Page images
PDF
EPUB

planets; thinking of the whole mad machine. I led the last trick.

“ 'Then I win,' cried Fritz, foolishly, throwing down a face card. But the captain had not played. “You forget,' he said, 'that spades are trumps.' And he held out his card. It was the ace of spades.

'So I win,' he said.

'I can't stand this! Fritz broke out, springing up. But I looked at the captain, and all at once felt chilled through and through.

'This is wretched, impossible! Fritz went on crazily. 'Three days! Unendurable! When do we get out of it? When are you going to rise? What are you stilling us down here for?'

"My friends,' said the captain very slowly, 'we are never going to rise again. Never.'

"You may think that was terrible. It was not. I do not even remember very well. Something just broke across my mind, as you break a rubber band between your fingers. It was all over like that. You will not believe it or understand it. But it was then I knew that nothing whatever mattered in the whole world. Not Victoria even. Nothing.

''We were too close. The ballast tanks were stove by the explosion. I knew it when I felt her sink under me that way. I scarcely heard the captain at all. Fritz had collapsed on the transom. What a sight! All of the bully, all the swagger, all the bravado-gone, gone like the air from a toy balloon pricked by a very little pin. I think he was sobbing. It was disgusting.

“'Leave him alone,' said the captain contemptuously. "The fool. What has he lost? Crosses, promotions! Nothing. No more than you there, with your slip of a worthless girl. Fools! But I! Do I not feel that dead woman's fingers around my throat? Honor, decency, manhood-gone! Dragged out of me by that clutching hand, and hands like hers. Fools, both of you. What have I not lost?' He kicked out at Fritz, who had fallen in a heap, senseless with terror. But the blow of the boot seemed to rouse him. He started up and stared at us gasping. And then he gave a low, gurgling cry and ran forward. I watched him senselessly, stupidly. What did it all matter?"

Here the German stopped, and gazed far away before him across the hot, empty Silesian landscape, where the ugly black

way out.

it now,

troop-train lay like a gigantic and evil monster, full of death.

“But how did you—" I began.

He interrupted wearily, in his dull voice. "Yes, they all ask that. How did I get out? What difference? One moment I was standing, stupidly watching Fritz run out of the ward-room door. And the next I was lying in a boat, on the top of the broad open sea.

How? I do not know, but I have guessed over it, and I think that this is what happened: When Fritz went forward, he exploded one of our own unused torpedoes. We were not allowed to carry guns; he was tortured with the fear of a slow suffocation. He must have thought of that as the only

How I survived I cannot say. An intervening brace or rib or plate could have saved me from the direct explosion, and I was blown clear perhaps. Miraculous ? What is miraculous ? It is all the machine. If it was not quite finished with me there would be nothing miraculous in its blowing me out even from the very bottom of the German Ocean. I understand about

all.. "Ah, sir, the rubber band that snapped across my brain was never replaced. It leaves everything clear to me, so very clear. All the stupid imposition of this machine, that sets men running about with this and that in their heads of honor and glory and love and self-devotion-and is all nothing really but dead mechanics. Do you think patriotism would have shut me up in that drowned submarine? Love of Victoria ? Anything as silly as that? Bah! I never went back to my home. I never saw her again. Why should I? What does she, does anyone, does anything matter? Nothing, I tell you, nothing at all. . ..

“You like the drawing? All that is left of my silly pictures. It passes time. I cannot stand or walk by myself; I get them to bring me out here where it is wide and open and free, and leave me all day, while I pass the time sketching that hand and wrist. I do not like the house; houses are too close and stifling. It is a silly fancy, of course, for I shall die before long, anyway, and all the nonsense will be done with. But a dying man may have his whims without harming anyone."

The train whistled, and I hastily arose.

"You like the picture?" he asked again. "Take it. I make three or four of them every day. I do not know just how that hand really looked. So I sketch it in fifty different ways, and thus it affords occupation.”

