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´╗┐Title: Biltmore Oswald - The Diary of a Hapless Recruit
Author: Smith Jr., J. Thorne
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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BILTMORE OSWALD

_THE DIARY OF A HAPLESS RECRUIT_

BY

J. THORNE SMITH, JR.
U.S.N.R.F.


_WITH 31 ILLUSTRATIONS IN BLACK-AND-WHITE_

BY

RICHARD DORGAN
("_Dick Dorgan_")
U.S.N.R.F.



[Illustration]

NEW YORK

FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

PUBLISHERS

_Copyright, 1918, by_

_Frederick A. Stokes Company_
_All Rights Reserved_


_Reprinted from_
THE BROADSIDE
A JOURNAL FOR
THE NAVAL RESERVE FORCE


DEDICATION

To my buddies, an unscrupulous, clamorous crew of pirates, as loyal
and generous a lot as ever returned a borrowed dress jumper with dirty
tapes; to numerous jimmy-legs and P.O.'s whose cantankerous tempers
have furnished me with much material for this book; and also to a dog,
an admirable dog whom I choose to call Mr. Fogerty, with apologies to
this dog if in these pages his slave has unwittingly maligned his
character or in any way cast suspicion upon his moral integrity.


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

     "Biltmore Oswald" _Frontispiece_

     "'Do you enlist for foreign service?' he snapped. 'Sure,' I
     replied, 'it will all be foreign to me'" 2

     "The departure was moist" 3

     "Hospital apprentice treated me to a shot of Pelham 'hop'" 4

     "I feel like a masquerade" 5

     "This, I thought, was adding insult to injury" 6

     "Mother kept screaming through the wire about my underwear" 7

     "A bill from a restaurant for $18.00 worth of past luncheons" 8

     "He missed the dirty whites, but I will never be the same" 9

     "Fire drill" 10

     "This is designed to give us physical poise" 11

     "Liberty Party" 14

     "Of course I played the game no more" 20

     "She was greatly delighted with the Y.M.C.A." 21

     "I wasn't so very wrong--just the slight difference between port
     and present arms" 24

     "The first thing he did was to mix poor dear grandfather a drink"
     25

     "I was tempted to shoot the cartridge out just to make it lighter"
     28

     "One fourth of the entire Pelham field artillery passed over my
     body" 29

     "The procedure, of course, did not go unnoticed" 32

     "This war is going to put a lot of Chinamen out of business" 44

     "I stood side-ways, thus decreasing the possible area of danger" 45

     "I'm a God-fearing sailor man who is doing the best he can to keep
     clean" 48

     "I took him around and introduced him to the rest of the dogs and
     several of the better sort of goats" 49

     "I resumed my slumber, but not with much comfort" 52

     "I lost completely something in the neighborhood of 10,000 men" 53

     "Fogerty came bearing down on me in a cloud of dust" 58

     "For the most part, however, he sat quietly on my lap and sniffed"
     59

     "I carried all the flour to-day that was raised last year in the
     southern section of the State of Montana" 76

     "'Oh,' said Tony, 'I thought this was a restaurant'" 77

     "'I would still remain in a dense fog,' I gasped in a low voice" 82

     "'Buddy' I came in and 'Buddy' I go out" 83



BILTMORE OSWALD

_The Diary of A Hapless Recruit_


_Feb. 23d._ "And what," asked the enlisting officer, regarding me as
if I had insulted him, his family and his live stock, "leads you to
believe that you are remotely qualified to join the Navy?"

At this I almost dropped my cane, which in the stress of my patriotic
preoccupation I had forgotten to leave home.

"Nothing," I replied, making a hasty calculation of my numerous
useless accomplishments, "nothing at all, sir, that is, nothing to
speak of. Of course I've passed a couple of seasons at Bar
Harbor--perhaps that--"

"Bar Harbor!" exploded the officer. "Bar! bah! bah--dammit," he broke
off, "I'm bleating."

"Yes, sir," said I with becoming humility. His hostility increased.

"Do you enlist for foreign service?" he snapped.

"Sure," I replied. "It will all be foreign to me."

The long line of expectant recruits began to close in upon us until a
thirsty, ingratiating semi-circle was formed around the officer's
desk. Upon the multitude he glared bitterly.

"Orderly! why can't you keep this line in some sort of shape?"

"Yes, give the old tosh some air," breathed a worthy in my ear as he
retreated to his proper place.

"What did you do at Bar Harbor?" asked the officer, fixing me with his
gaze.

"Oh," I replied easily, "I occasionally yachted."

"On what kind of a boat?" he urged.

"Now for the life of me, sir, I can't quite recall," I replied. "It
was a splendid boat though, a perfect beauty, handsomely fitted up and
all--I think they called her the 'Black Wing.'"

These few little remarks seemed to leave the officer flat. He regarded
me with a pitiful expression. There was pain in his eyes.

"You mean to say," he whispered, "that you don't know what kind of a
boat it was?"

"Unfortunately no, sir," I replied, feeling really sorry for the
wounded man.

"Do you recall what was the nature of your activities aboard this
mysterious craft?" he continued.

"Oh, indeed I do, sir," I replied. "I tended the jib-sheet."

"Ah," said he thoughtfully, "sort of specialized on the jib-sheet?"

"That's it, sir," said I, feeling things taking a turn for the better.
"I specialized on the jib-sheet."

"What did you do to this jib-sheet?" he continued.

"I clewed it," said I promptly, dimly recalling the impassioned
instructions an enthusiastic friend of mine had shunted at me
throughout the course of one long, hot, horrible, confused afternoon
of the past summer--my first, and, as I had hoped at the time, final
sailing experience.

The officer seemed to be lost in reflection. He was probably weighing
my last answer. Then with a heavy sigh he took my paper and wrote
something mysterious upon it.

"I'm going to make an experiment of you," he said, holding the paper
to me. "You are going to be a sort of a test case. You're the worst
applicant I have ever had. If the Navy can make a sailor out of you it
can make a sailor out of anybody"; he paused for a moment, then added
emphatically, "without exception."

"Thank you, sir," I replied humbly.

"Report here Monday for physical examination," he continued, waving my
thanks aside. "And now go away."

[Illustration: "'DO YOU ENLIST FOR FOREIGN SERVICE?' HE SNAPPED.
'SURE,' I REPLIED, 'IT WILL ALL BE FOREIGN TO ME'"]

I accordingly went, but as I did so I fancied I caught the reflection
of a smile lurking guiltily under his mustache. It was the sort of a
smile, I imagined at the time, that might flicker across the grim
visage of a lion in the act of anticipating an approaching trip to a
prosperous native village.


_Feb. 25th._ I never fully appreciated what a truly democratic nation
the United States was until I beheld it naked, that is, until I beheld
a number of her sons in that condition. Nakedness is the most
democratic of all institutions. Knock-knees, warts and chilblains,
bowlegs, boils and bay-windows are respecters of no caste or creed,
but visit us all alike. These profound reflections came to me as I
stood with a large gathering of my fellow creatures in the offices of
the physical examiner.

"Never have I seen a more unpromising candidate in all my past
experience," said the doctor moodily when I presented myself before
him, and thereupon he proceeded to punch me in the ribs with a vigor
that seemed to be more personal than professional. When thoroughly
exhausted from this he gave up and led me to the eye charts, which I
read with infinite ease through long practise in following the World
Series in front of newspaper buildings.

"Eyes all right," he said in a disappointed voice. "It must be your
feet."

These proved to be faultless, as were my ears and teeth.

"You baffle me," said the doctor at last, thoroughly discouraged.
"Apparently you are sound all over, yet, looking at you, I fail to see
how it is possible."

I wondered vaguely if he was paid by the rejection. Then for no
particular reason he suddenly tired of me and left me with all my
golden youth and glory standing unnoticed in a corner. From here I
observed an applicant being put through his ear test. This game is
played as follows: a hospital apprentice thrusts one finger into the
victim's ear while the doctor hurries down to the end of the room and
whispers tragically words that the applicant must repeat. It's a good
game, but this fellow I was watching evidently didn't know the rules
and he was taking no chances.

"Now repeat what I say," said the doctor.

"'Now repeat what I say,'" quoted the recruit.

"No, no, not now," cried the doctor. "Wait till I whisper."

"'No, no, not now. Wait till I whisper,'" answered the recruit,
faithfully accurate.

"Wait till I whisper, you blockhead," shouted the doctor.

"'Wait till I whisper, you blockhead,'" shouted the recruit with equal
heat.

"Oh, God!" cried the doctor despairingly.

"'Oh, God!'" repeated the recruit in a mournful voice.

This little drama of cross purposes might have continued indefinitely
had not the hospital apprentice begun to punch the guy in the ribs,
shouting as he did so:

"Wait a minute, can't you?"

At which the recruit, a great hulk of a fellow, delivered the hospital
apprentice a resounding blow in the stomach and turned indignantly to
the doctor.

"That man's interfering," he said in an injured voice. "Now that ain't
fair, is it, doc?"

"You pass," said the doctor briefly, producing his handkerchief and
mopping his brow.

"Well, what are you standing around for?" he said a moment later,
spying me in my corner.

"Oh, doctor," I cried, delighted, "I thought you had forgotten me."

"No," said the doctor, "I'll never forget you. You pass. Take your
papers and clear out."

I can now feel with a certain degree of security that I am in the
Navy.


_Feb. 26th._ I broke the news to mother to-day and she took it like a
little gentleman, only crying on twelve different occasions. I had
estimated it much higher than that.

After dinner she read me a list of the things I was to take with me to
camp, among which were several sorts of life preservers, an electric
bed warmer and a pair of dancing pumps.

"Why not include spurs?" I asked, referring to the pumps. "I'd look
very crisp in spurs, and they would help me in climbing the rigging."

"But some officer might ask you to a dance," protested mother.

"Mother," I replied firmly, "I have decided to decline all social
engagements during my first few weeks in camp. You can send the pumps
when I write for them."

A card came to-day ordering me to report on March 1st. Consequently I
am not quite myself.


_Feb. 27th._ Mother hurried into my room this morning and started to
pack my trunk. She had gotten five sweaters, three helmets and two
dozen pairs of socks into it before I could stop her. When I explained
to her that I wasn't going to take a trunk she almost broke down.

"But at least," she said, brightening up, "I can go along with you and
see that you are nice and comfortable in your room."

"You seem to think that I am going to some swell boarding school,
mother," I replied from the bed. "You see, we don't have rooms to
ourselves. I understand that we sleep in bays."

"Don't jest," cried mother. "It's too horrible!"

Then I explained to her that a bay was a compartment of a barracks in
which eight human beings and one petty officer, not quite so human,
were supposed to dwell in intimacy and, as far as possible, concord.

This distressed poor mother dreadfully. "But what are you going to
take?" she cried.

"I'm going to take a nap," said I, turning over on my pillow. "It will
be the last one in a bed for a long, long time."

At this mother stuffed a pair of socks in her mouth and left the room
hastily.

Polly came in to-night and I kissed her on and off throughout the
evening on the strength of my departure. This infuriated father, but
mother thought it was very pretty. However, before going to bed he
gave me a handsome wrist watch, and grandfather, pointing to his game
leg, said:

"Remember the Mexican War, my boy. I fought and bled honorably in that
war, by gad, sir!"

I know for a fact that the dear old gentleman has never been further
west than the Mississippi River.


_Feb. 28th (on the train)._ I have just gone through my suit-case and
taken out some of mother's last little gifts such as toilet water, a
padded coat hanger, one hot water bottle, some cough syrup, two pairs
of ear-bobs, a paper vest and a blue pokerdotted silk muffler. She put
them in when I wasn't looking. I have hidden them under the seat. May
the Lord forgive me for a faithless son.

The departure was moist, but I managed to swim through. I am too
excited to read the paper and too rattle-brained to think except in
terrified snatches. I wonder if I look different. People seem to be
regarding me sympathetically. I recognize two faces on this train. One
belongs to Tony, the iceman on our block; the other belongs to one
named Tim, a barkeep, if I recall rightly, in a hotel I have
frequently graced with my presence. I hope their past friendship was
not due to professional reasons. It would be nice to talk over old
times with them in camp, for I have frequently met the one in the
morning after coming home from the other.

[Illustration: "THE DEPARTURE WAS MOIST"]


_March 1st._ Subjected myself to the intimate scrutiny of another
doctor this morning. I used my very best Turkish bath manners. They
failed to impress him. Hospital apprentice treated me to a shot of
Pelham "hop." It is taken in the customary manner, through the
arm--very stimulating. A large sailor held me by the hand for fully
fifteen minutes. Very embarrassing! He made pictures of my fingers and
completely demolished my manicure. From there I passed on to another
room. Here a number of men threw clothes at me from all directions.
The man with the shoes was a splendid shot. I am now a sailor--at
least, superficially. My trousers were built for Charlie Chaplin. I
feel like a masquerade.

[Illustration: "HOSPITAL APPRENTICE TREATED ME TO A SHOT OF PELHAM
'HOP'"]

[Illustration: "I FEEL LIKE A MASQUERADE"]

A gang of recruits shouted "twenty-one days" at me as I was being led
to Mess Hall No. 1. The poor simps had just come in the day before and
had not even washed their leggings yet. I shall shout at other
recruits to-morrow, though, the same thing that they shouted at me
to-day.

Our P.O. is a very terrifying character. He is a stern but just man, I
take it.

He can tie knots and box the compass and say "pipe down" and
everything. Gee, it must be nice to be a real sailor!


[Illustration: "THIS, I THOUGHT, WAS ADDING INSULT TO INJURY"]


_March 2d._ Fell out of my hammock last night and momentarily
interrupted the snoring contest holding sway. I was told to "pipe
down" in Irish, Yiddish, Third Avenue and Bronx. This, I thought, was
adding insult to injury, but could not make any one take the same view
of it. I hope the thing does not become a habit with me. I form habits
so readily. In connection with snoring I have written the following
song which I am going to send home to Polly. I wrote it in the
Y.M.C.A. Hut this afternoon while crouching between the feet of two
embattled checker players. I'm going to call it "The Rhyme of the
Snoring Sailor." It goes like this:

   I

   The mother thinks of her sailor son
   As clutched in the arms of war,
   But mother should listen, as I have done,
   To this same little, innocent sailor son
   Sprawl in his hammock and snore.

   Oh, the sailor man is a rugged man,
   The master of wind and wave,
   And poets sing till the tea-rooms ring
   Of his picturesque, deep sea grave,
   And they likewise write of the "Storm at Night"
   When the numerous north winds roar,
   But more profound is the dismal sound
   Of a sea-going sailor's snore.


   II

   Oh, mothers knit for their sailor sons
   Socks for their nautical toes,
   But mothers should list to the frightful noise
   Made by their innocent sailor boys
   By the wind they blow through their nose.

   Oh, life at sea is wild and free
   And greatly to be admired,
   But I would sleep both sound and deep
   At night when I'm feeling tired.

   So here we go with a yo! ho! ho!
   While the waves and the tempests soar,
   An artist can paint a shrew as a saint,
   But not camouflage on a snore.


   III

   Oh, mothers, write to your sons at sea;
   Write to them, I implore,
   A letter as earnest as it can be,
   Containing a delicate, motherly plea,
   A plea for them not to snore.

     Oh, I take much pride in my trousers wide,
     The ladies all think them sweet,
   And I must admit that I love to sit
     In a chair and relieve my feet.
     Avast! Belay! and we're bound away
     With our hearts lashed fast to the fore,
   But when mermaids sleep
     In their bowers deep,
     Do you think that the sweet things snore?

Our company commander spoke to us this morning in no uncertain terms.
He seems to be such a serious man. There is a peculiar quality in his
voice, not unlike the tone of a French 75 mm. gun. You can easily hear
everything he says--miles away. We rested this afternoon.


_March 3d._ Sunday--a day of rest, for which I gave, in the words of
our indefatigable Chaplain, "three good, rollicking cheers." Some
folks are coming up to see me this afternoon. I hear I must moo
through the fence at them like a cow. (Later.) The folks have just
left. Mother kept screaming through the wire about my underwear. She
seemed to have it on her brain. There were several young girls
standing right next to her. I really felt I was no longer a bachelor.
Why do mothers lay such tremendous stress on underwear? They seem to
believe that a son's sole duty to his parents consists in publicly
announcing that he is clad in winter flannels.

[Illustration: "MOTHER KEPT SCREAMING THROUGH THE WIRE ABOUT MY
UNDERWEAR"]

Polly drove up for a moment with Joe Henderson. I hope the draft
gets hold of that bird. They were going to have tea at the Biltmore
when they got back to the city. I almost bit the end off of a sentry's
bayonet when I heard this woeful piece of news. Liberty looks a long
way off.

I made an attempt to write some letters in the Y.M.C.A. this evening
but gave up before the combined assault of a phonograph, a piano, and
a flanking detachment of checker players. Several benches fell on me
and I went to the mat feeling very sorry for myself.


_March 4th._ The morning broke badly. I lashed my hand to my hammock
and was forced to call on the P.O. to extricate me. He remarked, with
ill-disguised bitterness, that I could think of more ineffectual
things to do than any rookie it had been his misfortune to meet. I
told him that I didn't have to think of them, they just came
naturally.

Last night I was nearly frightened out of my hammock by awakening and
gazing into the malevolent eye of my high-powered, twin-six wrist
watch. I thought for a moment that the Woolworth tower had crawled
into bed with me. It gave me such a start. I must get used to my wrist
watch--also wearing a handkerchief up my sleeve. I feel like the sweet
kid himself now.

Drill all day. My belt fell off and tripped me up. Why do such things
always happen to me? Somebody told us to do squads left and it looked
as if we were playing Ring Around Rosie. Then we performed a fiendish
and complicated little quadrille called a "company square." I found
myself, much to my horror, on the inside of the contraption walking
directly behind the company commander. It was a very delicate
situation for a while. I walked on my tip-toes so that he wouldn't
hear me. Had he looked around I know I'd have dropped my gun and lit
out for home and mother.

Forgot to take my hat off in the mess room. I was reminded, though, by
several hundred thoughtful people.


_March 5th._ Stood for half an hour in the mail line. Got one letter.
A bill from a restaurant for eighteen dollars' worth of past
luncheons. I haven't the heart to write more.

[Illustration: "A BILL FROM A RESTAURANT FOR $18.00 WORTH OF PAST
LUNCHEONS"]


_March 6th._ Bag inspection. I almost put my eye out at right hand
salute. However, my bag looked very cute indeed, and although he
didn't say anything, I feel sure the inspecting officer thought mine
was the best. I had a beautiful embroidered handkerchief holder,
prominently displayed, which I am sure must have knocked him cold. He
missed the dirty white, but I will never be the same.

[Illustration: "HE MISSED THE DIRTY WHITES, BUT I WILL NEVER BE THE
SAME"]

Fire drill! My hammock came unlashed right in front of a C.P.O. and he
asked me if I was going to sleep in it on the spot. It was a very
inspiring scene. Particularly thrilling was the picture I caught of a
very heavy sailor picking on a poor innocent looking little fire
extinguisher. He ran the thing right over my foot. I apologized, as
usual. I discovered that I have been putting half instead of marlin
hitches in my hammock, but not before the inspecting officer did. He
seemed very upset about it. When he asked me why I only put six
hitches in my hammock instead of seven, I replied that my rope was
short. His reply still burns in my memory. What eloquence! What
earnestness! What a day!

