A PARODY OUTLINE OF HISTORY
By Donald Ogden Stewart
Wherein may be found a curiously irreverent treatment of AMERICAN HISTORICAL EVENTS Imagining them as they would be narrated by American's most characteristic contemporary authors
GILBERT HOLLAND STEWART, Jr.
Mr. H. G. Wells, in his "Outline of History," was of necessity forced to omit the narration of many of the chief events in the history of these United States. Such omissions I have in this brief volume endeavored to supply. And as American history can possibly best be written by Americans and as we have among us no H. G. Wells, I have imagined an American history as written conjointly by a group of our most characteristic literary figures.
Apologies are due the various authors whose style and, more particularly, whose Weltanschauung I have here attempted to reproduce; thanks are due The Bookman for permission to reprint such of these chapters as appeared in that publication. I give both freely. D. O. S.
I INTRODUCTION: A Critical Survey of American History In the Manner of William Lyon Phelps
II CRISTOFER COLOMBO: A Comedy of Discovery In the Manner of James Branch Cabell
III MAIN STREET: Plymouth, Mass In the Manner of Sinclair Lewis
IV THE COURTSHIP OF, MILES STANDISH In the Manner of F. Scott Fitzgerald
V THE SPIRIT OF '75: Letters of a Minute Man In the Manner of Ring Lardner
VI THE WHISKY REBELLION In the Bedtime Story Manner of Thornton W. Burgess
VII HOW LOVE CAME TO GENERAL GRANT In the Manner of Harold Bell Wright
VIII CUSTER'S LAST STAND In the Manner of Edith Wharton
IX FOR THE FREEDOM OF THE WORLD: A Drama of the Great War Act I—In the Manner of Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews Act 2—In the Manner of Eugene O'Neill
A CRITICAL SURVEY OF AMERICAN HISTORY
In the Manner of William Lyon Phelps
On a memorable evening in the year 1904 I witnessed the opening performance of Maude Adams in "Peter Pan". Nothing in the world can describe the tremendous enthusiasm of that night! I shall never forget the moment when Peter came to the front of the stage and asked the audience if we believed in fairies. I am happy to say that I was actually the first to respond. Leaping at once out of my seat, I shouted "Yes—Yes!" To my intense pleasure the whole house almost instantly followed my example, with the exception of one man. This man was sitting directly in front of me. His lack of enthusiasm was to me incredible. I pounded him on the back and shouted, "Great God, man, are you alive! Wake up! Hurrah for the fairies! Hurrah!" Finally he uttered a rather feeble "Hurrah!" Childe Roland to the dark tower came.
That was my first meeting with that admirable statesman Woodrow Wilson, and I am happy to state that from that night we became firm friends. When Mr. Wilson was inaugurated in 1913 I called on him at the White House, taking with me some members of my Yale drama class. Each one of us had an edition of the president's admirable "History of the American People", and I am glad to say that he was kind enough to autograph each of the ten volumes for all of us.
Early in Mr. Wilson's second term as president, just before the break with Germany, I was sitting in the quiet of my library rereading Browning's "Cristina". When I came to the third stanza I leaped to my feet—the thing seemed incredible, but here before my eyes was actually Browning's prophetic message to America in regard to the submarine sinkings.
"Oh, we're sunk enough here, God knows! But not so sunk that moments—etc." It is an extraordinary evidence of the man's genius that in 1840 he should have perhaps foreseen prophetically the happenings of seventy-six years later! Not only did Browning seem to know what was bound to happen, but he told us the remedy. I sat right down and wrote to my good friend the president, enclosing a marked copy of the poem. On the sixth of April, 1917, war was declared.
May 7, 1912, was the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Browning. On that memorable date I was traveling to Ohio at the request of my dear friend Miss Jones to deliver an address at the Columbus School for Girls. Curiously enough the name of my Pullman car was Pauline. Not only did that strike me as remarkable, but I occupied upper berth number 9 in car 11, two numbers which, added together, produced the exact age at which Browning published the poem of that name. At once I recited the opening lines, "Pauline, mine own, bend o'er me—thy soft breast shall pant to mine—bend o'er me," to the porter.
I like to believe that the spirit of Browning arranged that entire journey, for the other occupant of this well-omened berth was that admirable statesman Warren G. Harding. When I sat down I noticed that he was reading Henry Sydnor Harrison's "Queed", a book which was justly popular at that time. I at once showed Mr. Harding an article I had written in which I stated that not only was "Queed" a real novel, with a real plot, and real characters, but that I believed the readers were stimulated by the spiritual advance of the hero. The future president agreed with me and said he thought that literature was a great thing. Encouraged by this I confessed that I was on my way to deliver a lecture on modern poetry. Mr. Harding replied that he thought poetry was a great thing. "Splendid!" I cried, and taking a copy of Browning from my bag I read him several selections. Mr. Harding said that of the American poets he liked James Whitcomb Riley best. Personally, while I have for Mr. Riley only wonder and praise, I think that the English poet strikes a more inspiring, more eternal note.
I then read to Mr. Harding Browning's "Evelyn Hope". He said that he knew a Mrs. Walter Hope in Marion, but that he was not sure her first name was Evelyn. As I knew that Mr. Harding liked a good pun, I remarked facetiously that "hope springs eternal", meaning that probably there were in existence several families of that name.
I am happy to state that with that meeting began a friendship which has lasted for many years. When Mr. Harding was nominated for the presidency, I wrote at once, enclosing a copy of "The Advance of the English Novel" which I had published in 1916. On the title-page I wrote, "To the Hero of a Much More Spectacular Advance", meaning that the progress made by the English novel was as nothing compared to Mr. Harding's rapid and well-deserved rise. In reply I received the following:
6 July, 1920. MY DEAR PROFESSOR PHELPS:
Many thanks to you for your congratulations and your kindness in sending me your brilliant, searching essays which I hope to be able to read in the near future. WARREN G. HARDING.
Just as I am always glad that I am an American, so I think we should all believe whole-heartedly in the glorious future which lies ahead of us. We should all pay high tribute to the ideals and sincerity of those great leaders Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding. What a pity that some people believe that there is any antagonism or essential difference in the aims of those two worthy men. Both are absolutely sincere—both try to make the world a better, more happy place. And to the critic of history—as to the critic of art and literature—those are the essential things. Viewing the past and glimpsing the future of American history I cannot help feeling that Browning had us perhaps unconsciously in mind when he wrote:
God's in his heaven: All's right with the world!
CRISTOFER COLOMBO A Comedy of Discovery. In the Manner of James Branch Cabell
In fourteen hundred ninety two In the city of Genoa. —Old Song.
They of Genoa tell with a shrug how in the old days Cristofer Colombo whom men called the Dreamer left Dame Colombo to go in search of the land of his imagining.
And the tale tells how, on a twilight Thursday, Colombo walked alone on the edge of a doubtful wood, and viewed many things not salutary to notice. And there came to him one who was as perversely tall as a certain unmentionable object and bearded in a manner it is not convenient to describe.
But Colombo set about that which the stranger said was necessary and when he had finished he drank the contents of the curious skull as had been foretold on a certain All-Saints day. Then it was that the stranger spoke.
"Whom are you", said he, "to be thus wandering in the very unspeakable forest of the very unnamable sorcerer Thyrston?"
Said Colombo, "I have heard of this Thyrston. And while I do not criticize, yet I cannot entirely agree with your improper use of the pronoun WHOM, and oh my dear sir", said Colombo, "those two VERYS would surely—oh, most surely—be mentioned in 'The Conning Tower'."
"Eh!" said Thyrston, frowning.
"I allude", said Colombo, "to the scribbling of a certain Adams with whom you are doubtless familiar, and of course, my dear Thyrston", said Colombo, "I spoke only jestingly, for I am Cristofer Colombo whom men call the Dreamer, and I go in search of the land of my imagining and it is truly a pleasure to meet the greatest sorcerer since Ckellyr, and how", said Colombo, "is dear Mrs. Thyrston?"
Then Thyrston showed Colombo what was written on the insecure parchment. It frightened Colombo a little, but he assented. And when the sorcerer had borrowed a silk hat and a gold watch he caused the skies to darken and Colombo saw that which men refuse to believe.
"But, oh, now really sir", said Colombo, "that is indeed extremely clever and I do wish that the children were here to see it and would you mind, my dear Thyrston", said Colombo, "doing that egg trick again?"
Then Thyrston showed Colombo that he had nothing up either sleeve and after an interval he consented to teach Colombo the secret of his conjuring.
"Why now to be sure", said Colombo, after he had thoroughly mastered the trick, "that is indeed quite simple and I am sorry I broke those four eggs by mistake in your silk hat, and while I do not wish to appear oversensitive, do you not think, my dear Thyrston", said Colombo, "that the trick would go just as well without those abominable jokes about married life?"
"My dear sir", said Thyrston, "those jokes have been used by every conjurer since Merlin, and while perhaps without them your trick would work, yet I have never heard of it being done and I have found", said Thyrston, "that in sorcery the best results are obtained by doing the customary thing."
"Which only goes to show", said Colombo, "that sorcery is somewhat akin to business, and now that I think of it", said Colombo, "I believe that the term wizard of industry is perhaps not entirely a misnomer."
Thus it was that Colombo took leave of Thyrston, and the tale tells how on Walburga's Eve he came to the court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel. And as he entered one met him who was not unpleasing to the eye, and she was weeping. And, as it was somewhat dark, Colombo decided to comfort her.
"Now, do you tell me, my dear", said Colombo, after an interval, "why it is you weep, for I am Colombo whom men call the Dreamer, and I go in search of the land of my imagining, and I think", said Colombo, "that you have most remarkably lovely eyes."
"Oh messire", said the lady, "I weep because it is this evening that I am to entertain the ladies of our Progress Literary Club, and Donna Margarita whom men call the Spanish Omelet, but who really, messire, has a lovely voice, was going to sing 'The Rosary' and now she has a cold and cannot sing, and King Ferdinand is coming, and oh, messire, what", said the lady, "shall I do?"
"Why now, truly", said Colombo, "in Genoa it was the judgment of all the really musically intelligent ladies, except perhaps my wife, that I sang not an unpleasing baritone, and while I do not know the song to which you refer, yet I have devoted most of my life to the composition of a poem concerning the land of my imagining which might well be sung and besides that", said Colombo, "I can do a most remarkable egg trick."
