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Title: Potash and Perlmutter Settle Things
Author: Glass, Montague, 1877-1934
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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POTASH AND PERLMUTTER SETTLE THINGS


BOOKS BY
MONTAGUE GLASS

POTASH AND PERLMUTTER SETTLE THINGS
WORRYING WON'T WIN

HARPER & BROTHERS NEW YORK
[ESTABLISHED 1817]



[Illustration: "he gives himself dead away by getting sore."]



POTASH AND PERLMUTTER SETTLE THINGS

_by_

MONTAGUE GLASS

_Author of "Worrying Won't Win"_

Harper & Brothers Publishers
New York and London



POTASH AND PERLMUTTER SETTLE THINGS

Copyright, 1919, by Harper & Brothers
Printed in the United States of America
Published September, 1919



CONTENTS


CHAP.                                                             PAGE

I.     THEY ARRIVE, AND SO DOES THE PRESIDENT                        1

II.    SETTLING THE PRELIMINARIES                                   15

III.   THE PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO ENGLAND                             24

IV.    EVERYTHING IS PROCEEDING SATISFACTORILY--MAYBE               33

V.     THIS HERE PEACE CONFERENCE--IT NEEDS PUBLICITY               42

VI.    JOINING THE LEGION OF HONOR                                  52

VII.   SOME CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS FOR THE KAISER            62

VIII.  IT ENTERS ON ITS NO-GOLD-CASKET PHASE                        72

IX.    WORRYING SHOULD BEGIN AT HOME, AIN'T IT?                     82

X.     THE NEW HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY                                   92

XI.    IT IS STILL UP IN THE AIR, BUT YOU CAN'T SAY THE SAME
       FOR TRANSATLANTIC VOYAGES                                   102

XII.   THIS HERE VICTORY LIBERTY LOAN                              112

XIII.  WHEN IS A SECRET TREATY SECRET?                             122

XIV.   THE FIRST DAY OF MAY                                        132

XV.    THE PEACE TREATY AS GOOD READING                            142

XVI.   THE GERMAN ROMAN HOLIDAY AND THE AMERICANIZATION OF
       AMERICANS                                                   152

XVII.  MR. WILSON'S FAVOR OF THE 20TH ULTO. AND CONTENTS NOTED     162

XVIII. BEING UP IN THE AIR, AS APPLIED TO TRANSATLANTIC
       FLIGHTS, CROWN JEWELS, AND LEAGUE OF NATIONS SPEECHES       172

XIX.   THE LEAK AND OTHER MYSTERIES                                182

XX.    JULY THE FIRST AND AFTER                                    192

XXI.   WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS, ECONOMICALLY AND THEATRICALLY        202

XXII.  THEY DISCUSS THE SIGNING OF IT                              212

XXIII. THE RECENT UNPLEASANTNESS IN TOLEDO, OHIO                   222

XXIV.  FEEDING THE PEACE CONFERENCERS AND THE HOUSEHOLD            232

XXV.   WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? THIS INCLUDES
       LIBELED MILLIONAIRES, ENFORCED PROHIBITION, AND             241
       SHANTUNG

XXVI.  THE APPROACHING ROYAL VISIT                                 251



ILLUSTRATIONS


"HE GIVES HIMSELF DEAD AWAY BY GETTING SORE"            _Frontispiece_

"I WOULDN'T BLAME CHAIRMAN CLEMENCEAU NEITHER,
 BECAUSE IF THIS HERE PEACE CONFERENCE IS GOING
 TO END THIS SIDE OF NINETEEN-FIFTY, IT'S GOT
 TO BE SPEEDED UP SOME"                            _Facing p._      44

"A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE IS SO BADLY PREDICTED
 TO THE LAPEL-BUTTON HABIT THEY WOULD JOIN
 ANYTHING"                                             "            52

"... WHICH WHEN YOU CONSIDER THAT MR. WILSON
 STARTED IN--IN A SMALL WAY"                           "           144



POTASH AND PERLMUTTER SETTLE THINGS



I

THEY ARRIVE, AND SO DOES THE PRESIDENT


"_Nu_, what's the matter _now_?" Morris Perlmutter asked, as he entered
the office one morning after the cessation of hostilities on the western
front.

"_Ai, tzuris!_" Abe moaned in reply, and for at least a minute he
continued to rock to and fro in his chair and to make incoherent noises
through his nostrils in the manner of a person suffering either from
toothache or the recent cancelation of a large order.

"It serves you right," Morris said. "I told you you shouldn't eat that
liberty roast at Wasserbauer's yesterday. It used to give you the
indigestion when it was known as _Koenigsburger Klops_, which it is like
the German Empire now calling itself the German Republic; changing its
name ain't going to alter its poisonous disposition none."

"That's right!" Abe said. "Make jokes, why don't you? You are worser as
this here feller Zero."

"What feller Zero?" Morris demanded.

"Zero the emperor what fiddled when Rome was burning," Abe replied.
"He's got nothing on you. _You_ would fiddle if Rome, Watertown, and
Ogdensburg was burning."

"I don't know what you are talking about at all," Morris said. "And,
besides, the feller's name was Nero, not Zero."

"That's what you say," Abe commented, "which you also said that the
operators was only bluffing and that they wouldn't strike on us in a
thousand years, and considering that you said this only yesterday,
Mawruss, it's already wonderful how time flies."

"Well," Morris said, "how could I figure that them lunatics is going to
pick out the time when we've got practically no work for them and was
going to fire them, anyway, to call a strike on us?"

"You should _ought_ to have figured that way," Abe declared. "Didn't the
Kaiser abdicate just before them Germans got ready to kick him out?"

"The king business ain't the garment business," Morris observed.

"I know it ain't," Abe agreed. "Kings has got their worries, too, but
when it comes to laying awake nights trying to figure out whether them
designers somewheres in France is going to turn out long, full skirts or
short, narrow skirts for the fall and winter of nineteen-nineteen and
nineteen-twenty, Mawruss, I bet yer the entire collection of kings,
active or retired, doesn't got to take two grains of trional between
them."

"If everybody worried like _you_ do, Abe," Morris said, "the government
would got to issue sleeping-powder cards like sugar cards and limit the
consumption of sleeping-powders to not more than two pounds of
sleeping-powders per person per month in each household."

"Well, some one has got to do the worrying around here, Mawruss," Abe
said, "which if it rested with you, y'understand, we could make up a
line of samples for next season that wouldn't be no more like Paris
designs than General Pershing looks like his pictures in the magazines."

"Say, for that matter," Morris said, "we are just as good guessers as
our competitors; on account the way things is going nowadays, nobody is
going to try to make a trip to Paris to get fashion designs, because if
he figured on crossing the ocean to buy model gowns for the fall and
winter of nineteen-nineteen and nineteen-twenty, y'understand, between
the time that he applied for his passport and the time the government
issued it to him, y'understand, it would already be the spring and
summer season of nineteen-twenty-four and nineteen-twenty-five. So the
best thing we could do is to snoop round among the trade, and whatever
we find the majority is making up for next year, we would make up the
same styles also, and that's all there would be _to_ it."

"We wouldn't do nothing of the kind," Abe declared. "I've been thinking
this thing over, and I come to the conclusion that it's up to you to go
over to Paris and see what is going on over there."

"I don't got to go to Paris for that, Abe," Morris said. "I can read the
papers the same like anybody else, and just so long as there is a chance
that the war would start up again and them hundred-mile guns is going to
resume operations, I am content to get my ideas of Paris styles at a
distance of three thousand miles if I never sold another garment as long
as I live."

"But when it _was_ working yet, it only went off every twenty minutes,"
Abe said.

"I don't care if it went off every Fourth of July," Morris said,
"because if I went over there it would be just my luck that the peace
nogotiations falls through and the Germans invent a gun leaving
Frankfort ever hour on the hour and arriving in Paris daily, including
Sundays, without leaving enough trace of me to file a proof of death
with. Am I right or wrong?"

"All right," Abe said. "If _that's_ the way you feel about it, _I_ will
go to Paris."

"_You_ will go to Paris?" Morris exclaimed.

"Sure!" Abe declared. "The operators is on strike, business is rotten,
and I'm sick and tired of paying life-insurance premiums, _anyway_.
Besides, if Leon Sammet could get a passport, why couldn't I?"

"You mean to say that faker is going to Paris to buy model gowns?"
Morris demanded.

"I seen him on the Subway this morning, and the way he talked about how
easy he got his passport, you would think that every time he was in
Washington with a line of them masquerade costumes which Sammet Brothers
makes up, if he didn't stop in and take anyhow a bit of lunch with the
Wilsons, y'understand, the President raises the devil with Tumulty why
didn't he let him _know_ Leon Sammet was in town."

"Then that settles it," Morris declared, reaching for his hat.

"Where are you going?" Abe asked.

"I am going straight down to see Henry D. Feldman and tell that crook he
should get for me a passport," Morris said.

"You wouldn't positively do nothing of the kind," Abe said. "Did you
ever hear the like? Wants to go to a lawyer to get a passport! An idea!"

"Well, who would I go to, then--an osteaopath?" Morris asked.

"Leon Sammet told me all about it," Abe said. "You go down to a place on
Rector Street where you sign an application, and--"

"That's just what I thought," Morris interrupted, "and the least what
happens to fellers which signs applications without a lawyer,
y'understand, is that six months later a truck-driver arrives one
morning and says where should he leave the set of Washington Irving in
one hundred and fifty-six volumes or the piano with stool and scarf
complete, as the case may be. So I am going to see Feldman, and if it
costs me fifteen or twenty dollars, it's anyhow a satisfaction to know
that when you do things with the advice of a smart crooked lawyer,
nobody could put nothing over on you outside of your lawyer."

When Morris returned an hour later, however, instead of an appearance of
satisfaction, his face bore so melancholy an expression that for a few
minutes Abe was afraid to question him.

"_Nu!_" he said at last. "I suppose you got turned down for being
overweight or something?"

"What do you mean--overweight?" Morris demanded. "What do you suppose I
am applying for--a twenty-year endowment passport or one of them tontine
passports with cash surrender value after three years?"

"Then what is the matter you look so _rachmonos_?" Abe said.

"How _should_ I look with the kind of partner which I've got it?" Morris
asked. "Paris models he must got to got. Domestic designs ain't good
enough for him. Such high-grade idees he's got, and I've got to suffer
for it yet."

"Well, _don't_ go to Europe. What do _I_ care?" Abe said.

"_We_ must go," Morris replied.

"What do you mean--we?" Abe demanded.

"I mean you and me," Morris said. "Feldman says that just so long as it
is one operation he would charge the same for getting one passport as
for getting two, excepting the government fee of two dollars. So what do
you think--I am going to pay Henry D. Feldman two hundred dollars for
getting me a passport when for two dollars extra I can get one for you
also?"

"But who is going to look after the store?" Abe exclaimed.

"Say!" Morris retorted, "you've got relations _enough_ working around
here, which every time you've hired a fresh one, you've given me this
blood-is-redder-than-water stuff, and now is your chance to prove it. We
wouldn't be away longer as six weeks at the outside, so go ahead, Abe.
Here is the application for the passport. Sign your name on the dotted
line and don't say no more about it."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Yes, Mawruss," Abe said, three weeks later, as they sat in the
restaurant of their Paris hotel, "in a country where the coffee pretty
near strangles you, even when it's got cream and sugar in it,
y'understand, the cooking has _got_ to be good, because in a
two-dollar-a-day American plan hotel the management figures that no
matter how rotten the food is, the guests will say, 'Well, anyhow, the
coffee was good,' and get by with it _that_ way."

"On the other hand, Abe," Morris suggested, "maybe the French hotel
people figure that if they only make the coffee bad enough, the guests
would say, 'Well, one good thing, while the food is terrible, it ain't a
marker on the coffee.'"

"But the food tastes pretty good to me, Mawruss," Abe said.

"Wait till you've been here a week, Abe," Morris advised him. "Anything
would taste good to you after what you went through on that boat."

"What do you mean--after what _I_ went through?" Abe demanded. "What I
went through don't begin to compare with what you went through, which
honestly, Mawruss, there was times there on that second day out where
you acted so terrible, understand me, that rather as witness such human
suffering again, if any one would of really and truly had your interests
at heart, they would of give a couple of dollars to a steward that he
should throw you overboard and make an end of your misery."

"Is _that_ so!" Morris retorted. "Well, let me tell you something, Abe.
If you think _I_ was in a bad way, don't kid yourself, when you lay
there in your berth for three days without strength enough to take off
even your collar and necktie, y'understand, that the captain said to the
first officer ain't it wonderful what an elegant sailor that Mr. Potash
is or anything _like_ it, understand me, which on more than one occasion
when I seen the way you looked, Abe, I couldn't help thinking of what
chances concerns like the Equ_itta_ble takes when they pass a feller as
A number one on his heart and kidneys, and ain't tried him out on so
much as a Staten Island ferry-boat to see what kind of a traveler he
is."

"Listen, Mawruss," Abe interrupted, "did we come over here paying
first-class fares for practically steerage accommodations to discuss
life insurance, or did we come over here to buy model garments and get
through with it, because believe me, it is no pleasure for me to stick
around a country where you couldn't get no sugar or butter in a hotel,
not if you was to show the head waiter a doctor's certificate with a
hundred-dollar bill pinned on it. So let us go round to a few of these
high-grade dressmakers and see how much we are going to get stuck for,
and have it over with."

Accordingly, they paid for the coffee and milk without sugar and the
dark sour rolls without butter which nowadays form the usual hotel
breakfast in France, and set out for the office of the commission
agent whose place of business is the rendezvous for American
garment-manufacturers in search of Parisian model gowns. The broad
avenues in the vicinity of the hotel seemed unusually crowded even to
people as accustomed to the congested traffic of lower Fifth Avenue as
Abe and Morris were, but as they proceeded toward the wholesale district
of Paris the streets became less and less traveled, until at length they
walked along practically deserted thoroughfares.

"And we thought business was rotten in America," Morris said. "Why,
there ain't hardly one store open, hardly."

Abe nodded gloomily.

"It looks to me, Mawruss, that if there is any new garments being
designed over here," he said, "they would be quiet morning gowns
appropriate for attending something informal like a sale by a receiver
in supplementary proceedings, or a more or less elaborate afternoon
costume, not too showy, y'understand, but the kind of model that a
fashionable Paris dressmaker could wear to a referee in bankruptcy's
office so as not to make the attending creditors say she was her own
best customer, understand me."

"Well, what could you expect?" Morris said, as they toiled up the stairs
to the commission agent's office. "The chances is that up to a couple of
months ago, in a Paris dressmaker's shop, a customer arrived only every
other week, whereas a nine-inch bomb arrived every twenty minutes, and
furthermore, Abe, it was _you_ that suggested this trip, not _me_, so
now that we are over here, we should ought to make the best of it, and
if this here commission agent can't show us no new designs, he could,
anyhow, show us the sights."

But even this consolation was denied them, for when they reached the
commission agent's door it was locked and barred, as were all the other
offices on that floor, and bore a placard reading:


        FERME

À CAUSE DU JOUR DE FÊTE


"_Nu!_" Morris said, after he had read and re-read the notice a number
of times, "what are we going to do _now_?"

"This is the last hair," Abe said, "because you know how it is with
these Frenchers, if they close for a death in the family, it is liable
to be a matter of weeks already."

"Maybe it says gone to lunch, will be back in half an hour," Morris
suggested, hopefully.

"Not a chance," Abe declared. "More likely it means this elegant office
with every modern improvement except an elevator, steam heat, and
electric light, to be sublet, because it would be just our luck that the
commission agent is back in New York right now with a line of brand-new
model gowns, asking our bookkeeper will either of the bosses be back
soon."

"We wouldn't get back in ten years, I'll tell you that, unless we
hustle," Morris declared. He led the way down-stairs to the ground
floor, where, after a few minutes, they managed to attract the attention
of the _concierge_, who emerged from her shelter at the foot of the
stairs and in rapid French explained to Abe and Morris that all Paris
was celebrating with a public holiday the arrival of President Wilson.

"It's a funny thing about the French language," Morris said, as she
concluded. "Even if you don't understand what the people mean, you could
'most always tell what they've been eating, which if the French people
was limited by law to a ton of garlic a month per person, Abe, this lady
would go to jail for the rest of her life."

"_Attendez!_" said the _concierge_. "_Au dessus il yà un monsieur qui
parle anglais._"

She motioned for them to wait and ascended the stairs to the floor
above, where they heard her knock on an office door. Evidently the
person who opened it was annoyed by the interruption, for his voice--and
to Abe and Morris it was a strangely familiar voice--was raised in angry
protest.

"Now listen," said the tenant, "I told you before that I've only got
this place temporarily, and as long as I am in here I don't want you to
do no cleaning nor nothing, because the air is none too good here as it
is, and furthermore--"

He proceeded no farther, however, for Abe and Morris had taken the
stairs three at a jump and began to wring his hands effusively upon the
principle of any port in a storm.

"Well, well, well, if it ain't Leon Sammet!" Abe cried, and his manner
was as cordial as though, instead of their nearest competitor, Leon were
Potash & Perlmutter's best customer.

"The English language bounces off of that woman like water from a duck's
neck," Leon said, "which every five minutes she comes up here and talks
to me in French high speed with the throttle wide open like a racing-car
already."

"And the exhaust must be something terrible," Abe said.

"I am nearly frozen from opening the windows to let out her
conversation," Leon said, "and especially this morning, when I thought I
could get a lot of letter-writing done without being interrupted, on
account of the holiday."

"So that's the reason why everything is closed up!" Morris exclaimed.

"But Christmas ain't for pretty near two weeks yet," Abe said.

"What has Christmas got to do with it?" Leon retorted. "To-day is a
holiday because President Wilson arrives in Paris."

"And you are working here?" Abe cried.

"Why not?" Leon asked.

"You mean to say that President Wilson is arriving in Paris to-day and
you ain't going to see him come in?" Morris exclaimed. "What for an
American are you, anyway?"

"Say, for that matter, President Wilson has been arriving in New York
hundreds of times in the past four years," Leon said, "and I 'ain't
heard that you boys was on the reception committee exactly."

"That's something else again," Abe said. "In New York we've got business
_enough_ to do without fooling away our time rubbering at parades, but
President Wilson only comes to Paris once in a lifetime."

"And some of the people back home is kicking because he comes to Paris
even _that_ often," Leon commented.

"_Let_ 'em kick," Morris declared, "which the way some Americans runs
down President Wilson only goes to show that it's an old saying and a
true one that there is no profit for a man in his own country, so go
ahead and write your letters if you want to, Leon, but Abe and me is
going down-town to the Champs Elizas and give the President a couple of
cheers like patriotic American sitsons should ought to do."

"In especially," Abe added, "as it is a legal holiday and we wouldn't
look at no model garments to-day."



II

SETTLING THE PRELIMINARIES


"After all, Mawruss," Abe Potash said, as he sat with his partner,
Morris Perlmutter, in their hotel room on the night after the
President's arrival in Paris, "a President is only human, and it seems
to me that if they would of given him a chance to go quietly to a hotel
and wash up after the trip, y'understand, it would be a whole lot better
as meeting him at the railroad depot and starting right in with the
speeches."

"What do you mean--give him a chance to wash up?" Morris asked. "Don't
you suppose he had a chance to wash up on the train, or do you think him
and Mrs. Wilson sat up all night in a day-coach?"

"I don't care if they had a whole section," Abe retorted; "it ain't the
easiest thing in the world to step off a train in a stovepipe hat, with
a clean shave, after a twenty-hour trip, even if it would of been one of
them eighteen-hour limiteds even, and begin right away to get off a lot
of _schmooes_ about he don't know how to express the surprise and
gratification he feels at such an enthusiastic reception, in especially
as he probably lay awake half the night trying to memorize the bigger
part of the speech following the words, 'and now, gentlemen, I wouldn't
delay you no longer.' So that's why I say if they would have let him go
to his hotel first, y'understand, why, then he--"

"But Mr. and Mrs. Wilson ain't putting up at no hotel. They are staying
with a family by the name of Murat," Morris explained.

"Relations to the Wilsons maybe?" Abe inquired.

"Not that I heard tell of," Morris replied.

"Well, whoever they are they've got my sympathy," Abe said; "because
once, when the Independent Order Mattai Aaron held its annual Grand
Lodge meeting in New York, me and Rosie put up the Grand Master, by the
name Louis M. Koppelman, used to was Koppelman & Fine, the Fashion
Store, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and the way that feller turned the house
upside down, if he would have stayed another week with us, understand
me, I would have hired a first-class A number one criminal lawyer to
defend me and wired the relations for instructions as to how to ship the
body home."

"I bet yer the Murats feel honored to got Mr. and Mrs. Wilson staying
with them," Morris said.

"For the first few days maybe," Abe admitted, "but wait till a couple
weeks go by! I give them until January 1, 1919, and after that Mr. and
Mrs. Murat would be signaling each other to come up-stairs into the
maid's room and be holding a few ain't-them-people-got-no-home
conversations. Also, Mawruss, for the rest of their married life,
Mawruss, every time the tropic of who invited them in the FIRST place
comes up at meal-times, y'understand, either Mr. or Mrs. Murat is going
to get up from the table and lock themselves up in the bedroom for the
remainder of the evening. Am I right or wrong?"

"I wouldn't argue with you," Morris said, "because if I would give you
the slightest encouragement you are liable to go to work and figure
where Mrs. Murat is kicking to Mr. Murat that she couldn't make out with
the housekeeping money while the Wilsons is in Paris, on account of
having to buy an extra bottle of Grade B milk every day, or something
like that, which you talk like Mr. and Mrs. Wilson was in Paris on a
couple of weeks' vacation, whereas the President has come here to settle
the peace of the world."

"Did I say he didn't?" Abe protested.

"And while you are sitting here talking a lot of nonsense," Morris went
on, "big things is happening, which with all the questions he has got to
think about, I bet yer the President _oser_ worries his head about a
little affair like board and lodging. Also I read in one of them Paris
editions of an American paper that there come over to France on the same
steamer with him over three hundred experts--college professors and the
like--and them fellers is now staying in Paris at various hotels, which,
if that don't justify Mr. Wilson in putting up with a private family,
y'understand, I don't know what does!"

"I thought at the time I read about them experts coming over to help
the President in the Peace Conference that he was letting himself in for
something," Abe observed.

"I bet yer!" Morris said. "And that's where Colonel House was wise when
he comes over on a steamer ahead of them, because it is bad enough when
you are crossing the ocean in winter-time to be President of the United
States and to have to try not to act otherwise, without having three
hundred experts dogging your footsteps and thinking up ways to start a
conversation and swing it towards the subject they are experts in. Which
I bet yer every time the President tried to get a little exercise by
walking around the promenade deck after lunch there was an expert on
Jugo-Slobs laying for him who was all worked up to tell everything he
knew about Jugo-Slobs in a couple of laps, provided the President lasted
that long."

"Well, I'll tell you," Abe said, "a man which employs experts to ask
advice from deserves all he gets, Mawruss, because you know how it is
when you ask an advice from somebody which don't know a thing in the
world about what he is advising you. He'll talk you deaf, dumb, and
blind, anyhow. So you can imagine what it must be like when you are
getting advice from an expert!"

"It seems to me that before the President gets through he will be
looking around for an expert which is expert in choking off advice from
experts, otherwise the first time the President consults one of them
experts, if he's going to wait for the expert to get through, he will
have to be elected to a third term and then maybe hold over, at that,"
Morris commented.

"I should think the President would be glad when this Peace Conference
is over," Abe said.

"Say! For that matter he'll be glad when it's started," Morris said.
"Which the way it looks now, Abe, the preliminaries of a peace
conference is harder on a President in the way of speeches and parades
than two Liberty Loan campaigns and an inauguration. Take, for instance,
the matter of dinners, and I bet yer before he even goes to London next
week he would have six meals with the President of France alone--I can't
remember his name."

"Call him Lefkowitz," Abe said, "I'll know who you mean."

"Well, whatever it is, he looks like a hearty eater, Abe," Morris
remarked.

"In fact, Mawruss, from what I seen of them French politicians in the
parade this morning," Abe observed, "none of them looked like they went
slow on starchy foods and red meats, whereas take the American Peace
Commissioners, from the President down, and while they don't all of them
give you the impression that they eat breakfast food for dinner exactly,
still at the same time if these here peace preliminaries is going to
include more dinners than parades, the French Commissioners has got them
under a big handicap."

"Maybe you're right," Morris agreed. "But my idee is that with these
here preliminary peace dinners it ain't such a bad thing for us if our
Peace Commissioners wouldn't be such hearty eaters, y'understand,
because you know how it is when we've got a hard-boiled egg come into
the place to look over our line, it's a whole lot better to get an idee
of about how much he expects to buy after lunch than before, in
especially if we pay for the lunch. So if this here President Lefkowitz,
or whatever the feller's name is, expects to fill up the President with
a big meal of them French _à la_ dishes until Mr. Wilson gets so
good-natured that he is willing to tell not only his life history, but
also just exactly what he means by a League of Nations, y'understand,
the dinner might just as well start and end with two poached eggs on
toast, for all the good it will do."

"Still, it ain't a bad idee to have all these dinners over and done with
before the business of the Peace Conference begins, Mawruss," Abe
remarked, "because hafterwards, when Mr. Wilson's attitude on some of
them fourteen propositions for peace becomes known, y'understand, it
ain't going to be too pleasant for Mrs. Wilson to be sitting by the side
of her husband and watch the looks of some of the guests sitting
opposite during the fish course, for instance, not wishing him no harm,
but waiting for a good-sized bone to lodge sideways in his throat, or
something."

"She is used to that from home already, whenever she has a few
Republican Senators to dinner at the White House," Morris said. "But
that ain't here nor there, anyhow, because after the Peace Conference
begins the President will be so busy, y'understand, that sending out one
of the Assistant Secretaries of State to a Busy Bee lunch-room to bring
him a couple of sandwiches and some coffee will be the nearest to a
formal dinner that the President will come to for many a day. Take, for
instance, the proposition of the Freedom of the Seas, and there's a
whole lot to be said on both sides by people like yourself which don't
know one side from the other."

"And I don't want to know, neither," Abe said, "because it wouldn't make
no difference to me how free the seas was made, once I get back on terra
cotta, Mawruss; they could not only make the seas free, y'understand,
but they could also offer big bonuses in addition, and I wouldn't leave
America again not if they was to give me a life pass good on the
_Olympic_ or _Aquitania_ with meals included."

"So your idea is that the freedom of the seas means traveling for
nothing on ocean steamers?" Morris commented.

"Say!" Abe retorted, "why should I bother my head what such things mean
when I got for a partner a feller which really by rights belongs down at
the Peace headquarters, along with them other big experts?"

"I never claimed to be an expert, but at the same time, I ain't an
ignerammus, neither, which even before I left New York, I knew all
about this here Freedom of the Seas," Morris said, "which the day
before we sailed I was talking to Henry Binder, of Binder & Baum, and he
says to me--"

"Excuse me, but what does Binder & Baum know about the Freedom of the
Seas?" Abe demanded. "They are in the wholesale pants business, ain't
it?"

"Sure, I know," Morris continued, "and Paderewski is a piano-player, and
at the same time he went over to Poland to organize the new Polish
Republic."

"And the result will be that when the new Polish Republic gets started
under the direction of this here piano-player," Abe said, "and they get
a new Polish National Anthem, it will be an expert piano-player's idea
of something which is easy to play, and the consequence is that until
the next Polish revolution, every time a band plays the Polish National
Anthem, them poor Polacks would got to stand up for from forty-five
minutes to an hour while the band struggles to get through with what it
would have taken Paderewski three minutes at the outside."

"Henry Binder is a college graduate even if he would be in the pants
business," Morris said, "and he said to me: 'Perlmutter,' he said, 'the
Freedom of the Seas is like this,' he says. 'You take a country like
Norway and it stands in the same relation to the big naval powers like
we would to the other big manufacturers. Now, for instance,' he says,
'last year we did a business of over two million dollars, and--'"

Abe raised his right hand like a traffic policeman.

"Stop right there, Mawruss," he said, "because if the Freedom of the
Seas is anything like Binder & Baum doing a business of two million
dollars last year, I don't believe a word of it, which it wouldn't make
no difference if Henry Binder was talking about the Freedom of the Seas
or astronomy, sooner or later he is bound to ring in the large amount of
goods he is selling, and, anyway, no matter what Henry Binder tells you,
you must got to reckon ninety-eight per cent. discount before you could
believe a word he says."

"And do you suppose for one moment that the members of the Peace
Conference is going to act any different from Henry Binder in that
respect?" Morris asked. "Every one of the representatives of the
countries engaged in this here Peace Conference is coming to France with
a statement of the very least they would accept, and it is pretty
generally understood that all such statements are subject to a very
stiff discount, which that is what these here preliminaries is for,
Abe--to get a line on the discounts before the Peace Conference
discusses the claims themselves."

"Well, when it comes to the Allies scrapping between themselves about
League of Nations and Freedoms of Seas, I am content that they should be
allowed a liberal discount on what they say for what they mean, Mawruss,
but when it comes to Germany," he concluded, "she's got to pay, and pay
in full, net cash, and then some."



III

THE PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO ENGLAND


"The alphabet ain't what it used to be before the war, Mawruss," Abe
said, as he read the paper at breakfast in his Paris hotel shortly after
President Wilson's visit to England. "Former times if a feller
understood C. O. D. and N. G., y'understand, he could read the papers
and get sense out of it the same like he would be a college gradgwate,
already; but nowadays when you pick up a morning paper and read that
Colonel Harris Lefkowitz, we would say, for example, A. D. C. to the C.
O. at G. H. Q. of the A. E. F., has been decorated with the D. S. O.,
you feel that the only way to get a line on what is going on in the
world is to get posted on this--now--algebry which ambitious young
shipping-clerks gets fired for studying during office hours."

"Well, if you get mixed up by these here letters, think what it must be
like for President Wilson to suddenly get one of them English statesmen
sprung on him by--we would say--the King--where the King says: 'Mr.
President, shake hands with the Rutt Hon. Duke of Cholomondley,
K.C.M.G., R.V.O., K.C.B., F.P.A., G.S.I., and sometimes W. and Y.'"
Morris said, "in especially as I understand Cholomondley is pronounced
as if written Rabinowitz."

"It would anyhow give the President a tropic for conversation such as
ain't it the limit what you got to pay to get visiting-cards engraved
nowadays, which it really and truly must cost the English aristocracy a
fortune for such things," Abe said, "in particularly if the daughter of
such a feller gets married with engraved invitations, Mawruss, after he
had paid the stationery bill, y'understand, he wouldn't got nothing left
for her dowry."

"Well, I guess the President wasn't in no danger of running out of
tropics of conversation while he was in England, Abe," Morris said,
"which during all the spare time Mr. Wilson had on his trip he did
nothing but hold conversations with Mr. Balfour, and this here Lord
George, and you could take it from me, Abe, there wasn't many pauses to
be filled up by Mr. Wilson saying ain't it a funny weather we are having
nowadays, or something like that."

"How do you know?" Abe asked. "Was you there?"

"I wasn't there," Morris said, "but last night I was speaking in the
lobby of the hotel to one of them newspaper reporters which made the
trip with the President, and after I had given the young feller one of
the cigars we brought with us from New York he got quite friendly and
told me all about it. It seems, Abe, that the visit was a wonderful
success, in particular the first day Mr. Wilson was in England. The
weather was one of the finest days they had in winter over in England
for years already. Only six inches of rain, and the passage across the
English Channel was so smooth for this time of the year that less than
eighty per cent. of the passengers was ill as against the normal
percentage of 99.31416. As Mr. Wilson had requested that no fuss should
be made over his visit, things was kept down as much as possible, so
that, on leaving Calais, the President's boat was escorted by only ten
torpedo-boat destroyers, a couple battle-ships, three cruisers, and
eight-twelfths of a dozen assorted submarines. There was also a simple
and informal escort of about fifty airy-oplanes, the six dirigible
balloons having been cut out of the program in accordance from the
President's wishes. However, Abe, all this simplicity was nothing
compared to the way they acted when the President arrived at Dover.
There the arrangements was what you might expect when the President of a
plain, democratic people visits the country of another plain, democratic
people, Abe. The only people there to meet them was about twenty or
thirty dukes, a few field-marshals, three regiments of soldiers,
including the bands, and somebody which the newspaper reporter says he
at first took for Caruso in the second act of 'Aïda' and afterwards
proved to be the mayor of Dover in his official costume.

"The ceremony of welcoming Mr. and Mrs. Wilson to the shores of England
was very short, the whole thing being practically over in two hours and
thirty minutes," Morris continued. "It consisted of either the firing of
a Presidential salute of twenty-one guns or the playing of the American
National Anthem by the massed bands of three regiments, the reporter
says he couldn't tell which, on account he stood behind one of the
drums. Later the President made a short speech, in which he said: 'May I
not say how glad I am to land in Dover,' or something to that effect."

"And after that boat-ride from France he would have said so if it had
been Barren Island, or any other place-just so long as it was free from
earthquakes and didn't roll none," Abe agreed. "Also, Mawruss," he
continued, "some day the President is going to begin a speech with, 'May
I not,' and the chairman of the meeting will take him at his word and
put it to a standing vote, and it is going to surprise the President how
few people is going to remain seated on the proposition of whether or
not he shall continue to begin letters and speeches with, 'May I not.'"

"Say!" Morris exclaimed. "When we get by mail a cancelation and answer
it, 'Dear Gents, Your favor received,' does that mean we think the
customer is doing us a favor by canceling an order on us? _Oser a
Stuck._ And in the same way, when Mr. Wilson says, 'May I not?' nobody
fools themselves for a minute that the President is asking permission.
That's just a habit us and him got into, Abe, and in fact, Abe, Mr.
Wilson's 'May-I-nots' have always meant that not only was he going to
say what he intended to say, but that he was also going to do it, too.
So, therefore, you take the speech he made at the Gelthall in London,
and--"

"But as I understand your story, Mawruss, he only just arrived in
Dover," Abe said, "so go ahead with your lies, and tell me what happened
next."

"Well," Morris went on to say, "after the mayor of Dover had presented
Mr. Wilson with the Freedom of the City in a gold casket--"

"Excuse me, Mawruss," Abe interrupted, "but what is this here Freedom of
the City that mayors is all the time presenting to Mr. Wilson?"

"I don't know," Morris replied, "except that seemingly a Freedom of the
City always comes in a gold casket."

"Sure, I know," Abe said, "but what does Mr. Wilson gain by all these
here Freedoms of Cities?"

"Gold caskets," Morris replied, "although I think myself that some of
these mayors ain't above getting by with a gold-plated silver casket, or
even a rolled-gold casket, relying on the fact that Mr. Wilson is too
much of a gentleman to get an appraisal, anyhow till he returns to
America."

"Well, if I would be Mr. Wilson, I wouldn't take it so particular to act
too gentlemanly to them mayors," Abe commented, "because I see in the
papers that when the mayor of London presented him with the Freedom of
the City, Mr. Wilson got the Freedom part, but he was told that the
gold casket was in preparation, which I admit that I don't know nothing
about this here mayor of London, but you know how it is when a customer
gets married, Mawruss, and we put off sending him a wedding present till
we could get round to it, y'understand, which we are all human, Mawruss,
and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if six months from now the
mayor of London would be going round saying, 'Why should we give that
feller a gold casket--am I right or wrong?'--and let the whole
gold-casket thing die a natural death."

"They'll probably come across with it after a few how-about-casket
cables, and, anyhow, if they didn't, Abe, the English people certainly
done enough for Mr. Wilson," Morris continued, "because that newspaper
reporter told me that the reception which Mr. Wilson got in London was
something enormous, y'understand. The King and Queen was waiting to meet
him and the station platform was covered with a red-velvet pile carpet
which was so thick, understand me, that they 'ain't been able as yet to
locate a couple of suit-cases which was carelessly put down by the Rutt
Hon. the Duke of Warrington, K.G.Y., Y.M.H.A., First Lord Red Cap in
Waiting, and sunk completely out of sight while he helped a couple of
Assistant Red Caps in Waiting, also dukes, load the Presidential
wardrobe trunks on the Royal Baggage Transfer truck."

"What do you mean--also dukes?" Abe demanded. "Do you mean to say that
the Red Caps which hustles the King's baggage is dukes?"

"At the very least," Morris declared, "because the Master of the Royal
Fox-hounds is an earl, Abe, and I leave it to you, Abe, if handling
baggage ain't a better job than feeding dogs. Also, Abe, there is Lords
in Waiting and Ladies in Waiting, and it wouldn't surprise me in the
slightest if during their stay in Buckingham Palace some of the members
of Mr. Wilson's party which ain't been tipped off have telephoned down
to the office for towels and kept the Marquis of Hendersonville, Lanes
County, England, Knight Commander of the Bath, waiting at the bedroom
door ten minutes, while they went through all their clothes trying to
find something smaller than a quarter to slip him."

