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Title: Domesday Book
Author: Masters, Edgar Lee, 1868-1950
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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DOMESDAY BOOK



SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY

BY EDGAR LEE MASTERS


SOME PRESS OPINIONS

"One of the greatest books of the present century."--_Nation._

"The 'Spoon River Anthology' has certain qualities essential to
greatness--originality of conception and treatment, a daring that would
soar to the stars, an instant felicity and facility of expression."--C. E.
LAWRENCE in _The Daily Chronicle_.

"Mr. Edgar Lee Masters will become a classic ... so close-packed is the
book's pregnant wit, so outspoken its language, so destructive of cant and
pharisaism and the veneer of the proprieties, so piercingly true in
insight."--EDWARD GARNETT in _The Manchester Guardian_.

"It is a remarkable book and it grips."--_Daily Telegraph._

"This book is of a quality that will endure.... Mr. Masters has been
daring with the certainty of success."--_Liverpool Daily Post._

"A quite remarkable volume of verse ... quite masterly."--_Sphere._

"Its reality, ingenuity, irony, insight, and vision are
unique."--_Bookman._



  DOMESDAY BOOK


  BY EDGAR LEE MASTERS
  AUTHOR OF "SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY," ETC.


  LONDON
  EVELEIGH NASH COMPANY
  LIMITED
  1921



  COPYRIGHT IN THE U. S. A.
  BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

  _Printed in the United States of America_



  TO MY FATHER
  HARDIN WALLACE MASTERS
  SPLENDID INDIVIDUAL OF
  A PASSING SPECIES--AN AMERICAN



CONTENTS


                                          PAGE

  DOMESDAY BOOK                              1

  THE BIRTH OF ELENOR MURRAY                 4

  FINDING OF THE BODY                        9

  THE CORONER                               13

  HENRY MURRAY                              23

  MRS. MURRAY                               36

  ALMA BELL TO THE CORONER                  50

  GREGORY WENNER                            59

  MRS. GREGORY WENNER                       71

  DR. TRACE TO THE CORONER                  80

  IRMA LEESE                                84

  MIRIAM FAY'S LETTER                       94

  ARCHIBALD LOWELL                         101

  WIDOW FORTELKA                           110

  REV. PERCY FERGUSON                      118

  DR. BURKE                                126

  CHARLES WARREN, THE SHERIFF              138

  THE GOVERNOR                             152

  JOHN SCOFIELD                            158

  GOTTLIEB GERALD                          163

  LILLI ALM                                173

  FATHER WHIMSETT                          179

  JOHN CAMPBELL AND CARL EATON             188

  AT FAIRBANKS                             210

  ANTON SOSNOWSKI                          219

  CONSIDER FREELAND                        229

  GEORGE JOSLIN ON LA MENKEN               237

  WILL PAGET ON DEMOS AND HOGOS            247

  THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT                254

  JANE FISHER                              270

  HENRY BAKER, AT NEW YORK                 277

  LOVERIDGE CHASE                          286

  AT NICE                                  289

  THE MAJOR AND ELENOR MURRAY AT NICE      305

  THE CONVENT                              312

  BARRETT BAYS                             319

  ELENOR MURRAY                            356

  THE JURY DELIBERATES                     377

  THE VERDICT                              395



DOMESDAY BOOK



DOMESDAY BOOK


  Take any life you choose and study it:
  It gladdens, troubles, changes many lives.
  The life goes out, how many things result?
  Fate drops a stone, and to the utmost shores
  The circles spread.

                        Now, such a book were endless,
  If every circle, riffle should be traced
  Of any life--and so of Elenor Murray,
  Whose life was humble and whose death was tragic.
  And yet behold the riffles spread, the lives
  That are affected, and the secrets gained
  Of lives she never knew of, as for that.
  For even the world could not contain the books
  That should be written, if all deeds were traced,
  Effects, results, gains, losses, of her life,
  And of her death.

                        Concretely said, in brief,
  A man and woman have produced this child;
  What was the child's pre-natal circumstance?
  How did her birth affect the father, mother?
  What did their friends, old women, relatives
  Take from the child in feeling, joy or pain?
  What of her childhood friends, her days at school,
  Her teachers, girlhood sweethearts, lovers later,
  When she became a woman? What of these?
  And what of those who got effects because
  They knew this Elenor Murray?

                                  Then she dies.
  Read how the human secrets are exposed
  In many lives because she died--not all
  Lives, by her death affected, written here.
  The reader may trace out such other riffles
  As come to him--this book must have an end.

  Enough is shown to show what could be told
  If we should write a world of books. In brief
  One feature of the plot elaborates
  The closeness of one life, however humble
  With every life upon this globe. In truth
  I sit here in Chicago, housed and fed,
  And think the world secure, at peace, the clock
  Just striking three, in Europe striking eight:
  And in some province, in some palace, hut,
  Some words are spoken, or a fisticuff
  Results between two brawlers, and for that
  A blue-eyed boy, my grandson, we may say,
  Not even yet in seed, but to be born
  A half a century hence, is by those words,
  That fisticuff, drawn into war in Europe,
  Shrieks from a bullet through the groin, and lies
  Under the sod of France.

                            But to return
  To Elenor Murray, I have made a book
  Called Domesday Book, a census spiritual
  Taken of our America, or in part
  Taken, not wholly taken, it may be.
  For William Merival, the coroner,
  Who probed the death of Elenor Murray goes
  As far as may be, and beyond his power,
  In diagnosis of America,
  While finding out the cause of death. In short
  Becomes a William the Conqueror that way
  In making up a Domesday Book for us....
  Of this a little later. But before
  We touch upon the Domesday book of old,
  We take up Elenor Murray, show her birth;
  Then skip all time between and show her death;
  Then take up Coroner Merival--who was he?
  Then trace the life of Elenor Murray through
  The witnesses at the inquest on the body
  Of Elenor Murray;--also letters written,
  And essays written, conversations heard,
  But all evoked by Elenor Murray's death.
  And by the way trace riffles here and there....
  A word now on the Domesday book of old:
  Remember not a book of doom, but a book
  Of houses; domus, house, so domus book.
  And this book of the death of Elenor Murray
  Is not a book of doom, though showing too
  How fate was woven round her, and the souls
  That touched her soul; but is a house book too
  Of riches, poverty, and weakness, strength
  Of this our country.

                        If you take St. Luke
  You find an angel came to Mary, said:
  Hail! thou art highly favored, shalt conceive,
  Bring forth a son, a king for David's throne:--
  So tracing life before the life was born.
  We do the same for Elenor Murray, though
  No man or angel said to Elenor's mother:
  You have found favor, you are blessed of God,
  You shall conceive, bring forth a daughter blest,
  And blessing you. Quite otherwise the case,
  As being blest or blessing, something like
  Perhaps, in that desire, or flame of life,
  Which gifts new souls with passion, strength and love....
  This is the manner of the girl's conception,
  And of her birth:--...



THE BIRTH OF ELENOR MURRAY


                      What are the mortal facts
  With which we deal? The man is thirty years,
  Most vital, in a richness physical,
  Of musical heart and feeling; and the woman
  Is twenty-eight, a cradle warm and rich
  For life to grow in.

                    And the time is this:
  This Henry Murray has a mood of peace,
  A splendor as of June, has for the time
  Quelled anarchy within him, come to law,
  Sees life a thing of beauty, happiness,
  And fortune glow before him. And the mother,
  Sunning her feathers in his genial light,
  Takes longing and has hope. For body's season
  The blood of youth leaps in them like a fountain,
  And splashes musically in the crystal pool
  Of quiet days and hours. They rise refreshed,
  Feel all the sun's strength flow through muscles, nerves;
  Extract from food no poison, only health;
  Are sensitive to simple things, the turn
  Of leaves on trees, flowers springing, robins' songs.

  Now such a time must prosper love's desire,
  Fed gently, tended wisely, left to mount
  In flame and light. A prospering fate occurs
  To send this Henry Murray from his wife,
  And keep him absent for a month--inspire
  A daily letter, written of the joys,
  And hopes they have together, and omit,
  Forgotten for the time, old aches, despairs,
  Forebodings for the future.

                                What results?
  For thirty days her youth, and youthful blood
  Under the stimulus of absence, letters,
  And growing longing, laves and soothes and feeds,
  Like streams that nourish fields, her body's being.
  Enriches cells to plumpness, dim, asleep,
  Which stretch, expand and turn, the prototype
  Of a baby newly born; which after the cry
  At midnight, taking breath an hour before,--
  That cry which is of things most tragical,
  The tragedy most poignant--sleeps and rests,
  And flicks its little fingers, with closed eyes
  Senses with visions of unopened leaves
  This monstrous and external sphere, the world,
  And what moves in it.

                          So she thinks of him,
  And longs for his return, and as she longs
  The rivers of her body run and ripple,
  Refresh and quicken her. The morning's light
  Flutters upon the ceiling, and she lies
  And stretches drowsily in the breaking slumber
  Of fluctuant emotion, calls to him
  With spirit and flesh, until his very name
  Seems like to form in sound, while lips are closed,
  And tongue is motionless, beyond herself,
  And in the middle spaces of the room
  Calls back to her.

                      And Henry Murray caught,
  In letters, which she sent him, all she felt,
  Re-kindled it and sped it back to her.
  Then came a lover's fancy in his brain:
  He would return unlooked for--who, the god,
  Inspired the fancy?--find her in what mood
  She might be in his absence, where no blur
  Of expectation of his coming changed
  Her color, flame of spirit. And he bought
  Some chablis and a cake, slipped noiselessly
  Into the chamber where she lay asleep,
  And had a light upon her face before
  She woke and saw him.

                          How she cried her joy!
  And put her arms around him, burned away
  In one great moment from a goblet of fire,
  Which over-flowed, whatever she had felt
  Of shrinking or distaste, or loveless hands
  At any time before, and burned it there
  Till even the ashes sparkled, blew away
  In incense and in light.

                            She rose and slipped
  A robe on and her slippers; drew a stand
  Between them for the chablis and the cake.
  And drank and ate with him, and showed her teeth,
  While laughing, shaking curls, and flinging back
  Her head for rapture, and in little crows.

  And thus the wine caught up the resting cells,
  And flung them in the current, and their blood
  Flows silently and swiftly, running deep;
  And their two hearts beat like the rhythmic chimes
  Of little bells of steel made blue by flame,
  Because their lives are ready now, and life
  Cries out to life for life to be. The fire,
  Lit in the altar of their eyes, is blind
  For mysteries that urge, the blood of them
  In separate streams would mingle, hurried on
  By energy from the heights of ancient mountains;
  The God himself, and Life, the Gift of God.

  And as result the hurrying microcosms
  Out of their beings sweep, seek out, embrace,
  Dance for the rapture of freedom, being loosed;
  Unite, achieve their destiny, find the cradle
  Of sleep and growth, take up the cryptic task
  Of maturation and of fashioning;
  Where no light is except the light of God
  To light the human spirit, which emerges
  From nothing that man knows; and where a face,
  To be a woman's or a man's takes form:
  Hands that shall gladden, lips that shall enthrall
  With songs or kisses, hands and lips, perhaps,
  To hurt and poison. All is with the fates,
  And all beyond us.

                      Now the seed is sown,
  The flower must grow and blossom. Something comes,
  Perhaps, to whisper something in the ear
  That will exert itself against the mass
  That grows, proliferates; but for the rest
  The task is done. One thing remains alone:
  It is a daughter, woman, that you bear,
  A whisper says to her--It is her wish--
  Her wish materializes in a voice
  Which says: the name of Elenor is sweet,
  Choose that for her--Elenor, which is light,
  The light of Helen, but a lesser light
  In this our larger world; a light to shine,
  And lure amid the tangled woodland ways
  Of this our life; a firefly beating wings
  Here, there amid the thickets of hard days.
  And to go out at last, as all lights do,
  And leave a memory, perhaps, but leave
  No meaning to be known of any man....
  So Elenor Murray is conceived and born.

     *       *       *       *       *

  But now this Elenor Murray being born,
  We start not with her life, but with her death,
  The finding of her body by the river.
  And then as Coroner Merival takes proof
  Her life comes forth, until the Coroner
  Traces it to the moment of her death.
  And thus both life and death of her are known.
  This the beginning of the mystery:--



FINDING OF THE BODY


  Elenor Murray, daughter of Henry Murray,
  The druggist at LeRoy, a village near
  The shadow of Starved Rock, this Elenor
  But recently returned from France, a heart
  Who gave her service in the world at war,
  Was found along the river's shore, a mile
  Above Starved Rock, on August 7th, the day
  Year 1679, LaSalle set sail
  For Michilmackinac to reach Green Bay
  In the _Griffin_, in the winter snow and sleet,
  Reaching "Lone Cliff," Starved Rock its later name,
  Also La Vantum, village of the tribe
  Called Illini.

                  This may be taken to speak
  The symbol of her life and fate. For first
  This Elenor Murray comes into this life,
  And lives her youth where the Rock's shadow falls,
  As if to say her life should starve and lie
  Beneath a shadow, wandering in the world,
  As Cavalier LaSalle did, born at Rouen,
  Shot down on Trinity River, Texas. She
  Searches for life and conquest of herself
  With the same sleepless spirit of LaSalle;
  And comes back to the shadow of the Rock,
  And dies beneath its shadow. Cause of death?
  Was she like Sieur LaSalle shot down, or choked,
  Struck, poisoned? Let the coroner decide.
  Who, hearing of the matter, takes the body
  And brings it to LeRoy, is taking proofs;
  Lets doctors cut the body, probe and peer
  To find the cause of death.

                              And so this morning
  Of August 7th, as a hunter walks--
  Looking for rabbits maybe, aimless hunting--
  Over the meadow where the Illini's
  La Vantum stood two hundred years before,
  Gun over arm in readiness for game,
  Sees some two hundred paces to the south
  Bright colors, red and blue; thinks off the bat
  A human body lies there, hurries on
  And finds the girl's dead body, hatless head,
  The hat some paces off, as if she fell
  In such way that the hat dashed off. Her arms
  Lying outstretched, the body half on side,
  The face upturned to heaven, open eyes
  That might have seen Starved Rock until the eyes
  Sank down in darkness where no image comes.

  This hunter knew the body, bent and looked;
  Gave forth a gasp of horror, leaned and touched
  The cold hand of the dead: saw in her pocket,
  Sticking above the pocket's edge a banner,
  And took it forth, saw it was Joan of Arc
  In helmet and cuirass, kneeling in prayer.
  And in the banner a paper with these words:
  "To be brave, and not to flinch." And standing there
  This hunter knew that Elenor Murray came
  Some days before from France, was visiting
  An aunt, named Irma Leese beyond LeRoy.
  What was she doing by the river's shore?
  He saw no mark upon her, and no blood;
  No pistol by her, nothing disarranged
  Of hair or clothing, showing struggle--nothing
  To indicate the death she met. Who saw her
  Before or when she died? How long had death
  Been on her eyes? Some hours, or over-night.

  The hunter touched her hand, already stiff;
  And saw the dew upon her hair and brow,
  And a blue deadness in her eyes, like pebbles.
  The lips were black, and bottle flies had come
  To feed upon her tongue. 'Tis ten o'clock,
  The coolness of the August night unchanged
  By this spent sun of August. And the moon
  Lies dead and wasted there beyond Starved Rock.
  The moon was beautiful last night! To walk
  Beside the river under the August moon
  Took Elenor Murray's fancy, as he thinks.
  Then thinking of the aunt of Elenor Murray,
  Who should be notified, the hunter runs
  To tell the aunt--but there's the coroner--
  Is there not law the coroner should know?
  Should not the body lie, as it was found,
  Until the coroner takes charge of it?
  Should not he stand on guard? And so he runs,
  And from a farmer's house by telephone
  Sends word to Coroner Merival. Then returns
  And guards the body.

                        Here is riffle first:
  The coroner sat with his traveling bags,
  Was closing up his desk, had planned a trip
  With boon companions, they were with him there;
  The auto waited at the door to take them
  To catch the train for northern Michigan.
  He closed the desk and they arose to go.
  Just then the telephone began to ring,
  The hunter at the other end was talking,
  And told of Elenor Murray. Merival
  Turned to his friends and said: "The jig is up.
  Here is an inquest, and of moment too.
  I cannot go, but you jump in the car,
  And go--you'll catch the train if you speed up."
  They begged him to permit his deputy
  To hold the inquest. Merival said "no,"
  And waived them off. They left. He got a car
  And hurried to the place where Eleanor lay....
  Now who was Merival the Coroner?
  For we shall know of Elenor through him,
  And know her better, knowing Merival.



THE CORONER


  Merival, of a mother fair and good,
  A father sound in body and in mind,
  Rich through three thousand acres left to him
  By that same father dying, mother dead
  These many years, a bachelor, lived alone
  In the rambling house his father built of stone
  Cut from the quarry near at hand, above
  The river's bend, before it meets the island
  Where Starved Rock rises.

                              Here he had returned,
  After his Harvard days, took up the task
  Of these three thousand acres, while his father
  Aging, relaxed his hand. From farm to farm
  Rode daily, kept the books, bred cattle, sheep,
  Raised seed corn, tried the secrets of DeVries,
  And Burbank in plant breeding.

                                  Day by day,
  His duties ended, he sat at a window
  In a great room of books where lofty shelves
  Were packed with cracking covers; newer books
  Flowed over on the tables, round the globes
  And statuettes of bronze. Upon the wall
  The portraits hung of father and of mother,
  And two moose heads above the mantel stared,
  The trophies of a hunt in youth.

                                    So Merival
  At a bay window sat in the great room,
  Felt and beheld the stream of life and thought
  Flow round and through him, to a sound in key
  With his own consciousness, the murmurous voice
  Of his own soul.

                    Along a lawn that sloped
  Some hundred feet to the river he would muse.
  Or through the oaks and elms and silver birches
  Between the plots of flowers and rows of box
  Look at the distant scene of hilly woodlands.
  And why no woman in his life, no face
  Smiling from out the summer house of roses,
  Such riotous flames against the distant green?
  And why no sons and daughters, strong and fair,
  To use these horses, ponies, tramp the fields,
  Shout from the tennis court, swim, skate and row?
  He asked himself the question many times,
  And gave himself the answer. It was this:

  At twenty-five a woman crossed his path--
  Let's have the story as the world believes it,
  Then have the truth. She was betrothed to him,
  But went to France to study, died in France.
  And so he mourned her, kept her face enshrined,
  Was wedded to her spirit, could not brook
  The coming of another face to blur
  This face of faces! So the story went
  Around the country. But his grief was not
  The grief they told. The pang that gnawed his heart,
  And took his spirit, dulled his man's desire
  Took root in shame, defeat, rejected love.
  He had gone east to meet her and to wed her,
  Now turned his thirtieth year; when he arrived
  He found his dear bride flown, a note for him,
  Left with the mother, saying she had flown,
  And could not marry him, it would not do,
  She did not love him as a woman should
  Who makes a pact for life; her heart was set
  For now upon her music, she was off
  To France for study, wished him well, in truth--
  Some woman waited him who was his mate....
  So Merival read over many times
  The letter, tried to find a secret hope
  Lodged back of words--was this a woman's way
  To lure him further, win him to more depths?
  He half resolved to follow her to France;
  Then as he thought of what he was himself
  In riches, breeding, place, and manliness
  His egotism rose, fed by the hurt:
  She might stay on in France for aught he cared!
  What was she, anyway, that she could lose
  Such happiness and love? for he had given
  In a great passion out of a passionate heart
  All that was in him--who was she to spurn
  A gift like this? Yet always in his heart
  Stirred something which by him was love and hate.
  And when the word came she had died, the word
  She loved a maestro, and the word like gas,
  Which poisons, creeps and is not known, that death
  Came to her somehow through a lawless love,
  Or broken love, disaster of some sort,
  His spirit withered with its bitterness.
  And in the years to come he feared to give
  With unreserve his heart, his leaves withheld
  From possible frost, dreamed on and drifted on
  Afraid to venture, having scarcely strength
  To seek and try, endure defeat again.

  Thus was his youth unsatisfied, and as hope
  Of something yet to be to fill his hope
  Died not, but with each dawn awoke to move
  Its wings, his youth continued past his years.
  The very cry of youth, which would not cease
  Kept all the dreams and passions of his youth
  Wakeful, expectant--kept his face and frame
  Rosy and agile as he neared the mark
  Of fifty years.

                    But every day he sat
  As one who waited. What would come to him?
  What soul would seek him in this room of books?
  But yet no soul he found when he went forth,
  Breaking his solitude, to towns.

                                    What waste
  Thought Merival, of spirit, but what waste
  Of spirit in the lives he knew! What homes
  Where children starve for bread, or starve for love,
  Half satisfied, half-schooled are driven forth
  With aspirations broken, or with hopes
  Or talents bent or blasted! O, what wives
  Drag through the cheerless days, what marriages
  Cling and exhaust to death, and warp and stain
  The children! If a business, like this farm,
  Were run on like economy, a year
  Would see its ruin! But he thought, at last,
  Of spiritual economy, so to save
  The lives of men and women, use their powers
  To ends that suit.

                      And thus when on a time
  A miner lost his life there at LeRoy,
  And when the inquest found the man was killed
  Through carelessness of self, while full of drink,
  Merival, knowing that the drink was caused
  By hopeless toil and by a bitter grief
  Touching a daughter, who had strayed and died,
  First wondered if in cases like to this
  Good might result, if there was brought to light
  All secret things; and in the course of time,
  If many deaths were probed, a store of truth
  Might not be gathered which some genius hand
  Could use to work out laws, instructions, systems
  For saving and for using wasting spirits,
  So wasted in the chaos, in the senseless
  Turmoil and madness of this reckless life,
  Which treats the spirit as the cheapest thing,
  Since it is so abundant.

                            Thoughts like these
  Led Merival to run for coroner.
  The people wondered why he sought the office.
  But when they gave it to him, and he used
  His private purse to seek for secret faults,
  In lives grown insupportable, for causes
  Which prompted suicide, the people wondered,
  The people murmured sometimes, and his foes
  Mocked or traduced his purpose.

                                    Merival
  The coroner is now two years in office
  When Henry Murray's daughter Elenor
  Found by the river, gives him work to do
  In searching out her life's fate, cause of death,
  How, in what manner, and by whom or what
  Said Elenor's dead body came to death;
  And of all things which might concern the same,
  With all the circumstances pertinent,
  Material or in anywise related,
  Or anywise connected with said death.
  And as in other cases Merival
  Construed the words of law, as written above:
  All circumstances material or related,
  Or anywise connected with said death,
  To give him power as coroner to probe
  To ultimate secrets, causes intimate
  In birth, environment, crises of the soul,
  Grief, disappointment, hopes deferred or ruined.
  So now he exercised his power to strip
  This woman's life of vestments, to lay bare
  Her soul, though other souls should run and rave
  For nakedness and shame.

                            So Merival
  Returning from the river with the body
  Of Elenor Murray thought about the woman;
  Recalled her school days in LeRoy--the night
  When she was graduated at the High School; thought
  About her father, mother, girlhood friends;
  And stories of her youth came back to him.
  The whispers of her leaving home, the trips
  She took, her father's loveless ways. And wonder
  For what she did and made of self, possessed
  His thinking; and the fancy grew in him
  No chance for like appraisal had been his
  Of human worth and waste, this man who knew
  Both life and books. And lately he had read
  The history of King William and his book.
  And even the night before this Elenor's body
  Was found beside the river--this he read,
  Perhaps, he thought, was reading it when Elenor
  Was struck down or was choked. How strange the hour
  Whose separate place finds Merival with a book,
  And Elenor with death, brings them together,
  And for result blends book and death!... He knew
  By Domesday Book King William had a record
  Of all the crown's possessions, had the names
  Of all land-holders, had the means of knowing
  The kingdom's strength for war; it gave the data
  How to increase the kingdom's revenue.
  It was a record in a case of titles,
  Disputed or at issue to appeal to.
  So Merival could say: My inquests show
  The country's wealth or poverty in souls,
  And what the country's strength is, who by right
  May claim his share-ship in the country's life;
  How to increase the country's glory, power.
  Why not a Domesday Book in which are shown
  A certain country's tenures spiritual?
  And if great William held great council once
  To make inquiry of the nation's wealth,
  Shall not I as a coroner in America,
  Inquiring of a woman's death, make record
  Of lives which have touched hers, what lives she touched;
  And how her death by surest logic touched
  This life or that, was cause of causes, proved
  The event that made events?

                              So Merival
  Brought in a jury for the inquest work
  As follows: Winthrop Marion, learned and mellow,
  A journalist in Chicago, keeping still
  His residence at LeRoy. And David Borrow,
  A sunny pessimist of varied life,
  Ingenious thought, a lawyer widely read.
  And Samuel Ritter, owner of the bank,
  A classmate of the coroner at Harvard.
  Llewellyn George, but lately come from China,
  A traveler, intellectual, anti-social
  Searcher for life and beauty, devotee
  Of such diversities as Nietzsche, Plato.
  Also a Reverend Maiworm noted for
  Charitable deeds and dreams. And Isaac Newfeldt
  Who in his youth had studied Adam Smith,
  And since had studied tariffs, lands and money,
  Economies of nations.

                        And because
  They were the friends of Merival, and admired
  His life and work, they dropped their several tasks
  To serve as jurymen.

                        The hunter came
  And told his story: how he found the body,
  What hour it was, and how the body lay;
  About the banner in the woman's pocket,
  Which Coroner Merival had taken, seen,
  And wondered over. For if Elenor
  Was not a Joan too, why treasure this?
  Did she take Joan's spirit for her guide?
  And write these words: "To be brave and not to flinch"?
  She wrote them; for her father said: "It's true
  That is her writing," when he saw the girl
  First brought to Merival's office.

                                    Merival
  Amid this business gets a telegram:
  Tom Norman drowned, one of the men with whom
  He planned this trip to Michigan. Later word
  Tom Norman and the other, Wilbur Horne
  Are in a motor-boat. Tom rises up
  To get the can of bait and pitches out,
  His friend leaps out to help him. But the boat
  Goes on, the engine going, there they fight
  For life amid the waves. Tom has been hurt,
  Somehow in falling, cannot save himself,
  And tells his friend to leave him, swim away.
  His friend is forced at last to swim away,
  And makes the mile to shore by hardest work.
  Tom Norman, dead, leaves wife and children caught
  In business tangles which he left to build
  New strength, to disentangle, on the trip.
  The rumor goes that Tom was full of drink,
  Thus lost his life. But if our Elenor Murray
  Had not been found beside the river, what
  Had happened? If the coroner had been there,
  And run the engine, steered the boat beside
  The drowning man, and Wilbur Horne--what drink
  Had caused the death of Norman? Or again,
  Perhaps the death of Elenor saved the life
  Of Merival, by keeping him at home
  And safe from boats and waters.