So it was that Colombo became for a short time not undeservedly the life of the Progress Literary Club party. And the tale tells how, after a paper by Donna Violet Balboa on "Spanish Architecture—Then and Now", Colombo sang to them the song of the land of Colombo's imagining. And poignantly beautiful was the song, for in it was the beauty of a poet's dream, and the eternal loveliness of that vision which men have glimpsed in all ages if ever so faintly. And when he had finished, the eyes of Colombo were wet with tears, for into this poem had he woven the dreams of his disillusionment. And somewhat ironical to Colombo was the applause of those fine ladies who did not at all understand.
"Now that is a pretty song", said King Ferdinand, "and do you tell us, Colombo, how one may get to this land, so that I may extend the borders of my most Catholic Kingdom and spread the teachings of the true faith, for to bring the world under the blessed influence of my religion is my only purpose, and really now", said King Ferdinand, "is there as much gold there as you describe?"
"Ah, King Ferdinand", replied Colombo, "there is more gold than ever I can tell, and I see only too plainly how grievously you suffer to think that perhaps these people are living in ignorance of the true faith. And I could ask nothing better than that King Ferdinand give me ships in which I may sail to the westward and come at last to the land of my imagining. This I would do in order that the blessed soldiers of King Ferdinand who will follow me may show to the inhabitants of my discovered land the grievous errors of their ways and bring them at last to a realization of the true faith which has been so helpful to our own dear Spain, and", added Colombo, "our gracious sovereign Ferdinand."
And droll it was to Colombo to think what might possibly happen were King Ferdinand to take his dream seriously or were the King perhaps to be informed as to the true meaning of Colombo's subtleties.
"Well, now", said King Ferdinand, "of course, to fit out such an expedition would require great expense, my dear Colombo—great expense. And, of course, you know, Colombo, that when investors can buy Inquisition 4 1/4's for 89 it would be extremely difficult to raise the money for such a speculative project—oh, extremely difficult. And then you must consider the present depression—tell me now, Colombo", said King Ferdinand, "how long do you think this depression will last, for I seek, above all things, a return to healthy normalcy."
"Well, truly", replied Colombo, "that would be most difficult to say. I note that on Rodigruez Babsyn's last chart—"
"I wish this Babsyn and his charts were in hell", said King Ferdinand, "for it was he who advised me to sell Queen Isabel's silver holdings. But it occurs to me, Colombo, that in connection with this land-of-gold scheme of yours, you mentioned something about sailing to the westward. Now Colombo, that would be a distinct disadvantage when it came to marketing the bonds, for as you must already know, one cannot sail to the west without encountering fierce and enormous monsters who swallow, I am told, whole ships at a gulp."
"Now as to that", said Colombo, somewhat embarrassed at the turn of the conversation for WEST had merely happened to better suit the rhymes of his poem, "you may be right, and I should not go so far as to say you are wrong, but still at the same time", said Colombo, "is there any gentleman in the audience who can lend me an egg and a silk hat?"
And when an unmentionable egg and a doubtful silk hat had been produced in a manner which it is not convenient to mention Colombo rolled up both his sleeves and spoke the magic speech as he had learned it on a certain Thursday from the sorcerer Thyrston.
"Ladies and gentlemen", said Colombo, "I have here a common household egg which I shall now ask the ushers to pass among you so you may see for yourself that there are no wires or strings attached. While this is being done, ladies and gentlemen, I wish that three of you would step up on the stage. Any three—don't be bashful girls—I won't hurt you. Won't that couple over there kindly oblige me—that married couple—no, folks, I guess they aren't married either—they look too happy."
Very painful it was to Colombo to hear these horrible jokes coming from his mouth, but Thyrston had quoted the authority of all successful sorcerers and not for anything would Colombo have had his trick a failure.
"Now ladies and gentlemen", said Colombo, "I am going to ask this lady and these two gentlemen if they will be so good as to see if they can take this little egg and make it stand on end without any support."
And very droll it was to see the unsuccessful attempts which the three made. Finally Colombo said:
"Now ladies and gentlemen, I want you to watch me closely. I put the silk hat on my head—thus. And I take the egg in my right hand—thus. Now, if this young lady will be kind enough to hold my left hand—I hope that her best fellow doesn't mind letting such a pretty girl hold my hand—it's lucky my wife can't see me, though—a friend said to me the other day, 'Who was that lady I seen you with?' and I said, 'That wasn't no lady, that was my wife'. Now ladies and gentlemen I take this egg, and in order to make it stand upright I tap one end gently—thus against the table until that end is flattened—and then, presto—the egg stands upright. Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you one and all for your kind attention."
Thus it was that Colombo impressed King Ferdinand and his court with his profound knowledge of geography. Next the tale tells how there came to Colombo on Michaelmas Eve one sent by Queen Isabel, And when Colombo had buckled on his sword Impavide he followed the messenger through winding corridors and came at last to the chamber of the Queen. And as he knelt before her it seemed to Colombo that never before had he seen such unforgettable beauty as shone in the eyes of Queen Isabel. Yes, truly, this was the loveliest girl that Colombo had ever imagined.
"Now do you rise", said she, "and you and I shall have a nice chat alone here together, and you can tell me all about geography of which I am oh, frightfully ignorant. In truth", said she, "I have tried to get Ferdinand to instruct me, but I fear", said Queen Isabel, "that Ferdinand does not understand me."
So Colombo instructed Queen Isabel in the fundamentals of geography. And after a while he spoke.
"Now many people", said Colombo, "believe that the earth is flat, but", said Colombo, "such is not at all the case."
And after an interval Colombo said, "There, my dear, do you not see how ridiculous it is to suppose that the earth is anything but round?"
"Why surely, sire", said Queen Isabel, "you make it appear very round. And I wonder that I had not thought of that before. And I think", said Queen Isabel, "that geography is a most fascinating subject and oh, messire Colombo", said the Queen, "you must come and instruct me often."
Thus it was that Colombo became Royal Geographer. And the tale tells how after a while various whisperings came to King Ferdinand of his queen's curious enthusiasm for study.
"Now about this geography", said King Ferdinand one evening to the Queen, "I am, my dear, indeed glad to see you take an interest in such an important study and I have arranged", said the King, "to have your tutoring in the future done by Father Bernadino who has had fifty-two years' experience at the University, and your lessons", said the King, "will commence tomorrow."
Said the Queen, "How can I thank you enough, dear Ferdinand, for your untiring interest in my welfare. For I have been struggling along in my study of geography with a horribly dull clod whose name", said the Queen, "I cannot remember."
"Was it, by any chance, Colombo?" asked the King.
"Perhaps", said the Queen. "But I am oh so glad to be rid of him." And indeed so great was the happiness of Queen Isabel that her pillow that night was wet with tears.
But King Ferdinand was an unusually efficient king, and he spared no pains in his craving for normalcy. So it was that the next day he called to him the man who had chanced to be Royal Geographer before the coup d'oeuf of Colombo.
"Now tell me", said the King, "is there any chance that a man who sails to the westward will ever return?"
"None, your Majesty", said the ex-Royal Geographer. "For many have tried and horrible are the tales which they tell of demons and monsters lying in wait for the ships of men. And I should say definitely, oh King", said he, "that whoever sails to the westward will never return."
And the tale tells how that afternoon Colombo stood before King Ferdinand. And very strange to Colombo was the enthusiasm which burned in the King's otherwise somewhat fishlike eye.
"For know you, Colombo", the King was saying, "that God has spoken to me and commanded me to save from the fires of hell the inhabitants of those golden lands of which you sang. And to you, my dear Colombo, is to be given the chance which you so ardently desire. For I have this day purchased three ships which await your command, and within a week you should be well on your way on this glorious mission for God and for Spain, and", said the King, "I might add that the Queen, too, is much interested in this voyage and has even been persuaded to dispose of her jewels in order that you may make haste."
"Such instant obedience to the will of God", said Colombo, "and such fine enthusiasm to further His kingdom on earth, does your Majesties great credit. And I shall indeed congratulate the inhabitants of this to-be-discovered land for their good fortune in obtaining such a devout King."
And the tale tells how that night Colombo took leave of Queen Isabel. "Now do not weep, oh Queen", said he, "for I am only Colombo whom men call the Dreamer, and I go in search of the land of my imagining, and perhaps", said Colombo, "I shall return." But they tell how Queen Isabel refused to be comforted for many and many a day. And unexplainably curious to Father Bernadino was his absolute and complete failure as a royal instructor in geography, for Father Bernadino had taught for fifty-two years at the University.
And so it was that Colombo sat alone in the cabin of the ship which carried him towards the land of his imagining. And strange and somewhat fearsome it was to the sailors to see their captain sitting thus motionless night after night, for already had they left the Canaries far behind and some there were who said that a madman commanded their ship, and others who whispered of horrible monsters in these western seas.
And the tale tells how one night Colombo observed across his table one who had not been sitting there a moment before and whose hair was strangely red.
"Well now, truly, sir", said Colombo, "This is very curious. For I do not remember seeing you among the crew nor were you ever at the court, and on the whole", said Colombo, "your red hair and your sneering grin interrupt my dreams, and dreams", said Colombo, "are all that I have left."
"For know you, sir", continued he to the stranger who did not speak, "that on this earth man has been able to endure only by playing the ape to his dreams. And in every generation", said Colombo, "there have been those who dreamed of beautiful things and in every age there have been those who caught some glimpse of that perfect beauty which the Greeks call Helen, and to have seen Helen", said Colombo, "is to have been touched with divine and unbearable madness."
And it became strangely quiet in the cabin as Colombo continued:
"And those authors who wrote perfectly of beautiful dreams", said he, "will, perchance, endure, and those who saw only men as they are, will perish—for so has it been in the past and so will it be in the future. All of which", said Colombo, "is a rather tiresome and pedantic excuse for the fact that I am about to read you my own poem."
And Colombo read to the stranger the dream of the land of Colombo's imagining, and when he had finished the stranger smiled and shook his head sadly.