[Illustration: "FIRE DRILL"]


_March 7th._ Second jab to-morrow. I am too nervous to write to-day.
More anon.


_March 16th._ Life in the Navy is just one round of engagements to
keep. Simply splendid! All we have to do is to get up at 6 o'clock in
the morning when it is nice and dark and play around with the cutest
little hammock imaginable. When you have arrived at the most
interesting part of this game, the four hitch period, and you are
wondering whether you are going to beat your previous record and get
six instead of five, the bugle blows and immediately throws you into a
state of great indecision. The problem is whether to finish the
hammock and be reported late for muster or to attend muster and be
reported for not having finished your hammock. The time spent in
considering this problem usually results in your trying to do both and
in failing to accomplish either, getting reported on two counts. Any
enlisted man is entitled to play this game and he is sure of making a
score. After running around innumerable miles of early morning camp
scenery and losing several buttons from your new trousers, you come
back and do Greek dances for a man who aspires to become a second
Mordkin or a Mr. Isadora Duncan. This is all very sweet and I am sure
the boys play prettily together. First he dances, then we dance; then
he interprets a bird and we all flutter back at him. This being done
to his apparent satisfaction, we proceed to crawl and grind and weave
and wave in a most extraordinary manner. This is designed to give us
physical poise to enable us to go aloft in a graceful and pleasing
manner. After this dancing in the dew you return for a few more rounds
with your hammock, clean up your bay and stand in line for breakfast.
After breakfast we muster again and a gentleman talks to us in a voice
that would lead you to believe that he thought we were all in hiding
somewhere in New Rochelle. Then there are any number of things to do
to divert our minds--scrub hammocks, pick up cigarettes, drill, hike
and attend lectures. As a rule we do all of these things. From 5 p.m.
until 8:45 p.m. if we are unfortunate enough not to have a lecture
party we are free to give ourselves over to the riotous joy of the
moment, which consists of listening to a phonograph swear bitterly at
a piano long past its prime. The final act of the drama of the day is
performed on the hammock--an animated little sketch of arms and legs
conducted along the lines of Houdini getting into a strait-jacket, or
does he get out of them? I don't know, perhaps both. Anyway, you get
what I mean.

[Illustration: "THIS IS DESIGNED TO GIVE US PHYSICAL POISE"]


_March 17th._ This spring weather is bringing the birds out in great
quantities. They bloomed along the fence today like a Ziegfeld chorus
on an outing. One girl carried on a coherent conversation with six
different fellows at once and left each of them feeling that he alone
had been singled out for her particular favor. As a matter of fact I
was flirting with her all the time and I could tell by the very way
she looked that she would have much rather been talking to me. Last
week I had to convince mother that I was wearing my flannels; this
week I had to convince her I still had them on. The only way to
satisfy her, I suppose, is to appear before her publicly in them.
Poor, dear mother, she told me she had written the doctor up here
asking him not to squirt my arm full of those horrid little germs any
more. She said I came from a good, clean family, and had been bathed
once a week all my life, except the time when I had the measles and
then it wasn't advisable. I am sure this must have cheered the doctor
up tremendously. She also asked him to be sure to see that I got my
meals regularly. I can see him now taking me by the hand and leading
me to the mess-hall. When I suggested to mother that she write
President Wilson asking him to be sure to see that my blankets didn't
fall off at night, she said that I was a sarcastic, ungrateful boy.


_March 18th._ There is something decidedly wrong with me as a sailor.
I got my pictures to-day. Try as I may, I am unable to locate the
trouble. There seems to be some item left out. Not enough salt in the
mixture, perhaps. I don't know exactly what it is but I seem to be a
little too, may I say, handsome or, perhaps, polished would be the
better word. I'm afraid to send the pictures away because no one will
believe them. They will think I borrowed the clothes.


_March 19th._ A funny thing happened last Sunday that I forgot to
record. A girl had her foot on the fence and when she took it down
every one yelled, "As you were." Sailors have such a delicate sense of
humor. Well, that's about enough for to-day.


_March 20th._ We had a lecture on boats to-day. The only thing I don't
know now is how to tell a bilge from a painter. The oar was easy. It
is divided into three parts, the stem, the lead and the muzzle. I must
remember this, it is very important. The men are getting so used to
inoculations around here that they complain when they don't get
enough. We're shaping up into a fine body of men, our company
commander told us this morning, and added, that if we continue to pick
up cigarette butts several more weeks we'll be able to stack arms
without dropping our guns. Eli, the goat, seems unwell to-day. I
attribute his unfortunate condition to his constant and unrelenting
efforts to keep the canteen clear of paper. It is my belief that
goats are not healthy because of the fact that they eat paper, but in
spite of it, and I feel sure that if all goats got together and
decided to cut out paper for a while and live on a regular diet, they
would be a much more robust race. The movies were great to-night. I
saw Sidney Drew's left ear and a mole on the neck of the man in front
of me.


_March 21st._ A fellow in our bay asked last night how much an
admiral's pay was a month and when we told him he yawned, turned over
on his side and said, "Not enough." He added that he could pick up
that much at a first-class parade any time. We all tightened our wrist
watches. Been blinking at the blinker all evening. Can't make much
sense out of it. The bloomin' thing is always two blinks ahead of me.
It's all very nice, I dare say, but I'd much rather get my messages on
scented paper. I got one to-day. She called me her "Great, big, cute
little sailor boy." Those were her exact words. How clever she is. I'm
going to marry her just as soon as I'm a junior lieutenant. She'll
wait a year, anyway.


_March 22d._ I made up verses to myself in my hammock last night.
Perhaps I'll send some of them to the camp paper. It would be nice to
see your stuff in print. Here's one of the poems:


   _THE UNREGENERATE SAILOR MAN_

   I

   I take my booze
   In my overshoes;
   I'm fond of the taste of rubber;
   I oil my hair
   With the grease of bear
   Or else with a bull whale's blubber.


   II

   My dusky wife
   Was a source of strife,
   So I left her in Singapore
   And sailed away
   At the break of day--
   Since then I have widowed four.


   III

   Avast! Belay,
   And alack-a-day
   That I gazed in the eyes of beauty.
   For in devious ways
   Their innocent gaze
   Has caused me much extra duty.


   IV

   I never get past
   The jolly old mast,
   The skipper and I are quite chummy;
   He knows me by sight
   When I'm sober or tight
   And calls me a "wicked old rummy."


A sort of sweetheart-in-every-port type I intend to make him--a
seafaring man of the old school such as I suppose some of the
six-stripers around here were. I don't imagine it was very difficult
to get a good conduct record in the old days, because from all the
tales I've heard from this source and that, a sailor-man who did not
too openly boast of being a bigamist and who limited his homicidical
inclinations to half a dozen foreigners when on shore leave, was
considered a highly respectable character. Perhaps this is not at all
true and I for one can hardly believe it when I look at the virtuous
and impeccable exteriors of the few remaining representatives with
whom I have come in contact. However, any one has my permission to ask
them if it is true or not, should they care to find out for
themselves. I refuse to be held responsible though. I think I shall
send this poem to the paper soon.

It must be wonderful to get your poems in print. All my friends would
be so proud to know me. I wonder if the editors are well disposed,
God-fearing men.

[Illustration: "LIBERTY PARTY"]

From all I hear they must be a hard lot. Probably they'll be nice to
me because of my connections. I know so many bartenders. Next week I
rate liberty! Ah, little book, I wonder what these pages will contain
when I come back. I hate to think. New York, you know, is such an
interesting place.


_March 25th._ Man! Man! How I suffer! I'm so weary I could sleep on my
company commander's breast, and to bring oneself to that one must be
considerably fatigued, so to speak. Who invented liberty, anyway? It's
a greatly over-rated pastime as far as I can make out, consisting of
coming and going with the middle part omitted.

One man whispered to me at muster this morning that all he could
remember of his liberty was checking out and checking in. He looked
unwell. My old pal, "Spike" Kelly, I hear was also out of luck. His
girl was the skipper of a Fourteenth Street crosstown car, so he was
forced to spend most of his time riding, between the two rivers. He
nickeled himself to death in doing it. He said if Mr. Shonts plays
golf, as no doubt he does, he has "Spike" Kelly to thank for a nice,
new box of golf balls. And while on the subject, "Spike" observes that
one of those engaging car signs should read:

"Is it Gallantry, or the Advent of Woman Suffrage, or the Presence of
the Conductorette that Causes So Many Sailors to Wear Out Their Seats
Riding Back and Forth, and So Many Unnecessary Fares to Be Rung Up in
So Doing?"

His conversation with "Mame," his light-o'-love, was conducted along
this line:

"Say, Mame."

"Yes, George, dear (fare, please, madam). What does tweetums want?"

"You look swell in your new uniform."

"Oh, Georgie, do you think it fits? (Yes, madam, positively, the car
was brushed this morning, your baby will be perfectly safe inside.)"

"Mame."

"George! (Step forward, please.) Go on, dear."

"Mame, it's doggon hard to talk to you here." "Isn't it just! (What
is it lady? Cabbage? Oh, baggage! No, no, you can't check baggage
here; this isn't a regular train.) George, stop holding my hand! I
can't make change!"

"Aw, Mame, who do you love?"

"Why, tweetums, I love--(plenty of room up forward! Don't jam up the
door) you, of course. (Fare, please! Fare, please! Have your change
ready!)"

"Can't we get a moment alone, Mame?"

"Yes, dear; wait until twelve-thirty, and we'll drive to the car barn
then. (Transfers! Transfers!)"

"Spike" says that his liberty was his first actual touch with the
horrors of war.

Another bird that lived in some remote corner of New York State told
me in pitiful tones that all he had time to do was to walk down the
street of his home town, shake hands with the Postmaster, lean over
the fence and kiss his girl (it had to go two ways, Hello and
Good-by), take a package of clean underwear from his mother as he
passed by and catch the outbound train on the dead run. All he could
do was to wave to the seven other inhabitants. He thought the Grand
Central Terminal was a swell dump, though. He said: "There was quite a
lot of it," which is true.

As for myself, I think it best to pass lightly over most of the
incidents of my own personal liberty. The best part of a diary is that
one can show up one's friends to the exclusion of oneself. Anyway, why
put down the happenings of the past forty-three hours? They are
indelibly stamped on my memory. One sight I vividly recall, "Ardy"
Muggins, the multi-son of Muggins who makes the automatic clothes
wranglers. He was sitting in a full-blooded roadster in front of the
Biltmore, and the dear boy was dressed this wise ("Ardy" is a sailor,
too, I forgot to mention): There was a white hat on his head; covering
and completely obliterating his liberty blues was a huge bearskin
coat, which when pulled up disclosed his leggins neatly strapped over
patent leather dancing pumps. It was an astounding sight. One that
filled me with profound emotion.

"Aren't you a trifle out of uniform, Ardy?" I asked him. One has to be
so delicate with Ardy, he's that sensitive. "Why, I thought I might
as well embellish myself a bit," says Ardy.

"You've done all of that," says I, "but for heaven's sake, dear, do
keep away from Fourteenth Street; there are numerous sea-going sailors
down there who might embellish you still further."

"My God!" cries Ardy, striving to crush the wind out of the horn, "I
never slum."

"Don't," says I, passing inside to shake hands with several of my
friends behind the mahogany. Shake hands, alas, was all I did.


_March 26th._ I must speak about the examinations before I forget it.
What a clubby time we had of it. I got in a trifle wrong at the start
on account of my sociable nature. You know, I thought it was a sort of
a farewell reception given by the officers and the C.P.O.'s to the men
departing after their twenty-one days in Probation, so the first thing
I did when I went in was to shake hands with an Ensign, who I thought
was receiving. He got rid of my hand with the same briskness that one
removes a live coal from one's person. The whole proceeding struck me
as being a sort of charity bazaar. People were wandering around from
booth to booth, in a pleasant sociable manner, passing a word here and
sitting down there in the easiest-going way imaginable. Leaving the
Ensign rather abruptly, I attached myself to the throng and started in
search of ice cream and cake. This brought me up at a table where
there was a very pleasant looking C.P.O. holding sway, and with him I
thought I would hold a few words. What was my horror on hearing him
snap out in a very crusty manner:

"How often do you change your socks?"

This is a question I allow no man to ask me. It is particularly
objectionable. "Why, sir," I replied, "don't you think you are
slightly overstepping the bounds of good taste? One does not even jest
about such totally personal matters, ye know." Then rising, I was
about to walk away without even waiting for his reply, but he called
me back and handed me my paper, on which he had written "Impossible"
and underlined it.

The next booth I visited seemed to be a little more hospitable, so I
sat down with the rest of the fellows and prepared to talk of the
events of the past twenty-one days.

"How many Articles are there?" suddenly asked a C.P.O. who hitherto
had escaped my attention.

"Twelve," I replied promptly, thinking I might just as well play the
game, too.

"What are they based on?" he almost hissed, but not quite.

"The Constitution of these United States," I cried in a loud,
public-spirited voice, at which the C.P.O. choked and turned
dangerously red. It seems that not only was I not quite right, but
that I couldn't have been more wrong.

"Go," he gasped, "before I do you some injury." A very peculiar man, I
thought, but, nevertheless, his heart seemed so set on my going that I
thought it would be best for us to part.

"I am sure I do not wish to force myself upon you," I said icily as I
left. The poor man appeared to be on the verge of having a fit.

"Do you want to tie some knots?" asked a kind-voiced P.O. at the next
booth.

"Crazy about it," says I, easy like.

"Then tie some," says he. So I tied a very pretty little knot I had
learned at the kindergarten some years ago and showed it to him.

"What's that?" says he.

"That," replies I coyly. "Why, that is simply a True Lover's knot. Do
you like it?"

"Orderly," he screamed. "Orderly, remove this." And hands were laid
upon me and I was hurled into the arms of a small, but ever so
sea-going appearing chap, who was engaged in balancing his hat on the
bridge of his nose and wig-wagging at the same time. After beating me
over the head several times with the flags, he said I could play with
him, and he began to send me messages with lightning-like rapidity.
"What is it?" he asked.

"Really," I replied, "I lost interest in your message before you
finished."

After this my paper looked like a million dollars with the one knocked
off.

"What's a hackamatack?" asked the next guy. Thinking he was either
kidding me or given to using baby talk, I replied:

"Why, it's a mixture between a thingamabob and a nibleck."

His treatment of me after this answer so unnerved me that I dropped my
gun at the next booth and became completely demoralized. The greatest
disappointment awaited me at "Monkey Drill," or setting up exercises,
however. I thought I was going to kill this. I felt sure I was going
to outstrip all competitors. But in the middle of it all the examiner
yelled out in one of those sarcastic voices that all rookies learn to
fear: "Are you trying to flirt with me or do you think you're a
bloomin' angel?"

This so sickened me at heart that I left the place without further
ado, whatever that might be. Pink teas in the Navy are not unmixed
virtues.


_March 27th._ My birthday, and, oh, how I do miss my cake. It's the
first birthday I ever had without a cake except two and then I had a
bottle. Oh, how well I remember my last party (birthday party)!

There was father and the cake all lit up in the center of the table; I
mean the cake, not father, of course. And there was Gladys (I always
called her "Glad"). She'd been coming to my birthday parties for years
and years. She always came first and left last and ate the most and
got the sickest of all the girls I knew. It was appalling how that
girl could eat.

But, as I was saying, there was father and the cake, and there was
mother and "Glad" and all the little candles were twinkling, lighting
up my presents clustered around, among them being half a dozen maroon
silk socks, a box of striped neck ties, all perfect joys; spats, a
lounging gown, ever so many gloves and the snappiest little cane in
all the world. And what have I around me now? A swab on one side, a
bucket on the other, a broom draped over my shoulder, C.P.O.'s in
front of me, P.O.'s behind me and work all around me--oh, what a
helluvabirthday! I told my company commander last night that the next
day was going to be my birthday, hoping he would do the handsome thing
and let me sleep a little later in the morning, but did he? No, the
Brute, he said I should get up earlier so as to enjoy it longer. As
far as I can find out, the Camp remains totally unmoved by the fact
that I am one year older to-day--and what a hubbub they used to raise
at home. I think the very least they could do up here would be to ask
me to eat with the officers.


_March 28th._ These new barracks over in the main camp are too large;
not nearly so nice as our cosey little bays. I'm really homesick for
Probation and the sound of our old company commander's dulcet voice. I
met Eli on the street to-day and I almost broke down on his neck and
cried. He was the first familiar thing I had seen since I came over to
the main camp.


_March 29th._ This place is just like the Probation Camp, only more
so. Life is one continual lecture trimmed with drills and hikes--oh,
when will I ever be an Ensign, with a cute little Submarine Chaser all
my own?


_April 6th._ The events of the past few days have so unnerved me that
I have fallen behind in my diary. I must try to catch up, for what
would posterity do should the record of my inspiring career in the
service not be faithfully recorded for them to read with reverence and
amazement in days to come?

One of the unfortunate events arose from scraping a too intimate
acquaintance with that horrid old push ball. How did it ever get into
camp anyway, and who ever heard of a ball being so large? It doesn't
seem somehow right to me--out of taste, if you get what I mean. There
is a certain lack of restraint and conservatism about it which all
games played among gentlemen most positively should possess. But the
chap who pushed that great big beast of a push ball violently upon my
unsuspecting nose was certainly no gentleman. Golly, what a resounding
whack! This fellow (I suspect him of being a German spy, basing my
suspicions upon his seeming disposition for atrocities) was standing
by, looking morosely at this small size planet when I blows gently up
and says playfully in my most engaging voice:

"I say, old dear, you push it to me and I'll push it to
you--softly, though, chappy, softly." And with that he flung
himself upon the ball and hurled it full upon my nose, completely
demolishing it. Now I have always been a little partial to my nose. My
eyes, I'll admit, are not quite as soulful as those liquid orbs of
Francis X. Bushman's, but my nose has been frequently admired and
envied in the best drawing rooms in New York. But it won't be envied
any more, I fear--pitied rather.

Of course I played the game no more. I was nauseated by pain and the
sight of blood. My would-be assassin was actually forced to sit down,
he was so weak from brutal laughter. I wonder if I can ever be an
Ensign with a nose like this?

[Illustration: "OF COURSE I PLAYED THE GAME NO MORE"]


_April 7th._ On the way back from a little outing the other day my
companion, Tim, who in civil life had been a barkeeper and a good one
at that, ingratiated himself in the good graces of a passing
automobile party and we consequently were asked in. There were two
girls, sisters, I fancy, and a father and mother aboard.

"And where do you come from, young gentlemen?" asked the old man.

"Me pal comes from San Diego," pipes up my unscrupulous friend, "and
my home town is San Francisco."

I knew for a fact that he had never been farther from home than the
Polo Grounds, and as for me I had only the sketchiest idea of where my
home town was supposed to be.

"Ah, Westerners!" exclaimed the old lady. "I come from the West
myself. My family goes back there every year."

"Yes," chimed in the girls, "we just love San Diego!"

"In what section of the town did you live?" asked the gentleman, and
my friend whom I was inwardly cursing, seeing my perplexity, quickly
put in for me:

"Oh, you would never know it, sir," and then lowering his voice in a
confidential way, he added, "he kept a barroom in the Mexican part of
the town."

"A barroom!" exclaimed the old lady. "Fancy that!" She looked at me
with great, innocent interest.

"Yes," continued this lost soul, "my father, who is a State senator,
sent him to boarding school and tried to do everything for him, but he
drifted back into the old life just as soon as he could. It gets a hold
on them, you know."