"And do you believe for one moment, Mawruss--if there was a Marquis of
Hendersonville, which I never heard of such a person, Mawruss--and he
did happen to be Knight Commander of the Bath, y'understand, that he is
actually handing out soap and towels in the King of England's palace?"
Abe inquired.

"Certainly I don't believe it," Morris replied, "and I also don't
believe that calling anybody Right Honorable is going to make him any
more right than he is honorable, unless, of course, he is honorable to
start with and really and truly wants to be right, y'understand. And
that is what Mr. Wilson went to England to find out, Abe, because it
ain't going to affect the Peace Conference one way or the other if the
Master of the Royal Fox-hounds don't know a dawg-biscuit from a
gingersnap, y'understand, whereas if this here war is going to be
settled once and for all, Abe, it's quite important that the Right
Honorable English statesmen should have right and honorable intentions."

"And did Mr. Wilson find out?" Abe asked.

"Sure he did," Morris said, "although from what this here newspaper
reporter tells me, Abe, there was a whole lot of lost motion about the
investigation. Take, for instance, the attitude of Mr. Lord George on
the Freedom of the Seas, for instance, and you would think that in the
case of a busy man like Mr. Wilson, y'understand, he would of rung him
up on the telephone, made an appointment for luncheon the next morning,
and by half past one at the outside they would have got the matter in
such shape that the only point not settled between 'em would be a
friendly quarrel as to see who should pay for the eats, y'understand.
Actually, however, the arrangements for having Mr. Wilson get into touch
with Lord George was conducted by the Comptroller of the Royal
Household, and the line of march was down Piccadilly as far as
Forty-second Street, over to Hyde Park, and by way of Hyde Park west to
Eighth Avenue to Mr. Lord George's office in the London & Liverpool
Title Guarantee and Trust Company Building. The order of procession was
as follows:

"Twelve mounted policemen.

"The band of the King's Own Sixty-ninth Regiment.

"Typographical Union No. 6, Allied Printing Trades Council of Great
Britain and Ireland.

"William J. Mustard Association, Drum and Fife Corps.

"Household Guards.

"First carriage--Mr. Wilson and the King.

"Second carriage--Mrs. Wilson and the Queen.

"Third carriage--Mr. George Creel.

"Fourth carriage--Master of the Royal Fox-hounds, Master of the Royal
Buck-hounds, Master of the Royal Stag-hounds, two Masters of Assorted
hounds.

"Six Motor-cycle Policemen.

"The Stock Exchange closed, and promissory notes falling due on that
date became automatically payable on the following day. Admission to the
reviewing-stand was by card, some of which found their way into the
hands of the speculators, and will shortly be the subject of a John Doe
investigation by the district attorney of Middlesex County, so the
newspaper feller told me."

"But what is this here Lord George's attitude towards the Freedom of the
Seas, Mawruss?" Abe asked.

"That the newspaper feller didn't know," Morris said.

"Well, who does know?" Abe insisted.

"Lord George," Morris replied.



IV

EVERYTHING IS PROCEEDING SATISFACTORILY--MAYBE


"Yes, Abe," Morris Perlmutter said to his partner, Abe Potash, a few
days after Mr. Wilson's return from his visit to Italy, "up to a short
time ago hardly anybody in America had ever even heard about Italy's
claims to the Dalmatian territory."

"Naturally!" Abe replied; "because if there is six people in the whole
United States which is engaged in the business of selling spotted dogs
to fire-engine houses, Mawruss, that would be big already."

Morris threw up both hands in a gesture of despair. "What is the use
talking foreign politics to a feller which thinks that Italy's claims to
the Dalmatian territory means she wants the exclusive right to make New
York, Cleveland, Chicago, and St. Louis with a line of spotted dogs for
fire-engine companies!" he exclaimed.

"And I wouldn't even have known that it meant that much," Abe retorted,
entirely unabashed, "excepting that six months ago my wife's sister's
cousin wanted me I should advance her a hundred dollars to pay a lawyer
he should bring suit against the city for her on account she got bitten
by one of them fire-house Dalmatians, Mawruss, which up to that time I
always had an idea they was splashed-up white dogs. So go ahead,
Mawruss, I'll be the goat. What is Italy's claims to the Dalmatian
territory?"

"Well, in the first place, Italy thinks she should be awarded all them
towns where a majority of the people which lives in them speaks
Italian," Morris said; "like Fiume, Spalato, Ragusa--"

"Also New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, and The Bronx," Abe added; "and if she
wants to get nasty, Mawruss, she could claim all the territory east of
Third Avenue, from Ninetieth Street up to the Harlem River, too.
Furthermore, Mawruss, there is neighborhoods south of Washington Square
where not only the majority of the people speaks Italian, but the
minority speaks it also. So you see how complicated things becomes when
a new beginner like me starts in to talk foreign politics."

"For that matter, all us Americans is new beginners on foreign politics,
from Mr. Wilson down, Abe," Morris said. "And that is why Mr. Wilson
done a wise thing when he visited Italy the other day, and took a lot of
American newspaper fellers with him, because, between you and me, Abe,
it wouldn't surprise me in the least if some of them reporters went down
there under the impression that the only thing which distinguished
Ragusa from Ravioli or Spalato from Spaghetti was the difference in the
shape of the noodles, but that otherwise they was cooked the same, with
chicken livers and tomato sauce, which you know how it is in America:
ninety per cent. of the people gets their education from reading in
newspapers, and the consequence is that if the American newspaper
reporters has a sort of hazy idea that Sonnino is either an item on the
bill of fare, to be passed up on account of having garlic in it, or else
a tenor which the Metropolitan Opera House ain't given a contract to as
yet, y'understand, then the American public has got the same sort of
hazy idea. So Mr. Wilson done the right thing traveling to Italy, even
if he did have an uncomfortable journey."

"What do you mean--an uncomfortable journey?" Abe demanded. "Why, I
understand he traveled on the King of Italy's royal train!"

"Sure, I know," Morris agreed; "but when a king is sleeping on a royal
train in Europe, Abe, he can be pretty near as comfortable as a
traveling-salesman sitting up all night on a day-coach in America, and
if he spends two nights on such a royal train, the way President Wilson
did in going from Paris to Rome, which is about as far as from New York
to Chicago, y'understand, it wouldn't make no difference how many people
is waiting at the station to holler 'Long live the King!' understand me,
he is going to feel half dead, anyway."

"And yet there is people which claims that Mr. Wilson don't give a whoop
whether he makes himself popular or not," Abe commented, "which before
I could lay awake two nights on a train, I wouldn't care if every
newspaper reporter in the United States never got no nearer to Italy
than a fifty-cent _table d'hôte_, including wine."

"Maybe you would care if you was going to Italy to make speeches the way
Mr. Wilson did," Morris said. "Which if the King of Italy was to go to
America and make speeches in Italian at the Capitol in Washington, it
would be just as well if he would bring along an audience of a few dozen
Italians with him, and not depend on enough barbers, shoe-blacks, and
vegetable-stand keepers horning in on the proceedings to give the
Congressmen and Senators a hint as to where the applause should come in.
In fact, I was speaking to one of them newspaper fellers which went to
Italy, Abe, and he says that he listened carefully to all the speeches
which was made in Italian, Mawruss, and that once he thought he heard
the word Chianti mentioned, but he couldn't say for certain. He told me,
however, that the correspondent of _The New York Evening Post_ also
claims that he heard Orlando, the Prime Minister, in a speech delivered
in Rome, use the words Il Trovatore, but that otherwise the whole thing
was like having the misfortune to see somebody give an imitation of
Eddie Foy when you've escaped seeing Eddie Foy in the first place, so
you can imagine what chance Mr. Wilson would have stood with them
Italians if the American correspondents hadn't been along to start the
cries of 'Bravo!' in the right spot.

"So you see, Abe, it's a good thing for them newspaper men to see what
kind of people the Italians is in their own country," Morris continued,
"because if this here League of Nations idea is going to be put over by
Mr. Wilson, Americans should ought to know from the start that Italy is
a Big League nation and its batting average in this war is just as good
as the other Big League nations."

"Did any one say it wasn't?" Abe demanded.

"I know they didn't," Morris said. "But just the same, Abe, there's a
whole lot of people in America which judges the Italians by the way they
behave in the ice business and 'Cavalleria Rusticana,' and also a feller
can get a very unfavorable opinion of Italians by being shaved in one of
them ten-cent palace barber shops, understand me, so even if them
newspaper men couldn't appreciate the performance without a libretto,
y'understand, they could anyhow see for themselves that the Italians in
Italy is doctors and lawyers, clothing-dealers and bankers, just the
same like the Americans are in America, and if they can pass the word
back home, with a few details of how it feels to be a foreigner in a
foreign country, that wouldn't do no harm, neither."

"That is something which an American newspaper correspondent wouldn't
touch on at all," Abe said, "because I bet that every last one of them
has already sent back to America an article about this trip to Italy,
which, when the readers of his newspaper looks at it, Mawruss, not only
would they think that he understood Sonnino's speech from start to
finish, y'understand, but also that every time the newspaper feller is
in Rome, which the article would lead one to believe has been on an
average of once a week for the past ten years, Mawruss, him and Sonnino
drink coffee together."

"Ain't he taking a big chance when he writes a thing like that?" Morris
commented.

"Yow! A chance!" Abe exclaimed. "Why, to read the things that a few of
these here Washington correspondents used to write when they was in
America yet, you would think every one of them was pestered to death
with telephone messages from the White House where Mr. Tumulty says if
the newspaper feller has got a little spare time that evening the
President would consider it a big favor if he would step around to the
White House, as Mr. Wilson would like to ask him an advice about a
diplomatic note which has just been received from Lord George in regards
to the Freedom of the Seas or something."

"But don't you suppose the newspaper which a nervy individual like that
is working for would fire him on the spot?" Morris observed.

"Not at all," Abe said, "because the newspaper-owner likes people to get
the idea that the newspaper has got such an important feller for a
Washington correspondent, just as much as the correspondent does
himself, Mawruss, so you can imagine the bluff some of them fellers is
going to throw now that they really got something interesting to write
about like this here Peace Conference. If Mr. Wilson gains all his
fourteen points, y'understand, the special Paris correspondent of the
Bridgetown, Pa., _Daily Register_ is going to write home, 'And he could
have gained fifteen if he would only have listened to me.' Also,
Mawruss, during the next three months, if the Peace Conference lasts
that long, the readers of the Cyprus, N. J., _Evening Chronicle_ is
going to get the idea that President Wilson, Clemenceau, Lord George,
and a feller by the name of Delos M. Jones, who is writing Peace
Conference articles for the Cyprus, N. J., _Evening Chronicle_, are in
secret conference together every day, including Sundays, from 10 A.M. to
midnight, fixing up the boundaries between Rumania and Servia."

"Well, them boys has got to produce something to make their bosses back
in America continue paying salary and traveling expenses," Morris said,
"because from what this here newspaper correspondent tells me, if he
didn't get his imagination working, all he could write for his paper
would be descriptions of Paris scenery, including the outside of the
buildings where on the insides, with the doors locked and the curtains
pulled, Mr. Wilson and the American Peace Commissioners is openly and
notoriously carrying on open and notorious peace conversations with the
other allied Peace Commissioners, and for all the newspaper
correspondents know to the contrary, Abe, the only point on which them
Peace Commission fellers ain't breaking up the furniture over is that
when they come out, y'understand, it is agreed that the newspaper
correspondents will be told that everything is proceeding
satisfactorily."

"But I thought Mr. Wilson promised before he left America that the old
secret diplomacy would be a thing of the past," Abe said.

"So he did," Morris agreed, "and by what I gather from this here
newspaper man he kept his promise, too, and we now have got a new
diplomacy, compared to which the fellers who were working under the
rules of the old secret diplomacy bladded everything they knew."

"But I distinctly read it in the papers the other day that every morning
at half past ten, Mawruss, Mr. Lansing meets the newspaper
correspondents and lets them know what's been going on," Abe said.

"He meets them," Morris replied, "but so far as letting them know what
has been going on is concerned, all he says that everything is
proceeding satisfactorily and is there any gentleman there which would
like to ask him any questions, which naturally any newspaper
correspondent who could ask Mr. Lansing such questions as would make Mr.
Lansing give out any information he didn't want to give out, wouldn't be
wasting his time working as a newspaper correspondent, Abe, but would be
considering offers from the law firm of Hughes, Brandeis, Stanchfield,
Hughes & Stanchfield to come in as a full partner and take exclusive
charge of the cross-examination of busted railroad presidents."

"Maybe the reason why Mr. Lansing don't tell them newspaper
correspondents nothing is that he ain't got nothing to tell them," Abe
suggested.

"Well, then, if I would be him, Abe, I would make up something," Morris
said, "because if he don't they will, or anyhow some of them will, and
there is going to be a lot of stuff printed in American papers where the
correspondent says he learns from high authority that things ain't going
so good in the Peace Conference as Mr. Wilson would like, because Mr.
Wilson is the doctor in the case, and you know how it is when somebody
is too sick to be seen and the doctor is worried, Abe, he sends down
word by the nurse that everything is proceeding satisfactorily, and the
visitor goes away trying to remember did he or did he not throw away
that fifty-cent black four-in-hand tie he wore to the last funeral he
went to."

"I got a whole lot of confidence in Mr. Wilson as the doctor for this
here war-sickness which Europe is suffering from, Mawruss," Abe said.

"So have I," Morris said: "but you've got to remember that there's a
whole lot of those doctors on the case, Abe--some of them quack doctors,
too, and, when the doctors disagree, who is to decide?"

"I don't know," Abe said; "but I think I know who would like to."

"Who?" Morris asked.

"Some of these here Washington newspaper correspondents you was talking
about," Abe concluded.



V

THIS HERE PEACE CONFERENCE--IT NEEDS PUBLICITY


"Well, Mawruss," Abe Potash said, as he and his partner, Morris
Perlmutter, sat at breakfast in their Paris hotel one Sunday morning, "I
see that the Peace Conference had a meeting the other day where it was
regularly moved and seconded that there should be a League of Nations,
and, in spite of what them Republican Senators back home predicted,
Mawruss, when Chairman Clemenceau said, 'Contrary minded,' you could of
heard a pin drop."

"Sure you could," Morris Perlmutter agreed, "because the way this here
Peace Conference is being run, Abe, when Mr. Clemenceau says: 'All those
in favor would please say _Aye_,' he ain't _asking_ them, he's TELLING
them, which I was speaking to the newspaper feller last night, Abe, and
he says that, compared to the delegates at this here Peace Convention,
y'understand, the delegates of a New York County Democratic Convention
are free to act as they please. In fact, Abe, as I understand it, at the
sewed-up political conventions which they hold it in America, the bosses
do occasionally let a delegate get up and say a few words which ain't
on the program exactly, but at this here Peace Convention a delegate who
tries to get off a speech which 'ain't first been submitted in writing
ten days in advance should ought to go into training for it by picking
quarrels with waiters in all-night restaurants.

"Take this here meeting which they held it on Saturday, Abe," Morris
continued, "and it was terrible the way Chairman Clemenceau jumps, for
instance, on a feller from Belgium by the name M. Hyman."

"That ain't the same M. Hyman which used to was M. Hyman & Co. in the
coat-pad business?" Abe inquired.

"This here M. Hyman used to was a Belgium minister in London," Morris
went on, "which he got up and objected to the way the five big
nations--America, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan--was, so to
speak, hogging the convention."

"Well, I think the Reverend Hyman was right, at that," Abe said, "which
I just finished reading Mr. Wilson's speech at that meeting, Mawruss, in
which he said that no longer should the select classes govern the rest
of mankind, y'understand, and after the American, French, British,
Italian, and Japanese delegates gets through applauding what Mr. Wilson
says, they select themselves to run the rest of the nations in the
League of Nations. Naturally an ex-minister like the Reverend Hyman is
going to say, 'Why don't you practise what you preach?'"

"And if he wouldn't of been an ex-minister, Abe," Morris said, "the
chances is that Chairman Clemenceau would of whispered a few words into
the cauliflower ear of one of the sergeants-at-arms, and when the
session closed, y'understand, the hat-check boy would have had one hat
left over with the initials M. H. in it which Mr. Hyman didn't have time
to claim before he hit the car tracks, y'understand, and I wouldn't
blame Chairman Clemenceau, neither, because, if this here Peace
Conference is going to end this side of nineteen-fifty, it's got to be
speeded up some."

[Illustration: "I wouldn't blame Chairman Clemenceau neither, because if
this here Peace Conference is going to end this side of nineteen fifty,
it's got to be speeded up some."]

"Nobody says it 'ain't," Abe agreed, "but this here M. Hyman is a
Belgium and he's got a right to be heard."

"He _would_ have if everybody didn't admit that Belgium shall be
protected in every which way, Abe," Morris agreed, "but there is also a
lot of small nations which has got delegates at the Peace Convention,
like Cuba, y'understand, and some of them South American republics, and,
once you begin with them fellers, where are you going to leave off?
Take, for instance, the Committee on Reparation, which has got charge of
deciding how much money Germany ought to pay for losses suffered by the
countries which made war on her, y'understand, and there wasn't one of
them Spanish-American republics which didn't want to get appointed on
that committee, because, when the Reparation Committee gets to work,
practically all of them republics is going to come along with claims
for smoke damages, bills for labor in connection with ripping out the
fixtures of confiscated German steamers, loss of services of the
Presidents of such republics by reason of tonsillitis from talking about
how bravely they would have fought if they had raised an army and navy
which they didn't, y'understand, and any other claims against Germany
which they think they might have had a chance to get by with."

"Well, of course there is bound to be a lot of them small republics
which is going to make a play for a little easy money, Mawruss," Abe
said, "but the indications is that when the proofs of claims is filed by
the alleged creditors, y'understand, there would be a couple of them
comma hounds on the Reparation Committee which would reject such claims
on the grounds of misplaced semicolons alone. Then six months
hafterwards, when the representative of one of them republics goes over
to what used to was the office of the Peace Conference with a revised
proof of claim, which he has just received by return mail, understand
me, he would find the premises temporarily occupied by one of them
crooked special-sale trunk concerns, and that's all there would _be_ to
it."

"Then you think that this here Peace Conference would only last six
months, Abe?" Morris asked.

"Sure I do," Abe replied, "and less, even, because right now already the
interest is beginning to die out, which it wouldn't surprise me in the
slightest, Mawruss, if in three weeks or so, when Mr. Wilson is
temporarily out of the cast on account of going home to America to sign
the new tax bill, y'understand, the attendance of the delegates would
begin to fall off so bad, understand me, that the Peace Conference
managers would got to spend a lot of money for putting in advertisements
that George Clemenceau presents:


    "'THE INTERNATIONAL PEACE CONFERENCE

The Unparalleled Success of Two Hemispheres

  'Enthralling'                   _Tribune_
  'Punch with a Kick in It'           _Sun_
  'Vigor and Suspense'              _World_
  'Wins Audience'                   _Globe_
  'Gripping'                         _Mail_
  'Ausgezeichnet'               _Tageblatt_

              QUAI D'ORSAY

                                    Now.

  Matinees, Saturday, 2:30.'"


"And even then they wouldn't get an audience, Abe," Morris said,
"because those kind of advertisements don't fool nobody but the suckers
which pays for them, Abe."

"Maybe not," Abe agreed, "but if the delegates stays away, Mawruss, the
Peace Conference could always get an audience by letting in the
newspaper correspondents, which I don't care if in addition to Mr. Lord
George and Colonel House they would got performing at this here Peace
Conference Douglas Fairbanks and Caruso, it wouldn't be a success as a
show, _anyhow_, because no theayter could get any audiences if they
would make it a policy to bar out the newspaper crickets."

"Well, I'll tell you," Morris began. "Nobody likes to read in newspapers
more than I do, Abe. They help to pass away many unpleasant minutes in
the Subway when a feller would otherwise be figuring on if God forbid
the brakes shouldn't hold what is going to become of his wife and
children, y'understand; but, at the same time, from the way this here
newspaper feller which hogs our cigars is talking, Abe, I gather that
the big majority of newspaper reporters now in Paris has got the idea
that this here Peace Conference is being held mainly to give newspaper
reporters a chance to write home a lot of snappy articles about peace
conferences, past and present. Although, of course, there is certain
more or less liberal-minded newspaper men which think that if,
incidentally, Mr. Wilson puts over the League of Nations and the Freedom
of the Seas, why, they 'ain't got no serious objections, just so long as
it don't involve talking the matter over privately without a couple of
hundred newspaper reporters present."

"Sure, I know," Abe said; "but if them newspaper fellers has got such an
idee, Mawruss, it is Mr. Wilson's own fault, because ever since we got
into the war, y'understand, Mr. Wilson has been talking about open
covenants of peace openly arrived at, and even before we went into the
war he got off the words 'pitiful publicity,' and also it was him and
not the newspaper men which first give the readers of newspapers to
understand that the old secret diplomacy was a thing of the past,
Mawruss, so the consequences was that, when Mr. Wilson come over here,
the owners of newspapers sent to Paris everybody that was working for
them--from dramatic crickets to baseball experts--just so long as they
could write the English language, y'understand, because them
newspaper-owners figured that, according to Mr. Wilson's own
suggestions, this here Peace Conference was not only going to be a
wide-open affair, openly arrived at, y'understand, but also pitifully
public, whereas not only it ain't wide open, Mawruss, but it is about as
pitifully public as a conference between the members of the financial
committee of Tammany Hall on the day before Election. Also, Mawruss, a
newspaper reporter could arrive at that Peace Conference openly or he
could arrive at it disguised with false whiskers till his own wife
wouldn't know him from a Jugo-Slob delegate, y'understand, and he
couldn't get past the elevator-starter even."

"That was when the conference opened," Morris said; "but I understand
they are now letting them into the next room and giving them once in a
while a look through the door during the supper turns when the Polack
and Servian delegates is performing."

"And that ain't going to do them a whole lot of good, neither," Abe
declared, "because this here newspaper feller told me last night, when
he was smoking my last cigar, that he has been mailing back an article a
day to America ever since the President arrived here and there ain't not
one of them which has got there yet."

"And I was reading in the America edition of the Paris edition of the
London edition of the Manchester, England, _Daily News_ that the
newspaper correspondents couldn't only send back a couple of hundred
words or so by telegraph, Abe," Morris said, "which the way it looks to
me, Abe, if some news don't find its way back to America pretty quick
about this here Peace Conference and Mr. Wilson, y'understand, people
back home in Washington is going to say to each other, 'I wonder
whatever become of this here--now--Wilson?' and the friend is going to
say, '_What_ Wilson?' And the other feller would then say, 'Why, this
here Woodruff Wilson.' And then the friend would say, 'Oh, HIM! Didn't
he move away to Paris or something?' And the other feller would then
say, 'I see where Benny Leonard put up a wonderful fight in Madison
Square Garden yesterday,' and that's all there would be to THAT
conversation."

"Maybe it is because of this, and not because of signing the new tax
bill, that the President is going home in a few days for a short stay
in America," Abe suggested.

"Sure, I know," Morris agreed; "but what good is them short visits going
to do him, because I ain't such an optician like you are, Abe. I believe
that this here Peace Conference is going to last a whole lot longer than
six months, Abe, and, if Mr. Wilson keeps on going home and coming back,
maybe the first time he goes back he would get some little newspaper
publicity out of it, and the second time also, perhaps, but on the third
when he returns from France only the Democratic newspapers would give
him more as half a column about it, and later on, when he lands from his
third to tenth trips, inclusive, all the notice the papers would take
from it would be that in the ship's news on the ninth page there would
be a few lines saying that among those returning on the S.S. _George
Washington_ was J. L. Abrahams, and so on through the B's, C's, and D's
right straight down to the W's, which you would got to read over several
times before you would discover the President tucked away as W. Wilson
between two fellers named Max Wangenheim and Abraham Welinsky."

"There is something in what you say, Mawruss," Abe admitted; "but, at
the same time, a big man like Mr. Wilson ain't looking to get no
newspaper notoriety. He is working to become famous."

"Sure, I know," Morris said; "but the only difference between notoriety
and fame is that with notoriety you get the publicity now, whereas with
fame you get the publicity fifty years from now, and the publicity which
Mr. Wilson is going to get fifty years from now ain't going to help him
a whole lot in the next presidential campaign."

"Mr. Wilson ain't worrying about the next presidential campaign,
Mawruss," Abe declared. "What he is trying to do is to make a success of
this here Peace Conference."

"Then he would better get a press agent for it," Morris observed,
"because, if they don't get some more publicity, it will die on its
feet."



VI

JOINING THE LEGION OF HONOR


"I see where several Americans took advantage to join the Legion of
Honor while they was over here," Morris Perlmutter remarked, as he sat
at luncheon with his partner, Abe Potash, in the restaurant of their
Paris hotel.

"Some people is crazy for life insurance," Abe Potash commented, "in
especially if they could combine it with the privilege to make speeches
at lodge-meetings. Also, Mawruss, a whole lot of people is so badly
predicted to the lapel-button habit that they would join anything just
so long as they get a lapel-button to show for it."

[Illustration: "a whole lot of people is so badly predicted to the lapel
button habit they join anything"]

"But this here Legion of Honor must be a pretty good fraternal-insurance
proposition at that," Morris observed, "because it says here in the
paper where several New York bankers has gone into it, which it's a
mighty hard thing to separate them fellers from their money even with
first-class, A-number-one, gilt-edged, two-name commercial paper, and if
this here Legion of Honor was just a lapel-button affair which assessed
its members every time they had a death claim to pay, you could take it
from me, Abe, not one of them bankers would of went near it, so maybe
it would be a good thing if we looked into it, Abe."

"If you want to join this here Legion of Honor, that's _your_ business,
Mawruss," Abe said, "but I already belong to the Independent Order
Mattai Aaron, which I've been paying them crooks for three years now
that I should get a sick benefit fifteen dollars a week without being
laid up with so much as tonsillitis even."

"About the sick benefit I wasn't thinking about at all," Morris
declared; "but you take a feller like Sam Feder, president of the
Kosciusko Bank, for instance, and if we should be maybe next year a
little short and wanted an accommodation from two to three thousand
dollars, y'understand, it wouldn't do us no harm if we could give him
the L. of H. grip for a starter. Am I right or wrong?"

"Say!" Abe exclaimed. "The chances is that when them New York bankers
gets back to New York they will want to forget all about joining this
here L. of H."

"Why, what is there so disgraceful about joining the L. of H.?" Morris
asked.

"Nobody said nothing about its being disgraceful, because lots of
decent, respectable fellers is liable to make a mistake of that kind,
understand me," Abe said; "but _you_ take one of these here members of
the firm of--we would say, for example, J. G. Morgan, y'understand,
which comes back from Paris after joining this here L. of H., and what
happens him? The first morning he comes down to the office wearing an
L. of H. button, Mawruss, everybody from the paying-teller up is going
to ask him what is the idea of the button, and he is going to spend the
rest of the day listening to stories about people joining insurance
fraternities which busted up and left the members with undetermined
sentences of from three to five years, y'understand. The consequence
would be that if any of his depositors expect to get an accommodation by
giving him the L. of H. grip or wearing an L. of H. button,
y'understand, they might just so well send him an invitation to a
banquet where, in order to gain his confidence and respect, they are
going to drink champagne out of an actress's slipper, and be done with
it. Am I right or wrong?"

"Well, you couldn't exactly blame them fellers which joined the L. of
H.," Morris observed, "because Paris has a very funny effect on some of
the most level-headed Americans which goes there without their families
and business associates, which if this here League of Nations had been
fixed up at a Peace Conference held somewheres down on Lower Broadway
instead of the Quai d'Orsay, Abe, the chances is that the United States
Senate would of had a whole lot more confidence in it than they have at
present."

"Say!" Abe explained. "This here League of Nations could of been pulled
off in Paris or it could of been pulled off in a respectable
neighborhood like Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, Mawruss, for all the
spare time it gave the fellers which framed it to indulge in any wild
night life. Take, for instance, the proposed constitution and by-laws,
which was printed on three pages of the newspaper the other day,
Mawruss, and anybody which dictated that _megillah_ to a stenographer
would be too hoarse for weeks afterwards to order so much as a plain
Benedictine. Also, Mawruss, nobody which didn't lead a blameless life
could have a brain clear enough to _understand_ the thing, let alone
composing it, which last night I sat up till two o'clock this morning
reading them twenty-six articles, Mawruss, and ten grains of asperin
hardly touched the headache which I got from it."

"Naturally," Morris said, "because when Mr. Wilson wrote that
constitution, Abe, he figured that people which is going to read it has
got a better education as one year in night school."

"Sure, I know," Abe agreed, satirically, "but at the same time everybody
ain't such a natural-born Harvard gradgawate like you are, Mawruss, and
furthermore, Mawruss, it's a big mistake for Mr. Wilson to go ahead on
the idea that we _are_, y'understand, because, so far as I remember it,
the Constitution of the United States didn't say that this was a
government of the college gradgawates by the college gradgawates for the
college gradgawates, y'understand; neither did the Declaration of
Independence start in by saying, 'We, the college gradgawates of the
United States,' Mawruss. The consequences is that most of us
ingeramusses which has got one vote apiece, even around last November
already, begun to feel neglected, and you could take it from me,
Mawruss, if Mr. Wilson tries to win the confidence of the American
people with a few more of them documents with the twin-six words in
them, y'understand, by the time he gets ready to run for President
again, Mawruss, the only people which is going to vote for him would be
the Ph.D. and A.M. fellers."

"Well, Mawruss," Abe said, a few days after the conversation above set
forth, "I see that President Wilson got back to America after a rough
passage."

"Was he seasick?" Morris asked.

"Not a day," Abe replied.

"Then that accounts for it," Morris commented.

"Accounts for what?" Abe asked.

"Doctor Grayson being an admiral," Morris replied, "which a couple of
years ago, when Mr. Wilson appointed Doctor Grayson to be an admiral
over the heads of a couple of hundred fellers which had been captains of
ships for years already, a lot of people got awful sore about it, and
now it appears that he got the appointment because he can cure
seasickness."

"I suppose if Doctor Grayson could cure locomotive ataxia the President
would of appointed him Director-General of Railroads," Abe remarked.

"For my part, Abe," Morris said, "if I had a good doctor like Doctor
Grayson attending me, and it was necessary to appoint him to something
in order to keep him, Abe, I would appoint him a field-marshal, just so
long as he could make me comfortable on an Atlantic trip in
winter-time."

"But there isn't no office in the army or navy that President Wilson
could appoint Doctor Grayson to which would have been a big enough
reward if Doctor Grayson could have made the President feel comfortable
in Washington when he got there, Mawruss," Abe said, "which I see by the
paper this morning that thirty-seven United States Senators, coming from
every state in the Union except Missouri, suddenly discovered they was
from Missouri, in particular the Senator from Massachusetts, and not
only does them Senators want to know what the meaning of that
constitution of the League of Nations means, but they also give notice
that, _whatever_ it means, they are going to knife it, _anyway_."

"Sure, I know," Morris said; "they're like a lot of business men you and
me has had experience with, Abe. They claim a shortage and kick about
the quality of the shipment before they even start to unpack the goods.
Why don't they wait till Mr. Wilson goes back and finishes up his job?"

"They haven't got the time," Abe replied, "because the session ends on
March 4th at noon, just about twenty-four hours before Admiral Grayson
is paying his first professional call on President Wilson aboard the
_George Washington_, and by the time Congress gets together again
President Wilson expects to have the League of Nations proposition sewed
up so tight that there will be nothing left for them Senators to do but
to indorse it."

"But, as I understand it, them Senators just loafed away their time
during the end of the session and didn't pass a whole lot of laws which
they should ought to have passed, Abe, so that it will be necessary for
President Wilson to call an extra session in a few days," Morris said.

"That's what them Senators figured," Abe agreed, "but they was mistaken,
Mawruss, because the President ain't going to run any chances of being
interrupted while he is working on this here Peace Conference by S O S
messages from Washington to please come home if he wants to save
_anything_ out of the wreck Congress is making of the inside of the
Capitol."

"But I thought that before he went to Europe in the first place, Abe,
President Wilson said to Congress that it wouldn't make any difference
to them about his being in Europe, because he was in close touch with
them, and that the cables and the wireless would make him available just
as though he was still living in the White House," Morris said.

"Sure, I know," Abe agreed; "but the trouble with that situation was
that it 'ain't been discovered by the inventors yet how a President can
shake hands with a Senator by wireless or how he can sit down to dinner
by wireless with a few Congressmen and make them feel that he is their
one best friend. Also, Mawruss, it comes high even for a President to
send cable messages to a Senator which he thinks is getting sore about
something, such cable messages being in the nature of: 'Hello, Henry,
what's the good word? Why is it I 'ain't seen you up to the White House
lately, Henry?' or, 'Where have you been keeping yourself lately,
Henry?' or, 'Mrs. Lodge and the children all right, Henry?' or something
like that."

"Say, for that matter, Abe," Morris observed, "President Wilson never
did a whole lot of jollying when he could have done it over the
telephone at unlimited local-service rates. In fact, from what I have
seen of Mr. Wilson, he looks to me like a man who would find it a whole
lot easier to be easy in his manner toward Congressmen by wireless or by
cable than face to face."

"Well, you couldn't blame Mr. Wilson exactly, Mawruss," Abe said,
"because, up to the time he became Governor of New Jersey, his idea of
being a good mixer was to get together with a couple of LL.D.'s and sit
up till pretty near nine o'clock knocking the trustees, y'understand. In
fact, up to the time he resigned from being president of Princeton
College, life to Mr. Wilson was just correcting one examination paper
after another, all of which 'ain't got nothing to do with this here
League of Nations being a good thing, Mawruss," Abe declared.

"And it don't affect the fact that Mr. Wilson is a high-grade,
A-number-one gentleman, which is doing the best he knows how to make
good to his country, Abe," Morris declared.

"Did I say he wasn't?" Abe asked.

"Then what are you dragging up his past life for?" Morris demanded.

"What do you mean--dragging up his past life?" Abe rejoined. "The way
you talk, Mawruss, you would think that being president of a college
come in two degrees, like grand larceny, and had to be lived down
through the guilty party getting the respect of the community by years
of honest work."

"Say, lookyhere, Abe," Morris protested, "don't try to twist things
around till it looks like I was knocking Mr. Wilson, and not you."

"I am knocking President Wilson!" Abe exclaimed. "Why, I've got the
greatest respect for Mr. Wilson, and always did, Mawruss, but it would
be foolish not to admit that the practice which a President of the
United States gets in being a college professor is more useful to him in
framing up a first-class, A-number-one League of Nations than it is in
getting his political enemies to accept it. Am I wright or wrong?"

"Maybe he would have got them to accept it if he had stayed in touch
with them personally and managed the Peace Conference by wireless and
cable," Morris suggested.

"He probably figured that if he wanted to put over this here League of
Nations it was more necessary for him to be on the job in France than on
the job in America," Abe said.

"Well," Morris commented, "the next time the United States of America
has a Peace Conference on its hands, Abe, the President will have to be
a copartnership instead of an individual, with one member of the firm in
Washington and the other in Paris."

"But what would Admiral Grayson do?" Abe asked. "He couldn't be in two
places at the same time."

"Probably the Washington President could find a bright young physician
in the Treasury Department," Morris concluded, "and promote him to the
honorary title and salary of Comptroller of the Currency."



VII

SOME CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS FOR THE KAISER


"I see where an American army officer reports that he has investigated
into the food situation in Germany and that the German people looks
thin," Abe Potash observed to his partner, Morris Perlmutter.

"That's already German propoganda, Abe," Morris said. "Word come down
from headquarters that the German people should look thin in order to
get the sympathy of the American officer, so they looked thin,
y'understand."

Abe shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe you're right, Mawruss," he said, "but
all I could say is that them German propoganders which has charge of
making the German people look thin is wasting their time in Germany,
because there is plenty people in America which would make them
propoganders rich for life if they would only come over to New York and
open an office for giving reduction propoganda at a thousand dollars a
treatment."

"Well, I'll tell you," Morris said; "ordinarily, if the German people
looked thin you would believe them. Also, before the war, if somebody
went to Germany and people asked him when he come back how was the
weather there, he didn't say, 'Unless they was putting one over on me,
it was snowing,' y'understand, but to-day it's different. Nobody has got
no confidence in the Germans nowadays. In fact, even the Germans
themselves is losing confidence in them. Take Berlin, for instance, and
every week the Spartacist, or Red, government has got the support of the
people from 9:30 A.M. Tuesday until 6 P.M. Thursday, when the German
people begins to lose confidence in them, so that by 8:30 A.M. Friday
the Coalition, or Yellow, government comes into power. The Coalition, or
Yellow, government then keeps the confidence of the people until Sunday
midnight, when, under the influence of the Sunday night _Ersat
Delicatessen_ supper, the Germans starts in to suspect that everything
ain't right with the Yellow government, neither, so back they go to the
Red government, and they seize Police Headquarters, the Bureau of
Assessments and Arrears, and desk room in the office of the Deputy
Commissioner of Water-supply, Gas, and Electricity, and that's the way
it goes."