                                  Anyway,
  As Elenor Murray's body has no marks,
  And shows no cause of death, the coroner
  Sends out for Dr. Trace and talks to him
  Of things that end us, says to Dr. Trace
  Perform the autopsy on Elenor Murray.
  And while the autopsy was being made
  By Dr. Trace, he calls the witnesses
  The father first of Elenor Murray, who
  Tells Merival this story:



HENRY MURRAY


  Henry Murray, father of Elenor Murray,
  Willing to tell the coroner Merival
  All things about himself, about his wife,
  All things as well about his daughter, touching
  Her growth, and home life, if the coroner
  Would hear him privately, save on such things
  Strictly relating to the inquest, went
  To Coroner Merival's office and thus spoke:
  I was born here some sixty years ago,
  Was nurtured in these common schools, too poor
  To satisfy a longing for a college.
  Felt myself gifted with some gifts of mind,
  Some fineness of perception, thought, began
  By twenty years to gather books and read
  Some history, philosophy and science.
  Had vague ambitions, analyzed perhaps,
  To learn, be wise.

                      Now if you study me,
  Look at my face, you'll see some trace of her:
  My brow is hers, my mouth is hers, my eyes
  Of lighter color are yet hers, this way
  I have of laughing, as I saw inside
  The matter deeper cause for laughter, hers.
  And my jaw hers betokening a will,
  Hers too, with chin that mitigates the will,
  Shading to softness as hers did.

                                    Our minds
  Had something too in common: first this will
  Which tempted fate to bend it, break it too--
  I know not why in her case or in mine.
  But when my will is bent I grow morose,
  And when it's broken, I become a scourge
  To all around me. Yes, I've visited
  A life-time's wrath upon my wife. This daughter
  When finding will subdued did not give up,
  But took the will for something else--went on
  By ways more prosperous; but alas! poor me!
  I hold on when defeated, and lie down
  When I am beaten, growling, ruminate
  Upon my failure, think of nothing else.
  But truth to tell, while we two were opposed,
  This daughter and myself, while temperaments
  Kept us at sword's points, while I saw in her
  Traits of myself I liked not, also traits
  Of the child's mother which I loathe, because
  They have undone me, helped at least--no less
  I see this child as better than myself,
  And better than her mother, so admire.
  Also I never trusted her; as a child
  She would rush in relating lying wonders;
  She feigned emotions, purposes and moods;
  She was a little actress from the first,
  And all her high resolves from first to last
  Seemed but a robe with flowing sleeves in which
  Her hands could hide some theft, some secret spoil.
  When she was fourteen I could see in her
  The passionate nature of her mother--well
  You know a father's feelings when he sees
  His daughter sensed by youths and lusty men
  As one of the kind for capture. It's a theme
  A father cannot talk of with his daughter.
  He may say, "have a care," or "I forbid
  Your strolling, riding with these boys at night."
  But if the daughter stands and eyes the father,
  As she did me with flaming eyes, then goes
  Her way in secret, lies about her ways,
  The father can but wonder, watch or brood,
  Or switch her maybe, for I switched her once,
  And found it did no good. I needed here
  The mother's aid, but no, her mother saw
  Herself in the girl, and said she knew the girl,
  That I was too suspicious, out of touch
  With a young girl's life, desire for happiness.
  But when this Alma Bell affair came up,
  And the school principal took pains to say
  My daughter was too reckless of her name
  In strolling and in riding, then my wife
  Howled at me like a tigress: whip that man!
  And as my daughter cried, and my wife screeched,
  And called me coward if I let him go,
  I rushed out to the street and finding him
  Beat up his face, though almost dropping dead
  From my exertion. Well, the aftermath
  Was worse for me, not only by the talk,
  But in my mind who saw no gratitude
  In daughter or in mother for my deed.
  The daughter from that day took up a course
  More secret from my eyes, more variant
  From any wish I had. We stood apart,
  And grew apart thereafter. And from that day
  My wife grew worse in temper, worse in nerves.
  And though the people say she is my slave,
  That I alone, of all who live, have conquered
  Her spirit, still what despotism works
  Free of reprisals, or of breakings-forth
  When hands are here, not there?

                                  But to return:
  One takes up something for a livelihood,
  And dreams he'll leave it later, when in time
  His plans mature; and as he earns and lives,
  With some time for his plans, hopes for the day
  When he may step forth from his olden life
  Into a new life made thus gradually,
  I hoped to be a lawyer; but to live
  I started as a drug clerk--look to-day
  I own that little drug store--here I am
  With drugs my years through, drugged myself at last.
  And as a clerk I met my wife--went mad
  About her, and I see in Elenor
  Her mother's gift for making fools of men.
  Why, I can scarce explain it, it's the flesh,
  But then it's spirit too. Such flaming up
  As came from flames like ours, but more of hers
  Burned in the children. Yes, it might be well
  For theorists in heredity to think
  About the matter.

                    Well, but how about
  The flames that make the children? For this woman
  Too surely ruined me and sapped my life.
  You hear much of the vampire, but what wife
  Has not more chance for eating up a man?
  She has him daily, has him fast for years.

  A man can shake a vampire off, but how
  To shake a wife off, when the children come,
  And you must leave your place, your livelihood
  To shake her off? And if you shake her off
  Where do you go? what do you do? and how?
  You see 'twas love that caught me, yet even so
  I had resisted love had I not seen
  A chance to rise through marriage. It was this:
  You know, of course, my wife was Elenor Fouche,
  Daughter of Arthur, thought to be so rich.
  And I had hopes to patch my fortunes up
  In this alliance, and become a lawyer.
  What happened? Why they helped me not at all.
  The children came, and I was chained to work,
  To clothe and feed a family--all the while
  My soul combusted with this aspiration,
  And my good nature went to ashes, dampened
  By secret tears which filtered through as lye.
  Then finally, when my wife's father died,
  After our marriage, twenty years or so,
  His fortune came to nothing, all she got
  Went to that little house we live in here--
  It needs paint now, the porch has rotten boards--
  And I was forced to see these children learn
  What public schools could teach, and even as I
  Left school half taught, and never went to college,
  So did these children, saving Elenor,
  Who saw two years of college--earned herself
  By teaching. I choke up, just wait a minute!
  What depths of calmness may a man come to
  As father, who can think of this and be
  Quiet about his heart? His heart will hurt,
  Move, as it were, as a worm does with its pain.
  And these days now, when trembling hands and head
  Foretell decline, or worse, and make me think
  As face to face with God, most earnestly,
  Most eager for the truth, I wonder much
  If I misjudged this daughter, canvass her
  Myself to see if I had power to do
  A better part by her. That is the way
  This daughter has got in my soul. At first
  She incubates in me as force unknown,
  A spirit strange yet kindred, in my life;
  And we are hostile and yet drawn together;
  But when we're drawn together see and feel
  These oppositions. Next she's in my life--
  The second stage of the fever--as dislike,
  Repugnance, and I wish her out of sight,
  Out of my life. Then comes these ugly things,
  Like Alma Bell, and rumors from away
  Where she is teaching, and I put her out
  Of life and thought the more, and wonder why
  I fathered such a nature, whence it came.
  Well, then the fever goes and I am weak,
  Repentant it may be, delirious visions
  That haunted me in fever plague me yet,
  Even while I think them visions, nothing else.
  So I grow pitiful and blame myself
  For any part I had in her mistakes,
  Sorrows and struggles, and I curse myself
  That I was powerless to help her more--
  Thus is she like a fever in my life.

  Well, then the child grows up. But as a child
  She dances, laughs and sings. At three years springs
  For minutes and for minutes on her toes,
  Like skipping rope, clapping her hands the while,
  Her blue eyes twinkling, and her milk-white teeth
  Glistening as she gurgled, shouted, laughed--
  There never was such vital strength. I give
  The pictures as my memory took them. Next
  I see her looking side-ways at me, as if
  She studied me, avoided me. The child
  Is now ten years of age; and now I know
  She smelled the rats that made the family hearth
  A place for scampering; the horrors of our home.
  She thought I brought the rats and kept them there,
  These rats of bickering, anger, strife at home.
  I knew she blamed me for her mother's moods
  Who dragged about the kitchen day by day,
  Sad faced and silent. So the upshot was
  I had two enemies in the house, where once
  I had but one, her mother. This made worse
  The state for both, and worse the state for me.
  And so it goes. Then next there's Alma Bell.
  The following year my daughter finished up
  The High School--and we sit--my wife and I
  To see the exercises. And that summer Elenor,
  Now eighteen and a woman, goes about--
  I don't know what she does, sometimes I see
  Some young man with her walking. But at home,
  When I come in, the mother and the daughter
  Put pedals on their talk, or change the theme--
  I am shut out.

                  And in the fall I learn
  From some outsider that she's teaching school,
  And later people laugh and talk to me
  About her feat of cowing certain Czechs,
  Who broke her discipline in school.

                                    Well, then
  Two years go on that have no memory,
  Just like sick days in bed when you lie there
  And wake and sleep and wait. But finally
  Her mother says: "To-night our Elenor
  Leaves for Los Angeles." And then the mother,
  To hide a sob, coughs nervously and leaves
  The room where I am, for the kitchen--I
  Sit with the evening paper, let it fall,
  Then hold it up to read again and try
  To say to self, "All right, what if she goes?"
  The evening meal goes hard, for Elenor
  Shines forth in kindness for me, talks and laughs--
  I choke again.... She says to me if God
  Had meant her for a better youth, then God
  Had given her a better youth; she thanks me
  For making High School possible to her,
  And says all will be well--she will earn money
  To go to college, that she will gain strength
  By helping self--Just think, my friend, to hear
  Such words, which in their kindness proved my failure,
  When I had hoped, aspired, when I had given
  My very soul, whether I liked this daughter,
  Or liked her not, out of a generous hand,
  Large hearted in its carelessness to give
  A daughter of such mind a place in life,
  And schooling for the place.

                                The meal was over.
  We stood there silent; then her face grew wet
  With tears, as wet as blossoms soaked with rain.
  She took my hand and took her mother's hand,
  And put our hands together--then she said:
  "Be friends, be friends," and hurried from the room,
  Her mother following. I stepped out-doors,
  And stood what seemed a minute, entered again,
  Walked to the front room, from the window saw
  Elenor and her mother in the street.
  The girl was gone! How could I follow them?
  They had not asked me. So I stood and saw
  The canvas telescope her mother carried.
  They disappeared. I went back to my store,
  Came back at nine o'clock, lighted a match
  And saw my wife in bed, cloths on her eyes.
  She turned her face to the wall, and didn't speak.

  Next morning at the breakfast table she,
  Complaining of a stiff arm, said: "that satchel
  Was weighted down with books, my arm is stiff--
  Elenor took French books to study French.
  When she can pay a teacher, she will learn
  How to pronounce the words, but by herself
  She'll learn the grammar, how to read." She knew
  How words like that would hurt!

                                  I merely said:
  "A happy home is better than knowing French,"
  And went off to my store.

                            But coroner,
  Search for the men in her life. When she came
  Back from the West after three years, I knew
  By look of her eyes that some one filled her life,
  Had taken her life and body. What if I
  Had failed as father in the way I failed?
  And what if our home was not home to her?
  She could have married--why not? If a girl
  Can fascinate the men--I know she could--
  She can have marriage, if she wants to marry.
  Unless she runs to men already married,
  And if she does so, don't you make her out
  As loose and bad?

                    Well, what is more to tell?
  She learned French, seemed to know the ways of the world,
  Knew books, knew how to dress, gave evidence
  Of contact with refinements; letters came
  When she was here at intervals inscribed
  In writing of elite ones, gifted maybe.
  And she was filial and kind to me,
  Most kind toward her mother, gave us things
  At Christmas time. But still her way was such
  That I as well had been familiar with her
  As with some formal lady visiting.
  She came back here before she went to France,
  Staid two days with us. Once upon the porch
  She turned to me and said: "I wish to honor
  Mother and you by serving in the war.
  You must rejoice that I can serve--you must!
  But most I wish to honor America,
  This land of promise, of fulfillment, too,
  Which proves to all the world that men and women
  Are born alike of God, at least that riches
  And classes formed in pride have neither hearts,
  Nor minds above the souls of those who work.
  This land that reared me is my dearest love,
  I go to serve the country."

                              Pardon me!
  A man of my age in an hour like this
  Must cry a little--wait till I can say
  The last words that she said to me.

                                      She put
  Her arms about me, then she said to me:
  "I am so glad my life and place in life
  Were such that I was forced to rise or sink,
  To strive or fail. God has been good to me,
  Who gifted me with spirit to aspire."
  I go back to my store now. In these days,
  Last days, of course, I try to be a husband,
  Try to be kinder to the mother of Elenor.
  Death is not far off, and that makes us think.
  We may be over soft or penitent;
  Forgive where we should hate still, being soft;
  And fade off from the wrongs, we brooded on;
  And cease to care life has been badly lived,
  From first to last. But none the less our vision
  Seems clearer as we end this trivial life.
  And so I try to be a kinder husband
  To Elenor's mother.

                      So spoke Henry Murray
  To Merival; a stenographer took down
  His words, and they were written out and shown
  The jury. Afterward the mother came
  And told her story to the coroner,
  Also reported, written out, and shown
  The jury. But it happened thus with her:
  She waited in the coroner's outer room
  Until her husband told his story, then
  With eyes upon the floor, passing her husband,
  The two in silence passing, as he left
  The coroner's office, spoke amid her sighs,
  Her breath long drawn at intervals, looking down
  The while she spoke:



MRS. MURRAY


                          I think, she said at first,
  My daughter did not kill herself. I'm sure
  Someone did violence to her, your tests,
  Examination will prove violence.
  It would be like her fate to meet with such:
  Poor child, unfortunate from birth, at least
  Unfortunate in fortune, peace and joy.
  Or else if she met with no violence,
  Some sudden crisis of her woman's heart
  Came on her by the river, the result
  Of strains and labors in the war in France.
  I'll tell you why I say this: First I knew
  She had come near me from New York, there came
  A letter from her, saying she had come
  To visit with her aunt there near LeRoy,
  And rest and get the country air. She said
  To keep it secret, not to tell her father;
  That she was in no frame of mind to come
  And be with us, and see her father, see
  Our life, which is the same as it was when
  She was a child and after. But she said
  To come to her. And so the day before
  They found her by the river I went over
  And saw her for the day. She seemed most gay,
  Gave me the presents which she brought from France,
  Told me of many things, but rather more
  By way of half told things than something told
  Continuously, you know. She had grown fairer,
  She had a majesty of countenance,
  A luminous glory shone about her face,
  Her voice was softer, eyes looked tenderer.
  She held my hands so lovingly when we met.
  She kissed me with such silent, speaking love.
  But then she laughed and told me funny stories.
  She seemed all hope, and said she'd rest awhile
  Before she made a plan for life again.
  And when we parted, she said: "Mother, think
  What trip you'd like to take. I've saved some money,
  And you must have a trip, a rest, construct
  Yourself anew for life." So, as I said,
  She came to death by violence, or else
  She had some weakness that she hid from me
  Which came upon her quickly.

                                For the rest,
  Suppose I told you all my life, and told
  What was my waste in life and what in hers,
  How I have lived, and how poor Elenor
  Was raised or half-raised--what's the good of that?
  Are not there rooms of books, of tales and poems
  And histories to show all secrets of life?
  Does anyone live now, or learn a thing
  Not lived and learned a thousand times before?
  The trouble is these secrets are locked up
  In books and might as well be locked in graves,
  Since they mean nothing till you live yourself.
  And I suppose the race will live and suffer
  As long as leaves put forth in spring, live over
  The very sorrows, horrors that we live.
  Wisdom is here, but how to learn that wisdom,
  And use it while life's worth the living, that's
  The thing to be desired. But let it go.
  If any soul can profit by my life,
  Or by my Elenor's, I trust he may,
  And help him to it.

                      Coroner Merival,
  Even the children in this neighborhood
  Know something of my husband and of me,
  Our struggle and unhappiness, even the children
  Hear Alma Bell's name mentioned with a look.
  And if you went about here to inquire
  About my Elenor, you'd find them saying
  She was a wonder girl, or this or that.
  But then you'd feel a closing up of speech,
  As if a door closed softly, just a way
  To indicate that something else was there,
  Somewhere in the person's room of thoughts.
  This is the truth, since I was told a man
  Came here to ask about her, when she asked
  To serve in France, the matter of Alma Bell
  Traced down and probed.

                          It being true, therefore,
  That you and all the rest know of my life,
  Our life at home, it matters nothing then
  That I go on and tell you what I think
  Made sorrow for us, what our waste was, tell you
  How the yarn knotted as we took the skein
  And wound it to a ball, and made the ball
  So hardly knotted that the yarn held fast
  Would not unwind for knitting.

                                  Well, you know
  My father Arthur Fouche, my mother too.
  They reared me with the greatest care. You know
  They sent me to St. Mary's, where I learned
  Fine things, to be a lady--learned to dance,
  To play on the piano, sing a little;
  Learned French, Italian, learned to know good books,
  The beauty of a poem or a tale;
  Learned elegance of manners, how to walk,
  Stand, breathe, keep well, be radiant and strong,
  And so in all to make life beautiful,
  Become the helpful wife of some strong man,
  The mother of fine children. Well, at school
  We girls were guarded from the men, and so
  We went to town surrounded by our teachers,
  And only saw the boys when some girl's brother
  Came to the school to visit, perhaps a girl
  Consent had of her parents to receive
  A beau sometimes. But then I had no beau;
  And had I had my father would have kept him
  Away from me at school.

                          For truth to tell
  When I had finished school, came back to home
  They kept the men away, there was no man
  Quite good enough to call. Now here begins
  My fate, as you will see; their very care
  To make me what they wished, to have my life
  Grow safely, prosperously, was my undoing.
  I had a sister named Corinne who suffered
  Because of that; my father guarded me
  Against all strolling lovers, unknown men.
  But here was Henry Murray, whom they knew,
  And trusted too; and though they never dreamed
  I'd marry him, they trusted him to call.
  He seemed a quiet, diligent young man,
  Aspiring in the world. And so they thought
  They'd solve my loneliness and restless spirits
  By opening the door to him. My fate!
  They let him call upon me twice a month.
  He was in love with me before this started,
  That's why he tried to call. But as for me,
  He was a man, that's all, a being only
  In the world to talk to, help my loneliness.
  I had no love for him, no more than I
  Had love for father's tenant on the farm.
  And what I knew of marriage, what it means
  Was what a child knows. If you'll credit me
  I thought a man and woman slept together,
  Lay side by side, and somehow, I don't know,
  That children came.

                      But then I was so vital,
  Rebellious, hungering for freedom, that
  No chance was too indifferent to put by
  What offered freedom from the prison home,
  The watchfulness of father and of mother,
  The rigor of my discipline. And in truth
  No other man came by, no prospect showed
  Of going on a visit, finding life
  Some other place. And so it came about,
  After I knew this man two months, one night
  I made a rope of sheets, down from my window
  Descended to his arms, eloped in short,
  And married Henry Murray, and found out
  What marriage is, believe me. Well, I think
  The time will come when marriage will be known
  Before the parties tie themselves for life.
  How do you know a man, or know a woman
  Until the flesh instructs you? Do you know
  A man until you see him face to face?
  Or know what texture is his hand until
  You touch his hand? Well, lastly no one knows
  Whether a man is mate for you before
  You mate with him. I hope to see the day
  When men and women, to try out their souls
  Will live together, learning A. B. C.'s
  Of life before they write their fates for life.

  Our story started then. To sate their rage
  My father and my mother cut me off,
  And so we had bread problems from the first.
  He made but little clerking in the store,
  Besides his mind was on the law and books.
  These were the early tangles of our yarn.
  And I grew worried as the children came,
  Two sons at first, and I was far from well,
  One died at five years, and I almost died
  For grief at this. But down below all things,
  Far down below all tune or scheme of sound,
  Where no rests were, but only ceaseless dirge,
  Was my heart's _de profundis_, crying out
  My thirst for love, not thirst for his, but thirst
  For love that quenched it. But the only water
  That passed my lips was desert water, poisoned
  By arsenic from his rocks. My soul grew bitter,
  Then sweetened under the cross, grew bitter again.
  My life lay raving on the desert sands.
  To speak more plainly, sleep deserted me.
  I could not sleep for thought, and for a will
  That could not bend, but hoped that death or something
  Would take him from me, bring me love before
  My face was withered, as it is to-day.
  At last the doctor found me growing mad
  For lack of sleep. Why was I so, he asked.
  You must give up this psychic work and quit
  This psychic writing, let the spirits go.
  Well, it was true that years before I found
  I heard and saw with higher power, received
  Deep messages from spirits, from my boy
  Who passed away. And as to this, who knows?--
  Surely no doctor--of this psychic power.
  You may be called neurotic, what is that?
  Perhaps it is the soul become so fine
  It leaves the body, or shakes down the body
  With energy too subtle for the body.
  But I was sleepless for these years, at last
  The secret lost of sleep, for seven days
  And seven nights could find no sleep, until
  I lay upon the lawn and pushed my head,
  As a dog does around, around, around.
  There was a devil in me, at one with me,
  And neither to be put out, nor yet subdued
  By help outside, and nothing to be done
  Except to find escape by knife, or pistol,
  And thus get sleep. Escape! Oh, that's the word!
  There's something in the soul that says escape!
  Fly, fly from something, and in truth, my friend,
  Life's restlessness, however healthful it be,
  Is motived by this urge to fly, escape:
  Well, to go on, they gave me everything,
  At last they gave me chloral, but no sleep!
  And finally I closed my eyes and quick
  The secret came to me, as one might find,
  After forgetting how, to swim, or walk,
  After a sickness, and for just two minutes
  I slept, and then I got the secret back,
  And later slept.

                    So I possessed myself.
  But for these years sleep but two hours or so.
  Why do I wake? The spirits let me sleep.
  Oh, no it is my longing that will rest not,
  These thoughts of him that rest not, and this love
  That never has been satisfied, this heart
  So empty all these years; the bitterness
  Of living face to face with one you loathe,
  Yet pity, while you hate yourself for feeling
  Such bitterness toward another soul,
  As wretched as your own. But then as well
  I could not sleep for Elenor, for her fate,
  Never to have a chance in life. I saw
  Our poverty made surer; year by year
  Slip by with chances slipping.

                                  Oh, that child!
  When I first felt her lips that sucked my breasts
  My heart went muffled like a bird that tries
  To pour its whole song in one note and fails
  Out of its very ecstasy. A daughter,
  A little daughter at my breast, a soul
  Of a woman to be! I knew her spirit then,
  Felt all my love and longing in her lips,
  Felt all my passion, purity of desire
  In those sweet lips that sucked my breasts. Oh, rapture,
  Oh highest rapture God had given me
  To see her roll upon my arm and smile,
  Full fed, the milk that gurgled from her lips!
  Such blue eyes--oh, my child! My child! my child!
  I have no hope now of this life--no hope
  Except to take you to my breast again.
  God will be good and give you to me, or
  God will bring sleep to me, a sleep so still
  I shall not miss you, Elenor.

                            I go on.
  I see her when she first began to walk.
  She ran at first, just like a baby quail.
  She never walked. She danced into this life.
  She used to dance for minutes on her toes.
  My starved heart bore her vital in some way.
  My hope which would not die had made her gay,
  And unafraid and venturesome and hopeful.
  She did not know what sadness was, or fear,
  Or anything but laughter, play and fun.
  Not till she grew to ten years and could see
  The place in life that God had given her
  Between my life and his; and then I saw
  A thoughtfulness come over her, as a cloud
  Passes across the sun, and makes one place
  A shadow while the landscape lies in light:
  So quietness would come over her, with smiles
  Around her quietness and sunniest laughter
  Fast following on her quietness.

                        Well, you know
  She went to school here as the others did.
  But who knew that I grieved to see her lose
  A schooling at St. Mary's, have no chance?
  No chance save what she earned herself? What girl
  Has earned the money for two years in college
  Beside my Elenor in this neighborhood?
  There is not one! But then if books and schooling
  Be things prerequisite for success in life,
  Why should we have a social scheme that clings
  To marriage and the home, when such a soul
  Is turned into the world from such a home,
  With schooling so inadequate? If the state
  May take our sons and daughters for its use
  In war, in peace, why let the state raise up
  And school these sons and daughters, let the home
  Go to full ruin from half ruin now,
  And let us who have failed in choosing mates
  Re-choose, without that fear of children's fate
  Which haunts us now.

                    For look at Elenor!
  Why did she never marry? Any man
  Had made his life rich had he married her.
  But in this present scheme of things such women
  Move in a life where men are mostly less
  In mind and heart than they are--and the men
  Who are their equals never come to them,
  Or come to them too seldom, or if they come
  Are blind and do not know these Elenors.
  And she had character enough to live
  In single life, refuse the lesser chance,
  Since she found not the great one, as I think.
  But let it pass--I'm sure she was beloved,
  And more than once, I'm sure. But I am sure
  She was too wise for errors crude and common.
  And if she had a love that stopped her heart,
  She knew beforehand all, and met her fate
  Bravely, and wrote that "To be brave and not
  To flinch," to keep before her soul her faith
  Deep down within it, lest she might forget it
  Among her crowded thoughts.

                              She went to the war.
  She came to see me before she went, and said
  She owed her courage and her restless spirit
  To me, her will to live, her love of life,
  Her power to sacrifice and serve, to me.
  She put her arms about my neck and kissed me,
  Said I had been a mother to her, being
  A mother if no more; wished she had brought
  More happiness to me, material things,
  Delight in life.

                  Of course her work took strength.
  Her life was sapped by service in the war,
  She died for country, for America,
  As much as any soldier. So I say
  If her life came to any waste, what waste
  May her heroic life and death prevent?
  The world has spent two hundred billion dollars
  To put an egotist and strutting despot
  Out of the power he used to tyrannize
  Over his people with a tyranny
  Political in chief, to take away
  The glittering dominion of a crown.
  I want some good to us out of this war,
  And some emancipation. Let me tell you:
  I know a worse thing than a German king:
  It is the social scourge of poverty,
  Which cripples, slays the husband and the wife,
  And sends the children forth in life half formed.
  I know a tyranny more insidious
  Than any William had, it is the tyranny
  Of superstition, customs, laws and rules;
  The tyranny of the church, the tyranny
  Of marriage, and the tyranny of beliefs
  Concerning right and wrong, of good and evil;
  The tyranny of taboos, the despotism
  That rules our spirits with commands and threats:
  Ghosts of dead faiths and creeds, ghosts of the past.
  The tyranny, in short, that starves and chains
  Imprisons, scourges, crucifies the soul,
  Which only asks the chance to live and love,
  Freely as it wishes, which will live so
  If you take Poverty and chuck him out.
  Then make the main thing inner growth, take rules,
  Conventions and religion (save it be
  The worship of God in spirit without hands
  And without temples sacraments) the babble
  Of moralists, the rant and flummery
  Of preachers and of priests, and chuck them out.
  These things produce your waste and suffering.
  You tell a soul it sins and make it suffer,
  Spend years in impotence and twilight thought.
  You punish where no punishment should be,
  Weaken and break the soul. You weight the soul
  With idols and with symbols meaningless,
  When God gave but three things: the earth and air
  And mind to know them, live in freedom by them.