"Come, now," said Colombo, somewhat hurt. "Do not, I pray you, pretend to like it unless you really do. Of course it is not at all the kind of thing that will sell, is it—and the metre must be patched up in places, don't you think? And some of the most beautiful passages would never be permitted by the censor—but still—" and Colombo paused hopefully, for it was Colombo's poem and into it he had poured the heart of his life and it seemed to him now, more than ever, a beautiful thing.
The stranger handed Colombo a book.
"There", said he, "is the land of your imagining", and in his eyes gleamed a curious sardonic mockery.
And Colombo read the book. And when he had finished his face was grey as are old ashes in ancient urns, and about the mouth of him whom men called the Dreamer were curious hard lines.
"Now, by Heaven", said Colombo brandishing his sword Impavide, "you lie. And your Gopher Prairie is a lie. And you are all, all contemptible, you who dip your pens in tracing ink and seek to banish beautiful dreams from the world."
But the red-haired stranger had vanished and Colombo found that he was alone and to Colombo the world seemed cheerless and as a place that none has lived in for a long time.
"Now this is curious", mused Colombo, "for I have evidently been dreaming and a more horrible dream have I never had, and I think", said Colombo, "that while all this quite certainly did not actually take place, yet that grinning red head has upset me horribly and on the whole", said Colombo, "I believe the safest course would be to put back at once for Spain, for certainly I have no desire to take the remotest chance of discovering anything which may in the least resemble that Gopher Prairie."
And the tale tells that as Colombo started for the deck in order that he might give the signal for the return to Spain, there came across the water from one of the other ships the faint cry of a sailor. And the sailor was waving his hat and shouting, "Land Ho!"
Thus it was that Cristofer Colombo became the discoverer of the land of his imagining, and as he stood on the deck Colombo mused.
"Now this is a sorrowful jest and a very unfair jest that is happening," said he. "For I who have dreamed a beautiful dream of the land of my imagining will quite probably henceforth be known only as the discoverer of what will turn out to be merely one more hideous and stupid country." And tears came to the eyes of Colombo, for on the waves behind him floated the torn and scattered pages of the poem which sang the imagined vision of Beauty of him whom men long and long ago called the Dreamer.
Thus it was in the old days.
ANALYSIS AND SUMMARY OF THE FOREGOING ARTICLE In the Manner of Dr. Frank Crane
There is a lesson for us all in this beautiful story of how Columbus realized his ambition to be a great discoverer.
Men called Columbus a Dreamer—but that is just what folks once said about Thomas A. Edison and Henry Ford.
The world has a place for Dreamers—if they are Practical Dreamers.
Columbus was ambitious. Ambition is a great thing if it is unselfish ambition. By unselfish I mean for the greatest good of the greatest number. Shakespeare, the great teacher, shows us in "Macbeth" what happens to the selfishly ambitious man.
Columbus got ahead by paying attention to small details. Whatever he did, he did to the best of his ability. Even when engaged in teaching geography to the Queen, Columbus was the best geography teacher he knew how to be. And before long he was made Royal Geographer.
In our daily lives let us all resolve to be good teachers of geography. We may not all become Royal Geographers—but there will be to us the lasting satisfaction of having done our best. And that, as a greater than I has said, is "more precious than rubies—yea, than much fine gold".
MAIN STREET: Plymouth, Mass.
In the Manner of Sinclair Lewis
The sour liver-colored shores of America.
Breaking waves dashing too high on a stern and rockbound coast.
Woods tossing giant branches planlessly against a stormy sky.
Cape Cod Bay—wet and full of codfish. The codfish—wet and full of bones.
Standing on the deck of the anchored "Mayflower", gazing reflectively at the shores of the new world, is Priscilla Kennicott.
A youthful bride on a ship full of pilgrims; a lily floating in a dish of prunes; a cloissone vase in a cargo of oil cans.
Her husband joins her. Together they go forward to where their fellow pilgrims are preparing to embark in small boats.
Priscilla jumps into the bow of the first of these to shove off.
As the small craft bumps the shore, Priscilla rises joyously. She stretches her hands in ecstasy toward the new world. She leans forward against the breeze, her whole figure alive with the joy of expectant youth.
She leaps with an irrepressible "Yippee" from the boat to the shore.
She remains for an instant, a vibrant pagan, drunk with the joy of life; Pan poised for an unforgettable moment on Plymouth Rock.
The next minute her foot slips on the hard, wet, unyielding stone. She clutches desperately. She slides slowly back into the cold chill saltness of Cape Cod Bay.
She is pulled, dripping and ashamed, into the boat. She crouches there, shivering and hopeless. She hears someone whisper, "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
A coarse mirthless chuckle.
The pilgrims disembark.
A year later.
She lay sleepless on her bed.
She heard the outside door open; Kennicott returning from prayer meeting.
He sat down on the bed and began pulling off his boots. She knew that the left boot would stick. She knew exactly what he would say and how long it would take him to get it off. She rolled over in bed, a tactical movement which left no blanket for her husband.
"You weren't at prayer meeting," he said.
"I had a headache," she lied. He expressed no sympathy.
"Miles Standish was telling me what you did today at the meeting of the Jolly Seventeen." He had got the boot off at last; he lay down beside her and pulled all the blankets off her onto himself.
"That was kind of Miles." She jerked at the covers but he held them tight. "What charming story did he tell this time?"
"Now look here, Prissie—Miles Standish isn't given to fabrication. He said you told the Jolly Seventeen that next Thanksgiving they ought to give a dance instead of an all-day prayer service."
"Well—anything else?" She gave a tremendous tug at the bedclothes and Kennicott was uncovered again.
"He said you suggested that they arrange a series of lectures on modern religions, and invite Quakers and other radicals to speak right here in Plymouth and tell us all about their beliefs. And not only that but he said you suggested sending a message to the Roman Catholic exiles from England, inviting them to make their home with us. You must have made quite a little speech."
"Well this is the land of religious freedom, isn't it? That's what you came here for, didn't you?" She sat up to deliver this remark—a movement which enabled Kennicott to win back seven-eighths of the bed covering.
"Now look here Prissie—I'm not narrow like some of these pilgrims who came over with us. But I won't have my wife intimating that a Roman Catholic or a Quaker should be allowed to spread his heresies broadcast in this country. It's all right for you and me to know something about those things, but we must protect our children and those who have not had our advantages. The only way to meet this evil is to stamp it out, quick, before it can get a start. And it's just such so-called broadminded thinkers as you that encourage these heretics. You'll be criticizing the Bible next, I suppose."
Thus in early times did the pious Right Thinkers save the land from Hellfire and Damnation; thus the great-grandfathers of middle-western congressmen; thus the ancestors of platitudinous editorial writers, Sitters on Committees, and tin-horn prohibitionists.
Kennicott got up to cool his wrath and indignation with a drink of water. He stumbled over a chair, reached for the jug, took a drink, set the jug down, stumbled over the same chair, and crawled back into bed. His expedition cost him the loss of all bed covering; he gave up the fight.
"Aside from dragging my own private views over the coals of your righteousness, did you and your friends find anything equally pleasant and self-satisfying to discuss this evening?"
"Eh—what's that? Why, yes, we did. We decided to refuse permission for one of these traveling medicine shows to operate in Plymouth."
"Yes—you know—like a fair in England. This one claims to come from down south somewhere. 'Smart Set Medicine Show' it's called, run by a fellow named Mencken. Sells cheap whisky to the Indians—makes them crazy, they say. He's another one of your radical friends we don't want around."
"Yes, he might cut in on your own trading with the Indians."
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Prissie—hire a hall."
Silence. He began to snore.
She lay there, sleepless and open-eyed. The clock struck eleven.
"Why can't I get to sleep?"
("Did Will put the cat out?")
"I wonder what this medicine show is like?"
"What is the matter with these people?"
("Or is it me?")
She reached down, pulled the blankets from under her, spread them carefully over the sleeping Kennicott, patting them down affectionately.
The next day she learned what the medicine show was like. She also learned what was the matter with the pilgrims.
A fog horn.
A fog horn blowing unceasingly.
At breakfast Kennicott pointed with his fork in the direction of the persistent sound.
"There's your Smart Set medicine show," he said glumly. "He doesn't seem to care much whether we give him a permit or not." Then, a minute later, "We'll have to let him stay. Won't do to have the Indians down on us. But I tell you this, Priscilla, I don't want you to go."
"Prissie, please! I'm sorry I said what I did last night. I was tired. But don't you see, well, I can't just exactly explain—but this fog horn sort of scares me—I don't like it—"
He suddenly rose and put both hands on her shoulders. He looked into her eyes. He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. He picked up his hat and was gone. It was five minutes before Priscilla noticed that his breakfast had been left untouched.
A fog horn, sounding unceasingly.
She listlessly put away the breakfast dishes. She tried to drown out the sound by singing hymns. She fell on her knees and tried to pray. She found her prayers keeping time to the rise and fall of the notes of that horn. She determined to go out in the air—to find her husband—to go to church, anywhere—as far as possible from the Smart Set medicine show.
So she went out the back door and ran as fast as she could toward the place from which came the sound of the fog horn.
An open space on the edge of the forest.
In the centre of the clearing a small gaudily-painted tent.
Seated on the ground in a semicircle before the tent, some forty or fifty Indians.
Standing on a box before the entrance to the tent, a man of twenty-five or fifty.
In his left hand he holds a fog horn; in his right, a stein of beer.
He puts the horn to his lips and blows heavy blast.
He bellows, "Beauty—Beauty—Beauty!"
He takes a drink of beer.
He repeats this performance nine times.
He takes up some mud and deftly models the features of several well-known characters—statesmen, writers, critics. In many cases the resemblance is so slight that Priscilla can hardly recognize the character.
He picks up a heavy club and proceeds to beat each one of his modeled figures into a pulp.
The Indians applaud wildly.
He pays no attention to this applause.
He clears his throat and begins to speak. Priscilla is so deafened by the roar of his voice that she cannot hear what he says. Apparently he is introducing somebody; somebody named George.
George steps out of the tent, but does not bow to the audience. In one hand he carries a fencing foil, well constructed, of European workmanship; in his other hand he holds a number of pretty toy balloons which he has made himself.
He smiles sarcastically, tosses the balloons into the air, and cleverly punctures them one by one with his rapier.
At each "pop" the announcer blows a loud blast on the fog horn.