"It's a funny thing to me why them colored German governments always
starts a revolution by seizing Police Headquarters, Mawruss," Abe
commented.

"That's the way they finance the revolution," Morris replied; "because I
understand that the night life in Berlin has been going on the same as
usual, revolution or no revolution, Abe, which I bet yer that as soon
as the new chief of police is appointed by the Red or Yellow government,
as the case may be, he don't waste no time, but he right away sends out
plain-clothes men to the proprietors of them Berlin all-night
restaurants with positive instructions to close all restaurants at
eleven sharp and not to accept nothing but gold coin of the present
standard of weight and fineness."

"And yet it used to be thought that when it comes to graft, Mawruss,
German officials was like Cæsar's ghost," Abe observed--"above
suspicion."

"That's only another way of them impressions about Germany which us
Americans has had reversed on us, Abe," Morris said, "which the way our
idees about what kind of a people the Germans used to was has changed,
Mawruss, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the old habit the
Germans had for drinking beer was just a bluff, y'understand, and that
at heart they was prohibitionists to a man. In fact, Abe, if I would be
a German Bolshevik with instructions to shoot the Kaiser on sight, I
should go gunning for a short, stout man with a tooth-brush mustache and
a holy horror of wearing uniforms, because it's my opinion that all them
so-called portraits of the Kaiser was issued for the purpose of
misleading anarchists to shoot at a thin man in a heavily embroidered
uniform with spike-end mustaches."

"Well, whatever he looks like, Mawruss," Abe said, "if I was him,
rather than have such a terrible fate hanging over me, y'understand, I
would telegraph to Berlin for them to send along a good shot while they
was about it, and have the thing over with quick, Mawruss."

"Say!" Morris exclaimed. "You and me should have hanging over us the
life which the Kaiser is going to lead from now on! For two hundred and
fifty dollars a week at a Pallum Beach hotel you could only get a very
small idea of the hardships the Kaiser will got to undergo in the
future, Abe."

"But do you mean to told me that after what happened to that English
lady in Brussels and the captain of the English mail-boat, Mawruss, the
English ain't going to persecute the Kaiser?" Abe demanded.

"_You_--the English would persecute the Kaiser!" Morris exclaimed.
"Don't you know that the Kaiser's mother was the King of England's
father's sister? Do you suppose for a moment that the King of England
wants a convict in the family?"

"Well, has he got any _mishbocha_ in France, Mawruss?" Abe asked.
"Because if not, Mawruss, it seems to me that now, while all the
witnesses is in Paris, it wouldn't be a bad idea to get the March term
of the Paris County grand jury to hand down an indictment for murder
with intent to kill or something."

"That sounds reasonable to anybody not connected with this here Peace
Conference, Abe," Morris admitted, "but it seems that the Committee for
Fixing Responsibility says that if they was to hang or shoot the Kaiser
it would give him an awful drag with the German people, and they don't
want the Kaiser to get popular again, dead or alive. Their idea is to
punish him by letting him live on to be an outcast among all the people
of the earth, except the proprietors of first-class European hotels,
dealers in high-grade automobiles, expensive jewelry storekeepers,
fashionable tailors, and a couple of million other people who don't
attach an awful lot of importance to the moral character of anybody
which wants to enjoy life and has got the money to do it with. In other
words, Abe, they claim that, in leaving the Kaiser to his conscience and
his bank-account they are punishing him a whole lot worse as hanging him
or shooting him."

"And I suppose that same committee is going to sentence von Tirpitz to
six months at Monte Carlo, while Ludendorff will probably be confined to
a Ritz hotel eight hours a day for the rest of his natural life," Abe
suggested.

"The committee claims not," Morris replied. "It seems that the Kaiser's
ministers--like von Tirpitz and Ludendorff--is going to get what is
coming to them, on the grounds that they are guilty of violations of
international law and 'ain't got no relations among the royal families
of England or Italy."

"But why not bring the whole fleet over to America, and let the
authorities dispose of them there?" Abe inquired.

"The Kaiser would be just as much a martyr if he was sentenced in
America as in Europe," Morris replied.

"Who says anything about sentencing him?" Abe demanded. "All it would be
necessary to do would be to swear out a warrant against him and leave
the rest to a couple of headquarters detectives, which, naturally, when
them fellers would tell him to come along with them, the Kaiser would
technically resist the arrest by asking what for. This would mean at the
very least ten stitches in his scalp, Mawruss, not reckoning a couple of
broken ribs or so when the fingerprints was taken, and, while it
wouldn't be only a starter in the way of punishment, he would anyhow
find out that it is one thing to be actually engaged in a modern battle,
and that looking at it through a high-power telescope while sitting in a
bomb-proof limousine six miles away is absolutely something else again.
Later on, Mawruss, when a New York police-court lawyer visited him in
his cell after the Kaiser had lunched on bread and water and the
police-court lawyer on what used to be called _Koenigsburger Klops_ and
is now known as Liberty Roast, understand me, the Kaiser would get just
an inkling of what it means to be caught in a gas attack without a
gas-mask."

"You talk like you would got a little experience in the way of sitting
in prison yourself, Abe," Morris commented.

"I am giving you what practically happened to a feller by the name
Immerglick which was arrested by mistake on account the police thought
he looked like an Italian who was wanted for barrel murder, Mawruss,"
Abe exclaimed, "and if the police behaves this way to a perfect stranger
which is innocent at that, Mawruss, you could imagine what them fellers
would do to a well-known guilty party like the Kaiser. But that's
neither here nor there, Mawruss. What I am trying to do is to work out a
punishment proposition for the Kaiser which would get by with such a
sensitive bunch as this here committee to place responsibility seems to
be."

"Go ahead and have a good time with your pipe-dream, Abe," Morris said.
"You couldn't make me feel bad, no matter what happens to the Kaiser in
your imagination."

"Well," Abe continued, "after he is through with trying to get rid of
the police-court lawyer, Mawruss, he should ought to be arranged before
the magistrate in a traffic court, y'understand, and should be accused
of driving at the rate of twenty-two miles an hour, which is two miles
past the legal speed limit, and then he would find out that all them
commandants of Ruhleben and the other German prison camps wasn't even
new beginners in the art of making prisoners feel cheap, because you
take one of these here traffic-court magistrates which has had years of
experience bawling out respectable sitsons who has got the misfortune to
own automobiles, Mawruss, and what such a feller wouldn't do to
humilitate the Kaiser, y'understand, ain't even dreamt of in German
prison camps yet."

"I see you still feel sore about getting fined twenty-five dollars for
driving like a maniac down at Far Rockaway last summer Abe," Morris
commented.

"How I feel or how I don't feel hain't got nothing to do with it,
Mawruss," Abe retorted. "And furthermore, Mawruss, any motor-cycle
policeman which has got the nerve to swear that he could tell inside of
two miles an hour how fast somebody is driving, understand me, is guilty
of perjury on the face of it, which I told the judge. 'Judge, your
Honor,' I says, 'I admit I was going fast,' I says, 'but--'"

"Excuse me," Morris interrupted, "but I thought you was talking about
how to punish the Kaiser, ain't it, which, while I admit you got some
pretty good ideas on the subject, Abe, still at the same time there is
plenty of ways that the Kaiser could get punished in America without
going to the trouble and expense of arresting him first, Abe. There is a
whole lot of experiences which the American people pays to go through
just once, y'understand, which if the Kaiser could be persuaded to take
them all on, one after the other, Abe, his worst enemies would got to
pity him. Supposing, for instance, he would start off with one of them
electric vibrating face massages, Abe, and if he comes through it alive,
y'understand, he would then be hustled off to one of these here
strong-arm bunkopathic physicians, which charges five dollars for the
first visit and never has to quote rates for the second or third visits,
because once is plenty, y'understand."

"But I thought the idea was not to let anybody have any sympathy for the
Kaiser, Mawruss," Abe broke in.

"Plenty of fellers I know goes to these here near-doctors," Morris
declared, "and nobody has got any sympathy for them, neither. Also, Abe,
I 'ain't got no sympathy for anybody who goes to these here restaurants
where they run off a cabarattel review, Abe, and yet it's a terrible
punishment at that, so there's another tip for you if you want any more
ideas for making the Kaiser suffer."

"Say, when it comes right down to it, Mawruss, and if you don't want to
show the feller no mercy at all, y'understand," Abe said, "what's the
matter with making him see some of them war plays they was putting on in
New York last winter?"

"Why only _war_ plays?" Morris asked. "I sat through a couple musical
shows last winter without the option of a fine, y'understand, and it
would be a good thing if the Kaiser could see performances like
that--just to make him realize that in losing his throne, y'understand,
he has no longer got the power to order the actors shot, together with
the composer and the man that wrote the jokes."

"But the biggest punishment of all you 'ain't even hinted at yet," Abe
said, "and it's a punishment which thousands of Americans is getting
right now without no sympathy from nobody, which its name is:


"'Form 1040. United States Internal Revenue
                 Service

        INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX RETURN

    For Net Incomes of More than $5,000

         FOR CALENDAR YEAR, 1918.'


Also, Mawruss, when you consider what the Kaiser done, Mawruss, I ask
you is it too much that the Committee on Fixing Responsibility should
order him starved to death or talked to death or any other slow and
painful death, because such a fate is going to be a happy one compared
with the thousands of decent, respectable American business men which is
headed straight for an insane-asylum, trying to fill out


"'(a) Totals taxable at 1918 rates (see instructions page 2 under C).

  (b) Totals taxable at 1917 rates (see instructions, included in K (a)
      page 2).

  (c) Amount of stock dividends (column 4) taxable at 1916 rates
      (enter as 20).'"


"Well, after all, Abe," Morris said, "there's one worser punishment you
could hand out the Kaiser than filling out this here income tax."

"What's that?" Abe inquired.

"Paying it," Morris said.



VIII

IT ENTERS ON ITS NO-GOLD-CASKET PHASE


"When a feller gets his name in the papers as often as Mr. Wilson,
Mawruss, it don't take long for them highwaymen to get on to him," Abe
Potash remarked, shortly after Mr. Wilson's return to Paris.

"What highwaymen?" Morris inquired.

"Them presidents of orphan-asylums and homes," Abe said, "and in a way
it serves Mr. Wilson right, Mawruss, because, instead of keeping it to
himself that he got stuck over four thousand dollars for tips alone
while he was in France, y'understand, as soon as he arrived in Boston he
goes to work and blabs the whole thing to newspaper reporters, and you
could take it from me, Mawruss, that for the next six months Mr. Wilson
would be flooded with letters from Associations for the Relief of
Indignant Armenians, Homes for Chronic Freemasons, and who knows what
else. So therefore you take this here Carter H. Glass, Mawruss, and he
naturally comes to the conclusion that Mr. Wilson is an easy mark,
because--"

"Excuse me, Abe," Morris interrupted, coldly, "but who do you think
this here Carter H. Glass is, anyway?"

"I don't know," Abe went on, "but whoever he is he probably figured that
if he was going to get turned down he would anyhow get turned down big,
because it says here in the paper that he cables Mr. Wilson he should
please let him have three million dollars for this here Bureau for
Paying Allowances to the Relations of Soldiers and--"

"Listen, Abe," Morris said, "if you wouldn't know who Carter H. Glass is
after paying twelve per cent. on all you made over four thousand dollars
last year, y'understand, nothing that I could say would ever learn you,
so therefore I 'ain't got no expectations that you are going to remember
it when I tell you that this here Carter H. Glass is Secretary of the
Treasurer, and when he cabled Mr. Wilson for three million dollars, it
ain't so hopeless like it sounds. Also, Abe, while Mr. Wilson gives it
out to the papers that he got stung four thousand dollars for tips, it
also appears in the papers that he came home with a few gold caskets and
things, not to mention one piece of tapestry which the French government
presented him with, valued at two hundred thousand dollars alone,
y'understand, and if that kind of publicity is going to give Mr. Wilson
a reputation as an easy giver-up, Abe, all I can say is that the
collectors for orphan-asylums and homes don't read the papers no more
carefully than you do, Abe."

"But why should the Secretary of the United States Treasury got to
touch Mr. Wilson for?" Abe demanded. "Every day the people of the United
States is paying into the United States Treasury millions and millions
dollars income-tax money and all the President owns is a few gold
caskets which he got presented with, and maybe a little tapestry,
y'understand. What's the matter with that feller Carter H. Glass? Is he
afraid he is going to run short if he spends a couple million dollars or
so? Has he lost his nerve or something?"

"Well, I'll tell you, Abe," Morris began. "The Secretary of the Treasury
'ain't got such a cinch like some people think, y'understand. If the
Bureau for Paying Allowances to the Relations of Soldiers send over and
asks the Secretary of the Treasury to be so good and let 'em have for a
few days three million dollars, understand me, you would naturally think
that it is one of them dead open-and-shut, why-certainly propositions.
The impression you have is that the Secretary grabs ahold of the 'phone
and says to the head of stock to look on the third shelf from the
elevator shaft is there any more of them million-dollar bills with the
picture of Rutherford B. Hayes on 'em left, and if not, to send Jake up
with three hundred of them three-by-seven-inch ten-thousand-dollar
bills, and that's all there is to it. But as a matter of fact he doesn't
do nothing of the kind, because nobody could get any money out of the
Secretary of the Treasury except by an act of Congress."

"Well, it's nothing against Mr. Glass that he is such a tight-wad,
Mawruss, because that's the kind of man to have as Secretary of the
Treasurer, Mawruss, which supposing they had one of them easy-come,
easy-go fellers for Secretary of the Treasurer, Mawruss--somebody who
would fall for every hard-luck story he hears, y'understand, and how
long is it going to be before the police is asking him what did he done
with it all?" Abe said. "So, for my part, Mawruss, they could abuse Mr.
Glass all they want to, y'understand, but I would be just as well
satisfied, so far as my income taxes is concerned, if the only way you
could get money out of him was by a miracle instead of an act of
Congress. Am I right or wrong?"

"Do me the favor, Abe," Morris said, "and don't talk a lot of nonsense
about a subject about which you don't know nothing about, because when I
say that nobody could get money out of Carter H. Glass except by an act
of Congress, y'understand, I ain't talking poetical in a manner of
speaking. They must actually got to got and act of Congress before
anybody could get any money out of the Secretary of the Treasury, no
matter if Mr. Glass would be the most generous feller in existence,
which, for all I know, he _might_ be. So, therefore, Abe, when Congress
adjourned without passing the acts which was necessary in order that the
Secretary of the Treasury should pay the railroads seven hundred and
fifty million dollars to keep 'em going, y'understand, not to mention
such chicken-feed like three million dollars for this here Soldiers'
Relations Bureau and the like, it leaves the country practically broke
with seven or eight billion dollars in the bank. _Now_ do you understand
what I am driving into?"

"I think I do," Abe said, "but explain it to me just as if I didn't,
because what is a mystery to me is, why did Congress adjourn without
passing them acts, Mawruss?"

"They did it to put Mr. Wilson in bad on account he went to Europe
without calling an extra session," Morris said.

"I thought Congress got paid by the year and not by the session," Abe
remarked.

"So they do," Morris continued, "but they said they wanted to stay in
session while Mr. Wilson was in Europe to _help_ him, and Mr. Wilson
thought they wanted to stay in session while he was in Europe to knock
him, and he said: 'Watch! I'll fix them fellers,' and _they_ said:
'Watch! _We'll_ fix that feller.' And between the two of them, the
railroads is left dry and high, the War Risks Bureau claims that they
could only keep going for a week or so, the Soldiers' Relations people
is sending out J O S signals, and that's the way it goes."

"And who do you think is right, Mawruss?" Abe asked. "Mr. Wilson or
Congress?"

"Well, I ain't exactly prepared to say, y'understand," Morris replied,
"but it's a question in my mind whether or not there ain't just so much
need for a Peace Conference in Washington as there is in Paris, and if
so, Abe, whether Mr. Wilson ain't at the wrong Peace Conference."

"So far as that goes, Mawruss," Abe said, "he might just so well be in
Washington as in Paris, because the tapestry and gold-casket period of
this here Conference is already a thing of the past, which I see that
Mr. Wilson ain't even staying with the Murats no longer."

"Naturally," Morris said, "after the way this here Murat went around
talking about the League of Nations."

"Why, I thought he was in favor of it!" Abe said.

"He was in favor of it," Morris said, "up to the time Mr. Wilson and
Lord George had the conference with the Jugo-Slobs where they laid out
the frontiers by making the ink-bottle represent Bessarabia and the
mucilage-bottle Macedonia. When Murat saw the library carpet the next
morning, he began to say that, after all, why shouldn't France control
her own foreign policy."

"I don't blame him," Abe commented.

"Later on the Polish National Committee called on Mr. Wilson and was
shown into the parlor before the butler had a chance to put the slip
covers on the furniture," Morris continued, "and that very evening Murat
went around saying that if France was going to have to police the
corridor through West Prussia to Dantzig, he was against articles
fourteen to twenty, both inclusive, of the League constitution, and
where could he find a good dry-cleaner."

"That don't surprise me, neither," Abe remarked.

"But it wasn't till the President's body-guard of secret-service men had
an all-night stud-poker session in the yellow guest-room that he
actually made speeches against the League of Nations," Morris went on,
"and at that, the room will never look the same again."

"I wonder if there ain't some kind of property-damage insurance that he
could have took out against a thing happening like that?" Abe
speculated.

"I don't know," Morris said, "but if there is, you can bet your life
that this here Mrs. Bischoffsheim, where the President is staying now,
has got it."

"And she is going to need it, Mawruss," Abe said, "because what the best
home-trained men do with cigarettes and fountain-pens, when their minds
are occupied with business matters, ain't calculated to improve the
appearance of a bar-room, neither."

"Say!" Morris commented. "The President _oser_ cares what his address is
in Paris, but I'll bet you he is doing a lot of thinking as to what it
is going to be in Washington after March 4, 1921."

"It ain't a question of who is going to move _out_ of the White House,
Mawruss," Abe said. "What people in America is wondering is, Who is
going to move _in_, which right now there is a couple of generals, five
or six Senators, and a banker or so which is figuring on not renewing
the leases of their apartments beyond March 3, 1921, in case they should
be obliged to go to Washington for four years, or maybe eight."

"Lots of things can happen before the next presidential election,"
Morris said.

"That's what these Senators and generals thinks," Abe agreed, "and in
the mean time, Mawruss, nobody has got to press them a whole lot to
speak at dinners and conventions, which I see that a general made a
speech at a meeting in memory of Grover Cleveland the other day where he
didn't refer once to Mr. Wilson, but said that Mr. Cleveland wasn't an
expert at verbal messages and believed in the Monroe Doctrine."

"Well, suppose the general did say that," Morris said. "What of it?"

"Nothing of it," Abe replied; "but on the other hand, if this here
general had gone a bit farther, understand me, and said that Grover
Cleveland never refused to meet Judge Cohalan at the Metropolitan Opera
House and as a general rule didn't act cold toward a Sinn Fein
committee, Mawruss, you would got to admit that such remarks is anyhow
suspicious, ain't it?"

"All it is suspicious of to me, Abe," Morris said, "is that if such a
general has got ambitions to be President, y'understand, he ain't going
the right way about it, because fashions in opinions changes like
fashions in garments, Abe. At this day and date nobody could tell no
more about what the people of the United States is going to think in
the fall of 1920 as what they are going to wear in the fall of 1920,
which it would of been a whole lot better for the general's prospects if
he would of said that Grover Cleveland was just as expert at verbal
messages as another great American and believed just as strongly in a
League of Nations. In fact, Abe, if there was, Heaven forbid, a chance
of me being nominated for President in 1920, I would lay pipes for
claiming that it was me that suggested the whole idea of the League of
Nations to President Wilson in the first place. Am I right or wrong?"

"You're right about the Heaven forbid part, anyway," Abe commented.

"Because," Morris continued, as though he had not heard the
interruption, "what between the people who are willing to take President
Wilson's word for it and the people who ain't willing to take a United
States Senator's word for anything, y'understand, this here League of
Nations looks like a pretty safe proposition for any politician to tie
up to, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if even some of them
Senators which signed the round robin would be claiming just before the
1920 National Conventions that they was never what you might call
actually against a League of Nations except, as one might say, in a
manner of speaking, if you know what I mean. Also, Abe, these here
Senators which is now acting like they would have sworn a solemn oath,
in addition to the usual amount of swearing about such things, that
they would never ratify this here League of Nations, y'understand, are
already beginning to say that they wouldn't ratify it anyhow in its
present form, understand me, and before they got through, Abe, you could
take it from me, that when it finally comes up for ratification them
same Senators is going to go over it again carefully and find that it
has been amended by inserting two commas in Article two and a semicolon
in Article twenty-five, and a glad shout of 'Oh, well, this is something
else again!' will go up, understand me, and after they vote to
unanimously ratify it they will be telling each other that all you have
to do is to make a firm stand against Mr. Wilson and he will back right
down."

"The way it looks to me, Mawruss," Abe commented, "the back-down is on
the other foot."

"It's fifty-fifty, Abe, because, when the President gets his back up,
the Senate starts to back down," Morris concluded, "and _vice versa_."



IX

WORRYING SHOULD BEGIN AT HOME, AIN'T IT?


"I see where the Italian delegates to the Peace Conference says that if
Italy don't get Fiume, Mawruss, there would be a revolution in Italy,"
Abe Potash remarked to his partner, Morris Perlmutter.

"Any excuse is better than none," Morris Perlmutter commented, "which it
is very clear to me, Abe, that with the example of Poland in front of
them, the Italians being also a musical people and seeing that Poland
has got it a first-class A-number-one pianist like Paderewski for a
President, y'understand, they are taking the opportunity of Fiume to put
in Caruso or Scotti or one of them fellers as President."

"They would got to offer their Presidents an awful big salary if they
expect to compete with the Metropolitan Opera House, Mawruss," Abe said.

"If Poland could do it, Abe, why couldn't Italy?" Morris said. "Which
Paderewski didn't have to tune pianos on the side to make a living over
here, neither, Abe, and, besides, Abe, if they would let Caruso have a
free hand in the formation of his Cabinet, he would probably get a good
barytone for Secretary of State, a basso for Secretary of Commerce and
Labor, De Luca for Secretary of the Treasury, Martinelli for Secretary
of War, and draw on the Chicago Opera Company for Secretaries of the
Navy, the Interior, and Agriculture. After that, Abe, all the Italian
government would got to do would be to move the capital to Milan and
hold open sessions of the Cabinet at the Scala with a full orchestra,
and they could take in from ten to twenty thousand dollars at the door,
daily, in particular if they was to advertise that Caruso would
positively appear at every session of the Cabinet, y'understand."

"But, joking to one side, Mawruss," Abe declared, "while personally I
got to admit that up to a short time ago, for all I knew about Fiume,
y'understand, if somebody would of said to me suddenly, 'Fiume,' I would
have said, 'Fiume yourself, you dirty loafer!' and the chances is there
would have been a fight then and there, understand me. Still, I couldn't
help thinking that as between old friends like the Italians and perfect
strangers like the Jugo-Slobs, y'understand, Italy should ought to have
Fiume and anything else she wants within reason and even a couple of
places not within reason, if she wants them that bad."

"In deciding these things, Abe," Morris said, "Mr. Wilson couldn't
consider prejudice."

"No?" Abe retorted. "Well, could he consider who discovered America? A
Jugo-Slob, I suppose, what? But never mind going so far back as
Christopher Columbus, Mawruss. Take our best workmen right in our own
shop, Mawruss--them Tonies and them Roccos with all the time a pleasant
smile no matter how hard we work them, and what are they? Jugo-Slobs or
Italians? Take it in the city of New York alone, and do we get there
half a million Jugo-Slobs or half a million Italians? I am asking you?
Also, Mawruss, I suppose the American people is crazy to see Jugo-Slob
opera, with wonderful Jugo-Slob singers and composed by Jugo-Slob
composers, ain't it? Furthermore, Mawruss, when you want to give your
wife a treat, you take her out and blow her to a good Jugo-Slob _table
d'hôte_, one dollar and a half including wine--what?"

"Listen, Abe," Morris protested, "I didn't say a word that Italy
shouldn't have Fiume."

"I know you didn't," Abe said, "but there's a whole lot of people which
does, Mawruss, and how they expect to use it for an argument to get the
millions of Italians in America to subscribe to the next Victory Loan,
Mawruss, may be perfectly clear to them, Mawruss, but _I_ couldn't see
it and I doubt if them millions of Italians will be able to see it,
neither."

"Probably you ain't wrong exactly," Morris said, "but whichever way Mr.
Wilson thinks is the best for the good of Europe, Abe, that's the way he
would decide it about Fiume."

"Well, I'll tell you, Mawruss," Abe observed, "while I consider that
Europe, excepting the coffee they give you for breakfast, is a
high-grade continent, taking it by and large, still at the same time I
ain't so fanatical about it that if I would be President Wilson, I
wouldn't once in a while give America a look-in also. Furthermore,
Mawruss, admitting that Mr. Wilson is acting wonderful in the way he is
unselfish about America, y'understand, and that he would probably go
down in history as a great and good man, y'understand, he should ought
to watch out that he don't act _too_ unselfish about America, Mawruss,
otherwise he would be going down as a great and good man in French and
English history and not in American history."

"There is even some people which figures that he would be a great man in
the history of the world even," Morris interrupted.

"Sure, I know," Abe said, "and that's the trouble with a whole lot of
people these days, Mawruss. They are figuring on world propositions, and
what goes on in the next block don't interest them at all. Worrying
should begin at home, Mawruss, whereas with them world thinkers they
couldn't get really and truly anxious about the way things is going
anywheres nearer to the Woolworth Building than the Nevski Prospekt.
'Ain't you ashamed of yourselves to be kicking about not having a job,'
they says to the returning American soldiers, 'when thousands of muzhiks
in Ukrania is idle.' And they go to work and collect dollar after dollar
for milk to feed Czecho-Slovak babies, with sixty cents after sixty
cents overhead on the collection, y'understand, while right here in New
York City families with an income of eighteen dollars a week has got to
pay twenty cents a quart for grade B milk when the milk-wagon drivers
ain't on strike."

"People has become European-Americans from reading too much newspapers
nowadays, Abe," Morris said, "which in these times of one newspaper
trying to show the others how much more money it is spending for foreign
cables, y'understand, if you want to see who is murdered in your own
town, understand me, you are liable to find a couple of lines about it
'most any part of the paper except in the first four pages, and the
consequences is that people gets the impression from reading the papers
that a strike in Berlin is ever so much more important than a strike in
Hoboken for the simple reason that as the Berlin strike cost the
newspaper proprietor several hundred dollars for cables, he put it on
the front page, whereas the strike in Hoboken only cost him seven cents
car fare for the reporter each way, and therefore it gets slipped in on
the eleventh page with over it the head-line: 'PLAN AMERICAN ORCHESTRA.
Chicago's New Philharmonic Is Headed by Mrs. J. Ogden Armour,' the
orchestra story with the strike head-line having failed to get into the
paper at all."

"Well, I'll tell you," Abe said, "people which reads the newspapers
don't take the same amount of interests in strikes like they once used
to did before the United States government organized them Conciliation
and Arbitration Boards, which nowadays strikes is long, dull affairs
consisting of the first strike, the arbitration, the decision, the
second strike, the arbitration, the decision, the third strike, and so
on for several months, because that's the trouble with arbitration,
Mawruss: everybody is willing to arbitrate and nobody is willing to be
decided against."

"Also strikes is becoming too common, Abe," Morris said. "Everybody is
going on strike nowadays, from milk-wagon drivers to the United States
Senate, and although the last strike only _begun_ as a strike and ended
up as a lock-out, y'understand, still the example wasn't good to the
country, which if the strike fever is going to spread as high up as the
United States Senate, Abe, where is it going to stop? The first thing
you know, the members of the Metropolitan Club will be going on strike
for a minimum of six hundred sturgeon eggs in a ten-dollar portion of
fresh Astrakhan caviar, and the Amalgamated Bank Presidents of America,
New York Local No. 1, will be walking out in a body for a minimum wage
of fifty thousand dollars a year, with a maximum working year of four
months."

"But even when strikes had no foreign competition in the newspapers,
Mawruss," Abe said, "the interest in them soon died out, which very few
people outside the parties concerned ever finds out when a strike ends
or who wins, and you might even say gives a nickel one way or the other,
Mawruss."

"It ain't only strikes which affects people like that, Abe," Morris
commented. "Long-drawn-out murder trials and graft investigations also
suffers that way, which I bet yer the American newspaper-reading people
will soon get on to the fact that the newspapers is playing up to their
cable tolls, y'understand, and everybody will be starting in to read the
paper at the fourth or fifth page."

"Still, I think that considerable interest was revived in the League of
Nations and the Peace Conference by the argument that Senator Lodge put
up last week in Lowell, Massachusetts," Abe said.

"It wasn't _in_ Lowell, but _with_ Lowell," Morris corrected.

"In or with," Abe said, "it caused a whole lot of comment in the
newspapers, and the people which bought the next morning them papers
that printed the whole affair in full, Mawruss, skipped as much as two
or three pages about it."

"Well, they didn't miss much, Abe," Morris said, "because it didn't come
up to the advertisement."

"What do you mean--the advertisement?" Abe inquired.

"Why, for days already, the newspapers come out with a notice that
Senator Lodge would argue with this here Lowell, which he is a college
president and not a town, Abe, the argument to take place in a big hall
in Boston, and the application for tickets was something tremendous,
Abe, because you know how arguments about the League of Nations is,
Abe. Sometimes the parties only use language and sometimes the smaller
one of the two goes to a hospital, understand me. But, however, in this
case it must be that the friends of Senator Lodge must have went to him
and said: 'What do you want to get into an argument with Lowell for?
Treat him with contempt. What do you care _what_ he says about you? You
are _doch_ a United States Senator, ain't it?' And the friends of this
here Lowell also must have went to him and said: 'Listen, Lowell, don't
make a show of yourself. If Lodge wants to behave himself that way, all
right; he's only a United States Senator, but you are anyhow president
of Harvard College, and you can't afford to _act_ that way.' 'Act _what_
way?' Lowell probably said. 'Do you think I am going to sit down and let
him walk all over Wilson, which Wilson and me was presidents of colleges
together for years already?'"

"And besides a college president don't make such big money that he could
afford to sneeze at his share of the gate receipts, neither," Abe
commented.

"Be that as it may," Morris said, "they probably figured that it was too
late to call the thing off, but their friends must have got them
together and talked Lodge over into behaving like a gentleman, because
he practically agreed to everything that Lowell said and, so to speak,
'threw' the whole debate right at the outset, which, reading the reports
in the newspapers next morning, Abe, it is a wonder to me that the
referee or the umpire didn't stop it before it had gone the first five
minutes, even."

"Well, if people is foolish enough to bet on such things, Mawruss," Abe
commented, "they deserve to lose, ain't it?"

"So the consequences is that some people is now saying that Senator
Lodge backed down because he didn't have a leg to stand on," Morris
continued, "while them people which probably made a little easy money on
Lowell is saying, '_Yow!_ backed down!' and that Lowell is a
crackerjack, A-number-one arguer, and won the argument on his merits,
y'understand."

"The whole thing should ought to be investigated by the Massachusetts
Boxing Commission in order to see that them kind of disgraceful
exhibitions shouldn't occur again," Abe said, "otherwise this here James
Butler which is president of Columbia College will fix up an argument
with another United States Senator, and whoever is now president of
Princeton College will arrange a frame-up with a Governor of a state or
somebody, and the first thing you know, Mawruss, college presidents will
be getting such a reputation as public speakers that the next Republican
National Convention will be again unloading a college president on us as
President of the United States."

"Say," Morris protested, "if all college presidents would make as good a
President as Mr. Wilson done, Abe, I am content that we should have such
a president for President."

"President Wilson done all right, Mawruss," Abe declared. "He done a
whole lot to add a touch of refinement to what otherwise would of been a
very rough war, understand me. He's got the respect and admiration of
the whole world, Mawruss, and I ain't going to say _but_ neither, but
would say _however_. Mawruss, for the next ten years or so the United
States of America ain't going to be as quiet as a college exactly. Maybe
the presidents of colleges will continue to deal with college professors
and college students which couldn't talk back, Mawruss, but the next
President of the United States will have to stand an awful lot of
back-talk from a whole lot of people about taxes, business conditions,
railroads, and so forth, and instead of coming right back with a snappy
remark originally made by some big Roman philosopher and letting it go
at that, Mawruss, he would got to come right back with a plan devised by
some big Pittsburgh business man and act on it, too."

"There's something in what you say, Abe," Morris admitted.

"So, therefore, if we've got to drag a college president for President,
Mawruss," Abe concluded, "let's hope he would be anyhow president of a
business college."



X

THE NEW HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY


"I see where a feller by the name Rubin or Robin or something like that,
which was working as a traveling-salesman for the Red Cross in Russia,
got examined by Congress the other day," Abe Potash said one morning in
March, "and in the course of explaining how he come to spend all that
money for traveling expenses or something, he says that the Bolsheviki
in Russia is a very much misunderstood people."

"Sure, I know," Morris said; "it is always the case, Abe, that when
somebody does something which could only be explained on the grounds
that he would sooner be in jail than _out_, he goes to work and claims
that nobody understands him."

"But Rubin claims that the reason Bolshevism sprung in the first place
was that the Bolsheviki was tired of the war," Abe continued, "whereas
the Allies thought they were quitters."

"What do you mean--whereas?" Morris asked.

"Wait, that ain't the only 'whereas,'" Abe said. "Rubin also said that
the Allies thinks the Bolsheviki is a bunch of organized murderers,
_whereas_ the Allies don't understand that the only people murdered by
them Bolsheviki was the property-owners which objects to their property
being taken, and that as a matter of fact them poor Bolsheviki are
simply _obliged_ to take the property, there being no other alternative
except working for a living."

"_Nebich!_" Morris exclaimed, "and did he say anything else about them
Bolsheviki that we should ought to break our hearts over, Abe?"

"Rubin didn't, but there is some of these here liberal-minded papers
which seems to think that what this here Rubin says is not only a big
boost for the Bolsheviki, but that it should ought to be a lesson to us
not to pass laws in this country to prevent the Bolsheviki from
operating over here."

"But we already got laws over here to take care of people which would
sooner commit murder than work, Abe," Morris said, "and as for being
liberal-minded about the Bolsheviki, Abe, I am content that after they
are sentenced they should have all the privilege that the other convicts
have, and that's as far as I would go."

"Well, you couldn't claim credit for being very funny that way, Mawruss.
You've got practically all the unliberal-minded people in the United
States siding with you," Abe declared, "because, being liberal-minded is
a matter of being able to see only the unpopular side of every question.
It is the liberal-minded people which thinks there is something to be
said in favor of the Germans and says it, y'understand. It is the
liberal-minded people which is always willing to try anything that
don't seem reasonable to practically everybody."

"And I suppose them liberal-minded people would even approve of Germany
trying to get out of paying an indemnity by pulling off one of them
street affairs with shooting which passes for Bolshevik revolution,"
Morris said, "but the backing of such liberal-minded Americans wouldn't
help the Germans none, because there would be a whole lot of husky
parties in khaki going into Germany and acting in such an
unliberal-minded way that the Germans would wish they would have paid
the indemnity voluntarily on the instalment plan rather as have it
collected all in one sum by levy and sale under an execution."

"Well, I'll tell you," Abe said, "it is always the case that when the
creditors begin to scrap among themselves, y'understand, the fraudulent
bankrupt stands a good chance to get away with the concealed assets,
ain't it, and in particular in this case where there is so many
liberal-minded people around which don't want to be too hard on Germany,
_anyway_."

"I bet yer," Morris said, fervently; "and while this here Peace
Conference is killing a whole lot of time deliberating how to make this
the last war, y'understand, they will wake up some fine morning to find
out that they have really made it the last war but one. Furthermore,
Abe, this next-to-the-last war wouldn't be a marker to the war we are
going to have in collecting indemnities from Bolsheviki, because when it
comes to atrocities, Abe, a Bolshevik government could make the old
German government look like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children, y'understand."

"Might the Peace Conference would hurry up, maybe," Abe suggested.

"They've got to hurry up if they don't want to be shifted from a Peace
Conference to a Council of War," Morris said. "Look what has already
happened in Hungary."

"And yet, Mawruss, you would think that with a nation like the
Hungarians, which is used to eating in Hungarian restaurants,
y'understand, a little thing like starvation wouldn't worry them at
all," Abe said, "so therefore I couldn't understand why the Hungarians
should have gone Bolshevik from want of food, as the papers says they
did."