  Well, I would have America become
  As free as any soul has ever dreamed her,
  And if America does not get strength
  To free herself, now that the war is over.
  Then Elenor Murray's spirit has not won
  The thing she died for.

                          So I go my way,
  Back to get supper, I who live, shall die
  In America as it is--Rise up and change it
  For mothers of the future Elenors.

  By now the press was full of Elenor Murray.
  And far and near, wherever she was known,
  Had lived, or taught, or studied, tongues were loosed
  In episodes or stories of the girl.
  The coroner on the street was button-holed,
  Received marked articles and letters, some
  Anonymous, some crazy. David Borrow
  Who helped this Alma Bell as lawyer, friend,
  Found in his mail a note from Alma Bell,
  Enclosed with one much longer, written for
  The coroner to read.

                      When Merival
  Had read it, then he said to Borrow: "Read
  This letter to the other jurors." So
  He read it to them, as they sat one night,
  Invited to the home of Merival
  To drink a little wine and have a smoke,
  And talk about the case.



ALMA BELL TO THE CORONER


  What my name is, or where I live, or if
  I am that Alma Bell whose name is broached
  With Elenor Murray's who shall know from this?
  My hand-writing I hide in type, I send
  This letter through a friend who will not tell.
  But first, since no chance ever yet was mine
  To speak my heart out, since if I had tried
  These fifteen years ago to tell my heart,
  I must have failed for lack of words and mind,
  I speak my heart out now. I knew the soul
  Of Elenor Murray, knew it at the time,
  Have verified my knowledge in these years,
  Who have not lost her, have kept touch with her
  In letters, know the splendid sacrifice
  She made in the war. She was a human soul
  Earth is not blest with often.

                              First I say
  I knew her when she first came to my class
  Turned seventeen just then--such blue-bell eyes,
  And such a cataract of dark brown hair,
  And such a brow, sweet lips, and such a way
  Of talking with a cunning gasp, as if
  To catch breath for the words. And such a sense
  Of fitness, beauty, delicacy. But more
  Such vital power that shook her silver nerves,
  And made her dim to others; but to me
  She was all sanity of soul, her body,
  The instruments of life, were overborne
  By that great flame of hers. And if her music
  Fell sometimes into discord, which I doubt,
  It was her heart-strings which could not vibrate
  For human weakness, what the soul of her
  Struck for response; and when the strings so failed
  She was more grieved than I, or anyone,
  Who listened and expected more.

                                  Well, then
  What was my love? I am not loath to tell.
  I could not touch her hand without a thrill,
  Nor kiss her lips but I felt purified,
  Exalted in some way. And if fatigue,
  The hopeless, daily ills of teaching brought
  My spirit to distress, and if I went,
  As oftentimes I did, to call upon her
  After the school hours, as I heard her step
  Responding to my knock, my heart went up,
  Her face framed by the opened door--what peace
  Was mine to see it, peace ineffable
  And rest were mine to sit with her and hear
  That voice of hers where breath was caught for words,
  That cunning gasp and pause!

                                I loved her then,
  Have loved her always, love her now no less.
  I feel her spirit somehow, can take out
  Her letters, photograph, and find a joy
  That such a soul lived, was in truth my soul,
  Must always be my soul.

                          What was this love?
  Why only this, shame nature if you will:
  But since man's body is not man's alone,
  Nor woman's body wholly feminine,
  A biologic truth, our body's souls
  Are neither masculine nor feminine,
  But part and part; from whence our souls play forth
  Part masculine, part feminine--this woman
  Had that of body first which made her soul,
  Or made her soul play in its way, and I
  Had that of body which made soul of me
  Play in its way. Our music met, that's all,
  And harmonized. The flesh's explanation
  Is not important, nor to tell whence comes
  A love in the heart--the thing is love at last:
  Love which unites and comforts, glorifies,
  Enlarges spirit, woos to generous life,
  Invites to sacrifice, to service, clothes
  This poor dull earth with glory, makes the dawn
  An hour of high resolve, the night a hope
  For dawn for fuller life, the day a time
  For working out the soul in terms of love.
  This was my love for Elenor Murray--this
  Her love for me, I think. Her sacrifice
  In the war I traced to our love--all the good
  Her life set into being, into motion
  Has in it something of this love of ours.
  How good is God who gives us love, the lens
  Through which we see the beauty, hid from eyes
  That have no love, no lens.

                                Then what are spirits?
  Effluvia material of our bodies?
  Or is the spirit all--the body nothing,
  Since every atom, particle of matter
  With its interstices of soul, divides
  Until there is no matter, only soul?
  But what is love but of the soul--what flesh
  Knows love but through the soul? May it not be
  As soul learns love through flesh, it may at last,
  Helped on its way by flesh, discard the flesh:--
  As cured men leave their crutches--and go on
  Loving with spirits. For it seems to me
  I must find Elenor Murray as a spirit,
  Myself a spirit, love her as I loved her
  These years on earth, but with a clearer fire,
  Flame that is separate from fuel, burning
  Eternal through itself.

                          And here a word:
  My love for Elenor Murray never had
  Other expression than the look of eyes,
  The spiritual thrill of listening to her voice,
  A hand clasp, kiss upon the lips at best,
  Better to find her soul, as Plato says.

  Too true I left LeRoy under a cloud,
  Because of love for Elenor Murray--yet
  Not lawless love, I write now to make clear
  What love was mine--and you must understand.
  But let me tell how life has dealt with me,
  Then judge my purpose, dream, the quality
  Of Elenor Murray judge, who in some way,
  Somehow has drawn me onward, upward too,
  I hope, as I have striven.

                              I did fear
  Her safety, and her future, did reprove
  Her conduct, its appearance, rather more
  In dread of gossip, dread of ways to follow
  From such free ways begun at seventeen,
  In innocence, out of a vital heart.
  But when a bud is opening what stray bees
  Come to drag pollen over it, and set
  Life going to the end in the fruit of life!
  O, my wish was to keep her for some love
  To ripen in a rich maturity.
  My care proved useless--or shall I say so?
  Or anyone say so? since no mind knows
  What failure here may somewhere prove a gain.

  There was that man who came into her life
  With heart unsatisfied, bound to a woman
  He wedded early. Elenor Murray's love
  Destroyed this man by human measurements.
  And he destroyed her, so they say. But yet
  She poured her love upon him, lit her soul
  With brighter flames for love of him. At last
  She knew no thing but love and sacrifice.
  She wrote me last her life was just one pain,
  Had always been so from the first, and now
  She wished to fling her spirit in the war,
  Give, serve, nor count the cost, win death and God
  In service in the war--O, loveliest soul
  I pray and pray to meet you once again!
  So was her life a ruin, was it waste?
  She was a prodigal flower that never shut
  Its petals, even in darkness, let her soul
  Escape when, where it would.

                                But to myself:
  I dragged myself to England from LeRoy
  And plunged in life, philosophies of life,
  Spinoza and what not, read poetry,
  Heard music too, Tschaikowsky, Wagner, all
  Who tried to make sound tell the secret thing
  That drove me wild in searching love. And lovers
  I had one after the other, having fallen
  To that belief the way is by the body.
  But I was fooled and grew by slow degrees.
  And then there came a wild man in my life,
  A vagabond, a madman, genius--well,
  We both went mad, and I smashed everything,
  And ran away, threw all the world for him,
  Only to find myself worn out, half dead
  At last, as it were out of delirium.
  And for four years sat by the sea, or made
  Visits to Paris, where I met the man
  I married. Then how strange! I gave myself
  Wholly to bearing children, just to find
  Some explanation of myself, some work
  Wholly absorbing, lives to take my love.
  And here I was instructed, found a step
  For my poor feet to mount by. Though submerged,
  Alone too much, my husband not the mate
  I dreamed of, hearing echoes in my dreams
  Of London and of Paris, sometimes voices
  Of lovers lost and vanished; still I've found
  A peace sometimes, a stay, too, in the innocence
  And helplessness of children.

                                But you see,
  In spite of all we do, however high
  And fiercely mounts desire, life imposes
  Repression, sacrifice, renunciation.
  And our poor souls fall muddied in the ditch,
  Or take the discipline and live life out.
  So Elenor Murray lived and did not fail.
  And so it was the knowledge of her life
  Kept me in spite of failures at the task
  Of holding to my self.

                          These two months passed
  I found I had not killed desire--found
  Among a group a chance to try again
  For happiness, but knew it was not there.
  Then to my children I came back and said:
  "Free once again through suffering." So I prayed:
  "Come to me flame of spirit, fire of worship,
  Bright fire of song; if I but be myself,
  Work through my fate, you shall be mine at last."...
  Then was it that I heard from Elenor Murray--
  Such letters, such outpourings of herself!
  Poor woman leaving love that could not be
  More than it was; how wise she was to fly,
  And use that love for service, as she did;
  Extract its purest essence for the war,
  And ease death with it, merging love and death
  Into that mystic union, seen at last
  By Elenor Murray.

                        When I heard she came
  All broken from the war, and died somehow
  There by the river, then she seemed to me
  More near--I seemed to feel her; little zephyrs
  Blowing about my face, when I sat looking
  Over the sea in my rose bower, seemed
  The exhalation of her soul that caught
  Its breath for words. I see her in my dreams--
  O, my pure soul, what have you been to me,
  What must you be hereafter!

                              But my friend,
  And I must call you friend, whose strength in life
  Drives you to find economies of spirit,
  And save the waste of spirit, you must find
  Whatever waste there was of Elenor Murray
  Of love or faith, or time, or strength, great gain
  In spite of early chances, father, mother,
  Too loveless, negligent, or ignorant;
  Her mother instinct never blessed with children.
  I sometimes think no life is without use--
  For even weeds that sow themselves, frost reaped
  And matted on the ground, enrich the soil,
  Or feed some life. Our eyes must see the end
  Of what these growths are for, before we say
  Where waste is and where gain.

     *       *       *       *       *

  Coroner Merival woke to scan the _Times_,
  And read the story of the suicide
  Of Gregory Wenner, circle big enough
  From Elenor Murray's death, but unobserved
  Of Merival, until he heard the hint
  Of Dr. Trace, who made the autopsy,
  That Gregory Wenner might have caused the death
  Of Eleanor Murray, or at least was near
  When Elenor Murray died. Here is the story
  Worked out by Merival as he went about
  Unearthing secrets, asking here and there
  What Gregory Wenner was to Elenor Murray.
  The coroner had a friend who was the friend
  Of Mrs. Wenner. Acting on the hint
  Of Dr. Trace he found this friend and learned
  What follows here of Gregory Wenner, then
  What Mrs. Wenner learned in coming home
  To bury Gregory Wenner. What he learned
  The coroner told the jury. Here's the life
  Of Gregory Wenner first:



GREGORY WENNER


  Gregory Wenner's brother married the mother
  Of Alma Bell, the daughter of a marriage
  The mother made before. Kinship enough
  To justify a call on Wenner's power
  When Alma Bell was face to face with shame.
  And Gregory Wenner went to help the girl,
  And for a moment looked on Elenor Murray
  Who left the school-room passing through the hall,
  A girl of seventeen. He left his business
  Of massing millions in the city, to help
  Poor Alma Bell, and three years afterward
  In the Garden of the Gods he saw again
  The face of Elenor Murray--what a fate
  For Gregory Wenner!

                      But when Alma Bell
  Wrote him for help his mind was roiled with cares:
  A money magnate had signed up a loan
  For half a million, to which Wenner added
  That much beside, earned since his thirtieth year,
  Now forty-two, with which to build a block
  Of sixteen stories on a piece of ground
  Leased in the loop for nine and ninety years.
  But now a crabbed miser, much away,
  Following the sun, and reached through agents, lawyers,
  Owning the land next to the Wenner land,
  Refused to have the sixteen story wall
  Adjoin his wall, without he might select
  His son-in-law as architect to plan
  The sixteen-story block of Gregory Wenner.
  And Gregory Wenner caught in such a trap,
  The loan already bargained for and bound
  In a hard money lender's giant grasp,
  Consented to the terms, let son-in-law
  Make plans and supervise the work.

                                      Five years
  Go by before the evil blossoms fully;
  But here's the bud: Gregory Wenner spent
  His half-a-million on the building, also
  Four hundred thousand of the promised loan,
  Made by the money magnate--then behold
  The money magnate said: "You cannot have
  Another dollar, for the bonds you give
  Are scarcely worth the sum delivered now
  Pursuant to the contract. I have learned
  Your architect has blundered, in five years
  Your building will be leaning, soon enough
  It will be wrecked by order of the city."
  And Gregory Wenner found he spoke the truth.
  But went ahead to finish up the building,
  And raked and scraped, fell back on friends for loans,
  Mortgaged his home for money, just to finish
  This sixteen-story building, kept a hope
  The future would reclaim him.

                                Gregory Wenner
  Who seemed so powerful in his place in life
  Had all along this cancer in his life:
  He owned the building, but he owed the money,
  And all the time the building took a slant,
  By just a little every year. And time
  Made matters worse for him, increased his foes
  As he stood for the city in its warfares
  Against the surface railways, telephones;
  And earned thereby the wrath of money lenders,
  Who made it hard for him to raise a loan,
  Who needed loans habitually. Besides
  He had the trouble of an invalid wife
  Who went from hospitals to sanitariums,
  And traveled south, and went in search of health.

  Now Gregory Wenner reaches forty-five,
  He's fought a mighty battle, but grows tired.
  The building leans a little more each year.
  And money, as before, is hard to get.
  And yet he lives and keeps a hope.

                                      At last
  He does not feel so well, has dizzy spells.
  The doctor recommends a change of scene.
  And Gregory Wenner starts to see the west.
  He visits Denver. Then upon a day
  He walks about the Garden of the Gods,
  And sees a girl who stands alone and looks
  About the Garden's wonders. Then he sees
  The girl is Elenor Murray, who has grown
  To twenty-years, who looks that seventeen
  When first he saw her. He remembers her,
  And speaks of Alma Bell, that Alma Bell
  Is kindred to him. Where is Alma Bell,
  He has not heard about her in these years?
  And Elenor Murray colors, and says: "Look,
  There is a white cloud on the mountain top."
  And thus the talk commences.

                                Elenor Murray
  Shows forth the vital spirit that is hers.
  She dances on her toes and crows in wonder,
  Flings up her arms in rapture. What a world
  Of beauty and of hope! For not her life
  Of teaching school, a school of Czechs and Poles
  There near LeRoy, since she left school and taught,
  These two years now, nor arid life at home,
  Her father sullen and her mother saddened;
  Nor yet that talk of Alma Bell and her
  That like a corpse's gas has scented her,
  And made her struggles harder in LeRoy--
  Not these have quenched her flame, or made it burn
  Less brightly. Though at last she left LeRoy
  To fly old things, the dreary home, begin
  A new life teaching in Los Angeles.
  Gregory Wenner studies her and thinks
  That Alma Bell was right to reprimand
  Elenor Murray for her reckless ways
  Of strolling and of riding. And perhaps
  Real things were back of ways to be construed
  In innocence or wisdom--for who knows?
  His thought ran. Such a pretty face, blue eyes,
  And such a buoyant spirit.

                              So they wandered
  About the Garden of the Gods, and took
  A meal together at the restaurant.
  And as they talked, he told her of himself,
  About his wife long ill, this trip for health--
  She sensed a music sadness in his soul.
  And Gregory Wenner heard her tell her life
  Of teaching, of the arid home, the shadow
  That fell on her at ten years, when she saw
  The hopeless, loveless life of father, mother.
  And his great hunger, and his solitude
  Reached for the soothing hand of Elenor Murray,
  And Elenor Murray having life to give
  By her maternal strength and instinct gave.
  The man began to laugh, forgot his health,
  The leaning building, and the money lenders,
  And found his void of spirit growing things--
  He loved this girl. And Elenor Murray seeing
  This strong man with his love, and seeing too
  How she could help him, with that venturesome
  And prodigal emotion which was hers
  Flung all herself to help him, being a soul
  Who tried all things in courage, staked her heart
  On good to come.

                    They took the train together.
  They stopped at Santa Cruz, and on the rocks
  Heard the Pacific dash himself and watched
  The moon upon the water, breathed the scent
  Of oriental flowerings. There at last
  Under the spell of nature Gregory Wenner
  Bowed down his head upon his breast and shook
  For those long years of striving and of haggling,
  And for this girl, but mostly for a love
  That filled him now. And when he spoke again
  Of his starved life, his homeless years, the girl,
  Her mind resolved through thinking she could serve
  This man and bring him happiness, but with heart
  Flaming to heaven with the miracle
  Of love for him, down looking at her hands
  Which fingered nervously her dress's hem,
  Said with that gasp which made her voice so sweet:
  "Do what you will with me, to ease your heart
  And help your life."

                      And Gregory Wenner shaken,
  Astonished and made mad with ecstasy
  Pressed her brown head against his breast and wept.
  And there at Santa Cruz they lived a week,
  Till Elenor Murray went to take her school,
  He to the north en route for home.

                                      Five years
  Had passed since then. And on this day poor Wenner
  Looks from a little office at his building
  Visibly leaning now, the building lost,
  The bonds foreclosed; this is the very day
  A court gives a receiver charge of it.
  And he, these several months reduced to deals
  In casual properties, in trivial trades,
  Hard pressed for money, has gone up and down
  Pursuing prospects, possibilities,
  Scanning each day financial sheets and looking
  For clues to lead to money. And he finds
  His strength and hope not what they were before.
  His wife is living on, no whit restored.
  And Gregory Wenner thinks, would they not say
  I killed myself because I lost my building,
  If I should kill myself, and leave a note
  That business worries drove me to the deed,
  My building this day taken, a receiver
  In charge of what I builded out of my dream.
  And yet he said to self, that would be false:
  It's Elenor Murray's death that makes this life
  So hard to bear, and thoughts of Elenor Murray
  Make life a torture. First that I had to live
  Without her as my wife, and next the fact
  That I have taken all her life's thought, ruined
  Her chance for home and marriage; that I have seen
  Elenor Murray struggle in the world,
  And go forth to the war with just the thought
  To serve, if it should kill her.

                                  Then his mind
  Ran over these five years when Elenor Murray
  Throughout gave such devotion, constant thought,
  Filled all his mind and heart, and kept her voice
  Singing or talking in his memory's ear,
  In absence with long letters, when together
  With passionate utterances of love. The girl
  Loved Gregory Wenner, but the girl had found
  A comfort for her spiritual solitude,
  And got a strength in taking Wenner's strength.
  For at the last one soul lives on another.
  And Elenor Murray could not live except
  She had a soul to live for, and a soul
  On which to pour her passion, taking back
  The passion of that soul in recompense.
  Gregory Wenner served her power and genius
  For giving and for taking so to live,
  Achieve and flame; and found them in some moods
  Somehow demoniac when his spirits sank,
  And drink was all that kept him on his feet.
  And so when Elenor Murray came to him
  And said this life of teaching was too much,
  Could not be longer borne, he thought the time
  Had come to end the hopeless love. He raised
  The money by the hardest means to pay
  Elenor Murray's training as a nurse,
  By this to set her free from teaching school,
  And then he set about to crush the girl
  Out of his life.

                    For Gregory Wenner saw
  Between this passion and his failing thought,
  And gray hairs coming, fortune slip like sand.
  And saw his mind diffuse itself in worries,
  In longing for her: found himself at times
  Too much in need of drink, and shrank to see
  What wishes rose that death might take his wife,
  And let him marry Elenor Murray, cure
  His life with having her beside him, dreaming
  That somehow Elenor Murray could restore
  His will and vision, by her passion's touch,
  And mother instinct make him whole again.
  But if he could not have her for his wife,
  And since the girl absorbed him in this life
  Of separation which made longing greater,
  Just as it lacked the medium to discharge
  The great emotion it created, Wenner
  Caught up his shreds of strength to crush her out
  Of his life, told her so, when he had raised
  The money for her training. For he saw
  How ruin may overtake a man, and ruin
  Pass by the woman, whom the world would judge
  As ruined long ago. But look, he thought,
  I pity her, not for our sin, if it be,
  But that I have absorbed her life; and yet
  The girl is mastering life, while I fall down.
  She has absorbed me, if the wrong lies here.
  And thus his thought went round.

                                    And Elenor Murray
  Accepted what he said and went her way
  With words like these: "My love and prayers are yours
  While life is with us." Then she turned to study,
  And toiled each day till night brought such fatigue
  That sleep fell on her. Was it to forget?
  And meanwhile she embraced the faith and poured
  Her passion driven by a rapturous will
  Into religion, trod her path in silence,
  Save for a card at Christmas time for him,
  Sometimes a little message from some place
  Whereto her duty called her.

                                Gregory Wenner
  Stands at the window of his desolate office,
  And looks out on his sixteen-story building
  Irrevocably lost this day. His mind runs back
  To that day in the Garden of the Gods,
  That night at Santa Cruz, and then his eyes
  Made piercing sharp by sorrow cleave the clay
  That lies upon the face of Elenor Murray,
  And see the flesh of her the worms have now.
  How strange, he thinks, to flit into this life
  Singing and radiant, to suffer, toil,
  To serve in the war, return to girlhood's scenes,
  To die, to be a memory for a day,
  Then be forgotten. O, this life of ours.
  Why is not God ashamed for graveyards, why
  So thoughtless of our passion he lets play
  This tragedy.

                And Gregory Wenner thought
  About the day he stood here, even as now
  And heard a step, a voice, and looked around
  Saw Elenor Murray, felt her arms again,
  Her kiss upon his cheek, and saw her face
  As light was beating on it, heard her gasp
  In ecstasy for going to the war,
  To which that day she gave her pledge. And heard
  Her words of consecration. Heard her say,
  As though she were that passionate Heloise
  Brought into life again: "All I have done
  Was done for love of you, all I have asked
  Was only you, not what belonged to you.
  I did not hope for marriage or for gifts.
  I have not gratified my will, desires,
  But yours I sought to gratify. I have longed
  To be yours wholly, I have kept for self
  Nothing, have lived for you, have lived for you
  These years when you thought best to crush me out.
  And now though there's a secret in my heart,
  Not wholly known to me, still I can know it
  By seeing you again, I think, by touching
  Your hand again. Your life has tortured me,
  Both for itself, and since I could not give
  Out of my heart enough to make your life
  A way of peace, a way of happiness."

  Then Gregory Wenner thought how she looked down
  And said: "Since I go to the war, would God
  Look with disfavor on us if you took me
  In your arms wholly once again? My friend,
  Not with the thought to leave me soon, but sleeping
  Like mates, as birds do, making sleep so sweet
  Close to each other as God means we should.
  I mingle love of God with love of you,
  And in the night-time I can pray for you
  With you beside me, find God closer then.
  Who knows, you may take strength from such an hour."
  Then Gregory Wenner lived that night again,
  And the next morning when she rose and shook,
  As it were night gathered dew upon fresh wings,
  The vital water from her glowing flesh.
  And shook her hair out, laughed and said to him:
  "Courage and peace, my friend." And how they passed
  Among the multitude, when he took her hand
  And said farewell, and hastened to this room
  To seek for chances in another day,
  And never saw her more.

                          And all these thoughts
  Coming on Gregory Wenner swept his soul
  Till it seemed like a skiff in mid-sea under
  A sky unreckoning, where neither bread,
  Nor water, save salt water, were for lips.
  And over him descended a blank light
  Of life's futility, since now this hour
  Life dropped the mask and showed him just a skull.
  And a strange fluttering of the nerves came on him,
  So that he clutched the window frame, lest he
  Spring from the window to the street below.
  And he was seized with fear that said to fly,
  Go somewhere, find some one, so to draw out
  This madness which was one with him and in him,
  And which some one in pity must relieve,
  Something must cure. And in this sudden horror
  Of self, this ebbing of the tides of life,
  Leaving his shores to visions, where he saw
  Horrible creatures stir amid the slime,
  Gregory Wenner hurried from the room
  And walked the streets to find his thought again
  Wherewith to judge if he should kill himself
  Or look to find a path in life once more.

  And Gregory Wenner sitting in his club
  Wrote to his brother thus: "I cannot live
  Now that my business is so tangled up,
  Bury my body by my father's side."
  Next day the papers headlined Gregory Wenner:
  "Loss of a building drives to suicide."

     *       *       *       *       *

  Elenor Murray's death kills Gregory Wenner
  And Gregory Wenner dying make a riffle
  In Mrs. Wenner's life--reveals to her
  A secret long concealed:--



MRS. GREGORY WENNER


  Gregory Wenner's wife was by the sea
  When Gregory Wenner killed himself, half sick
  And half malingering, and otiose.
  She wept, sent for a doctor to be braced,
  Induced a friend to travel with her west
  To bury Gregory Wenner; did not know
  That Gregory Wenner was in money straits
  Until she read the paper, or had lost
  His building in the loop. The man had kept
  His worries from her ailing ears, was glad
  To keep her traveling, or taking cures.

  She came and buried Gregory Wenner; found
  His fortune just a shell, the building lost,
  A little money in the bank, a store
  Far out on Lake Street, forty worthless acres
  In northern Indiana, twenty lots
  In some Montana village. Here she was,
  A widow, penniless, an invalid.
  The crude reality of things awoke
  A strength she did not dream was hers. And then
  She went to Gregory Wenner's barren office
  To collect the things he had, get in his safe
  For papers and effects.

                          She had to pay
  An expert to reveal the combination,
  And throw the bolts. And there she sat a day,
  And emptied pigeon holes and searched and read.
  And in one pigeon hole she found a box,
  And in the box a lock of hair wrapped up
  In tissue paper, fragrant powder lying
  Around the paper--in the box a card
  With woman's writing on it, just the words
  "For my beloved"; but no name or date.