"Yes, I know," said the old lady, sadly, "my cook had a son that went
the same way."

"He isn't really vicious, though," added my false friend with feigned
loyalty--"merely reckless."

"Well, my poor boy," put in the old gentleman with cheery
consideration, "I am sure you must find that navy life does you a
world of good--regular hours, temperate living and all that."

"Right you are, sport," says I bitterly, assuming my enforced role, "I
haven't slit a Greaser's throat since I enlisted."

"We must all make sacrifices these days," sighed the old lady.

"And perhaps you will be able to exercise your--er--er rather robust
inclinations on the Germans when you meet them on the high seas,"
remarked the old man, who evidently thought to comfort me.

"If I can only keep him out of the brig," said this low-down friend of
mine, "I think they might make a first-rate mess hand out of him," at
which remark both of the girls, who up to this moment had been
studying me silently, exploded into loud peals of mirth and then I
knew where I had met them before--at Kitty Van Tassel's coming out
party, and I distinctly recalled having spilled some punch on the
prettier one's white satin slipper.

"We get out here," I said, hoarsely, choking with rage.

"But!" exclaimed the old lady, "it's the loneliest part of the road."

"However that may be," I replied with fine firmness, "I must
nevertheless alight here. I have a great many things to do before I
return to camp and lonely roads are well suited to my purposes. My
homicidal leanings are completely over-powering me."

"Watch him closely," said the old lady to my companion, as the car
came to a stop.

"He will have to," I replied grimly, as I prepared to alight.

"Perhaps Mr. Oswald will mix us a cocktail some day," said one of the
sisters, leaning over the side of the car. "I have heard that he
supported many bars at one time, but I never knew he really owned
one."

"What," I heard the old lady exclaiming as the car pulled away, "he
really isn't a bartender at all--well, fancy that!"

There were a couple of pairs of rather dusty liberty blues in camp
that night.


_April 8th._ Yesterday mother paid a visit to camp and insisted upon
me breaking out my hammock in order for her to see if I had covers
enough.

"I can never permit you to sleep in that, my dear," she said after
pounding and prodding it for a few numbers; "never--and I am sure the
Commander will agree with me after I have explained to him how
delicate you have always been."

Later in the afternoon she became a trifle mollified when I told her
that the master-at-arms came around every night and distributed extra
blankets to every one that felt cold. "Be sure to see that he gives
you enough coverings," she said severely, "or else put him on report,"
which I faithfully promised to do.

She was greatly delighted with the Y.M.C.A. and the Hostess Committee.
Here I stood her up for several bricks of ice cream and a large
quantity of cake. My fourth attempt she refused, however, saying by
way of explanation to a very pretty girl standing by, "It wouldn't be
good for him, my dear; my son has always had such a weak stomach. The
least little thing upsets him."

[Illustration: "SHE WAS GREATLY DELIGHTED WITH THE Y.M.C.A."]

"I believe you," replied the young lady, sympathetically, as she gazed
at me. I certainly looked upset at the moment. This was worse than the
underwear.

"So that's an Ensign!" she exclaimed later in an obviously
disappointed tone of voice; "well, I'm not so sure that I want you to
become one now." The passing ensign couldn't help but hear her, as she
had practically screamed in his ear. He turned and studied my face
carefully. I think he was making sure that he could remember it.

"Now take me to your physician," commanded mother, resolutely. "I want
to be sure that he sees that you take your spring tonic regularly."

"Mother," I pleaded, "don't you think it is time you were going? I
have a private lesson in sale embroidery in ten minutes that I
wouldn't miss for the world--the sweetest man teaches it!"

"Well, under the circumstances I won't keep you," said mother, "but
I'll write to the doctor just the same."

"Yes, do," I urged, "send it care of me so that he'll be sure to get
it."

Mother is not a restful creature in camp.


_April 9th._ "Say, there, you with the nose," cried my P.O. company
commander to-day, "are you with us or are you playing a little game of
your own?"

I wasn't so very wrong--just the slight difference between port and
present arms.

"With you, heart and soul," I replied, hoping to make a favorable
impression by a smart retort.

"That don't work in the manual," he replied; "use your brain and
ears."

Unnecessarily rough he was, but I don't know but what he wasn't right.

[Illustration: "I WASN'T SO VERY WRONG--JUST THE SLIGHT DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN PORT AND PRESENT ARMS"]


_April 10th._ I hear that I am going to be put on the mess crew. God
pity me, poor wretch! How shall I ever keep my hands from becoming
red? What a terrible war it is!


_April 11th._ Saw a basket ball game the other night. Never knew it
was so rough. I used to play it with the girls and we had such sport.
There seemed to be some reason for it then. There are a couple of
queer looking brothers on our team who seem to try utterly to demolish
their opponents. They remind me of a couple of tough gentlemen from
Scranton I heard about in a story once.


_April 12th._ The price of fags (gee! I'm getting rough) has gone up
again. This war is rapidly cramping my style.


_April 14th._ I have been too sick at heart to write up my diary--Eli
is dead! "Pop," the Jimmy-legs, found the body and has been promoted
to Chief Master-at-arms. It's an ill wind that blows no good. I
don't know whether it was because he found Eli or because he runs one
of the most modernly managed mess halls in camp or because his working
parties are always well attended that "Pop" received his appointment,
but whatever it was it does my heart good to see a real seagoing old
salt, one of our few remaining ex-apprentice boys, receive recognition
that is so well merited. However, I was on much more intimate terms
with Eli when I was over in Probation Camp than I was with "Pop." He
almost had me in his clutches once for late hammocks, me and eight
other poor victims I had led into the trouble, and he had our
wheelbarrows all picked out for us, and a nice large pile of sand for
us to play with when fate interceded in our behalf. The poor man
nearly cried out of sheer anguish of soul, and I can't justly blame
him. It's hard lines to have a nice fat extra duty party go dead on
your hands.

But with Eli it was different. When I was a homeless rookie he took me
in and I fed him--cigarette butts--and I'll honestly say that he
showed more genuine appreciation than many a flapper I have plied with
costly viands. He was a good goat, Eli. Not a refined goat, to be
sure, but a good, honest, whole-souled goat just the same. He did his
share in policing the grounds, never shirked a cigar end or a bit of
paper and amused many a mess gear line. He was loyal to his friends,
tolerant with new recruits and a credit to the service in general.
Considering the environment in which he lived, I think he deported
himself with much dignity and moderation. I for one shall miss Eli.
Some of the happier memories of my rookie days die with him. He is
survived by numerous dogs.


_April 25th._ Yesterday I wandered around Probation Camp in a very
patronizing manner and finally stopped to shed a tear on the humble
grave of Eli.

"Poor sinful goat," I thought sadly, "here you lie at last in your
final resting place, but your phantom, I wonder, does it go coursing
madly down the Milky Way, butting the stars aside with its
battle-scarred head and sending swift gleams of light through the
heavens as its hoofs strike against an upturned planet? Your horns,
are they tipped with fire and your beard gloriously aflame, or has the
great evil spirit of Wayward Goats descended upon you and borne you
away to a place where there is never anything to butt save
unsatisfactorily yielding walls of padded cotton? Many changes have
taken place, Eli, since you were with us, much adversity has befallen
me, but the world in the large is very much the same. Bill and Mike
have been shipped to sea and strange enough to say, old Spike Kelly
has made the Quartermasters School. I alone of all the gang remain
unspoken for--nobody seems anxious to avail themselves of my services.
My tapes are dirtier and my white hat grows less "sea-going" every day
and even you, Eli, are being forgotten. The company commander still
carols sweetly in the morning about "barrackses" and fire
"distinguishers," rookies still continue to rook about the camp in
their timid, mild-eyed way, while week-old sailors with unwashed
leggins delight their simple souls with cries of 'twenty-one days.'
New goats have sprung up to take your place in the life of the camp
and belittle your past achievements, but to me, O unregenerate goat,
you shall ever remain a refreshing memory. Good butting, O excellent
ruminant, wherever thou should chance to be. I salute you."

This soliloquy brought me to the verge of an emotional break-down. I
departed the spot in silence. On my way back through Probation I
chanced upon a group of rookies studying for their examinations and
was surprised to remember how much I had contrived to forget.
Nevertheless I stopped one of the students and asked him what a
"hakamaback" was and found to my relief that he didn't know.

"Back to your manual," said I gloomily, "I fear you will never be a
sailor."

Having thus made heavy the heart of another, I continued on my way
feeling somehow greatly cheered only to find upon entering my barracks
that my blankets were in the lucky bag. How did I ever forget to place
them in my hammock? It was a natural omission though, I fancy, for the
master-at-arms so terrifies me in the morning with his great shouts of
"Hit the deck, sailor! Shake a leg--rise an' shine" that I am unnerved
for the remainder of the day.


_April 29th._ Life seems to be composed of just one parade after
another. I am weary of the plaudits and acclamation of the multitude
and long for some sequestered spot on a mountain peak in Thibet. Every
time I see a street I instinctively start to walk down the middle of
it. Last week I was one of the many thousands of Pelham men who
marched along Fifth Avenue in the Liberty Loan parade. I thought I was
doing particularly well and would have made a perfect score if one of
my leggins hadn't come off right in front of the reviewing stand much
to the annoyance of the guy behind me because he tripped on it and
almost dropped his gun. For the remainder of the parade I was
subjected to a running fire of abuse that fairly made my flesh crawl.

At the end of the march I ran into a rather nebulous, middle-aged sort
of a gentleman soldier who was sitting on the curb looking moodily at
a manhole as if he would like to jump in it.

"Hello, stranger," says I in a blustery, seafaring voice, "you look as
if you'd been cursed at about as much as I have. What sort of an
outfit do you belong to?"

He scrutinized one of his buttons with great care and then told me all
about himself.

"I'm a home guard, you know," he added bitterly, "all we do is to
escort people. I've escorted the Blue Devils, the Poilus, the
Australians, mothers of enlisted men, mothers of men who would have
enlisted if they could, Boy Scouts and loan workers until my dogs are
jolly well near broken down on me. Golly, I wish I was young enough to
enjoy a quiet night's sleep in the trenches for a change."

Later I saw him gloomily surveying the world from the window of a
passing cab. He was evidently through for the time being at least.


_April 30th._ I took my bar-keeping pal home over the last week-end
liberty. It was a mistake. He admits it himself. Mother will never
have him in the house again. Mother could never get him in the house
again. He fears her. The first thing he did was to mix poor dear
grandfather a drink that caused the old gentleman to forget his game
leg which had been damaged in battles, ranging anywhere from the
Mexican to the Spanish wars, according to grandfather's mood at the
time he is telling the story, but which I believe, according to a
private theory of mine, was really caught in a folding bed. However it
was, grandfather forgot all about this leg of his entirely and
insisted on dancing with Nora, our new maid. Mother, of course, was
horrified. But not content with that, this friend of mine concocted
some strange beverage for the pater which so delighted him that he
loaned my so-called pal the ten spot I had been intending to borrow.
The three of them sat up until all hours of the night playing cards
and telling ribald stories. As mother took me upstairs to bed she
gazed down on her father-in-law and her husband in the clutches of
this demon and remarked bitterly to me:

"Like father, like son," and I knew that she was thoroughly determined
to make both of them pay dearly for their pleasant interlude.
Breakfast the next morning was a rather trying ordeal. Grandfather
once more resorted to his game leg with renewed vigor, referring
several times to the defense of the Alamo, so I knew he was pretty low
in his mind. Father withdrew at the sight of bacon. Mother laughed
scornfully as he departed. My friend ate a hearty breakfast and kept a
sort of a happy-go-lucky monologue throughout its entire course. I
took him out walking afterward and forgot to bring him back.

[Illustration: "THE FIRST THING HE DID WAS TO MIX POOR DEAR
GRANDFATHER A DRINK"]


_April 31st._ Have just come off guard duty and feel quite exhausted.
The guns are altogether too heavy. I can think of about five different
things I could remove from them without greatly decreasing their
utility. The first would be the barrel. The artist who drew the
picture in the last camp paper of Dawn appearing in the form of a
beautiful woman must have had more luck than I have ever had. I think
he would have been closer to the truth if he had put her in a speeding
automobile on its way home from a road house. It surely is a proof of
discipline to hear the mocking, silver-toned laughter of women ring
out in the night only ten feet away and not drop your gun and follow
it right through the barbed wire. After the war, I am going to buy
lots of barbed wire and cut it up into little bits just to relieve my
feelings.

Last night I had the fright of my life. Some one was fooling around
the fence in the darkness.

"Who's there?" I cried.

"Why, I'm Kaiser William," came the answer in a subdued voice.

"Well, I wish you'd go away, Kaiser William," said I nervously,
"you're busting the lights out of rule number six."

"What's that?" asks the voice.

"Not to commit a nuisance with any one except in a military manner," I
replied, becoming slightly involved.

"That's not such a wonderful rule," came back the voice in complaining
tones. "I could make up a rule better than that."

"Don't try to to-night," I pleaded.

There was silence for a moment, then the voice continued seriously,
"Say, I'm not Kaiser William really. Honest I'm not."

"Well, who are you?" I asked impatiently.

"Why, I'm Tucks," the voice replied. "Folks call me that because I
take so many of them in my trousers."

"Well, Tucks," I replied, "you'd better be moving on. I don't know
what might happen with this gun. I'm tempted to shoot the cartridge
out of it just to make it lighter."

"Oh, you can't shoot me," cried Tucks, "I'm crazy. I bet you didn't
know that, did you?"

"I wasn't sure," I answered.

"Oh, I'm awfully crazy," continued Tucks, "everybody says so, and I
look it, too, in the daylight."

"You must," I replied.

"Well, good night," said Tucks in the same subdued voice. "If you find
a flock of pink Liberty Bonds around here, remember I lost them." He
departed in the direction of City Island.

[Illustration: "I WAS TEMPTED TO SHOOT THE CARTRIDGE OUT JUST TO MAKE
IT LIGHTER"]


_May 1st._ I visited the office of the camp paper to-day and found it
to be an extremely hectic place. In the course of a conversation with
the Chief I chanced to look up and caught two shining eyes staring
malevolently at me from a darkened corner of the room. This creature
blinked at me several times very rapidly, wiggled its mustache and
suddenly disappeared into the thick shadows.

"Who is that?" I cried, startled.

"That's our mad photographer," said the Chief. "What do you think of
him?"

"Do you keep him in there?" I asked, pointing to the coal-black
cupboard-like room into which this strange creature had disappeared.

"Yes," said the Chief, "and he likes it. Often he stays there for days
at a time, only coming out for air." At this juncture there came from
the dark room the sounds of breaking glass, which was immediately
followed by strange animal-like sounds as the mad photographer burst
out of his den and proclaimed to all the world that nothing meant very
much in his life and that it would be absolutely immaterial to him if
the paper and its entire staff should suddenly be visited with flood,
fire and famine. After this gracious and purely gratuitous piece of
information he again withdrew, but strange mutterings still continued
to issue forth from his lair. While I was sitting in the office the
editor happened to drift in from the adjacent room crisply attired in
a pair of ragged, disreputable trousers and a sleeveless gray sweater
which was raveling in numerous places. It was the shock of my life.

"Where's our yeoman?" he grumbled, at which the yeoman, who somehow
reminded me of some character from one of Dickens's novels, edged out
of the door, but he was too late. Spying him, the editor launched
forth on a violent denunciation, in which for no particular reason the
cartoonist and sporting editor joined. There they stood, the three of
them, abusing this poor simple yeoman in the most unnecessary manner
as far as I could make out. Three harder cut-throats I have never
encountered. While in the office, I came upon a rather elderly artist
crouched over in a corner writhing as if he was in great pain. He was
in the throes of composition, I was told, and he looked it. Poor
wretch, he seemed to have something on his mind. The only man I saw
who seemed to have anything like a balanced mind was the financial
shark, a little ferret-eyed, onery-looking cuss whom I wouldn't have
trusted out of my sight. He was sitting with his nose thrust in some
dusty volume totally oblivious of the pandemonium that reigned around
him. He either has a great mind or none at all--probably the latter. I
fear I would never make an editor. The atmosphere is simply
altogether too strenuous for me.


_May 4th._ There seems to be no place in the service for me; I cannot
decide what rating to select. To be a quartermaster one must know how
to signal, and signaling always tires my arms. One must know how to
blow a horrid shrill little whistle in order to become a boatswain
mate, and my ears could never stand this. To be a yeoman, it is
necessary to know how to rattle papers in an important manner and
disseminate misinformation with a straight face, and this I could
never do. I fear the only thing left for me is to try for a
commission. I'm sure I would be a valuable addition to any wardroom.


_May 6th._ "Man the drags! Hey, there, you flannel-footed camel, stop
galloping! What are you doing, anyway--playing horses?"

"Don't be ridiculous," I cried out, hot with rage and humiliation;
"you know perfectly well I'm not playing horse. I realize as well as
you do that this is a serious--"

At this juncture of my brave retort a gun barrel stove in the back of
my head, some one kicked me on the shin and in some indescribable
manner the butt of a rifle became entangled between my feet, and down
I went in a cloud of dust and oaths. One-fourth of the entire Pelham
field artillery passed over my body, together with its crew, while
through the roar and confusion raised by this horrible cataclysm I
could hear innumerable C.P.O.'s howling and blackguarding me in
frenzied tones, and I dimly distinguished their forms dancing in rage
amid descending billows of dust. The parade ground swirled dizzily
around me, but I had no desire to arise and begin life anew. It would
not be worth while. I felt that I had at the most only a short time to
live, and that that was too long. The world offered nothing but the
most horrifying possibilities to me. "What is the Biltmore to a man in
uniform, anyway?" I remember thinking to myself as I lay there with my
nose pressed flat to an ant hill, "all the best parts of it are arid
districts, waste places, limitless Saharas to him. Death, where is thy
sting?" I continued, as an outraged ant assaulted my nose. The world
came throbbing back. I felt myself being dragged violently away from
my resting place. I was choking. Bidding farewell to the ants, I
prepared myself to swoon when gradually, as if from a great distance,
I heard the voice of my P.O. He was almost crying.

"Take him out," he pleaded; "for Gord sake, take him out. He's hurtin'
our gun."

[Illustration: "ONE FOURTH OF THE ENTIRE PELHAM FIELD ARTILLERY PASSED
OVER MY BODY"]

This remark gave me the strength to rise, but not gracefully. My
intention was to address a few handpicked words to this P.O. of mine,
but fortunately for my future peace of mind I was beyond utterance.
Weakly I tottered in the direction of the gun, hoping to support
myself upon it.

"Hey, come away from that gun!" howled the P.O. "Don't let him touch
it, fellers," he pleaded. "Don't let him even go near it. He'll spoil
it. He'll completely destroy it."

"Say, Buddy," said the Chief to me, and how I hated the ignominy of
the word, "I guess I'll take you out of the game for to-day. I'm
responsible for Government property, and you are altogether too big a
risk."

"What shall I do?" I asked, huskily. "Where shall I go?"

"Do?" he repeated, in a thoughtful voice. "Go? Well, here's where you
can go," and he told me, "and this is what you can do when you get
there," and as I departed rather hastily he told me this also. The
entire parade ground heard him. How shall I ever be able to hold up my
head again in Camp? I departed the spot, but only under one boiler;
however, I made fair speed. Like a soldier returning from a week in
the trenches, I sought the comfort and seclusion of the Y.M.C.A. Here
I witnessed a checker contest of a low order between two unscrupulous
brothers. They had a peculiar technique completely their own. It
consisted of arts and dodges and an extravagant use of those
adjectives one is commonly supposed to shun.