"_My_ paper didn't say it," Morris commented, "and if it did, I wouldn't
believe it, anyway, because the most you could claim for Bolshevism as a
cure for starvation is that it keeps the patient so busy worrying about
his other troubles that he forgets how hungry he is. Furthermore, Abe,
the way it looks to me, this here Bolshevik revolution in Hungary ain't
even what the Poor Food Law would call a Bolshevik Type revolution,
because it is my idea that Lenine and Trotzky could read the papers the
same like anybody else. So, therefore, when they seen it that all the
American newspaper correspondents was sending out word that the Peace
Conference should ought to hurry up its work because of the spread of
Bolshevism, y'understand, and that the delegates should ought to go easy
on Germany because, if they didn't, Germany would probably go Bolshevik,
y'understand, this here Trotzky, which once used to work on a New York
newspaper but lived it down by changing his name from Bronstein to
Trotzky, understand me, at once gets up a line of snappy advertisements
headed:


"'WHY BOLSHEVISM?'


to the effect that a Revolution a Day Drives Indemnities Away and for
particulars to write to Trotzky & Lenine, Department M, Petrograd Land
Title and Trust Building, Petrograd. And, of course, Hungary fell for
it."

"So you think that this here Hungarian revolution is a fake?" Abe asked.

"It ain't a fake, it's a business," Morris replied, "which I bet yer
that right now Messrs. Ebert, Scheidemann & Co. is writing Trotzky &
Lenine they should please quote prices on Bolshevist uprisings as per
Hungarian sample, F.O.B. Berlin, and also that it wouldn't be only a
matter of a few days when knocking Germany would be a capital offense in
Petrograd, upon the grounds that the customer is always right."

"But I understand that in Budapest the working-men is seizing the
factories and running them themselves," Abe said.

"There's always bound to be a certain number of people which couldn't
take a job," Morris commented.

"There's no joke about it," Abe declared, "which I see in the paper this
morning that the new Hungarian Soviet government has directed the
presidents of banks to put their business in the hands of the clerks and
that the landlords has got to let the janitors manage the
apartment-houses."

"The landlords has got to do that in America, whether the government
tells 'em to or not, Abe," Morris said, "and as for the bank presidents,
Abe, they might just as well go out and look for another job to-day as
to wait till next week when them committees of factory-workers will
start in to make overdrafts at the point of a revolver."

"Things must be terribly mixed up in Hungary, according to the papers,"
Abe observed.

"Well, I'll tell you," Morris said, "in some countries a Bolshevik
government could be quite disturbing, but take Hungarian cooking, for
instance, and it wouldn't really make a whole lot of difference if
_gulyas_ or paprika chicken was cooked by one chef or a committee of
scullions, Abe, it would be just so miscellaneous and nobody could tell
from eating it what had been put into it, y'understand. Also, Abe, take
these here gipsy Hungarian bands, and while there would probably be a
terrible conglomeration of noises if a committee of players was to start
in to conduct the Boston Symphonies or the New York Philharmonics,
y'understand, a committee of gipsy musicians couldn't make a _czardas_
sound worser than it does, no matter how they disagree as to the way it
should ought to be played."

"For that matter, there's a lot of things produced in Germany which a
Soviet government couldn't spoil, neither, Mawruss," Abe said, "like
music by this here Nathan Strauss, the composer, or _Koenigsburger
Klops_, now called Liberty Roast, which I see by last Sunday's paper
that the Kaiser has been talking again."

"And what's that got to do with Germany going Bolshevik?" Morris asked.

"Nothing, except that it partially accounts for it," Abe replied, "which
a newspaper feller by the name of Begbie called on the Kaiser in
Holland, and he says the Kaiser couldn't see it at all."

"See what?" Morris asked.

"Why, he couldn't see what people is making such a fuss about," Abe
said. "He says that, so far as starting this here war is concerned, he
didn't _say_ nothing, he didn't _do_ nothing, and all he knows about it
is that he lays the whole thing to the Freemasons."

"You mean the F. A. M.?" Morris asked.

"What other Freemasons is there?" Abe said.

"You're sure he didn't say the Knights of Pythias or the I. O. O. F.,
because, while I don't belong to the Masons myself, Abe, Rosie's
sister's husband's brother by the name Harris November has been a
thirty-sixth degree Mason for years already," Morris declared, "and I'll
swear that if a gabby feller like him would have known that the Masons
had anything to do with bringing on the war, Abe, he would of spilled it
already long since ago."

"Well, of course, I don't know nothing about what Harris November said
or what he didn't say, Mawruss, but that's what the Kaiser said," Abe
continued, "and he also had a good deal to say about Queen Victorine of
England what a wonderful woman she was, _olav hasholom_, and how she
told him many times he should look out for that low-life of a son of
hers by the name Edwin."

"But I always thought this here Edwin was such a decent, respectable
feller," Morris interrupted.

"That's what everybody else thought," Abe went on, "but the Kaiser says
that many times the old lady says to him he shouldn't have nothing to do
with Edwin. 'Believe me,' she said, according to the Kaiser, 'he
wouldn't do you no good intellectually, morally, or socially,' and so
for that reason the Kaiser wouldn't join the Entente with England,
France, and Russia."

"Because this here Edwin was at the bottom of it?" Morris inquired.

"That's what the Kaiser _said_," Abe replied.

"Maybe he also caught the poor Czar _selig_ eating with his knife or
something," Morris suggested.

"That he didn't say, neither," Abe answered, "but he might just so well
have said it, for all it would go down with me, Mawruss, because we all
know how kings sow their rolled oats, Mawruss, and any king which
wouldn't associate with any other king on the grounds of running around
the streets till all hours of the night or gambling, y'understand, if
that ain't a case of a pot calling a kettle, I don't know what is."

"And I suppose he topped off them lies by getting religious, ain't it?"
Morris remarked.

"Naturally," Abe said. "And in particular he got very sore at the
Freemasons on account of them being atheists."

"That's the first time I hear that about the Freemasons," Morris
observed. "I think, myself, that he was getting them mixed up with the
Elks."

"The Elks ain't atheists," Abe said.

"I know they ain't, but at the same time they ain't religious fanatics
exactly," Morris said, "which to a particular feller like the Kaiser
would be quite enough, Abe."

"Also, Mawruss," Abe went on, "he claims that the Freemasons is all
Bolshevists, and in fact, from the way he carried on about the
Freemasons, you would think he was crazy on the subject."

"Maybe they once turned him down or something," Morris commented, "which
when I was treasurer of Friendship Lodge, 129, I. O. M. A., before we
quit giving sick benefits, Abe, we turned down a feller by the name
Turkeltaub on account of varicose veins, and the way he went around
calling us all kinds of highwaymen you wouldn't believe at all."

"But the newspaper feller that interviewed him says that the Kaiser
seems to be in pretty good health, Mawruss," Abe declared.

"That don't make him a good risk, neither," Morris retorted. "I suppose
the interviewer didn't say how his appetite was."

"What's his appetite got to do with it?" Abe asked.

"Because, in speaking of murderers just before they go to the chair,
Abe," Morris concluded, "the newspaper always say, 'The condemned man
ate hearty.'"



XI

IT IS STILL UP IN THE AIR, BUT YOU CAN'T SAY THE SAME FOR TRANSATLANTIC
VOYAGES


"I am surprised to see that an old-established and well-settled
government like Mexico should got a revolution on his hands, Mawruss,"
Abe Potash declared as he skimmed the head-lines in the morning papers.

"What makes you think that Mexico is an old-established and well-settled
government, Abe?" Morris Perlmutter asked.

"Germany and Hungary do," Abe replied, "which up to the time this here
General Blanquet lands the other day in Mexico, people was beginning to
say that why couldn't Germany have one last revolution and stick to it
and look at Mexico the way she settled down, not having had a single
revolution to speak of since January fifteenth, nineteen-nineteen."

"Well, I think the reason why the Mexicans 'ain't had a revolution in so
long isn't because they didn't want to, Abe," Morris said, "but because
it has taken them all that time to learn the technical terms. You see, a
really and truly up-to-date revolution couldn't be run off nowadays,
Abe, unless it is one of them Bolshevik Type revolutions, and in order
to get the right kind of newspaper publicity for it the management has
got to know enough Russian not to say _soviet_ when they mean _mir_.
Also I bet yer when it comes to a zemstvo, the Mexicans don't know even
now whether you dance it to a guitar and cascanet accompaniment or eat
it with garlic and chili sauce."

"A feller could make quite some money nowadays from teaching Russian by
mail to revolutionary socialists," Abe commented.

"That ain't necessary in this country, Abe," Morris said, "because the
Bolshevik government in Russia has sent over here a feller by the name
of Martens to give a course in Bolshevism to American working-men."

"And did our government let him land?" Abe asked.

"Seemingly they did," Morris replied, "which is pretty liberal of our
government when you consider that right now we got American soldiers in
Russia which is fighting Bolshevism."

"It's even more than liberal, it's crazy," Abe said, "because while I
believe in free speech, y'understand, Bolshevik speeches ain't free by a
whole lot. Over in Hungary they became payable in thirty, sixty, and
ninety days and the only people which ain't ruined by them is the makers
and indorsers."

"You are right about the makers, Abe," Morris commented. "For the most
part they are a bunch of no-account foreigners which all they risk by
making such speeches is hoarseness, y'understand, but some of the
indorsers of such speeches comes from the best American families, and if
the time ever comes when there _should_ be a little temporary Bolshevik
trouble by foreigners in this country who have been encouraged by the
liberal attitude of the government to think that the worst which could
happen to them would be ten dollars or ten days, y'understand, them
indorsers would got to pay the same like any other decent, respectable
people which ain't Bolsheviks. Take, for example, in Hungary and the
protelariats is making the middle class give up their bath-rooms to the
working-people every Saturday night."

"But the protelariats in New York has all got bath-rooms in their
tenement-houses, Mawruss," Abe protested.

"I know they have, but they'll probably figure that why should they
trouble themselves to empty the coal out of their bath-tubs, which is
what them protelariats now use bath-tubs for, Abe, just to save the
middle class the inconvenience of changing their bath night from
Saturday to Friday," Morris said, "but at the same time, Abe, it don't
look to me that a country which has got the modern convenience of
America is going to go Bolshevik for the next few hundred years, anyway,
because it is my idee that what makes a people become Bolsheviks is the
lack of good plumbing and savings-bank accounts, and rather as have the
privacy of their bath-rooms and their savings-bank accounts invaded,
the big majority of the American people would declare the United States
of America an obsolete monarchy with Ivan D. Ivanovitch, alias John D.
Rockafeller, Jr., as the first Czar, understand me."

"Well, if I would be the United States government I wouldn't let a
Bolshevik land exactly," Abe declared.

"What do you mean--you wouldn't let him land _exactly_?" Morris asked.

"I mean what I say," Abe said. "I would let him pretty nearly land and
then tip up the gang-plank. Also, Mawruss, if I would be the United
States government, I would allow free speech, but not free speakers,
y'understand, which I would make public speaking a profession the same
like lawyers, dentists, or doctors, because if nobody could be a public
speaker without taking a four-year course in public speaking and then
getting licensed to practise as a public speaker after passing an
examination, y'understand, he would think anyhow twice before he says
something in public which would bring him up on charges to show cause
why he shouldn't have his license to practise as a public speaker taken
away from him. In other words, Mawruss, the way I would prevent
Bolshevism is that I would make the sheepskin take the place of the
soapbox as a necessary article for public speaking, and incidentally in
the foreign neighborhoods of our big cities, y'understand, not only
would soap-boxes be used for soap, but it would also go a long way
towards making bath-tubs used for bathing."

"At the same time, Abe," Morris said, "I couldn't help thinking that if
the feller who talks in public was given less to talk about,
y'understand, it would help a whole lot, too, which there wouldn't be
nearly so many loafers go into the Bolshevik line if there wasn't so
many respectable people engaged in what might be called manufacturing
Bolshevik supplies, such as army officers which claims that nobody has a
right to kick if a soldier gets ten years' hard labor for using bad
grammar in speaking to an officer, y'understand. Also there is a lot of
state Legislatures in this country which has seemingly formed themselves
into Societies for the Encouragement of Bolshevism by earning, anyhow,
the gratitude of canners and cotton manufacturers who have got women and
children working for them till all hours of the night, y'understand.
Then again there is the perfectly respectable people which would like to
make by law a Sunday out of every week-day and a living tomb out of
Sunday, understand me, and which would have nobody but themselves to
blame if some day they would got to furnish soap and towels for the
protelariats in their bath-rooms."

"Well, I'll tell you," Abe said, "Bolshevism as a form of government is
pretty nearly exploded, Mawruss. It is now used principally as a threat
such as when Germany says if the Polaks get Danzig and West Prussia,
y'understand, Germany would take up Bolshevism, and Paderewski says if
the Polaks don't get Danzig, Poland would take up Bolshevism, understand
me."

"And Paderewski would take up giving piano lessons to raise enough money
to get out of Poland, Abe," Morris commented, "and he would probably
have to do so, too, as there ain't much chance of his getting away with
that Danzig stuff. Also, Abe, we Americans should ought to be the last
to encourage him to think that he will, Abe, because while I don't know
how long it is since Danzig, Germany, was Danzig, Poland, I do know that
it ain't nearly so long ago as Galveston, Texas, was Galveston, Mexico,
y'understand. So, therefore, if Mr. Wilson lets Poland get back Danzig,
it wouldn't be long before Mexico would elect Teresa Carreño or Fannie
Bloomfield Zeisler as President and claim Galveston with a corridor
taking in San Antonio and Houston, understand me."

"Just the same, I am in favor that Germany should have to give up Danzig
even if Danzig 'ain't belonged to Poland since 1492 and the only Danzig
people now speaking Polish as a regular language is the interpreter of
the First District Magistrate's Court for the City and County of Danzig,
y'understand," Abe declared. "Furthermore, I think this here Peace
Conference is taking it too particular about what Germany should or
shouldn't give up, Mawruss, which if the shoe pinched on the other foot,
Mawruss, and this here Peace Conference was being held in Berlin or
Vienna, y'understand, with Germany, Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria as the
Big Four, understand me, there wouldn't be any question as to what
Allied territory would or wouldn't be given up by the Allies, Mawruss.
If Germany would have won the war, Mawruss, she would have taken Calais
and Boulogne with as much argument over it as a golluf-player taking a
Scotch highball, y'understand, and if France would have threatened to go
Bolshevik on account of it, Germany would of said, 'Don't do us no
favors,' understand me, and let it go at that. So, therefore, if the
people of Danzig couldn't speak Polish, Mawruss, let 'em learn to do so,
even if it would be necessary for them to go to a nose and throat
specialist till they got used to the pronunciation."

"Say, for my part I am willing that this here Peace Conference should do
anything and everything, Abe, just so long as they would get through
with their work and I wouldn't have to listen no longer to your
nonsense," Morris declared.

"No nonsense at all," Abe protested. "The thing this here Peace
Conference should ought to have done from the start was to consider what
Germany would have done under the circumstances, put the reverse English
on it, and then let her whoop, which I see by the paper that they are
now getting ready to make airyoplane journeys across the Atlantic Ocean,
Mawruss."

"And what's that got to do with this here Peace Conference?" Morris
asked.

"Nothing," Abe said, "except that I see Mr. Wilson is writing home that
they should please send over the _George Washington_ in case it should
be necessary for him to make good any bluff he might throw to the Peace
Conference that if they don't do as he says, he would leave them flat
and go back to America. So, therefore, if he has to make good sooner
than he thinks, he could go home by airyoplane and not wait for the
_George Washington_."

"I don't think that this here transatlantic airyoplane flying is exactly
in the President-carrying class just yet, Abe," Morris suggested.

"Neither do I, Mawruss," Abe said, "but the manufacturers of airyoplanes
seems pretty confident, Mawruss. In fact, I see in the papers that it
won't be but a matter of a few years when the New York business man
which has business to do in London, instead of getting on the
_Mauretania_ in New York and landing six days later in Liverpool,
y'understand, would be able to take the railroad to Halifax, Nova
Scotia, spend the night there or anyhow only as many nights there as it
would be necessary before the steamer sails for Saint John's,
Newfoundland, and then take the steamer to Saint John's, Newfoundland,
where there would be a passenger airyoplane in waiting and no
first-class hotels, y'understand. At Saint John's, such is the strides
airyoplane-manufacturing has made, Mawruss, he would probably only have
to stick around for five or six days till the airyoplane was in shape to
leave, understand me, and in twenty-four hours he would land at the
Azores, where there ain't no hotels at all, understand me. In less than
four days more, provided the repairs didn't take longer, he would be on
his way to Lisbon, Portugal, which he would reach on the following day
or days. There the same airyoplane or another airyoplane, in case the
same airyoplane got smashed in landing, would be ready or approximately
ready to start for Paris, and might even start, you couldn't tell. On
arriving in Paris, he would be only a few hours by railroad and steamer
from London, provided he was in shape to travel, which, when you
consider that only a few years ago flying was in its infancy, Mawruss,
you've got to admit that nobody could ever have dreamed that it was
possible to make such a journey."

"Not unless you ate something which disagreed with you before you went
to sleep," Morris commented, "and even then, Abe, where is the
advantage?"

"It ain't the advantage, it's the novelty of the thing," Abe said, "and
I'll bet yer, Mawruss, that if an Airyoplane Company was to open a
ticket-office in New York to-morrow, Mawruss, men would be standing in
line to buy accommodations on the first available airyoplane--men with
wives and families and no life insurance at that."

"They would be the very first ones," Morris agreed, "but the way it
looks to me, Abe, New York business men which has not business to do
in London would continue to take twin-screw steamers with bilge
keels, no matter how unimportant the business they was going to
transact over there might be, because even the stockholders in
airyoplane-manufacturing corporations would got to admit that while
airyoplane-flying ain't in its infancy, exactly, it ain't in the prime
of life, neither. Also, Abe, as long as gas only costs a dollar
twenty-five a thousand cubic feet, why should any one want to pull off
such a high-priced suicide as these here transatlantic airyoplane
voyages is going to be?"

"Anyhow, the first one has still got to be made yet, Mawruss," Abe
remarked.

"And even if the tenth one was successful, Abe," Morris concluded, "you
could take it from me, this here transatlantic airyoplane navigation
ain't going to put much of a crimp into the business of manufacturing
seasick remedies. Am I right or wrong?"



XII

THIS HERE VICTORY LIBERTY LOAN


"The way some people is acting about this here Victory Loan, Mawruss,"
Abe Potash remarked one morning in April, "you would think that they was
all presidents of a first national bank and that this here Carter J.
Glass has already made a big overdraft and if he don't like the line of
credit they are giving him, he should be so good as to take his account
somewheres else, y'understand."

"Them same people probably think that investing their money in any
securities bearing interest at less than fifteen per cent. per annum is,
so to speak, the equivalence from giving money to orphan-asylums and
hospitals, understand me," Morris Perlmutter said. "'We already give
them Liberty Loan _schnorrers_ two hundred dollars toward the expenses
of their rotten war,' they probably say, 'and _still_ they ain't
satisfied.'"

"And at that they don't mean nothing by it," Abe said, "because there is
a whole lot of business men in the United States which couldn't even
give up the family housekeeping money every week without anyhow saying
to their wives: 'Here, take my blood; take my life. What do you want
from me, _anyway_?'"

"Maybe they do and maybe they don't mean nothing by it, Abe," Morris
said, "but it would be a whole lot easier for this here Carter J. Glass
if everybody would act as his own Victory Bond salesman and try to sell
himself just one more bond than he has really got any business buying,
y'understand."

"It would be a whole lot easier for this here Carter J. Glass, Mawruss,
but it would be practically impossible for pretty nearly everybody
else," Abe remarked, "which human nature is so constituted, Mawruss,
that the only time a man really and truly uses some high-class,
silver-tongued salesmanship on himself is when he is trying to persuade
himself that it is all right for him to do something which he knows in
his heart it is dead wrong for him to do."

"Well, at least, Abe, in this here Victory Loan Campaign, every man
should ought to try to put himself in the place of the salesman which is
trying to sell him some of these Victory Bonds," Morris continued, "so
we would say, for example, that you would be a Victory Bond salesman,
Abe, and you are calling on a feller which he is a pretty tough
proposition in such matters by the name of, we would say, for instance,
Abe Potash."

"Why don't you make the feller which the salesman is supposed to call on
a really and truly hard-boiled egg, by the name, we would say, for
instance, Mawruss Perlmutter?" Abe asked. "Which when you put up to me
a hypocritical case, Mawruss, why is it you must always start in by
getting insulted already?"

"What do you mean getting insulted?" Morris asked. "I am only putting
something up to you for the sake of argument not arguments."

"Well, then, why not be perfectly neuter and call the tough proposition
which the Victory Bond salesman is visiting, somebody by the name of a
competitor like Leon Sammet, for instance?" Abe suggested.

"Because I am trying to make you put yourself in the place of the
Victory Bond salesman who is trying to sell you bonds," Morris declared.

"Put your _own_ self in the place of the Victory Bond salesman," Abe
exclaimed, "which if you want to give me any hypocritical cases for the
sake of argument, Mawruss, I have seen the way you practically snap the
head off a collector for a charitable fund enough times to appreciate
how you would behave towards a Victory Bond salesman, so go ahead on the
basis that you are the tough proposition and not me."

"A charitable fund is one thing and this here Victory Loan another,"
Morris said.

"I know it is," Abe agreed, "but at the same time, Mawruss, a whole lot
of people feels that if ever they give a couple dollars to an
orphan-asylum, they practically got vaccinated against future attacks of
the same complaint, and if three years later the collector for the
orphan-asylum calls on them again they say: 'Why, I already gave you
two dollars for that orphan-asylum! What did you done with it all?' And
I bet yer that just as many people considered that the fifty-dollar bond
which they bought during the First Liberty Loan Campaign should ought to
have set up such a strong antiseptic in their system that they would be
immune to all other Liberty Bond Campaigns, no matter if such campaigns
would continue until there was, God forbid! a Fiftieth Liberty Loan
already."

"Some people never even got, so to speak, jabbed the first time," Morris
observed, "and the way they avoid Liberty Bond salesmen, Abe, you would
think that such a salesman was a sort of Liberty Bond Typhoid Mary and
would infect them tightwads with a disease where they were liable to
break out all over with coupons or something."

"As a matter of fact, Mawruss, that's just the effect which a Liberty
Bond salesman should ought to have on the right kind of sitson," Abe
said, "which while I don't mean to say that making a good investment
like buying of a Liberty Bond should ought to be considered as a
disease, Mawruss, it should anyhow be infectious and should ought to
spread so rapidly that everybody in the United States could say they had
it to the extent of at least one fifty-dollar bond of the Victory Loan."

"But there is over a hundred million people in the United States, Abe,"
Morris said, "and if they all bought one fifty-dollar bond,
y'understand, it would make the Victory Loan five billion dollars,
whereas this here Carter J. Glass is only asking for four billion five
hundred million."

"Well, to my mind, he's acting too modest, Mawruss," Abe went on,
"because if we expect Germany to raise the first five billion dollars of
her indemnity with nothing to show for it but the promise that she would
have to raise five billion more every two years till the whole indemnity
was paid, understand me, how much more should we raise over here with
the promise that it is going to be paid back to us in a few years, with
interest at the rate of four and three-quarters per cent. per annum?
Why, under them conditions, Mawruss, any American which would refuse to
buy a Victory Loan Bond should ought to be considered as applying for
German sitsonship papers and should ought to be exported to Hamburg,
where his adopted fellow-sitsons is getting frisked by the German
government for every cent they possess and ain't getting so much as a
receipt to show for it."

"For that matter, an American which refuses to buy Victory Liberty Bonds
should ought to completely lost his memory, Abe," Morris declared.
"Evidently a feller, if some one starts a conversation about the war, is
going to say, '_What_ war?' and when it is reminded to his memory that
as recently ago as last November the papers was printing every day
columns and columns about the war which was going on in Europe, he would
probably say: 'Oh, _that_ war! I thought that war was already a thing
of the past.' And also probably he might even ask, 'Tell me, was there
many people hurt?'"

"Well, if some folks has got such short memories like all that, and is
only affected by what they have read in the papers at the latest the day
before yesterday, Mawruss," Abe said, "why not have the Victory Liberty
Loan salesmen approach them on the basis of what is going on _now_ in
Europe? 'You are asked,' such a salesman would say, 'to invest your
money in a first-class A-number-one security, backed by the United
States government and bearing interest at the rate of four and
three-quarters per cent. per annum, and that is the very least you could
do for your country when you consider that right now,' the salesman
would say, and he should practise in advance to make his voice sound
tragical, 'right now _your_ uncles and _my_ uncles is making peace in
Paris with all the strength of language which they've got in their
system.

"'Yes, Mr. Sitson,' the salesman should go on to say, 'the government is
only asking _you_ to invest in interest-bearing cash money, so to speak,
and what for a sacrifice is _that_ compared to the suffering of _your_
father-in-laws and _my_ father-in-laws which is bravely standing larynx
to larynx in the battle area of the Peace Conference while the air is
filled with the French, Italian, Greek, Jugo-Slob, and Polish remarks?
_You_ sit here in your comfortable home while the flower of our experts
and college professors is exposed to all kinds of coffee and cigars.
Ain't you ashamed to be doing nothing but buy bonds when old and feeble
men like most of the American Peace delegates is battling with French
waiters, French taxicab-drivers, French hotel service, and French
laundry-lists, giving and receiving no mercy, y'understand, and you
should thank Heaven that your own country has been spared the horrors of
having on our own soil this here Peace Conference which is now raging in
Paris, understand me.'"

"That would be anyhow an argument," Morris admitted, "but with these
here Victory Liberty Bonds it shouldn't ought to be a case of first come
first serve. With only four and a half billion dollars' worth of Victory
Liberty Bonds for sale, Abe, seventy-five per cent. of the people of the
United States should ought to be going around looking as sore as fellers
that sell tickets in theater box-offices, and when any one asks 'em why,
they should say: 'Ain't it just my luck! I put off buying my Victory
Liberty Bonds till April 23d, and when I got round to the bank there
wasn't one left.' Yes, Abe, instead of Victory Liberty Bond salesmen
having to go about visiting customers, y'understand, they should ought
to have luxurious fitted-up offices, and it should ought to be a case of
when the customer arrives the Victory Liberty Bond salesman should ought
to be playing auction pinochle or rummy with two other Victory Liberty
Bond salesmen. Then when the customer says is this the place where they
sell Victory Liberty Bonds, the salesman says, 'I'll be with you in a
minute,' and makes the customer stand around without even offering him a
seat until the salesmen gets through playing two more hands. The
customer should then make out his own application, y'understand, have
the exact change ready, and close the door quietly when leaving, and
that's the way I would sell Victory Liberty Bonds if I was the
government."

"That's the way you even try to sell garments," Abe commented.

"Because," Morris continued, evading the challenge, "it is my idee that
it is a privilege to be allowed to buy these here Victory Liberty Bonds,
and before any one gets that privilege, Abe, he should be made to prove
that he has done something to deserve it. Yes, Abe, instead of a man
wearing a button to show that he has bought Liberty Bonds, he should
ought to go before a notary public and make an oath that he has given up
his quota to all Red Cross and United War Relief drives and otherwise
done everything he could do to help win the war if he couldn't fight in
it, y'understand, and then, and only then, Abe, he should be given a
button entitling him to buy Victory Liberty Bonds under the conditions I
have stated."

"But, joking apart, Mawruss, and talking business, not poetry,
understand me," Abe asked, "do you actually think that this here Victory
Liberty Loan would be all taken up by them methods? To my mind,
Mawruss, it would be a whole lot better to look the horse straight in
the teeth, y'understand, and take it as settled that a lot of people
which has got the money to buy bonds would go round saying that they
would be very glad to buy bonds if they only had the money,
y'understand. To such people, Mawruss, I would remind them again that a
war, even when you win it, ain't a cash-in-advance proposition. In fact,
a war ain't even a C. O. D. proposition. Wars is paid for on the
instalment plan, Mawruss, and while this particular war is over,
understand me, the bill has still got to be paid, and if such people
won't lend the government the money to pay for the war, the government
would have to do what the German government is going to do to the German
people--instead of touching them for it and paying it back, they would
frisk them for it and not even say much obliged, y'understand."

"At that, Abe, I ain't worried a whole lot about the result of this
Victory Liberty Loan," Morris said. "When all is said and done, Abe, the
American people love their country."

"I know they do," Abe agreed, "but also, Mawruss, there is a whole lot
of fellers which loves their families and at the same time don't lose no
sleep nights because they ain't providing for them as they should ought
to do. So to them people I would say: 'Which would you rather have it as
a souvenir of the war: Victory Liberty Bonds or tax bills?' Also, 'Would
you sooner be paid interest or would you sooner pay interest?'"

"In other words, Abe, you would threaten 'em into buying bonds," Morris
observed.

"Only when it's necessary, Mawruss," Abe concluded, "and that wouldn't
be in the case of one thousandth of one per cent. of the entire
population, because the great majority of the people thinks the way I do
about their money: the government let me make it, and the government
lets me keep it, and if the government would sooner borrow part of it
instead of taking it all, Mawruss, that's only the government's good
nature, which nobody should presume too much on good nature, Mawruss. Am
I right or wrong?"



XIII

WHEN IS A SECRET TREATY SECRET?


"I see where President Wilson sent a letter to the German government
that they might just so well save the car fare and not send any
delegates to this here Peace Conference which wouldn't be prepared for
the worst, Mawruss," Abe Potash said one morning in April.

"You would think, considering how excited the German people gets
nowadays, that they would have a hard time finding any one to take the
job of delegate, Abe," Morris Perlmutter suggested, "which the least
that happens to one of them German delegates after the German people
finds out what was in the paper he signed is that his executioners would
claim that the daylight-saving law made it unnecessary for them to wait
till sunrise, y'understand."

"Well, he would always have the excuse that the only thing he seen of
the Peace Treaty before he signed it was a dotted line, Mawruss," Abe
said, "and also, Mawruss, it is just possible that the return half of
them German peace delegates will read _via_ Amsterdam, and that before
taking a three years' lease of an Amsterdam apartment some of them
peace delegates would first visit a ticket-scalper and get that much off
their minds, anyway."

"And even in Paris them German peace delegates wouldn't be, neither,"
Morris declared, "which I see that the French government is too safe
arranging for the accommodation of them German delegates at a hotel next
to the place where the Peace Treaty is going to be signed, Abe, and the
lot on which the hotel stands is going to be protected with an egg-proof
fence eight feet high so that the German delegates can escape any stray
rotten eggs."

"The fence could be twelve feet high, Mawruss," Abe remarked, "and it
wouldn't do any good, because nobody could escape rotten eggs in a
French hotel, Mawruss, rotten coffee, neither. Also, Mawruss, eggs
'ain't got nothing to do with that fence, because if that fence wouldn't
be there, Mawruss, when it comes time for them German delegates to sign
the treaty, Mawruss, the Peace Conference would got to appoint a
Committee of Resident Buyers to round up them German delegates, on
account that nobody else but Resident Buyers who is accustomed to
entertaining their American clients would know where them German
delegates had disappeared to."

"Well, in a way it is the Peace Conference's own fault because they sent
word to the German government that they didn't want to deal with no
messengers, but that the German delegates should all be high-up
officials, Abe," Morris said, "which seemingly as a general thing the
higher up a German happens to be, y'understand, the lower down he can
act. Take, for example, the Crown Prince, Abe, and I always thought that
no matter how much people abused him, Abe, he could anyhow go home and
say to his wife whatever I done, I done it all for you, instead of going
somewhere else and saying it to ballet-dancers, as his wife's mother
claims."

"I understand he was leading a double life, Mawruss," Abe observed.

"He was leading a double life in spades, Abe," Morris declared, alluding
to the game of auction pinochle. "Day after day his wife's mother says
he would leave the house to go down-town to the palace, and instead he
would go down-town not to the palace and never show up till all hours of
the morning. Then when his wife asked him where he was putting in his
time, y'understand, instead of acting reasonable and telling her a phony
story about being sick and tired of getting stuck at the Reichskanzlei
night after night, and that he wished the old man would get through
springing a new chancellor on him every week, understand me, he gives
himself dead away by getting sore. In fact, Abe, his mother-in-law says
that the Hohenzollern royal colors is black and blue, anyhow so far as
the Crown Princess is concerned, and that she made up her mind that she
wouldn't let her daughter live with him no longer, so the chances is
that if the German people goes back to the monarchy, they would not
only got to pay indemnities for what the Crown Prince done, but alimony
besides."

"Well, even if the mother-in-law couldn't prove what she says about her
daughter's husband, which very few mother-in-laws can, Mawruss," Abe
said, "the Crown Princess would be able to get her devorce upon the
grounds that her husband was convicted of a felony, y'understand, which
he will be, Mawruss, just so soon as the Peace Conference has finished
drawing up the indictment."

"Then them German people will be paying her temporary alimony
permanently for the rest of her life, Abe," Morris said, "because them
fellers which is drawing the indictments against the Kaiser and the
Crown Prince seems to be taking their own time about it."

"It's a big job, Mawruss, because you take the indictment against the
Crown Prince, Mawruss, and the chances is that the first two hundred
counts alone is for French château furniture, and when some one steals
anything from a French château, Mawruss, it's a hundred to one that he
is guilty not only of larceny, y'understand, but of concealing mortgaged
property besides, understand me," Abe said, "which it has always been a
wonder to me, Mawruss, that some of these ladies of the four hundred who
open tea-rooms for European war relief has never considered doing
nothing for them Ruined Mortgagees of France, or the Suffering Judgment
Creditors of Allied Noblemen. Most of our best families has had
experience some time or another with railroad reorganizations, and you
would think they would have enough sympathy for them Starving Lienors of
France, Mawruss, to get up, anyhow, a bazaar. It could be advertised
with a picture by some big artist like C. G. Gibson, where an old man in
what used to was a fur overcoat before the moths got into it is bending
over Liber 2244 of Mortgages, page 391, which is all the old feller has
got to show for what was once a first lien on some gilt-edged château
property, Mawruss."

"Well, I'll tell you," Morris said, "there's a certain number of people
which nobody has got any sympathy with, like mortgagers, coal dealers,
head waiters, garage proprietors, and fellers which works in theayter
ticket-offices, to which, of course, must also be added
Postmaster-General Burleson."

"And why that feller is so unpopular is a mystery to me, Mawruss," Abe
said. "You would think, to hear the way the newspapers talk about him,
that the very least he had done was to mix arsenic with the gum which
they put on the backs of stamps, whereas, so far as I could see, the
poor feller is only trying to do his duty and keep down the wages of
telephone operators, which I don't know how strong telephone operators
is with the rest of the country, but compared with the hit that they
make with me, Mawruss, Mr. Burleson would be a general favorite,
y'understand."

"He was already in bad before them telephone girls struck on him, Abe,"
Morris said, "and for the very reason, as you say, that he has always
done his duty as he seen it, which the trouble with them fellers that do
their duty as they see it is that nobody else could see it, Abe. It is
also the case that them people which do their duty as they see it
usually has rotten eyesight, Abe, and when it comes right down to it,
Abe, there is even some people which claims that Mr. Wilson should also
consult an oculist to find out if he don't need to have his glasses
changed. In fact, there's a couple of fellers by the name Orlando and
Sonnino which seems to think that Mr. Wilson is practically blind so far
as Fiume is concerned."

"You mean to say they 'ain't settled that Fiume thing yet, Mawruss?" Abe
asked.

"They did and they didn't," Morris said. "Mr. Wilson give out a long
statement about it in which he thought he settled it, Abe, and the
Italian peace delegates said they would go home and leave the Peace
Conference flat, y'understand, and thought they settled it, but the way
it looks now, Abe, if the Peace Conference stays in session till they do
settle it, when Mr. Wilson comes back and explains the Peace Treaty to
Congress, he will speak with such a strong French accent that only the
members from Louisiana will be able to understand a word he says."

"But why does Mr. Wilson say that Italy shouldn't have Fiume?" Abe
inquired.

"Because it doesn't square up with his fourteen points," Morris replied,
"and seemingly he don't want to stretch a point."

"Well, if he did, Mawruss, it wouldn't be the first time," Abe declared,
"because if you recollect them fourteen points, which is more than most
people could, Mawruss, point number one said that there should be open
covenants of peace openly arrived at, Mawruss, and also something about
such terms being discussed openly, frankly, and in the public view,
Mawruss, and the way Mr. Wilson has stretched that point, Mawruss, it'll
never look like the same point again."

"Say!" Morris interrupted. "As a keep-it-dark proposition, Abe, Mr.
Wilson 'ain't got nothing on this here Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and the
firm of Orlando & Sonnino, to say nothing of the Japanese delegates,
which I suppose you heard about them secret treaties, Abe."

"I never heard tell of them," Abe replied.

"Neither did Mr. Wilson until the other day, which the way it happened
was this," Morris continued: "Orlando & Sonnino was talking the whole
thing over in a friendly way with Lloyd George and Mr. Wilson, and Mr.
Wilson says that when it come right down to it Italy's claims to Trieste
wasn't what would be called in the language of diplomacy exactly kosher,
neither, and Sonnino says: 'Is that so? Well, how about our treaty?' And
although Orlando kicked his partner under the table and Lloyd George
give him one of them what-are-you-trying-to-do-spoil-everything looks,
Mr. Wilson caught on right away. 'What treaty?' he asked, and Lloyd
George says: 'Why, you know what treaty. I was sitting right here when
Clemenceau told you all about it,' and it appears that all the time Mr.
Wilson was kidding himself along that if he compromised by letting Italy
have Trieste, she would pass up Fiume, Abe, it seems she had a secret
agreement with France and England that she was to have Trieste, anyway."