  Who was this woman mused the widow there?
  She did not know the name. She did not know
  Her eyes had seen this Elenor Murray once
  When Elenor Murray came with Gregory Wenner
  To dinner at his home to face the wife.
  For Elenor Murray in a mood of strength,
  After her confirmation and communion,
  Had said to Gregory Wenner: "Now the end
  Has come to this, our love, I think it best
  If she should ever learn I am the woman
  Who in New York spent summer days with you,
  And later in Chicago, in that summer,
  She will remember what my eyes will show
  When we stand face to face, and I give proof
  That I am changed, repentant."

                                  For the wife
  Had listened to a friend who came to tell
  She saw this Gregory Wenner in New York
  From day to day in gardens and cafes,
  And by the sea romancing with a girl.
  And later Mrs. Wenner found a book,
  Which Gregory Wenner cherished--with the words
  Beloved, and the date. And now she knew
  The hand that wrote the card here in this box,
  The hand that wrote the inscription in the book
  Were one--but still she did not know the woman.
  No doubt the woman of that summer's flame,
  Whom Gregory Wenner promised not to see
  When she brought out the book and told him all
  She learned of his philandering in New York.
  And Elenor Murray's body was decaying
  In darkness, under earth there at LeRoy
  While Mrs. Wenner read, and did not know
  The hand that wrote the card lay blue and green,
  Half hidden in the foldings of the shroud,
  And all that country stirred for Elenor Murray,
  Of which the widow absent in the east
  Had never heard.

                    And Mrs. Wenner found
  Beside the box and lock of hair three letters,
  And sat and read them. Through her eyes and brain
  This meaning and this sound of blood and soul,
  Like an old record with a diamond needle.
  Passed music like:--

                        "The days go swiftly by
  With study and with work. I am too tired
  At night to think. I read anatomy,
  Materia medica and other things,
  And do the work an undergraduate
  Is called upon to do. And every week
  I spend three afternoons with the nuns and sew,
  And care for children of the poor whose mothers
  Are earning bread away. I go to church
  And talk with Mother Janet. And I pray
  At morning and at night for you, and ask
  For strength to live without you and for light
  To understand why love of you is mine,
  And why you are not mine, and whether God
  Will give you to me some day if I prove
  My womanhood is worthy of you, dear.
  And sometimes when our days of bliss come back
  And flood me with their warmth and blinding light
  I take my little crucifix and kiss it,
  And plunge in work to take me out of self,
  Some service to another. So it is,
  This sewing and this caring for the children
  Stills memory and gives me strength to live,
  And pass the days, go on. I shall not draw
  Upon your thought with letters, still I ask
  Your thought of me sometimes. Would it be much
  If once a year you sent me a bouquet
  To prove to me that you remember, sweet,
  Still cherish me a little, give me faith
  That in this riddle world there is a hand,
  Which spite of separation, thinks and touches
  Blossoms that I touch afterward? Dear heart,
  I have starved out and killed that reckless mood
  Which would have taken you and run away.
  Oh, if you knew that this means killing, too,
  The child I want--our child. You have a cross
  No less than I, beloved, even if love
  Of me has passed and eased the agony
  I thought you knew--your cross is heavy, dear,
  Bound, but not wedded to her, never to know
  The life of marriage with her. Yet be brave,
  Be noble, dear, be always what God made you,
  A great heart, patient, gentle, sacrificing,
  Bring comfort to her tedious days, forbear
  When she is petulant, for if you do,
  I know God will reward you, give you peace.
  I pray for strength for you, that never again
  May you distress her as you did, I did
  When she found there was someone. Lest she know
  Destroy this letter, all I ever write,
  So that her mind may never fix itself
  Upon a definite person, on myself.
  But still remaining vague may better pass
  To lighter shadows, nothingness at last.
  I try to think I sinned, have so confessed
  To get forgiveness at my first communion.
  And yet a vestige of a thought in me
  Will not submit, confess the sin. Well, dear,
  You can awake at midnight, at the pause
  Of duty in the day, merry or sad,
  Light hearted or discouraged, if you chance,
  To think of me, remember I send prayers
  To God for you each day--oh may His light
  Shine on your face!"

                        So Widow Wenner read,
  And wondered of the writer, since no name
  Was signed; and wept a little, dried her eyes
  And flushed with anger, said, "adulteress,
  Adulteress who played the game of pity,
  And wove about my husband's heart the spell
  Of masculine sympathy for a sorrowing woman,
  A trick as old as Eden. And who knows
  But all the money went here in the end?
  For if a woman plunges from her aim
  To piety, devotion such as this,
  She will plunge back to sin, unstable heart,
  That swings from self-denial to indulgence
  And spends itself in both."

                              Then Widow Wenner
  Took up the second letter:

                              "I have signed
  To go to France to-day. I wrote you once
  I planned to take the veil, become a nun.
  But now the war has changed my thought. I see
  In service for my country fuller life,
  More useful sacrifice and greater work
  Than ever I could have, being a nun.
  The cause is so momentous. Think, my dear,
  This woman who still thinks of you will be
  A factor in this war for liberty,
  A soldier serving soldiers, giving strength,
  Health, hope and spirit to the soldier boys
  Who fall, must be restored to fight again.
  I've thrown my soul in this, am all aflame.
  You should have seen me when I took the oath,
  And raised my hand and pledged my word to serve,
  Support the law. I want to think of you
  As proud of me for doing this--be proud,
  Be grateful, too, that I have strength and will
  To give myself to this. And if it chance,
  As almost I am hoping, that the work
  Should break me, sweep me under, think of me
  As one who died for country, as I shall
  As truly as the soldiers slain in battle.
  I leave to-morrow, will be at a camp
  Some weeks before I sail. I telephoned you
  This morning twice, they said you would return
  By two-o'clock at least. I write instead.
  But I shall come to see you, if I can
  Sometime this afternoon, and if I don't,
  This letter then must answer. Peace be with you.
  To-day I'm very happy. Write to me,
  Or if you do not think it best, all right,
  I'll understand. Before I sail I'll send
  A message to you--for the time farewell."

  Then Widow Wenner read the telegram
  The third and last communication: "Sail
  To-day, to-morrow, very soon, I know.
  My memories of you are happy ones.
  A fond adieu." This telegram was signed
  By Elenor Murray. Widow Wenner knew
  The name at last, sat petrified to think
  This was the girl who brazened through the dinner
  Some years ago when Gregory Wenner brought
  This woman to his home--"the shameless trull,"
  Said Mrs. Wenner, "harlot, impudent jade,
  To think my husband is dead, would she were dead--
  I could be happy if I knew a bomb
  Or vile disease had got her." Then she looked
  In other pigeon holes, and found in one
  A photograph of Elenor Murray, knew
  The face that looked across the dinner table.
  And in the pigeon hole she found some verses
  Clipped from a magazine, and tucked away
  The letters, verses, telegram in her bag,
  Closed up the safe and left.

                                Next day at breakfast
  She scanned the morning _Times_, her eyes were wide
  For reading of the Elenor Murray inquest.
  "Well, God is just," she murmured, "God is just."

     *       *       *       *       *

  All this was learned of Gregory Wenner. Even
  If Gregory Wenner killed the girl, the man
  Was dead now. Could he kill her and return
  And kill himself? The coroner had gone,
  The jury too, to view the spot where lay
  Elenor Murray's body. It was clear
  A man had walked here. Was it Gregory Wenner?
  The hunter who came up and found the body?
  This hunter was a harmless, honest soul
  Could not have killed her, passed the grill of questions
  From David Borrow, skilled examiner,
  The coroner, the jurors. But meantime
  If Gregory Wenner killed this Elenor Murray
  How did he do it? Dr. Trace has made
  His autopsy and comes and makes report
  To the coroner and the jury in these words:--



DR. TRACE TO THE CORONER


  I cannot tell you, Coroner, the cause
  Of death of Elenor Murray, not until
  My chemical analysis is finished.
  Here is the woman's heart sealed in this jar,
  I weighed it, weight nine ounces, if she had
  A hemolysis, cannot tell you now
  What caused the hemolysis. Since you say
  She took no castor oil, that you can learn
  From Irma Leese, or any witness, still
  A chemical analysis may show
  The presence of ricin,--and that she took
  A dose of oil not pure. Her throat betrayed
  Slight inflammation; but in brief, I wait
  My chemical analysis.

                        Let's exclude
  The things we know and narrow down the facts.
  She lay there by the river, death had come
  Some twenty hours before. No stick or stone,
  No weapon near her, bottle, poison box,
  No bruise upon her, in her mouth no dust,
  No foreign bodies in her nostrils, neck
  Without a mark, no punctures, cuts or scars
  Upon her anywhere, no water in lungs,
  No mud, sand, straws or weeds in hands, the nails
  Clean, as if freshly manicured.

                                  Again
  No evidence of rape. I first examined
  The genitals _in situ_, found them sound.
  The girl had lived, was not a virgin, still
  Had temperately indulged, and not at all
  In recent months, no evidence at all
  Of conjugation willingly or not,
  The day of death. But still I lifted out
  The ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus,
  The vagina and vulvae. Opened up
  The mammals, found no milk. No pregnancy
  Existed, sealed these organs up to test
  For poison later, as we doctors know
  Sometimes a poison's introduced _per vaginam_.

  I sealed the brain up too, shall make a test
  Of blood and serum for urea; death
  Comes suddenly from that, you find no lesion,
  Must take a piece of brain and cut it up,
  Pour boiling water on it, break the brain
  To finer pieces, pour the water off,
  Digest the piece of brain in other water,
  Repeat four times, the solutions mix together,
  Dry in an oven, treat with ether, at last
  The residue put on a slide of glass
  With nitric acid, let it stand awhile,
  Then take your microscope--if there's urea
  You'll see the crystals--very beautiful!
  A cobra's beautiful, but scarce can kill
  As quick as these.

                      Likewise I have sealed up
  The stomach, liver, kidneys, spleen, intestines,
  So many poisons have no microscopic
  Appearance that convinces, opium,
  Hyoscyamus, belladonna fool us;
  But as the stomach had no inflammation,
  It was not chloral, ether took her off,
  Which we can smell, to boot. But I can find
  Strychnia, if it killed her; though you know
  That case in England sixty years ago,
  Where the analysis did not disclose
  Strychnia, though they hung a man for giving
  That poison to a fellow.

                            To recur
  I'm down to this: Perhaps a hemolysis--
  But what produced it? If I find no ricin
  I turn to streptococcus, deadly snake,
  Or shall I call him tiger? For I think
  The microscopic world of living things
  Is just a little jungle, filled with tigers,
  Snakes, lions, what you will, with teeth and claws,
  The perfect miniatures of these monstrous foes.
  Sweet words come from the lips and tender hands
  Like Elenor Murray's, minister, nor know
  The jungle has been roused in throat or lungs;
  And shapes venene begin to crawl and eat
  The ruddy apples of the blood, eject
  Their triple venomous excreta in
  The channels of the body.

                            There's the heart,
  Which may be weakened by a streptococcus.
  But if she had a syncope and fell
  She must have bruised her body or her head.
  And if she had a syncope, was held up,
  Who held her up? That might have cost her life:
  To be held up in syncope. You know
  You lay a person down in syncope,
  And oftentimes the heart resumes its beat.
  Perhaps she was held up until she died,
  Then laid there by the river, so no bruise.
  So many theories come to me. But again,
  I say to you, look for a man. Run down
  All clues of Gregory Wenner. He is dead--
  Loss of a building drives to suicide--
  The papers say, but still it may be true
  He was with Elenor Murray when she died,
  Pushed her, we'll say, or struck her in a way
  To leave no mark, a tap upon the heart
  That shocked the muscles more or less obscure
  That bind the auricles and ventricles,
  And killed her. Then he flies away in fear,
  Aghast at what he does, and kills himself.
  Look for a man, I say. It must be true,
  She went so secretly to walk that morning
  To meet a man--why would she walk alone?

  So while you hunt the man, I'll look for ricin,
  And with my chemicals end up the search.
  I never saw a heart more beautiful,
  Just look at it. We doctors all agreed
  This Elenor Murray might have lived to ninety
  Except for jungles, poison, sudden shock.
  I take my bottle with the heart of Elenor
  And go about my way. It beat in France,
  It beat for France and for America,
  But what is truer, somewhere was a man
  For whom it beat!

     *       *       *       *       *

  When Irma Leese, the Aunt of Elenor Murray,
  Appeared before the coroner she told
  Of Elenor Murray's visit, of the morning
  She left to walk, was never seen again.
  And brought the coroner some letters sent
  By Elenor from France. What follows now
  Is what the coroner, or the jury heard
  From Irma Leese, from letters drawn--beside
  The riffle that the death of Elenor Murray
  Sent round the life of Irma Leese, which spread
  To Tokio and touched a man, the son
  Of Irma Leese's sister, dead Corinne,
  The mother of this man in Tokio.



IRMA LEESE


  Elenor Murray landing in New York,
  After a weary voyage, none too well,
  Staid in the city for a week and then
  Upon a telegram from Irma Leese,
  Born Irma Fouche, her aunt who lived alone
  This summer in the Fouche house near LeRoy,
  Came west to visit Irma Leese and rest.

  For Elenor Murray had not been herself
  Since that hard spring when in the hospital,
  Caring for soldiers stricken with the flu,
  She took bronchitis, after weeks in bed
  Rose weak and shaky, crept to health again
  Through egg-nogs, easy strolls about Bordeaux.
  And later went to Nice upon a furlough
  To get her strength again.

                              But while she saw
  Her vital flame burn brightly, as of old
  On favored days, yet for the rest the flame
  Sputtered or sank a little. So she thought
  How good it might be to go west and stroll
  About the lovely country of LeRoy,
  And hear the whispering cedars by a window
  In the Fouche mansion where this Irma Leese,
  Her aunt, was summering. So she telegraphed,
  And being welcomed, went.

                            This stately house,
  Built sixty years before by Arthur Fouche,
  A brick home with a mansard roof, an oriel
  That looked between the cedars, and a porch
  With great Ionic columns, from the street
  Stood distantly amid ten acres of lawn,
  Trees, flower plots--belonged to Irma Leese,
  Who had reclaimed it from a chiropractor,
  To cleanse the name of Fouche from that indignity,
  And bring it in the family again,
  Since she had spent her girlhood, womanhood
  To twenty years amid its twenty rooms.
  For Irma Leese at twenty years had married
  And found herself at twenty-five a widow,
  With money left her, then had tried again,
  And after years dissolved the second pact,
  And made a settlement, was rich in fact,
  Now forty-two. Five years before had come
  And found the house she loved a sanitarium,
  A chiropractor's home. And as she stood
  Beside the fence and saw the oriel,
  Remembered all her happiness on this lawn
  With brothers and with sisters, one of whom
  Was Elenor Murray's mother, then she willed
  To buy the place and spend some summers here.
  And here she was the summer Elenor Murray
  Returned from France.

                        And Irma Leese had said:
  "Here is your room, it has the oriel,
  And there's the river and the hills for you.
  Have breakfast in your room what hour you will,
  Rise when you will. We'll drive and walk and rest,
  Run to Chicago when we have a mind.
  I have a splendid chauffeur now and maids.
  You must grow strong and well."

                                  And Elenor Murray
  Gasped out her happiness for the pretty room,
  And stood and viewed the river and the hills,
  And wept a little on the gentle shoulder
  Of Irma Leese.

                  And so the days had passed
  Of walking, driving, resting, many talks;
  For Elenor Murray spoke to Irma Leese
  Of tragic and of rapturous days in France,
  And Irma Leese, though she had lived full years,
  Had scarcely lived as much as Elenor Murray,
  And could not hear enough from Elenor Murray
  Of the war and France, but mostly she would urge
  Her niece to tell of what affairs of love
  Had come to her. And Elenor Murray told
  Of Gregory Wenner, save she did not tell
  The final secret, with a gesture touched
  The story off by saying: It was hopeless,
  I went into religion to forget.
  But on a day she said to Irma Leese:
  "I almost met my fate at Nice," then sketched
  A hurried picture of a brief romance.
  But Elenor Murray told her nothing else
  Of loves or men. But all the while the aunt
  Weighed Elenor Murray, on a day exclaimed:
  "I see myself in you, and you are like
  Your Aunt Corinne who died in ninety-two.
  I'll tell you all about your Aunt Corinne
  Some day when we are talking, but I see
  You have the Fouche blood--we are lovers all.
  Your mother is a lover, Elenor,
  If you would know it."

                          "O, your Aunt Corinne
  She was most beautiful, but unfortunate.
  Her husband was past sixty when she married,
  And she was thirty-two. He was distinguished,
  Had money and all that, but youth is all,
  Is everything for love, and she was young,
  And he was old."

                    A week or two had passed
  Since Elenor Murray came to Irma Leese,
  When on a morning fire broke from the eaves
  And menaced all the house; but maids and gardeners
  With buckets saved the house, while Elenor Murray
  And Irma Leese dipped water from the barrels
  That stood along the ell.

                            A week from that
  A carpenter was working at the eaves
  Along the ell, and in the garret knelt
  To pry up boards and patch. When as he pried
  A board up, he beheld between the rafters
  A package of old letters stained and frayed,
  Tied with a little ribbon almost dust.
  And when he went down-stairs, delivered it
  To Irma Leese and said: Here are some letters
  I found up in the garret under the floor,
  I pried up in my work.

                          Then Irma Leese
  Looked at the letters, saw her sister's hand,
  Corinne's upon the letters, opened, read,
  And saw the story which she knew before
  Brought back in this uncanny way, the hand
  Which wrote the letters six and twenty years
  Turned back to dust. And when her niece came in
  She showed the letters, said, "I'll let you read,
  I'll tell you all about them":

                              "When Corinne
  Was nineteen, very beautiful and vital,
  Red-cheeked, a dancer, bubbling like new wine,
  A catch, as you may know, you see this house
  Was full of laughter then, so many children.
  We had our parties, too, and young men thought,
  Each one of us would have a dowry splendid--
  A young man from Chicago came along,
  A lawyer there, but lately come from Pittsburgh
  To practice, win his way. I knew this man.
  He was a handsome dog with curly hair,
  Blue eyes and sturdy figure. Well, Corinne
  Quite lost her heart. He came here to a dance,
  And so the game commenced. And father thought
  The fellow was not right, but all of us,
  Your mother and myself said, yes he is,
  And we conspired to help Corinne and smooth
  The path of confidence. But later on
  Corinne was not so buoyant, would not talk
  With me, your mother freely. Then at last
  Her eyes were sometimes red; we knew she wept.
  And, then Corinne was sent away. Well, here
  You'll guess the rest. Her health was breaking down,
  That's true enough; the world could think its thoughts,
  And say his love grew cold, or she found out
  The black-leg that he was, and he was that.
  But Elenor, the truth was more than that,
  Corinne had been betrayed, she went away
  To right herself--these letters prove the case,
  Which all the gossips, busy as they were,
  Could not make out. The paper at LeRoy
  Had printed that she went to pay a visit
  To relatives in the east. Three months or so
  She came back well and rosy. But meanwhile
  Your grandfather had paid this shabby scoundrel
  A sum of money, I forget the sum,
  To get these letters of your Aunt Corinne--
  These letters here. This matter leaked, of course.
  And then we let the story take this form
  And moulded it a little to this form:
  The fellow was a scoundrel--this was proved
  When he took money to return her letters.
  They were love letters, they had been engaged,
  She thought him worthy, found herself deceived
  Proved, too, by taking money, when at first
  He looked with honorable eyes to young Corinne,
  And won her trust. And so Corinne lived here
  Ten years or more, at thirty married the judge,
  Her senior thirty years, and went away.
  She bore a child and died--look Elenor
  Here are the letters which she took and nailed
  Beneath the garret floor. We'll read them through,
  And then I'll burn them."

                            Irma Leese rose up
  And put the letters in her desk and said:
  "Let's ride along the river." So they rode,
  But as they rode, the day being clear and mild
  The fancy took them to Chicago, where
  They lunched and spent the afternoon, returning
  At ten o'clock that night.

                              And the next morning
  When Irma Leese expected Elenor
  To rise and join her, asked for her, a maid
  Told Irma Leese that Elenor had gone
  To walk somewhere. And all that day she waited.
  But as night came, she fancied Elenor
  Had gone to see her mother, once rose up
  To telephone, then stopped because she felt
  Elenor might have plans she would not wish
  Her mother to get wind of--let it go.
  But when night came, she wondered, fell asleep
  With wondering and worry.

                            But next morning
  As she was waiting for the car to come
  To motor to LeRoy, and see her sister,
  Elenor's mother, in a casual way,
  Learn if her niece was there, and waiting read
  The letters of Corinne, the telephone
  Rang in an ominous way, and Irma Leese
  Sprang up to answer, got the tragic word
  Of Elenor Murray found beside the river.
  Left all the letters spilled upon her desk
  And motored to the river, to LeRoy
  Where Coroner Merival took the body.

                                        Just
  As Irma Leese departed, in the room
  A sullen maid revengeful for the fact
  She was discharged, was leaving in a day,
  Entered and saw the letters, read a little,
  And gathered them, went to her room and packed
  Her telescope and left, went to LeRoy,
  And gave a letter to this one and that,
  Until the servant maids and carpenters
  And some lubricous fellows at LeRoy
  Who made companions of these serving maids,
  Had each a letter of the dead Corinne,
  Which showed at last, after some twenty years,
  Of silence and oblivion, to LeRoy
  With memory to refresh, that poor Corinne
  Had given her love, herself, had been betrayed,
  Abandoned by a scoundrel.

                            Merival,
  The Coroner, when told about the letters,
  For soon the tongues were wagging in LeRoy,
  Went here and there to find them, till he learned
  What quality of love the dead Corinne
  Had given to this man. Then shook his head,
  Resolved to see if he could not unearth
  In Elenor Murray's life some faithless lover
  Who sought her death.

                        The letters' riffle crawled
  Through shadows of the waters of LeRoy
  Until it looked a snake, was seen as such
  In Tokio by Franklin Hollister,
  The son of dead Corinne; it seemed a snake:
  He heard the coroner through neglect or malice
  Had let the letters scatter--not the truth;--
  The coroner had gathered up the letters,
  Befriending Irma Leese; she got them back
  Through Merival. The riffle's just the same.
  And hence this man in Tokio is crazed
  For shame and fear--for fear the girl he loves
  Will hear his mother's story and break off
  Her marriage promise.

                        So in reckless rage
  He posts a letter off to Lawyer Hood,
  Chicago, Illinois--the coroner
  Gets all the story through this Lawyer Hood,
  Long after Elenor's inquest is at end.
  Meantime he cools, is wiser, thinks it bad
  To stir the scandal with a suit at law.
  And then when cooled he hears from Lawyer Hood
  Who tells him what the truth is. So it ends.

     *       *       *       *       *

  These letters and the greenish wave that coiled
  At Tokio is beyond the coroner's eye
  Fixed on the water where the pebble fell:--
  This death of Elenor, circles close at hand
  Engage his interest. Now he seeks to learn
  About her training and religious life.
  And hears of Miriam Fay, a friend he thinks,
  And confidant of her religious life,
  Head woman of the school where Elenor
  Learned chemistry, materia medica,
  Anatomy, to fit her for the work
  Of nursing. And he writes this Miriam Fay
  And Miriam Fay responds. The letter comes
  Before the jury. Here is what she wrote:--



MIRIAM FAY'S LETTER


  Elenor Murray asked to go in training
  And came to see me, but the school was full,
  We could not take her. Then she asked to stand
  Upon a list and wait, I put her off.
  She came back, and she came back, till at last
  I took her application; then she came
  And pushed herself and asked when she could come,
  And start to train. At last I laughed and said:
  "Well, come to-morrow." I had never seen
  Such eagerness, persistence. So she came.
  She tried to make a friend of me, perhaps
  Since it was best, I being in command.
  But anyway she wooed me, tried to please me.
  And spite of everything I grew to love her,
  Though I distrusted her. But yet again
  I had belief in her best self, though doubting
  The girl somehow. But when I learned the girl
  Had never had religious discipline,
  Her father without faith, her mother too,
  Her want of moral sense, I understood.
  She lacked stability of spirit, to-day
  She would be one thing, something else the next.
  Shot up in fire, which failed and died away
  And I began to see her fraternize
  With girls who had her traits, too full of life
  To be what they should be, unstable too,
  Much like herself.

                      Not long before she came
  Into the training school, six months, perhaps,
  She had some tragedy, I don't know what,
  Had been quite ill in body and in mind.
  When she went into training I could see
  Her purpose to wear down herself, forget
  In weariness of body, something lived.
  She was alert and dutiful and sunny,
  Kept all the rules, was studious, led the class,
  Excelled, I think, in studies of the nerves,
  The mind grown sick.

                        As we grew better friends,
  More intimate, she talked about religion,
  And sacred subjects, asked about the church.
  I gave her books to read, encouraged her,
  Asked her to make her peace with God, and set
  Her feet in pious paths. At last she said
  She wished to be baptized, confirmed. I made
  The plans for her, she was baptized, confirmed,
  Went to confessional, and seemed renewed
  In spirit by conversion. For at once
  Her zeal was like a flame at Pentecost,
  She almost took the veil, but missing that,
  She followed out the discipline to the letter,
  Kept all the feast days, went to mass, communion,
  Did works of charity; indeed, I think
  She spent her spare hours all in all at sewing
  There with the sisters for the poor. She had,
  When she came to me, jewelry of value,
  A diamond solitaire, some other things.
  I missed them, and she said she sold them, gave
  The money to a home for friendless children.
  And I remember when she said her father
  Had wronged, misvalued her; but now her love,
  Made more abundant by the love of Christ,
  Had brought her to forgiveness. All her mood
  Was of humility and sacrifice.

  One time I saw her at the convent, sitting
  Upon a foot-stool at the gracious feet
  Of the Mother Superior, sewing for the poor;
  Hair parted in the middle, curls combed out.
  Then was it that I missed her jewelry.
  She looked just like a poor maid, humble, patient,
  Head bent above her sewing, eyes averted.
  The room was silent with religious thought.
  I loved her then and pitied her. But now
  I think she had that in her which at times
  Made her a flagellant, at other times
  A rioter. She used the church to drag
  Her life from something, took it for a bladder
  To float her soul when it was perilled. First,
  She did not sell her jewelry; this ring,
  Too brilliant for forgetting, or to pass
  Unnoticed when she wore it, showed again
  Upon her finger after she had come
  Out of her training, was a graduate.
  She had a faculty for getting in
  Where elegance and riches were. She went
  Among the great ones, when she found a way,
  And traveled with them where she learned the life
  Of notables, aristocrats. It was there,
  Or when from duty free and feasting, gadding
  The ring showed on her finger.