"Say, there's a queen down at the end of the room," one of them would
suddenly exclaim, and while the other brother was gazing eagerly in
that direction he would deliberately remove several of his men from
the board. But the other brother, who was not so balmy as he
looked, would occasionally discover this slight irregularity and
proceed to express his opinion of it by word of mouth, which for sheer
force of expression was in the nature of a revelation to me. It was
appalling to sit there and watch those two young men, who had
evidently at one time come from a good home, sit in God's bright
sunshine and cheat each other throughout the course of an afternoon
and lie out of it in the most obvious manner. The game was finally
discontinued, owing to a shortage of checkermen which they had
secreted in their pockets, a fact which each one stoutly denied with
many weird and rather indelicate vows. I left them engaged in the
pleasant game of recrimination, which had to do with stolen golf
balls, the holding out of change and kindred sordid subjects. In my
weakened condition this display of fraternal depravity so offended my
instinctive sense of honor that I was forced to retire behind the
protecting pages of a 1913 issue of "The Farmer's Wife Indispensable
Companion," where I managed to lose myself for the time in a rather
complicated exposition of how to tell which chicken laid what egg if
any or something to that effect, an article that utterly demolished
the moral character of the average hen, leaving her hardly a leg to
roost on.


_May 8th._ "Give away," said the coxswain to-day, when we were
struggling to get our cutter off from the pier, and I gave away to
such an extent, in fact, that I suddenly found myself balanced
cleverly on the back of my neck in the bottom of the boat, so that I
experienced the rather odd sensation of feeling the hot sun on the
soles of my feet. This procedure, of course, did not go unnoticed.
Nothing I do goes unnoticed, save the good things. The coxswain made a
few comments which showed him to be a thoroughly ill-bred person, but
further than this I was not persecuted. After we had rowed
interminable distances through leagues upon leagues of doggedly
resisting water a man in the bow remarked casually that he had several
friends in Florida we might call upon if we kept it up a little
longer, but the coxswain comfortably ensconced upon the hackamatack,
was so deeply engrossed in the perusal of a vest pocket edition of the
"Merchant of Venice" that he failed to grasp the full meaning of the
remark. I lifted my rapidly glazing eyes with no little effort from
the keelson and discovered to my horror that we had hardly passed more
than half a mile of shore-line at the most. What we had been doing all
the time I was unable to figure out. I thought we had been rowing. I
could have sworn we had been rowing, but apparently we had not. I
looked up from my meditation in time to catch the ironical gaze of the
coxswain upon me, and I involuntarily braced myself to the assault.

[Illustration: "THE PROCEDURE, OF COURSE, DID NOT GO UNNOTICED"]

"Say, there, sailor," said he, with a slow, unpleasant drawl, "you're
not rowing; you're weaving. It's fancy work you're doing, blast yer
eyes!"

All who had sufficient strength left in them laughed jeeringly at this
wise observation, but I retained a dignified silence--that is, so far
as a man panting from exhaustion can be silent. At this moment we
passed a small boat being rowed briskly along by a not unattractive
girl.

"Now, watch her," said the coxswain, helpfully, to me; "study the way
that poor fragile girl, that mere child, pulls the oars, and try to do
likewise."

I observed in shamed silence. My hands ached. A motor boat slid
swiftly by and I distinctly saw a man drinking beer from the bottle.
"Hell isn't dark and smoky," thought I to myself; "hell is bright and
sunny, and there is lots of sparkling water in it and on the sparkling
water are innumerable boats and in these boats are huddled the poor
lost mortals who are forced to listen through eternity to the wise
cracks of cloven-hoofed, spike-tailed coxswains. That's what hell is,"
thought I, "and I am in my probation period right now."

"Feather your oars!" suddenly screamed our master at the straining
crew.

"Feather me eye!" yelled back a courageous Irishman. "What do you
think these oars are, anyway--a flock of humming birds? Whoever heard
of feathering a hundred-ton weight? Feather Pike's Peak, say I; it's
just as easy."

Somehow we got back to the pier, but I was almost delirious by this
time. The last part of the trip was all one drab, dull nightmare to
me. This evening my hands were so swollen I was forced to the
extremity of bribing a friend to hold the telephone receiver for me
when I called up mother.

"What have you been doing?" she asked.

"Rowing," came my short answer.

"What a splendid outing!" she exclaimed. "You had such a lovely day
for it, didn't you, dear?"

"Hang up that receiver!" I shouted to my friend; "hang it up, or my
mother shall hear from the lips of her son words she should only hear
from her husband."


_May 9th._ I am just after having been killed in a sham battle, and so
consequently I feel rather ghastly to-day. I don't exactly know
whether I was a Red or a Blue, because I did a deal of fighting on
both sides, but always with the same result. I was killed instantly
and completely. People got sick of putting me out of my misery after a
while and I was allowed to wander around at large in a state of great
mystification and excitement, shooting my blank bullets into the face
of nature in an aimless sort of manner whenever the battle began to
pall upon me.

Most of the time I passed pleasantly on the soft, fresh flank of a
hill where for a while I slept until a cow breathed heavily in my face
and reminded me that it was war after all. My instructions were to
keep away from the guns, and get killed as soon as possible. As these
instructions were not difficult to follow, I carried them out to the
letter. I stayed away from the guns and I permitted myself to be
killed several times in order to make sure it would take. After that I
became a sort of composite camp follower, deserter and straggler.

In my wandering I chanced upon an ancient enemy of many past
encounters.

"Are you Red or Blue?" I asked, preparing to die for the fifth time.

"No," he answered, sarcastically, "I'm what you might call elephant
ear gray."

"Are you the guy the reporter for the camp paper was referring to in
his last story?" I asked him.

"Yes," he replied, "the slandering blackguard."

"You hit me on the nose with a push-ball," said I.

"I'll do it again," said he.

"That reporter, evidently a man of some observation, said you didn't
wash your neck and that you had the habits of a camel."

"But I do wash my neck," he said, stubbornly, "and I don't know
anything about the habits of a camel, but whatever they might happen
to be, I haven't got 'em."

"Yes," I replied, as if to myself, "you certainly should wash your
neck. That's the very least you could do."

"But I tell you," he cried, desperately, "I keep telling you that I do
wash my neck. Why do you go on talking about it as if I didn't! I tell
you now, once for all time, that I do wash my neck, and that ends it.
Don't talk any more. I want to think."

We sat in silence for a space, then I remarked casually, almost
inaudibly, "and you certainly shouldn't have the habits of a camel."

The depraved creature stirred uneasily. "I ain't got 'em," he said.

"Good," I cried heartily. "We understand each other perfectly. In the
future you will try to wash your neck and cease from having the habits
of a camel. No compromise is necessary. I know you will keep your
word."

"Go away quickly," he gasped, searching around for a stone to hurl at
me, and discarding several because of their small size. "Go away to
somewhere else. I'm telling you now, go away or else a special detail
will find your lifeless body here in the bushes some time to-morrow."

"I've already been thoroughly killed several times to-day," I said,
putting a tree between us, "but don't forget about the camel, and for
heaven's sake do try to keep your neck--"

A stone hit the tree with a resounding crack, and I increased the
distance.

"Damn the torpedoes!" I shouted back as I disappeared into the
pleasant security of the sun-warmed woods.


_May 11th._ "What navy do you belong to?" asked an Ensign, stopping me
to-day, "the Chinese?"

"Why do you ask, sir?" I replied, saluting gracefully. "Of course I
don't belong to the Chinese Navy."

"What's your rating?" he snapped. "Show girl first class attached to
the good ship Biff! Bang! sir," came my prompt retort.

"Well, put a watch mark on your arm, sailor, and put it there pronto,
or you'll be needing an understudy to pinch hit for you."

As a matter of fact I have never put my watch mark on, for the simple
reason that I have been rather expecting a rating at any moment, but
it seems as if my expectations were doomed to disappointment.

Nothing matters much, anyway, now, however, for I have been selected
from among all the men in the station to play the part of a Show Girl
in the coming magnificent Pelham production, "Biff! Bang!" At last I
have found the occupation to which by training and inclination I am
naturally adapted. The Grand Moguls that are running this show came
around the barracks the other day looking for material, and when they
gazed upon me I felt sure that their search had not been in vain.

"Why don't you write a 'nut' part for him?" asked one of them of the
playwright as they surveyed me critically as if I was some rare
specimen of bug life.

"That would never do," he answered. "Real 'nuts' can never play the
part on the stage. You've got to have a man of intelligence."

"Look here," I broke in. "You've got to stop talking about me before
my face as if I wasn't really present. Nuts I may be, but I can still
understand English, even when badly spoken, and resent it. Lay off
that stuff or I'll be constrained to introduce you to a new brand of
'Biff! Bang!'"

Saying this, I struck an heroic attitude, but it seemed to produce no
startling change in their calm, deliberate examination of me.

"He'll do, I think, as a Show Girl," the dance-master mused dreamily.
"Like a cabbage, every one of his features is bad, but the whole
effect is not revolting. Strange, isn't it, how such things happen."
At this point the musician broke in.

"He ain't agoing to dance to my music if I know it. He'll ruin it." At
which remark I executed a few rather simple but nevertheless neat
steps I had learned at the last charity Bazaar to which I had
contributed my services, and these few steps were sufficient to close
the deal. I was signed up on the spot. As they were leaving the
barracks one excited young person ran up and halted the arrogant
Thespians. "If I get the doctor to remove my Adam's Apple," he pleaded
wistfully, "do you think you could take me on as a pony?"

"No," said one of them, not without a certain show of kindness. "I
fear not. It would be necessary for him to remove the greater part of
your map and graft a couple of pounds on to your sadly unendowed
limbs."

From that day on my life has become one of unremitting toil. Together
with the rest of the Show Girls I vamp and slouch my way around the
clock with ever increasing seductiveness. We are really doing
splendidly. The ponies come leaping lightly across the floor waving
their freckled, muscular arms from side to side and looking very
unattractive indeed in their B.V.D.'s, high shoes and sock supporters.
"I can see it all," says the Director, in an enthusiastic voice, and
if he can I'll admit he has some robust quality of imagination that I
fail to possess.

Us Show Girls, of course, have to be a little more modest than the
ponies, so we retain our white trousers. These are rolled up, however,
in order to afford the mosquitoes, who are covering the show most
conscientiously, room to roost on. And sad to relate, the life is
beginning to affect the boys. Only yesterday I saw one of our toughest
ponies vamping up the aisle of Mess Hall No. 2 with his tray held over
his head in the manner of a Persian slave girl. The Jimmy-legs,
witnessing this strange sight, dropped his jaw and forgot to lift it
up again. "Sweet attar of roses," he muttered. "What ever has happened
to our poor, long-suffering navy?" At the door of the Mess Hall the
pony bowed low to the deck and withdrew with a coy backward flirt of
his foot.

I can't express in words the remarkable appearance made by some of our
seagoing chorus girls when they attempt to assume the light and airy
graces of the real article. Some of the men have so deeply entered
into their parts that they have attained absolute self-forgetfulness,
with the result that they leap and preen about in a manner quite
startling to the dispassionate spectator. My career so far has not
been a personal triumph. In the middle of a number, the other night,
the dancing master clapped his hands violently together, a signal he
uses when he wants all motion to cease.

"Take 'em down to the end of the room, boys," he said. "I can tell
three minutes ahead of time when things are going to go wrong. That
man on the end didn't have a thought in his head. He would have
smeared the entire number." I was the man on the end.


_May 23d._ This has not been a particularly agreeable day, although to
a woman no doubt it would have been laden with moments of exquisite
ecstasy. Feminine apparel for me has lost for ever the charm of
mystery that formerly touched it with enchantment. There is nothing I
do not know now. Its innermost secret has been revealed and its
revelation has brought with it its full burden of woe. All knowledge
is pain and vice versa. I have always admired women; whether so
profoundly as they have admired me I know not; however that may be, I
have always admired them collectively and individually in the past,
but after today's experience my admiration is tinged with pity. The
source of these reflections lies in no less an article than a corset.
As a Show Girl, it has been my lot to be provided with one of these
fiendish devices of medieval days. It is too much. The corset must go.
No woman could have experienced the pain and discomfort I have been
subjected to this day without feeling entitled to the vote. Yet I dare
say there are women who would gladly be poured into a new corset every
day of their lives. They can have mine for the asking. Life at its
best presents a narrow enough outlook without resorting to cunningly
wrought devices such as corsets in order further to confine one's
point of view or abdomen, which amounts to the same thing. The whale
is a noble animal, it was a very good idea, the whale, and I love
every bone in its body, so long as it keeps them there. So tightly was
my body clutched in the embrace of this vicious contraption that I
found it impossible to inhale my much needed cigarette. The smoke
would descend no further than my throat. The rest of me was a closed
port, a roadway blocked to traffic. I have suffered.

But there were also other devices, other soft, seductive under
strappings. I know them all to their last most intimate detail. I
feel that now I could join a woman's sewing circle and talk with as
much authority and wisdom as the most veteraned corset wearer present.
My views would be radical perhaps but at least they would have the
virtue of being refreshing.

However, I can see some good coming out of my unavoidably acquired
knowledge of female attire. In future days, while my wife is out
purchasing shirts and neckties for me, I can easily employ my time to
advantage in shopping around Fifth Avenue in search of the correct
thing in lingerie for her. It will be a great help to the household
and I am sure impress my wife with the depth and range of my
education, which I will be able to tell her, thank God, was innocently
acquired.


_May 28th._ I am slowly forming back into my pristine shape but only
after having been freed from bondage for some hours. After several
more sodas, concoctions which up till recently I have despised as
injurious, I guess I will have filled out to my usual dimensions
around the waist line, but when I consider the long days of womanhood
stretched out before me in the future I will admit it is with a
sinking not only of the waist, but also of the heart.

More indignities have been heaped upon me. Why did I ever take up the
profession of a show girl? To-day I fell into the clutches of the
barbers. They were not gentle clutches, brutal rather; and such an
outspoken lot they were at that.

"What's that?" asked one of them as I stood rather nervously before
him with bared chest.

"Why, that," I replied, a trifle disconcerted, "that's my chest."

He looked at me for a moment, then smiled a slow, pitying smile. "Hey,
Tony," he suddenly called to his colleague, "come over here a moment
and see what this bird claims to be a chest."

All this yelled in the faces of the entire Biff-Bang company. It was
more inhuman and debasing than my first physical examination in
public. The doctors on this occasion, although they had not
complimented me, had at least been comparatively impersonal in
despatching their offices, but these men were far from being
impersonal. I perceived with horror that it was their intention to use
my chest as a means of bringing humor into their drab existences. Tony
came and surveyed me critically.

"That," he drawled musically, "ees not a chest. That ees the bottom
part of hees neck."

"I know it is," replied the other, "but somehow his arms have gotten
mixed up in the middle of it."

Tony shrugged his shoulders eloquently. He assumed the appearance of a
man completely baffled.

"Honestly, now, young feller," continued my first tormentor, "are you
serious when you try to tell us that that is your chest?"

He drew attention to the highly disputed territory by poking me
diligently with his thumb.

"That's the part the doctor always listened to whenever I had a cold,"
I replied as indifferently as possible. The man pondered over this for
a moment.

"Well," he replied at length, "probably the doctor was right, but to
the impartial observer it would seem to be, as my friend Tony so
accurately observed, the bottom part of your neck."

"It really doesn't matter much after all," I replied, hoping to close
the conversation. "You all were not sent here to establish the
location of the different parts of my anatomy, anyway."

The man appeared not to have heard me. "I'd swear," he murmured
musingly, standing back and regarding me with tilted head, "I'd swear
it was his neck if it warn't for his arms." He suddenly discontinued
his dreamy observations and became all business.

"Well, sir," he began briskly, "now that we've settled that what do
you want me to do to it?"

"Why, shave it, of course," I replied bitterly. "That's what you're
here for, isn't it? All us Show Girls have got to have our chests
shaved."

"An' after I've shaved your chest, dear," he asked in a soothing
voice, "what do you want me to do with it?"

"With what?" I replied, enraged, "with my chest?"

"No," he answered easily, "not your chest, but that one poor little
pitiful hair that adorns it. Do you want me to send it home to your
ma, all tied around with a pink ribbon?"

I saw no reason to reply to this insult, but stood uneasily and tried
to maintain my dignity while he lathered me with undue elaboration.
When it was time for him to produce his razor he faltered.

"I can't do it," he said brokenly, "I haven't the heart to cut it down
in its prime. It looks so lonely and helpless there by itself." He
swept his razor around several times with a free-handed,
blood-curdling swoop of his arm. "Well, here goes," he said, shutting
his eyes and approaching me. Tony turned away as if unable to witness
the scene. I was unnerved, but I stood my ground. The deed was done
and I was at last free to depart. "That's a terrible chest for a Show
Girl," I heard him to say to Tony as I did so.


_May 29th._ The world has come clattering down around my ears and I am
buried, crushed and bruised beneath the debris. There was a dress
rehearsal to-day, and I, from the whole company, was singled out for
the wrath of the gods.

"Who is that chorus girl on the end acting frantic?" cried out one of
the directors in the middle of a number. My name was shouted across
the stage until it echoed and resounded and came bounding back in my
face from every corner of the shadow-plunged theater. I knew I was in
for it and drew myself up majestically although I turned pale under my
war paint.

"Well, tell him he isn't walking on stilts," continued the director,
and although it was perfectly unnecessary, I was told that and several
other things with brutal candor. The dance went on but I knew the eyes
of the director were on me. My legs seemed to lose all proper
coordination. My arms became unmanageable. I lost step and could not
pick it up again, yet, as in a nightmare, I struggled on desperately.
Suddenly the director clapped his hands. The music ceased, and I
slowed down to an uneasy shuffle.

"Sweetheart," said the director, addressing me personally, "you're not
dancing. You're swimming, that's what you're doing. As a Persian girl
you would make a first class squaw." He halted for a moment and then
bawled out in a great voice, "Understudy!" and I was removed from the
stage in a fainting condition. This evening I was shipped back to
camp a thoroughly discredited Show Girl. I had labored long in
vicious, soul-squelching corsets and like Samson been shorn of my
locks, and here I am after all my sacrifices relegated back to the
scrap heap. Why am I always the unfortunate one? I must have a private
plot in the sky strewn with unlucky stars. Camp routine after the free
life of the stage is unbearably irksome. My particular jimmy legs was
so glad to see me back that he almost cried as he thrust a broom and a
swab into my hands.

"Bear a hand," he said gleefully, "get to work and stick to it. We're
short of men," he added, "and there is no end of things for you to
do."

I did them all and he was right. There surely is no end to the things
he can devise for me to do. I long for the glamour and footlights of
the gay white way, but I have been cast out and rejected as many a
Show Girl has been before me.


_June 1st._ The morning papers say all sort of nice things about
Biff-Bang but I can hardly believe them sincere after the treatment I
received. I know for a fact that the man who took my place was
knock-kneed and that the rest of his figure could not hold a candle to
mine.

I still feel convinced that Biff-Bang lost one of its most
prepossessing and talented artists when I was so unceremoniously
removed from the chorus.