"No wonder Mr. Wilson feels sore," Abe remarked.

"Wait, that ain't all," Morris said. "Now it appears that Japan has also
a secret treaty with France and England to get a slice of China which
formerly belonged to Germany, y'understand, and Mr. Wilson is beginning
to experience what it is like when you sit in a poker game all evening
and don't find out till the last round is on that everybody else around
the table is playing for the house."

"They could all be playing honest at that, Mawruss," Abe suggested.

"Sure they could, with the exception of having a couple of secret
treaties or so," Morris agreed, "but at the same time, Abe, I wouldn't
be a bit surprised if since the discovery of these here secret treaties,
Mr. Wilson has waked up more than once somewheres around three A.M. and
asked himself did he or did he not need a mandatory, y'understand, and
also wondered what the folks back home is thinking--particularly a few
Senators like Lodge and Johnson."

"I don't agree with you, Mawruss," Abe declared. "I think that Mr.
Wilson will get the better end of the deal, because from what has
happened in this war, Mawruss, diplomacy is one of them games where the
feller which don't know how to play it has got a big advantage over the
feller that does. So, therefore, while the old-time experienced
diplomatist is saying it never has been done that way and therefore
couldn't be done, Mawruss, a new beginner like Mr. Wilson has already
gone to work and done it, which I bet yer right now, Mawruss, that if
Mr. Wilson don't want Italy to have Fiume she won't get it, and the same
thing goes for Japan also, Mawruss--secret treaty or no secret treaty."

"Still, there's a whole lot of people in America which would like to see
Italy get Fiume, Abe," Morris said.

"There was a whole lot of people, Mawruss," Abe said, "but this
secret-treaty business has killed it, which if Italy wanted to be fair
about it, why didn't she come right out before the armistice even and
say, 'Look-a-here, we got a secret treaty and we may as well tell you so
right from the start'?"

"Then the secret treaty wouldn't been no more secret, Abe," Morris said.

"She would have been doing the manly thing, anyway," Abe said.

"I know she would," Morris admitted, "but that's the difference between
the old-fashioned Italian diplomacy and the new-fashioned American
diplomacy. The Italians believe that there should be secret covenants of
peace secretly arrived at, and we believe that there should be open
covenants of peace openly arrived at."

"There is also the difference, Mawruss, that the Italians stick to their
beliefs," Abe concluded, "and we don't."



XIV

THE FIRST DAY OF MAY


"I see where in Genoa they already changed the name of a street which
only last week they called Wilson Avenue, Mawruss," Abe Potash said one
morning after the rupture with Orlando.

"Well, that's the trouble with calling articles after the latest popular
success, Abe," Morris said. "It don't make no difference if it's streets
or cigars, the first thing you know the people gets a grouch on the
original of the brand and the manufacturer has got to tear up a few
thousand Flor de President Wilson labels and go back to calling it the
Regalia de Ginsburg Brothers, or whatever the name was."

"But in Genoa they didn't go back to the name of the old street,
Mawruss," Abe said. "They renamed it Fiume Street."

"And it wouldn't surprise me in the least if a few Burleson streets was
changed to Second Class Avenue, Abe," Morris declared, "on account this
is a time of great ups and downs in the reputations of politicians, not
to say statesmen, Abe, which six months from now nobody would be able to
say offhand whether the name was Bela Hanson or Old Kun except the
immediate family in Budapest or Seattle, as the case may be."

"In a way, Mawruss, the reputations of politicians, not to say
statesmen, can get to be, so to speak, a nuisance to their
fellow-countrymen," Abe observed, "which it happens once in a while that
some politicians and statesmen gets to having such a high regard for
their reputations, Mawruss, they would sooner injure their country than
their reputation. Italian statesmen, French statesmen, English
statesmen, and even, you might say, American statesmen goes about their
work with one eye on the job in hand and the other eye on a possible
statue or so at the junction of Main Street and Railroad Avenue in their
native town, y'understand, with a subscription on the pedestal:


                  "'HARRIS J. SONNINO

Erected by His Fellow-Townsmen of East Rome, August 1, 1919.'"


"Such an ambition, anyhow, makes the statesmen try to do the right
thing," Morris observed.

"And it also occasionally makes him do the obstinate thing, Mawruss,"
Abe continued. "In fact, Mawruss, sometimes I couldn't help wishing that
it was the custom to have corporations and not men as ambassadors and
presidents, because it would be such a simple matter when the
Republicans nominated the Chicago Title Guarantee, Security and Mortgage
Company for President and the Democrats nominated the Algonquin Trust
Company, of Pottstown, for the voters of the country to compare the
statement of assets of each company and judge which was the most
reliable, y'understand. Also, Mawruss, if the Algonquin Trust Company
was now President of the United States, understand me, and somebody was
to say they didn't like the way the President was running things at the
Peace Conference, y'understand, nobody would have the nerve to arrest
him for criticizing a great and good corporation like the Algonquin
Trust Company. Furthermore, Mawruss, if Italy had been represented at
this here Peace Conference not by Sonnino, but by the Milan Trust
Company, which no doubt acts as executor, guardian or trustee like any
other trust company, and therefore why not as ambassador, understand me,
there never would have been no scrap about Fiume arising from the fact
that the Milan Trust Company could never go home and face the people of
Italy without Fiume, and also nobody would have considered that Mr.
Wilson's statement was a direct slap in the face of the Milan Trust
Company, Mawruss."

"Listen, Abe," Morris protested, "if you are trying to invent this
_schmooes_ about corporations just so you could knock Mr. Wilson,
y'understand, such a scheme wouldn't deceive a child even."

"I wouldn't knock President Wilson for anything, Mawruss," Abe retorted.
"I _couldn't_ knock him, because when I think of Mr. Wilson I see
before my eyes a good-looking gentleman with a pleasant smile on his
face, y'understand, and not very far away stands Mrs. Wilson, which, if
Mr. Wilson didn't put over even one fourteenth of his fourteen points,
Mawruss, his visit to Europe with Mrs. Wilson wouldn't be wasted,
Mawruss, because it would have given them people over in the old country
a chance to see what an American lady is and should ought to be,
y'understand. But on the other hand, Mawruss, if the Democrats _had_
elected the Algonquin Trust Company as President of the United States at
the last election, y'understand, whenever I would think of the President
of the United States I would see before my eyes a twenty-five-story
fire-proof building with all the rents raised one hundred and fifty per
cent. since last January, understand me, and I could go to work and
knock with a clear conscience."

"But why should you want to knock the President of the United States?"
Morris demanded.

"Ain't I telling you that I don't want to knock him?" Abe declared. "All
I am saying is that, if such a thing was possible, it would be a whole
lot better to have a corporation as President of the United States
instead of an individual, Mawruss, because corporations don't get sick,
corporations don't get insulted, a corporation _oser_ cares whether it
gets cheered or hooted, and finally, Mawruss, a corporation couldn't
ride around Italy in an open carriage with the King of Italy and give
the Italian people the impression that all they had to do was to ask
for Fiume and it was theirs."

"And another thing about a corporation, Abe, is that it ain't a
copartnership where one partner could get every day a headache from
listening to the other partner talking a lot of nonsense, Abe," Morris
declared, "which you must got to remember that, beginning the first of
May, if you would go to a soda-fountain and say, 'Give me something for
a headache,' they would give you a United States Internal Revenue stamp
for which you would got to pay two cents before they would even take the
cork out of the bromo-asperin bottle."

"What's the difference whether they tax a headache coming or going,
Mawruss?" Abe commented.

"A whole lot of difference," Morris said. "In the first place, the taxes
which the country used to collect in one week from people when they were
catching headaches would be more than equivalence to the taxes which the
country is going to the taxes which the country is going to collect from
people curing headaches during the next ten years. Also, Abe, nobody
thought it was a hardship to pay taxes on a coming headache, whereas
there will be a terrible howl go up over the tax on the same article in
the opposite direction."

"At that, I think these here May 1st taxes is going to have a good
effect on the American people, Mawruss," Abe said, "because there's
nothing like taxes to make a man wake up and take an interest in the
way the government is being run."

"A man would got to be an awful sound sleeper in that respect if he
wasn't roused up a little by the income tax which he has been paying for
the past four or five years, Abe," Morris said.

"That's only once a year, Mawruss," Abe said, "but these here May 1st
taxes is going to keep him awake three hundred and sixty-five days out
of the year. People which thought you was a tightwad if you happened to
mention that six hundred million dollars of the country's money was used
up in experimenting with aeroplanes, is now going to shriek in agony
every time they buy a three-dollar-and-a-quarter shirt that it's a shame
and a disgrace the way every little secretary in the President's Cabinet
is gallivanting half over Europe on the people's money, and they'd
probably be just as hard if the shirt only cost two dollars and a
quarter, excepting that the luxury tax of ten per cent. is only
collected from the purchasers of men's shirts of the value of three
dollars and upwards on amounts in excess of three dollars each. Also,
Mawruss, people which has just paid eight dollars for a bathrobe on
which the tax would be ten per cent. of fifty cents, or five cents cash,
y'understand, is going to say: 'Couldn't that feller travel to and from
Europe in one state-room the same like anybody else? Must he got to have
a whole steamboat?' and they will start right in to estimate that the
cost of keeping a steamboat the size of the _George Washington_ in
commission is forty-five thousand six hundred and twenty-two dollars and
thirty-eight cents per diem, and is it any wonder you've got to pay a
one-cent tax on every orange phosphate, understand me."

"Some people is willing to get in a knock at Mr. Wilson without even so
much as an orange-phosphate tax for an excuse, Abe," Morris said,
significantly.

"I know they are," Abe replied, innocently, "and as for
Postmaster-General Burleson, seemingly he couldn't suit nobody no matter
what he does. Take, for instance, them fourteen bombs which was mailed
in New York the other day, Mawruss, and if it wouldn't be that
Postmaster-General Burleson has probably given strict orders that no
mail should be forwarded which was short even a half-a-cent
postage-stamp even, the chances is that every one of them fourteen bombs
would have been delivered and exploded by now. But suppose that, instead
of Postmaster-General Burleson, we would have had as Postmaster-General
some good-natured feller which when his New York representatives called
him up and told him they were holding fourteen packages there for
additional postage, would have said: 'Oh, let 'em go. We couldn't afford
to be small about a little thing like additional postage.' And what
would have happened? Why, the fourteen judges, mayors, and assorted
Senators and district attorneys to which them packages was addressed
would have been lucky if they escaped with nothing worse than singed
eyebrows, Mawruss. And to-day yet, Mawruss, them fellers which has got
only Postmaster-General Burleson to thank that they can still riffle a
deck of cards, understand me, is probably going around beefing about the
terrible delay in the delivery of mail under the administration of
Postmaster-General Burleson."

"And do you think that the police will ever find out who sent them
bombs, Abe?" Morris asked.

"Probably not," Abe replied, "but they will probably find some man or
men who would have _liked_ to have sent them and would have been _glad_
to have sent them, and as nobody is going to miss such fellers, Mawruss,
it probably won't make much difference in the long run if any such case
of mistaken identity ain't discovered until the sentence is carried out,
y'understand."

"I see that it says in the paper where the anarchists which sent them
bombs was celebrating the first day of May, which is the anarchists'
Fourth of July, Abe," Morris observed, "which, considering all the
trouble that takes place in Europe with general strikes and riots on the
first of May, Abe, it's a wonder to me that the constitution of the
League of Nations didn't contain an article providing that in the
interests of international peace, y'understand, the month of May should
hereafter contain thirty days instead of thirty-one, commencing with the
second day of May, and leave them anarchists up against it for a day to
celebrate."

"The first of May is the socialists' Fourth of July, not the
anarchists'," Abe said, "which, while it is possible that these here
anarchists sent them bombs around the first of May out of compliment to
their friends the socialists, Mawruss, an anarchist don't attach no
particular sentiment to the day when a bomb explodes, just so long as it
does enough damage, Mawruss."

"Just the same, I am in favor of doing away with the first of May,"
Morris insisted, "and if it ain't practical to abolish the date, Abe,
let 'em anyhow cut out the celebration. Them general strikes causes a
whole lot of trouble."

"They do if you take them seriously," Abe agreed, "because in this
country, at least, Mawruss, only a few people takes part in the May
first general strike. This year we only had two of our work-people away
on account of the general strike, and one of them now claims he stayed
home on account of injuring his hand in one of our buttonhole-machines,
which I have got proof to show, Mawruss, that when the police threw him
out of the hall where the meeting was taking place he landed on his
wrist."

"He should have landed on his neck," Morris observed, "because if them
socialists get hurt by their nonsense it's their own fault, Abe. They go
to work and announce a general strike, and naturally the authorities
takes them seriously and gets ready for trouble with a lot of policemen,
which you know as well as I do, Abe, when the police gets ready for
trouble they usually find it, even if they have to make it themselves.
The consequence is, Abe, that a fractured skull has become practically
the occupational disease of being a socialist, just the same as
phosphorus-poisoning attacked people which worked in match-factories in
the old days before the Swedish manufacturers invented matches which
strike only on the box one time out of fifty if the weather conditions
is just right."

"Sure, I know," Abe observed, "but people worked in match-factories
because they couldn't make a living in any other way, Mawruss, whereas
nobody compels any one to be a socialist if he don't want to, Mawruss,
and what enjoyment them socialists get out of it I don't know."

"It gives them, for one thing, the privilege of wearing a red necktie,"
Morris suggested.

"And that don't make them a first-class risk for accident insurance,"
Abe concluded, "around the first of May, anyhow."



XV

THE PEACE TREATY AS GOOD READING


"At last the wind-up of this here Peace Conference seems to be in sight,
Mawruss," Abe Potash said to his partner, Morris Perlmutter, the day
after the Treaty of Peace was handed to the German plenipotentiaries.
"As short a time ago since as last week it begun to look like our
American delegates was going to stay in Paris for the rest of their
lives, which, according to the tables of mortality prepared by some of
our leading life-insurance companies, based on the average ages of all
five of them delegates, would be anyhow until August 1, 1919."

"Well, they seem to have done a pretty good job, Abe," Morris observed.
"I read over the accounts of the Treaty of Peace, Abe, and what them
Germans has got to do outside of restoring the skull of the Sultan
Okwawa under Section Eight of the treaty would keep her busy for fifty
years yet."

"And who is this here Sultan Okwawa?" Abe inquired.

"I don't know," Morris replied, "but, considering the number of skulls
which needs restoring on account of what the Germans done during the
past five years, Abe, and also considering the fact that this is the
only skull mentioned by name in the Peace Treaty, he must of had some
pretty influential friends at the Peace Conference. Also, I see that the
Germans is also to give back the papers belonging to M. Reuher which
they took in 1871, and, although Section Eight don't say nothing about
it, I presume that if the papers are returned the finder can keep the
money which was in the wallet at the time it was lost."

"Do you mean to tell me that this here Peace Treaty has got such small
particulars like that in it?" Abe demanded.

"It don't seem to have overlooked anything, Abe," Morris went on,
"which, when you consider that Mr. Wilson started in--in a small
way--with only fourteen points, it's already wonderful how that man
worked his way up. There must be several hundred thousand points in that
Peace Treaty, including such points like the Sultan's skull and this
here Reuher's papers, which Mr. Wilson never even dreamed of when he sat
down that day in January, 1918, and thought out the original fourteen."

[Illustration: "which when you consider that Mr. Wilson started in--in a
small way"]

"He probably considered that if we ever licked Germany sufficient to
make her accept as much as thirty-three and a third per cent. of them
fourteen points that we would be doing well already," Abe remarked.

"And so did everybody else," Morris agreed. "And now they would got to
accept a Treaty of Peace which loads up Germany with practically every
punishment that this here Peace Conference could think of except
Prohibition."

"I must read that treaty sometime," Abe said. "It sounds like it would
be quite amusing already."

"Amusing ain't no name for it," Morris said. "The way the American
people is going to enjoy reading that Treaty of Peace, Abe, would put
Mr. Wilson not only in the class of favorite American Presidents along
with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but also would give him an
insured position as one of America's favorite authors along with Harry
Bell Wright and Bradstreet. A good American could pass a very profitable
month or so skimming it over, Abe, which it consists of fifteen
sections, of which only the head-lines fills three full pages of the
morning papers."

"Well, how long do you think it would take them German delegates to read
it, Mawruss?" Abe inquired.

"They ain't going to read it," Morris said. "They're only going to sign
it, and it ain't a bad idea, neither, because if they did read it, Abe,
some of them Germans would drop dead along about the second section,
which describes how much of Germany is left after France, Poland,
Denmark, and Belgium gets through helping themselves."

"Might they would expire while they was reading the first section,
maybe," Abe suggested.

"The first section 'ain't got nothing to do with Germany," Morris
explained. "The first section consists of the constitution of the League
of Nations."

"Is that the same constitution of the League of Nations which them
United States Senators raised such a round robin about?" Abe asked.

"It has been changed since then," Morris said. "The amendments consist
of two commas contributed by ex-President Taft and a semicolon from
Charles Evans Hughes. Elihu Root also suggested they insert the words
_as aforesaid_ in the first paragraph and also the words _anything
hereinbefore contained to the contrary notwithstanding_ in the last
paragraph, but couldn't get by with it. However, Abe, the League of
Nations is already such old stuff that people reading it in Section One
of the Peace Treaty will in all probability skip it the way they did the
first time it come out, and, anyhow, the real Treaty of Peace, so far as
the plot and action is concerned, don't start till the second section."

"Could you remember any of the second section?" Abe asked.

"That's the section which tells about how much territory Germany gives
up to Poland, France, Belgium, and Denmark, and after it goes into
effect, Abe, it is going to considerably alter the words, if not the
music, of '_Deutschland, Deutschland, ueber Alles_,'" Morris declared.
"It also means, Abe, that the school-boys who used to was geography
sharks and could bound Germany right off the reel, Abe, would now got to
learn them boundaries all over again and then take half an hour or so
to tell what they've learned. You see, Abe, the Danzig area, for
instance, consists of a V made a W by the addition of a similar V on the
west, including the city of Danzig and--"

"Excuse me," Abe interrupted, "but this here sounds like a clothing
alteration to me, which, if Germany's boundary was made smaller, why did
they got to put a couple of V's into it?"

"The V's was put into Poland's boundary, not Germany's," Morris said.

"And I bet that Poland breathes a whole lot easier now that her boundary
has got a couple of V's in it," Abe commented.

"Them two V's ain't all Poland gets," Morris continued. "She also gets
the southeastern tip of Silesia beyond and including Oppeln, most of
Posen and West Prussia, and a line is drawn from--"

"That's all right," Abe said. "I'll take your word for it, Mawruss,
because, while that might be music to some people's ears, when it comes
to geography I couldn't tell one note from another. So go ahead and tell
me what is in the next section."

"The next section is also got in it a little complicated geography,
Abe," Morris said. "It practically repeats what was said in the last
section about how much territory Germany gives up, and then proceeds to
rub it in. You know, of course, about the Sarre Basin."

"I _say_ I do, but don't let that stop you," Abe replied. "Go ahead and
describe it to me just like as if I didn't."

"Well, to make a long story short before I tell it, Abe," Morris said,
"the Sarre Valley, which in Germany is like the Scranton and
Wilkes-Barre section in Pennsylvania, is to be practically owned by
France for fifteen years. At the end of that time, an election is going
to be held and the people will vote as to whether they want to stay
French or go back to Germany."

"And I suppose France will count the votes," Abe commented, "in which
case she will probably appoint a board of elections consisting of
whoever happens to be the Philadelphia director of public safety at that
time, the leader of the Eighth Assembly District of New York City, and a
couple of Chicago aldermen, Mawruss."

"The Treaty of Peace don't provide for it," Morris said, "but if any
odds are quoted on the Curb, Abe, it wouldn't be on the result, but the
size of the majority. There is also the same kind of an election to be
held in Schleswig-Holstein, without much chance of a recount taking
place, either, but so far as the rest of Sections Three, Four, and Five
is concerned, Abe, Germany gives up all her interests in every part of
the world without the privilege of even having all those in favor please
saying Aye, y'understand."

"It would have made a big noise, anyhow," Abe declared. "Because the
only people who ain't in favor of Germany giving up her colonies is
Germans, and not _all_ Germans at that."

"However, what happens to Germany in the first five sections of this
here Peace Treaty, Abe, is only, so to speak, the soup and entrée of the
meal which the Allies makes of her," Morris said. "Section Six is where
the real knife-and-fork work begins, Abe, which it starts right in with
the German army and reduces it to the size of the Salvation Army,
exclusive of the doughnut-cooking department."

"I'm surprised that you should compare the Salvation Army to a low-life
army like the German army," Abe protested.

"I am only talking for the sake of argument, Abe," Morris assured him,
"which if this here Section Six is carried out, Abe, the new German army
wouldn't be armed with anything near as dangerous as doughnuts. In fact,
Abe, the way this here Peace Treaty specifies what arms and ammunition
the German army should be supplied with, the only thing that it would
got to remind it that it is an army and not a _Sängerbund_ would be the
uniforms."

"And I am surprised that the Peace Treaty didn't forbid uniforms also,
Mawruss," Abe said, "because if it wouldn't of been for his uniforms,
Mawruss, the chances is that the German people would of caught on to
that miserable four-flusher of a Kaiser already long since ago, Mawruss.
Take these here spiked helmets, in particular the ones which is made of
nickel plate, Mawruss, and only to wear such a thing is liable to bring
out all the meanness in them naturally mean German soldiers, Mawruss, so
therefore I am in favor that the Peace Treaty be amended by providing
that the uniform of the German army should be a three-button, black,
single-breasted sack suit with no padding in the shoulders, Mawruss, and
the helmet should be a brown derby hat of the pattern of 1898, and that
the soldiers agree to wear this derby hat, of the same block and width
of brim, for at least twenty years, Mawruss, because nothing takes the
conceit out of a man so much as wearing a funny-looking hat,
y'understand."

"This here Peace Treaty don't need no outside assistance when it comes
to taking the conceit out of the German army, and the navy, neither,
Abe," Morris continued. "In fact, Section Six does the same to the
German navy as you would like to do to the German army, excepting that,
instead of derby hats, it refers to battle-ships. In other words, Abe,
it says that the German navy should have only six small battle-ships and
that none of them could be replaced inside of twenty years. Just
consider for a moment how it feels for a speed-bug which once used to
consider that if he didn't buy himself every three months a new
special-body twin six, y'understand, that he was living pretty close to
the cushion, and condemn such a feller to go round for the next twenty
years in a four-cylinder 1910-model Punkocar, Abe, and you will get some
small idea of what Admiral von Tirpitz and all them other bloodthirsty
German admirals feels when they read that part of Section Six which
refers to the new German navy."

"That wasn't the way they used to feel," Abe declared. "Up to a few days
ago, Mawruss, von Tirpitz and Hindenburg and all them other German army
and navy experts was treating this war like it would of been a pinochle
game, and each of them was busy explaining by post-mortems how if his
partner hadn't played the hand rotten they would have won by three
points, not counting the last trick, but what are you going to do with a
_Strohschneider_ like that, and so forth."

"Did they mention anything about playing with marked cards?" Morris
asked.

"They did not," Abe said, "nor did they say anything about having
stacked the cards or dealing off of the bottom of the deck, Mawruss, but
you would think from the way them fellers acted at Versailles, Mawruss,
that this here Peace Conference is the breakup of a nice little friendly
game, y'understand, and that _not_ only should the winners take I. O.
U's. from the losers, but that it is also up to the winners to serve a
good delicatessen supper and pay for the lights and attendance."

"That must have been before they heard about the _capora_ which is in
store for them under Section Seven of this here Peace Treaty, Abe,"
Morris said, "which in order that there shouldn't be any softening of
the sound to them German cauliflower ears, Abe, the words _one billion_
ain't used at all, but instead it speaks about a thousand million
pounds, Abe, and, while it ain't any harder to raise than one billion
pounds, it certainly gives you the impression that it is."

"And how many of these thousands of millions of pounds must the German
people got to pay before they get through?" Abe asked.

"That the Peace Treaty don't say, Abe," Morris replied. "It leaves the
fixing of the total amount for a commission to be appointed later, Abe,
and the German people will be notified of their liabilities not later
than May 1, 1921; but in the mean time, Abe, just to keep up their
spirits they would got to pay a few instalments of one thousand million
pounds each."

"But if the instalments is one thousand million pounds each, Mawruss,
what do you think will be the grand total which Germany would have to
pay?" Abe asked.

"About the same grand total as the Allies would have been obliged to pay
if Germany had won," Morris replied.

"And how much would that have been?" Abe inquired.

"All they could raise, Abe," Morris concluded, "plus ten per cent."



XVI

THE GERMAN ROMAN HOLIDAY AND THE AMERICANIZATION OF AMERICANS


"I was speaking to my wife's sister's boy which he is just getting ready
to gradgawate from High School, Mawruss, and I wish you could hear the
way that feller talks, Mawruss," Abe Potash said to his partner, Morris
Perlmutter.

"I shall probably got to have that pleasure, Abe," Morris Perlmutter
replied, "because the first thing your wife's relations does when they
gradgawate from school or go broke, as the case may be, is to get a job
in this place and the second thing they do is to get fired."

"Listen, Mawruss," Abe said, "if I would of given jobs in this place to
the number of relations by marriage which you already stuck me with,
y'understand, I might just so well run a free business college and be
done with it, which what I was going to say was that this here young
feller was telling me that in the old days when the Romans won a war the
way the Allies did, they used to make the losers walk in a parade so
that the Roman people could see how them losers suffered."

"And what's that got to do with my giving jobs to my wife's relations?"
Morris inquired.

"It 'ain't got nothing to do with it, but if you would let me open my
mouth once in a while and not try to gag me every time I want to tell
you something, Mawruss," Abe continued, "maybe I could learn you
something."

"Maybe," Morris admitted, "but when you start in to tell about how smart
one of your nephews by marriage is, Abe, it generally ends up by our
paying a few weeks' salary to a young feller which all he learned about
double entry is making birds with a pen, so I just want to warn you
before you go any further, Abe, that in the future with me, Abe, if any
of your nephews is an expert bird-maker with a pen, y'understand, you
should please find him a job in a millinery concern and let me out."

"I wasn't going to say nothing about giving a job to nobody," Abe
protested. "All I am trying to tell you is that if the Treaty of Peace,
which you talked my head off about the other day, contained a section
that the Germans should walk in a parade and show to the Allies how that
Peace Treaty made them suffer, Mawruss, Lenine and Trotsky and all the
other crickets who abuse Mr. Wilson like the New York Republican
newspapers and the American ladies who are attending that Zurich
Permanent Peace Convention, would of called the Allies all sorts of
barbarians, y'understand. However, Mawruss, it only goes to show how
unnecessary such a section in the Peace Treaty would be, Mawruss,
because the Germans is now obliging with a wonderful Roman exhibition
of themselves. In fact, Mawruss, from the lowest to the highest, them
German people seems to be saying to each other, 'Let's act like real
Germans and make the worst of it!'"

"Did any one expect anything else from them Germans?" Morris asked.

"Well, from the way this here four-flusher von Brockdorff-Rantzau
behaved the day they handed him the Peace Treaty, Mawruss," Abe said,
"it looked like the Germans had made up their minds to be just so
stiff-necked as they always was, Mawruss, and I begun to think that they
were going to treat it as a case of _so mechullah, so mechullah_,
y'understand, but the way them Germans is now crying like children,
Mawruss, there ain't going to be enough sackcloth and ashes in Germany
to go around, and them German professors will have to get busy and
invent some _ersatz_ sackcloth and ashes to supply the demand."

"Crooks are always poor sports, Abe," Morris declared, "in particular
when they throw themselves on the mercy of the people that they didn't
intend to show no mercy to themselves. Take this here Ebert, for
instance, and he don't make no bones about saying that the German people
relied on President Wilson and the United States of America being easy
marks, but _ai Tzuris_, what a mistake that was! In effect he says that
President Wilson on January 22, 1917, made the statement that the victor
must not force his conditions on the vanquished, and relying on that
statement, Germany went to work and got into a war with the United
States because if Germany got licked, y'understand, the worst that can
happen her is that she makes peace again on her own terms, and then when
Germany did get licked, see what happens to her. President Wilson
behaves like a frozen snake in the grass which somebody tries to warm by
putting the snake into his pants pocket, y'understand, and when the
snake gets thawed out, understand me, it bites the hand that feeds it,
and what are you going to do in a case like this?"

"At that, Mawruss, Ebert ain't making near so bad an exhibition of
himself as this here Prince von Hohenlohe. There was a feller which was
used to was the German Chancellor, Mawruss," Abe said, "and the dirty
deals which he helped to put over on the Rumanians and the Russians, by
way of Treaties of Peace, y'understand, was such that if we would of
attempted it with the Germans, Mawruss, and the United States Congress
would of confirmed it, Mawruss, Victor Berger would be fighting to be
let out of the House of Representatives and to be admitted to
Leavenworth, instead of _vice versa_, on the grounds that he didn't want
to associate with no crooks, y'understand, but seemingly this here
Hohenlohe is suffering from loss of memory as well as loss of
self-respect, Mawruss, because he is now making speeches in which he is
weeping all over his already tear-stained copy of the Peace Treaty and
calling it the Tragedy of Versailles, whereas compared to the Treaty of
Peace which you might call the Tragedy of Brest-Litovsk, Mawruss, this
here Versailles Treaty of Peace is a Follies of 1919 with just one laugh
after another, y'understand."

"And I see also where this here Scheidemann is also figuring very
largely in this here Roman exhibition the Germans is making of
themselves, Abe," Morris observed. "He said the other day that the
Germans would never, never, never--or anyhow not until next Thursday a
week--sign the Peace Treaty. He put his hand on where a German's heart
would be if he had one, Abe, and said that no Germans would positively
and absolutely not submit to any such Treaty of Peace as the one offered
to them, or that is to say they would not submit to it except on and
after May 22, 1919, and anyhow, nobody would ever trust President Wilson
again."

"And yet, Mawruss, when them Germans gets over the first shock of this
here Peace Treaty and wipe away their tears sufficient to see things a
little more clearly, y'understand," Abe commented, "it is just barely
possible that they are going to do some rapid figuring on what they gain
by not supporting a few thousand princes, not to mention the money which
that bloodthirsty Kaiser and his family used to draw in salaries and
commissions, Mawruss, and when these amounts are offset against
indemnities which the Germans are required to pay under the Peace
Treaty, Mawruss, it will in all probability be found that the German
nation is beggared, as this here Scheidemann would say, to the extent of
$0.831416 per capita per annum by such indemnities. The result is going
to be that some of them Germans will then begin to figure how maybe it
was worth that much money per capita per annum to get rid of that
_rosher_ and they will also begin to realize that it has been worth even
more than that much per capita per annum to the Allied people to see a
performance such as the German people continuing to weep in sympathy
with Ebert and Scheidemann, y'understand, they will be advising them two
boys to go and take for ten cents apiece some mathematic spirits of
ammonia and quit their sobbing."

"However, Abe," Morris remarked, "there was a few Americans which
instead of being in the audience enjoying the performance was back on
the stage with the Germans and weeping just so hard as any of them. Take
these here American lady delegates to the small-time Peace Conference
which is running at Zurich, Switzerland, in opposition to the old
original Peace Conference in Paris, Abe, and them ladies with their
voices choked by tears, Abe, passed a resolution that be it resolved
that the Peace Treaty is already secret diplomacy, that it is the old
case of the side winning the war getting the spoils, and a lot of other
resolutions to which the only resolution anybody could pass in answer to
such resolutions would be, 'Well, what of it?'"

"That only proves to me, Mawruss, how necessary it is, this here
Americanization work which you read so much about in the papers," Abe
declared. "Here is four American ladies which is lived in the country
for some years--in fact, ever since they was born, and that ain't such a
short time neither, when you see their pictures, Mawruss, and yet them
ladies talks like they never heard tell of the Star-spangled Banner.
Seemingly the fact that we licked Germany don't appeal to them at all,
and so far as these resolutions which they passed between sobs, Mawruss,
gives any indications, Mawruss, they would like to have seen this here
European War end in a draw, with perhaps Germany getting just a shade
the better of it."

"And what has all this got to do with Americanization work, Abe?" Morris
inquired. "I always thought that Americanization was taking the
greenhorns which comes to this country from Europe, and teaching them
how to think and act like Americans."

"That comes afterward, Mawruss," Abe said, "because it seems that ever
since this here European War, Mawruss, Americanization needs to begin at
home, Mawruss, and that the first ones to be Americanized should ought
to be Americans. There is, for instance, Mr. O. G. Villard, who was born
and raised in this country, Mawruss, which he comes out with a statement
the other day that them loafers of the Munich soviet who killed all them
professors and ladies a couple of weeks ago, compared very favorably
with the legislatures of the states of New York and Pennsylvania,
Mawruss. Now when you consider that them two legislatures is part of our
government, Mawruss, the way it looks to me is that if a foreigner had
said such a thing he would have been Americanized without the option of
a fine by the nearest city magistrate."

"At the same time, Abe," Morris said, "when you read in the papers about
the New York State Senator Thompson and the goings-on up in Albany, Abe,
it looks like Americanization should ought to be done at the source,
y'understand, and then it wouldn't be necessary to Americanize Mr.
Villard at all."

"Sure, I know, Mawruss," Abe agreed, "but what I am driving into is that
Americanization for Americans must appeal very strongly to colored
Americans, especially the Americanization of those Americans who believe
that the colored man should ought to be put in his place and don't
hesitate about designating the place as the end of a rope without the
trouble and expense of a jury trial, y'understand."

"I would even get a little more personal as that, Abe," Morris declared.
"I would even say that there should ought to be classes in
Americanization for those Americans who believe that the religion and
race origin of certain other Americans makes them eligible to give their
children's lives to the country and their money to Red Cross and other
War Drives--but that it don't make them eligible to stay at first-class
summer hotels or play golluf by first-class country clubs."

"Say," Abe broke in, "there is need of more important Americanization
among Americans than that, Mawruss. There should ought to be
Americanization of Americans who think it is American for landlords to
ask for raises of their rent and un-American for workmen to ask for
raises of their wages. In fact, this whole Americanization movement
should ought to be centered on Americanizing out of Americans any
habits, customs, or schemes they try to put across which is apt to make
Polish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans or Assorted
Foreign-Americans say to one another, 'Well, if that's the way Americans
behave, give me back my hyphen and let me go home.'"

"Well, after all, Abe, it's a mighty small bunch of Americans which
ain't Americanized yet," Morris observed.

"I know it," Abe said, "and it's their smallness which makes me sore,
Mawruss, because no matter how small they are by number, or nature,
Mawruss, they are the ones that the Turks pulled on us when we protested
about them poor Armenians _nebich_. Also, Mawruss, if Mr. Wilson should
protest that the new Polish Republic ain't treating our people as
equals, y'understand, the new Polish Republic could come right back
with: 'Neither is any number of summer hotels we could name in the
Adirondacks Mountains of your own United States.' Also, if the Peace
Delegates from this country gives a hint to the Greeks that there is
colonies of Bulgarians living in Greece for years already which wants to
be Greeks and should ought to have the same voting rights as Greeks,
y'understand, all Venezuela or whatever the Greek secretary of state has
got to say is, 'Well, we hold that these people 'ain't got a right to
vote under a law called the Grandfather Law, which we copied from
similar laws passed in the states of Georgia, Alabama, and
Mississippi--in your own United States,' and them poor old Peace
Delegates of ours wouldn't have a word to say."

"At that, Abe, I think all them disagreeable things in this country is
going to be changed by the war," Morris suggested.

"Perhaps, Mawruss," Abe concluded, "but considering what changes have
taken place because of this war, it's wonderful how little changed
things really are."



XVII

MR. WILSON'S FAVOR OF THE 20TH ULTO. AND CONTENTS NOTED


"Yes, Mawruss," Abe Potash said to his partner, Morris Perlmutter, one
morning recently, "a feller which has got to write to the newspaper to
say that he didn't say what the newspaper said he said when it reported
his speech, y'understand, has usually made a pretty rotten speech in the
first place, and in the second place when he tries to explain what it
really was that he did say, Mawruss, it practically always sounds worse
than what the newspaper said he said."

"But what did he say and who said it, Abe?" Morris inquired.

"Ambassador Morgenstimmung or Morgenstern, I couldn't remember which,
Mawruss," Abe replied, "and although he 'ain't wrote to the newspapers
yet to deny that he said it, Mawruss, it is only a question of time when
he would do so, because he either said one thing or the other, but he
couldn't say both."

"Listen, Abe, if you think that unless you break it to me gradually what
this here Morgenstern said, it would be too much of a shock to me,"
Morris announced, "let me tell you that it is a matter of indifference
to me _what_ he said."