                                  In two years
  She dropped the church. New friends made in the school,
  New interests, work that took her energies
  And this religious flare had cured her up
  Of what was killing her when first I knew her.
  There was another thing that drew her back
  To flesh, away from spirit: She saw bodies,
  And handled bodies as a nurse, forgot
  The body is the spirit's temple, fell
  To some materialism of thought. And now
  Avoided me, was much away, of course,
  On duty here and there. I tried to hold her,
  Protect and guide her, wrote to her at times
  To make confession, take communion. She
  Ignored these letters. But I heard her say
  The body was as natural as the soul,
  And just as natural its desires. She kept
  Out of the wreck of faith one thing alone,
  If she kept that: She could endure to hear
  God's name profaned, but would not stand to hear
  The Savior's spoken in irreverence.
  She was afraid, no doubt. Or to be just,
  The tender love of Christ, his sacrifice,
  Perhaps had won her wholly--let it go,
  I'll say that much for her.

                              Why am I harsh?
  Because I saw the good in her all streaked
  With so much evil, evil known and lived
  In knowledge of it, clung to none the less,
  Unstable as water, how could she succeed?
  Untruthful, how could confidence be hers?
  I sometimes think she joined the church to mask
  A secret life, renewed forgiven sins.
  After she cloaked herself with piety.
  Perhaps, at least, when she saw what to do,
  And how to do it, using these detours
  Of piety to throw us off, who else
  Had seen what doors she entered, whence she came.
  She wronged the church, I think, made it a screen
  To stand behind for kisses, to look from
  Inviting kisses. Then, as I have said,
  She took materialism from her work,
  And so renewed her sins. She drank, I think,
  And smoked and feasted; but as for the rest,
  The smoke obscured the flame, but there is flame
  Or fire at least where there is smoke.

                                        You ask
  What took her to the war? Why only this:
  Adventure, chance of marriage, amorous conquests--
  The girl was mad for men, although I saw
  Her smoke obscured the flame, I never saw her
  Except with robins far too tame or lame
  To interest her, and robins prove to me
  The hawk is somewhere, waits for night to join
  His playmate when the robins are at rest.
  You see the girl has madness in her, flies
  From exaltation up to ecstasy.
  Feeds on emotion, never has enough.
  Tries all things, states of spirit, even beliefs.
  Passes from lust (I think) to celibacy,
  Feasts, fasts, eats, starves, has raptures then inflicts
  The whip upon her back, is penitent,
  Then proud, is humble, then is arrogant,
  Looks down demurely, stares you out of face,
  But runs the world around. For in point of fact,
  She traveled much, knew cities and their ways;
  And when I used to see her at the convent
  So meek, clothed like a sewing maid, at once
  The pictures that she showed me of herself
  At seaside places or on boulevards,
  Her beauty clothed in linen or in silk,
  Came back to mind, and I would resurrect
  The fragments of our talks in which I saw
  How she knew foods and drinks and restaurants,
  And fashionable shops. This girl could fool the elect--
  She fooled me for a time. I found her out.
  Did she aspire? Perhaps, if you believe
  It's aspiration to seek out the rich,
  And ape them. Not for me. Of course she went
  To get adventure in the war, perhaps
  She got too much. But as to waste of life,
  She might have been a quiet, noble woman
  Keeping her place in life, not trying to rise
  Out of her class--too useless--in her class
  Making herself all worthy, serviceable.
  You'll find 'twas pride that slew her. Very like
  She found a rich man, tried to hold him, lost
  Her honor and her life in consequence.

     *       *       *       *       *

  When Merival showed this letter to the jury,
  Marion the juryman spoke up:
  "You know that type of woman--saintly hag!
  I wouldn't take her word about a thing
  By way of inference, or analysis.
  They had some trouble, she and Elenor
  You may be sure." And Merival replied:
  "Take it for what it's worth. I leave you now
  To see the man who owns the _Daily Times_.
  He's turned upon our inquest, did you see
  The jab he gives me? I can jab as well."
  So Merival went out and took with him
  A riffle in the waters of circumstance
  Set up by Elenor Murray's death to one
  Remote, secure in greatness--to the man
  Who ran the _Times_.



ARCHIBALD LOWELL


  Archibald Lowell, owner of the _Times_
  Lived six months of the year at Sunnyside,
  His Gothic castle near LeRoy, so named
  Because no sun was in him, it may be.
  His wife was much away when on this earth
  At cures, in travel, fighting psychic ills,
  Approaching madness, dying nerves. They said
  Her heart was starved for living with a man
  So cold and silent. Thirty years she lived
  Bound to this man, in restless agony,
  And as she could not free her life from his,
  Nor keep it living with him, on a day
  She stuck a gas hose in her mouth and drank
  Her lungs full of the lethal stuff and died.
  That was the very day the hunter found
  Elenor Murray's body near the river.
  A servant saw this Mrs. Lowell lying
  A copy of the _Times_ clutched in her hand,
  Which published that a slip of paper found
  In Elenor Murray's pocket had these words
  "To be brave and not to flinch." And was she brave,
  And nerved to end it by these words of Elenor?
  But Archibald, the husband, could not bear
  To have the death by suicide made known.
  He laid the body out, as if his wife
  Had gone to bed as usual, turned a jet
  And left it, just as if his wife had failed
  To fully turn it, then went in the room;
  Then called the servants, did not know that one
  Had seen her with the _Times_ clutched in her hand.
  He thought the matter hidden. Merival,
  All occupied with Elenor Murray's death
  Gave to a deputy the Lowell inquest.
  But later what this servant saw was told
  To Merival.

                And now no more alone
  Than when his wife lived, Lowell passed the days
  At Sunnyside, as he had done for years.
  He sat alone, and paced the rooms alone,
  With hands behind him clasped, in fear and wonder
  Of life and what life is. He rode about,
  And viewed his blooded cattle on the hills.
  But what were all these rooms and acres to him
  With no face near him but the servants, gardeners?
  Sometimes he wished he had a child to draw
  Upon his fabulous income, growing more
  Since all his life was centered in the _Times_
  To swell its revenues, and in the process
  His spirit was more fully in the _Times_
  Than in his body. There were eyes who saw
  How deftly was his spirit woven in it
  Until it was a scarf to bind and choke
  The public throat, or stifle honest thought
  Like a soft pillow offered for the head,
  But used to smother. There were eyes who saw
  The working of its ways emasculate,
  Its tones of gray, where flame had been the thing,
  Its timorous steps, while spying on the public,
  To learn the public's thought. Its cautious pauses,
  With foot uplifted, ears pricked up to hear
  A step fall, twig break. Platitudes in progress--
  With sugar coat of righteousness and order,
  Respectability.

                  Did the public make it?
  Or did it make the public, that it fitted
  With such exactness in the communal life?
  Some thousands thought it fair--what should they think
  When it played neutral in the matter of news
  To both sides of the question, though at last
  It turned the judge, and chose the better side,
  Determined from the first, a secret plan,
  And cunning way to turn the public scale?
  Some thousands liked the kind of news it printed
  Where no sensation flourished--smallest type
  That fixed attention for the staring eyes
  Needed for type so small. But others knew
  It led the people by its fair pretensions,
  And used them in the end. In any case
  This editor played hand-ball in this way:
  The advertisers tossed the ball, the readers
  Caught it and tossed it to the advertisers:
  And as the readers multiplied, the columns
  Of advertising grew, and Lowell's thought
  Was how to play the one against the other,
  And fill his purse.

                      It was an ingrown mind,
  And growing more ingrown with time. Afraid
  Of crowds and streets, uncomfortable in clubs,
  No warmth in hands to touch his fellows' hands,
  Keeping aloof from politicians, loathing
  The human alderman who bails the thief;
  The little scamp who pares a little profit,
  And grafts upon a branch that takes no harm.
  He loved the active spirit, if it worked,
  And feared the active spirit, if it played.
  This Lowell hid himself from favor seekers,
  Such letters filtered to him through a sieve
  Of secretaries. If he had a friend,
  Who was a mind to him as well, perhaps
  It was a certain lawyer, but who knew?
  And cursed with monophobia, none the less
  This Lowell lived alone there near LeRoy,
  Surrounded by his servants, at his desk
  A secretary named McGill, who took
  Such letters, editorials as he spoke.
  His life was nearly waste. A peanut stand
  Should be as much remembered as the _Times_,
  When fifty years are passed.

                                And every month
  The circulation manager came down
  To tell the great man of the gain or loss
  The paper made that month in circulation,
  In advertising, chiefly. Lowell took
  The audit sheets and studied them, and gave
  Steel bullet words of order this or that.
  He took the dividends, and put them--where?
  God knew alone.

                    He went to church sometimes,
  On certain Sundays, for a pious mother
  Had reared him so, and sat there like a corpse,
  A desiccated soul, so dry the moss
  Upon his teeth was dry.

                          And on a day,
  His wife now in the earth a week or so,
  Himself not well, the doctor there to quiet
  His fears of sudden death, pains in the chest,
  His manager had come--was made to wait
  Until the doctor finished--brought the sheets
  Which showed the advertising, circulation.
  And Lowell studied them and said at last:
  "That new reporter makes the Murray inquest
  A thing of interest, does the public like it?"
  To which the manager: "It sells the paper."
  And then the great man: "It has served its use.
  Now being nearly over, print these words:
  The Murray inquest shows to what a length
  Fantastic wit can go, it should be stopped."
  An editorial later might be well:
  Comment upon a father and a mother
  Invaded in their privacy, and life
  In intimate relations dragged to view
  To sate the curious eye.

                          Next day the _Times_
  Rebuked the coroner in these words. And then
  Merival sent word: "I come to see you,
  Or else you come to see me, or by process
  If you refuse." And so the editor
  Invited Merival to Sunnyside
  To talk the matter out. This was the talk:
  First Merival went over all the ground
  In mild locution, what he sought to do.
  How as departments in the war had studied
  Disease and what not, tabulated facts,
  He wished to make a start for knowing lives,
  And finding remedies for lives. It's true
  Not much might be accomplished, also true
  The poet and the novelist gave thought,
  Analysis to lives, yet who could tell
  What system might grow up to find the fault
  In marriage as it is, in rearing children
  In motherhood, in homes; for Merival
  By way of wit said to this dullest man:
  "I know of mother and of home, of heaven
  I've yet to learn." Whereat the great man winced,
  To hear the home and motherhood so slurred,
  And briefly said the _Times_ would go its way
  To serve the public interests, and to foster
  American ideals as he conceived them.
  Then Merival who knew the great man's nature,
  How small it was and barren, cold and dull,
  And wedded to small things, to gold, and fear
  Of change, and knew the life the woman lived,--
  These seven days in the earth--with such a man,
  Just by a zephyr of intangible thought
  Veered round the talk to her, to voice a wonder
  About the jet left turned, his deputy
  Had overlooked a hose which she could drink
  Gas from a jet. "You needn't touch the jet.
  Just leave it as she left it--hide the hose,
  And leave the gas on, put the woman in bed."
  "This deputy," said Merival, "was slack
  And let a verdict pass of accident."
  "Oh yes" said Merival, "your servant told
  About the hose, the _Times_ clutched in her hand.
  And may I test this jet, while I am here?
  Go up to see and test it?"

                            Whereupon
  The great man with wide eyes stared in the eyes
  Of Merival, was speechless for a moment,
  Not knowing what to say, while Merival
  Read something in his eyes, saw in his eyes
  The secret beat to cover, saw the man
  Turn head away which shook a little, saw
  His chest expand for breath, and heard at last
  The editor in four steel bullet words,
  "It is not necessary."

                          Merival
  Had trapped the solitary fox--arose
  And going said: "If it was suicide
  The inquest must be changed."

                                The editor
  Looked through the window at the coroner
  Walking the gravel walk, and saw his hand
  Unlatch the iron gate, and saw him pass
  From view behind the trees.

                                Then horror rose
  Within his brain, a nameless horror took
  The heart of him, for fear this coroner
  Would dig this secret up, and show the world
  The dead face of the woman self-destroyed,
  And of the talk, which would not come to him,
  To poison air he breathed no less, of why
  This woman took her life; if for ill health
  Then why ill health? O, well he knew at heart
  What he had done to break her, starve her life.
  And now accused himself too much for words,
  Ways, temperament of him that murdered her,
  For lovelessness, and for deliberate hands
  That pushed her off and down.

                                He rode that day
  To see his cattle, overlook the work,
  But when night came with silence and the cry
  Of night-hawks, and the elegy of leaves
  Beneath the stars that looked so cold at him
  As he turned seeking sleep, the dreaded pain
  Grew stronger in his breast. Dawn came at last
  And then the stir and voices of the maids.
  And after breakfast in the carven room
  Archibald Lowell standing by the mantel
  In his great library, felt sudden pain;
  Saw sudden darkness, nothing saw at once,
  Lying upon the marble of the hearth;
  His great head cut which struck the post of brass
  In the hearth's railing--only a little blood!
  Archibald Lowell being dead at last;
  The _Times_ left to the holders of the stock
  Who kept his policy, and kept the _Times_
  As if the great man lived.

                            And Merival
  Taking the doctor's word that death was caused
  By angina pectoris, let it drop.
  And went his way with Elenor Murray's case.

     *       *       *       *       *

  So Lowell's dead and buried; had to die,
  But not through Elenor Murray. That's the Fate
  That laughs at greatness, little things that sneak
  From alien neighborhoods of life and kill.
  And Lowell leaves a will, to which a boy--
  Who sold the _Times_ once, afterward the _Star_--
  Is alien as this Elenor to the man
  Who owned the _Times_. But still is brought in touch
  With Lowell's will, because this Lowell died
  Before he died. And Merival learns the facts
  And brings them to the jury in these words:--



WIDOW FORTELKA


  Marie Fortelka, widow, mother of Josef,
  Now seventeen, an invalid at home
  In a house, in Halstead Street, his running side
  Aching with broken ribs, read in the _Times_
  Of Lowell's death the editor, dressed herself
  To call on William Rummler, legal mind
  For Lowell and the _Times_.

                              It was a day
  When fog hung over the city, and she thought
  Of fogs in Germany whence she came, and thought
  Of hard conditions there when she was young.
  Then as her boy, this Josef, coughed, she looked
  And felt a pang at heart, a rise of wrath,
  And heard him moan for broken ribs and lungs
  That had been bruised or mashed. America,
  Oh yes, America, she said to self,
  How is it different from the land I left?
  And then her husband's memory came to mind:
  How he had fled his country to be free,
  And come to Philadelphia, with the thrill
  Of new life found, looked at the famous Hall
  Which gave the Declaration, cried and laughed
  And said: "The country's free, and I am here,
  I am free now, a man, no more a slave."
  What did he find? A job, but prices high.
  Wages decreased in winter, then a strike.
  He joined the union, found himself in jail
  For passing hand-bills which announced the strike,
  And asked the public to take note, and punish
  The corporation, not to trade with it,
  For its injustice toward the laborers.
  And in the court he heard the judge decide:
  "Free speech cannot be used to gain the ends
  Of ruin by conspiracy like this
  Against a business. Men from foreign lands,
  Of despot rule and poverty, who come
  For liberty and means of life among us
  Must learn that liberty is ordered liberty,
  And is not license, freedom to commit
  Injury to another."

                    So in jail
  He lay his thirty days out, went to work
  Where he could find it, found the union smashed,
  Himself compelled to take what job he could,
  What wages he was offered. And his children
  Kept coming year by year till there were eight,
  And Josef was but ten. And then he died
  And left this helpless family, and the boy
  Sold papers on the street, ten years of age,
  The widow washed.

                    And first he sold the _Times_
  And helped to spread the doctrines of the _Times_
  Of ordered liberty and epicene
  Reforms of this or that. But when the _Star_
  With millions back of it broke in the field
  He changed and sold the _Star_, too bad for him--
  Discovered something:

                        Josef did not know
  The corners of the street are free to all,
  Or free to none, where newsboys stood and sold,
  And kept their stands, or rather where the powers
  That kept the great conspiracy of the press
  Controlled the stands, and to prevent the _Star_
  From gaining foot-hold. Not upon this corner
  Nor on that corner, any corner in short
  Shall newsboys sell the _Star_. But Josef felt,
  Being a boy, indifferent to the rules,
  Well founded, true or false, that all the corners
  Were free to all, and for his daring, strength
  Had been selected, picked to sell the _Star_,
  And break the ground, gain place upon the stands.
  He had been warned from corners, chased and boxed
  By heavy fists from corners more than once
  Before the day they felled him. On that day
  A monster bully, once a pugilist,
  Came on him selling the _Star_ and knocked him down,
  Kicked in his ribs and broke a leg and cracked
  His little skull.

                    And so they took him home
  To Widow Fortelka and the sisters, brothers,
  Whose bread he earned. And there he lay and moaned,
  And when he sat up had a little cough,
  Was short of breath.

                        And on this foggy day
  When Widow Fortelka reads in the _Times_
  That Lowell, the editor, is dead, he sits
  With feet wrapped in a quilt and gets his breath
  With open mouth, his face is brightly flushed;
  A fetid sweetness fills the air of the room
  That from his open mouth comes. Josef lingers
  A few weeks yet--he has tuberculosis.
  And so his mother looks at him, resolves
  To call this day on William Rummler, see
  If Lowell's death has changed the state of things;
  And if the legal mind will not relent
  Now that the mind that fed it lies in death.
  It's true enough, she thinks, I was dismissed,
  And sent away for good, but never mind.
  It can't be true this pugilist went farther
  Than the authority of his hiring, that's
  The talk this lawyer gave her, used a word
  She could not keep in mind--the lawyer said
  _Respondeat superior_ in this case
  Was not in point--and if it could be proved
  This pugilist was hired by the _Times_,
  No one could prove the _Times_ had hired him
  To beat a boy, commit a crime. Well, then
  "What was he hired for?" the widow asked.
  And then she talked with newsboys, and they said
  The papers had their sluggers, all of them,
  Even the _Star_, and that was just a move
  In getting circulation, keeping it.
  And all these sluggers watched the stands and drove
  The newsboys selling _Stars_ away.

                                      No matter,
  She could not argue with this lawyer Rummler,
  Who said: "You must excuse me, go away,
  I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do."

  Now Widow Fortelka had never heard
  Of Elenor Murray, had not read a line
  Of Elenor Murray's death beside the river.
  She was as ignorant of the interview
  Between the coroner and this editor
  Who died next morning fearing Merival
  Would dig up Mrs. Lowell and expose
  Her suicide, as conferences of spirits
  Directing matters in another world.
  Her thought was moulded no less by the riffles
  That spread from Elenor Murray and her death.
  And she resolved to see this lawyer Rummler,
  And try again to get a settlement
  To help her dying boy. And so she went.

  That morning Rummler coming into town
  Had met a cynic friend upon the train
  Who used his tongue as freely as his mood
  Moved him to use it. So he said to Rummler:
  "I see your client died--a hell of a life
  That fellow lived, a critic in our midst
  Both hated and caressed. And I suppose
  You drew his will and know it, I will bet,
  If he left anything to charity,
  Or to the city, it is some narcotic
  To keep things as they are, the ailing body
  To dull and bring forgetfulness of pain.
  He was a fine albino of the soul,
  No pigment in his genesis to give
  Color to hair or eyes, he had no gonads."
  And William Rummler laughed and said, "You'll see
  What Lowell did when I probate the will."

  Then William Rummler thought that very moment
  Of plans whereby his legal mind could thrive
  Upon the building of the big hotel
  To Lowell's memory, for perpetual use
  Of the Y. M. C. A., the seminary, too,
  In Moody's memory for an orthodox
  Instruction in the bible.

                            With such things
  In mind, this William Rummler opened the door,
  And stepped into his office, got a shock
  From seeing Widow Fortelka on the bench,
  Where clients waited, waiting there for him.
  She rose and greeted him, and William Rummler
  Who in a stronger moment might have said:
  "You must excuse me, I have told you, madam,
  I can do nothing for you," let her follow
  Into his private office and sit down
  And there renew her suit.

                            She said to him:
  "My boy is dying now, I think his ribs
  Were driven in his lungs and punctured them.
  He coughs the worst stuff up you ever saw.
  And has an awful fever, sweats his clothes
  Right through, is breathless, cannot live a month.
  And I know you can help me. Mr. Lowell,
  So you told me, refused a settlement,
  Because this pugilist was never hired
  To beat my boy, or any boy; for fear
  It would be an admission, and be talked of,
  And lead another to demand some money.
  But now he's dead, and surely you are free
  To help me some, so that this month or two,
  While my boy Joe is dying he can have
  What milk he wants and food, and when he dies,
  A decent coffin, burial. Then perhaps
  There will be something left to help me with--
  I wash to feed the children, as you know."

  And William Rummler looked at her and thought
  For one brief moment with his lawyer mind
  About this horror, while the widow wept,
  And as she wept a culprit mood was his
  For thinking of the truth, for well he knew
  This slugger had been hired for such deeds,
  And here was one result. And in his pain
  The cynic words his friend had said to him
  Upon the train began to stir, and then
  He felt a rush of feeling, blood, and thought
  Of clause thirteen in Lowell's will, which gave
  The trustees power, and he was chief trustee,
  To give some worthy charity once a year,
  Not to exceed a thousand dollars. So
  He thought to self, "This is a charity.
  I will advance the money, get it back
  As soon as I probate the will."

                                  At last
  He broke this moment's musing and spoke up:
  "Your case appeals to me. You may step out,
  And wait till I prepare the papers, then
  I'll have a check made for a thousand dollars."

  Widow Fortelka rose up and took
  The crucifix she wore and kissed it, wept
  And left the room.

     *       *       *       *       *

  Now here's the case of Percy Ferguson
  You'd think his life was safe from Elenor Murray.
  No preacher ever ran a prettier boat
  Than Percy Ferguson, all painted white
  With polished railings, flying at the fore
  The red and white and blue. Such little waves
  Set dancing by the death of Elenor Murray
  To sink so fine a boat, and leave the Reverend
  To swim to shore! he couldn't walk the waves!



REV. PERCY FERGUSON


  The Rev. Percy Ferguson, patrician
  Vicar of Christ, companion of the strong,
  And member of the inner shrine, where men
  Observe the rituals of the golden calf;
  A dilettante, and writer for the press
  Upon such themes as optimism, order,
  Obedience, beauty, law, while Elenor Murray's
  Life was being weighed by Merival
  Preached in disparagement of Merival
  Upon a fatal Sunday, as it chanced,
  Too near to doom's day for the clergyman.
  For, as the word had gone about that waste
  In lives preoccupied this Merival,
  And many talked of waste, and spoke a life
  Where waste had been in whole or part--the pulpit
  Should take a hand, thought Ferguson. And so
  The Reverend Percy Ferguson preached thus
  To a great audience and fashionable:
  "The hour's need is a firmer faith in Christ,
  A closer hold on God, belief again
  In sin's reality; the age's vice
  Is laughter over sin, the attitude
  That sin is not!" And then to prove that sin
  Is something real, he spoke of money sins
  That bring the money panics, of the beauty
  That lust corrupts, wound up with Athen's story,
  Which sin decayed. And touching on this waste,
  Which was the current talk, what is this waste
  Except a sin in life, the moral law
  Transgressed, God mocked, the order of man's life,
  And God's will disobeyed? Show me a life
  That lives through Christ and none shall find a waste.
  This clergyman some fifteen years before
  Went on a hunt for Alma Bell, who taught
  The art department of the school, and found
  Enough to scare the school directors that
  She burned with lawless love for Elenor Murray.

  And made it seem the teacher's reprimand
  In school of Elenor Murray for her ways
  Of strolling, riding with young men at night,
  Was moved by jealousy of Elenor Murray,
  Being herself in love with Elenor Murray.
  This clergyman laid what he found before
  The school directors, Alma Bell was sent
  Out of the school her way, and disappeared....
  But now, though fifteen years had passed, the story
  Of Alma Bell and Elenor Murray crept
  Like poisonous mist, scarce seen, around LeRoy.
  It had been so always. And all these years
  No one would touch or talk in open words
  The loathsome matter, since girls grown to women,
  And married in the town might have their names
  Relinked to Alma Bell's. And was it true
  That Elenor Murray strayed as a young girl
  In those far days of strolls and buggy rides?

  But after Percy Ferguson had thundered
  Against the inquest, Warren Henderson,
  A banker of the city, who had dealt
  In paper of the clergyman, and knew
  The clergyman had interests near Victoria,
  Was playing at the money game, and knew
  He tottered on the brink, and held to hands
  That feared to hold him longer--Henderson,
  A wise man, cynical, contemptuous
  Of frocks so sure of ways to avoid the waste,
  So unforgiving of the tangled moods
  And baffled eyes of men; contemptuous
  Of frocks so avid for the downy beds,
  Place, honors, money, admiration, praise,
  Much wished to see the clergyman come down
  And lay his life beside the other sinners.
  But more he knew, admired this Alma Bell,
  Did not believe she burned with guilty love
  For Elenor Murray, thought the moral hunt
  Or Alma Bell had made a waste of life,
  As ignorance might pluck a flower for thinking
  It was a weed; on Elenor Murray too
  Had brought a waste, by scenting up her life
  With something faint but ineradicable.
  And Warren Henderson would have revenge,
  And waited till old Jacob Bangs should fix
  His name to paper once again of Ferguson's
  To tell old Jacob Bangs he should be wary,
  Since banks and agencies were tremulous
  With hints of failure at Victoria.

  So meeting Jacob Bangs the banker told him
  What things were bruited, and warned the man
  To fix his name no more to Ferguson's paper.
  It was the very day the clergyman
  Sought Jacob Bangs to get his signature
  Upon a note for money at the bank.
  And Jacob Bangs was silent and evasive,
  Demurred a little and refused at last.
  Which sent the anxious clergyman adrift
  To look for other help. He looked and looked,
  And found no other help. Associates
  Depending more on men than God, fell down,
  And in a day the bubble burst. The _Times_
  Had columns of the story.

                            In a week,
  At Sunday service Percy Ferguson
  Stood in the pulpit to confess his sin,
  The Murray jury sat and fed their joy
  For hearing Ferguson confess his sin.
  This is the way he did it:

                              "First, my friends,
  I do not say I have betrayed the trust
  My friends have given me. Some years ago
  I thought to make provision for my wife,
  I wished to start some certain young men right.
  I had another plan I can't disclose,
  Not selfish, you'll believe me. So I took
  My savings made as lecturer and writer
  And put them in this venture. I'm ashamed
  To say how great those savings were, in view
  Of what the poor earn, those who work with hands!
  Ashamed too, when I think these savings grew
  Because I spoke the things the rich desired.
  And squared my words with what the strong would have--
  Therein Christ was betrayed. The end has come.
  I too have been betrayed, my confidence
  Wronged by my fellows in the enterprise.
  I hope to pay my debts. Hard poverty
  Has come to me to bring me back to Christ."