_June 10th._ I was standing doing harm to no one in a vague, rather
unfortunate way I have, when all of a sudden, without word or warning,
a very competent looking sailor seized me by the shoulders and,
thrusting his face close to mine, cried out:

"Do you want to make a name for yourself in the service?"

I left the ground two feet below me in my fright and when I alighted
there were tears of eagerness in my eyes.

"Yes," I replied breathlessly, "oh, sir, yes."

"Then pick up that," he cried dramatically, pointing to a cigar butt
on the parade ground. I didn't wait for the laughter. I didn't have
to. It was forthcoming immediately. Huge peals of it. Sailors are a
very low tribe of vertebrate. They seem to hang around most of the
time waiting for something to laugh at--usually me. It is my belief
that I have been the subject of more mirth since I came to camp than
any other man on the station. Whatever I do I seem to do it too much
or too little. There even seems to be something mirth-provoking in my
personal appearance, which I have always regarded hitherto not without
a certain shade of satisfaction. Only the other day I caught the eyes
of the gloomiest sailor in camp studying me with a puzzled expression.
He gazed at me for such a long time that I became quite disconcerted.
Slowly a smile spread over his face, then a strange, rusty laugh
forced itself through his lips.

"Doggone if I can solve it," he chuckled, turning away and shaking his
head; "it's just simply too much for me."

He looked back once, clapped his hands over his mouth and proceeded
merrily on his way. I am glad of course to be able to bring joy into
the lives of sailors, but I did not enlist for that sole purpose.
Returning to the cigar butt, however, I was really quite disappointed.
I do so want to make a name for myself in the service that I would
eagerly jump at the chance of sailing up the Kiel canal in a Barnegat
Sneak Box were it not for the fact that sailing always makes me
deathly sick. I don't know why it is, but the more I have to do with
water the more reasons I find for shunning it. The cigar butt episode
broke my heart though. I was all keyed up for some heroic deed--what
an anti-climax! I left the spot in a bitter, humiliated mood. There is
only one comforting part about the whole affair--I did not pick up
that cigar butt. He did, I'll bet, though when nobody was looking. I
don't know as I blame him--there were still several healthy drags left
in it.


_June 11th._ This war is going to put a lot of Chinamen out of
business if it keeps up much longer. The first thing a sailor will do
after he has been paid off will be to establish a laundry, and he
won't be a slouch at the business at that. I feel sure that I am
qualified right now to take in family laundry and before the end of
summer I guess I'll be able to do fancy work. At present I am what
you might call a first class laundryman, but I'm not a fancy
laundryman yet. Since they've put us in whites I go around with the
washer-woman's complaint most of the time. Terrible shooting pains in
my back! My sympathy for the downtrodden is increasing by leaps and
bounds. I can picture myself without any effort of the imagination
bending over a tub after the war doing the family washing while my
wife is out running for alderman or pulling the wires to be appointed
Commissioner of the Docks. The white clothes situation, however, is
serious. It seems that every spare moment I have I am either washing
or thinking of washing or just after having washed, and to one who
possesses as I do the uncanny faculty of being able to get dirtier in
more places in the shortest space of time than any ten street children
picked at random could ever equal, life presents one long vista of
soap and suds.

[Illustration: "THIS WAR IS GOING TO PUT A LOT OF CHINAMEN OUT OF
BUSINESS"]

"You boys look so cute in your funny white uniforms," a girl said to
me the other day. "It must be so jolly wearing them."

I didn't strike her, for she was easily ten pounds heavier than I was,
but I made it easily apparent that our relations would never progress
further than the weather vane. I used to affect white pajamas, the
same seeming to harmonize with the natural purity of my nature, but
after the war I fear I shall be forced to discontinue the practise in
favor of more lurid attire. However, I still believe that a bachelor
should never wear anything other than white pajamas or at the most
lavender, but this of course is merely a personal opinion.


_June 14th._ I have been hard put to-day. The Lord only knows what
trials and tribulations will be visited upon me next. At present I am
quite unnerved. To-day I was initiated into all the horrifying secrets
and possibilities of the bayonet, European style. Never do I remember
spending a more unpleasant half an hour. The instructor was a
resourceful man possessed of a most vivid imagination. Before he had
finished with us potential delicatessen dealers were lying around as
thick as flies. We were brushing them off.

After several hair-raising exhibitions he formed us into two lines
facing each other and told us to begin.

"Now lunge," he said, "and look as if you meant business."

I glanced ingratiatingly across at my adversary. He was simply glaring
at me. Never have I seen an expression of greater ferocity. It was too
much. I knew for certain that if he ever lunged at me I'd never live
to draw another yellow slip.

"Mister Officer," I gasped, pointing across at this blood-thirsty man,
"don't you think that he's just a little too close? I'm afraid I might
hurt him by accident."

The officer surveyed the situation with a swift, practical eye.

"Oh, I guess he can take care of himself all right," he replied. That
was just what I feared.

The man smiled grimly.

"But does he know that this is only practise?" I continued. "He
certainly doesn't look as if he did."

"That's the way you should look," said the officer, "work your own
face up a bit. This isn't a vampire scene. Don't look as if you were
going to lure him. Y'know you're supposed to be angry with your
opponent when you meet him in battle, quite put out in fact. And
furthermore you're supposed to look it."

I regarded my opponent, but only terror was written on my face. Then
suddenly we lunged and either through fear or mismanagement I
succeeded only in running my bayonet deep into the ground. In some
strange manner the butt of the gun jabbed me in the stomach and I was
completely winded. My opponent was dancing and darting around me like
a local but thorough-going lightning storm. I abandoned my gun and
stood sideways, thus decreasing the possible area of danger. Had the
exercises continued much longer I would have had a spell of something,
probably the blind staggers.

[Illustration: "I STOOD SIDE-WAYS, THUS DECREASING THE POSSIBLE AREA
OF DANGER"]

"You're not pole vaulting," said the instructor to me, as he returned
the gun. "In a real show you'd have looked like a pin cushion by this
time." I felt like one.

Then it all started over again and this time I thought I was doing a
little better, when quite unexpectedly the instructor shouted at me.

"Stop prancing around in that silly manner," he cried, "you're not
doing a sword dance, sonny."

"He thinks he's still a show girl," some one chuckled, "he's that
seductive."

Mess gear interrupted our happy morning. The sight of a knife fairly
sickened me.


_June 24th._ Last week I caught a liberty--a perfect Forty-three--and
went to spend it with some cliff dwelling friends of mine who, heaven
help their wretched lot! lived on the sixth and top floor of one of
those famous New York struggle-ups. Before shoving off there was some
slight misunderstanding between the inspecting officer and myself
relative to the exact color of my, broadly speaking, Whites.

"Fall out, there," he said to me. "You can't go out on liberty in
Blues."

"But these, sir," I responded huskily, "are not Blues; they're
Whites."

"Look like Blues to me," he said skeptically. "Fall out anyway. You're
too dirty."

For the first time in my life I said nothing at the right time. I just
looked at him. There was a dumb misery in my eyes, a mute, humble
appeal such as is practised with so much success by dogs. He couldn't
resist it. Probably he was thinking of the days when he, too, stood in
line waiting impatiently for the final formalities to be run through
before the world was his again.

"Turn around," he said brokenly. I did so.

"Fall in," he ordered, after having made a prolonged inspection of my
shrinking back. "I guess you'll do, but you are only getting through
on a technicality--there's one white spot under your collar."

Officers are people after all, although sometimes it's hard to realize
it. This one, in imagination, I anointed with oil and rare perfumes,
and costly gifts I laid at his feet, while in a glad voice I called
down the blessings of John Paul Jones upon his excellent head. Thus I
departed with my kind and never did the odor of gasoline smell sweeter
in my nose than did the fumes that were being emitted by the impatient
flivver that waited without the gate. And sweet, too, was the fetid
atmosphere of the subway after the clean, bracing air of Pelham,
sweet was the smell of garlic belonging to a mustache that sat beside
me, and sweet were the buttery fingers of a small child who kept
clawing at me while their owner demanded of the whole car if I was a
"weal mavy sailor boy?" I didn't look it, and I didn't feel it, but I
had forty-three hours of freedom ahead of me, so what did I care?

All went well with me until I essayed the six flight climb-up to the
cave of these cliff-dwelling people, when I found that the one-storied
existence I had been leading in the Pelham bungalows had completely
unfitted me for mountain climbing. As I toiled upward I wondered dimly
how these people ever managed to keep so fat after having mounted to
such a great distance for so long a time. Somehow they had done it,
not only maintained their already acquired fat but added greatly
thereto. There would be no refreshing cup to quaff upon arriving, only
water, or at best milk. This I knew and the knowledge added pounds to
my already heavy feet.

"My, what a dirty sailor you are, to be sure," they said to me from
the depth of their plump complacency.

"Quite so," I gasped, falling into a chair, "I seem to remember having
heard the same thing once before to-day."


_June 25th._ Neither Saturday nor Sunday was a complete success and
for a while Saturday afternoon assumed the proportions of a disaster.
After having rested from my climb, I decided to wash my Whites so that
I wouldn't be arrested as a deserter or be thrown into the brig upon
checking in. The fat people on learning of my intentions decided that
the sight of such labor would tire them beyond endurance, so they
departed, leaving me in solitary possession of their flat. I thereupon
removed my jumper, humped my back over the tub, scrubbed industriously
until the garment was white, then hastened roofwards and arranged it
prettily on the line. This accomplished, I hurried down, removed my
trousers, rehumped my back over the tub, scrubbed industriously until
the trousers in turn were white and once more dashed roofwards. I have
always been absent minded, but never to such an appalling extent as to
appear clad only in my scanty underwear in the midst of a mixed throng
of ladies, gentlemen and children. This I did. Some venturous souls
had claimed the roof as their own during my absence so that when I
sprang from the final step to claim my place in the sun I found myself
by no means alone. With a cry of horror I leaped to the other side of
the clothes-line and endeavored to conceal myself behind an old lady's
petticoat or a lady's old petticoat or something of that nature.
Whoever wore the thing must have been a very short person indeed, for
the garment reached scarcely down to my knees, below which my B.V.D.'s
fluttered in an intriguing manner.

"Sir," thundered a pompous gentleman, "have you any explanation for
your surprising conduct?"

"Several," I replied briskly from behind my only claim on
respectability. "In the first place, I didn't expect an audience. In
the second--"

"That will do, sir," broke in this heavy person in a quarterdeck
voice. "Who, may I ask, are you?"

"You may," I replied. "I'm a God-fearing sailor man who is doing the
best he can to keep nice and clean in spite of the uncalled for
intervention of a red-faced oaf of a plumber person who should know
better than to stand around watching him."

[Illustration: "I'M A GOD-FEARING SAILOR MAN WHO IS DOING THE BEST HE
CAN TO KEEP CLEAN"]

"Don't take on so, George," said one of the women whom I suspected of
edging around in order to get a better view of me, "the poor young man
is a sailor--where is your patriotism?"

"Yes," broke in the other woman, edging around on the other side,
"he's one of our sailor boys. Treat him nice."

"Patriotic, I am," roared George wrathfully, "but not to the extent of
condoning and looking lightly upon such a flagrant breach of decency
as this semi-nude, so-called sailor has committed in our midst."

"If you'd give me a couple of Thrift Stamps," I suggested, "I might be
able to come out from behind this blooming barrage."

"Shameless," exploded the man.

"Not at all," I replied, "in the olden days it was quite customary for
young gentlemen and elderly stout ones like yourself, for instance, to
drop in at the best caves with very much less on than I have without
any one considering their conduct in any degree irregular. In fact,
the ladies of this time were no better themselves, it being deemed
highly proper for them to appear in some small bit of stuff and nobody
thought the worst of it at all. Take the early days of the fifteenth
century B.C.--"

At this point in my eloquent address a young child, who had hitherto
escaped my attention, took it upon herself to swing on the line with
the result that it parted with a snap and my last vestige of
protection came fluttering to the roof. For one tense moment I stood
gazing into the dilated eyes of those before me. Then with surprising
presence of mind, I sprang to a ladder that led to the water tank,
swarmed up it with the agility of a cat and lowered myself with a gasp
of despair into the cold, cold water of the tank. From this place of
security I gazed down on the man who had been responsible for my
unfortunate plight. I felt myself sinned against, and the longer I
remained in that water, up to my neck, the more I felt my wrongs. I
gave voice to them. I said bitter, abusive things to the man.

"Clear the quarter deck," I shouted, "get aft, or, by gad, I'll come
fluttering down there on your flat, bald head like a blooming flood.
Vamoos, hombre, pronto--plenty quick and take your brood with you."
Then I said some more things as my father before me had said them, and
the man withdrew with his women.

"He's a sailor," he said as he did so. "Hurry, my dears, this is worse
than nakedness."

I emerged and sat in a borrowed bathrobe the rest of the evening. The
next morning my clothes were still damp. Now, that's what I call a
stupid way to spend a Saturday night on liberty. The fat people
enjoyed it.


_June 29th._ I met a very pleasant dog yesterday, whom I called Mr.
Fogerty because of his sober countenance and the benign but rather
puzzled expression in his large, limpid eyes, which were almost
completely hidden by his bangs. He was evidently a visitor in camp, so
I took him around and introduced him to the rest of the dogs and
several of the better sort of goats. In all of these he displayed a
friendly but dignified interest, seeming to question them on the life
of the camp, how they liked the Navy and what they thought were the
prospects for an early peace. He refused to be separated from me,
however, and even broke into the mess hall, from which he was
unceremoniously ejected, but not before he had gotten half of my
ration. In some strange manner he must have found out from one of the
other dogs my name and address and exactly where I swung, for in the
middle of the night I awoke to hear a lonesome whining in the darkness
beneath my hammock and then the sniff, sniff of an investigating nose.
As I know how it feels to be lonely in a big black barracks in the
dead of night I carefully descended to the deck and collected this
animal--it was my old friend, Mr. Fogerty, and he was quite overjoyed
at having once more found me. After licking my face in gratitude he
sat back on his haunches and waited for me to do something amusing. I
didn't have the heart to leave him there in the darkness. Dogs have a
certain way about them that gets me every time. I lifted Mr. Fogerty,
a huge hulk of a dog, with much care, and adjusting of overlapping
paws into my hammock, and received a kiss in the eye for my trouble.
Then I followed Mr. Fogerty into the hammock and resumed my slumber,
but not with much comfort. Mr. Fogerty is a large, sprawly dog, who
evidently has been used to sleeping in vast spaces and who sees no
reason for changing a lifelong habit. Consequently he considered me in
the nature of a piece of gratifying upholstery. He slept with his hind
legs on my stomach and his front paws propped against my chin. When he
scratched, as he not infrequently did, what I decided must be a flea,
his hind leg beat upon the canvas and produced a noise not unlike a
drum. Thus we slept, but through some miscalculation I must have slept
over, for it seems that the Master-at-arms, a very large and capable
Irishman, came and shook my hammock.

[Illustration: "I TOOK HIM AROUND AND INTRODUCED HIM TO THE REST OF
THE DOGS AND SEVERAL OF THE BETTER SORT OF GOATS"]

"Hit the deck there, sailor," he said, "shake a leg, shake a leg."

At this point Mr. Fogerty took it upon himself to peer over the side
of the hammock to see who this disturber of peace and quiet could be.
This was just a little out of the line of duty for the jimmy legs, and
I can't say as I blame him for his conduct under rather trying
circumstances. Mr. Fogerty has a large, shaggy head, not unlike a
lion's, and his mouth, too, is quite large and contains some very long
and sharp teeth. It seems that Mr. Fogerty, still heavy with slumber,
quite naturally yawned into the horrified face of the Jimmy-legs, who,
mistaking the operation for a hostile demonstration, retreated from
the barracks with admirable rapidity for one so large, crying in a
distracted voice as he did so:

"By the saints, it's a beast he's turned into during the night. Sure,
it's a visitation of Providence, heaven preserve us."

It seems I have been washing hammocks ever since. Mr. Fogerty sits
around and wonders what it's all about. I like Fogerty, but he gets me
in trouble, and in this I need no help whatsoever.

[Illustration: "I RESUMED MY SLUMBER, BUT NOT WITH MUCH COMFORT"]


_July 1st._ This day I almost succeeded in sinking myself for the
final count. The fishes around about the environs of City Island were
disappointed beyond words when I came up for the fourth time and
stayed up. In my delirium I imagined that school had been let out in
honor of my reception and that all the pretty little fishes were
sticking around in expectant groups cheering loudly at the thought of
the conclusion of their meatless days. Fortunately for the Navy,
however, I cheated them and saved myself in order to scrub many more
hammocks and white clothes, an object to which I seem to have
dedicated my life.

It all come about, as do most drowning parties, in quite an unexpected
manner. For some reason it had been arranged that I should take a swim
over at one of the emporiums at City Island, and, as I interposed no
objections, I accordingly departed with my faithful Mr. Fogerty
tumbling along at my heels. Since Mr. Fogerty involved me in trouble
the other day by barking at the Jimmy-legs he has endeavored in all
possible ways to make up for his thoughtless irregularity. For
instance, he met me this morning with an almost brand new shoe which
in some manner he had managed to pick up in his wanderings. It fits
perfectly, and if he only succeeds in finding the mate to it I shall
probably not look for the owner. As a further proof of his good will
Mr. Fogerty bit, or attempted to bite, a P.O. who spoke to me
roughly regarding the picturesque way I was holding my gun.

"Whose dog is that?" demanded the P.O.

Silence in the ranks. Mr. Fogerty looked defiantly at him for a moment
and then trotted deliberately over and sat down upon my foot.

"Oh, so he belongs to you!" continued the P.O. in a threatening voice.

"No, sir," I faltered; "you see, it isn't that way at all. I belong to
Mr. Fogerty."

"Who in--who in--who is Mr. Fogerty?" shouted the P.O. "And how
in--how in--how did _he_ happen to get into the conversation?"

"Why, this is Mr. Fogerty," I replied; "this dog here, sitting on my
foot."

"Oh, is that so?" jeered the P.O., a man noted for his quick retorts.
"Well, you take your silly looking dog away from here and secure him
in some safe place. He ain't no fit associate for our camp dogs. And,
furthermore," he added, "the next time Mr. Fogerty attempts to bite me
I'm going to put you on report--savez?"

Mr. Fogerty is almost as much of a comfort in camp as mother.

Well, that's another something else again and has nothing to do with
my swim and approximate drowning at City Island. Swimming has always
been one of my strong points, and I have taken in the past no little
pride in my appearance, not only in a bathing outfit, but also in the
water. However, the suit they provided me with on this occasion did
not show me up in a very alluring light. It was quite large and
evidently built according to a model of the early Victorian Era. I was
swathed in yards of cloth much in the same manner as is a very young
child. It delighted Mr. Fogerty, who expressed his admiration by
attaching himself to the lower half of my attire and remaining there
until I had waded through several colonies of barnacles far out into
the bay. Bidding farewell to Mr. Fogerty at this point, I gave myself
over to the joy of the moment and went wallowing along, giving a
surprising imitation of the famous Australian crawl. Far in the
distance I sighted an island, to which I decided to swim. This was a
very poor decision, indeed, because long before I had reached the
spot I was in a sinking condition owing to the great heaviness of my
suit and a tremendous slacking down of lung power. It was too late to
retreat to the shore; the island was the nearest point, and that
wasn't near. On I gasped, my mind teeming with cheerless thoughts of
the ocean's bed waiting to receive me. Just as I was about to shake
hands with myself for the last time I cleared the water from my eyes
and discovered that the island though still distant was not altogether
impossible. Therewith I discarded the top part of my suit and struck
out once more. The island was now almost within my grasp. Life seemed
to be not such a lost cause after all. Then suddenly, quite clearly,
just as I was about to pull myself up on the shore, I saw a woman
standing on the bank and heard her shouting in a very conventional
voice:

"Private property! Private property!"