I took the gift and left him. What else was there to do? Left him sitting against his wall readjusting his sketching pad. The French major appeared beside me. “What have you got there?” he demanded brusquely. I looked at the paper. Suddenly those delicate fingers, suffused with their ghastly clutching strength, turned utterly horrible before my eyes. As if they would drag my soul, too, from me.

“Nothing !” I said, and crumpling up the sheet, threw it away. The troop-train whistled again.

Walter Millis.

PORTFOLIO.

MOONSET.

There was a wind; but at this ghostly hour

It has grown still, and in the early morning hush-
All natural and human life at lowest ebb-
Remains the tumult of a thousand marshy voices-
Distinct, yet melting (soft as muted hunting-horns)
Into each other's endless drowsy murmurings:

Tree-toads and turtles and the life of woods at night.
There was a wind; but there is no wind now.

I had a fire; and glorying in its warmth

I sat and watched, and smoked my dingy pipe.
Watched while the snapping pyre of hickory
Flamed upwards gleefully, as if to reach
Its brother bending green-clad fingers from above.
But pipe-smoke, flames, and piping frogs-bring dreams.

I drowsed awhile, forgetting to pile on more wood.
There was a fire; but there is no fire now.

There was a moon; it sifted filtered light

Through shifting branches-made the low-hung, whispering leaves
Roof of a silver faeryland; while here and there
A timid star pallidly trembled through the screen.
But silver now turns grey; the fire grey; the stars grey;
And grayish phantom-mists rise cold from the garrulous marsh.

And, threatening dawn, the bark of dogs in the West, where
There was a moon; but there is no moon now.

Richard W. Griswold.

Sunday in New Haven is a peculiar day. How you spend

it, after church services are over, depends natuSUNDAY IN

rally upon your likes and dislikes, your habits, NEW HAVEN

your personality. If you are a grind you will no doubt prepare your Monday's lessons in the Library, receiving the well-earned scorn of your classmates; if you are a true lover of the thoughts to be found in books, you will also spend your Sunday in the Library, thereby bringing the scorn of your classmates to nothing; if you are a social light, you will probably make calls in New Haven, or join the general exodus to New York or Boston. But suppose that you are none of these, and merely an ordinary mortal who goes to ten o'clock chapel because it will make the day longer and more free. Then it will be your assets that determine your Sabbath. You are the owner of a second-hand motor-cycle: then you will go, a demoniac god, to Westover, or on to Simsbury, with a grimy and suffering companion on the perch behind you. You own a Ford: then you will jog merrily down to Farmington, a delightfully quiet New England town with a very pretty church, where you will feel amply repaid by an afternoon passed loitering under the elms. You have an aeroplane: fortunately we have not yet come to that, so we may omit the possibility. But suppose that you possess none of these machines and have exhausted your stock of "free rides," and the winds are stirring gayly in the trees and the sun and sky are irresistable in their splendor; then perforce you must turn to the oldest and most approved method of perambulationwalking.

Walking is indeed a lost art. Let us lament it. Cars, motorcycles, and the like, have superceded it because of their superior swiftness. But there are many things in its favor if you stop to look for them. To the motorist the roadside is a screen of horizontal lines, the hedges, walls, and fences, a blurr of confusion. The meadows, with trees and cows and streams, are landscape paintings; the mountains the blue blotch on the palette. To the humble pedestrian there are flowers by the wayside, strange bugs and shiny beetles, and animals and birds in numbers and varieties that it taxes the best mind to remember half of them. You may see the minutest things of earth, while stret your legs and putting a swing into your shoulders; you may pry into the intimacies of Nature, fill your lungs with good air, and talk philosophies with your companion; you may meet the elemental laws and test your strength against them. There is littleness and detail in abundance; and greatness; there is the intellect, the mind of the Out-of-Doors; there is the proof positive before your eyes and senses that God and genius work as truly in small things as in great. You are free in life and the open country, you are in the mastery. You are one with the open country because you are free.

Take last Sunday, for instance. We set out, two of us, toward the West Rock range. Old clothes, of course; no stiff-collared

« PreviousContinue »