  "But listen now: These years I lived perturbed,
  Lest this life which I grew into would mould
  Young men and ministers, lead them astray
  To public life, sensation, lecture platforms,
  Prosperity, away from Christ-like service,
  Obscure and gentle. To those souls I owe
  My heart's confession: I have loved my books
  More than the poor, position more than service,
  Office and honor over love of men;
  Lived thus when all my strength belonged to thought,
  To work for schools, the sick, the poor, the friendless,
  To boys and girls with hungry minds. My friends,
  Here I abase my soul before God's throne,
  And ask forgiveness for the pious zeal
  With which I smote the soul of Alma Bell,
  And smudged the robe of Elenor Murray. God,
  Thou, who has taken Elenor Murray home,
  After great service in the war, O grant
  Thy servant yet to kneel before the soul
  Of Elenor Murray. For who am I to judge?
  What was I then to judge? who coveted honors,
  When solitude, where I might dwell apart,
  And listen to the voice of God was mine,
  By calling and for seeking. I have broken
  The oath I took to take no purse or scrip.
  I have loved money, even while I knew
  No servant of Christ can work for Christ and strive
  For money. And if anywhere there be
  A noble boy who would become a minister,
  Who has heard me, or read my books, and grown
  Thereby to cherish secular ideas
  Of Christ's work in the world, to him I say:
  Repent the thought, reject me; there are men
  And women missionaries, here, abroad,
  And nameless workers in poor settlements
  Whose latchets to stoop down and to unloose
  I am unworthy."

                  "Gift of life too short!
  O, beautiful gift of God, too brief at best,
  For all a man can do, how have I wasted
  This precious gift! How wasted it in pride,
  In seeking out the powerful, the great,
  The hands with honors, gold to give--when nothing
  Is profitable to a servant of the Christ
  Except to shepherd Christ's poor. O, young men,
  Interpret not your ministry in terms
  Of intellect alone, forefront the heart,
  That at the end of life you may look up
  And say to God: Behind these are the sheep
  Thou gavest me, and not a one is lost."

  "As to my enemies, for enemies
  A clergyman must have whose fault is mine,
  Plato would have us harden hearts to sorrow.
  And Zeno roofs of slate for souls to slide
  The storm of evil--Christ in sorrow did
  For evil good. For me, my prayer is this,
  My faith as well, that I may be perfected
  Through suffering."

                      That ended the confession.
  Then "Love Divine, All Love Excelling" sounded.
  The congregation rose, and some went up
  To take the pastor's hand, but others left
  To think the matter over.

                            For some said:
  "He married fortunate." And others said:
  "We know through Jacob Bangs he has investments
  In wheat lands, what's the truth? In any case
  What avarice is this that made him anxious
  About the comfort of his wife and family?
  The thing won't work. He's only middle way
  In solving his soul's problem. This confession
  Is just a poor beginning." Others said:
  "He drove out Alma Bell, let's drive him out."
  And others said: "you note we never heard
  About this speculation till it failed,
  And he was brought to grief. If it had prospered
  The man had never told, what do you think?"
  But in a year as health failed, Ferguson
  Took leave of absence, and the silence of life
  Which closes over men, however noisy
  With sermons, lectures, covered him. His riffle
  Died out in distant waters.

  There was a Doctor Burke lived at LeRoy,
  Neurologist and student. On a night
  When Merival had the jury at his house,
  Llewellyn George was telling of his travels
  In China and Japan, had mutual friends
  With Franklin Hollister, the cousin of Elenor,
  And son of dead Corinne, who hid her letters
  Under the eaves. The talk went wide and far.
  For David Borrow, sunny pessimist,
  Thrust logic words at Maiworm, the juryman;
  And said our life was bad, and must be so,
  While Maiworm trusted God, said life was good.
  And Winthrop Marion let play his wit,
  The riches of his reading over all.
  Thus as they talked this Doctor Burke came in.
  "You'll pardon this intrusion, I'll go on
  If this is secret business. Let me say
  This inquest holds my interest and I've come
  To tell of Elenor's ancestry." Thus he spoke.
  "There'll be another time if I must go."
  And Merival spoke up and said: "why stay
  And tell us what you know, or think," and so
  The coroner and jury sat and heard:--



DR. BURKE


  You've heard of potters' wheels and potters' hands.
  I had a dream that told the human tale
  As well as potters' wheels or potters' hands.
  I saw a great hand slopping plasmic jelly
  Around the low sides of a giant bowl.
  A drop would fly upon the giant table,
  And quick the drop would twist up into form,
  Become homonculus and wave its hands,
  Brandish a little pistol, shoot a creature,
  Upspringing from another drop of plasm,
  Slopped on the giant table. Other drops,
  Flying as water from a grinding stone,
  Out of the giant bowl, took little crowns
  And put them on their heads and mounted thrones,
  And lorded little armies. Some became
  Half-drooped and sickly things, like poisoned flies.
  And others stood on lighted faggots, others
  Fed and commanded, others served and starved,
  But many joined the throng of animate drops,
  And hurried on the phantom quest.

                                    You see,
  Whether you call it potter's hand or hand
  That stirs, to no end, jelly in the bowl,
  You have the force outside and not inside.
  Invest it with a malice, wanton humor,
  Which likes to see the plasmic jelly slop,
  And rain in drops upon the giant table,
  And does not care what happens in the world,
  That giant table.

                    All such dreams are wrong,
  My dream is wrong, my waking thought is right.
  Man can subdue the giant hand that stirs,
  Or turns the wheel, and so these visions err.
  For as this farmer, lately come to town,
  Picks out the finest corn seeds, and so crops
  A finer corn, let's look to human seed,
  And raise a purer stock; let's learn of him,
  Who does not put defective grains aside
  For planting in the spring, but puts aside
  The best for planting. For I'd like to see
  As much care taken with the human stock
  As men now take of corn, race-horses, hogs.
  You, Coroner Merival are right, I think.
  If we conserve our forests, waterways,
  Why not the stream of human life, which wastes
  Because its source is wasted, fouled.

                                        Perhaps
  Our coroner has started something good,
  And brought to public mind what might result
  If every man kept record of the traits
  Known in his family for the future use
  Of those to come in choosing mates.

                                      Behold,
  Your moralists and churchmen with your rules
  Brought down from Palestine, which says that life
  Though tainted, maddened, must not be controlled,
  Diverted, headed off, while life in corn,
  And life in hogs, that feed the life of man
  Should be made better for the life of man--
  Behold, I say, some hundred millions spent
  On paupers, epileptics, deaf and blind;
  On feeble minded, invalids, the insane--
  Behold, I say, this cost in gold alone,
  Leave for the time the tragedy of souls,
  Who suffer or must see such suffering,
  And then turn back to what? The hand that stirs,
  The potter's hand? Why, no--the marriage counter
  Where this same state in Christian charity
  Spending its millions, lets the fault begin,
  And says to epileptics and what not:--
  "Go breed your kind, for Jesus came to earth,
  And we will house and feed your progeny,
  Or hang, incarcerate your murderous spawn,
  As it may happen."

                      And all the time we know
  As small grains fruit in small grains, even man
  In fifty matters of pathology
  Transmits what's in him, blindness, imbecility,
  Hysteria, susceptibilities
  To cancer and tuberculosis. Also
  The soil that sprouts the giant weed of madness--
  There's soil which will not sprout them, occupied
  Too full by blossoms, healthy trees.

                                        We know
  Such things as these--Well, I would sterilize,
  Or segregate these shriveled seeds and keep
  The soil of life for seeds select, and take
  The church and Jesus, if he's in the way,
  And say: "You stand aside, and let me raise
  A better and a better breed of men."
  Quit, shut your sniveling charities; have mercy
  Not on these paupers, imbeciles, diseased ones,
  But on the progeny you let them breed.
  And thereby sponge the greatest waste away,
  And source of life's immeasurable tragedies.
  Avaunt you potter hands and potter wheels!
  God is within us, not without us, we
  Are given souls to know and see and guide
  Ourselves and those to come, souls that compute
  The calculus of beauties, talents, traits,
  And show us that the good in seed strives on
  To master stocks; that even poisoned blood,
  And minds in chemic turmoils, mixed with blood
  And minds in harmony, work clean at last--
  Else how may normal man to-day be such
  With some eight billion ancestors behind,
  And something in him of the blood of all
  Who lived five hundred years ago or so,
  Who were diseased with alcohol and pork,
  And poverty? But oh these centuries
  Of agony and waste! Let's stop it now!
  And since this God within us gives us choice
  To let the dirty plasma flow or dam it,
  To give the channel to the silver stream
  Of starry power, which shall we do? Now choose
  Between your race of drunkards, imbeciles,
  Lunatics and neurotics, or the race
  Of those who sing and write, or measure space,
  Build temples, bridges, calculate the stars,
  Live long and sanely.

                        Well, I take my son,
  I could have prophesied his eyes, through knowing
  The color of my mother's, father's eyes,
  The color of his mother's parent's eyes.
  I could have told his hair.

                              There's subtler things.
  My father died before this son was born;
  Why does this son smack lips and turn his hand
  Just like my father did? Not imitation--
  He never saw him, and I do not do so.
  Refine the matter where you will, how far
  You choose to go, it is not eyes and hair,
  Chins, shape of head, of limbs, or shape of hands,
  Nor even features, look of eyes, nor sound
  Of voice that we inherit, but the traits
  Of inner senses, spiritual gifts, and secret
  Beauties and powers of spirit; which result
  Not solely by the compound of the souls
  Through conjugating cells, but in the fusion
  Something arises like an unknown X
  And starts another wonder in the soul,
  That comes from souls compounded.

                                    Coroner
  You have done well to study Elenor Murray.
  How do I view the matter? To begin
  Here is a man who looks upon a woman,
  Desires her, so they marry, up they step
  Before the marriage counter, buy a license
  To live together, propagate their kind.
  No questions asked. I'll later come to that.
  This couple has four children, Elenor
  Is second to be born. I knew this girl,
  I cared for her at times when she was young--
  Well, for the picture general, she matures
  Goes teaching school, leaves home, goes far away,
  Has restlessness and longings, ups and downs
  Of ecstasy and depression, has a will
  Which drives her onward, dreams that call to her.
  Goes to the war at last to sacrifice
  Her life in duty, and the root of this
  Is masochistic (though I love the flower),
  Comes back and dies. I call her not a drop
  Slopped from the giant bowl; she is a growth
  Proceeding on clear lines, if we could know,
  From cells that joined, and had within themselves
  The quality of the stream whose source I see
  As far as grandparents. And now to this:

  We all know what her father, mother are.
  No doubt the marriage counter could have seen--
  Or asked what was not visible. But who knows
  About the father's parents, or the mother's?
  I chance to know.

                    The father drinks, you say?
  Well, he drank little when this child was born,
  Had he drunk much, it is the nerves which crave
  The solace of the cup, and not the cup
  Which passes from the parent to the child.
  His father and his mother were good blood,
  Steady, industrious; and just because
  His father and his mother had the will
  To fight privation, and the lonely days
  Of pioneering, so this son had will
  To fight, aspire, but at the last to growl,
  And darken in that drug store prison, take
  To drink at times in anger for a will
  That was so balked.

                      Well, then your marriage counter
  Could scarcely ask: What is your aim in life?
  You clerk now in a drug store, you aspire
  To be a lawyer, if you find yourself
  Stopped on your way by poverty, the work
  Of clerking to earn bread, you will break down,
  And so affect your progeny. So, you see,
  For all of that the daughter Elenor
  Was born when this ambition had its hope,
  Not when it tangled up in hopelessness;
  And therefore is thrown out of the account.
  The father must be passed and given license
  To wed this woman. How about the mother?
  You never knew the mother of the mother.
  She had great power of life and power of soul,
  Lived to be eighty-seven, to the last
  Was tense, high voiced, excitable, ecstatic,
  Top full of visions, dreams, and plans for life.
  But worse than that at fifty lost her mind,
  Was two years kept at Kankakee, quite mad,
  Grieving for fancied wrongs against her husband
  Some five years dead, and praying to keep down
  Desire for men. Her malady was sensed
  When she began to wander here and there,
  In shops and public places, in the church,
  Wherever she could meet with men, one man
  Particularly to whom she made advances
  Unwomanly and strange. And so at last
  She turned her whole mind to the church, became
  Religion mad, grew mystical, believed
  That Jesus Christ had taken her to spouse.
  They kept her in confinement for two years.
  The rage died down at last, and she came home.
  But to the last was nervous, tense, high keyed.
  And then her mind failed totally, she died
  At eighty-seven here.

                        Now I could take
  Some certain symbols A and a, and show
  Out of the laws that Mendel found for us,
  What chances Elenor Murray had to live
  Free of the madness, clear or in dilute,
  Diminished or made over, which came down
  From this old woman to her. It's enough
  To see in Elenor Murray certain traits,
  Passions and powers, ecstasies and sorrows.
  And from them life's misfortunes, and to see
  They tally, take the color of the soul
  Of this old woman, back of her. Even to see
  In Elenor Murray's mother states of soul,
  And states of nerves, passed on to Elenor Murray
  Directly by her mother.

                          But you say,
  Since many say so, here's a woman's soul
  Most beautiful and serviceable in the world
  And she confutes you, in your logic chopping,
  Materialistic program, who would give
  The marriage counter power to pick the corn seed
  For future planting:

                        No, I say to this.
  What does it come to? She had will enough,
  And aspiration, struck out for herself,
  Learned for herself, did service in the war,
  As many did, and died--all very good.
  But not so good that we could quite afford
  To take the chances on some other things
  Which might have come from her. Well, to begin
  Putting aside an autopsy, she died
  Because this neural weakness, so derived,
  Caught in such stress of life proved far too much
  For one so organized; a stress of life
  Which others could live through, and have lived through.
  The world had Elenor Murray, and she died
  Before she was a cost.--But just suppose
  No war had been to aureole her life--
  And she had lived here and gone mad at last
  Become a charge upon the state? Or yet,
  As she was love-mad, by the common word,
  And as she had neurotic tendencies,
  Would seek neurotic types therefore, suppose
  She had with some neurotic made a marriage,
  And brought upon us types worse than themselves;
  Given us the symbol double A instead
  Of big and little a, where are you then?
  You have some suicides, or murders maybe,
  Some crimes in sex, some madness on your hands,
  For which to tax the strong to raise, and raise
  Some millions every year.

                            Are we so mad
  For beauty, sacrifice and heroism,
  So hungry for the stimulus of these
  That we cannot discern and fairly appraise
  What Elenor Murray was, what to the world
  She brought, for which we overlook the harm
  She might have done the world? Not if we think!
  And if we think, she will not seem God's flower
  Made spotted, pale or streaked by cross of breed,
  A wonder and a richness in the world;
  But she will seem a blossom which to these
  Added a novel poison with the power
  To spread her poison! And we may dispense
  With what she did and what she tried to do,
  No longer sentimentalists, to keep
  The chances growing in the world to bring
  A better race of men.

                        Then Doctor Burke
  Left off philosophy and asked: "How many
  Of you who hear me, know that Elenor Murray
  Was distant cousin to this necrophile,
  This Taylor boy, I call him boy, though twenty,
  Who got the rope for that detested murder
  Of a young girl--Oh yes, let's save the seed
  Of stock like this!"

                      But only David Borrow
  Knew Elenor was cousin to this boy.
  And Merival spoke up: "What is to-day?
  It's Thursday, it's to-morrow that he hangs.
  I'll go now to the jail to see this boy."
  "He hangs at nine o'clock," said Dr. Burke.
  And Merival got up to go. The party
  Broke up, departed. At the jail he saw
  The wretched creature doomed to die. And turned
  Half sick from seeing how he tossed and looked
  With glassy eyes. The sheriff had gone out.
  And Merival could see him, get the case.
  Next afternoon they met, the sheriff told
  This story to the coroner.



CHARLES WARREN, THE SHERIFF


  I have seen twenty men hanged, hung myself
  Two in this jail, with whom I talked the night
  Before they had the rope, knotted behind
  The ear to break the neck. These two I hanged,
  One guilty and defiant, taking chops,
  Four cups of coffee just an hour before
  We swung him off; the other trembling, pale,
  Protesting innocence, but guilty too--
  Both wore the same look in the middle watch.
  I tell you what it is: You take a steer,
  And windlass him to where the butcher stands
  With hammer ready for the blow and knife
  To slit the throat after the hammer falls,
  Well, there's a moment when the steer is standing
  Head, neck strained side-ways, eyes rolled side-ways too,
  Fixed, bright seen this way, but another way
  A film seems spreading on them. That's the look.
  They wear a corpse-like pallor, and their tongues
  Are loose, sprawl in their mouths, lie paralyzed
  Against their teeth, or fall back in their throats
  Which make them cough and stop for words and close
  Dry lips with little pops.

                              There's something else:
  Their minds are out of them, like a rubber band
  Stretched from the place it's pinned, about to break.
  And all the time they try to draw it back,
  And give it utterance with that sprawling tongue,
  And lips too dry for words. They hold it tight
  As a woman giving birth holds to the sheet
  Tied to the bed's head, pulls the sheet to end
  The agony and the reluctance of the child
  That pauses, dreads to enter in this world.

  So was it with Fred Taylor. But before
  The high Court shook his hope, he talked to me
  Freely and fully, saying many times
  What could the world expect of him beside
  Some violence or murder? He had borrowed
  The books his lawyers used to fight for him,
  And read for hours and days about heredity.
  And in our talks he said: mix red and violet,
  You have the color purple. Strike two notes,
  You have a certain chord, and nature made me
  By rules as mathematical as they use
  In mixing drugs or gases. Then he'd say:
  Look at this table, and he'd show to me
  A diagram of chickens, how blue fowls
  Come from a cross of black with one of white
  With black splashed feathers. Look at the blues, he'd say.
  They mate, and of four chickens, two are blue,
  And one is black and one is white. These blues
  Produce in that proportion. But the black
  And white have chickens white and black, you see
  In equal numbers. Don't you see that I
  Was caught in mathematics, jotted down
  Upon a slate before I came to earth?
  They could have picked my forbears; on a slate
  Forecast my soul, its tendencies, if they
  Had been that devilish. And so he talked.

  Well, then he heard that Elenor Murray died,
  And told me that her grandmother, that woman
  Known for her queerness and her lively soul
  To eighty years and more, was grandmother
  To his father, and this Elenor Murray cousin
  To his father. There you have it, he exclaimed,
  She killed herself, and I know why, he said
  She loved someone. This love is in our blood,
  And overflows, or spurts between the logs
  You dam it with, or fully stayed grows green
  With summer scum, breeds frogs and spotted snakes.

  He was a study and I studied him.
  I'd sit beside his cell and read some words
  From his confession, ask why did you this?
  His crime was monstrous, but he won me over.
  I wished to help the boy, for boy he was
  Just nineteen, and I pitied him. At last
  His story seemed as clear as when you see
  The truth behind poor words that say as much
  As words can say--you see, you get the truth
  And know it, even if you never pass
  The truth to others.

                        Lord! This girl he killed
  Knew not the power she played with. Why she sat
  Like a child upon the asp's nest picking flowers.
  Or as a child will pet a mad dog. Look
  You come into my life, what do you bring?
  Why, everything that made your life, all pains,
  All raptures, disappointments, wisdom learned
  You bring to me. But do you show them, no!
  You hide them maybe, some of them, and leave
  Myself to learn you by the hardest means,
  And bing! A something in you, or in me,
  Out of a past explodes, or better still
  Extends a claw from out the buttoned coat
  And rips a face.

                    So this poor girl was killed,
  And by an innocent coquetry evoked
  The claw that tore her breast away.

                                      One day
  As I passed by his cell I stopped and sat.
  What was the first thing entering in your mind
  From which you trace your act? And he said: "Well
  Almost from the beginning all my mind
  Was on her from the moment I awaked
  Until I slept, and often I awoke
  At two or three o'clock with thoughts of her.
  And through the day I thought of nothing else;
  Sometimes I could not eat. At school my thought
  Stretched out of me to her, could not be pulled
  Back to the lesson. I could read a page
  As it were Greek, not understand a word.
  But just the moment I was with her then
  My soul re-entered me, I was at peace,
  And happy, oh so happy! In the days
  When we were separated my unrest
  Took this form: that I must be with her, or
  If that could not be, then some other place
  Was better than the place I was--I strained,
  Lived in a constant strain, found no content
  With anything or place, could find no peace
  Except with her."

                    "Right from the first I had
  Two minds, two hearts concerning her, and one
  Was confidence, and one was doubt, one love,
  One hatred. And one purpose was to serve her,
  Guard her and care for her, one said destroy,
  Ruin or kill her. Sitting by her side,
  Except as I shall say I loved her, trusted her,
  Away from her, I doubted her and hated her.
  But at the dances when I saw her smile
  Up at another man, the storming blood
  Roared in my brain for wondering about
  The words they said. He might be holding her
  Too close to him; or as I watched I saw
  His knee indent her skirt between her knees,
  That might be when she smiled. Then going home
  I'd ask her what he said. She'd only smile
  And keep a silence that I could not open
  With any pry of questions."

                              "Well, we quarreled,
  About this boy she danced with. So I said:
  I'll leave her, never see her, I'll go find
  Another girl, forget her. Sunday next
  I saw her driving with this fellow. I
  Was walking in the road, they passed me laughing,
  She turned about and waved her hand at me.
  That night I lay awake and tossed and thought:
  Where are they now? What are they doing now?
  He's kissing her upon the lips I've kissed,
  Or worse, perhaps, I have been fooled, she lies
  Within his arms and gives him what for love
  I never asked her, never dared to ask."
  This brought Fred Taylor's story to the murder,
  In point of madness, anyway. Some business
  Broke in our visit here. Another time
  I sat with him and questioned him again
  About the night he killed her.

                                "Well," he said,
  "I told you that we quarreled. So I fought
  To free myself of thought of her--no use.
  I tried another girl, it wouldn't work.
  For at the dance I took this girl to, I
  Saw Gertrude with this fellow, and the madness
  Came over me in blackness, hurricanes,
  Until I found myself in front of her,
  Where she was seated, asking for a dance.
  She smiled and rose and danced with me. And then
  As the dance ended, May I come to see you,
  I'm sorry for my words, came from my tongue,
  In spite of will. She laughed and said to me:
  'If you'll behave yourself.'"

                                "I went to see her,
  But came away more wretched than I went.
  She seemed to have sweet secrets, in her silence
  And eyes too calm the secrets hid themselves.
  At first I could not summon up the strength
  To ask her questions, but at last I did.
  And then she only shook her head and laughed,
  And spoke of something else. She had a way
  Of mixing up the subjects, till my mind
  Forgot the very thing I wished to know,
  Or dulled its edges so, if I remembered
  I could not ask it so to bring the answer
  I wished from her. I came away so weak
  I scarce could walk, fell into sleep at once,
  But woke at three o'clock, and could not sleep."

  "Before this quarrel we had been engaged
  And at this evening's end I brought it up:
  'What shall we do? Are you engaged to me?
  Will you renew it?' And she said to me:
  'We still are young, it's better to be free.
  Let's play and dance. Be gay, for if you will
  I'll go with you, but when you're gloomy, dear,
  You are not company for a girl.'"

                                    "Dear me!
  Here was I five feet nine, and could have crushed
  Her little body with my giant arms.
  And yet in strength that counts, the mind that moves
  The body, but much more can move itself,
  And other minds, she was a spirit power,
  And I but just a derrick slowly swung
  By an engine smaller, noisy with its chug,
  And cloudy with its smoke bituminous.
  That night, however, she engaged to go
  To dance with me a week hence. But meanwhile
  The hellish thing comes, on the morning after.
  Thus chum of mine, who testified, John Luce
  Came to me with the story that this man
  That Gertrude danced with, told him--O my God--
  That Gertrude hinted she would come across,
  Give him the final bliss. That was the proof
  They brought out in the trial, as you know.
  The fellow said it, damn him--whether she
  Made such a promise, who knows? Would to God
  I knew before you hang me. There I stood
  And heard this story, felt my arteries
  Lock as you'd let canal gates down, my heart
  Beat for deliverance from the bolted streams.
  That night I could not sleep, but found a book,
  Just think of this for fate! Under my eyes
  There comes an ancient story out of Egypt:
  Thyamis fearing he would die and lose
  The lovely Chariclea, strikes her dead,
  Then kills himself, some thousands of years ago.
  It's all forgotten now, I say to self,
  Who cares, what matters it, the thing was done
  And served its end. The story stuck with me.
  But the next night and the next night I stole out
  To spy on Gertrude, by the path in the grass
  Lay for long hours. And on the third night saw
  At half-past eight or nine this fellow come
  And take her walking in the darkness--where?
  I could have touched them as they walked the path,
  But could not follow for the moon which rose.
  Besides I lost them."

                        "Well, the time approached
  Of the dance, and still I brooded, then resolved.
  My hatred now was level with the cauldron,
  With bubbles crackling. So the spade I took,
  Hidden beneath the seat may show forethought,
  They caught the jury with that argument,
  And forethought does it show, but who made me
  To have such forethought?"

                              "Then I called for her
  And took her to the dance. I was most gay,
  Because the load was lifted from my mind,
  And I had found relief. And so we danced.
  And she danced with this fellow. I was calm,
  Believed somehow he had not had her yet.
  And if his knee touched hers--why let it go.
  Nothing beyond shall happen, even this
  Shall not be any more."

                          "We started home.
  Before we reached that clump of woods I asked her
  If she would marry me. She laughed at me.
  I asked her if she loved that other man.
  She said you are a silly boy, and laughed.
  And then I asked her if she'd marry me,
  And if she would not, why she would not do it.
  We came up to the woods and she was silent,
  I could not make her speak. I stopped the horse.
  She sat all quiet, I could see her face
  Under the brilliance of the moon. I saw
  A thin smile on her face--and then I struck her,
  And from the floor grabbed up the iron wrench,
  And struck her, took her out and laid her down,
  And did what was too horrible, they say,
  To do and keep my life. To finish up
  I reached back for the iron wrench, first felt
  Her breast to find her heart, no use of wrench,
  She was already dead. I took the spade,
  Scraped off the leaves between two trees and dug,
  And buried her and said: 'My Chariclea
  No man shall have you.' Then I drove till morning,
  And after some days reached Missouri, where
  They caught me."

                    So Fred Taylor told me all,
  Filled in the full confession that he made,
  And which they used in court, with looks and words,
  Scarce to be reproduced; but to the last
  He said the mathematics of his birth
  Accounted for his deed.