When the last balloon has been punctured George retires without acknowledging the applause of the Indians.
The next act is announced as Helen of Troy in "Six Minutes of Beauty". Priscilla learns from the announcer that "this little lady is out of 'Irony' by Theodore Dreiser".
"All ready, Helen—"
The "little lady" appears.
She is somewhat over six feet six in height and built like a boilermaker. She is dressed in pink tights.
"Six Minutes of Beauty" begins when Helen picks up three large iron cannon balls and juggles them. She tosses them in the air and catches them cleverly on the back of her neck.
The six minutes are brought to a successful conclusion when Helen, hanging head downward by one foot from a trapeze, balances lighted lamp on the other foot and plays Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on the slide trombone.
The announcer then begins his lecture. Priscilla has by this time gotten used to the overpowering roar of his voice and she discovers that once this difficulty is overcome she is tremendously impressed by his words.
She becomes more and more attracted to the man. She listens, fascinated, as his lecture draws to a close and he offers his medicine for sale. She presses forward through the crowd of Indians surrounding the stand. She reaches the tent. She gives her coin and receives in return a bottle. She hides it in her cape and hurries home.
She slips in the back way; she pours some of the medicine into a glass; she drinks it.
A terrible overwhelming nausea. Vomiting, which lasts for agonizing minutes, leaving her helpless on the floor.
Then light—blinding light.
At 3:10 Priscilla drank the Mencken medicine; at 3:12 she was lying in agony on the floor; at 3:20 she opened her eyes; at 3:21 she walked out of her front door; and at 3:22 she discovered what was wrong with Plymouth and the pilgrims.
Main Street. Straight and narrow. A Puritan thoroughfare in a Puritan town.
The church. A centre of Puritan worship. The shrine of a narrow theology which persistently repressed beauty and joy and life.
The Miles Standish house. The house of a Puritan. A squat, unlovely symbol of repression. Beauty crushed by Morality.
Plymouth Rock. Hard, unyielding—like the Puritan moral code. A huge tombstone on the grave of Pan.
She fled home. She flung herself, sobbing, on the bed. She cried, "They're all Puritans that's what they are, Puritans!"
After a while she slept, her cheeks flushed, her heart beating unnaturally.
Late that night.
She opened her eyes; she heard men's voices; she felt her heart still pounding within her at an alarming rate.
"And I told them then that it would come to no good end. Truly, the Lord does not countenance such joking."
She recognized the voices of Miles Standish and Elder Brewster.
"Well—what happened then?" This from Kennicott.
"Well, you see, Henry Haydock got some of this Mencken's medicine from one of the Indians. And he thought it would be a good joke to put it in the broth at the church supper this evening."
"Well—he did it, the fool. And when the broth was served, hell on earth broke loose. Everyone started calling his neighbor a Puritan, and cursing him for having banished Beauty from the earth. The Lord knows what they meant by that; I don't. Old friends fought like wildcats, shrieking 'Puritan' at each other. Luckily it only got to one table—but there are ten raving lunatics in the lockup tonight.
"It's an awful thing. But thanks to the Lord, some good has come out of this evil: that medicine man, Mencken, was standing outside looking in at the rumpus, smiling to himself I guess. Well, somebody saw him and yelled, 'There's another of those damned Puritans!' and before he could get away five of them had jumped on him and beaten him to death. He deserved it, and it's a good joke on him that they killed him for being a Puritan."
Priscilla could stand no more. She rose from her bed, rushed into the room, and faced the three Puritans. In the voice of Priscilla Kennicott but with the words of the medicine man she scourged them.
"A good joke?" she began. "And that is what you Puritan gentlemen of God and volcanoes of Correct Thought snuffle over as a good joke? Well, with the highest respect to Professor Doctor Miles Standish, the Puritan Hearse-hound, and Professor Doctor Elder Brewster, the Plymouth Dr. Frank Crane—BLAA!"
She shrieked this last in their faces and fell lifeless at their feet.
She never recovered consciousness; an hour later she died. An overdose of the medicine had been too much for her weak heart.
"Poor William," comforted Elder Brewster, "you must be brave. You will miss her sorely. But console yourself with the thought that it was for the best. Priscilla has gone where she will always be happy. She has at last found that bliss which she searched for in vain on earth."
"Yes William," added Miles Standish. "Priscilla has now found eternal joy."
Smug saints with ill-fitting halos and imitation wings, singing meaningless hymns which Priscilla had heard countless times before.
Sleek prosaic angels flying aimlessly around playing stale songs on sickly yellow harps.
Three of the harps badly out of tune; two strings missing on another.
Moses, a Jew.
Methuselah, another Jew. Old and unshaven.
Priscilla threw herself on a cloud, sobbing.
"Well, sister, what seems to be the matter here?"
She looked up; she saw a sympathetic stranger looking down at her.
"Because you know, sister," he went on, "if you don't like it here you can always go back any time you want to."
"Do you mean to say," gasped Priscilla, "that I can return to earth?"
"You certainly can," said the stranger. "I'm sort of manager here, and whenever you see any particular part of the earth you'd like to live in, you just let me know and I'll arrange it."
He smiled and was gone.
It was two hundred years before Priscilla Kennicott definitely decided that she could stand it no longer in heaven; it was another hundred years before she located a desirable place on earth to return to.
She finally selected a small town in the American northwest, far from the Puritan-tainted Plymouth; a small town in the midst of fields of beautiful waving grain; a small town free from the artificiality of large cities; a small town named Gopher Prairie.
She made known her desire to the manager; she said goodby to a small group of friends who had gathered to see her off; she heard the sound of the eternal harp playing and hymn singing grow gradually fainter and fainter; she closed her eyes.
When she opened them again she found herself on Main Street in Gopher Prairie.
From the "Heavenly Harp and Trumpet":
Mrs. Priscilla Kennicott, one of our most popular angels, left these parts last Tuesday for an extended visit to the Earth. Mrs. K. confided to Ye Editor that she would probably take up her residence in Gopher Prairie, Minn., under the name of Carol Kennicott. The "Harp and Trumpet" felicitates the citizens of Gopher Prairie on their acquisition of a charming and up-to-date young matron whose absence will be keenly regretted by her many friends in the heavenly younger married set. Good luck, Priscilla!
Five years later.
The monthly meeting of the Celestial Browning Club.
Seated in the chair reserved for the guest of honor, the manager.
The meeting opens as usual with a reading by Brother Robert Browning of his poem "Pippa Passes"; as he proclaims that "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world", the members applaud and the manager rises and bows.
The chairman announces that "today we take up a subject in which I am sure we are all extremely interested—the popular literature of the United States".
The members listen to selected extracts from the writings of Gene Stratton-Porter, Zane Grey, and Harold Bell Wright; at the conclusion they applaud and the manager again bows.
"I am sure", says the chairman, "that we are all glad to hear that things are going so nicely in the United States." (Applause.) "And now, in conclusion, Brother Voltaire has requested permission to address us for a few minutes, and I am sure that anything Brother Voltaire has to say will be eminently worthwhile."
Brother Voltaire rises and announces that he has listened with interest to the discussion of American literature; that he, too, rejoices that all is well in this best of all possible United States; and that he hopes they will pardon him if he supplements the program by reading a few extracts from another extremely popular American book recently published under the name of "Main Street".
At the next meeting of the Celestial Browning Club it was unanimously voted that the privileges of the club be denied Brother Voltaire for the period of one year, and that the name of Priscilla Kennicott be stricken from the list of non-resident members of heaven.
THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH
In the Manner of F. Scott Fitzgerald
This story occurs under the blue skies and bluer laws of Puritan New England, in the days when religion was still taken seriously by a great many people, and in the town of Plymouth where the "Mayflower", having ploughed its platitudinous way from Holland, had landed its precious cargo of pious Right Thinkers, moral Gentlemen of God, and—Priscilla.
Priscilla was—well, Priscilla had yellow hair. In a later generation, in a 1921 June, if she had toddled by at a country club dance you would have noticed first of all that glorious mass of bobbed corn-colored locks. You would, then, perhaps, have glanced idly at her face, and suddenly said "Oh my gosh!" The next moment you would have clutched the nearest stag and hissed, "Quick—yellow hair—silver dress—oh Judas!" You would then have been introduced, and after dancing nine feet you would have been cut in on by another panting stag. In those nine delirious feet you would have become completely dazed by one of the smoothest lines since the building of the Southern Pacific. You would then have borrowed somebody's flask, gone into the locker room and gotten an edge—not a bachelor-dinner edge but just enough to give you the proper amount of confidence. You would have returned to the ballroom, cut in on this twentieth century Priscilla, and taken her and your edge out to a convenient limousine, or the first tee.
It was of some such yellow-haired Priscilla that Homer dreamed when he smote his lyre and chanted, "I sing of arms and the man"; it was at the sight of such as she that rare Ben Johnson's Dr. Faustus cried, "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?" In all ages has such beauty enchanted the minds of men, calling forth in one century the Fiesolian terza rima of "Paradise Lost", in another the passionate arias of a dozen Beethoven symphonies. In 1620 the pagan daughter of Helen of Troy and Cleopatra of the Nile happened, by a characteristic jest of the great Ironist, to embark with her aunt on the "Mayflower".
Like all girls of eighteen Priscilla had learned to kiss and be kissed on every possible occasion; in the exotic and not at all uncommon pleasure of "petting" she had acquired infinite wisdom and complete disillusionment. But in all her "petting parties" on the "Mayflower" and in Plymouth she had found no Puritan who held her interest beyond the first kiss, and she had lately reverted in sheer boredom to her boarding school habit of drinking gin in large quantities, a habit which was not entirely approved of by her old-fashioned aunt, although Mrs. Brewster was glad to have her niece stay at home in the evenings "instead", as she told Mrs. Bradford, "of running around with those boys, and really, my dear, Priscilla says some of the FUNNIEST things when she gets a little er—'boiled', as she calls it—you must come over some evening, and bring the governor."