I sank. This was too much. As I came up for the first count, and just
before I sank back beneath the blue, I had time to hear her repeat:

"Private property! Please keep off!"

I went down very quickly this time and very far. When I arose I saw as
though in a dream another woman standing by the first one and
seemingly arguing with her.

"He's drowning!" she said.

"I'm sure I can't help that!" the other one answered. And then in a
loud, imperious voice:

"Private property! No visitors allowed!"

The water closed over my head and stilled her hateful voice.

"No," she was saying as I came up for the third time; "I can't do it.
If I make an exception of one I must make an exception of all."

Although I hated to be rude about it, having always disliked forcing
myself upon people, I decided on my fourth trip down that unless I
wanted to be a dead sailor I had better be taking steps. It was almost
too late. There wasn't enough wind left in me to fatten a small sized
bubble.

"There he is again!" she cried in a petulant voice as I once more
appeared. "Why doesn't he go away?"

"He's just about to--for good!" said the other lady. With a pitiful
yap I struck out feebly in the general direction of the shore. It
wouldn't work. My arms refused to move. Then quite suddenly and
deliriously I felt two soft, cool arms enfold me, and my head sank
back on a delicately unholstered shoulder. Somehow it reminded me of
the old days.

"Home, James," I murmured, as I was slowly towed to shore. Just before
closing my eyes I caught a fleeting glimpse of a young lady clad in
one of the one-piecest one-piece bathing suits I had ever seen. She
was bending over me sympathetically.

"Private property!" cried my tormentor, shaking a finger at me. "What
a pity!" I thought as I closed my eyes and drifted off into sweet
dreams in which Mr. Fogerty, my beautiful rescuer, and myself were
dancing hand-and-hand on the parade ground to the music of the massed
band, much to the edification of the entire station assembled in
review formation.

Presently I awoke to the hateful strains of this old hard-shell's
voice:

"See what you've done!" she was saying to the young girl. "You've
brought in a half naked man, and now that he has seen you in a much
worse condition than he is, we'll have ten thousand sailors swimming
out to this island in one continuous swarm."

"Oh, won't that be fun!" cried the girl. And from that time on, in
spite of the objections of her mother, we were fast friends.

When I returned to shore it was in a rowboat with this fair young
creature. The faithful Fogerty was waiting on the beach for me, where,
it later developed, he had been sleeping quite comfortably on an
unknown woman's high powered sport hat, as is only reasonable.


_July 2nd._ Mother got in again. There seems to be no practical way of
keeping her out. This time she came breezing in with a friend from
East Aurora, a large, elderly woman of about one hundred and ten
summers and an equal number of very hard winters. The first thing
mother said was to the effect that she was going to see what she could
do about getting me a rating. She did. The very first officer she saw
she sailed up to and buttonholed much to my horror.

"Why can't my boy Oswald have a pretty little eagle on his arm, such
as I see so many of the young men up here wearing about the camp?"

The abruptness of this question left the officer momentarily stunned,
but I will say for him that he rallied quickly and returned a
remarkably diplomatic reply to the effect that the pretty little
eagle, although pleasing to gaze upon, was not primarily intended to
be so much of a decoration as means of identification, and that
certain small qualifications were required, as a rule, before one was
permitted to wear one of the emblems in question; qualifications, he
hastened to add, which he had not the slightest doubt that I failed to
possess if I was the true son of my mother, but which, owing to fate
and circumstances, I had probably been unable to exercise. Whereupon
he bid her a very courteous good-day, returned my salute, and passed
on, but not before the very old lady accompanying my mother saluted
also, raising her hand to her funny bit of a bonnet with unnecessary
snappiness and snickering in a senile manner. This last episode upset
me completely, but the old lady was irrepressible. From that time on
she punctuated her progress through the camp with exaggerated salutes
to all the officers she encountered on the way. This, of course, was
quite a startling and undignified performance for one of her years,
very embarrassing to me, as well as mystifying to the officers, who
hardly knew whether to hurl me into the brig as vicarious atonement or
to rebuke the flighty old creature, on the grounds of undue levity.
Most of them passed by, however, with averted eyes and a
discountenanced expression, feeling, I am sure, that I had put her up
to it. Mother thought it quite amusing, and enjoyed my discomfiture
hugely. Then for no particular reason she began to garnish her
conversation with inappropriate seagoing expressions, such as "Pipe
down," "Hit the deck," "Avast," and "Hello, Buddy!" Where she ever
picked up all this nonsense I am at a loss to discover, but she
continued to pull it to the bitter end.

"Hello, Buddy!" was the way she greeted the Jimmy-legs of my barracks
after I had introduced her to him with much elaboration. This
completely floored the poor lad, and rendered him inarticulate. He
thinks now that I come from either a family of thugs or maniacs,
probably the latter. I succeeded in shaking the old thing for a while,
and when I next found her she was demonstrating the proper method of
washing whites to a group of sailors assembled in the wash room of one
of our most popular latrines. She was heading in the direction of the
shower baths when I finally rounded her up. She was a game old lady.
I'll have to hand her that. Her wildest escapade was reserved for the
end of her visit, when I took her over to the K. of C. hut, and she
challenged any sailor present to a game of pool for a quarter a ball.
When we told her that the sailors in the Navy never gambled she said
that she was completely off the service, and that she thought it was
high time that we learned to do something useful instead of singing
sentimental songs and weaving ourselves into intricate figures. This
remark forced us to it, and much against our wills we proceeded to
show the old lady up at pool. She had been bluffing all along, and
when it came to a showdown we found that she couldn't shoot for
shucks. When the news spread around the hut the sailors crowded about
her thick as thieves, challenging her to play. She was a wild,
unregenerated old lady, but she was by no means an easy mark, as it
later developed when she matched them for the winnings, got it all
back, and I am told by some sailors that she even left the hut a
little ahead of the game. I don't object to notoriety, but there are
numerous ways of winning it that are objectionable, and this old lady
was one. Mother must have been giddier in her youth than I ever
imagined.


_July 3d._ Yesterday I lost my dog Fogerty and didn't find him until
late in the afternoon. He was up in front of the First Regiment,
mustered in with the liberty party. When he discovered my presence he
looked coldly at me, as if he had never seen me before, so I knew that
he had a date. He just sat there and shook his bangs over his eyes and
tried to appear as if he were somewhere else. When the order come to
shove off he joined the party and trotted off without even looking
back, and that was the last I saw of him until this morning, when he
came drifting in, rather unsteadily, and regarded me with a shifty
but insulting eye. I am rapidly discovering hitherto unsuspected
depths of depravity in Mr. Fogerty, which leads me to believe that he
is almost human.


_July 4th._ This has been the doggonest Fourth of July I ever spent,
and as a result I am in much trouble. All day long I have been
grooming myself to look spic and span at the review held in honor of
the Secretary when he opened the new wing to the camp. I missed it. I
lost completely something in the neighborhood of ten thousand men. It
seems hard to do, but the fact, the ghastly fact, remains that I did
it. When I dashed out of the barracks with my newly washed, splendidly
seagoing, still damp white hat in my hand my company was gone, and the
whole camp seemed deserted. Far in the distance I heard the music of
the band. Fogerty looked inquiringly at me and I fled. He fled after
me.

[Illustration: "I LOST COMPLETELY SOMETHING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF
10,000 MEN"]

"Fogerty," I gasped, "this is a trick I have to pull off alone. You're
not in on this review, and for God's sake act reasonable."

I couldn't bear the thought of chasing across the parade ground with
that simple-looking dog bounding along at my heels. My remark had no
effect. Fogerty merely threw himself into high, and together we sped
in the direction of the music. It was too late. Thousands of men were
swinging past in review, and in all that mass of humanity there was
one small vacant place that I was supposed to fill. I crouched down
behind a tree and observed the scene through stricken eyes. How could
I possibly have managed to lose nearly ten thousand men? It seemed
incredible, and I realized then that I alone could have accomplished
such a feat. And I had been so nice and clean, too, and I had worked
so hard to be all of those things. I bowed my head in misery, and Mr.
Fogerty, God bless his dissolute soul, crept up to me and tried to
tell me it was all right, and didn't matter much anyway. I looked
down, and discovered that my snow white hat was all muddy. Fogerty sat
on it.


_July 8th._ As a result of my being scratched out of the Independence
day review I have been tried out as punishment in all sorts of
disagreeable positions, all of which I have filled with an
inefficiency only equaled by the bad temper of my over-lords. Some of
these tasks, one in particular was of such a ridiculous nature that I
refuse to enter it into my diary for an unfeeling posterity to jeer
at. I am willing to state, however, that the accomplishments of
Hercules, that redoubtable handy man of mythology, were trifling in
comparison with mine.

To begin with, the coal pile is altogether too large and my back is
altogether too refined. There should be individual coal piles provided
for temperamental sailors. Small, colorful, appetizingly shaped mounds
of nice, clean, glistening chunks of coal they should be, and the coal
itself could easily be made much lighter, approaching if possible the
weight of feathers. This would be a task any reasonably inclined
sailor would attack with relish, particularly if his efforts were
attended by the strains of some good, snappy jazz. However, reality
wears a graver face and a sootier one. Long did I labor and valiantly
but to little effect. More coal fell off of my shovel than remained on
it. This was due to the unfortunate fact that coal dust seems to
affect me most unpleasantly, much in the same manner as daisies or
golden rod affect hay fever sufferers. The result was that every time
I had my shovel poised in readiness to hurl its burden into space a
monolithic sneeze overpowered me, shook me to the keel, and all the
coal that I had trapped with so much patience and cunning fell
miserably around my feet, from whence it had lately risen. Little
things like this become most discouraging when strung out for a great
period of time. In this manner I sneezed and sweated throughout the
course of a sweltering afternoon, and just as I was about to call it a
day along comes an evilly inclined coal wagon and dumps practically in
my lap one hundred times more coal than I had disturbed in the entire
course of my labors. On top of this Fogerty, who had been loafing
around all day with his tongue out disporting himself on the coal pile
like a dog in the first snow, started a landslide somewhere above and
came bearing down on me in a cloud of dust. I found myself buried
beneath the delighted Fogerty and a couple of tons of coal, from which
I emerged unbeamingly, but not before Mr. Fogerty had addressed his
tongue to my blackened face as an expression of high good humor.

[Illustration: "FOGERTY CAME BEARING DOWN ON ME IN A CLOUD OF DUST"]

"Take me to the brig," I said, walking over to the P.O., "I'm through.
You can put a service flag on that coal pile for me."

"What's consuming you, buddy?" asked the P.O. in not an unkindly
voice.

"Take me to the brig," I repeated, "it's too much. Here I've been
working diligently all day to reduce the size of this huge mass, when
up comes that old wagon and humps its back and belches forth its
horrid contents all over the place. It's ridiculous. I surrender my
shovel."

"Gord," breathed the P.O., looking at me pityingly, "we don't want to
go and reduce that coal pile, we want to enlarge it."

"Oh!" I replied, stunned, "I didn't quite understand. I thought you
wanted to make it smaller, so I've been trying to shovel it away all
afternoon."

"You shouldn't oughter have done that," replied the P.O. as if he were
talking to an idiot, "I suppose you've been shoveling her down hill
all day?"

I admitted that I had.

"You see," I added engagingly, "I began with trying to shovel her up
hill, but the old stuff kept on rolling down on me, so I drew the
natural conclusion that I'd better shovel her down hill. It seemed
more reasonable and--"

"Easier," suggested the P.O.

"Yes," I agreed.

There was a faraway expression in his eyes when he next spoke. "I'd
recommend you for an ineptitude discharge," he said, "if it wasn't for
the fact that I have more consideration for the civilian population.
I'd gladly put you in the brig for life if I could feel sure you
wouldn't injure it in some way. The only thing left for me to do is to
make you promise that you'll keep away from our coal pile and swear
never to lay violent hands on it again. You'll spoil it."

I gazed up at the monumental mass of coal rearing itself like a
dark-town Matterhorn above my head and swore fervently never to molest
it again.

"Go back to your outfit and get washed and tell your P.O. for me that
you can't come here no more, and," he added, as I was about to depart,
"take that unusual looking bit of animal life with you--it's all
wrong. Police his body or he'll ruin some of your pals' white pants
and they wouldn't like that at all."

I feared they wouldn't.

"Yes, sir," I replied in a crumpled voice, "Much obliged, sir."

"Please go away now," he said quietly, "or I think I might do you an
injury." He was fingering the shovel nervously as he spoke. Thus
Fogerty and I departed, banished even from our dusky St. Helena.


_July 9th._ Working on the theory of opposites, I was next placed as a
waiter in the Chief Petty Officer's Mess over in the First Regiment. I
wasn't so good here, it seems. There was something wrong with my
technique. The coal pile had ruined me for delicate work. I
continually kept mistaking the plate in my hand for a shovel, a
mistake which led to disastrous results. I will say this for the
chiefs, however--they were as clean-cut, hard-eating a body of men as
I have ever met. It was a pleasure to feed them, particularly so in
the case of one chief, a venerable gentleman, who seemed both by his
bearing and the number of stripes on his sleeve to be the dean of the
mess. He ate quietly, composedly and to the point, and after I had
spilled a couple of plates of rations on several of the other chiefs'
laps he suggested that I call it a day and be withdrawn in favor of
one whose services to his country were not so invaluable as mine.
Appreciating his delicacy I withdrew, but only to be sent out on
another job that defies description. Even here I quickly demonstrated
my unfitness and have consequently been incorporated once more into
the body of my regiment.


_July 10th._ I had the most terrible experience in mess to-day when a
guy having eaten more rapidly than I attempted to take my ration. When
I told him he shouldn't do it he merely laughed brutally and kicked me
an awful whack on the shin. This injury, together with the sight of
witnessing my food about to be crammed down his predatory maw,
succeeded in bringing all my latent patriotism to the fore and I fell
upon him with a desperation bred of hunger. We proceeded to mill it up
in a rather futile, childish manner until the Master-at-arms suggested
in a certain way he has that we go away to somewhere else. Hereafter
if any one asks if I did any actual fighting in this war I am going to
say, "Yes, I fought like hell many hard and long battles in camp for
my ration," which will be true.

"Say, buddy," said my opponent, after we had landed quite violently on
the exterior of the Mess Hall, "you didn't git no food at all, did
yer?"

"No," I replied bitterly; "at all is right."

He looked at me for a moment in a strange, studying manner, then began
laughing softly to himself.

"I don't know what made me do it," he said more to himself than to me.
"I wasn't hungry no more. I didn't _really_ want it. I wonder what
makes a guy brutal? Guess he sort of has a feelin' to experiment with
himself and other folks."

"I wish you'd tried that experiment on some one else," I replied,
thinking tenderly of my shin.

"Sometimes I feel so doggon strong and mean," he continued, "I just
can't keep from doing things I don't naturally feel like doing. I
guess I'm sort of an animal."

"Say," I asked him in surprise, "if you keep talking about yourself
that way I won't be able to call you all the names I am carefully
preparing at this moment."

He peered earnestly down on me for a space.

"Does my face make you talk that way?" I asked, feeling dimly and
uncomfortably that it did.

"Yes," he replied, "it's your face, your foolish looking face. I can't
help feeling sorry for it and your funny empty little belly."

"You're breaking me down," I answered; "I can't stand kindness."

"I ain't no bully," he said fiercely, as if he was about to strike me.
"I ain't no bully," he repeated, "I'll tell you that."

"No, sir," I replied soothingly, keeping on the alert, "you ain't no
bully."

Here he took me by the arm and dragged me along with him.

"Come on, buddy," he said, "I'm going to take you to the canteen and
feed you. I'm going to do it, I swear to God."

So he fed me. Stacks and stacks of stuff he forced on me until the
flesh rebelled, after which he put things in my pockets, repeating
every little while, "I ain't no bully, I'll tell you that, I ain't no
bully." He spent most of his money, I reckon, but I did not try to
stop him. He wanted to do it and I guess it made him feel better.
After the orgy I took him around and let him pat Mr. Fogerty. He
seemed to like this. Fogerty took it in good part.


_July 11th._ There's something about Wednesday afternoons that doesn't
appeal to me. First they make you go away and dress yourself up nice
and clean and then they look you over and make you feel nearly as
childish as you look. Then they put a gun into your hand that is much
too heavy for comfort and make you do all sorts of ridiculous things
with this gun, after which you fall in with numerous thousands of
other men who have been subjected to the same treatment, and together
we all go trotting past any number of officers, who look you over with
uncanny earnestness through eyes that seem to perceive the remotest
defect with fiendish accuracy. Then we all trot home again and call it
a review.

This is all very well for some people, but not for me. I'm a little
too self-conscious. I have always the feeling that I am the review,
that it has been staged particularly for my discomforture, and that
every officer in camp is on the lookout for any slight irregularity in
my clothes or conduct. In this they have little difficulty. I assist
them greatly myself. To-day, for instance:

Item one: Dropped my gun.

Item two: Talked in ranks. I asked the guy next to me how he would
like to go to a place and he said that he'd see me there first.

Item three: Failed to follow the guide.

Item four: Didn't mark time correctly.

Item five: Was in step once.

Now all of these things are trifling in themselves, but taken en
mass, as it were, it leads up to a sizable display; at least, so I was
told in words that denied any other interpretation by my P.O. and
several pals of his. After the review our regimental commander lined
us up and addressed us as follows:

"About that review to-day," he began, "it was terrible" (long,
dramatic pause). "It was probably the worst review I have ever seen
(several P.O.'s glanced at me reproachfully), not only that," he
continued, "but it was the worst review that anybody has ever seen.
Anybody! (shouted) without exception! (shouted) awful review! (pause)
Terrible!"

We steadied in the ranks and waited for our doom.

"It will never be so again," he continued, "I'll see to that. I'll
drill ye myself. If you have to get up at four o'clock in the morning
to drill in order to meet your classes, I'll see that ye do it.
Dropping guns! (pause). Talking in ranks! (pause). Out-o-step
(terrible pause). Marking time wrong. Everything wrong! Company
commanders, take 'em away."

We were took.

"All of those things," said my P.O. in a trembling voice, "you did.
All of 'em. Now the old man's sore on us and he's going to give us
hell, and I'm going to do the same by you."

"Shoot, dearie," says I, with the desperate indifference of a man who
has nothing left to lose, "I wouldn't feel natural if you didn't."

And in my hammock that night I thought of another thing I might have
said if it had occurred to me in time. I might have said, "Hell is the
only thing you know how to give and you're generous with that because
it's free."

But I guess after all it's just as well I didn't.


_August 1st._ Mr. Fogerty has returned aboard. My worst fears are
realized. For a long time he has been irritable and uncommunicative
with me and has indulged in sly, furtive little tricks unbecoming to a
dog of the service. I have suspected that he was concealing a love
affair from me. This it appears he has been doing and his guilt is
heavy upon him. I realize now for the first time and not without a
sharp maternal pang that he has reached an age at which he must make
decisions for himself. I can no longer follow him out into the world
upon his nocturnal exploits. His entire confidence is not mine. I must
be content to share a part of his heart instead of the whole of it.
Like father like son, I suppose. However, I see no reason for him to
put on such airs. On his return from City Island this time he had
somehow contrived to get himself completely shaved up to the
shoulders. The result is startling. Fogerty looks extremely
aristocratic but a trifle foppish. However, he seems to consider
himself the only real four-footed dog in camp. This is a trifle boring
from a dog who has never hesitated to steal from the galley anything
that wasn't a permanent fixture. I can't help but feel sorry for him
though when I see that far-away look in his eyes. Sad days I fear are
in store for him. Ah, well, we're only young once.