                          Is it not true?
  If you resolved the question that the jury
  Resolved, did he know right from wrong, did he
  Know what he did, the jury answered truly
  To give the rope to him. Or if you say
  These mathematics may be true, and still
  A man like that is better out of way,
  And saying so become the very spirit,
  And reason which slew Gertrude, disregarding
  The devil of heredity which clutched him,
  As he put by the reason we obey,
  It may be well enough, I do not know.

  Now for last night before this morning fixed
  To swing him off. His lawyers went to see
  The governor to win reprieval, perhaps
  A commutation. I could see his eyes
  Had two lights in them; one was like a lantern
  With the globe greased, which showed he could not see
  Himself in death tomorrow--what is that
  In the soul that cannot see itself in death?
  No to-morrow, continuation, the wall, the end!
  And yet this very smear upon the globe
  Was death's half fleshless hand which rubbed across
  His senses and his hope. The other light
  Was weirdly bright for terror, expectation
  Of good news from the governor.

                                  For his lawyers
  Were in these hours petitioning. He would ask:
  "No news? No word? What is the time?" His tongue
  Would fall back in his throat, we saw the strain
  Of his stretched soul. He'd sit upon his couch
  Hands clasped, head down. Arise and hold the bars,
  Himself fling on the couch face down and shake.
  But when he heard the hammers ring that nail
  The scaffold into shape, he whirled around
  Like a rat in a cage. And when the sand bag fell,
  That tested out the rope, a muffled thug,
  And the rope creaked, he started up and moaned
  "You're getting ready," and his body shivered,
  His white hands could not hold the bars, he reeled
  And fell upon the couch again.

                                Suppose
  There was no whiskey and no morphia,
  Except for what the parsons think fit use,
  A poor weak fellow--not a Socrates--
  Must march the gallows, walk with every nerve
  Up-bristled like a hair in fright. This night
  Was much too horrible for me. At last
  I had the doctor dope him unaware,
  And for a time he slept.

                            But when the dawn
  Looked through the little windows near the ceiling
  Cob-webbed and grimed, with light like sanded water,
  And echoes started in the corridors
  Of feet and objects moved, then all at once
  He sprang up from his sleep, and gave a groan,
  Half yell, that shook us all.

                                A clergyman
  Came soon to pray with him, and he grew calmer,
  And said: "O pray for her, but pray for me
  That I may see her, when this riddle-world
  No longer stands between us, slipped from her
  And soon from me."

                      For breakfast he took coffee,
  A piece of toast, no more. The sickening hour
  Approaches--he is sitting on his couch,
  Bent over, head in hands, dazed, or in prayer.
  My deputy reads the warrant--while I stand
  At one side so to hear, but not to see.
  And then my clerk comes quickly through the door
  That opens from the office in the jail;
  Runs up the iron steps, all out of breath,
  And almost shouts: "The governor telephones
  To stop; the sentence is commuted." Then
  I grew as weak as the culprit--took the warrant,
  And stepped up to the cell's door, coughed, inhaled,
  And after getting breath I said: "Good news,
  The governor has saved you."

                                Then he laughed,
  Half fell against the bars, and like a rag
  Sank in a heap.

                  I don't know to this day
  What moved the governor. For crazy men
  Are hanged sometimes. To-day he leaves the jail.
  We take him where the criminal insane
  Are housed at our expense.

     *       *       *       *       *

  So Merival heard the sheriff. As he knew
  The governor's mind, and how the governor
  Gave heed to public thought, or what is deemed
  The public thought, what's printed in the press,
  He wondered at the governor. For no crime
  Had stirred the county like this crime. And if
  A jury and the courts adjudged this boy
  Of nineteen in his mind, what was the right
  Of interference by the governor?
  So Merival was puzzled. They were chums,
  The governor and Merival in old days.
  Had known club-life together, ate and drank
  Together in the days when Merival
  Came to Chicago living down the hurt
  He took from her who left him. In those days
  The governor was struggling, Merival
  Had helped with friends and purse--and later helped
  The governor's ambition from the time
  He went to congress. So the two were friends
  With memories and secrets for the stuff
  Of friendship, glad renewal of the surge
  Of lasting friendship when they met.

                                        And now
  He sensed a secret, meant to bring it forth.
  And telegraphed the governor, who said:
  "I'll see you in Chicago." Merival
  Went up to see the governor and talk.
  They had not met for months for leisured talk.
  And now the governor said: "I'll tell you all,
  And make it like a drama. I'll bring in
  My wife who figured in this murder case.
  It was this way: It's nearly one o'clock,
  I'm back from hearing lawyers plead. I wish
  To make this vivid so you'll get my mind.
  I tell you what I said to her. It's this:"



THE GOVERNOR


  I'm home at last. How long were you asleep?
  I startled you. The time? It's midnight past.
  Put on your slippers and your robe, my dear,
  And make some coffee for me--what a night!
  Yes, tell you? I shall tell you everything.
  I must tell someone, and a wife should know
  The workings of a governor's mind--no one
  Could guess what turned the scale to save this man
  Who would have died to-morrow, but for me.
  That's fine. This coffee helps me. As I said
  This night has been a trial. Well, you know
  I told these lawyers they could come at eight,
  And so they came. A seasoned lawyer one,
  The other young and radical, both full
  Of sentiment of some sort. And there you sit,
  And do not say a word of disapproval.
  You smile, which means you sun yourself within
  The power I have, and yet do you approve?
  This man committed brutal murder, did
  A nameless horror; now he's saved from death.
  The father and the mother of the girl,
  The neighborhood, perhaps, in which she lived
  Will roar against me, think that I was bought,
  Or used by someone I'm indebted to
  In politics. Oh no! It's really funny,
  Since it is simpler than such things as these.
  And no one, saving you, shall know the secret.
  For there I sat and didn't say a word
  To indicate, betray my thought; not when
  The thing came out that moved me. Let them read
  The doctor's affidavits, that this man
  Was crazy when he killed the girl, and read
  The transcript of the evidence on the trial.
  They read and talked. At last the younger lawyer,
  For sometime still, kept silent by the other,
  Pops out with something, reads an affidavit,
  As foreign to the matter as a story
  Of melodrama color on the screen,
  Which still contained a sentence that went home;
  I felt my mind turn like a turn-table,
  And click as when the switchman kicks the tongue
  Of steel into the slot that holds the table.
  And from my mind the engine, that's the problem,
  Puffed, puffed and moved away, out on the track,
  And disappeared upon its business. How
  Is that for metaphor? Your coffee, dear,
  Stirs up my fancy. But to tell the rest,
  If my face changed expression, or my eye
  Betrayed my thought, then I have no control
  Of outward seeming. For they argued on
  An hour or so thereafter. And I asked
  Re-reading of the transcript where this man
  Told of his maniac passion, of the night
  He killed the girl, the doctors' testimony
  I had re-read, and let these lawyers think
  My interest centered there, and my decision
  Was based upon such matters, and at last
  The penalty commuted. When in truth
  I tell you I had let the fellow hang
  For all of this, except that I took fire
  Because of something in this affidavit
  Irrelevant to the issue, reaching me
  In something only relevant to me.
  O, well, all life is such. Our great decisions
  Flame out of sparks, where roaring fires before,
  Not touching our combustibles wholly failed
  To flame or light us.

                          Now the secret hear.
  Do you remember all the books I read
  Two years ago upon heredity,
  Foot-notes to evolution, the dynamics
  Of living matter? Well, it wasn't that
  That made me save this fellow. There you smile
  For knowing how and when I got these books,
  Who woke my interest in them. Never mind,
  You don't know yet my reasons.

                                    But I'll tell you:
  And let you see a governor's mind at work.
  When this young lawyer in this affidavit
  Read to a certain place my mind strayed off
  And lived a time past, you were present too.
  It was that morning when I passed my crisis,
  Had just dodged death, could scarcely speak, too weak
  To lift a hand to feed myself, but needed
  Vital replenishment of strength, and then
  I got it in a bowl of oyster soup,
  Rich cream at that. And as I live, my dear,
  As this young lawyer read, I felt myself
  In bed as I lay then, re-lived the weakness,
  Could see the spoon that carried to my mouth
  The appetizing soup, imagined there
  The feelings I had then of getting fingers
  Upon the rail of life again, how faint,
  But with such clear degrees. Could see the hand
  That held the spoon, the eyes that looked at me
  In triumph for the victory of my strength,
  Which battled, almost lost the prize of life.
  It all came over me when this lawyer read:
  Elenor Murray lately come from France
  Found dead beside the river, was the cousin
  Of this Fred Taylor, and had planned to come
  To see the governor, death prevented her--
  Suppose it had?

                    That affidavit, doubtless
  Was read to me to move me for the fact
  This man was kindred to a woman who
  Served in the war, this lawyer was that cheap!
  And isn't it as cheap to think that I
  Could be persuaded by the circumstance
  That Elenor Murray, she who nursed me once,
  Was cousin to this fellow, if this lawyer
  Knew this, and did he know it? I don't know.
  Had Elenor Murray lived she would have come
  To ask her cousin's life--I know her heart.
  And at the last, I think this was the thing:
  I thought I'd do exactly what I'd do
  If she had lived and asked me, disregard
  Her death, and act as if she lived, repay
  Her dead hands, which in life had saved my life.

  Now, dear, your eyes have tears--I know--believe me,
  I had no romance with this Elenor Murray.
  Good Lord, it's one o'clock, I must to bed....

  You get my story Merival? Do you think,
  A softness in the heart went to the brain
  And softened that? Well now I stress two things:
  I can't endure defeat, nor bear to see
  An ardent spirit thwarted. What I've achieved
  Has been through will that would not bend, and so
  To see that in another wins my love,
  And my support. Now take this Elenor Murray
  She had a will like mine, she worked her way
  As I have done. And just to hear that she
  Had planned to see me, ask for clemency
  For this condemned degenerate, made me say
  Shall I let death defeat her? Take the breach
  And make her death no matter in my course?
  For as I live if she had come to me
  I had done that I did. And why was that?
  No romance! Never that! Yet human love
  As friend can keep for friend in this our life
  I felt for Elenor Murray--and for this:
  It was her will that would not take defeat,
  Devotion to her work, and in my case
  This depth of friendship welling in her heart
  For human beings, that I shared in--there
  Gave tireless healing to her nursing hands
  And saved my life. And for a life a life.
  This criminal will live some years, we'll say,
  Were better dead. All right. He'll cost the state
  Say twenty thousand dollars. What is that
  Contrasted with the cost to me, if I
  Had let him hang? There is a bank account,
  Economies in the realm of thought to watch.
  And don't you think the souls--let's call them souls--
  Of these avenging, law abiding folk,
  These souls of the community all in all
  Will be improved for hearing that I did
  A human thing, and profit more therefrom
  Than though that sense of balance in their souls
  Struck for the thought of crime avenged, the law
  Fulfilled and vindicated? Yes, it's true.
  And Merival spoke up and said: "It's true,
  I understand your story, and I'm glad.
  It's like you and I'll tell my jury first,
  And they will scatter it, what moved in you
  And how this Elenor Murray saved a life."

     *       *       *       *       *

  The talk of waste in human life was constant
  As Coroner Merival took evidence
  At Elenor Murray's inquest. Everyone
  Could think of waste in some one's life as well
  As in his own.
                  John Scofield knew the girl,
  Had worked for Arthur Fouche, her grandfather,
  And knew what course his life took, how his fortune
  Was wasted, dwindled down.

                                Remembering
  A talk he heard between this Elenor Murray
  And Arthur Fouche, her grandfather, he spoke
  To Coroner Merival on the street one day:



JOHN SCOFIELD


  You see I worked for Arthur Fouche, he said,
  Until the year before he died; I knew
  That worthless son of his who lived with him,
  Born when his mother was past bearing time,
  So born a weakling. When he came from college
  He married soon and came to mother's hearth,
  And brought his bride. I heard the old man say:
  "A man should have his own place when he marries,
  Not settle in the family nest"; I heard
  The old man offer him a place, or offer
  To buy a place for him. This baby boy
  Ran quick to mother, cried and asked to stay.
  What happened then? What always happens. Soon
  This son began to edge upon the father,
  And take the reins a little, Arthur Fouche
  Was growing old. And at the last the son
  Controlled the bank account and ran the farms;
  And Mrs. Fouche gave up her place at table
  To daughter-in-law, no longer served or poured
  The coffee--so you see how humble beggars
  Become the masters, it is always so.
  Now this I know: When this boy came from school
  And brought his wife back to the family place,
  Old Arthur Fouche had twenty thousand dollars
  On saving in the bank, and lots of money
  Loaned out on mortgages. But when he died
  He owed two thousand dollars at the bank.
  Where did the money go? Why, for ten years
  When Arthur Fouche and son were partners, I
  Saw what went on, and saw this boy buy cattle
  When beef was high, sell cattle when it was low,
  And lose each year a little. And I saw
  This boy buy buggies, autos and machinery,
  And lose the money trading. So it was,
  This worthless boy had nothing in his head
  To run a business, which used up the fortune
  Of Arthur Fouche, and strangled Arthur Fouche,
  As vines destroy an oak tree. Well, you know
  When Arthur Fouche's will was opened up
  They found this son was willed most everything--
  It's always so. The children who go out,
  And make their way get nothing, and the son
  Who stays at home by mother gets the swag.
  And so this son was willed the family place
  And sold it to that chiropractor--left
  For California to remake his life,
  And died there, after wasting all his life,
  His father's fortune, too.

                          So, now to show you
  How age breaks down a mind and dulls a heart,
  I'll tell you what I heard:

                              This Elenor Murray
  Was eighteen, just from High School, and one day
  She came to see her grandfather and talked.
  The old man always said he loved her most
  Of all the grandchildren, and Mrs. Fouche
  Told me a dozen times she thought as much
  Of Elenor Murray as she did of any
  Child of her own. Too bad they didn't show
  Their love for her.

                    I was in and out the room
  Where Elenor Murray and her grandfather
  Were talking on that day, was planing doors
  That swelled and wouldn't close. There was no secret
  About this talk of theirs that I could see,
  And so I listened.

                      Elenor began:
  "If you can help me, grandpa, just a little
  I can go through the university.
  I can teach school in summer and can save
  A little money by denying self.
  If you can let me have two hundred dollars,
  When school begins each year, divide it up,
  If you prefer, and give me half in the fall,
  And half in March, perhaps, I can get through.
  And when I finish I shall go to work
  And pay you back, I want it as a loan,
  And do not ask it for a gift." She sat,
  And fingered at her dress while asking him,
  And Arthur Fouche looked at her. Come to think
  He was toward eighty then. At last he said:
  "I wish I could do what you ask me, Elenor,
  But there are several things. You see, my child,
  I have been through this thing of educating
  A family of children, lived my life
  In that regard, and so have done my part.
  I sent your mother to St. Mary's, sent
  The rest of them wherever they desired.
  And that's what every father owes his children.
  And when he does it, he has done his duty.
  I'm sorry that your father cannot help you,
  And I would help you, though I've done my duty
  By those to whom I owed it; but you see
  Your uncle and myself are partners buying
  And selling cattle, and the business lags.
  We do not profit much, and all the money
  I have in bank is needed for this business.
  We buy the cattle, and we buy the corn,
  Then we run short of corn; and now and then
  I have to ask the bank to lend us money,
  And give my note. Last month I borrowed money!"
  And so the old man talked. And as I looked
  I saw the tears run down her cheeks. She sat
  And looked as if she didn't believe him.

                                        No,
  Why should she? For I do not understand
  Why in a case like this, a man who's worth,
  Say fifty thousand dollars couldn't spare
  Two hundred dollars by the year. Let's see:
  He might have bought less corn or cattle, gambled
  On lucky sales of cattle--there's a way
  To do a big thing when you have the eyes
  To see how big it is; and as for me,
  If money must be lost, I'd rather lose it
  On Elenor Murray than on cattle. In fact,
  That's where the money went, as I have said.
  And Elenor Murray went away and earned
  Two terms at college, and this worthless son
  Ate up and spent the money. All of them,
  The son and Arthur Fouche and Elenor Murray
  Are gone to dust, now, like the garden things
  That sprout up, fall and rot.

                                At times it seems
  All waste to me, no matter what you do
  For self or others, unless you think of turnips
  Which can't be much to turnips, but are good
  For us who raise them. Here's my story then,
  Good wishes to you, Coroner Merival.

     *       *       *       *       *

  Coroner Merival heard that Gottlieb Gerald
  Knew Elenor Murray and her family life;
  And knew her love for music, how she tried
  To play on the piano. On an evening
  He went with Winthrop Marion to the place,--
  Llewellyn George dropped in to hear, as well--
  Where Gottlieb Gerald sold pianos--dreamed,
  Read Kant at times, a scholar, but a failure,
  His life a waste in business. Gottlieb Gerald
  Spoke to them in these words:--



GOTTLIEB GERALD


  I knew her, why of course. And you want me?
  What can I say? I don't know how she died.
  I know what people say. But if you want
  To hear about her, as I knew the girl,
  Sit down a minute. Wait, a customer!...
  It was a fellow with a bill, these fellows
  Who come for money make me smile. Good God!
  Where shall I get the money, when pianos,
  Such as I make, are devilish hard to sell?
  Now listen to this tune! Dumm, dumm, dumm, dumm,
  How's that for quality, sweet clear and pure?
  Now listen to these chords I take from Bach!
  Oh no, I never played much, just for self.
  Well, you might say my passion for this work
  Is due to this: I pick the wire strings,
  The spruce boards and all that for instruments
  That suit my ear at last. When I have built
  A piano, then I sit and play upon it,
  And find forgetfulness and rapture through it.
  And well I need forgetfulness, for the bills
  Are never paid, collectors always come.
  I keep a little lawyer almost busy,
  Lest some one get a judgment, levy a writ
  Upon my prizes here, this one in chief.
  Oh, well, I pay at last, I always pay,
  But I must have my time. And in the days
  When these collectors swarm too much I find
  Oblivion in music, run my hands
  Over the keys I've tuned. I wish I had
  Some life of Cristofori, just to see
  If he was dodging bills when tuning strings.
  Perhaps that Silberman who made pianos
  For Frederick the Great had money enough,
  And needed no oblivion from bills.
  You see I'm getting old now, sixty-eight;
  And this I say, that life is far too short
  For man to use his conquests and his wisdoms.
  This spirit, mind, is a machine, piano,
  And has its laws of harmony and use.
  Well, it seems funny that a man just learns
  The secrets of his being, how to love,
  How to forget, what to select, what life
  Is natural to him, and only living
  According to one's nature is increase--
  All else is waste--when wind blows on your back,
  Just as I sit sometimes when these collectors
  Come in on me--and so you find it's Death,
  Who levies on your life; no little lawyer
  Can keep him off with stays of execution,
  Or supersedeas, I think it is.
  Well, as I said, a man must live his nature,
  And dump the rules; this Christianity
  Makes people wear steel corsets to grow straight,
  And they don't grow so, for they scarcely breathe,
  They're laced so tight; and all their vital organs
  Are piled up and repressed until they groan.
  Then what? They lace up tighter, till the blood
  Stops in the veins and numbness comes upon them.
  Oblivion it may be--but give me music!

  Oh yes, this girl, Elenor Murray, well
  This talk about her home is half and half,
  Part true, part false. Her daddy nips a little,
  Has always done so. Like myself, the bills
  Have always deviled him. But just the same
  That home was not so bad. Some years ago,
  She was a little girl of thirteen maybe,
  Her father rented one of my pianos
  For Elenor to learn on, and of course
  The rent was always back, I didn't care,
  Except for my collectors, and besides
  She was so nice. So music hungry, practiced
  So hard to learn, I used to let the rent
  Run just as long as I could let it run.
  And even then I used to feel ashamed
  To ask her father for it.

                            As I said
  She was thirteen, and one Thanksgiving day
  They asked me there to dinner, and I went,
  Brushed off my other coat and shaved myself,
  I looked all right, my shoes were polished too.
  You'd never think I polished them to look
  At these to-day. And now I tell you what
  I saw myself: nice linen on the table,
  And pretty silver, plated, I suppose;
  Good glass-ware, and a dinner that was splendid,
  Wine made from wild grapes spiced with cinnamon,
  It had a kick, too. And the home was furnished
  Like what you'd think: good carpets, chairs, a lounge,
  Some pictures on the wall--all good enough.
  And this girl was as lively as a cricket,
  She was the liveliest thing I ever saw;
  And that's what ailed her, if you want my word.
  She had more life than she knew how to use,
  And had not learned her own machine.

                                        And after
  We had the dinner we came in the parlor.
  And then her mother asked her to play something,
  And she sat down and played tra-la; tra-la,
  One of these waltzes, I remember now
  As pretty as these verses in the paper
  On love, or something sentimental. Yes,
  She played it well. For I had rented them
  One of my pets. They asked me then to play
  And I tried out some Bach and other things,
  And improvised. And Elenor stood by,
  And asked what's that when I was improvising.
  I laughed and said, Sonata of Starved Rock,
  Or Deer Park Glen in Winter, anything--
  She looked at me with eyes as big as that.

  Well, as I said, the home was good enough.
  Still like myself with these collectors, Elenor
  Was bothered, drawn aside, and scratched no doubt
  From walking through the briars. Just the same
  The trouble with her life, if it was trouble,
  And no musician would regard it trouble,
  The trouble was her nature strove to be
  All fire, and subtilize to the essence of fire,
  Which was her nature's law, and Nature's law,
  The only normal law, as I have found;
  For so Canudo says, as I read lately,
  Who gave me words for what I knew from life.

  Now if you want my theories I go on.
  You do? All right. What was this Elenor Murray?
  She was the lover, do you understand?
  She had her lovers maybe, I don't know,
  That's not the point with lovers, any more,
  Than it's the point to have pianos--no!
  Lovers, pianos are the self-same thing;
  Instruments for the soul, the source of fire,
  The crucible for flames that turn from red
  To blue, then white, then fierce transparencies.
  Then if the lover be not known by lovers
  How is she known? Why think of Elenor Murray,
  Who tries all things and educates herself,
  Goes traveling, would sing and play, becomes
  A member of a church with ritual, music,
  Incense and color, things that steal the senses,
  And bring oblivion. Don't you see the girl
  Moving her soul to find her soul, and passing
  Through loves and hatreds, seeking everywhere
  Herself she loved, in others, agonizing
  For hate of father, so they tell me now?
  But first because she hated in herself
  What lineaments of her father she saw in self.
  And all the while, I think, she strove to conquer
  This hatred, every hatred, sensing freedom
  For her own soul through liberating self
  From hatreds. So, you see how someone near,
  Repugnant, disesteemed, may furnish strength
  And vision, too, by gazing on that one
  From day to day, not to be like that one:
  And so our hatreds help us, those we hate
  Become our saviors.

                            Here's the problem now
  In finding self, the soul--it's with ourselves,
  Within ourselves throughout the ticklish quest
  From first to last, and lovers and pianos
  Are instruments of salvation, yet they take
  The self but to the self, and say now find,
  Explore and know. And then, as all before,
  The problem is how much of mind to use,
  How much of instinct, phototropic sense,
  That turns instinctively to light--green worms
  More plant than animal are eyes all over
  Because their bodies know the light, no eyes
  Where sight is centralized. I've found it now:
  What is the intellect but eyes, where sight
  Is gathered in two spheres? The more they're used
  The darker is the body of the soul.
  Now to digress, that's why the Germans lost,
  They used the intellect too much; they took
  The sea of life and tried to dam it in,
  Or use it for canals or water power,
  Or make a card-case system of it, maybe,
  To keep collectors off, have all run smoothly,
  And make a sure thing of it.

                            To return
  How much did Elenor Murray use her mind,
  How much her instincts, leave herself alone
  Let nature have its way? I think I know:
  But first you have the artist soul; and next
  The soul half artist, prisoned usually
  In limitations where the soul, half artist
  Between depressions and discouragements
  Rises in hope and knocks. Why, I can tell them
  The moment they touch keys or talk to me.
  I hear their knuckles knocking on the walls,
  Insuperable partitions made of wood,
  When seeking tones or words; they have the hint,
  But cannot open, manifest themselves.
  So was it with this girl, she was all lover,
  Half artist, what a torture for a soul,
  And what escape for her! She could not play,
  Had never played, no matter what the chance.
  I think there is no curse like being dumb
  When every waking moment, every dream
  Keeps crying to speak out. This is her case:
  The girl was dumb, like that dumb woman here
  Whose dress caught fire, and in the dining room
  Was burned to death while all her family
  Were in the house, to whom she could not cry!

  You asked about her going to the war,
  Her sacrifice in that, and if I think
  She found expression there--yes, of a kind,
  But not the kind she hungered for, not music.
  She found adventure there, excitement too.
  That uses up the soul's power, takes the place
  Of better self-expression. But you see
  I do not think self-immolation life,
  I know it to be death. Now, look a minute:
  Why did she join the church? why to forget!
  Why did she go to war? why to forget.
  And at the last, this thing called sacrifice
  Rose up with meaning in her eyes. You see
  They tell around here now she often said:
  "I'm going to the war to be swept under."
  Now comes your Christian idea: Let me die,
  But die in service of the race, in giving
  I waste myself for others, give myself!
  Let God take notice, and reward the gift!
  This is the failure's recourse often-times,
  A prodigal flinging of the self--let God
  Find what He can of good, or find all good.
  I have abandoned all control, all thought
  Of finding my soul otherwise, if here
  I find my soul, a doubt that makes the gift
  Not less abandoned.

                        This is foolish talk
  I know you think, I think it is myself,
  At least in part. I know I'm right, however,
  In guessing off the reason of her failure,
  If failure it is. But pshaw, why talk of failure
  About a woman born to live the life
  She lived, which could not have been different,
  Much different under any circumstance?
  She might have married, had a home and children,
  What of it? As it is she makes a story,
  A flute sound in our symphony--all right!
  And I confess, in spite of all I've said,
  The profit, the success, may not be known
  To any but one's self. Now look at me,
  By all accounts I am a failure--look!
  For forty years just making poor ends meet,
  My love all spent in making good pianos.
  I thrill all over picking spruce and wires,
  And putting them together--all my love
  Gone into this, no head at all for business.
  I keep no books, they cheat me out of rent.
  I don't know how to sell pianos, when
  I sell one I have trouble oftentimes
  In getting pay for it. But just the same
  I sit here with myself, I know myself,
  I've found myself, and when collectors come
  I can say come to-morrow, turn about,
  And run the scale, or improvise, and smile,
  Forget the world!