Mrs. Brewster, Priscilla's aunt, is the ancestor of all New England aunts. She may be seen today walking down Tremont Street, Boston, in her Educator shoes on her way to S. S. Pierce's which she pronounces to rhyme with HEARSE. The twentieth century Mrs. Brewster wears a highnecked black silk waist with a chatelaine watch pinned over her left breast and a spot of Gordon's codfish (no bones) over her right. When a little girl she was taken to see Longfellow, Lowell, and Ralph Waldo Emerson; she speaks familiarly of the James boys, but this has no reference to the well-known Missouri outlaws. She was brought up on blueberry cake, Postum and "The Atlantic Monthly"; she loves the Boston "Transcript", God, and her relatives in Newton Centre. Her idea of a daring joke is the remark Susan Hale made to Edward Everett Hale about sending underwear to the heathen. She once asked Donald Ogden Stewart to dinner with her niece; she didn't think his story about the lady mind reader who read the man's mind and then slapped his face, was very funny; she never asked him again.
The action of this story all takes place in MRS. BREWSTER'S Plymouth home on two successive June evenings. As the figurative curtain rises MRS. BREWSTER is sitting at a desk reading the latest instalment of Foxe's "Book of Martyrs".
The sound of a clanking sword is heard outside. MRS. BREWSTER looks up, smiles to herself, and goes on reading. A knock—a timid knock.
MRS. BREWSTER: Come in.
(Enter CAPTAIN MIKES STANDISH, whiskered and forty. In a later generation, with that imposing mustache and his hatred of Indians, Miles would undoubtedly have been a bank president. At present he seems somewhat ill at ease, and obviously relieved to find only PRISCILLA'S aunt at home.)
MRS. BREWSTER: Good evening, Captain Standish.
MILES: Good evening, Mrs. Brewster. It's—it's cool for June, isn't it?
MRS. BREWSTER: Yes. I suppose we'll pay, for it with a hot July, though.
MILES (nervously): Yes, but it—it is cool for June, isn't it?
MRS. BREWSTER: So you said, Captain.
MILES: Yes. So I said, didn't I? (Silence.)
MILES: Mistress Priscilla isn't home, then?
MRS. BREWSTER: Why, I don't think so, Captain But I never can be sure where Priscilla is.
MILES (eagerly): She's a—a fine girl, isn't she? A fine girl.
MRS. BREWSTER: Why, yes. Of course, Priscilla has her faults but she'd make some man a fine wife—some man who knew how to handle her—an older man, with experience.
MILES: Do you really think so, Mrs. Brewster? (After a minute.) Do you think Priscilla is thinking about marrying anybody in particular?
MRS. BREWSTER: Well, I can't say, Captain. You know—she's a little wild. Her mother was wild, too, you know—that is, before the Lord spoke to her. They say she used to be seen at the Mermaid Tavern in London with all those play-acting people. She always used to say that Priscilla would marry a military man.
MILES: A military man? Well, now tell me Mrs. Brewster, do you think that a sweet delicate creature like Priscilla—
A VOICE (in the next room): Oh DAMN!
MRS. BREWSTER: That must be Priscilla now.
THE VOICE: Auntie!
MRS. BREWSTER: Yes, Priscilla dear.
THE VOICE: Where in hell did you put the vermouth?
MRS. BREWSTER: In the cupboard, dear. I do hope you aren't going to get—er—"boiled" again tonight, Priscilla. (Enter PRISCILLA, infinitely radiant, infinitely beautiful, with a bottle of vermouth in one hand and a jug of gin in the other.) PRISCILLA: Auntie, that was a dirty trick to hide the vermouth. Hello Miles—shoot many Indians today?
MILES: Why—er er—no, Mistress Priscilla.
PRISCILLA: Wish you'd take me with you next time, Miles. I'd love to shoot an Indian, wouldn't you, auntie?
MRS. BREWSTER: Priscilla! What an idea! And please dear, give Auntie Brewster the gin. I—er—promised to take some to the church social tonight and it's almost all gone now.
MILES: I didn't see you at church last night, Mistress Priscilla.
PRISCILLA: Well I'll tell you, Miles. I started to go to church—really felt awfully religious. But just as I was leaving I thought, "Priscilla, how about a drink—just one little drink?" You know, Miles, church goes so much better when you're just a little boiled—the lights and everything just kind of—oh, its glorious. Well last night, after I'd had a little liquor, the funniest thing happened. I felt awfully good, not like church at all—so I just thought I'd take a walk in the woods. And I came to a pool—a wonderful honest-to-God pool—with the moon shining right into the middle of it. So I just undressed and dove in and it was the most marvelous thing in the world. And then I danced on the bank in the grass and the moonlight—oh, Lordy, Miles, you ought to have seen me.
MRS. BREWSTER: Priscilla!
PRISCILLA: 'Scuse me, Auntie Brewster. And then I just lay in the grass and sang and laughed.
MRS. BREWSTER: Dear, you'll catch your death of cold one of these nights. I hope you'll excuse me, Captain Standish; it's time I was going to our social. I'll leave Priscilla to entertain you. Now be a good girl, Priscilla, and please dear don't drink straight vermouth—remember what happened last time. Good night, Captain—good night, dear.
(Exit MRS. BREWSTER with gin.)
PRISCILLA: Oh damn! What'll we do, Miles—I'm getting awfully sleepy.
MILES: Why—we might—er—pet a bit.
PRISCILLA (yawning): No. I'm too tired—besides, I hate whiskers.
MILES: Yes, that's so, I remember. (Ten minutes' silence, with MILES looking sentimentally into the fireplace, PRISCILLA curled up in a chair on the other side.)
MILES: I was—your aunt and I—we were talking about you before you came in. It was a talk that meant a lot to me.
PRISCILLA: Miles, would you mind closing that window?
(MILES closes the window and returns to his chair by the fireplace.)
MILES: And your aunt told me that your mother said you would some day marry a military man.
PRISCILLA: Miles, would you mind passing me that pillow over there?
(MILES gets up, takes the pillow to PRISCILLA and again sits down.)
MILES: And I thought that if you wanted a military man why—well, I've always thought a great deal of you, Mistress Priscilla—and since my Rose died I've been pretty lonely, and while I'm nothing but a rough old soldier yet—well, what I'm driving at is—you see, maybe you and I could sort of—well, I'm not much of a hand at fancy love speeches and all that—but—
(He is interrupted by a snore. He glances up and sees that PRISCILLA has fallen fast asleep. He sits looking hopelessly into the fireplace for a long time, then gets up, puts on his hat and tiptoes out of the door.)
THE NEXT EVENING
PRISCILLA is sitting alone, lost in revery, before the fireplace. It is almost as if she had not moved since the evening before.
A knock, and the door opens to admit JOHN ALDEN, nonchalant, disillusioned, and twenty-one.
JOHN: Good evening. Hope I don't bother you.
PRISCILLA: The only people who bother me are women who tell me I'm beautiful and men who don't.
JOHN: Not a very brilliant epigram—but still—yes, you ARE beautiful.
PRISCILLA: Of course, if it's an effort for you to say—
JOHN: Nothing is worthwhile without effort.
PRISCILLA: Sounds like Miles Standish; many things I do without effort are worthwhile; I am beautiful without the slightest effort.
JOHN: Yes, you're right. I could kiss you without any effort—and that would be worthwhile—perhaps.
PRISCILLA: Kissing me would prove nothing. I kiss as casually as I breathe.
JOHN: And if you didn't breathe—or kiss—you would die.
PRISCILLA: Any woman would.
JOHN: Then you are like other women. How unfortunate.
PRISCILLA: I am like no woman you ever knew.
JOHN: You arouse my curiosity.
PRISCILLA: Curiosity killed a cat.
JOHN: A cat may look at a—Queen.
PRISCILLA: And a Queen keeps cats for her amusement. They purr so delightfully when she pets them.
JOHN: I never learned to purr; it must be amusing—for the Queen.
PRISCILLA: Let me teach you. I'm starting a new class tonight.
JOHN: I'm afraid I couldn't afford to pay the tuition.
PRISCILLA: For a few exceptionally meritorious pupils, various scholarships and fellowships have been provided.
JOHN: By whom? Old graduates?
PRISCILLA: NO—the institution has been endowed by God—
JOHN: With exceptional beauty—I'm afraid I'm going to kiss you. NOW.
(Ten minutes pass.)
PRISCILLA: Stop smiling in that inane way.
JOHN: I just happened to think of something awfully funny. You know the reason why I came over here tonight?
PRISCILLA: To see me. I wondered why you hadn't come months ago.
JOHN: No. It's really awfully funny—but I came here tonight because Miles Standish made me promise this morning to ask you to marry him. Miles is an awfully good egg, really Priscilla.
PRISCILLA: Speak for yourself, John. (They kiss.)
JOHN: Again—and again. Oh Lord, I'm gone.
(An hour later JOHN leaves. As the door closes behind him PRISCILLA sinks back into her chair before the fireplace; an hour passes, and she does not move; her aunt returns from the Bradfords' and after a few ineffectual attempts at conversation goes to bed alone; the candles gutter, flicker, and die out; the room is filled of sacred silence. Once more the clock chimes forth the hour—the hour of fluted peace, of dead desire and epic love. Oh not for aye, Endymion, mayst thou unfold the purple panoply of priceless years. She sleeps—PRISCILLA sleeps—and down the palimpsest of age-old passion the lyres of night breathe forth their poignant praise. She sleeps—eternal Helen—in the moonlight of a thousand years; immortal symbol of immortal aeons, flower of the gods transplanted on a foreign shore, infinitely rare, infinitely erotic.)
 For the further adventures of Priscilla, see F. Scott Fitzgerald's stories in the "Girl With the Yellow Hair" series, notably "This Side of Paradise," "The Offshore Pirate," "The Ice Palace," "Head and Shoulders," "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," "Benediction" and "The Beautiful and Damned."
THE SPIRIT OF '75
LETTERS OF A MINUTE MAN
In the Manner of Ring Lardner
Well Ethen you will be surprised O. K. to hear I & the wife took a little trip down to Boston last wk. to a T. party & I guess you are thinking we will be getting the swelt hed over being ast to a T. party. In Boston.
Well Ethen if you think that why you will be a 100 mi. offen the track because Ethen I and Prudence sent the kind that gets a swelt hed over being ast any wares like some of are naybers up here when they are ast any wares so you see Ethen even if we had been ast any wares we wouldnt of had no swelt hed. On acct of being ast any wares.
