the baby to her breast. Jealously the el around the naked little one, and ad- boy stood guard while his tiny sister ministering a few drops of milk, again had her first real meal. But the spark went on.

of life was very low. All through that long hot afternoon For two days the camp concentrated he toiled. His footsteps grew slower on the tiny creature. The boy never and slower; he covered diminishing dis- left his sister's side. But her ordeal had tances. Frequently he stopped to rest, been too great. It was only a feeble and now the baby had begun again to flicker of life at best, and during the cry fitfully. At one time his strength third night the little flame went out. failed. Then he placed the baby under The boy was utterly crushed. He had a tree and rising on his knees uttered a now but one thought — to reach his prayer:

mother. It was impossible to keep the 'O God, she's such a little thing, news from him longer. He would have help me to get her there.'

gone in search. Gently he was told of Like a benediction came the cool the skirmish that had destroyed the breeze of the sunset hour, bringing re- Belgian hamlet. There were no houses newed strength.

or people in the town that had once

been his home. In the afternoon of the following day, a wagon stopped before a Belgian “That is his story,' ended the friendRefugee camp in Holland. Slowly and ly little Dutch woman.

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‘And his father?' I inquired.

diers came to me. When I had shud‘Killed at the front,' was the reply. dered at ghastly wounds, at death, at

I rose to go, but I could not get the innumerable white crosses on a bloody boy out of my mind. What a world! battlefield, invariably, in dry, cynical, What intolerable suffering! Was there hopeless tones, the soldier would make no way out? Then the ever-recurring the one comment, phrase of the French and Belgian sol- 'C'est la guerre; que voulez-vous ?'

FIRELIGHT

BY WILFRID WILSON GIBSON

AGAINST the curtained casement wind and sleet
Rattle and thresh, while snug by our own fire,
In dear companionship that naught may tire,
We sit — you listening, sewing in your seat,
Half-dreaming in the glow of light and heat,
I reading some old tale of love's desire
That swept on gold wings to disaster dire,
Then rose re-orient from black defeat.

I close the book, and louder yet the storm
Threshes without. Your busy hands are still;
And on your face and hair the light is warm,
As we sit gazing on the coals' red gleam
In a gold glow of happiness, and dream
Diviner dreams the years shall yet fulfill.

VOL. 117 - N0. 4

THE OPERA

BY THOMAS WHITNEY SURETTE

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of excessive individualism. Methods I

which would find oblivion quickly The form of drama with music which enough in any pure form of art have we loosely call ‘opera' is such a curious been carried out in opera, and have mixture of many elements - some of been supported by an uncritical public them closely related, others nearly ir- pleased by a gorgeous spectacle or enreconcilable — that it is almost impos- tertained by fine singing. All the other sible to arrive at any definite idea of its art-forms progress step by step; opera artistic value. A great picture or piece leaps first forward, then backward; it of sculpture, a great book or a great becomes too reasonable, only to become symphony represents a perfectly clear immediately afterward entirely unreaevolution of a well-defined art. You do sonable; it passes from objectivity to not question the artistic validity of subjectivity and back again, or emPendennis or of a portrait by Romney; ploys both at the same time; it turns a they have their roots in the earlier man into a woman, or a woman into a works of great writers and painters and man; it thinks nothing of being prethey tend toward those which follow. sented in two languages at once; it The arts they represent grew by a slow turns colloquial Bret Harte into Italprocess of evolution, absorbing every- ian without the slightest realization of thing that was useful to them and re- having become, in the process, essenjecting everything useless, until they tially comic: in short, there seems no finally became consistent and self-con- limit to the havoc it can play with geotained. The development of opera, on graphy, science, language, costume, the other hand, has been a continual drama, music, human nature itself. compromise - with the whims of prin- Any attempt, therefore, to deal here ces, with the even more wayward whims with the development of opera as a of singers, and with social conventions. whole would be an impossible under

Its increasing costliness (due some- taking. We should become at once intimes to the composer's grandiloquence volved in a glossary of singers (now and sometimes to the demands of the only names, then in effect constituting public) has necessitated producing it in the opera itself), an unsnarling of imhuge opera houses entirely unsuited to possible plots, an excursion into religit; and, being a mixed art, it has been ion, into the ballet, into mythology, subject to two different influences demonology, pseudo-philosophy, myswhich have not by any means always ticism, and Heaven knows what else. been in agreement. Its life-line has We should see our first flock of canary been crossed over and over again by birds, — released simply to make us daring innovators who, forgetting the gape, and we should hear a forest past, have sought to force it away from bird tell the hero (through the medium nature and to make it an expression of a singer off the stage) the way to a

II

sleeping beauty; we should hear the hero and the villain sing a delightful duet and then see them turn away in The 'Florentine Revolution' was an different directions to seek and murder attempt to create an entirely new type each other; we should find the Pyra- of opera in which all tradition was mids and the Latin Quarter expressible thrown to the winds. To Eurydice, the in the same terms; our heroines would best known of these Florentine operas, include the mysterious and demoniac its composer, Peri, wrote a preface scoffer, Kundry, the woman who doubts from which we quote the following: and questions, the woman who should 'Therefore, abandoning every style of have but did not, and the woman who vocal writing known hitherto, I gave goes mad and turns the flute-player myself up wholly to contriving the sort in the orchestra to madness with her; of imitation (of speech) demanded by we should see men and women, attired this poem.' (Is this, indeed, Peri speakin inappropriate and even unintelli- ing? Or is it Gluck, or Wagner, or gible costumes, drink out of empty Debussy ?) In any case, the abandoncups, and a hero mortally wound a pa- ment, in any form of human expression, pier-mâché dragon; we should have to of every style known hitherto is a fatal shut our eyes in order to hear, or stop abandonment, for no art, or science, or our ears in order to see; if we cared for literature can throw away its past and music, we should have to wait ten min- live. The Florentine Revolution was utes for a domestic quarrel in recita- not revolution, but riot, for it undertive to finish; if we cared for drama, we took to tear down what generations should have to wait the same length of had been slowly building up, and to time while a prima donna tossed off substitute in its place something not birdling trills and chirpings. We should, only untried but (at that time) imposin short, find ourselves dealing with a sible. It was an attempt to found a new mixed art of quite extraordinary lati- art entirely detached from an old one: tude in style, form, dramatic purpose, Beethoven without Haydn and Mozart, and musical texture.

Meredith without Fielding, the Gothic It will be sufficient for our purposes,

without the Classical, a Renaissance therefore, to state that both sacred and without a birth, daylight without sunsecular plays with music have existed rise. It was an entirely illogical profrom the earliest times, and that their ceeding from first to last, but opera development has tended toward the came forth from it because opera can form as we now know it. The introduc- subsist — it has, and does - without tion of songs into plays was, in itself, so logic or even reasonableness. agreeable and interesting that their use There had been composed before the continually increased until some vague year 1600 the most beautiful sacred operatic form was reached in which music the world possesses -- that which music predominated.

culminated in the works of PalesBut there are two great revolution- trina. A style or method of expression ary epochs to which proper attention had been perfected, and this style or must be paid if we are to understand method was gradually and naturally opera at all. The first of these is the being applied to secular and even to so-called 'Florentine Revolution' in dramatic forms. There were at that the years 1595 to 1600, and the second time, also, songs of the people which is the Wagnerian reform in the middle had been often used in plays with muof the last century.

sic, and which might have supplied a

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