_August 3d._ "Well, now, son," he was saying, "mind me when I tell yer
that I'm not claiming as to ever have seen a mermaid, but what I am
saying is this and that is if anybody has ever seen one of them things
I'm that man. I'm not making no false claims, however, none
whatsoever."

I carefully placed my shovel against the wheelbarrow and seating
myself upon a stump prepared to listen to my companion. He was a chief
of many cruises and for some unaccountable reason had fixed on me as
being a suitable recipient for his discourse. One more hash mark on
his arm would have made him look like a convict. I listened and in the
meanwhile many mounds of sand urgently in need of shoveling remained
undisturbed. Upon this sand I occasionally cast a reflective and
apprehensive eye. The chief, noticing this, nudged me in the ribs with
an angular elbow.

"Don't mind that, sonny," he said, "I'll pump the fear-o'-God into the
heart of any P.O. what endeavors to disturb you. Trust me."

I did.

"Now getting back to this mermaid," he began in a confidential voice,
"what I say as I didn't claim to have saw. It happened this way and
what I'm telling you, sonny, is the plain, unvarnished facts of the
case, take 'em or leave 'em as you will. They happened and I'm here to
tell the whole world so."

"I have every confidence in you, chief," I replied mildly.

"It is well you have," he growled, scanning my face suspiciously.
"It's well you have, you louse."

"Why, chief," I exclaimed in an aggrieved voice, "isn't that rather an
unappetizing word to apply to a fellow creature?"

"Mayhap, young feller," he replied, "mayhap. I ain't no deep sea
dictionary diver, I ain't, but all this has got nothing to do with
what I was about to tell you. It all happened after this manner,
neither no more nor no less."

He cleared his throat and gazed with undisguised hostility across the
parade ground. Thus he began:

"It was during the summer of 1888, some thirty odd years ago," quoth
he. "I was a bit young then, but never such a whey face as you,
certainly not."

"Positively," said I, in hearty agreement.

"At that time," he continued, not noticing my remark, "I was resting
easy on a soft job between cruises as night watchman on one of them
P.O. docks at Dover. The work warn't hard, but it was hard enough. I
would never have taken it had it not been for the unpleasant fact that
owing to some little trouble I had gotten into at one of the pubs my
wife was in one of her nasty, brow-beating moods. At these times the
solitude and the stars together with the grateful companionship of a
couple of buckets of beer was greatly to be preferred to my little old
home. So I took the job and accordingly spent my nights sitting with
my back to a pile, my legs comfortably stretched out along the rim of
the dock and a bucket of beer within easy reach."

"Could anything be fairer than that?" said I.

"Nothing," said he, and continued. "Well, one night as I was sitting
there looking down in the water as a man does when his mind is empty
and his body well disposed, I found myself gazing down into two
glowing pools that weren't the reflections of stars. Above these two
flecks of light was perched a battered old leghorn hat after the style
affected in the music halls of those days. Floating out back of this
hat on the water was a long wavery coil of filmy hair, the face was
shaded, but two long slim arms were thrust out of the water toward me,
and following these arms down a bit I was shocked and surprised to
find that further than the hat the young lady below me was apparently
innocent of garments. Now I believe in going out with the boys when
the occasion demands and making a bit of a time of it, but my folks
have always been good, honest church people and believers in good,
strong, modest clothing and plenty of 'em. I have always followed
their example."

"Reluctantly and at a great distance," said I.

"Not at all," said he and continued. "So when I sees the condition the
young lady was in I was naturally very much put out and I didn't
hesitate telling her so.

"'Go home,' says I, 'and put your clothes on. You ought to be ashamed
of yourself--a great big girl like you.'

"'Aw, pipe down, old grizzle face,' says she; 'wot have you got in the
bucket?' And if you will believe me she began raising herself out of
the water. 'Give me some,' says she.

"'Stop,' I cries out exasperated; 'stop where you are; you've gone far
enough. For shame.'

"'I'll come all the way out,' says she, laughing, 'unless you give me
some of wot you got in that bucket.'

"'Shame,' I repeated, 'ain't you got no sense of decency?'

"'None wot so ever,' she replied, 'but I'm awfully thirsty. Gimme a
drink or out I'll come.'

"Now you can see for yourself that I couldn't afford to have a woman
in her get-up sitting around with me on the end of a dock, being
married as I was and my folks all good honest church folks, and bright
moon shining in the sky to boot, so I was just naturally forced to
give in to the brazen thing and reach her down the bucket, a full one
at that. It came back empty and she was forwarder than ever.

"'Say,' she cries out, swimming around most exasperatingly, 'you're a
nice old party. What do your folks know you by?'

"I told her my name was none of her business and that I was a married
man and that I wished she'd go away and let me go on with my night
watching.

"'I'm married too,' says she, in a conversational tone, 'to an awful
mess. You're pretty fuzzy, but I'd swap him for you any day. Come on
into the sea with me and we'll swim down to Gold Fish Arms and stick
around until we get a drink. I know lots of the boys down there. There
ain't no liquor dealers where I come from,' and with this if you will
believe me she flips a bucket full of water into my lap with the
neatest little scale spangled tail you ever seen.

"'No,' says I, 'my mind's made up. I ain't agoing to go swimming
around with no semi-stewed, altogether nude mermaid. It ain't right.
It ain't Christian.'

"'I got a hat,' says she reflectively, 'and I ain't so stewed but wot
I can't swim. Wot do you think of that hat? One of the boys stole it
from his old woman and gave it to me. Come on, let's take a swim.'

"'No,' says I, 'I ain't agoing.'

"'Just 'cause I ain't all dolled up in a lot of clothes?' says she.

"'Partly,' says I, 'and partly because you are a mermaid. I ain't
agoing messing around through the water with no mermaid. I ain't never
done it and I ain't agoing to begin it now.'

"'If I get some clothes on and dress all up pretty, will you go
swimming with me then?' she asks pleadingly.

"'Well that's another thing,' says I, noncommittal like.

"'All right,' says she, 'gimme something out of that other bucket and
I'll go away. Come on, old sweetheart,' and she held up her arms to
me.

"Well, I gave her the bucket and true to form she emptied it. Then she
began to argue and plead with me until I nearly lost an ear.

"'No,' I yells at her, 'I ain't agoing to spend the night arguing with
a drunken mermaid. Go away, now; you said you would.'

"'All right, old love,' she replies good-naturedly, 'but I'll see you
again some time. I ain't ever going home again. I hate it down there.'
And off she swims in an unsteady manner in the direction of the Gold
Fish Arms. She was singing and shouting something terrible.

   "'Oh, bury me not on the lonesome prairie
     Where the wild coyotes howl o'er me,'

was the song she sang and I wondered where she had ever picked it up.

"Well," continued the chief, "to cast a sheep shank in a long line,
these visits kept up every evening until I was pretty near drove
distracted. Along she'd come about sun-down and stick around devilin'
me and drinking up all my grog. After a while she began calling for
gin and kept threatening me until I just had to satisfy her. She also
made me buy her a brush and comb, a mouth organ and a pair of
spectacles, together with a lot of other stuff on the strength of the
fact that if I refused she would make a scene. In this way that doggon
mermaid continually kept me broke, for my wage warn't enough to make
me heavy and I had my home to support.

"'Don't you ever go home?' I asked her one night.

"'No,' she replied, 'I ain't ever going back home. I don't like it
down there. There ain't no liquor dealers.'

"'But your husband,' exclaims I. 'What of him?'

"'I know,' says she, 'but I don't like him and I'm off my baby, too.
It squints,' says she.

"'But all babies squint,' says I.

"'Mine shouldn't,' says she. 'It ain't right.'

"Then one night an awful thing happened. My wife came down to the dock
to find out how I spent all my money. It was a bright moon-lit night
and this lost soul of a mermaid was hanging around, particularly
jilled and entreating. I was just in the act of passing her down the
gin flask and she was saying to me, 'Come on down, old love; you know
you're crazy about me,' when all of a sudden I heard an infuriated
shriek behind me and saw my wife leaning over the dock shaking an
umbrella at this huzzy of a mermaid. Oh, son," broke off the Chief,
"if you only knew the uncontrolled violence and fury of two contending
women. Nothing you meet on shipboard will ever equal it. I was
speechless, rocked in the surf of a tumult of words. And in the midst
of it all what should happen but the husband of the mermaid pops out
of the water with a funny little bit of a merbaby in his arms.

"'Go home at once, sir,' screams my wife, 'and put on your clothes.'

"'I will,' he shouts back, 'if my wife will come along with me.'

"He was a weazened up little old man with a crooked back. Not very
prepossessing. I could hardly blame his wife.

"'So that bit of stuff is your wife, is it?' cries out my old lady,
and with that she began telling him her past.

"'I know it,' says the little old merman at last, almost crying; 'I
know it, but I ain't got no control over her whatsoever. I've been
trying to get her to come home for the last fortnight, but she just
won't leave off going around with the sailors. The whole beach is
ashamed of her. It's general talk down below. What can I do? The
little old coral house is going to wrack and ruin and the baby ain't
been properly took care of since she left. What am I going to do,
madam? What am I going to do? I'm well nigh distracted.'

"But his wife was too taken up with the gin bottle to pay much heed to
his pitiful words. She just kept flirting around in the water and
singing snatches of bad sailor songs she'd picked up around the docks.

"'Take her home,' said my wife, 'take her home, you weakling, by
force.'

"'But I can't when she's in this condition. I got a child in my arms.'

"'Give me the baby,' said my wife, with sudden determination. 'I'll
take care of it until to-morrow night when you can come back here and
get it.'

"He handed the flopping little thing up to my wife and turned to the
mermaid.

"'Lil,' he says to her, holding out his arms to her, 'Lil, will you
come home?'

"Lil swims up to him then and takes him by the arm and looks at him
for a long time.

"'Kiss me, Archie,' she says suddenly, 'I don't mind if I do,' and
flipping a couple of pounds of water upon the both of us on the pier,
she pulls him under the water laughing and that's the last I saw of
either of them. Now I ain't asaying as I have ever seen a mermaid mind
you," continued the chief, "but what I do say is that if any man has
ever seen one I'm the man."

"I understand perfectly," said I, "and what, chief, became of the
baby?"

"Oh, the baby," said the chief, thoughtful like; "the baby--well, you
see, about that baby--" he gazed searchingly around the landscape for
a moment before replying.

"Oh, the baby," he said suddenly, as if greatly relieved, "well, my
wife took the baby home and kept it in the bathtub for a couple of
days after which she returned it in person to its father. She made me
give up my job. It did squint, though," said the chief, as he got up
to go, "ever so little."

I turned to my shovel.

"But I ain't saying as I have ever seen a mermaid," he said, turning
back in his tracks, "all I'm saying is that--"

"I know, Chief," I said wearily, "I fully appreciate your delicacy and
fairness. You're not the man to make any false claims."

"No, sir, not I," he replied, as he walked slowly away.


_August 5th._ In order to distract Mr. Fogerty's attention from his
love affair and in a sort of desperate endeavor to win him back to me
I took him away on my last liberty with me. Fogerty doesn't come under
the heading of a lap dog, but through some technical quibble I managed
to smuggle him into the subway. All he did there was to knock over one
elderly lady and lick her face effusively when he had gotten her down.
This resulted in a small but complete panic. For the most part,
however, he sat quietly on my lap and sniffed at those around him. At
last we reached Washington Square, whereupon I proceeded to take Mr.
Fogerty around and show him off to my friends. He was well received,
but his heart wasn't with us. It was far away in City Island.

[Illustration: "FOR THE MOST PART, HOWEVER, HE SAT QUIETLY ON MY LAP
AND SNIFFED"]

At one restaurant we ran into a female whose hair was nearly as short
as Fogerty's. She was holding forth on the Silence of the Soul vs. the
Love Impulse, the cabbage or some other plant. Fogerty listened to her
for a while and then bit her. He did it quietly, but I thought it best
to take him away.

After supper we went up to another place for coffee, a fine little
place for sailormen, situated on the south side of the square. Here
we were received with winning cordiality and Fogerty was given a fried
egg, a dish of which he is passionately fond. But even here he got
into trouble by putting one of his great feet through a Ukulele, which
isn't such a terrible thing to do, except in certain places.

Getting back to the station was a crisp little affair. Fogerty and
myself rose at five and went forth to the shuttle. The subway was a
madhouse. We shuttled ourselves to death. At 5.30 we were at the Times
Square end of the shuttle, at 5.45 we were at Williams, at 6 o'clock
we had somehow managed to get ourselves on the east side end of the
shuttle, five minutes later we were back at Times Square, ten minutes
later we were over on the east side once more. At 6.15 I lost Fogerty.
At 6.25 I was back at Times Square. "Hello, buddy," said the guard,
"you back again? Here's your dog."

At 7 o'clock we were at Van Cortlandt Park, at 8 we were at
Ninety-sixth Street, 9 o'clock found us laboring up to the gate of the
camp, with a written list of excuses that looked like the schedule of
a flourishing railroad. It was accepted, much to our surprise.


_Aug. 7th._ I have a perfectly splendid idea. Of course, like the rest
of my ideas it won't work, but it is a perfectly splendid idea for all
that. I got it while traveling on the ferry boat from New York to
Staten Island--the longest sea voyage I have had since I joined the
Navy. On this trip, strangely thrilling to a sailor in my situation,
but which was suffered with bored indifference by the amphibious
commuters that infest this Island in those waters, I saw a number of
ships so gaudily and at the same time so carelessly painted that any
God-fearing skipper of the Spanish Main would positively have refused
to command. Captain Kidd himself would have blushed at the very sight
of this ribald fleet and turned away with a devout imprecation.

This was my first experience with camouflage, and it impressed me most
unfavorably. An ordinary ship on a grumbling ocean is difficult enough
as it is to establish friendly relations with, but when trigged out in
this manner--why serve meals at all, say I. Nevertheless it occurred
to me that it would not be a bad idea at all to camouflage one's
hammock in such a manner that it took upon itself the texture and
appearance of the bulkhead of the barracks in which it was swung. In
this manner a sailor could sleep undisturbed for three weeks if he so
desired (and he does), without ever being technically considered a
deserter.

One could elaborate this idea still further and make one's sea bag
look like a clump of poison ivy, so that no inspecting officer would
ever care to become intimate with its numerous defects in cleanliness.
One might even go so far as to camouflage oneself into a writing desk
so that when visiting the "Y" or the "K-C" and unexpectedly required
to sing one would not be forced to rise and scream impatiently and
threateningly "Dear Mother Mine" or "Break the News to Mother." Not
that these songs are not things of rare beauty in themselves, but
after a day on the coal pile one's lungs have been sufficiently
exercised to warrant relief. This is merely an idea of mine, and now
that everybody knows about it I guess there isn't much use in going
ahead with it.


_Aug. 8th._ "This guide i-s l-e-f-t!" shouted the P.O., and naturally
I looked around to see what had become of the poor fellow.

"Keep your head straight. Eyes to the front! Don't move! Whatcha
lookin' at?"

"I was looking for the guide that was left," says I timidly. "It seems
to me that he is always being left."

"Company dismissed," said the P.O. promptly, showing a wonderful
command of the situation under rather trying circumstances, for the
boo-hoo that went up from the men after my remark defied all
restraints of discipline.

"Say, Biltmore," says the P.O. to me a moment later, "I'm going to see
if I can't get you shipped to Siberia if you pull one of them bum
jokes again. You understand?"

"But I wasn't joking," I replied innocently.

"Aw go on, you sly dog," said he, nudging me in the ribs, and for some
strange reason he departed in high good humor, leaving me in a greatly
mystified frame of mind.

Speaking of getting shipped, I have just written a very sad song in
the style of the old sentimental ballads of the Spanish war days. It's
called "The Sailor's Farewell," and I think Polly will like it. I
haven't polished it up yet, but here it is as it is:

   A sailor to his mother came and said, "Oh, mother dear,
     I got to go away and fight the war.
   So, mother, don't you cry too hard, and don't you have no fear
     When you find that I'm not sticking 'round no more."

   "My boy," the sweet old lady said, "I hate to see you go.
     I've knowed you since when you was but a kid,
   But if the question you should ask, I'll tell the whole world so--
     It's the only decent thing you ever did."

       A tear she brushed aside,
       And then she sadly cried:

   CHORUS

   "I'm proud my boy's a sailor man what sails upon the sea.
     I've always liked him pretty well although he is so dumb.
   For years he's stuck around the house and disappointed me.
     I thought that he was going to be a bum."

   He took her gently by the hand and kissed her on the bean
     And said, "When I'm about to fight the Hun
   You shouldn't talk to me that way; I think it's awfully mean--
     I ain't agoin' to have a lot of fun."

   "I know, my child," the mother said. "The parting makes me sad,
     But go you must away and fight the war.
   At least you will not live to drink as much as did your dad--
     So here's your lid, my lad, and there's the door."

       Then as he turned away
       He heard her softly say:

   CHORUS

   "The sailors I have ever loved. I'm glad my lad's a gob,
     Although it seems to me he's much too dumb.
   But after all perhaps he isn't such an awful slob--
     I always knew that Kaiser was a bum!"


_Aug. 9th._ The best way to make a deserter of a man is to give him
too much liberty. For the past week I have been getting my dog Fogerty
on numerous liberty lists when he shouldn't have been there, but not
contented with that he has taken to going around with a couple of
yeomen, and the first thing I know he will be getting on a special
detail where the liberty is soft. I put nothing past that dog since he
lost his head to some flop-eared huzzy with a black and tan
reputation.


_Aug. 10th._ All day long and a little longer I have been carrying
sacks of flour. The next time I see a stalk of wheat I am going to
snarl at it. This new occupation is a sort of special penance for not
having my hammock lashed in time. It seems that I have been in the
service long enough to know how to do the thing right by now, but the
seventh hitch is a sly little devil and always gets me. I need a
longer line or a shorter hammock, but the only way out of it that I
can see is to get a commission and rate a bed.

[Illustration: "I CARRIED ALL THE FLOUR TO-DAY THAT WAS RAISED LAST
YEAR IN THE SOUTHERN SECTION OF THE STATE OF MONTANA"]

I carried all the flour to-day that was raised last year in the
southern section of the State of Montana, and I was carrying it well
and cheerfully until one of my pet finger nails (the one that the
manicure girls in the Biltmore used to rave about) thrust itself
through the sack and precipitated its contents upon myself and the
floor. A commissary steward when thoroughly aroused is a poisonous
member of society. One would have thought that I had sunk the great
fleet the way this bird went on about one little sack of flour.

"Here Mr. Hoover works hard night and day all winter," he sobs at me,
"and you go spreading it around as if you were Marie Antoinette."

I wondered what new scandal he had about Marie Antoinette, but I held
my peace. My horror was so great that the real color of my face made
the flour look like a coat of sunburn in comparison.