Well last Thurs. I and Prudence drove old Bessy down to Boston Bessy is are horse see Ethen which is about 13 mi. from here Boston I mean Ethen as the crow flys only no crow would ever fly to Boston if he could help it because all the crows that ever flew to Boston was shot by them lousie taverin keepers to make meals out of Ethen I never tast it nothing so rotten in my life as the meals they give us there & the priceis would knock your I out. 3 shillings for a peace of stake about as big as your I, and 4 pence for a cup of coffy. The streets sent the only thing about Boston thats crook it. Them taverin keepers is crook it to I mean see Ethen.
After supper I & her was walking a round giving the town the double O when we seen that Fanny Ewell Hall was all lit up like Charley Davis on Sat. night & I says to Prudence lets go inside I think its free and she says I bet you knowed it was free al right befor you ast me & sure enough it was free only I hadnt knowed it before only I guess that Prudence knows that when I say a thing it is generally O. K. Well Fanny Ewell Hall was pack jam full of people & we couldnt see nothing because there was a cockide stiff standing right in front of us & jumping up & down & yelling No T. No T. at the top of his lunges & Prudence says well why dont you take coffy or milk & for Gods sake stay offen my foot & he turns to her & says maddam do you want T. & slavery & she says no coffy & a hot dog just kidding him see Ethen & he says maddam no T. shall ever land & she says no but my husbend will in a bout 1 min. & I was just going to plank him 1 when the door behint us bust open & a lot of indyans come in yelling every body down to Grifins worf there is going to be a T. party only Ethen they wasnt indyans at all but jest wite men drest up to look like indyans & I says to a fello those aint indyans & he say no how did you guess it & I says because I have seen real indyans many a time & he says to a nother fello say Bill here is a man who says them sent real indyans & the other fello says gosh I dont believe it & they laffed only the laff was on them Ethen because they wasnt real indyans & that is only tipical of how you cant tell these Boston swelt heds nothing & I guess if they had ever seen a real indyan they would of known better than to laff. Well I and Prudence follered the crowd down to Grifins worf & them indyans which was only wite men drest up clumb onto a ship there & begun throwing the cargo into Boston harber & I says to a fello what is in them boxes & he says T. & I says well why are they throwing it away & he says because they do not want to pay the tacks which is about as sensable Ethen if I was to rite a lot of letters & then as fast as I rote I would tare it up because I did not want to pay for a stamp. Well I says somebody ought to catch he—ll for this & he says are you a torie & I seen he was trying to kid me & I says no I am a congregationalis & a loyal subject of king Geo. Rex & he says o I thought you was a torie & a lot of fellos who was with him give him the laff because he hadnt been abel to kid me. Well after a whiles he says the indyans seem to be about threw & I says yes only they sent indyans & the laff was on him again & he seen it wasnt no use to try & kid me & Prudence says come on lets beat it & on the way home I says I bet them Boston birds will feel small when they find out that those wasnt indyans at all & she act it like she was mad about something & says well they cant blame you for not trying to tell them & its a wonder you didnt hire Fanny Ewell Hall while you was about it & I says o is it & I might know youd get sore because I was the 1st to find out about the indyans being wite men in disgised & she says yes I suppose if somebody was to paint stripes on a cow you would make a speech about it & say that you had discovered that it wasnt no tiger & I wish I had been 1 of them indyans tonight because I would of loved to of beened you with a Tommy Hawk & I says o you would would you & she seen it wasnt no use to argue with me & anyway Ethen nobody would be fool enough to paint stripes on a cow unless maybe they was born in Boston. Well Ethen thats the way it goes & when you do put one over on the wife they want to hit you with a Tommy Hawk with best rgds. Ed.
No matter what a married man does in this world he gets in wrong & I suppose if I was to die tonight Prudence would bawl me out for not having let her know I was going to do it & just because I joined the minit men the other eve. she has been acting like as if I had joined the Baptis Church & I bet you are saying what in the h—ll is a minit man. Well Ethen I will tell you. The other night I says to Prudence I think I will drive over to Lexington to get Bessy shodd. Bessy is are horse see Ethen. Well she says you will do nothing of the kind because all you want to do in Lexington is get a snoot ful & if you think I am going to wate up all night while you get boiled well you have got another guess coming. She says the last time you had Bessy shodd the naybers are talking about it yet & I says do you mean because I & Charley Davis was singing & having a little fun & she says no because nobody wouldnt call that singing & do you call it a little fun when you brought Bessy up stares with you to show me how well she had been shodd at 3 A. M. in the morning answer me that which is only her way of exagerating things Ethen because we didnt bring Bessy only as far as the stares & I only did it because Charley had been drinking a little to much & I didnt want to iritate him because the way to handel drunks is to not iritate them they are only worse only you cant tell a woman that & they think the way to handel drunks is to look him in the eye & say arent you ashamed of yourselves which only iritates him the moar. Well I says I am not going to half no horse of mine going a round 1/2 shodd al the time & Prudence says well I am not going to half no husband of mine going a round 1/2 shot al the time & I says I will not go near Charley Davis this time because I have lernt my lesson & she says al right if you will promise to not go near Charley Davis you can go & when I got to Lexington I thought I would stop in the taverin a min. just to say hulloh to the boys because if a fello doesnt stop in the taverin to say hulloh to the boys who are just as good as he is they are lible to say he has a swelt hed & is to proud to stop in the taverin to say hulloh to the boys. Who are just as good as he is. Well I didnt have any i dear that Charley Davis would be there because I had told Prudence I wasnt going to go near him & just because I said that I cant be expect it to sneek into toun like as if I was a convick can I Ethen. Well the taverin was crowd it & they had all got a good start & the long & the short of it was that the 1st person I seen was Charley Davis & he says hulloh there pink whiskers you are just in time to join the minit men which is only a nicked name he has for me because my whiskers are red brown. No I says I cannot join anything tonight fellos because I must go right back home & he says if you dont join the minit men now some day you wont have no home to go home to & I says what do you mean I wont have no home to go home to & he says because the Brittish are going to burn down all the homes of we farmers because we will not sell them any food but first you had better have a drink. Well Ethen a fello dont like to be a sissey about taking 1 drink does he & then I says now fellos I must go home & then a couple of more fellos come in & they said Ed you wont go home till we have brought you a drink & elect it you to the minit men will you & I said no but I must go home right after that. Well then we got to singing & we was going pretty good & after a while I said now fellos I must go home & Charley Davis says to me Ed before you go I want to have you shake hands with my friend Tom Duffy who is here from Boston & he will tell you all about the minit men & you can join tonight but look out or he will drink you under the tabel because he is the worst fish in Boston & I says sure only I have got to be going home soon because you remember what hapend last time & I would like to see any body from Boston drink me under the tabel & bet. you & I Ethen if that fellow is a fish then my grandmother is the prince of whales & let me tell you what hapend. After we had drank about 4 or 5 I seen he was getting sort of wite & I says well Boston lets settle down now to some good steady drinking & he says listen & I says what & he says listen & I says what & he says do you know my wife & I says no & he says listen & I says what & he says shes the best little woman in the world & I says sure & he says what did you say & I says when & he says you have insult it my wife the best little woman in the world & he begun to cry & we had only had a bout 1 qt & wouldnt that knock you for a cockide gool Ethen, only I guess you arent surprised knowing how much I can holt without feeling any affects. Well I was feeling pretty good on acct. of drinking the pride of Boston under the tabel & not feeling any affects only I was feeling good like a fello naturely feels & the fellos kind of made a lot of fuss on acct. me drinking him under the tabel so I couldnt very well of gone home then & after a while Charley Davis made a speech & well comed me into the minit men & so I am a minit man Ethen but I cant exackly explain it to you until I see Charley again because he didnt make it very clear that night. Well after a while we woke the Boston fish up & we all went home & I was feeling pretty good on acct. it being such a nice night & all the stars being out & etc. & when I got home I said Prudence guess what hapend & she says I can guess & I says Prudence I have been elect it a minit man & she says well go on up stares & sleep it off & I says sleep what off & she says stop talking so loud do you want the naybers to wake up & I says whos talking loud & she says o go to bed & I says I am talking in conversational tones & she says well you must be conversing with somebody in Boston & I says o you mean that little blond on Beecon St. & Ethen she went a 1,000,000 mi. up in the air & I seen it wasnt no use to try & tell her that the reason I was feeling good was on acct. having drank a Boston swelt hed to sleep without feeling any affects & I bet the next time I get a chanct I am going to get snooted right because a fello gets blamed just as much if he doesnt feel the affects as if he was brought home in a stuper & I was just kidding her about that blond on Beecon St. Some women dont know when they are well off Ethen & I bet that guy from Bostons Tom Duffy I mean wife wishes she was in Prudences shoes instead of her having married a man what cant holt no more than a qt. without being brought home in a stuper. Best rgds. Ed.
Well Ethen this is a funny world & when I joined the minit men last mo. how was I to know that they called them minit men because they was lible to get shot any minit. & here I am riteing to you in a tent outside Boston & any minit a canon ball is lible to knock me for a continental loop & my house has been burnt & Prudence is up in Conk Cord with her sister the one who married that short skate dum bell Collins who has owed me 2 lbs. for a yr. & 1/2 well Ethen it never ranes but it pores & you can be glad you are liveing in a nice quiet place like Philly.