"So it is to 'most everybody else except the immediate family, Mawruss,"
Abe continued, "but not to keep you in suspense, Mawruss, what this
Ambassador Morgenstern said was in a speech to the American soldiers in
Coblenz where he told them that there was going to be another big war in
which America would got to fight during the next fifteen or twenty
years, and also that he had every confidence in the League of Nations."

"Well, there's a whole lot of United States Senators which has got the
same kind of confidence in the League of Nations, Abe," Morris declared.
"In fact, some of them is confident that the League of Nations will
bring about a war for us in even less than fifteen years."

"Well, I'll tell you," Abe said, "the word _confidence_ has got a whole
lot of different meanings, Mawruss, and it's quite possible that this
here Ambassador Morgenstern used the word with reference to the League
of Nations in its Chatham Square or green-goods meaning, because
otherwise how could the League of Nations cause another war in less than
fifteen years, unless, of course, the feller which prophesied it was a
Republican Senator, which Mr. Morgenstern is not."

"To tell you the truth, Abe," Morris said, "I have heard and read so
many different things about this here League of Nations that it wouldn't
surprise me in the least if the final edition of it provided that any
nation which didn't go to war at least once every three years with some
other nation or nations, y'understand, should be expelled from the
League of Nations with costs, y'understand, and in fact, Abe, it is my
opinion that when some one makes a speech about this here League of
Nations nowadays, he might just so well write a letter to himself
denying that he said what the newspaper said he said, and let it go at
that, because it's a hundred to one that he was the only person who
didn't skip it when it was printed in its original garbled condition."

"At that, Mawruss, you are going to be really and truly surprised to
find out what that League of Nations covenant means when it comes up to
be argued about by the United States Senate," Abe observed, "because a
great many of them Senators is high-grade, crackerjack, A-number-one
lawyers on the side, Mawruss, and formerly used to make their livings by
showing that the contract which the plaintiff made with the defendant
meant just the opposite to what the plaintiff or defendant meant it to
mean--or _vice versa_, according to which end of the lawsuit such a
Senator was arguing on, Mawruss, so you can imagine what is going to
happen to that League of Nations covenant. Take a level-headed lawyer
like Senator Hiram S. Johnson of California, Mawruss, which he 'ain't
got the least disposition to believe that the League of Nations covenant
means what President Wilson says it means, understand me, and when he
gets through showing what he thinks it means, and Senator Borah gets
through showing what _he_ thinks it means, and Senator Reed gets through
thinking what HE thinks it means, understand me, that League of Nations
covenant will have as many different meanings as the contested last will
and testament of a childless millionaire who has married a telephone
operator on his death-bed to spite his grandnieces and nephews,
Mawruss."

"Congress will have a lot of other matters to settle before that League
of Nations comes up, Abe," Morris said, "which I was reading the other
day the message which President Wilson wrote from Paris, and he
certainly laid out a lot of work for them to do till he gets back."

"You mean that letter of May 20th where he says: 'Dear Gents: Sorry not
to be with you and I have been out of touch with things over in America
so long that you will know a whole lot better than I do what is needed
in the way of laws,' Mawruss, and then goes to work and tells them what
is needed to the extent of half a newspaperful?" Abe asked.

"I couldn't remember the exact words," Morris replied.

"Well, I've been expecting every day to see in the newspapers that he
got an answer from the round robins reading: 'Dear Sir: Yours of the
20th inst. to hand and contents noted and in reply would say we wouldn't
positively do nothing of the kind, and in case you are not back with
samples on or before ten days from date, we will take such steps as we
may think proper to protect our interests in the matter and oblige,'"
Abe said, "because if you will remember, Mawruss, them round robins
wanted Mr. Wilson to let the Senate go on making laws while he was away,
and the President says, 'You couldn't make no laws till I get back,' and
then when them round robins asked him when he would be back, he said,
'I'll be back when I am back,' and now he ain't back, and he has got to
ask them round robins to go to work with the other Senators and
Congressmen and make the laws which they wanted to make in the first
place, Mawruss."

"Then it is going to be some time before he gets back if any such a
deadlock like that happened, Abe," Morris said, "because I see where it
says in the papers that Mr. Wilson won't come back until he has signed
the treaties of peace with Germany and Austria, and France and England
won't agree to finish up the treaties for Mr. Wilson's signature until
they know that the United States Senate will ratify them and the United
States Senate won't ratify them until they are finished up and submitted
to them signed by Mr. Wilson, and then I didn't read no more about it,
Abe, because I begun to get dizzy."

"I very often get that way myself nowadays when I am reading in the
newspapers, Mawruss," Abe said, "in particular when they print them full
texts, like the full text of the League of Nations Covenant or the full
text of the President's message. Former times when the papers had in
'em straight murders and bank robberies from the inside or out, Mawruss,
and you sat opposite somebody in the Subway who had to move his lips
while he was reading, you took it for granted that he was an ignoramus
which had to hear them simple words pronounced, even if it was by his
own lips, before he could understand them, Mawruss, but you take this
here letter of the 20th inst., Mawruss, and when you read where
President Wilson says with reference to telephone and telegraph rates,
Mawruss, 'there are many confusions and inconsistencies of rates. The
scientific means by which communication by such instrumentalities could
missing be rendered more thorough and satisfactory has not been made
full use of,' understand me, you could move your lips, your scalp,
Heaven and Earth, Mawruss, and still you couldn't tell what Mr. Wilson
was driving into."

"Well, I glanced over that Message myself, Abe," Morris said, "and the
capital I's was sticking up all through it like toothpicks on the
cashier's desk of an armchair lunch-room, Abe. In just a few lines, Abe,
Mr. Wilson says, 'I hesitate, I feel, I am conscious, I trust, I may, I
shall, I dare say, I hope and I shall,' and when he started to say
something about Woman Suffrage, he undoubtedly begun with 'May I not,'
but evidently when he showed the first draft to Colonel House or
somebody, they said, 'Why do you always say, _May I not_'? and after
discussing such substitutes as '_Doch allow me_,' 'If you 'ain't got no
objections,' and 'You would excuse me if I would take the liberty,' Abe,
they decided to use, 'Will you not permit me,' so, therefore, that part
of the President's message which talks about Woman Suffrage says, 'Will
you not permit me to speak once more and very earnestly of the proposed
amendment to the Constitution and so forth,' and that, to my mind, is
what give President Wilson the idea that it might be a good thing to let
the manufacture and sale of wine and beer continue after June 30th,
which he probably argued, 'If I have such a tough time shaking off the
_May-I-not_ habit, how about them poor fellers which has got the liquor
habit?'"

"Maybe he figured that way and maybe he didn't, Mawruss," Abe said, "but
if any one feels that he ought to stock up with a few bottles of wine
for _kiddush_ or _habdolah_ purposes on or after June 30, 1919, Mawruss,
he oughtn't to be misled by anything President Wilson said in his letter
of the 20th ulto., Mawruss, because when it comes to extending the life
of the beer and wine industry after June 30th, Mawruss, them Senators
and Representatives is more likely to take suggestions from the
President of the Anti-Saloon League than from the President of the
United States."

"And I don't know but what they are right at that, Abe," Morris said,
"because this here Prohibition is strictly a matter of what the majority
thinks, Abe."

"But from the howl that has been going up, Mawruss," Abe protested, "it
looks to me like the majority of people wants the sale of schnapps to
continue."

"I didn't say it was a question of what they want, Abe," Morris
declared, "I said it was a question of what the majority thinks, and the
majority of people thinks that while they can drink schnapps and they
can let it alone, Abe, the majority of people also think that the
majority of the people who drink schnapps would be a whole lot better
off without it. So that's the way it stands, Abe. Nobody wants to leave
off buying liquor, but nobody wants to take the responsibility of
letting the sale of liquor continue."

"Also, Mawruss, I've been reading a good many articles in the magazines
about this here Prohibition lately," Abe declared, "and in every case
the writer shows how disinterested he is, y'understand, by stating right
at the start that so far as he is concerned, they could leave off
selling liquor to-morrow and he would be perfectly satisfied."

"And he is going to have to be, Abe," Morris said, "because that way of
looking at the liquor question is what has brought about Prohibition.
Practically everybody who drinks schnapps and enjoys it, Abe, is afraid
that everybody else who drinks schnapps and _enjoys_ it is going to
think that he drinks schnapps and enjoys it, so he goes to work and
pulls this phony unselfish stuff about, 'So-far-as-I-am-concerned, it
don't make no difference how soon the country goes Prohibition,' and the
result is that the country is going Prohibition, and nobody even now has
got nerve enough to admit that it's going to cut him out of a great
many good times in the future."

"Well, there's one thing about it, Mawruss," Abe declared, "it's going
to make near-by foreign countries, no matter what the climate may be,
great summer and winter resorts for these fellers who don't care how
soon Prohibition goes into effect and who will continue not to care
until 1 A.M. on July 1, 1919. Yes, Mawruss, this here Prohibition is
going to give a wonderful boost to the business of building bridges
across the Rio Grande River and to running lines of steamers between the
United States and them foreign countries near by where the inhabitants
have got it figured out that if you drink and enjoy it, you might just
as well admit it before it's too late to keep the government from not
taking a joke, if you know what I mean."

"Sure I know what you mean," Morris said, "and it has always seemed to
me, Abe, that even the Scotch whisky business ain't going to be affected
so adversely by this here Prohibition, neither, except that the
merchandise is going to reach its ultimate hobnail liver _via_ Mexico
and Cuba instead of New York and Chicago, and furthermore, Abe, there
will be a great demand for sleepers on them northbound trains from
Mexico, and the berths will only have to be made up once on leaving the
Mexican frontier. However, the diners won't do much of a business on
them trains, but they will certainly have to carry extra-large ice-water
tanks."

"And while I don't wish them drink-and-leave-it-alone fellers no
particular harm, Mawruss," Abe declared, vehemently, "some time when
they are traveling on one of them oasis-bound limiteds, Mawruss, it
would serve them right if it run off the rails or something and shook
'em up just enough to make them realize the inconvenience their own
foolishness has brought on them."

"Say!" Morris exclaimed. "I didn't know you was taking this Prohibition
affair so much to heart, Abe."

"What do you mean--take it so much to heart?" Abe protested. "I take a
glass of schnapps once in a while, Mawruss, but so far as I am concerned
this here Prohibition can come into effect this afternoon yet, and it
wouldn't affect me none."

"I am the same way, Abe. I can drink and I can leave it alone," Morris
said. "Or, anyhow, I _think_ I can."



XVIII

BEING UP IN THE AIR, AS APPLIED TO TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHTS, CROWN JEWELS,
AND LEAGUE OF NATIONS SPEECHES


"The way I feel about it is this, Mawruss," Abe Potash said to his
partner, Morris Perlmutter: "It don't make no difference if them two
boys failed in their intentions, y'understand, they succeeded in making
millions and millions of people in Paris, Winnipeg, New York, and who
knows where not, stop hating each other for anyhow a few hours, and
instead they smiled and shook hands and allowed themselves a recess in
their regular work of winning strikes, losing strikes, shooting,
starving, and cheating each other and their countries, while they all
joined in being glad that Mrs. Hawker and the baby had got the popper
back home with them and that Grieve was safe with his family or anyhow
as safe as a young feller can be who is liable to quit his home at any
moment and do the same wonderful, foolish thing all over again."

"It's too bad that all them strikers and Bolsheviks which is acting as
senselessly as children, couldn't also act as sensibly as children,
Abe," Morris Perlmutter observed, "and stop crying long enough to
forget what they were crying about, y'understand, but they won't. They
are bound and determined to eat the goose which lays the golden eggs,
Abe, and the end is going to be that they will find out it ain't a goose
at all, but that instead of killing a goose that's fit for food they
have only smashed an incubator that's fit for nothing but laying more
eggs, and that's the way it goes."

"Well, it's certainly wonderful how popular them two young fellers
become in the course of a few days, Mawruss," Abe declared. "Which makes
you think, Mawruss, if such a thing happens to two unknown young men
like Hawker and Grieve, there is big possibilities in this
cross-the-ocean flight for fellers which was once highly thought of and
which nowadays nobody gives a nickel about. Take, for instance, them two
William J. fellers, Bryan and McAdoo, which only a short time since
people was reading about it in the papers, Mawruss, and what them
fellers should ought to do is to hire a good, undependable airyoplane,
y'understand, and take the first boat for Trespassing, or whatever the
place is. Then all they have to do is to make a good start, and get
afterwards rescued by a tramp steamer, and right away they become
general favorites again. Or the kaiser and the crown prince might try
it, Mawruss. There must be plenty of airyoplanes laying around Germany
nowadays which could be picked up for a song, and when word come that it
had fallen into the Atlantic Ocean with them two birds aboard somewhere
around one thousand five hundred miles from sixty degrees forty-three
minutes, y'understand, it might make the Hohenzollerns so popular that
there would be a counter-revolution or something."

"But suppose they would overdo the thing and not get rescued," Morris
suggested.

"Well, that would make them popular with _me_, anyhow," Abe said, "and
there is probably millions of people like me in that respects, Mawruss.
Still, joking to one side, Mawruss, there is some things which you
couldn't joke about like what this young feller Read did, which is
working for the United States navy, Mawruss. There was a young feller
what took his life in his hands, Mawruss, and yet from the maps which
the newspapers printed, you would think it was already a dead
open-and-shut proposition that if the airyoplane was to break down
anywheres between Trespassing and Europe, Mawruss, there would be
waiting United States navy ships like taxi-cabs around the Hotel
Knickerbocker, waiting to pick up this here Read before he even so much
as got his feet wet, understand me. Yes, Mawruss, right across the whole
page of the newspaper was strung the _Winthrop_, the _Farragut_, the
_Cushing_, and other fellers' names up to the number of fourteen
destroyers, and the way it looked on that map, there was a solid line of
boats waiting to receive any falling airyoplane all the way from one
side of the ocean to the other, whereas you know as well as I do,
Mawruss, you can as much make both ends meet on the Atlantic Ocean with
fourteen ships as a shipping-clerk with ten children can in New York
City on a salary of eighteen dollars a week."

"I understand them ships was only fifty miles apart," Morris observed.

"Sure, I know," Abe agreed, "but if that airyoplane was to drop
anywheres between the second and the forty-ninth mile, Mawruss, them
ships might just as well have been stationed on the North River between
Seventy-second and One Hundred and Thirtieth streets, Mawruss, for all
the good it would have done this young feller Read. Also, Mawruss, if
they would have had so many destroyers on the Atlantic Ocean that they
would have run out of regular navy names for them and had to resort to
the business directory so as to include the Acker, the Merrall, the
Condit, the Rogers, the Peet, the Browning, the King, the Marshall, and
the Field, in that collection of ships, Mawruss, that wouldn't of made
this here Read's life a first-class insurable risk, neither."

"And being picked up by a destroyer ain't such a wonderful _Capora_,
neither, y'understand," Morris said, "which they tell me that on one of
them destroyers an admiral even couldn't last out as far as the Battery
even without anyhow getting pale. Also, Abe, I couldn't see that it
proved anything when this here Read had the good luck to arrive at
Lisbon, except that he was a brave young feller and seemingly didn't
care how much his family worried about him."

"That's what people have always said when anything new in the way of
transportation was tried, Mawruss, but them people was never the ones
that deposited the checks when the scheme begun to pay dividends some
two or three years later," Abe retorted. "The world never made no
advances with the assistance of the even-so and what-of-it fellers,
which, when the king and queen of Spain raised a little money on the
crown jewels, Mawruss, so that Christopher Columbus _olav hasholom_
could make the first trip across the Atlantic Ocean by water, Mawruss,
the people which saw in it the first steps towards the _Aquitania_ and
_Levinathan_ wasn't so plentiful, neither."

"Probably the feller which lent the money on the jewels wasn't so
enthusiastic about it, at any rate," Morris declared, "because as
first-class, A-number-one security for a loan, Abe, crown jewels 'ain't
got very much of an edge on them sympathetic pearls which carries such a
tremendous overhead for electric light in the store windows where they
are displayed. Take, for instance, the Austrian crown jewels, Abe, and I
see in the paper where for years and years everybody took the Austrian
emperor's word for it that they contained more first-water diamonds than
could be found in stocks of all the Fifth Avenue jewelers and Follies of
from 1910 to 1919 chorus ladies combined, and the other day when the
provisional government tried to sell them Austrian crown jewels to buy
food for the starving Austrians, y'understand, for what was thought to
be rubies, diamonds, and pearls weighing from twenty to a hundred
carats apiece, Abe, they couldn't get an offer of as much as a bowl of
crackers and milk."

"What do you suppose happened to the originals, Mawruss?" Abe asked.

"What _should_ of happened to them?" Morris asked, rhetorically. "I bet
yer that not once, but hundreds of times, an Austrian emperor has taken
one of the ladies of the Vienna Opera House ballet to the vaults of the
Vienna Deposit and Storage Company and just to show her how much he
thought of her, when she said, '_My, ain't that a gorgeous stone!_' he
has said, '_Do you really like it?_' and pried it right out of its
setting right then and there."

"And I also bet yer that when the ballet lady got a valuation on it the
next day," Abe said, "the pawnbroker said to her, '_Ain't this a diamond
which the Emperor pried out of his crown for you?_' and when she said,
'_Yes_,' he says that the fixed loaning value of an imperial pried-out
diamond was one dollar and eighty-five cents, and from that time on the
ballet lady would be very much off all emperors."

"It seems to me that in all the other countries of the world where kings
and emperors still hold on to their jobs, Abe, it wouldn't be a bad
thing for the government to check up the crown jewels on them, in case
of emergencies like revolutions or having to pay war indemnities,"
Morris remarked, "which I wouldn't be surprised if right now the German
people is figuring on raising several million marks on the German crown
jewels towards paying the first billion-dollar instalment of the war
indemnity, and when the government appraiser gets ahold of them, he will
turn in a report that they are not even using that kind of stuff in
decorating soda-fountains even."

"In that case the German government will probably try to arrange a
swop," Abe said, "trusting to luck that the Allied governments having
agreed to take them crown jewels at the value placed on them by the
kaiser, will not discover their real value until they've changed hands,
Mawruss, in which event the German government will claim that the
substitution took place after the Allies received them and did the
Allies think they could get away with anything as raw as that."

"Even the Germans 'ain't got such a nerve," Morris commented.

"'Ain't they?" Abe retorted. "Well, how about the counter-claim they are
now making for an indemnity of $3,048,300,000, _aus gerechnent_? Them
Germans has got the nerve to claim anything that they think they've got
the slightest chance of getting away with, Mawruss, so they stick in
this indemnity which they say they ought to receive from the Allies
because the blockade which the Allies kept up against Germany during the
war caused such a shortage in food that one million less German children
was born during that time."

"Three thousand and forty-eight dollars and thirty cents is a pretty
high valuation to put on a German, and a new-born German at that,"
Morris commented. "You're sure that the three thousand and forty-eight
dollars ain't a mistake? Because thirty cents sounds like the correct
figures to me, Abe."

"The birth reduction ain't the only item in their bill, Mawruss," Abe
continued. "They also claim that the blockade prevented the importing of
rubber, camphor, and quinine."

"And I suppose they claim that tire trouble, moths, and malaria
increased something terrible," Morris said. "Well, they're going to have
just as hard a time proving that claim as Senator Reed would that Brazil
is a nation of colored people, Abe."

"When did Senator Reed say that, Mawruss?" Abe asked.

"When he was arguing against the League of Nations, in the Senate the
other day," Morris replied. "He said that there were fifteen white
nations in the League and seventeen colored nations, and he reckoned
Brazil in as one of the colored nations, probably because he confused
the Brazil population with the Brazil nuts which are sometimes called
nigger-toes, Abe. However, Abe, he also included Cuba as a colored
nation, because he claimed that fifty per cent. of the population is
colored."

"But the President of Cuba and the gentlemen which is running the Cuban
government ain't colored people, Mawruss," Abe said.

"That don't make no difference to Senator Reed, Abe," Morris declared.
"To Senator Reed, anything that's found alive in a stable is a horse,
Abe; in fact, coming from Missouri, as Senator Reed does, considering
the size of the colored population of that state, Senator Reed probably
considers himself a colored man, because Senator Reed is perfectly
honest in his opinions, Abe. When he argues that Cuba is a colored
nation, he believes it, so, therefore, when he argues himself into being
a colored man, he probably believes that he ain't quite so dark a
colored man as Senator Vardaman, who comes from Mississippi, Abe, but
only a light colored man, which is of course all nonsense, like Senator
Reed's arguments. Senator Vardaman is a white man and Senator Reed is a
white man and they are both of them as white as, but no whiter than, the
President of Cuba and several million Brazilian gentlemen. But with
Senator Reed it's a case of any argument is a good argument, so long as
it is an argument against the League of Nations."

"But as I understand it Senator Vardaman ain't in the Senate no more,"
Abe said. "He got defeated last election."

"And the way he is heading, Abe," Morris said, "Senator Reed will join
him next election, because, while nine times out of ten, when it comes
to re-election, a United States Senator has got things pretty well
sewed-up, _so_ sewed-up he couldn't have them, that he could make such
foolish speeches on such an important matter. Furthermore, it don't
make no difference how wise or how foolish the speeches which Senators
makes against the League of Nations might be, Abe, it is going to go
through, _anyhow_."

"What makes you think that?" Abe asked.

"Because I see where the National Democratic Committee met in Chicago
the other day, and the chairman by the name Cummings threatened that if
the Senate don't approve the League of Nations Covenant, Mr. Wilson
would run for President again," Morris said.

"What do you mean--threatened?" Abe demanded. "You talk like Mr. Wilson
running for President again was something to be scared about."

"I don't talk that way, but Mr. Cummings does," Morris said. "In fact,
the Democratic National Committee, on the head of what Mr. Cummings
said, passed a resolution that they were in favor of the prompt
ratification by the Senate of the Treaty of Peace, including the League
of Nations, so it would appear that the Democratic National Committee
ain't so tickled about Mr. Wilson running again, neither."

"Well, if Mr. Wilson don't run again for President on the Democratic
ticket, Mawruss, who will?" Abe inquired.

"I don't know, and, furthermore, I think that the Democratic National
Committee is temporarily in the same condition about that proposition as
Hawker and Grieve was about that cross-Atlantic proposition--also
temporarily," Morris concluded, "I mean, up in the air."



XIX

THE LEAK AND OTHER MYSTERIES


"Outside of one poor night watchman _nebich_," Abe Potash said to his
partner, Morris Perlmutter, "the only people which has really and truly
suffered from the goings-on of them anarchists is the insurance
companies, Mawruss."

"In a case like that, Abe, the insurance companies ain't liable under
their policies," Morris said, "and they wouldn't got to pay no losses
for the damage when them bombs done it to them buildings."

"Who said anything about the insurance companies paying losses?" Abe
asked. "I am talking about the insurance companies paying lawyer bills,
Mawruss, which I never read any of that part of my insurance policies
that is printed in only such letters as could have been designed in the
first place by them fellers you read about who go blind from engraving
the whole of the Constitution of the United States on a ten-cent piece,
y'understand, but I have no doubt, Mawruss, that it wouldn't make no
difference if the loss was caused by anything so legitimate as throwing
a lighted cigarette in a waste-paper basket, understand me, the only
reason why an insurance company pays any losses at all is that they
figure it's cheaper to let the policyholder have the money than the
bunch of murderers they got representing them as their general counsel."

"No doubt you're right," Morris agreed, "but in these here bomb outrages
Abe, the way the police 'ain't been able to get a clue to so much as a
suspicious red necktie, y'understand, it looks as though this
bomb-exploding was going to be such a regular amusement with anarchists
as pinochle-playing is with clothing salesmen, understand me, so the
insurance companies would got to make a stand, otherwise they would be
paying for new stoops for the houses of anybody and everybody who ever
said an unkind word in public about Lenine and Trotzky."

"It seems to me that the police ain't so smart like they once used to
be, Mawruss," Abe remarked.

"No, nor never was," Morris said. "In fact, Abe, from the number of
crimes which has got into the let-bygones-be-bygones stage with the
police lately, clues ain't of no more use to them fellers at all. What
them detectives need is that the criminal should leave behind him at the
scene of the crime a line of snappy, up-to-date advertising containing
his name, address, and telephone number, otherwise they seem to think
they have the excuse that they couldn't be expected to perform miracles,
and let it go at that."

"I see where right here in New York, Mayor Hylan puts the whole thing up
to the newspapers," Abe observed. "He wrote to a friend the other day
one of them strictly confidential letters with an agreement on the side
to ring up the reporters as soon as it was delivered, y'understand, in
which he said the reason why so many crimes was going undiscovered by
the police was that the newspapers was unprincipled enough to print that
a lot of crimes was going undetected by the police, understand me, and
the consequence was that criminals read it and, relying on the fact that
the police wouldn't catch them if they committed crimes, they went to
work and committed crimes."

"And I suppose them criminals' confidence in the police wasn't
misplaced, neither," Morris suggested.

"Not so far as I've heard," Abe said, "but even if the newspapers
wouldn't of printed the information, Mawruss, why should Mayor Hylan
assume that burglars don't write each other letters occasionally, or,
anyhow, once in a while meet at lunch and talk over business matters?"

"Well, I've noticed that Mayor Hylan, Mayor Thompson, and a lot of other
Mayors, Senators, and people which is all the time getting into the
public eye in the same sense as cinders and small insects, Abe, always
blames the newspapers for everything that goes wrong," Morris remarked,
"because such people is always doing and saying things that when it gets
into the newspaper sounds pretty rotten even to themselves, understand
me, so therefore they begin to think that the newspaper is doing it
deliberately, and consequently they get a grouch on against all
newspapers."

"Sure, I know, Mawruss, but that don't excuse the police for not finding
out who sent them bombs through the mails in the first place," Abe said.
"It is now beginning to look, Mawruss, that the American police has
begun to act philosophically about crooks, the way the American public
has always done, and they shrug their shoulders and say, 'What are you
going to do with a bunch of crooks like that?'"

"Well, in a way you can't blame the police for not catching them
bomb-throwers, Abe," Morris said. "They've been so busy arresting people
for violations of the automobile and traffic laws that they 'ain't
hardly got time for nothing else, so you see what a pipe it is for
criminals, Abe. All they have got to do is to keep out of automobiles
and stick to street cars, and they can rob, murder, and explode bombs,
and the police would never trouble them at all."

"But considering the number of people which gets arrested every day for
things like having in their possession a bottle of schnapps, Mawruss, or
smoking paper cigarettes in the second degree, or against the peace and
dignity of the people of the State of Kansas or Virginia, and the
statue in such case made and provided leaving a bottle of near-beer
uncorked on the window-sill until it worked itself into a condition of
being fermented or intoxicating liquor under section six sub-section (b)
of the said act, y'understand, it is surprising to me that the police
didn't by accident gather in anyhow _one_ of them anarchists, Mawruss,"
Abe said, "because, after all, Mawruss, it can't be that only
respectable people violate all them prohibition, anti-cigarette, and
anti-speeding laws, and that, outside of dropping bombs, anarchists is
otherwise law-abiding."

"At the same time, Abe, I couldn't help feeling sorry for a policeman
who would arrest an anarchist by accident, especially if he didn't carry
any accident insurance, because the only way to avoid accidents in
arresting anarchists is to take a good aim at a safe distance, and let
somebody else search the body for packages," Morris declared.

"To tell you the truth, Mawruss, I think the reason why them anarchists
which explode bombs is never discovered, y'understand, ain't up to the
police at all, but to the contractor which cleans up the scene of the
explosion," Abe said. "If he would only instruct his workmen to sift the
rubbish before they cart it away, they might anyhow find a collar-button
or something, because next to windows, Mawruss, the most breakage caused
by anarchistic bomb explosions is to anarchists."

"Still, there must be a lot of comparatively uninjured anarchists
hanging around--anarchists with only a thumb or so missing which the
police would be able to find if they really and truly used a little
gumption, Abe," Morris said. "Also if they would keep their ears open,
there must be lots of noises which now passes for gas-range trouble and
which if investigated while the experimenter was still in the dancing
and hand-flipping stage of agony, Abe, might bring to light some of the
leading spirits in the chemical branch of the American anarchists. Then
of course there is the other noises which sounds like gas-range
troubles, and which on investigation proves to be speeches, Abe, and
while it is probably true that you can't kill ideas by putting the
people which owns up to them in jail, Abe, I for one am willing to take
a chance and see how it comes out, because, after all, it ain't ideas
which makes and explodes bombs, but the people which holds such ideas."

"Also, Mawruss," Abe said, "it is the people which holds such ideas that
says you can't kill ideas by putting the people what holds them into
jail, but just so soon as them people gets arrested, not only do they
claim that they never held such ideas, but they deny that there even
existed such ideas, and then the noise of the denials they are making is
drowned out by the noise of the bombs which is being exploded according
to the ideas they claim they don't hold, and that's the way it goes,
Mawruss. The chances is that the mystery of who exploded them bombs will
remain a mystery along with the mystery of how the Peace Treaty come
into the possession of them New York interests in the form of a volume
of three hundred and twenty pages, as Senator Lodge says it did."

"To me that ain't no mystery at all, Abe," Morris said. "The chances is
that them New York interests, whatever they may be, Abe--and I got my
suspicions, Abe--simply seen it in the Saturday edition of one of them
New York papers which makes a specialty of book-advertising, an
advertisement reading:


                          "THE PEACE TERMS"

                           READ ABOUT THEM

in this stirring, heart-touching romance. Get it, begin it; you'll read
every word and wish there was more.

Would it be worth while to risk the happiness of all future time for the
sake of four years of forbidden pleasure? With the frankness
characteristic of him, William W. Wilson in his latest work tells what
happens--economically and spiritually--to the nation who tried it.


                          "THE PEACE TERMS"

                                 BY

                          WILLIAM W. WILSON

        Author of _A Thousand Snappy Substitutes for May I Not_, etc.

         30 Illustrations, 320 pages.                     $1.50 net.

                          AT ALL BOOK-STORES


so the New York interests give the office-boy three dollars and says to
him he should go 'round to the news-stands in the nearest subway station
and buy a couple of them books, y'understand, and for the remainder of
the afternoon, y'understand, the members of the New York interests which
'ain't got their feet up on the desk reading them books, is asking the
members which has if they 'ain't got nothing better to do with their
time than to put it in reading a lot of nonsense like that, understand
me."

"But who do you think published it, Mawruss?" Abe asked.

"Say!" Morris exclaimed. "It is already over a month since the first
edition of that Peace Treaty was handed to the German delegates, and
what is a little thing like a copyright to them crooks when it comes to
making a profit of ten cents a volume? I bet yer that Europe is already
flooded with pirated editions of that Peace Treaty retailing at
anywheres from twenty-five cents up, and yet them highwaymen claims that
it is unacceptable to them. As a matter of fact, the German business man
'ain't found anything nearly so acceptable in a merchandising way since
the time they began to imitate Gillette safety razors and Kodak cameras.
They'll probably make enough of the Park Row and Ann Street peddling
rights alone to pay the first instalment of the reparation indemnity,
Abe."

"I see where Austria also finds the terms of the Peace Treaty which was
handed to her unacceptable, Mawruss," Abe remarked.

"Well, for that matter, Abe, there probably ain't a petitentiary in this
or any other country which ain't filled with crooks who finds the terms
of their punishment unacceptable," Morris said, "but I never heard it
advanced as an argument why the sentence should ought to be upset on
appeal, Abe. Also, Abe, Germany and Austria is in just so good a
position to accept or not accept their punishment as any other
defendant would be after he has had his pedigree taken and is handcuffed
to the deputy-sheriff with the Black Maria backed up against the curb,
y'understand."

"Well, I suppose I must of lost thousands of dollars serving on juries
in my time, Mawruss," Abe said, "and I would of lost thousands more if
every prisoner would of behaved the way Germany and Austria has since
the judge asked them if they had anything to say why sentence should
ought to be passed on them. Evidently they must of thought it was up to
them to make regular after-dinner speeches, leaving out only the
once-there-was-an-Irishman story."

"And even that 'ain't been left out," Morris said, "which I see that the
United States Senate has passed a resolution that they are in favor the
Peace Conference should hear what the delegates from the new Irish
Republic has got to say."

"Is Ireland a republic now?" Abe asked.

"It's anyhow as much of a republic as the Rhenish Republic is a republic
or the Kingdom of the Hadjes is a kingdom," Morris continued, "which the
American delegates let them Hadjes have their say, Abe, and if the
Hadj-American vote figured very strong in the last presidential election
or the Hadj-American subscribers to the Victory Loan represented as much
as .000000001 per cent. of the total amount raised, the newspapers kept
it pretty quiet, Abe. So, therefore, Abe, leaving out of the question
altogether that a very big percentage of the highest grade citizens
which we've got in this country is Irish by ancestry and brains, Abe,
why shouldn't the Irish have their say before the Peace Conference?"

"For one thing," Abe said, "the delegates to the Peace Conference is
already pretty well acquainted with what them Irishmen would tell them,
unless them delegates is deaf, dumb, and blind."

"That's all right, Abe, but a good argument was never the worse for
being repeated," Morris concluded, "in especially when it comes from
people which has given us not only good arguments during the past four
years, but service, blood, and money. Am I right or wrong?"



XX

JULY THE FIRST AND AFTER


"It's already surprising what people will eat if they couldn't get
anything else," Abe Potash commented one morning in June.

"Not nearly so surprising as what they would drink in the same
circumstances," Morris Perlmutter remarked.

"Well, I don't know," Abe continued. "Here it stands in the newspapers
where a professor says that for the information of them men which would
sooner eat grasshoppers as starve, Mawruss, they taste very much like
shrimps if you know how shrimps taste, which I am thankful to say that I
don't, Mawruss, because I never yet had the nerve to eat shrimps on
account of them looking too much like grasshoppers."

"That's nothing," Morris declared. "In Porto Rico, where they have had
prohibition now for some time already, the authorities has just found
out that the people has been drinking so much hair tonic as
ersat-schnapps, Abe, that the insides of the stomach of a Porto-Rican
looks like the outside of the President of the new Polish Republic, if
you know what I mean."

"Well, if the prohibition law is going to be enforced so as to
confiscate the schnapps which is now being stored away by the people who
have had an insurance actuary figure out their expectancy of life at ten
drinks a day for 13.31416 years, Mawruss, or all the cellar will hold,
y'understand," Abe said, "it won't be much later than July 2d before
somebody discovers that there's quite a kick to furniture polish or
6-in-1, Mawruss, and in fact I expect to see after July 1st, 1919, that
there would be what looks like stove polish, shoe polish,
automobile-body polish, and silver polish retailing at from one dollar
to a dollar and a half per hip-pocket-size bottle, which after being
strained through blotting-paper, y'understand, would net the purchaser
three drinks of the worst whisky that ever got sold on Chatham Square
for five cents a glass."

"And I suppose that pretty soon they will be passing a law forbidding
the manufacture of stove polish and directing that the labels on the
bottles shall contain the statement:

"Stove Polish by Volume 2, Seventy-five per cent. And in a thimbleful of
what ain't stove polish in that stove polish, Abe, there wouldn't be no
more harm than two or three quarts of so much nitroglycerin,
y'understand," Morris said. "Also on Saturday nights you will see the
poor women _nebich_ hanging around the swinging doors of paint and color
stores right up to closing-time to see is their husbands inside, while
the single men will stagger from house-furnishing store to
house-furnishing store--or the Poor Men's Clubs, as they call them
places where stove and silver polish is sold."

"But joking to one side, Mawruss, you don't suppose that the Polaks and
the Huns and all them foreigners is going to leave off drinking schnapps
just because of a little thing like a prohibition amendment to the
Constitution of the United States, do you?" Abe said.

"Why do you limit yourself to Polaks and Huns, Abe?" Morris asked.
"Believe me, there is fellers whose forefathers was old established
American citizens before Henry Clay started his cigar business,
y'understand, and when them boys gets a craving for schnapps after July
1st, they would _oser_ go to the nearest Carnegie Library and read over
the Prohibition Amendment to the Constitution till that gnawing feeling
at the pit of the stomach had passed away, understand me. At least, Abe,
that is what I think is going to happen, and from the number of people
which is giving out prophecies to the newspapers about what is going to
happen, and from the way they differ from each other as to what is going
to happen--not only about prohibition, but about conditions in Europe,
the Next War, the Kaiser's future, and the next presidential campaign,
y'understand, it seems to me that anybody could prophesy anything about
_everything_ and get away with it."

"They could anyhow get away with it till it does happen," Abe commented.

"Sure I know, but generally it don't happen," Morris said. "Take for
instance where Mr. Vanderlip is going round telling about the terrible
things which is going to happen in Europe unless something which Mr.
Vanderlip suggests is done, and take also for instance where Mr. Davison
is going round telling about the terrible things which is going to
happen in Europe unless something which Mr. _Davison_ suggests is done,
y'understand, and while I don't know nothing about Europe, understand
me, I know something about Mr. Vanderlip, which is that he just lost his
jobs as director of the War Savings Stamp Campaign and president of the
National City Bank, and you know as well as I do, Abe, when a man has
just lost his job things are apt to look pretty black to him, not only
in Europe, understand me, but in Asia, Africa, and America, and
sometimes Australia and New Zealand, also."