"There's enough flour there," he continued reproachfully, pointing to
the huge mound of stuff in which I stood like a lost explorer on a
snow-capped mountain peak and wishing heartily that I was one,
"there's enough flour," he continued, "to keep a chief petty officer
in pie for twenty-four hours."

"Just about," thought I to myself.

"Well," he cried irritably, "pick it up. Be quick. Pick it up--all of
it!"

"Pick it up," I replied through a cloud of mist, "you can't pick up
flour. You can pick up apples and pears and cabbages and cigarette
butts for that matter, but you can't pick up flour."

The commissary steward suddenly handed me a piece of paper upon which
he had been writing frantically.

"Take this to your P.O.," he said shrilly, "and take yourself along
with it.

"A defect in the sack," I gasped, departing.

"And there's a defect in you," he shouted after me, "your brain is
exempted."

"Take this man and kill him if you can find any slight technical
excuse for it," the note ran, "and if you can't kill him, give him an
inaptitude discharge with my compliments, and if you are unable to do
either of these two things, at least keep him away from my outfit. We
don't want to see his silly face around here any more at all."

The P.O. read it to me with great delight.

"I guess we'll have to send you to Siberia after all," he said
thoughtfully, "only that country is in far too delicate a condition
for you to meddle with at present. Go away to somewhere where I can't
see you," he continued bitterly, "for I feel inclined to do you an
injury, something permanent and serious." I went right away.


_Aug. 11th._ Mother has just paid one of her belligerent visits to the
camp, and as a consequence I am on the point of having a flock of
brainstorms. Some misguided person had been telling her about the
Officer Training School up here, and she arrived fired with the
ambition to enter me into that institution without further delay.
True to form, she bounded headlong into the matter without consulting
my feelings by accosting the very first commissioned officer she met.
He happened to be an Ensign, but he might as well have been a
Vice-Admiral for all Mother cared.

"Tell me, young man," she said to this Ensign, going directly to the
point, "do you see any reason why my boy Oswald should not go to that
place where they make all the Ensigns?"

"Yes," said the officer firmly, "I do."

"Oh, you do," snapped Mother angrily, "and pray tell me what that
reason might be?"

"Your son Oswald," replied the Ensign laconically.

"What!" exclaimed Mother, "you mean to say that my Oswald is not good
enough to go to your silly old school?"

"No," replied the Ensign, weakening pitifully before the withering
fury of an aroused mother, "but you see, my dear madam, he has not a
first class rating."

"Fiddlesticks!" said Mother.

"Crossed anchors," replied the Ensign.

"I didn't mean that," continued Mother, "I think the whole thing is
very mysterious and silly, and I'm not going to let it stop here. You
can trust me, Oswald," she went on soothingly. "I am going to see the
Commander of the station myself. I am going this very instant."

"But, Mother," I cried in desperation, tossing all consequences to the
wind, "the 'skipper' isn't on the station to-day. He got a 43-hour
liberty. I saw him check out of the gate myself."

For a moment the Ensign's jaw dropped. I watched him anxiously. Then
with perfect composure he turned to Mother and came through like a
little gentleman.

"Yes, madam," he stated, "your son is right. I heard his name read out
with the liberty party only a moment ago. He has shoved off by now."

I could have kissed that Ensign.

"Well, I'm sure," said Mother, "it's very funny that I can never get
to the Captain. I shall write him, however."

"He must have an interesting collection of your letters already," I
suggested. "They would be interesting to publish in book form."

"Anyway," continued Mother, apparently not attending to my remark, "I
think you would look just as well as this young man in one of those
nice white suits."

"No doubt, madam," replied the Ensign propitiatingly, "no doubt."

"Come, Mother," said I, "let's go to the Y.M.C.A. I need something
cool to steady my nerves."

"How about your underwear?" said Mother, coming back to her mania, in
a voice that invited all within earshot who were interested in my
underwear to draw nigh and attend.

"Here, eat this ice cream," I put in quickly, almost feeding her.
"It's melting."

But Mother was not to be decoyed away from her favorite topic.

"I must look it over," she continued firmly.

It seemed to me that every eye in the room was calmly penetrating my
whites and carefully looking over the underwear in which Mother took
such an exaggerated interest. "Socks!" suddenly exploded Mother. "How
are you off for socks?"

"Splendidly," I said in a hoarse voice. A girl behind me snickered.

"And have you that liniment to rub on your stomach when you have
cramps?" she went on ruggedly.

"Enough to last through the Fall season," I replied in a moody voice.
I didn't tell her that Tim the barkeep had tried to drink it.

"Polly!" suddenly exclaimed Mother. "Polly! Why, I forgot to tell you
that she said that she would be up this afternoon. She must be here
now."

The world swam around me. Polly was my favorite sweetie.

"Oh, Mother!" I cried reproachfully, "how could you have forgotten?"

At that moment I heard a familiar voice issuing from the corner, and
turning around, I caught sight of the staff reporter of the camp
paper, a notoriously unscrupulous sailor with predatory proclivities.
He had gotten Polly in a corner and was chinning the ear off of her.
As I drew near I heard him saying:

"Really it's an awful pity, but I distinctly remember him saying that
he was going away on liberty to-day. He mentioned some girl's name,
but it didn't sound anything at all like yours."

Polly looked at him trustfully.

"Are you sure, Mr.----"

"Savanrola," the lying wretch supplied without turning a hair.

"Are you sure, Mr. Savanrola, that he has left the station?"

"Saw him check out with my own eyes," he said calmly.

I moved nearer, my hands twitching.

"Now with an honest old seafaring man like myself," he continued, in a
confidential voice, "it's different. Why, if I should wear all the
hash marks I rate I'd look like a zebra. So I just don't wear any. You
know how it is. But when I like a girl I stick to her. Now from the
very first moment I laid eyes on you--"

Human endurance could stand no more. I threw myself between them.

"Why, here's Oswald hisself," exclaimed the reporter with masterfully
feigned surprise. "However did you get back so soon?"

"I have never been away anywhere to get back from, and you know it," I
replied coldly.

"Strange!" he said, "I could have sworn that I saw you checking out.
Can I get you some ice cream?" he added smoothly.

"What on?" I replied bitterly, knowing him always to be broke.

"Your mother must have--"

"Come," said I to Polly, "leave this degraded creature to ply his
pernicious trade alone. I have some very important words to say to
you."

"Good-by, Mr. Savanrola," said Polly.

"Until we meet again," answered the reporter, with the utmost
confidence.


_Aug. 12th._ It's all arranged. Those words I had to say to Polly were
not spoken in vain. She has promised to be my permanent sweetie. Of
course, I have had a number of transit sweeties in the past, but now
I'm going to settle down to one steady, day in and day out sweetie. I
told Tim, the barkeep, about it last night and all he said was:

"What about all those parties we'd planned to have after we were paid
off?"

This sort of set me back for the moment. The spell of Polly's eyes had
made me forget all about Tim.

"Well, Tim," I replied, "I'll have to think about that. Come on over
to the canteen and I'll feed you some of those honest, upstanding
sandwiches they have over there."

"Say," says Tim, the carnal beast, forgetting everything at the
prospect of food, "I feel as if I could cover a flock of them without
trying."

So together Tim and I had a bachelor's dinner over the sandwiches,
which were worthy of that auspicious occasion.


_Aug. 17th._ We were standing on a street corner of a neighboring
town. The party consisted of Tim the barkeep, the "Spider," an
individual who modestly acknowledged credit for having brought relief
to several over-crowded safes in the good old civilian days; Tony, who
delivered ice in my district also in those aforementioned days, and
myself. These gentlemen for some time had been allowing me to exist in
peace, and I had been showing my gratitude by buying them whatever
little dainties they desired, but such a comfortable state of affairs
could not long continue with that bunch. Suddenly, without any
previous consultation, as if drawn together as it were by some
fiendish undercurrent, they decided to make me unhappy--me, the only
guy that spoke unbroken English in the crowd. This is the way they
accomplished their low ends. When the next civilian came along they
all of them shouted at me in tones that could be heard by all
passers-by:

"Here comes a 'ciwilian,' buddy; he'll give you a quarter."

"Do you need some money, my boy?" said the old gentleman to me in a
kindly voice.

"No, sir," I stammered, getting red all over, "thank you very much,
but I really don't need any money."

Ironical laughter from my friends in the background.

"Oh, no," cries Tim sarcastically, "he don't need no money. Just watch
him when he sees the color of it."

"Don't hesitate, my son," continued the kind old man, "if you need
anything I would be glad to help you out."

"No, sir," I replied, turning away to hide my mortification,
"everything is all right."

"Poor but proud," hisses the "Spider." The old gentleman passed on,
sorely perplexed.

For some time I was a victim of this crude plot. When I tried to move
away they followed me around the streets, crying after me:

"Any 'ciwilian' will give you a quarter. Go on an' ask them."

Several ladies stopped and asked if they could be of any service to
me. I assured them that they couldn't, but all the time these low
sailors whom I had been feeding lavishly kept jeering and intimating
that I was fooling and would take any amount of money offered me from
a dime up. This shower of conflicting statements always left the
kindhearted people in a confused frame of mind and broke me up
completely. I had to chase one man all the way down the street and
hand him back the quarter he had thrust into my hand. My friends never
forgave me for this.

At length, tiring of their sport, they desisted and stood gloomily on
the curb as sailors do, looking idly at nothing.

"It don't look like we was ever going to get a hitch," said the
"Spider," after we had abandonedly offered ourselves to several
automobiles.

At that moment a huge machine rolled heavily by.

"There goes a piece of junk," said Tim. The lady in the machine must
have heard him, for the car came to and she motioned for us to get in.

"Going our way?" she asked, smiling at us.

"Thanks, lady," replies Tim, elbowing me aside as he climbed aboard.

"Dust your feet," I whispered to Tony as he was about to climb in.

"Whatta you mean, dusta my feet?" shouted Tony wrathfully, "you go
head an' dusta your feet! I look out for my feet all right."

"What did he want yer to do, Tony?" asked Tim in a loud voice.

"Dusta my feet," answered Tony, greatly injured.

"What yer doin', Oswald?" asks Tim sarcastically, "tryin' to drag us
up?"

"I only spoke for the best," I answered, sick at heart.

"Ha! ha!" grated Tim, "guess you think we ain't never rode in one of
these wealthy wagons before."

"Arn't you rather young?" asked the lady soothingly of the "Spider,"
who by virtue of his mechanical experience in civil life had been
given a first class rating, "Arn't you rather young to have so many
things on your arm?"

"Yes," answered the "Spider" promptly, "but I kin do a lot of tricks."

The conversation languished from this point.

"We always take our boys to dinner, don't we, dear?" said the lady to
her husband a little later.

"Yes, dear," he answered meekly, just like that.

Expectant silence from the four of us.

"Have you boys had dinner?" the lady asked.

"Certainly not," we cried, with an earnestness that gave the lie to
our statement, "no dinner!"

"None at all," added Tim thoughtfully.

The automobile drew up at a 14k. plate-glass house that fairly made
the "Spider" itch.

"Gosh," he whispered to me, looking at the porch, "that wouldn't be
hard for me."

During the dinner he kept sort of lifting and weighing the silver and
then looking at me and winking in an obvious manner.

"Not many people here to-night," said Tony from behind his plate.

"Why, there is the usual number," said the husband in surprise, "my
wife and myself live alone."

"Oh," said Tony, looking around at the tremendous dining hall, "I
thought this was a restaurant."

[Illustration: "'OH,' SAID TONY, 'I THOUGHT THIS WAS A RESTAURANT'"]

Tim started laughing then, and he hasn't stopped yet. He's so proud he
didn't make the mistake himself.

The "Spider" didn't open his mouth save for the purpose of eating. He
told me he was afraid his teeth would chatter.


_Aug. 20th._ Got a letter from Polly to-day. She says that her finger
is just itching for the ring. I told the "Spider" about it and he said
that he had several unset stones he'd let me have for next to
nothing. A good burglar is one of the most valuable friends a man can
possess.


_Sept. 3d._ I had such a set-back to-day. Never was I more confounded.
This morning I received a notice to report before the examining board
for a first class rating. Of course I had been expecting some slight
recognition of my real worth for a long time, but when the blow fell I
was hardly prepared for it. Hurrying to "My Blue Jacket's Manual," I
succeeded by the aid of a picture in getting firmly in my mind the
port and starboard side of a ship and then I presented myself before
the examiners--three doughty and unsmiling officers. There were about
twelve of us up for examination. Seating ourselves before the three
gentlemen, we gazed upon them with ill-concealed trepidation. One of
them called the roll in a languid manner, and then without further
preliminaries the battle began, and I received the first shock of the
assault. I don't quite remember the question that man asked me, it was
all too ghastly at the time, but I think it was something like this:

"What would you do if you were at the wheel in a dense fog and you
heard three whistles on your port beam, four whistles off the
starboard bow, and a prolonged toot dead ahead?"

"I would still remain in a dense fog," I gasped in a low voice.

"Speak up!" snapped the officer.

"Full speed ahead and jumps," whispered a guy next to me. It sounded
reasonable. I seized upon it eagerly.

"I'd put full steam ahead and jump, sir," I replied.

"Are you mad?" shouted the amazed officer.

"No, sir," I hastened to assure him, "only profoundly perplexed. I
think, sir, that I would go into a conference, under the
circumstances."

The officer seemed to be on the verge of a breakdown.

"What's your name?" asked another officer suddenly.

I told him.

"Initials?"

I told him. He looked at the paper for a moment.

"That explains it," he said with a sigh of relief, "you're not the
man. There has been some mistake. Orderly, take this man away and
bring back the right one. Pronto!"

That Spanish stuff sounds awfully sea-going. I was taken away, but the
officer had not yet recovered. He regarded me with an expression of
profound disgust. Anyway I created a sensation.

[Illustration: "'I WOULD STILL REMAIN IN A DENSE FOG,' I GASPED IN A
LOW VOICE"]


_Sept. 4th._ Things have been happening with overwhelming rapidity. On
the strength of being properly engaged to Polly, my permanent sweetie,
I went to my Regimental commander this morning and applied for a
furlough. He regarded me pityingly for a moment and then carefully
scanned a list of names on the desk before him.

"I am sorry," he said finally, "but not only am I not able to grant
your request, but I have the unpleasant duty to inform you that you
are a little less than forty-eight hours from the vicinity of Ambrose
light."

"Shipped!" I gasped as the world swam around me.

"Your name is on this list," said the officer not unkindly.

"Shipped!" I repeated in a dazed voice.

"It does seem ridiculous, I'll admit," said the officer, smiling, "but
you never can tell what strange things are going to happen in the
Navy. If I were in your place I'd take advantage of this head start I
have given you and get my clothes and sea-bag in some sort of
condition. If I remember rightly, you have never been able
successfully to achieve this since you've been in the service."

"Thank you, sir," I gasped, and bolted. In my excitement I ran
violently into a flock of ensigns stalking across the parade ground.

"I'm going to be shipped," I cried by way of explanation to one of
them as he arose wrathfully.

"You're going to be damned," said he, and I was. Too frantic to write
more.


_Sept. 5th._ All preparations have been made. Tim, Tony and the Spider
are going too. I have just been listening to the most disturbing
conversation. It all arose from our speculating as to our probable
destination and the nature of our services. The Master-at-arms, who
had been sleeping on the hammock rack as only a Master-at-arms can,
permitted himself to remain awake long enough to join in.

"I wouldn't be at all surprised," said he, "if you were shipped to
one of these new Submarine Provokers."

"What's that?" I asked uneasily.

"Why, it's a sort of a dee-coy," said he, stretching his huge hulk, "a
little, unarmed boat that goes messing around in the ocean until it
finds a submarine and then it provokes it."

"How's that?" asked Tim.

"Why, you see," continued the jimmy-legs, "it just sort of steams back
and forth in front of the submarine, just steams slowly back and forth
in front of the submarine until it provokes it."

"Ah!" said I, taking a deep breath.

"Yes," he continues cheerfully, "and the more you provoked the
submarine why the harder it shoots at you, so of course it doesn't
notice the real Submarine Sinker coming up behind it. See the
tactics."

"Oh," says I, "we just provoke the submarine until it loses its temper
and the other boat sinks it."

"That's it," says the jimmy-legs, "you just sort of steam back and
forth in front of it slowly."

"How slowly?" asks the Spider.

"Very," replied the jimmy-legs.

"No guns at all?" asks Tim.

"None," says he.

"A regular little home," suggests Tony.

"Sure," says the jimmy-legs, "nothing to do at all but steam slowly
back--"

"For God's sake don't dwell on that point any more!" I cried. "We
understand it perfectly."

"A regular lil' home," muttered Tim as he began to stow his bag.

(Later) I write these lines with horror. Some one has told me that the
Navy needs Powder tasters, something I'd never heard of before, and
that perhaps--that's what we are going to be used for. All you have to
do, this guy says, is to taste the powder to see if it's damp or dry
and if it's damp you take it away and bake it. This sounds worse than
the Submarine Provoker.

(Still later) Rumor is rife. The latest report is that we are going to
be Mine Openers.

"What's a Mine Opener?" I asked my informant.

"Why, it's a guy," says he, "that picks up the mines floating around
his boat, but only the German mines of course, and opens them to see
if they are as dangerous as they look. Some are not half as dangerous
as they look," he continues easily, "some are not quite so dangerous
and of course some are a great deal more so. But they are all
dangerous enough."

"My dear chap," I replied, turning away miserably, "a pinwheel is
quite dangerous enough for me."


_Sept. 6th._ This is being written from the gate. My bag and hammock
are beside me. Tim lashed them together for me so they wouldn't come
undone. We are waiting for the truck. Tony in his excitable way wants
to kiss the guard good-by. The guard doesn't want him to. My last
moments at Pelham have been hectic. The doctor said I looked one
hundred per cent better than when I came in, but that wasn't enough.
If you didn't look at me very closely you wouldn't know that I was
such an awful dub. This is progress at any rate. The telephone wires
between mother's house and the camp were dripping wet with tears when
I phoned her that I was being shipped. However, she braced up and said
she was proud of me and said she hoped I'd tell the captain good-by
and thank him for all he has done. I assured her I would do this, or
at least leave a note. Polly was a trump. The Spider talked to her and
said that he was going to save the best uncut stone for her that he
had ever bitten out of a ring. The Spider has been very valuable to us
all. He seems to have the uncanny faculty of being able to take the
cloth straps off other people's clothes right before their eyes.
Consequently we are well supplied. At present he's looking at the
handle of the gate in a musing way. I think he would like to have it
as a souvenir. Here comes the truck. Pelham is about to lose its most
useless recruit. I must tuck these priceless pages in my money belt.
Wish I had a picture of Polly. Well, here's to the High Adventure, but
there's something about that Submarine Provoker I can't quite get used
to. It seems just a trifle one sided. However, that is in the lap of
the gods. Instead of a camp I will soon have the vast expanses of the
ocean in which to demonstrate my tremendous inability to emulate the
example of one John Paul Jones.

"Bear a hand there, buddy," the P.O. has just cried at me.

"Buddy" I came in and "buddy" I go out. We're off! I can dimly
distinguish Mr. Fogerty, that unscrupulous dog that abandoned my bed
and board for a couple of influential yeomen. Farewell, Fogerty, may
your evil ways never bring you to grief. I do wish I had a picture of
my Sweetie.

[Illustration: "'BUDDY' I CAME IN AND 'BUDDY' I GO OUT"]

[Illustration: BILTMORE OSWALD and FOGARTY]


THE END





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