Well the other night I and Prudence was sound asleep when I heard some body banging at the frt. door & I stuck my head out the up stares window & I says who are you & he says I am Paul Revear & I says well this is a h—ll of a time to be wakeing a peaceiful man out of their bed what do you want & he says the Brittish are comeing & I says o are they well this is the 19 of April not the 1st & I was going down stares to plank him 1 but he had rode away tow wards Lexington before I had a chanct & as it turned out after words the joke was on me O. K. Well who is it says Prudence Charley Davis again because you might as well come back to bed if it is & I says no it was some Boston smart alick trying to be funny & I guess they are soar down there on acct. what hapened to their prize fish up here last mo. & are trying to get even do you know a Paul Revear & she says yes there was a boy at school named Paul Revear who was crazy about me was he dark well Ethen if all the fellos she says has been crazy about her was layed end to end they would circum navygate the globe twicet & I says no he was yello & that had her stopt so we went back to sleep only I couldn't help laffing over the way I had slipt it across. About Revear being yello. Well along a bout A. M. there was a lot of gun firing tow wards Lexington & Prudence grabed me & says whets the shooting for & I says probably that fello Revear who was so crazy a bout you has got funny oncet to oft ten & it will teach them Boston doodes a lesson. Well Ethen I was wrong for oncet & the firing kept getting worse & I hitcht up old Bessy & drove over to Lexington Bessy is are horse & Ethen there was the h—ll to pay there because the g—d d—m Brittish redcotes had marcht nup from Boston & had fired on the Lexington fellos & Charley Davis had been shot dead & a lot of the other fellos was wooned it & they said you had better get your wife to the h—ll out of your house because the g—d d—m Brittish redcotes are coming back & they will burn everything along the rode the —— I guess you know what word goes there Ethen & I was so d—m mad at those g—d d—m Brittish redcotes on acct. shooting Charley Davis dead that I said give me a gun & show me the —— who done it & they says no you had better get your wife to a safe place to go to & then you can come back because the —— will be along this way again the ——. Well I drove as fast as I could back to the farm & somebody had already told Prudence what had hapend & as soon as I drove into the yd. she come out with my muskit & hand it it to me & says dont you worry about me but you kill every d—m redcote you can see & I says the ——s has killed Charley Davis & she says I know it & here is all the bullits I could find. Well when I got back to Lexington the redcotes was just coming along & Ethen I guess they wont forget that march back to Boston for a little whiles & I guess I wont either because the ——s burnt down my house & barn & Prudence is gone to stay with her sister in Conk Cord & here I am camping in a tent with a lot of other minit men on the out skirts of Boston & there is a roomer a round camp that to morrow we are going to move over to Bunker Hill which is a good name for a Boston Hill Ill say & Ethen if you was to of told me a mo. ago that I would be fighting to get Boston away from the Brittish I would of planked you 1 because they could of had Boston for all I cared. Well Ethen I must go out and drill some more now & probably we will half to listen to some Boston bird makeing a speech they are great fellos for speeches about down with Brittish tirrany & give me liberty or give me death but if you was to ast me Ethen I would say give me back that house & barn what those lousie redcotes burnt & when this excitement is all over what I want to know is Ethen where do I get off at. Yrs Ed.
THE WHISKY REBELLION.
In the Bedtime Story Manner of Thornton W. Burgess
"Just the DAY for a Whisky Rebellion," said Aunt Polly and off she ran, lipperty-lipperty-lip, to get a few shooting rifles.
"Oh goody goody," cried little Emily. "Now we can all shoot at those horrid Revenue Officers," for the collectors of internal revenue were far from popular with these kindly Pennsylvania folk and Aunt Polly Pinkwood had often promised the children that if they were good some day they would be allowed to take a shot at a Revenue Officer.
Soon she returned, bearing in her arms a number of bright shiny new guns. The children crowded around in glee and soon all were supplied with weapons except little Frank who of course was too young to use a gun and was given a two-gallon jug of nice, old whisky to carry. Jed hitched up old Taylor, the faithful farm horse, and as quick as you could say Jack Robinson the little ones had piled into the old carryall. Round Mr. Sun was just peeping over the Purple Hills when the merry little party started on its way, singing and laughing at the prospect of the day's sport.
"I bet I kill five Revenue Officers," said little Edgar.
"Ha Ha Ha—you boaster, you," laughed Aunt Polly. "You will be lucky if you kill two, for I fear they will be hard to find today."
"Oh do you think so, Aunt Polly?" said little Elinor and she began to cry, for Elinor dearly loved to shoot.
"Hush dear," said Miss Pinkwood with a kindly pat, for she loved her little charges and it hurt her to see them unhappy. "I was only joking. And now children I will tell you a story."
"Oh goody goody," cried they all. "Tell us a true story."
"All right," said Aunt Polly. "I shall tell you a true story," and she began.
"Once there was a brave handsome man—"
"Mr. Welsbach," cried the children with one voice, for it was well known in the neighborhood that Aunt Polly had long been sweet on Julius Welsbach, the popular superintendent of the Sabbath School and the best whisky maker for miles around.
"Hush children," said Aunt Polly blushing in vexation. "Of course not. And if you interrupt me I shall not tell my story at all." But she was not really angry.
"And one day this brave handsome man was out making whisky and he had just sampled some when he looked up and what do you suppose he saw?"
"Snakes," cried little Elmer whose father had often had delirium tremens, greatly to the delight of his children.
"No, Elmer," said Miss Pinkwood, "not snakes."
"Pink lizards," cried little Esther, Elmer's sister.
"No," said Aunt Polly, with a hearty laugh, "he saw a—stranger. And what do you suppose the stranger had?"
"A snoot full," chorused the Schultz twins. "He was pie-eyed."
"No," replied Miss Pinkwood laughing merrily. "It was before noon. Guess again children. What did the stranger have?"
"Blind staggers," suggested little Faith whose mother had recently been adjudged insane.
"Come children," replied Aunt Polly. "You are not very wide awake this morning. The stranger had a gun. And when the brave handsome man offered the stranger a drink what do you suppose the stranger said?"
"I know," cried little Prudence eagerly. "He said, 'Why yes I don't care if I do.' That's what they all say."
"No, Prudence," replied Miss Pinkwood. "The stranger refused a drink."
"Oh come now, Aunt Polly," chorused the boys and girls. "You said you were going to tell us a true story." And their little faces fell.
"Children," said Miss Polly, "the stranger refused the drink because he was a Revenue Officer. And he pointed his gun at the brave handsome man and said he would have to go to jail because he had not paid the tax on his whisky. And the brave handsome man would have had to have gone to jail, too; but fortunately his brother came up just at the right time and—"
"Shot the Revenuer dead," cried the children in glee.
"Yes children," said Miss Polly. "He shot the Revenue Officer dead."
"Oh goody goody," cried all. "Now tell us another story. Tell us about the time your father killed a Revenue Officer with an ax."
"Oh you don't want to hear that again, do you children?" said Aunt Polly.
"Oh yes—yes—please," they cried, and Aunt Polly was just going to begin when Jed the driver stopped his horses and said:
"This hilltop is as good a place to shoot from as I know of, Miss Pinkwood. You can see both roads, and nobody can see you."
"Thank you, Jed," said Aunt Polly giving him a kindly smile, and without more ado the children clambered out of the carryall and filled their guns with powder and bullets.
"I get first shot," proudly announced Robert, the oldest boy, and somewhat of a bully.
"Robert!" said Aunt Polly severely, and she looked almost ready to cry, for Aunt Polly had tried hard to teach the boys to be true knights of chivalry and it hurt her to have Robert wish to shoot a Revenue Officer before the girls had had a chance. Robert had not meant to hurt Aunt Polly's feelings but had only been thoughtless, and soon all was sunshine again as little Ellen the youngest made ready to fire the first shot.
The children waited patiently and soon they were rewarded by the sight of a Revenue Officer riding on horseback in the distant valley, as pretty a target as one could wish.
"Now do be careful, dear," whispered Miss Pinkwood, "for if you miss, he may take alarm and be off." But little Ellen did not miss. "Bang" went her gun and the little Merry Breezes echoed back and forth, "She got him. She got him", and old Mother West Wind smiled down at the happy sport. Sure enough, when old Mr. Smoke had cleared away there was a nice dead Revenue Officer lying in the road. "Well done, Ellen," said Miss Pinkwood, patting her little charge affectionately which caused the happy girl to coo with childish delight.
Mary had next shot and soon all were popping away in great glee. All the merry wood folk gathered near to watch the children at their sport. There was Johnny Chuck and Reddy Fox and Jimmy Skunk and Bobby Coon and oh everybody.
Soon round Mr. Sun was high in the Blue Sky and the children began to tire somewhat of their sport. "I'm as hungry as a bear," said little Dick. "I'm as hungry as two bears," said Emily. "Ha Ha Ha," laughed Miss Pinkwood, "I know what will fix that," and soon she had spread out a delicious repast. "Now children," said Miss Pinkwood when all had washed their faces and hands, "while you were busy washing I prepared a surprise for you," and from a large jug, before their delighted gaze, she poured out—what do you think? "Bronxes," cried little Harriet. "Oh goody goody." And sure enough Aunt Polly had prepared a jug of delicious Bronx cocktails which all pronounced excellent.
And after that there were sandwiches and olives and pie and good three year old whisky, too.
"That's awfully smooth rye, Aunt Polly," said little Prudence smacking her two red lips. "I think I'll have another shot."
"No dear," said Miss Pinkwood, pleased by the compliment, but firm withal. "Not now. Perhaps on the way home, if there is any left," for Aunt Polly knew that too much alcohol in the middle of the day is bad for growing children, and she had seen many a promising child spoiled by over-indulgent parents.
After lunch those children who could stand helped Aunt Polly to clear away the dishes and then all went sound asleep, as is the custom in Pennsylvania.
When they awoke round Mr. Sun was just sinking behind the Purple Hills and so, after taking a few more scattered shots at Revenue Officers, they piled once more into the carryall and drove back to town. And as they passed Mrs. Oliphant's house (Aunt Polly's sister) Aunt Flo Oliphant came out on the porch and waved her handkerchief at the merry party.
"Let's give her a cheer," said Fred.
"Agreed," cried they all, and so twelve little throats united in three lusty "huzzahs" which made Auntie Flo very happy you may be sure.
And as they drove up before the Pinkwoods' modest home twelve tired but happy children with one accord voted the Whisky Rebellion capital fun and Aunt Polly a brick.
HOW LOVE CAME TO GENERAL GRANT
In the Manner of Harold Bell Wright
On a brisk winter evening in the winter of 1864 the palatial Fifth Avenue "palace" of Cornelius van der Griff was brilliantly lighted with many brilliant lights. Outside the imposing front entrance a small group of pedestrians had gathered to gape enviously at the invited guests of the "four hundred" who were beginning to arrive in elegant equipages, expensive ball-dresses and fashionable "swallowtails".
"Hully gee!" exclaimed little Frank, a crippled newsboy who was the only support of an aged mother, as a particularly sumptuous carriage drove up and a stylishly dressed lady of fifty-five or sixty stepped out accompanied by a haughty society girl and an elderly gentleman in clerical dress. It was Mrs. Rhinelander, a social leader, and her daughter Geraldine, together with the Rev. Dr. Gedney, pastor of an exclusive Fifth Avenue church.