"Well, how about Mr. Davison?" Abe asked.

"Well, I'll tell you," Morris said, "Mr. Davison is a banker and I am a
garment manufacturer, y'understand, and with me it's like this:
Conditions in the garment trade is never altogether satisfactory to me,
Abe. As a garment manufacturer, I can always see where things is going
to the devil in this country or any other country where I would be doing
business unless something is done, y'understand, and if anybody would
ask me what _ought_ to be done, the chances is that I would suggest
something to be done which wouldn't make it exactly rotten for the
garment trade, if you know what I mean."

"Mr. Vanderlip and Mr. Davison did good work during the war for a
dollar a year, Mawruss," Abe said, "and no one should speak nothing but
good of them."

"Did I say they shouldn't?" Morris retorted. "All I am driving into is
this, Abe; we've got a lot of big business men which during the war for
a dollar a year give up their time to advising the United States what it
should do, y'understand, who are now starting in to advise the world
what it should do and waiving the dollar, Abe, and if there is anything
which is calculated to make a man unpopular, Abe, it is giving free
advice, so therefore I would advise all them dollar-a-year men to--"

"And is any one paying you to give such advice?" Abe asked.
"Furthermore, Mawruss, nobody asks you for your advice, whereas with
people like Mr. Vanderlip, Mr. Davison, the Crown Prince, Samuel
Gompers, and Mary Pickford, y'understand, they couldn't stick their head
outside the door without a newspaper reporter is standing there and
starts right in to ask them their opinion about the things which they
are supposed to know."

"And what is the Crown Prince supposed to know?" Morris asked.

"Not much that Mary Pickford don't about things in general," Abe said,
"and a good deal less than she does about moving pictures, but otherwise
I should put them about on a par, except that Mary Pickford has got a
brighter future, Mawruss, which I see that one of these here newspaper
fellers got an interview with the Crown Prince which 'ain't been denied
as yet. It took place in an island in Holland where the Crown Prince is
living in retirement with a private chef, a private secretary, a couple
of private valets, his personal physician, and the nine or ten other
personal attendants that a Hohenzollern cuts himself down to while he is
roughing it in Holland, Mawruss. When the newspaper feller spoke to him
he was wearing the uniform of a colonel in the Eighth Pomeranian Crown
Prince's Own Regiment, which is now known as the William J. Noske
Association, of black tulle over a midnight-blue satin underdress--the
whole thing embroidered in gray silk braid and blue beads. A very
delicate piece of rose point-lace was arranged as a fichu, Mawruss, and
over it he wore a Lavin cape of black silk jersey with a monkey-fur
collar and slashed pockets. It would appear from the article which the
newspaper feller wrote that the Crown Prince didn't seem to be
especially talkative."

"In these here interviews which newspaper fellers gets in Europe, Abe,"
Morris commented, "the party interviewed never does seem to be
talkative. In fact, he hardly figures at all, because such articles
usually consist of fifty per cent. what a lot of difficulties the
correspondent was smart enough to overcome in getting the interview,
twenty-five per cent. description, twenty-two and a quarter what the
correspondent said to the party interviewed, and not more than two and
three-quarters per cent. interview."

"Whatever way it was, Mawruss, the Crown Prince didn't exactly unbosom
himself to this here reporter, but he said enough to show that he wasn't
far behind Mr. Vanderlip when it comes to taking a dark view of things
as a result of losing his job, Mawruss," Abe continued.

"Probably he took even a darker view of it than Mr. Vanderlip," Morris
suggested, "because there are lots of openings for bank president, but
if you are out of a job as a crown prince, what is it, in particular if
your reference ain't good?"

"He didn't seem to be worrying about his own future," Abe continued,
"but he seemed to think that if the old man got tried by the Allies,
Mawruss, the shock would kill him."

"Many a murderer got tried by the Court of General Sessions, even, and
subsequently the shock killed them, Abe," Morris said. "What is electric
chairs for, _anyway_?"

"But he told the reporter that you wouldn't have any idea how old the
old man is looking," Abe went on.

"He shouldn't take so much wood-cutting exercise," Morris said. "The
first thing you know, he would injure himself for life, even if he ain't
going to live long."

"Don't fool yourself, Mawruss," Abe said, "the Kaiser ain't going to die
from nothing more violent than a rich, unbalanced diet, y'understand,
and as for the Crown Prince, he's got it all figured out that he will
return to Germany and go into the farming business, and there ain't no
provided-I-beat-the-indictment about it, neither, because he knows as
well as you do that the Allies would never have the nerve to try either
one of them crooks."

"Nobody seems to have the nerve to do anything nowadays, except the
Bolshevists, Abe," Morris said, with a sigh. "Here up to a few days ago
the Bolshevist government of Russia had been running a New York office
on West Forty-second Street, with gold lettering on the door, a staff of
stenographers, and a private branch exchange, and the New York police
didn't pay no more attention to them than if they would of been running
a poolroom with a roulette-wheel in the rear office. The consequence was
that when them Bolshevists finally got pulled, Abe, they beefed so
terrible about how they were being prosecuted in violation of the
Constitution and the Code of Civil Procedure, y'understand, that you
would think the bombs which Mr. Palmer and them judges nearly got killed
with was being exploded pursuant to Section 4244 of the United States
Revised Statutes and the acts amendatory thereof, Abe."

"And we let them cutthroats do business yet!" Abe exclaimed.

"Well, in a way, I don't blame the Bolshevists for not knowing how to
take the behavior of the American government towards them, Abe," Morris
declared. "If we only had one way of treating them and stick _to_ it,
Abe, it would help people like this here ex-custom-house feller Dudley
Field Malone and this ex-Red Cross feller Robins to know where they
stood in the matter of Bolshevism. But when even the United States army
itself don't know whether it is for the Bolshevists or against them,
Abe, how could you expect this here Robins to know, either, let alone
the Bolshevists?"

"But I thought this country was against Bolshevism," Abe said.

"As far as I can gather, Abe, the United States is against Bolshevism
officially on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and on Saturday from nine
to twelve, and it is for Admiral Kolchak on Tuesday and Thursday,"
Morris said. "At any rate, that's what one would think from reading the
newspapers. Fiume is the same way, Abe. The United States is in favor of
ceding Fiume to the Italians during three days in the week of eight
working-hours each, except in the sporting five-star edition, when Fiume
is going to be internationalized. However, Abe, the United States wants
to be quite fair about preserving the rights of small nationalities, so
we concede Fiume to the Jugo-Slobs in at least two editions of the pink
evening papers and in the special magazine section of the Sunday
papers."

"Well, the way I feel about Bolshevism, I am against it every day in the
week, including Sundays, Mawruss," Abe said, "and if I would be running
a newspaper, I would show them up in every edition from the night
edition that comes out at half past eight in the morning, down to the
special ten-o'clock-p.m. extra, which sometimes is delayed till as late
as five forty-five. Furthermore, while variety makes a spicy life,
Mawruss, newspapers are supposed to tell you the news, and while it may
be agreeably exciting to some people when they read on Monday,
Wednesday, and Friday that the Germans would positively sign the amended
Treaty of Peace, and on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday that they
positively wouldn't do nothing of the kind, y'understand, I am getting
so used to it that it don't even make me mad no longer."

"The newspapers has got to suit all tastes, Abe," Morris observed.

"But the taste for Bolshevism ain't a taste, Mawruss, it's a smell," Abe
concluded, "and whoever has got it shouldn't ought to be encouraged. He
should ought to be disinfected, and that's all there is to it."



XXI

WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS, ECONOMICALLY AND THEATRICALLY


"I see where a minister said the other day he couldn't understand why it
was that fellers in the theayter business goes to work and puts on the
kind of shows which they do put on, Mawruss," Abe Potash said, a few
days after the ministerial controversy over a certain phase of the
Broadway drama.

"Maybe they got hopes that quite a number of people would pay money to
see such shows, Abe," Morris suggested, "because so far as I could tell
from the few fellers in the theayter business whose acquaintance I
couldn't avoid making, Abe, they are business men the same like other
business men, y'understand, and what they are trying to do is to suit
the tastes of their customers."

"But what them ministers claims is that them customers shouldn't ought
to have such tastes," Abe said.

"That is up to the ministers and not the fellers in the theayter
business," Morris said. "Theayter managers ain't equipped in the head to
give people lectures on how terrible it is that people should like to
see the plays they like to see, because as a general thing a feller in
the theayter business is the same as a feller in the garment business or
grocery business--he didn't have to pass no examination to go into such
a business, and what a theayter feller don't know about delivering
sermons, Abe, if a minister would know it about the show business,
y'understand, instead of drawing down three thousand a year telling
people to do what they don't want to do, understand me, he would be
looking round for a nice, fully rented, sixteen-story apartment-house in
which to invest the profits from a show by the name, we would say, for
example, 'Early to Bed.'"

"But the trouble with the theayter fellers is that they think any show
which a lot of people would pay money to see, Mawruss, is a good show,"
Abe declared.

"Why shouldn't the managers think that?" Morris asked. "If the ministers
had the people trained right, any show which a lot of people would pay
money to see should _ought_ to be a good show."

"You think the ministers could train people to like a good show!" Abe
exclaimed. "It's human nature for people to like the kind of show they
do like, Mawruss, and how could ministers, even if they would be the
biggest _tzadeekim_ in the world, change human nature?"

"That's what I am trying to tell you, Abe," Morris said. "The theayter
managers simply supply a demand which already exists, Abe, and they are
as much to blame for the conditions which creates that demand as you
could blame a manufacturer of heavy-weight underwear for cold winter
weather."

"But why should the theayter manager try to supply an unhealthy demand,
Mawruss?" Abe asked.

"The demand for heavy winter underwear is also unhealthy, Abe," Morris
said. "In America, where the houses is heated, heavy underwear would
give you a cold, whereas in Norway and Sweden the demand for heavy
underwear is healthy because Norway and Sweden houses is like Norway and
Sweden plays, Abe, they are constructed differently from the American
fashion. They are built solid, but there ain't no light and heat in
them, and yet, Abe, the highbrows which is kicking about the American
style of plays is crazy about these here Norway and Sweden plays and
want American theayter managers to put on plays like them. In other
words, Abe, they are arguing in favor of the manufacture and sale of
heavy winter underwear for an exclusively B. V. D. trade, and so,
therefore, such high-brows could be ministers or they could be dramatic
crickets, Abe, but they might just so well save their breath with such
arguments, because the customer buys what he _wants_ to buy, and what
the customer _wants_ to buy the manufacturer manufactures, and that's
all there is _to_ it."

"And now that you have settled this here question of them 'Early to Bed'
plays, Mawruss," Abe said, "would you kindly tell me what the idea of
them Germans was in sinking all them white-elephant war-ships which
everybody with any sense wished was at the bottom of the ocean,
_anyway_, y'understand?"

"Well, I'll tell you, Abe," Morris began. "Them Germans being German,
y'understand, and having signed an armistice where they agreed to take
them war-ships to an Allied port and _keep_ them there, y'understand,
just couldn't resist breaking their word and sinking them war-ships."

"But don't you think, Mawruss, that when the Allies allowed the Germans
to sign such an armistice they was awful careless," Abe said, "because
if they wanted them war-ships to stay afloat, Mawruss, all they had to
do was to make the Germans sign an agreement not to take them war-ships
to Allied ports and sink them there, and the thing was done."

"How do you know that the Allies didn't get them Germans to agree the
way they did, so as to get rid of all them war-ships without the trouble
and expense of blowing them up?" Morris asked.

"I don't know it," Abe admitted, "but even to-day yet, Mawruss, them
Allied diplomatists is acting like they thought deep down in their
hearts that there was a little honor--a little truth--left in them
Germans somewhere, Mawruss, so the chance is that when that armistice
was signed, the Allies thought that at last the Germans was going to
stand by a signed agreement. However, it seems to me, Mawruss, that
there should ought to be an end to this here better-luck-next-time
attitude towards the Germans' idea of honor on the part of the Allies."

"Well, what are you going to do with such people, Abe?" Morris asked.

"To me it's a business proposition, Mawruss," Abe said, "and the way I
feel about this here Peace Treaty is that it is nothing but composition
notes, signed by the Germans without indorsement by anybody. Now you
know as well as I do, Mawruss, if a bankrupt owes you money and he has
got _some_ assets, you ain't going to take composition notes for the
entire amount of debts and let the bankrupt keep the remains of his
assets, because composition notes without indorsements don't deceive
nobody, Mawruss. If I get from a bankrupt unindorsed composition notes,
I simply put them away in my safe and forget about them, which if a
bankrupt ever paid his unindorsed composition notes he would be adding
murder to his other crimes on account the holders of such composition
notes would drop dead from astonishment."

"The death-rate from such a cause among business men ain't high, Abe,"
Morris commented.

"If I was an accident-insurance company's actuary, I would take a chance
and leave such a cause of death out of my calculations," Abe agreed. "It
never happens, and so, therefore, Mawruss, if Germany lives up to the
terms of the Peace Treaty it would only be because the German signature
is guaranteed by the indorsement of a large Allied Army of Occupation,
and, therefore, if we've got to do it first as last, why monkey around
with a new German Cabinet? Why not close up the Peace Conference _sine
die_, tell Germany her composition notes ain't acceptable, y'understand,
and proceed to make a levy and sale with the combined armies of the
Allies as deputy-sheriffs, Mawruss, because not only are the Germans
bankrupts, but they are fraudulent bankrupts, and on fraudulent
bankrupts nobody should have no mercy at all?"

"But don't you think it might be just as well to give the Germans a few
days' grace and see how this here new Cabinet goes to work?" Morris
suggested.

"You don't have to know how it works, Mawruss," Abe replied. "All you
have to do is to know how it was formed and you can guess how it would
work, which I bet yer that Erzberger got together with von
Brockdorff-Rantzau and they combed over the list of candidates to get
just the right kind of people for a German Cabinet, because the ordinary
tests which they use in England, France, or America, Mawruss, don't
apply to Germany. You've got to be awful careful in forming a German
Cabinet, Mawruss, otherwise you are liable to have slipped in on you
just one decent, respectable man with an idea of keeping his word and
doing the right thing, Mawruss, and by a little carelessness like that,
understand me, the whole Cabinet is ruined. However, Mawruss, you could
take it from me that a couple of experienced Cabinet-formers like this
here Erzberger and von Brockdorff-Rantzau didn't fall down on their
job, and I bet yer that every member of the new Cabinet is keeping up
the best traditions of the good old German spirit, which is to be able
to look the whole world straight in the eye and lie like the devil,
y'understand."

"Then you think this Cabinet wouldn't act no different to the other
Cabinets?" Morris said.

"Not if the Allies don't act different," Abe said, "and where the Allies
made their first big mistake was the opening session at Versailles, when
the usher or the janitor or whoever had charge of such things didn't
take von Brockdorff-Rantzau by the back of his neck and yank him to his
feet after he started to talk without rising from his chair, because the
Germans is very quick to take a tip that way, Mawruss. Whatever they put
over once, they think they could put over again, and since that time all
arguments the Germans has made about the Peace Treaty have been, so to
speak, delivered by the German people and the German Cabinet, not only
seated, y'understand, but also with the feet cocked up on the desk, the
hat on, and in the corner of the mouth a typical German cigar which is
made up of equal parts hay and scrap rubber blended with the _Vossicher
Zeitung_ and beet-tops and smells accordingly."

"Well, it is one of the good qualities of the American people that
before they get good and sore, as they have a right to do, Abe, they
will put up with a whole lot of bad manners from people that they deal
with," Morris said. "Take, for instance, these here foreign-born Reds
which they held a meeting in Madison Square Garden the other evening,
and if they said in any other country about the government what they
said in Madison Square Garden, y'understand, the owner of Madison Square
Garden would of pocketed thousands of dollars for the moving-picture
rights of the bayoneting alone. But we don't do business that way. There
ain't no satisfaction in bayoneting a lot of people for being fresh and
not knowing how to behave. Fining them and putting them in prison is
also no relief to our feeling, neither. What we really itch to do, Abe,
is to act the way a man would act if he gives somebody food and shelter
in his home, and, as soon as such a _schnorrer_ feels refreshed by what
he has eaten and the good bed he has slept in, he turns on his host and,
after insulting the members of the household, tries to wreck the
furniture and set the house on fire. Such a feller you would first kick
as many times as you had the strength; you would then duck him in the
nearest body of water, provided it was muddy enough, and after he had
come up for the third time you would fish him out and ride him on a rail
to the town limits and there you would advise him never to show his face
around them parts again."

"But as I understand this here Red meeting, Mawruss," Abe said, "it was
something more as not knowing how to behave. Practically every speaker
told the audience that they should rise up against the government."

"Sure I know, Abe," Morris agreed, "but the audience was composed of
people who had already made up their minds that they should rise up
against the government, and there is only one thing which prevents them
from rising up--they 'ain't got the nerve. Furthermore, them speakers
could go on advising till they got clergyman's sore throat from the
violent language they was using, and that audience could sit there being
advised till the management of Madison Square Garden dispossessed the
meeting for non-payment of rent, y'understand, and still that audience
wouldn't have the nerve. Them Reds are a lot of rabbits, Abe. They could
rise up in Russia and Hungary against a lot of rabbits, y'understand,
but over here the most them rabbits has got the courage to do is to
plant a few bombs, of which one or two has been ungrateful enough to
bite the hand that threw them, understand me, but as soon as them Red
rabbits discovers that the percentage of mortality among bomb-throwers
is equal to the death-rate from some such rare disease as
sleeping-sickness or beriberi, Abe, they wouldn't even have the nerve to
throw bombs."

"Still, I think the District Attorney should ought to do something about
that Madison Square meeting, Mawruss," Abe said, "because even if
Madison Square Garden would have been only one-tenth filled, considering
the high price of rails in the present steel-market and the distance of
Madison Square from muddy water, Mawruss, it would be anyhow unpractical
to duck or ride on rails the number of Reds which attended that
meeting, even supposing enough respectable people could be found who
would take the trouble."

"As a matter of fact, Abe," Morris said, "it don't even pay to encourage
them speech-making Reds by thinking they are important enough to be
ducked in muddy water. After all, most of them are still young and
sooner or later they would got to go to work, and once a man goes to
work in this country it is only a matter of time when he gets up into
the capitalistic class."

"There is also another thing to be considered about these here Reds,
Mawruss," Abe said. "As Reds, they couldn't be taken altogether
seriously, because Reds would be Reds only up to a certain point. After
that they're Yellow."



XXII

THEY DISCUSS THE SIGNING OF IT


"Yes, Mawruss, when the history of this here Peace Conference is
written, y'understand, a whole lot of things which up to now has been
mysteries will be made very plain to the people which has got
twenty-five dollars to invest in such a history and the spare time in
which to read it," Abe Potash said to his partner Morris Perlmutter a
few days after the treaty was signed.

"There will be a great many people who will try to find the time at
that," Morris commented, "because I see by the morning paper that one of
Mr. Wilson's relatives has bought for him in Southern California a piece
of property especially for Mr. Wilson to write the history of the Peace
Conference in, and why should he go to all that expense if there wasn't
a big market for such a history?"

"I wonder did Mr. Wilson have to pay much money for the history rights
to the Peace Conference?" Abe asked.

"What do you mean--did he pay much money?" Morris exclaimed. "Anybody
can write a history of the Peace Conference without paying a cent for
the privilege, and even if they couldn't, y'understand, who is going to
bid against Mr. Wilson, because when it comes to what actually happened
at them confidential meetings between Mr. Wilson, Clemenceau, and Lord
George, Abe, Mr. Wilson had a monopoly of the raw material in the
history line. He didn't even let Colonel House in on it, so you can bet
your life if there was any competitors of Mr. Wilson trying to get a few
ideas for a competing line of popular-price Peace Conference histories,
Abe, Mr. Wilson didn't exactly unbosom himself to them historians,
neither, because a diplomatic secret is a diplomatic secret, Abe, but
when in addition, the diplomat is counting on writing a history of them
diplomatic doings, Abe, diplomatic secrets become trade secrets."

"It seems to me, Mawruss, that while you couldn't blame Mr. Wilson for
writing a history of the Peace Conference for a living after he loses
his job in March, 1921," Abe continued, "still at the same time,
considering that Mr. Wilson has taken such a prominent part in this here
Peace Conference, and considering also that Mr. Wilson is only human, no
matter what Senator Reed might say otherwise, don't you think he is
going to have a difficult time in deciding for himself just where
history leaves off and advertising begins?"

"The probabilities is that he wouldn't give himself a shade the worst of
it, if that's what you mean," Morris observed, "but as to whether or not
such a history would be the equivalent of an actor writing a criticism
of his own performance, Abe, that I couldn't say, because the chances is
that when Lord George gets through with the job of chief Cabinet
Minister or whatever his job is called, he would also try his hand at
writing a history, and if that is the case, you could make up your mind
to it that Clemenceau ain't going to sit down at his time of life and
let them two historians put it all over him. So, therefore, if Mr.
Wilson should feel like writing in his history: 'At this point, things
was at a standstill and nobody seemed to know what to do next, when
suddenly some one made a suggestion which cleared up the whole
situation. It was Woodrow Wilson who spoke'--y'understand, he will
figure that Lord George is probably going to say in his history: 'At
this point the Peace Conference was up against it and it looked like the
bottom had fallen out of everything, when like a voice from heaven,
somebody made a remark which smoothed away all difficulties. It was Lord
George who came to the rescue.' The consequence will be that both of
them historians will beat Clemenceau to it, by giving credit for the
suggestion to the feller who made it, even if it would have been Orlando
himself."

"But suppose Mr. Wilson actually did make the suggestion, Mawruss, and
in the interests of telling the strict truth about the matter, he feels
that he is obliged to mention it in his history," Abe said, "he's bound
to run up against a big chorus of _Yows!_"

"Well, so far as I could see, nobody compels Mr. Wilson to write a
history of that Peace Conference if he don't want to," Morris replied,
"and if he should decide not to do so, he could always rent that
Southern California property furnished for the season, or if he feels
that he must occupy it himself for history business purposes, he could
anyhow write a domestic History of the United States from December 5,
1918, to July 6, 1919, both inclusive, in which his name need hardly
occur at all. But joking to one side, Abe, when the history of this here
Peace Conference gets written, it don't make no difference who writes
it, he ain't going to be able to ignore Mr. Wilson exactly. In fact,
Abe, the history of this here Peace Conference is going to be more or
less principally about Mr. Wilson, and if the feller who writes it
wouldn't be exactly Senator Lodge, y'understand, the truth is bound to
leak out that Mr. Wilson did a wonderful job over in Paris. Of course he
made a whole lot of enemies over here, but then he also made a whole lot
of peace over there, Abe, and, after all, that is what he went there
for."

"Still I couldn't help thinking that from a business point of view,
Mawruss, the Peace Conference suffered a good deal from poor
management," Abe said. "Take for instance the signing of the Peace
Treaty in Mirror Hall, Versailles, and properly worked up, the Allies
could of made enough out of that one show alone to pay for all the ships
that Germany sank a few days ago, which holding a thing like that in a
hall, Mawruss, is a sample of what kind of management there was."

"They had the Germans sign that Peace Treaty in that hall because it was
the same hall where them Germans made the French sign the Peace Treaty
in 1870," Morris explained.

"Sure I know," Abe said, "but what did they know about such things in
1870? Even grand opera they gave in halls in them days, which,
considering the amount of interest there was in the signing of the Peace
Treaty, Mawruss, I bet yer enough people was turned away from Mirror
Hall, Versailles, to more than fill five halls of the same size. As it
was, Mawruss, so many people crowded into that Mirror Hall that nobody
could see anything, and the consequence was that when Clemenceau begun
his speech the disorder was something terrible."

"I suppose his opening remark was: 'Koosh! What is this? A
_Kaffeeklatsch_ or something?'" Morris remarked, satirically.

"It might just so well have been, for all anybody heard of it," Abe went
on. "In fact, the papers say that all through it there was loud cries
of, 'Down in front!' from people which had probably bought their tickets
at the last moment off of a speculator who showed them a diagram of
Mirror Hall, Batesville, and not Versailles, on which it looked like
they was getting four good ones in the fifth row, center aisle,
Mawruss."

"Probably also while Clemenceau was speaking, there was difficulty in
calling off the score-card and ice-cream-cone venders," Morris said.

"I am telling you just exactly what I read it in the newspapers," Abe
said, "which there ain't no call to get sarcastic, Mawruss. The signing
of that treaty was arranged just the same like any other show is
arranged, except that the arrangements wasn't quite so good. The idea
was to make it impressive by keeping it very plain, and that is where
the Allies, to my mind, made a big mistake, because the people to be
impressed was the Germans, and what sort of an impression would that
signing of the Peace Treaty by delegates in citizen clothes make on a
country where a station agent looks like a colonel and a colonel looks
like the combined annual conventions of the Knights of Pythias and the
I. O. M. A."

"The chances is that the Allies did the best they could with the short
time they had for preparation, because you must got to remember that the
Germans didn't make up their minds to sign till two days before the
signing, and considering that the President of the United States wears
only the uniform prescribed by the double-page advertisements of
Rochester, Chicago, and Baltimore clothing manufacturers for people who
ride in closed cars, two days is an awful short time to hire a really
impressive uniform, let alone to have one made to order, Abe," Morris
said. "Furthermore, Abe, the signing of that Peace Treaty could have
been put on by the feller that runs off these here Follies with the
assistance of George M. Cohan and the management of the Metropolitan
Opera House, y'understand, and the costumes could have been designed by
Ringling Brothers, with a few hints from Rogers, Peet, understand me,
and I don't believe them Germans would stick to the terms of the treaty
anyway."

"Europe should worry about that, Mawruss," Abe said. "The main thing is
that the peace is signed and the last of our boys would soon be home
again from Europe, and once we get them back again in this country,
Mawruss, it _oser_ would make any difference to us whether Germany keeps
the treaty or she don't keep it, Mawruss, the chances of us sending our
boys back again is pretty slim."

"But under section ten of the League Covenant, Abe," Morris began, "the
time might come when we would got to send them."

"Maybe," Abe admitted, "but if any of them European nations has got the
idea that because Germany is going to be slow pay we would oblige with a
few million troops, Mawruss, they've got another idea coming. We are a
nation, not a collection agency, and no amount of section tens is going
to make us one, either."

"Well, that is the danger of this here League of Nations, Abe," Morris
said, "and if the Senate ratifies it, we are not only a collection
agency, but a burglar insurance company as well, and in fact some of the
Senators goes so far as to say that we ain't so much insuring people
against the operations of burglars as insuring burglars against the
loss of their _ganevas_."

"I know the Senators is saying that, and I also know that Mr. Wilson
says it ain't so," Abe agreed, "but this here fuss about international
affairs has got what the lawyers calls a statue of limitations running
against it right now, and I give both Mr. Wilson and the Senate six
months, and they will be going round saying: 'Do you remember when six
months ago we got so terrible worked up over that--now--National
League,' and somebody who is sitting near them will ask, for the sake of
having things just right, 'You mean that League of Nations, ain't it?'
and Mr. Wilson will say: 'League of Nations! National League! What's the
difference? Let's have another round of Old Dr. Turner's Favorite
Asparagus Tonic and forget about it.'"

"So you think that all this international politics will be forgotten as
quickly as that?" Morris commented.

"Say!" Abe said, "it won't take long for Mr. Wilson to settle down into
American ways again. Of course it will be pretty hard for him during the
first few weeks, whenever he gets a sick headache, to send out for a
doctor instead of an admiral, and he may miss his evening _schmooes_
with Clemenceau, Lord George, and Orlando, but any one that will have
such a lot of _clav hasholom_ times to talk over as Mr. Wilson will for
the rest of his life, even if he does have to hold out some of the stuff
for his History of the Peace Conference in three volumes, price
twenty-five dollars, Mawruss, would never need to play double solitaire
in order to fill in the time between supper and seeing is the pantry
window locked in case Mrs. Wilson is nervous that way. Then again there
is things happening in this country which looked very picayune to Mr.
Wilson over in France, and which will seem so big when he arrives here
that almost as soon as he sets his foot on the dock in Hoboken, the
League of Nations will get marked off in his mind for depreciation as
much as a new automobile does by merely having the owner's number plates
attached to it, even if it ain't been run two miles from the agency
yet."

"I never thought of it that way," Morris admitted, "but it is a fact
just the same that this here League of Nations is only being operated at
the present time under a demonstrator's license, so to speak, and as
soon as it gets its regular number, the manufacturers and the agents
won't be so sensitive about the knocks that the prospective customers is
handing it."

"And just so soon as the demonstrations have gone far enough, Mawruss,
just you watch all the nations of the earth that ain't made up their
minds whether they want to ride or not, jump aboard," Abe said. "Also,
Mawruss, this League of Nations is to the United States Senate what a
new-car proposition is to the head of any respectable family. If the
wife wants it and the children wants it, it may be that the old man will
think it over for a couple of weeks, and he may begin by saying that
the family would get a new car over his dead body, and what do they
think he is made of, money? y'understand, but sooner or later he is
going to sign up for that new car, and don't you forget it. And after
all, Mawruss, if the other big nations is in on this League of Nations,
we could certainly afford to pay our share of what it costs to run it."

"Maybe we could," Morris concluded, "but if a new League of Nations is
like a new automobile, we are probably in for an expensive time, because
with a new car, Abe, it ain't what you run that costs so much money.
It's what you back into."



XXIII

THE RECENT UNPLEASANTNESS IN TOLEDO, OHIO


"If we would only had our wits about us the day we sent for the
policeman to put out that feller we had running the elevator, Mawruss,
we could of made quite a lot of money maybe," Abe Potash remarked to
Morris Perlmutter a few days after the heavy-weight title changed hands.

"If we would only had our wits about us and you had taken my advice to
let the feller sleep off his jag instead of hauling in a policeman to
wake him up and throw him out, Abe," Morris said, "they wouldn't of
broken, between them, fifty dollars' worth of fixtures and ruined a lot
of garments on us."

"Well, that's what I mean, Mawruss, which is forty-five thousand people
could be persuaded into paying anywheres from ten to a hundred dollars
apiece to see that nine-minute affair in Toledo where the two loafers
didn't have nothing against one another personally and couldn't of kept
their minds on the fight anyhow for trying to figure their share of the
profits, y'understand, what would them forty-five thousand _meshugoyim_
paid to see for twenty minutes a couple of fellers which they really
and truly wanted to kill each other without any intermissions of so much
as two seconds, Mawruss?" Abe said.

"Well, I'll tell you, Abe," Morris said, "these here fight fans are the
same like moving-picture fans; they would a whole lot sooner pay out
money to see the imitation article than the real thing. Tell one of
these here fight fans that for ten cents you would let him know where at
half past nine o'clock on Monday morning an iron-molder has got an
appointment to meet a stevedore who used to be engaged to the
iron-molder's sister and now refuses to return the twenty-five dollars
he borrowed from her to get the wedding-ring and the marriage license,
and the fight fan would ask you what is that _his_ business. Tell a
moving-picture fan that there is a family over on Tenth Avenue where the
father is a ringer for William S. Hart and is _also_ in jail,
y'understand, and that such a family is about to be dispossessed for
non-payment of rent, understand me, and if you made an offer to such a
moving-picture fan, that for a contribution of fifteen cents toward
finding the family a new home, you would show him a close-up of the
landlord, of the notice to quit and of the court-room of the Municipal
Court of the City of New York for the Eleventh Judicial District where
such proceedings are returnable, understand me, the moving-picture fan
wouldn't come across with a nickel, not even if you undertook to engage
the entire combined orchestras of the Strand, the Rivoli, and the Rialto
moving-picture theaters to play 'Hearts and Flowers' while the
furniture was being piled on the moving-van."

"I wouldn't blame the moving-picture fan at that, Mawruss," Abe said,
"because if such a moving-picture fan would see one of these here
harrowing William S. Hart and Mary Pickford incidents in real life,
Mawruss, when it reached the point where the moving-picture fan's heart
is going to break unless there would be a quick happy ending,
y'understand, not only would there _not_ be a happy ending, but also,
Mawruss, instead of the next incident being a Mack Sennett comedy in
real life, Mawruss, it might be something so sad, y'understand, that if
a moving-picture corporation would try to reproduce it on the screen, it
would cost them a fortune for glycerin alone."

"A moving-picture fan's heart don't break so easy as all that, Abe,"
Morris said. "Moving-picture fans is like doctors and undertakers, Abe.
They've got so used to other people's misfortunes that it practically
don't affect them at all. Moving-picture fans can see William S. Hart
come out of jail to find his wife married to the detective who not only
arrested him in the first reel, but is also giving terrible _makkas_ to
Mr. Hart's youngest child in the second reel, y'understand, and wrings
that moving-picture fan's heart to the same extent like it would be
something in a tropical review entitled: 'Eighth Annual Convention of
the United Ice-men of America, Akron, Ohio. Arrival of the Delegates at
the Akron, Union, Depot,' y'understand. Yes, Abe, the effect of
five-reel films on a moving-picture fan's heart is like the effect of
five-star Scotch whisky on a typical club-man's life. It hardens it to
such an extent that it practically ceases to do the work for which it
was originally put into a human body, Abe."

"To tell you the truth, Mawruss, I 'ain't got no use for any kind of a
fan, and that goes for moving-picture fans, fight fans, baseball fans,
and pinochle fans, not to mention grand-opera fans, first-night theayter
fans, and every other fan from golluf downwards. Take these here fight
fans which chartered special trains for Toledo, Ohio, and paid a hundred
dollars for a ringside seat, Mawruss, and to my mind it would take one
of these here insanity experts to figure out just what made them do it
at a time when on account of the raise in rent and living expenses, so
many heads of families is staying home with their families these hot
Sundays and reading the papers about the fight fans chartering special
trains and paying a hundred dollars for ringside seats, and not feeling
the heat any the less because of reading such things. Also, Mawruss, as
one business man to another who has had the experience of riding on a
sleeper and making Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, and Chicago even under
normal travel conditions, Mawruss, I ask you, where is the pleasure in
such a trip?"

"Them fight fans don't do it for pleasure, Abe," Morris said. "They do
it for a reputation."

"A reputation for what?" Morris asked.

"A reputation for having paid the United States Railroad Administration
twice the regular fare to Toledo for a railroad journey, and also the
reputation for having paid the manager of this here prize-fight fifty
times the regular price of a ticket for a legitimate entertainment,"
Morris replied.

"But what for a reputation is that for a sane man to get?" Abe asked.

"Well," Morris commented, "for that matter, what kind of a reputation
does the same man get when he pays fifty dollars to reserve a table at a
Broadway restaurant on New-Year's Eve? That's where your friend the
insanity expert comes in, Abe. It's the kind of a reputation which the
people among which such a feller has got it--when they talk about it
says: 'And suppose he did. What _of_ it?'"

"It seems to me, Mawruss, that when a feller gets the reputation for
having such a reputation, his friends should ought to tip him off that
if he don't be mighty careful, the first thing you know he would be
getting that kind of a reputation," Abe said, "because there is also a
whole lot of other people among which he got that reputation, who
wouldn't stop at saying: 'Suppose he did. What _of_ it?' They would try
to figure out the answer upon the basis that a feller who pays a hundred
dollars for a ringside seat to see a fight which lasted nine minutes,
y'understand, and his money, understand me, are soon parted, and the
first thing you know, Mawruss, that poor nebich of a prize-fight fan
would be unable to attend the next annual heavy-weight championship of
the world to be held in Yuma, Arizona, or some such summer resort, in
August, 1921, simply because the United States Railroad Administration
refused to accept for his transportation in lieu of cash two thousand
shares of the Shapiro Texas Oil and Refining Corporation of the par
value of one hundred dollars apiece, notwithstanding that he also offers
to throw in a couple of hundred shares of a farm-tractor manufacturing
corporation and lots 120 to 135, both inclusive, in Block 654 on a map
filed in the office of the clerk of Atlantic County, New Jersey,
entitled Map of Property of the East by Southeast, Atlantic City Land
and Development Company."

"Well, it would serve such a feller right if such a thing did happen to
him," Morris commented, "because any one who takes an interest in such a
disgusting affair as this here fight should not only lose his money, but
he should ought to go to jail."

"I give you right, Mawruss," Abe replied. "And why the newspapers print
the reports of such a thing is a mystery to me. Here there are
happenings, happenings over in Europe which is changing the history of
the world every twenty-four hours, Mawruss, and to this one prize-fight
which a man has got to be a loafer not to get sick at his stomach over
it, Mawruss, they are devoting practically the entire newspaper. I give
you my word, Mawruss, it took me pretty near three hours to read it
last night."

"At the same time, Abe," Morris said, "you would think that a man of
this here Jeff Willard's fighting record wouldn't of give up so easy."

"Look what he was up against," Abe reminded him. "There 'ain't been a
fighter in years with this feller Dempsey's speed and science, Mawruss."

"But I don't think that Willard was trained right, Abe," Morris said.