"What common looking people," said Mrs. Rhinelander, surveying the crowd aristocratically with her lorgnette.
"Yes, aren't they?" replied the clergyman with a condescending glance which ill befit his clerical garb.
"I'm glad you don't have people like that dans votre eglise, Dr. Gedney," said young Geraldine, who thought it was "smart" to display her proficiency in the stylish French tongue. At this moment the door of the van der Griff residence was opened for them by an imposing footman in scarlet livery and they passed into the abode of the "elect".
"Hully gee!" repeated little Frank.
"What's going on to-night?" asked a newcomer.
"Gee—don't youse know?" answered the newsboy. "Dis is de van der Griffs' and tonight dey are giving a swell dinner for General Grant. Dat lady wot just went in was old Mrs. Rhinelander. I seen her pitcher in de last Harper's Weekly and dere was a story in de paper dis morning dat her daughter Geraldine was going to marry de General."
"That isn't so," broke in another. "It was just a rumor."
"Well, anyway," said Frank, "I wisht de General would hurry up and come—it's getting cold enough to freeze the tail off a brass monkey." The onlookers laughed merrily at his humorous reference to the frigid temperature, although many cast sympathetic looks at his thin threadbare garments and registered a kindly thought for this brave boy who so philosophically accepted the buffets of fate.
"I bet this is him now," cried Frank, and all waited expectantly as a vehicle drove up. The cabman jumped off his box and held the carriage door open.
"Here you are, Miss Flowers," he said, touching his hat respectfully.
A silver peal of rippling laughter sounded from the interior of the carriage.
"Why Jerry," came in velvet tones addressed to the coachman, "You mustn't be so formal just because I have come to New York to live. Call me 'Miss Ella,' of course, just like you did when we lived out in Kansas," and with these words Miss Ella Flowers, for it was she, stepped out of the carriage.
A hush fell on the crowd as they caught sight of her face—a hush of silent tribute to the clear sweet womanhood of that pure countenance. A young man on the edge of the crowd who was on the verge of becoming a drunkard burst into tears and walked rapidly away to join the nearest church. A pr-st—-te who had been plying her nefarious trade on the avenue, sank to her knees to pray for strength to go back to her aged parents on the farm. Another young man, catching sight of Ella's pure face, vowed to write home to his old mother and send her the money he had been expending in the city on drinks and dissipation.
And well might these city people be affected by the glimpse of the sweet noble virtue which shone forth so radiantly in this Kansas girl's countenance. Although born in Jersey City, Ella had moved with her parents to the west at an early age and she had grown up in the open country where a man's a man and women lead clean sweet womanly lives. Out in the pure air of God's green places and amid kindly, simple, big hearted folks, little Ella had blossomed and thrived, the pride of the whole country, and as she had grown to womanhood there was many a masculine heart beat a little faster for her presence and many a manly blush of admiration came into the features of her admirers as she whirled gracefully with them in the innocent pleasure of a simple country dance. But on her eighteenth birthday, her parents had passed on to the Great Beyond and the heartbroken Ella had come East to live with Mrs. Montgomery, her aunt in Jersey City. This lady, being socially prominent in New York's "four hundred", was of course quite ambitious that her pretty little niece from the West should also enter society. For the last three months, therefore, Ella had been feted at all the better class homes in New York and Jersey City, and as Mrs. van der Griff, the Fifth Avenue social leader, was in the same set as Ella's aunt, it was only natural that when making out her list of guests for the dinner in honor of General Grant she should include the beautiful niece of her friend.
As Ella stepped from the carriage, her gaze fell upon little Frank, the crippled newsboy, and her eyes quickly filled with tears, for social success had not yet caused her to forget that "blessed are the weak". Taking out her purse, she gave Frank a silver dollar and a warm look of sympathy as she passed into the house.
"Gee, there went an angel," whispered the little cripple, and many who heard him silently echoed that thought in their hearts. Nor were they far from wrong.
But even an angel is not free from temptation, and by letting Ella go into society her aunt was exposing the girl to the whisperings of Satan—whisperings of things material rather than things spiritual. Many a girl just as pure as Ella has found her standards gradually lowered and her moral character slowly weakened by the contact with the so-called "refined" and "cultured" infidels one meets in fashionable society. Many a father and mother whose ambition has caused them to have their daughter go out in society have bitterly repented of that step as they watched the poor girl gradually succumbing to the temptation of the world. Let her who thinks it is "smart" to be in society consider that our brothels with their red plush curtains, their hardwood floors and their luxurious appointments, are filled largely with the worn out belles and debutantes of fashionable society.
The next minute a bugle call sounded down the street and up drove a team of prancing grays. Two soldiers sprang down from the coachman's box and stood at rigid attention while the door of the carriage opened and out stepped General Ulysses S. Grant.
A murmur of admiration swept over the crowd at the sight of his manly inspiring features, in which the clean cut virility of a life free from dissipation was accentuated by the neatly trimmed black beard. His erect military bearing—his neat, well fitting uniform—but above all his frank open face proclaimed him a man's man—a man among men. A cheer burst from the lips of the onlookers and the brave but modest general lowered his eyes and blushed as he acknowledged their greeting.
"Men and women," he said, in a voice which although low, one could see was accustomed to being obeyed, "I thank you for your cheers. It makes my heart rejoice to hear them, for I know you are not cheering me personally but only as one of the many men who are fighting for the cause of liberty and freedom, and for——" the general's voice broke a little, but he mastered his emotion and went on—"for the flag we all love."
At this he pulled from his pocket an American flag and held it up so that all could see. Cheer after cheer rent the air, and tears came to the general's eyes at this mark of devotion to the common cause.
"Wipe the d—d rebels off the face of the earth, G-d d—'em," shouted a too enthusiastic member of the crowd who, I fear, was a little the worse for drink. In an instant General Grant had stepped up to him and fixed upon him those fearless blue eyes.
"My man," said the general, "It hurts me to hear you give vent to those oaths, especially in the presence of ladies. Soldiers do not curse, and I think you would do well to follow their example."
The other lowered his head shamefacedly. "General," he said, "You're right and I apologize."
A smile lit up the general's handsome features and he extended his hand to the other.
"Shake on it," he said simply, and as the crowd roared its approval of this speech the two men "shook".
Meanwhile within the van der Griff house all were agog with excitement in expectation of the arrival of the distinguished guest. Expensively dressed ladies fluttered here and there amid the elegant appointments; servants in stylish livery passed to and fro with trays of wine and other spirituous liquors.
At the sound of the cheering outside, the haughty Mrs. Rhinelander patted her daughter Geraldine nervously, and between mother and daughter passed a glance of understanding, for both felt that to-night, if ever, was Geraldine's opportunity to win the handsome and popular general.
The doorbell rang, and a hush fell over the chattering assemblage; then came the proud announcement from the doorman—"General Ulysses S. Grant"—and all the society belles crowded forward around the guest of honor.
It had been rumored that the general, being a soldier, was ignorant of social etiquette, but such proved to be far from the case. Indeed, he handled himself with such ease of manner that he captivated all, and for each and every young miss he had an apt phrase or a pretty compliment, greatly to their delight.
"Pleased to know you"—"Glad to shake the hand of such a pretty girl"—"What a nice little hand—I wish I might hold it all evening"—with these and kindred pleasantries the general won the way into the graces of Mrs. van der Griff's fair guests, and many a female heart fluttered in her bosom as she gazed into the clear blue eyes of the soldier, and listened to his well chosen tactful words.
"And how is the dear General this evening?"—this in the affected tone of old Mrs. Rhinelander, as she forced her way through the crowd.
"Finer than silk," replied he, and he added, solicitously, "I hope you have recovered from your lumbago, Mrs. Rhinelander."
"Oh quite," answered she, "and here is Geraldine, General," and the ambitious mother pushed her daughter forward.
"Comment vous portez vous, mon General," said Geraldine in French, "I hope we can have a nice tete-a-tete to-night," and she fawned upon her prey in a manner that would have sickened a less artificial gathering.
Were there not some amid all that fashionable throng in whom ideals of purity and true womanhood lived—some who cared enough for the sacredness of real love to cry upon this hollow mockery that was being used to ensnare the simple, honest soldier? There was only one, and she was at that moment entering the drawing room for the purpose of being presented to the general. Need I name her?
Ella, for it was she, had been upstairs busying herself with her toilet when General Grant had arrived and she now hurried forward to pay her homage to the great soldier. And then, as she caught sight of his face, she stopped suddenly and a deep crimson blush spread over her features. She looked again, and then drew back behind a nearby portiere, her heart beating wildly.
Well did Ella remember where she had seen that countenance before, and as she stood there trembling the whole scene of her folly came back to her. It had happened in Kansas, just before her parents died, on one sunny May morning. She had gone for a walk; her footsteps had led her to the banks of a secluded lake where she often went when she wished to be alone. Many an afternoon had Ella dreamed idly away on this shore, but that day, for some reason, she had felt unusually full of life and not at all like dreaming. Obeying a thoughtless but innocent impulse, with no intention of evil, she had taken off her clothes and plunged thus n-k-d into the cool waters of the lake. After she had swum around a little she began to realize the extent of her folly and was hurriedly swimming towards the shore when a terrific cramp had seized her lower limbs, rendering them powerless. Her first impulse, to scream for help, was quickly checked with a deep blush, as she realized the consequences if a man should hear her call, for nearby was an encampment of Union soldiers, none of whom she knew. The perplexed and helpless girl was in sore straits and was slowly sinking for the third time, when a bearded stranger in soldier's uniform appeared on the bank and dove into the water. To her horror he swam rapidly towards her—but her shame was soon changed to joy when she realized that he was purposely keeping his eyes tight shut. With a few swift powerful strokes he reached her side, and, blushing deeply, took off his blue coat, fastened it around her, opened his eyes, and swam with her to the shore. Carrying her to where she had left her clothes he stayed only long enough to assure himself that she had completely recovered the use of her limbs, and evidently to spare her further embarrassment, had vanished as quickly and as mysteriously as he had appeared.