"What do you mean--not trained right?" Abe retorted. "From what the
newspapers has been saying during the past few weeks, Mawruss, he was in
wonderful condition, and his sparring partners seemingly could hit him
on any part of his face and body, and it never seemed to affect him
any."

"Sure I know," Morris agreed, "but what for a training was that for a
rough affair like this here prize-fight turned out to be, which if I
would of been this here Jeff Willard's manager, Abe, I wouldn't of put
no faith in sparring partners. A sparring partner is only human--that is
to say, if any prize-fighter could be human--and naturally such a
sparring partner ain't going to do himself out of a good job by going
too far and seriously injuring a heavyweight champion. The consequences
was, Abe, that this here Jeff Willard went into the ring, confident that
he couldn't be knocked down by a blow from a fighter like Dempsey,
simply because he had no experience in being knocked down by a blow."

"Maybe he couldn't of been knocked down by a blow from his sparring
partners," Abe suggested. "Maybe they weren't strong enough."

"That's just what I'm driving into, Abe," Morris said, "which if instead
of Willard's manager wasting time by trying to have sparring partners
knock him down, he would have gone to work and had Willard knocked down
by something which could really and truly knock him down, like a Fifth
Avenue stage or a heavy automobile delivery truck, y'understand, the
result might have been very different."

"Sure I know," Abe said, "but you could easy overdo such a training
method, Mawruss, and end up with an autopsy instead of a prize-fight.
Also, Mawruss, the way it looked to experts after this here fight had
been pulled off, where Willard made his mistake was in training to
receive punishment instead of training to give it."

"Willard didn't believe in training to give punishment," Morris said.
"If he had believed in it, he could have gone over to Europe and
received pretty nearly a year and a half of the very best training a
prize-fighter could get in giving punishment, Abe, and also, Abe, he
would have avoided getting called a slacker by some of them prize-fight
fans, who seemed to be sore that Willard should have quit after losing
only half his teeth and having still another eye to see with, the right
one being blinded in the first round, Abe."

"Well, the chances is that when Willard goes to consult a doctor, which
he would probably have to do after the licking he got, Mawruss," Abe
said, "before he would get the opportunity to tell the doctor that he
had been in a prize-fight, the doctor will give one look at him and lay
the whole trouble to abscesses at the roots of the teeth, and he will
order Willard to go and have the rest of them drawn right away, so he
might just as well have stayed one more round and let Dempsey finish the
job. Also, Mawruss, them fight fans _oser_ cared whether Willard had
served in the army or not. Willard was the loser, and naturally them
Broadway fight fans didn't have no sympathy with a loser, so even if
there hadn't been no European war for Willard not to serve in, Mawruss,
they would of tried to think of some other name to shout at him as he
staggered out of the ring, like Prohibitionist or League-of-Nationer."

"Of course them fight fans had in a way a right to get sore, Abe,"
Mawruss remarked, "because a whole lot of them had bet money on Willard
to win."

"Sure they did," Abe agreed, "but gambling on the personal injuries of
two human beings, even if they do agree of their own will to see how
long they can stand such injuries without growing unconscious, Mawruss,
is my idea of nothing to gamble about. But I suppose the typical fight
fan don't feel that way about it. Probably when some member of his
family has got to go through an operation, he wipes away his tears with
one hand and makes a book on the result with the other. He probably
offers his friends even money that the party won't come out of the
ether, one to two that the party wouldn't rally from the shock, and one
to three against complete recovery inside of a month, or he will make a
combination offer whereby his friends can play the operation across the
board as a two or three proposition, Mawruss."

"And his friends, being also prize-fight fans, will probably take him
up," Morris suggested.

"Certainly they will," Abe concluded, "because to a prize-fight fan
suffering is not a sight which is to be avoided. It is something which a
typical prize-fight fan would take a special train and pay a hundred
dollars any time to see."



XXIV

FEEDING THE PEACE CONFERENCERS AND THE HOUSEHOLD


"Anybody which don't arrange beforehand what the price is going to be,
Mawruss, is never overcharged, no matter how much he gets soaked in the
bill," Abe Potash said to his partner, Morris Perlmutter, a few days
after the Hotel Crillon filed its claim against the American peace
mission for two million francs, "which, if the way the United States
government arranged with the management of the Hotel Crillon for the
board and lodging of them Peace Conferencers is any criterium, Mawruss,
we would got to start a recruiting drive for fifty thousand certified
public accountants for service abroad, with a chance to see the
wonderful scenery and bookkeeping of France."

"I thought the United States government didn't make any arrangement with
the Hotel Crillon before them Peace Conferencers went over, Abe," Morris
said.

"That's what I mean, Mawruss," Abe said, "which, when President Wilson
made up his mind to send all them experts over to France he sent for
Ambassador Sharp and asked him where's a good place for them Indians to
stay, and Sharp told him the Hotel Crillon, and when Mr. Wilson asked
him is it a good medium-price place, Mr. Sharp says he shouldn't worry,
that Jake Crillon is a good feller and wouldn't overcharge nobody,
y'understand, and for to leave it to Jake, and so Mr. Wilson done so,
Mawruss, and naturally this is the result."

"Why, what for a bill did the management of the Hotel Crillon put in
against the United States government, Abe?" Morris asked.

"They 'ain't put in any bill as yet, Mawruss," Abe said. "This here is
only a preliminary claim of two million francs, on account of the loss
of regular customers because the hotel has been occupied for such a long
time by them American Peace Conferencers."

"Well, wouldn't most of the regular customers come back if the
management promised that after them Peace Conferencers went home they
would disinfect the hotel and give it a thorough overhauling or
something?" Morris asked.

"The question 'ain't been argued as yet, Mawruss," Abe said, "but you'll
have to admit that if two years from now a guest of the Hotel Crillon
complains to the management of something about his room smelling awful
peculiar, y'understand, and if the management should go to work and tear
up the floor and overhaul the plumbing, only to find that it's a case of
the room not having recovered from an American Jugo-Slob expert holding
conferences with the Jugo-Slob delegates to the Peace Conference in it,
understand me, two million francs ain't going to go such a long ways, in
especially at the present rate of exchange, Mawruss."

"Perhaps you're right, Abe," Morris said. "Perhaps it is better that a
lump sum like two million francs would be charged rather as go into the
items themselves, because, for instance, if that American mission to
negotiate peace had been staying at the hotel which we stayed at, Abe, a
bill would have been submitted like this, Abe:


            "MM. American Mission to Negotiate Peace
             TO HOTEL SE'ESCROQUERIE ET LONDRES, DR.

            Terms, net cash        800 rooms; 8 baths
                                       Tel.: 6060 Rivoli

March, 1919:   To entertaining MM. Orlando and Sonnino, as follows:
  Table overturned and following articles broken:
    1 inkstand and mucilage-bottle.                         Fr.  24.50
    1 table-cover damaged by mucilage.                           45.00
  Chairs injured as follows:
    1 light chair thrown through window.                         58.00
    1 heavy chair thrown through window.                         85.00
  Labor as follows:
    Sweeping up broken eye-glasses.                               2.00
    Sweeping up hair.                                             3.00
    Removing blood-stains from carpet.                            4.50
Credit:
  By one unclaimed hat, labeled 'Mike, the Popular Rome Hatter'.   .20
                                                                 _____
          Total                                             Fr. 382.40


and not only would it have given away a whole lot of diplomatic secrets,
but the American mission would also have got to pay a luxury tax of ten
per cent. on the hotel's telephone number and a little mistake of a
hundred francs in the addition."

"But this here Hotel Crillon was a strictly first-class hotel, Mawruss,"
Abe said, "and with strictly first-class hotels it's the same in Europe
as it is in this country, Mawruss; the rates are so fixed that it ain't
necessary for the management to make mistakes in the bill, while the
accounting department always figures the overhead so as to include the
hotel's telephone number, the number of the guest's room, and, in the
case of mountain-resort hotels, the altitude of the hotel above
sea-level."

"Well, that's just what I am driving into, Abe," Morris said. "Even when
hotel bills are submitted weekly and the management has got his signed
checks to show for it, Abe, nobody never realizes that he owes all that
money to a hotel, y'understand, and when at the end of the peace
commission's tenancy the hotel management sends in its final bill, Abe,
there's going to be considerable argument between Mr. Joseph Grew, the
secretary of the commission, and all them Peace Conferencers, expert and
otherwise, as to who ordered what and when, y'understand, which I see by
the newspapers, Abe, that Mr. Grew has already begun an investigation
about who authorized the serving of one hundred bottles tchampanyer wine
on June 14th, and if Mr. Grew couldn't trace the party which signed for
one hundred bottles tchampanyer wine on June 14th, y'understand, what
chance does he have of finding out who is responsible for each and
every one of the hundreds of checks with illegible signatures which is
bound to show up in the final accounting for such articles as scrambled
eggs, bacon, and coffee, which any Peace Conferencers might have signed
for, whether his home town was in a dry state or not, Abe."

"And Mr. Grew wouldn't get no sympathy from the President, neither,
Mawruss," Abe said, "which, when the morning mail arrives at the White
House nowadays just as Mr. Wilson is saying to Mrs. Wilson, '_Some_
coffee, mommer!'--because the average American has got to be home from
Europe at least a month before a good cup of coffee ceases to become a
miracle, Mawruss--it won't take more than two letters from Mr. Grew
asking Mr. Wilson does he remember whether at the conference between
him, Clemenceau, Lord George, Venezuelas, and Baron Ishii, held in
Parlor A on March 22d, did or did not somebody order a rye-bread tongue
sandwich and a split of Evian water, and if so to please sign inclosed
check for same, _non pro tunc_ as of March 22d, 1919, understand me,
before the only effect an envelope addressed in the handwriting of Mr.
Grew will have on Mr. Wilson is that he is going to throw it unopened
into the waste-paper basket without so much as saying, 'I wonder what
that _schlemiel_ wants from me _now_.'"

"As a matter of fact, Abe, the price of food 'ain't interested Mr.
Wilson since a few days ago when he asked Mrs. Wilson, 'How much are we
paying now for coffee, mommer?' and Mrs. Wilson says fifty-eight cents
a pound, and Mr. Wilson says for the love of Mike, and then asks what
she is paying for eggs, and Mrs. Wilson says at Ginsburg's Economy
Market eighty-five cents a dozen, and Mr. Wilson says he would just as
lieve have some hash from last night's rib roast, and Mrs. Wilson says
she doesn't blame him and so would she, but that they are going to have
that rib roast cold for lunch on account Ginsburg is practically
_schenking_ his customers rib roast for fifty-five cents a pound,"
Morris said.

"And how did you come to hear about this conversation, Mawruss?" Abe
asked.

"I didn't hear about it," Morris replied, "but I presume it took place
the morning after the newspapers printed the report of the Federal Trade
Commission about the packing-houses, Abe, because a similar conversation
happened at my breakfast-table that morning, and I presume it also
happened at yours."

"Well, it's time that business men begun to take a little interest in
the cost of what they are eating, Mawruss," Abe said. "On account of the
increase in the price of food, Mawruss, the business man is now paying
more money to all the people which is working for him, except his wife."

"Sure, I know," Morris said, "but the business man which is mean enough
to hold down his wife to twenty dollars a week housekeeping money simply
because the principle of the closed shop and collective bargaining can't
be applied to an American household the way it could to a Turkish
harem, Abe, don't live so well as he used to. Former times when such a
man complained to his wife that the chicken was a little tough,
y'understand, she used to say, 'What do you want for twenty dollars a
week housekeeping money--mocking-birds?' Nowadays, however, the best
that such a man has got to complain about being tough is round steak,
and his wife now says, 'What do you want for twenty dollars a week
housekeeping money--chicken?'"

"And the standard of living for even business men is going down so fast,
Mawruss, that next year when such a man complains that the tripe is
tough, she is going to say, 'What do you expect for twenty dollars a
week housekeeping money--round steak?'" Abe said, "and if them packers
goes on trying to control the entire bill of fare from soup to cereals,
Mawruss, it would only be a matter of a few years when such a husband is
going to complain that the puffed jute is tough, and his wife is going
to ask him, 'What do you expect for twenty dollars a week housekeeping
money--ensilage?' which, if something ain't done pretty soon to stop
dealers boosting the price of food, Mawruss, twenty dollars a week
housekeeping money ain't going to feed a family of hearty-eating
canary-birds."

"I suppose that in the end, Abe, the business man would be obliged to
admit that the high cost of living is just as expensive for his wife as
it is for his other employees," Morris concluded, "and, without the
formality of a strike, the wives of business men will be conceded a new
wage-scale of from thirty to forty dollars, in place of the old scale of
twenty dollars, for a working-week of one hundred and sixty-eight hours,
because it don't make no difference if the Senate confirms the League of
Nations or not, Abe, married business men will never live up to the
clause which provides for an international working-day of eight
hours--anyhow, so far as their wives is concerned."

"That ain't the only clause of the Peace Treaty which wouldn't be lived
up to, Mawruss," Abe said, "because I see that already the Germans is
having their troubles restoring to the British government this here
skull of the Sultan Mkwiwa, Mawruss, which, according to Section Eight,
I think it is, of the Treaty of Peace, was removed from German East
Africa and taken to Germany."

"But the Germans claim that it was never taken from German East Africa,
but was buried there, and they misremember the name of the cemetery,"
Morris declared.

"I know they do, and I couldn't understand their attitude in the matter,
Mawruss," Abe said. "Why don't they go to work and send England any old
skull, which a skull is a skull, ain't it?--and one skull is just as
much like another skull as two pinochle decks with the same backs, and
who is going to check them up on it no matter what kind of a skull they
send? Besides, Mawruss, the people who had pull enough to get that skull
section inserted in the Treaty of Peace is going to be divided into two
classes when that skull arrives in East Africa, _anyway_--namely, those
who will throw a bluff that they recognized the skull as the sultan's
skull as soon as they laid eyes on it, y'understand, and those who will
refuse to concede that any skull is the sultan's skull. There will also,
of course, be a large class of East Africans who won't give a nickel one
way or the other; so if Germany couldn't find the sultan's skull, let
them send England an _ersatz_ sultan's skull with a genwine sultan's
label on it. They've been doing that sort of thing for years with
American safety-razors, American folding-cameras, and American
typewriters; why should they now take it so particular with a German
East African sultan?"

"Then you think there is something suspicious about the way Germany is
acting over this here skull?" Morris suggested.

"I wouldn't call it exactly suspicious, Mawruss," Abe said, "but at the
same time I wouldn't put it beyond the Germans that, after the Allies
gets through discussing together whether or not the sultan's skull is
genwine, they would suddenly awake to the fact that at least two of the
million-mark bills which Germany paid over in the indemnity,
y'understand, are _not_. So, therefore, my advice to England is, examine
the German indemnity carefully, and don't let no returned sultan's skull
distract your attention, even if it would be made of plaster of Paris
with a round hold on top for keeping matches in it, and on the bottom a
sign, reading:

"_Grüss Aus Schveningen_."



XXV

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? THIS INCLUDES LIBELED MILLIONAIRES,
ENFORCED PROHIBITION, AND SHANTUNG


"Well I'll tell you, Mawruss," Abe Potash said, recently, "I doubt very
much if I would be able to say offhand who Arnold Benedict was if I
would be asked such a question by a smart lawyer in a court-room full of
reporters, which, if they hadn't happened to be there at that particular
moment, would of probably gone to their graves without even the faintest
suspicion that you didn't spell _ignorant idealist_ with two l's,
y'understand."

"Still, Abe, you've got to admit that plaintiff in a libel suit don't
deserve much sympathy if he don't post himself before going on the stand
as to the meaning of the libel, so as to anyhow be able to say that it
_was_ a libel and not a compliment, understand me," Morris said.

"He took his lawyers' word for it that it was a libel, Mawruss," Abe
said, "and, anyhow, Mawruss, nobody has got a right to call anybody an
ignorant philantropist even, no matter how ignorant such a philantropist
might be about what the word philantropist would mean."

"And do you _know_ what it means?" Morris asked.

"A philantropist is a feller who gives big sums of moneys to
orphan-asylums, hospitals, and colleges, and if he could afford it he's
a philantropist, Mawruss, and if he couldn't, then he's a sucker, and
that is what is called a philantropist," Abe said, "which, if I didn't
know what it meant, Mawruss, I ain't such an ignorant idealist that I
would use such a word in front of you and expect you not to try to trip
me up on it."

"I see you've also been looking up what ignorant idealist means," Morris
observed.

"And I ain't very peculiar that way, neither, Mawruss," Abe admitted,
"because I bet yer that in the last two days at least five million
people has been looking up in the dictionary what that word idealist
means and not knowing even _then_ what it means, y'understand, and still
that 'ain't prevented them from knocking Mr. Ford, Mawruss."

"But the fact remains, Abe, that them five million people ain't suing
nobody for calling them ignorant idealists," Morris interrupted.

"Also, Mawruss, they ain't running one of the largest industrial plants
in the country on a profit-sharing basis with several thousand
employees," Abe declared, "which there is a whole lot of big
manufacturers in this country who could go on the stand at a moment's
notice and pass a cross-examination with a hundred-per-cent. mark on all
them words which you read in them medical journals you pick up from the
doctor's desk in his private office when he excuses himself for a minute
to answer the 'phone and which you put down so quick and pretend you
'ain't been reading when he comes back again, if you know what I mean.
And furthermore, if these same big manufacturers was elected to the
United States Senate to-morrow they could make a speech against doing
away with child labor in words of six syllables, y'understand, and would
probably make such a speech, because the trouble with most big
manufacturers is not that they are ignorant, understand me, but that
they ain't idealists, Mawruss."

"Just the same, Abe, a man should ought to know what he don't know and
side-step it," Morris said.

"But the way it is in this country, Mawruss, a multimillionaire can't
side-step it. The newspapers won't let him, because if he gets a
reputation for having made fifty million dollars in the safety-pin
business, we would say, for example, and news gets so scarce in the
newspapers that somebody starts a discussion about which is the biggest
musician, Kreisler _oder_ Zimbalist, y'understand, right away the editor
sends out reporters to interview the most prominent men in the country
as to what their opinion is in the matter, and naturally one of the
first men such a reporter would call on is Harris J. Rosenbaum, the
Safety-pin King. Now, what is Rosenbaum going to do under the
circumstances? Is he going to admit to the reporter that up to date he
has been so busy in his safety-pin plant that he 'ain't had time to
post himself as to whether Kreisler and Zimbalist is performers on the
trombone _oder_ the mouth-organ? _Oser!_ He finds out from the reporter
that these two fellers has got a piece-work wage-scale for playing on
the fiddle of five dollars a note, net cash, and he says that both of
them is wonderful fiddlers, y'understand, but that to his mind Kreisler
plays with more of the artistic temperature than Zimbalist, or if he
doesn't actually say so, y'understand, the reporter goes back to his
newspaper and _says_ he said so, and the consequence is that when in
next Sunday's paper Rosenbaum reads,


KREISLER GREATER ARTIST
SAYS SAFETY-PIN KING,


he not only begins to believe that he did say it, but also that it's
funny how a man can go on for years being an expert on fiddle-playing
and only find it out by accident, as it were."

"And I suppose that a few months later, on the strength of what he
_don't_ know about fiddle-playing, Abe," Morris remarked, "Harris J.
Rosenbaum, the Safety-pin King, is running for United States Senator and
comes pretty near getting elected, too."

"There don't seem to be no reason why he wouldn't be," Abe declared,
"because just so long as United States Senators is selected by election
and not by a competitive examination, Mawruss, there will always be a
certain percentage of Harris J. Rosenbaums in the United States Senate,
which you can't keep millionaires out of public office, if they want to
fool away their time in such things, and after all, Mawruss, it ain't
having brains which makes a man a millionaire, it's having a million
dollars."

"Then you don't blame Mr. Ford for the way he has behaved himself, Abe?"
Morris asked.

"Not in the least," Abe said. "Millionaires behave the way their
fellow-countrymen encourages them to behave, Mawruss, which to my mind,
Mawruss, the only way to learn a millionaire like Mr. Ford his place is
not to notice him and, in particular, not to pay no attention to
anything he says, and such a millionaire would quick subside and devote
himself to the manufacture of safety-pins or the best four-cylinder car
for the money in the world, as the case may be, which I see in the paper
that the refusal of the United States Senate to confirm the Treaty of
Peace looks quite certain to them people to whom the winning of the
Willard-Dempsey fight by Jeff Willard looked quite certain, Mawruss."

"Well, to my mind, Abe, them round-robins is right to look into the
Treaty and the League of Nations covenant before they confirm them,"
Morris said. "Also, Abe, you couldn't blame them Senators for getting
indignant about the Shantung settlement."

"Personally I couldn't blame them and I couldn't praise them, Mawruss,
because, like a hundred million other people in this country, not being
in the silk business, Mawruss, I never had the opportunity to find out
nothing about even where Shantung was on the map till they printed such
a map in the papers last week, and if you've got to go and look it up on
a map first to find out whether you should ought to be indignant or not,
Mawruss, you couldn't get exactly red in the face over Japan taking
Shantung, unless you are a Senator from the Pacific coast, where people
have got such a wonderful color in their cheeks that Easterners think
it's the climate, when, as a matter of fact, it is thinking about
Japanese unrestricted immigration that does it."

"But the Senators represents the people which elects them, Abe," Morris
said, "and if it don't take much to make a Californian indignant about
any little thing he suspects Japan is doing, y'understand, then Senator
Hiram Johnson has got a right to go 'round looking permanently purple
over this here Shantung affair. As for the other Senators, Abe, the
theory on which they talk each other deaf, dumb, and blind is that they
are doing a job which it is impossible for the hundred million people of
this country to do for themselves. They are saving their constituents
the trouble of leaving their homes and spending a lot of time on
government-controlled railroads, going to and from Washington to make
their own laws, y'understand. That is what representative government is,
Abe, and if the people of this country couldn't get indignant over what
ain't right in this here Treaty of Peace and League of Nations without
working up such indignation by several days' careful investigation of
the reasons for getting indignant, then it is up to the United States
Senate to get indignant for them, even if the individual Senators has
got to sit up with wet towels 'round their heads and strong black coffee
stewing on the gas-stove, so as not to fall asleep over the job of
letting their feelings get the better of their judgment in working up a
six-hour speech which will give the country the impression that it just
came pouring out on the spur of the moment as a consequence of the
Senators' red-hot indignation about this here Shantung."

"It's too bad that the House of Representatives couldn't be mind-readers
like the Senate, Mawruss, and get off indignant speeches about what is
making certain sections of the country so indignant, Mawruss, that if
their Congressmen is going to really and truly represent them, there
would be a regular epidemic of apoplexy in Washington," Abe said, "which
I am talking about the enforcement of prohibition, Mawruss."

"For myself, Abe, I couldn't understand why it should be necessary to
pass a law to enforce a law," Morris remarked, "because, if that is the
case, what is going to be the end? After they pass this here law to
enforce the prohibition law, are they going to pass another law to
enforce the law to enforce prohibition, or do they expect that this here
enforcement law will enforce itself, and if so, then why couldn't the
prohibition law be enforced without a law to enforce it?"

"To tell you the truth, Mawruss, a dyed-in-wool Dry could be as hopeful
as a man could possibly be on soft drinks, and in his heart of hearts he
must got to know that if Congress would sit from now till the arrival of
_Elia Hanov'e_ and did nothing all that time but pass an endless chain
of enforcement laws, prohibition will never be enforced except in the
proportion of 2.75 enforcement to 97.25 violation, anyhow in those parts
of the country where the hyphen Americans live and like their beverages
with a hyphen in it, because, Mawruss, where a hundred per cent. of the
population of a certain district has been drinking beer and light wines
since 12 A.M. on Rosh Hashonah in the year one up to and including
twelve midnight on June 30, 1919, y'understand, and seeing no harm in
it, understand me, not only would an act of Congress fail to change the
hearts and conscience of such people, but there could be an earthquake,
a cyclone, and anything else which a confirmed Dry would call a judgment
on them people, and still they wouldn't see no harm in it."

"Then what is the country going to do to enforce the prohibition law?"
Morris asked.

"I don't know," Abe said; "but one thing is certain, you can't change
people's habits on and after a certain hour on a certain date by putting
a law into effect on such date. You might just so well expect that, if
the Senate should confirm the provision handing over Shantung to the
Japanese, all the Chinamen in Shantung is immediately going to open
stores for the sale of imitation expensive vases and fake silk
embroidery, start factories for the manufacture of phony Swedish
safety-matches, and do all the other things which Japanese do so
successfully that any reputable business man is willing to take a chance
on getting indignant about Shantung without even asking his stenographer
to look it up for him."

"But I thought you thought that prohibition would be a good thing, Abe?"
Morris said.

"I do," Abe said. "I think brown stewed fish, sweet and sour, the way my
Rosie cooks it, is a good thing, but at the same time, Mawruss, I
realize that my taste in this respect is supported only by what you
might call a very limited public sentiment, consisting of Rosie and me,
y'understand, and the rest of the household couldn't stand to eat it at
all. So, therefore, when we have sweet and sour fish we cook for the
rest of the family eggs or meat, and in that way we have happiness in
the home. Now a country is a home for the people in it, ain't it, and
the main thing is that they should stick together and be happy, and how
could they be happy if even the great majority of the people tells the
rest what they should and shouldn't eat or drink?"

"But you admit that _schnapps_ is harmful, don't you?" Morris insisted.

"And I also admit that sweet and sour fish ain't exactly a health food,
Mawruss," Abe said. "In fact, you wouldn't believe what a lot of
bicarbonate of soda Rosie and me uses up between us after we eat that
fish; but even so, Mawruss, after you have said all you could say
against that fish, the fact remains that Rosie and me, we like it."

"Well, even if the people do like booze, and it does them harm, I say
they shouldn't have it," Morris said.

"I agree with you down to the ground, Mawruss," Abe said. "And I don't
care if it is booze or sweet and sour, you are still right; but if sweet
and sour fish was prohibited, although the fish and the onions and the
sugar and the vinegar which you make it out of _wasn't_, y'understand,
and in spite of the law, Rosie and me liked it and wanted to continue to
eat it, the question then is and the question is going to continue to
be:

"HOW ARE YOU GOING TO STOP IT?"



XXVI

THE APPROACHING ROYAL VISIT


"I see where the King of England, to show his appreciation of what we
done it during the war, Mawruss, is going to send his eldest son, the
King of England, junior, or whatever his name is, to visit us," Abe
Potash said to his partner, Morris Perlmutter.

"Yes?" Morris replied. "Well, why don't the King, senior, come himself?"

"You must think that kings has got nothing better to do with their time
than fool it away on ocean steamers, Mawruss," Abe said. "A king of
England is a very busy man, Mawruss, which I bet yer right now he is
dated up as far ahead as Purim, 1921, laying corner-stones, opening
exhibitions, making the speech of the afternoon or the evening, as the
case may be, at assorted luncheons, teas, and dinners; trying on
uniforms; signing warrants at a fee of two guineas and sixpence--not
including three cents war tax--for the appointment of tea, coffee, or
cocoa manufacturers as purveyors of tea, coffee, or cocoa to the royal
household, y'understand, and doing all the other things which a king
does in England and a prominent Elk does in America."

"Well, anyhow, I suppose the King of England, junior, must of done a lot
of hard work during the war which makes the King, senior, think that it
is time the boy had a vacation."

"_Oser!_" Abe said. "So far as I can make out, the young feller made a
couple of tourist's tours of the battle-fields, Mawruss, and maybe
helped out once or twice with the corner-stone laying; but otherwise,
for all the actual fighting he did, instead of being the King of
England's son during the war, he might just so well have been Mr. Ford's
son."

"Well, kings, junior or senior, ain't supposed to fight, Abe," Morris
said. "The most their countries expects of them is that they should
share the privations of their subjects by reducing the cost of running
their homes till they are living as economically during war-times as a
Texas oil millionaire does during peace-times. There was days together
there, in the terrible winter of 1916-1917, when the only dishes which
appeared on the tables of European kings, outside of green-turtle soup
and roast pheasant, was hothouse asparagus and fresh strawberry
ice-cream, Abe. The sufferings of kings, junior and senior, during the
war 'ain't half been told in the newspapers, Abe."

"The Kings of England, junior and senior, is very popular in England at
that, Mawruss," Abe said, "which every week the illustrated papers
prints picture after picture of both of them Kings looking every inch
kings, or anyhow openers or better, y'understand; and in fact, Mawruss,
the English-reading public never seems to get tired of seeing pictures
of building operations, just so long as there is one of them Kings in it
laying the corner-stone or turning the first sod of the excavation."

"For that matter, Abe, them brown illustrated supplements to American
Sunday newspapers which rubs off so on Palm Beach suits and ladies'
white gloves, 'ain't absolutely declared a boycott on kings' pictures,
neither," Morris declared. "I suppose that pictures of them Kings with
or without Marshal Haig reviewing soldiers and handing out medals is
easy worth several hundred dollars a week to the dry cleaners of New
York City alone."

"Did I say they didn't?" Abe asked. "Which, considering the trouble and
expense this country was put to over the Declaration of Independence,
Mawruss, you would be surprised how much interest a whole lot of ladies
takes in the English royal family. Here a short time ago the King,
senior's, father a brother's daughter got married beneath her to one of
the chief stockholders of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, Mawruss, and
you would think from the way my Rosie carried on about it that the
girl's mother was going round saying what did she ever do that her
daughter should go to work and marry a feller that made his living that
way, and what a mercy it was the grandmother didn't live to see it; the
theory being, Mawruss, that when a king's relation marries a healthy
young chief stockholder with nothing flowing in his veins but the blood
of a couple of generations of managing directors, y'understand, it is
the equivalence of a bank president's daughter eloping with a
professional dancer in a cabaret."

"And when the King, junior, arrives in this country there is going to be
a lot of disappointment among them ladies which also gets their pictures
printed by the Sunday supplement sitting around cross-legged in
ankle-length, awning-striped skirts at dawg-shows, in such a way that
even the dawgs must feel embarrassed if they've got the ordinary dawg's
sense of decency, Abe," Morris said, "because I see by the paper that
the King, senior, has instructed his son that while in New York he
should live on board the English battle-ship which is bringing him here
so as not to have no truck with any millionaires."

"I suppose the old man thinks that one managing director's child in the
royal family is enough," Abe suggested.

"Well," Morris said, "looking at him from the King's standpoint, it will
save the young feller's mother a lot of anxiety to know that he is safe
on board an English battle-ship every night instead of running around
the streets of a country where everybody, up to and including the
President himself, is the young feller's social inferior."

"And also, you can't blame the old man if he ain't taking no risks when
the young feller gets home and his mother asks him did he have a good
time, that two Right Honorable General Practitioners in Waiting would
got to work over her for an hour or so bringing her out of one swoon
after another as the result of her son saying, 'I'll _say_ I did,'" Abe
observed.

"Still, at the same time, Abe," Morris said, "it is going to be a
wonderful opportunity for the young feller, even if he gets home again,
he would occasionally use the words, '_You've said it_,' instead of
'_Quite so_.'"

"But that ain't the idea in the King's sending him over here, Mawruss,"
Abe said. "The intention is that it is a wonderful opportunity for the
American people to see how a king looks and at the same time not have it
come off on your gloves. In other words, Mawruss, it's as a favor to us
that the young feller is coming over here, and the chances is that his
personal feelings in the matter is very much the same as yours or mine
would be if we was about to make Sarahcuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Detroit,
and Chicago with a line of popular-price garments. We would do it in the
course of making a living and not for the education of the thing."

"Then my advice to the young feller and his father is that he should
stay home in these times when the building trade is looking up so, Abe,
and help out with the corner-stone laying," Morris said, "and give the
people of this country a real treat by sending over Lord George or
Marshall Field Haig, which while this here King, junior, is a decent,
respectable young feller and his father is also a gentleman that nobody
could say a word against no matter if it does cost the English people
sixpence in the pound of the ten shillings in the pound which they've
got to pay income tax in order that the English royal family should
continue to live in the style to which it has become accustomed during
the past five hundred years, Abe, still, at the same time, if I could be
standing on the curb watching Lord George or this here Haig driving by,
it would give me a real thrill to think that I am at last looking at the
face of a man who for over four years has been working night and day to
put over the biggest thing that has ever been put over in the history of
the world, y'understand; whereas, what for a thrill would I get from
looking at the face of a man who, putting it big, has been laying as
many corner-stones as all the bricklayers' unions in the American
Federation of Labor and has been presiding at as many banquets as this
here Irving J. Cobb and Gustave Thomas combined?"

"At that, there will be a whole lot of ambulance calls for people who
has fainted away in the crowds that will collect to see the King,
junior, drive up Fifth Avenue, Mawruss," Abe said.

"I know there will," Morris said; "and if it rested with me, Abe, I
wouldn't spend so much as two cents for mathematic spirits of ammonia to
bring them to, neither, because them crowds in America is helping along
a European idea which we sent across several million American soldiers
to wipe out. Them American crowds will be encouraging European kings to
believe that even in America we still think it is all right for the
ordinary people of Europe to sacrifice their lives and their property,
in order that them corner-stone layers shall cop out the credit."

"As a matter of fact, Mawruss," Abe said, "Mr. Wilson invited the young
feller to visit America."

"_Yow_, President Wilson invited him!" Morris exclaimed. "After the
experience President Wilson had in Paris staying with the Murats he must
have a pretty good idea what it means to be eaten out of house and home
by the people that tags along with a king or a president, which I bet
yer the most that Mr. Wilson said when he was visiting England last
Christmas was that he told the King, senior, if he was ever in
Washington to be sure and look him up, or to not to fail to let him know
if he was ever in Washington, or that the latch-string was always out at
the White House, or any one of the hundreds of things that ordinarily
the most inhospitable person in the world is perfectly safe in saying
without any one taking him up on it."

"Well, that's where Mr. Wilson made a big mistake, Mawruss," Abe said,
"because evidently this here King, junior, couldn't take a joke,
y'understand; which, the way it looks now, Mawruss, even if Mr. Wilson
had said, 'I hope to see you again sometime,' he would of immediately
taken out of his vest pocket such a little book which you put
memorandums in it and said how about August 30, 1919, or would
September 10th suit Mr. Wilson better, and that's the way it would of
went."

"Anyhow, that's neither here nor there, Abe," Morris said, "because, no
matter how many times nowadays Mrs. Wilson is going to ask Mr. Wilson
why he couldn't of said good-by, King, and let it go at that, because
such people, if you give them the least little encouragement, they would
use you like you was running a boarding-house already, understand me, it
ain't going to improve matters for Mr. Wilson when the young feller does
arrive."

"Say!" Abe exclaimed. "It wouldn't do that King, junior, no harm to
rough it a little there at the White House, Mawruss."

"What do you mean--rough it?" Morris demanded. "Don't you suppose the
President of the United States eats just so good in his own home as the
King of England does in his, Abe? It would be the least of Mr. Wilson's
worries if the young feller would expect chicken _à la_ king and fillet
of kingfish for breakfast, dinner, and supper already, but when it comes
to making up a list of the guests which would be invited to meet this
here King of England, junior, that is where Mr. Wilson is wise he would
get himself run over by a trolley-car or something, and sustain enough
injuries to keep him confined to his bed from a few days before the
young feller arrives until the morning after the British ambassador
successfully slips it to the young feller that the people in Washington
is beginning to wonder if a king of England 'ain't got no home,
y'understand."

"But why couldn't Mr. Wilson give one big dinner for the King, junior,
to which he would invite the Senate and House of Representatives in a
body, and have the whole thing over at one _schlag_, y'understand?"

"Say," Morris said, "the dining-room at the White House is a big place,
but it ain't exactly Madison Square Garden, and it ain't even Childs's
Boardwalk restaurant, neither."

"Then let him invite them to a series of meals in rotation
alphabetically, and let it go at that," Abe suggested.

"Before that would get him out of his troubles and not hold up the
confirmation of the Peace Treaty and League of Nations, Abe, Mr. Wilson
would first got to get an act of Congress passed amending the order of
the alphabet and making L for Lodge, J for Johnson, and R for Reed come
ahead of H for Hitchcock, who, of course, wouldn't mind helping out Mr.
Wilson by allowing himself to be shifted to the third or fourth
sitting," Morris said.

"Maybe it would be a good thing to let the alphabet stand and square
things with Borah and Brandegee," Abe retorted.

"It might even be still better if Mr. Wilson would write the King,
junior, to be so good and postpone his visit until after Inauguration
Day, 1921, and put the entire problem up to the next President, whoever
he might be," Morris said.

"He might even be Mr. Wilson," Abe concluded; "because, when it comes to
a job like entertaining this here King, junior, what American is anxious
to tackle it, even if by doing so he could become President even? Am I
right or wrong?"


THE END



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[Transcriber's Note:

The following typographic errors were corrected:
p. 55: changed Decclaration to Declaration
p. 64: changed Kasier to Kaiser
p. 65: changed single quote to double quote
p. 69: changed Kasier to Kaiser
p. 71: added closing parenthesis to end of (b)
p. 167: added missing word "be" to "by such instrumentalities could
          rendered"
p. 204: added missing period
]





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