     *       *       *       *       *

                    The three arose and left.
  Llewellyn George said: "That's a rarity,
  That man is like a precious flower you find
  Way off among the weeds and rocky soil,
  Grown from a seed blown out of paradise;
  I want to call again."

                          So thus they knew
  This much of Elenor Murray's music life.
  But on a day a party talk at tea,
  Of Elenor Murray and her singing voice
  And how she tried to train it--just a riffle
  Which passed unknown of Merival. For you know
  Your name may come up in a thousand places
  At earth's ends, though you live, and do not die
  And make a great sensation for a day.
  And all unknown to Merival for good
  This talk of Lilli Alm and Ludwig Haibt:



LILLI ALM


  In Lola Schaefer's studio in the Tower,
  Tea being served to painters, poets, singers,
  Herr Ludwig Haibt, a none too welcome guest,
  Of vital body, brisk, too loud of voice,
  And Lilli Alm crossed swords.

                                It came about
  When Ludwig Haibt said: "Have you read the papers
  About this Elenor Murray?" And then said:
  "I tried to train her voice--she was a failure."
  And Lilli Alm who taught the art of song
  Looked at him half contemptuous and said:
  "Why did she fail?" To which Herr Ludwig answered
  "She tried too hard. She made her throat too tense,
  And made its muscles stiff by too much thought,
  Anxiety for song, the vocal triumph."

  "O, yes, I understand," said Lilli Aim.
  Then stabbing him she added, "since you dropped
  The Perfect Institute, and dropped the idea
  Which stresses training muscles of the tongue,
  And all that thing, be fair and shoulder half
  The failure of poor Elenor Murray on
  Your system's failure. For I chanced to know
  The girl myself. She started work with me,
  And I am sure that if I had been able--
  With time enough I could have done it too--
  To rid her mind of muscles and to fix
  The thought alone of music in her mind,
  She would have sung. Now listen, Ludwig Haibt,
  You've come around to see that song's the thing.
  I take a pupil and I say to her:
  The mind must fix itself on music, say
  I would make song, pure tones and beautiful;
  That comes from spirit, from the Plato rapture,
  Which gets the idea. It is well to know
  Some physiology, I grant, to know
  When, how to move the vocal organs, feel
  How they are moving, through the ear to place
  These organs in relation, and to know
  The soft palate is drawn against the hard;
  The tongue can take positions numerous,
  Can be used at the root, a throaty voice;
  Or with the tip, produce expressiveness.
  But what must we avoid?--rigidity.
  And if that girl was over-zealous, then
  So much the more her teaching should have kept
  Mind off the larynx and the tongue, and fixed
  Upon the spiritual matters, so to give
  The snake-like power of loosening, contracting
  The muscles used for singing. Ludwig Haibt,
  I can forgive your system, since abandoned,
  I can't forgive your words to-day who say
  This woman failed for trying over much,
  When I know that your system made her throw
  An energy truly wonderful on muscles;
  And when I think of your book where you said:
  The singing voice is the result, observe
  Of physical conditions, like the strings
  Or tubes of brass. While granting that it's well
  To know the art of tuning up the strings,
  And how to place them; after all the art
  Of tuning and of placing comes from mind,
  The idea, and the art of making song
  Is just the breathing of the perfect spirit
  Upon the strings. The throat is but the leaves,
  Let them be flexible, the mouth's the flower,
  The tone the perfume. And your olden way
  Of harping on the larynx--well, since you
  Turned from it, I'm ungenerous perhaps
  To scold you thus to-day.

                            But this I say,
  Let us be frank as teachers: Take the fetich
  Of breathing and see how you cripple talent,
  Or take that matter of the laryngyscope,
  Whereby you photograph a singer's throat,
  Caruso's, Galli Curci's at the moment
  Of greatest beauty in song, and thus preserve
  In photographs before you how the muscles
  Looked and were placed that moment. Then attempt
  To get the like effect by placing them
  In similar fashion. Oh, you know, Herr Ludwig,
  These fetiches go by. One thing remains:
  The idea in the soul of beauty, music,
  The hope to give it forth.

                              Alas! to think
  So many souls are wasted while we teach
  This thing or that. The strong survive, of course.
  But take this Elenor Murray--why, that girl
  Was just a flame, I never saw such hunger
  For self-development, and beauty, richness,
  In all experience in life--I knew her,
  That's why I say so--take her as I say,
  And put her to a practice--yours we'll say--
  Where this great zeal she had is turned and pressed
  Upon the physical, just the very thing
  To make her throat constrict, and fill her up
  With over anxiety and make her fail.
  When had she come to me at first this passion
  Directed to the beauty, the idea
  Had put her soul at ease to ease her body,
  Which gradually and beautifully had answered
  That flame of hers.

                      Well, Ludwig Haibt, you're punished
  For wasting several years upon a system
  Since put away as half erroneous,
  If not quite worthless. But I must confess,
  Since I have censured you, to my own sin.
  This girl ran out of money, came to me
  And told me so. To which I said: "Too bad,
  You will have money later, when you do,
  Come back to me." She stood a silent moment,
  Her hand upon the knob, I saw her tears,
  Just little dim tears, then she said good-bye
  And vanished from me.

                        Well, I now repent.
  I who have thought of beauty all my life,
  And taught the art of sound made beautiful,
  Let slip a chance for beauty--why, I think,
  A beauty just as great as song! You see
  I had a chance to serve a hungering soul--
  I could have said just let the money go,
  Or let it go until you get the money.
  I let that chance for beauty slip. Even now
  I see poor Elenor Murray at the door,
  Who paused, no doubt, in hope that I would say
  What I thought not to say.

                              So, Ludwig Haibt,
  We are a poor lot--let us have some tea!
  "We are a poor lot," Ludwig Haibt replied.
  "But since this is confessional, I absolve you,
  If you'll permit me, from your sin. Will you
  Absolve me, if I say I'm sorry too?
  I'll tell you something, it is really true:--
  I changed my system more I think because
  Of what I learned from teaching Elenor Murray
  Than on account of any other person.
  She demonstrated better where my system
  Was lacking than all pupils that I had.
  And so I changed it; and of course I say
  The thing is music, just as poets say
  The thing is beauty, not the rhyme and words,
  With which they bring it, instruments that's all,
  And not the thing--but beauty."

                                  So they talked,
  Forgave each other. And that very day
  Two priests were talking of confessionals
  A mile or so from the Tower, where Lilli Alm
  And Ludwig Haibt were having tea. You say
  The coroner was ignorant of this!
  What is the part it plays with Elenor Murray?
  Or with the inquest? Wait a little yet
  And see if Merival has told to him
  What thing of value touching Elenor Murray
  Is lodged in Father Whimsett's heart or words.



FATHER WHIMSETT


  Looking like Raphael's Perugino, eyes
  So slightly, subtly aquiline, as brown
  As a buck-eye, amorous, flamed, but lightly dimmed
  Through thought of self while sitting for the artist;
  A nose well bridged with bone for will, the nostrils
  Distended as if sniffing diaphanous fire;
  A very bow for lips, the under lip
  Rich, kissable like a woman's; heavy cheeks
  Propped with a rounded tower of flesh for neck:
  Thus Perugino looked, says Raphael,
  And thus looked Father Whimsett at his desk,
  With vertical creases, where the nose and brow
  Together come, between the eye-brows slanting
  Unequally, half clown-wise, half Mephisto,
  With just a touch of that abandoned humor,
  And laughter at the world, the race of men,
  Mephisto had for mischief, which the priest
  Has for a sense which looks upon the dream
  And smiles, yet pities those who move in it.
  And Father Whimsett smokes and reads and smiles.
  He soon will hold confessional. For days
  he has heard nothing but complaints of lovers,
  And searched for nullities, impediments,
  Through which to give sore stricken hearts relief:
  There was the youth too drunk to know he married
  A woman never baptized. Now the youth
  Has found another--oh this is the one!
  And comes and says: Oh, holy father, help me,
  May I be free to marry her I love,
  And get the church's blessing when a court
  Dissolves the civil contract? Holy Father,
  I knew not what I did, cannot remember
  Where I was married, when, my mind's a blank--
  It was the drink, you know.

                              And so it goes,
  The will is eyeless through concupiscence,
  And that absolves the soul that's penitent.
  And Father Whimsett reads his Latin books,
  Searches for subtleties for faithful souls,
  Whereby the faithful souls may have their wish,
  Yet keep the gospel, too.

                            These Latin books
  Leave him fatigued, but not fatigued to turn
  Plotinus, Xenophon, Boccacio,
  Ars Amatoria and Remedia Amoris.
  And just this moment Father Whimsett reads
  Catullus, killing time, before he hears
  Confession, gets the music of Catullus
  Along the light that enters at the eye:
  Etherial strings plucked by the intellect
  To vibrate to the inner ear. At times
  He must re-light his half-forgot cigar.
  And while the music of the Latin verse,
  Which is an echo, as he stops to light
  His half-forgot cigar, is wafted through
  His meditation, as a tune is heard
  After the keys are stayed, it blends, becomes
  The soul, interpretation of these stories,
  Which lovers tell him in these later days.
  And now the clock upon the mantel chimes
  The quarter of the hour. Up goes Catullus
  By Ovid on the shelf. The dead cigar
  Is thrown away. He rises from the chair--
  When Father Conway enters, just to visit
  Some idle moments, smoke and have a talk.
  And Father Whimsett takes his seat again,
  Waves Father Conway to a comfort chair,
  Says "Have a smoke," and Father Conway smokes,
  And sees Catullus, says you read Catullus,
  And lays the morning _Times_ upon the table,
  And says to Father Whimsett: "Every day
  The _Times_ has stories better than Catullus,
  And episodes which Horace would have used.
  I wish we had a poet who would take
  This city of Chicago, write it up,
  The old Chicago, and the new Chicago,
  The race track, old cafés and gambling places,
  The prize fights, wrestling matches, sporting houses,
  As Horace wrote up Rome. Or if we had
  A Virgil he would find an epic theme
  In this American matter, typical
  Of our America, one phase or more
  Concerning Elenor Murray. Here to-day
  There is a story, of some letters found
  In Arthur Fouche's mansion, under the floor,
  Sensational, dramatic.

                        Father Whimsett
  Looked steadily at Father Conway, blew
  A funnel of tobacco smoke and said:
  I scarcely read the _Times_ these days, too busy--
  I've had a run of rich confessionals.
  The war is ended, but they still come on,
  And most are lovers in the coils of love.
  I had one yesterday that made me think
  Of one I had a year ago last spring,
  The point was this: they say forgive me father,
  For I have sinned, then as the case proceeds
  A greater sin comes forth, I mean the sin
  Of saying sin is good, cannot be sin:
  I loved the man, or how can love be sin?
  Well, as a human soul I see the point,
  But have no option, must lay to and say
  Acknowledgment, contrition and the promise
  To sin no more, is necessary to
  Win absolution. Now to show the matter,
  Here comes a woman, says I leave for France
  To serve, to die. I have a premonition
  That I shall die abroad; or if I live,
  I have had fears, I shall be taken, wronged,
  So driven by this honor to destroy
  Myself, goes on and says, I tell you all
  These fears of mine that you may search my heart,
  More gladly may absolve me. Then she says,
  These fears worked in my soul until I took
  The step which I confess, before I leave.
  I wait and she proceeds:

                            "O, holy father,
  There is a man whom I have loved for years,
  These five years past, such hopeless, happy years.
  I love him and he loves me, holy father.
  He holds me sacred as his wife, he loves me
  With the most holy love. It cannot be
  That any love like ours is guilty love,
  Can have no other quality than good,
  If it be love."

                  Well, here's a pretty soul
  To sit in the confessional! So I say,
  Why do you come to me? Loving your sin,
  Confessing it, denying it in one breath,
  Leaves you in sin without forgiveness.
  Well, then she tacks about and says "I sinned,
  And I am sorry. Wait a minute, father,
  And see the flesh and spirit mixed again."
  She wants to tell me all, I let her go.
  And so she says: "His wife's an invalid,
  Has been no wife to him. Besides," she says--
  Now watch this thrust to pierce my holy shield--
  "She is not in the church's eye his wife,
  She never was baptized"--I almost laughed,
  But answered her, You think adultery
  Is less adultery in a case like this?
  "Well, no," she says, "but could he be divorced
  The church would marry us." Go on, I said,
  And then she paused a little and went on:
  "I said I loved this man, and it is true,
  And years ago I gave myself to him,
  And then his wife found out there was a woman--
  But not that I was the woman--years ago
  At confirmation I confessed it all,
  Need only say this time I gave him up,
  And crushed him out with work--was chaste for years.
  And then I met a man, a different man
  Who stirred me otherwise, kept after me.
  At last I weakened, sinned three months ago,
  And suffered for it. For he took me, left me.
  As if he wanted body of me alone,
  And was not pleased with that. And after that,
  I think that I was mad, a furious passion
  Was kindled by this second man, and left
  With nothing to employ its flame. Two weeks
  Went by, he did not seek me out, none knew
  The hour of our departure. Then I thought
  How little I had been to this first lover,
  And of the years when I denied him--so
  To recompense his love, to serve him, father,
  Yes, to allay this passion newly raised
  By this new lover, whom I thought I loved,
  I went to my old lover, free of will,
  And took his lips and said to him, O take me,
  I am yours to do with as you choose to-night.
  He turned as pale as snow and shook with fear,
  His heart beat in his throat. I terrified him
  With this great will of mine in this small body.
  I went on while he stood there by the window,
  His back toward me. Make me wholly yours,
  Take no precaution, prudence throw away
  As mean, unworthy. Let your life precede,
  Forestall the intruder's, if one be. And if
  A child must be, yours shall it be."

                                      "He turned,
  And took me in his arms...."

                              "And so to make
  As nearly as might be a marriage, father,
  I took--but let me tell you: I had thought
  His wife might die at any time, so thinking
  During these years I had bought bridal things;
  A veil, embroideries, silk lingerie.
  And I took to our room my negligee,
  Boudoir cap, satin slippers, so to make
  All beautiful as we were married, father.
  How have I sinned? I cannot deem it wrong.
  Do I not soil my soul with penitence,
  And smut this loveliness with penitence?
  Can I regret my work, nor take a hurt
  Upon my very soul? How keep it clean
  Confessing what I did (if I thought so)
  As evil and unclean?"

                        The devil again
  Entered with casuistry, as you perceive.
  And so to make an end, I said to her,
  You must bring to this sacrament a heart
  Contrite and humble, promise me beside
  To sin no more. The case is in your hands,
  You can confess with lips, deny with heart,
  God only knows, I don't, it's on your soul
  To speak the truth or lie to me. Confess
  And I'll absolve you.--For in truth my heart
  Was touched by what she said, her lovely voice.

  But now the story deepened. For she said,
  I have not told you all. And she renewed:
  "Suppose you pack your trunk and have your lunch,
  Go to the station, but no train arrives,
  And there you wait and wait, until you're hungry,
  And nothing to do but wait, no place to lunch,
  You cannot leave the station, lest the train
  Should come while you are gone. Well, so it was,
  The weeks went by, and still we were not called.
  And I had closed my old life, sat and waited
  The time of leaving to begin new life.
  And after I had sinned with my first lover,
  Parted from him, said farewell, ended it,
  Could not go back to him, at least could think
  Of no way to return that would not dull
  The hour we lived together, look, this man,
  This second lover looks me up again
  And overwhelms me with a flaming passion.
  It seemed he had thought over what I was,
  Become all fire for me. He came to me,
  And said, I love you, love you, looked at me,
  And I could see the love-light in his eyes,
  The light that woman knows. Well, I was weak,
  Lonely and bored. He stirred my love besides;
  And then a curious thought came in my brain:
  The spirit is not found save through the flesh,
  O holy father, and I thought to self,
  Bring, as you may, these trials close together
  In point of time and see where spirit is,
  Where flesh directs to spirit most. And so
  I went with him again, and found in truth
  I loved him, he was mine and I was his,
  We two were for each other, my old lover
  Was just my love's beginning, not my love
  Fully and wholly, rapturously, this man
  Body and spirit harmonized with me.
  I found him through the love of my old lover,
  And knew by contrast, memory of the two
  And this immediate comparison
  Of spirits and of bodies, that this man
  Who left me, whom I turned from to the first,
  As I have tried to tell you, was the one.
  O holy father, he is married, too.
  And as I leave for France this ends as well;
  No child in me from either. I confess
  That I have sinned most grievously, I repent
  And promise I shall sin no more."

                                    And so,
  I gave her absolution. Well, you see
  The church was dark, but I knew who it was,
  I knew the voice. She left. Another penitent
  Entered with a story. What is this?
  Here is a woman who's promiscuous.
  Tried number one and then tries number two,
  And comes and tells me, she has taken proof,
  Weighed evidence of spirit and of body,
  And thinks she knows at last, affirms as much.
  Such conduct will not do, that's plain enough,
  Not even if the truth of love is known
  This way, no other way.

                          Then Father Conway
  Began as follows: "I've a case like that,
  A woman married, but she found her husband
  Was just the cup of Tantulus and so...."

  But Father Whimsett said, "Why, look at that,
  I'm over-due a quarter of an hour.
  Come in to-morrow, father, tell me then."
  The two priests rose and left the room together.



JOHN CAMPBELL AND CARL EATON


  Carl Eaton and John Campbell both were raised
  With Elenor Murray in LeRoy. The mother
  Of Eaton lived there; but these boys had gone,
  Now grown to manhood to Chicago, where
  They kept the old days of companionship.
  And Mrs. Eaton saw the coroner,
  And told him how she saved her son from Elenor,
  And broke their troth--because upon a time
  Elenor Murray, though betrothed, to Carl
  Went riding with John Campbell, and returned
  At two o'clock in the morning, drunk, and stood
  Helpless and weary, holding to the gate.
  For which she broke the engagement of her son
  To Elenor Murray. That was truth to her,
  And truth to Merival, for the time, at least.
  But this John Campbell and Carl Eaton meet
  One evening at a table drinking beer,
  And talk about the inquest, Elenor;
  Since much is published in the _Times_ to stir
  Their memories of her. And John speaks up:
  "Well, Carl, now Elenor Murray is no more,
  And we are friends so long, I'd like to know
  What do you think of her?"

                            "About the time,
  That May before she finished High School, Elenor
  Broke loose, ran wild, do you remember, Carl?
  She had some trouble in her home, I heard--
  She told me so. That Alma Bell affair
  Made all the fellows wonder, as you know,
  What kind of game she was, if she was game
  For me, or you, or anyone. Besides
  She had flirting eye, a winning laugh,
  And she was eighteen, and a cherry ripe.
  This Alma Bell affair and ills at home
  Made her spurt up and dart out like a fuse
  Which burns to powder wet and powder heated
  Until it burns; she burned, you see, and stopped
  When principles or something quenched the flame.
  I walked with her from school a time or two,
  When she was hinting, flirting with her eyes,
  I know it now, but what a dunce I was,
  As most men when they're twenty."

                                    "Well, now listen!
  A little later on an evening,
  I see her buggy riding with Roy Green,
  That rake, do you remember him, deadbeat,
  Half drunkard then, corrupted piece of flesh?
  She sat up in defiance by his side,
  Her chin stuck out to tell the staring ones:
  Go talk or censure to your heart's content.
  And people stood and stared to see her pass
  And shook their heads and wondered."

                                        "Afterward
  I learned from her this was the night at home
  Her father and her mother had a quarrel.
  Her mother asked her father to buy Elenor
  A new dress for commencement, and the father
  Was drinking and rebuffed her, so they quarreled.
  And rode with him to shame her father, coming
  After a long ride in the country home
  At ten o'clock or so."

                          "Well, then I thought,
  If she will ride with Roy Green, I go back
  To hinting and to flirting eyes and guess
  The girl will ride with me, or something more.
  So I begin to circle round the girl,
  And walk with her, and take her riding too.
  She drops Roy Green for me--what does he care?
  He's had enough of her or never cared--
  Which is it? there's the secret for a man
  As long as women interest him--who knows
  What the precedent fellow was to her?
  Roy Green takes to another and another.
  He died a year ago, as you'll remember,
  What were his secrets, agony? he seemed
  A man to me who lived and never thought."

  "So Elenor Murray went with me. Oh, well,
  She gave me kisses, let me hold her tight,
  We used to stop along the country ways
  And kiss as long as we had breath to kiss,
  And she would gasp and tremble."

                                    "Then, at last
  A chum I had began to laugh at me,
  For, I was now in love with Elenor Murray.
  Don't let her make a fool of you, he said,
  No girl who ever traveled with Roy Green
  Was not what he desired her, nor, before
  The kind of girl he wanted. Don't you know
  Roy Green is laughing at you in his sleeve,
  And boasts that Elenor Murray was all his?
  You see that stung me, for I thought at twenty
  Girls do not go so far, that only women
  Who sell themselves do so, or now and then
  A girl who is betrayed by hopes of marriage.
  And here was thrust upon me something devilish:
  The fair girl that I loved was wise already,
  And fooling me, and drinking in my love
  In mockery of me. This was my first
  Heart sickness, jaundice of the soul--dear me!
  And how I suffered, lay awake of nights,
  And wondered, doubted, hoped, or cursed myself,
  And cursed the girl as well. And I would think
  Of flirting eyes and hints and how she came
  To me before she went with this Roy Green.
  And I would hear the older men give hints
  About their conquests, speak of ways and signs
  From which to tell a woman. On the train
  Hear drummers boast and drop apothogems;
  The woman who drinks with you will be yours;
  Or she who gives herself to you will give
  To someone else; you know the kind of talk?
  Where wisdom of the sort is averaged up,
  But misses finer instances, the beauties
  Among the million phases of the thing.
  And, so at last I thought the girl was game.
  And had been snared, already. Why should I
  Be just a cooing dove, why not a hawk?
  We were out riding on a summer's night,
  A moon and all the rest, the scent of flowers,
  And many kisses, as on other times.
  At last with this sole object in my mind
  Long concentrated, purposed, all at once
  I found myself turned violent, with hands
  At grapple, twisting, forcing, and this girl
  In terror pleading with me. In a moment
  When I took time for breath, she said to me:
  'I will not ride with you--you let me out.'
  To which I said: 'You'll do what I desire
  Or you can walk ten miles back to LeRoy,
  And find Roy Green, you like him better, maybe.'
  And she said: 'Let me out,' and she jumped out,
  And would not ride with me another step,
  Though I repented saying, come and ride.
  I think it was a mile or more I drove
  The horse slowed up to keep her company,
  And then I cracked the whip and hurried on,
  And left her walking, looked from time to time
  To see her in the roadway, then drove on
  And reached LeRoy, which Elenor reached that morning
  At one or two."

                  "Well, then what was the riddle?
  Was she in love with Roy Green yet, was she
  But playing with me, was I crude, left handed,
  Had she changed over, was she trying me
  To fasten in the hook of matrimony,
  Or was she good, and all this corner talk
  Of Roy Green just the dirt of dirty minds?
  You know the speculations, and you know
  How they befuddle one at twenty years.
  And sometimes I would grieve for what I did;
  Then harden and laugh down my softness. But
  At last I wrote a note to Elenor Murray
  And sent it with a bouquet--but no word
  Came back from Elenor Murray. Then I thought:
  Here is a girl who rides with that Roy Green
  And what would he be with her for, I ask?
  And if she wants to make a cause of war
  Out of an attitude she half provoked,
  Why let her--and moreover let her go.
  And so I dropped the matter, since she dropped
  My friendship from that night."

                                  "But later on,
  Two years ago, when she came back to town
  From somewhere, I don't know, gone many months,
  Grown prettier, more desirable, I sent
  Some roses to her in a tender mood
  As if to say: We're grown up since that night,
  Have you forgotten it, as I remember
  How womanly you were, have grown to be?
  She wrote me just a little note of thanks,
  And what is strange that very day I learned
  About your interest in her, learned besides
  It prospered for some months before. I turned
  My heart away for good, as a man might
  Who plunges and beholds the woman smile
  And take another's arm and walk away."
  "So, that's your story, is it?" said Carl Eaton.
  "Well, I had married her except for you!
  That bunch of roses spoiled the girl for me.
  You had Roy Green, dog-fennel, I had roses,
  And I am glad you sent them, otherwise
  I might have married her, to find at last
  A wife just like her mother is, myself
  Living her father's life, for something missed
  Or hated in me--not the want of money.
  She liked me as the banker's son, be sure,
  And let me go unwillingly."

                                  "But listen:
  I called on her the night you sent the roses,
  And there she had them on the center table,
  And twinkled with her eyes, and spoke of them,
  And said, I can remember it, you sent
  Such lovely roses to her, you and she
  Had been good friends for years--and now it seems
  You were not friends--I didn't know it then.
  But think about it, John! What was this woman?
  It's clear her fate, found dead there by the river,
  Is just the outward mirror of herself,
  And had to be. There's not a thing in life
  That is not first enacted in the heart.
  Our fate is the reflection of the life
  Which goes on in the heart. That girl was doomed,
  Lived in her heart a life that found a birth,
  Grew up, committed matricide at last,
  Not that my love had saved her. But explain
  Why would she over-stress the roses, give
  Me understandings foreign to the truth?
  For truth to tell, we were affianced then,
  There were your roses! But above it all
  Something she said pricked like a rose's thorn,
  Something that grew to thought she cherished you,
  Kept memories sweet of you. If that were true,
  What was the past? What was I after all?
  A second choice, as if I bought a car,
  But thought about a car I wanted more.
  So I retired that night in serious thought."

  "Yet if you'll credit me, I had not heard
  About this Alma Bell affair, or heard
  About her riding through the public streets
  With this Roy Green. I think I was away,
  I never heard it anyway, I know
  Until my mother told me, and she told me
  Next morning after I had found your roses.
  I hadn't told my mother, nor a soul
  Before, that time that we two were engaged--
  I didn't tell her then--I merely asked
  Would Elenor Murray please you as a daughter?
  You should have seen my mother--how she gasped,
  And gestured losing breath, to say at last:
  'Why, Carl, my boy, what are you thinking of?
  You have not promised marriage to that girl?
  Now tell me, have you?' Then I lied to her;
  And laughed a little, answered no, and asked,
  'What do you know about her?'"

                                        "Here's a joke,
  With terror in it, John, if you have told
  The truth to me--my mother tells me there
  That on a time John Campbell--that is you,
  And Elenor Murray rode into the country,
  And that at two o'clock, or so, the girl
  Is seen beside the gate post holding on,
  And reeling up the side-walk to her door.
  The girl was tired, if you have told the truth.
  My mother warms up to this scoundrel Green,
  And tops the matter off with Alma Bell.
  And all the love I had for Elenor Murray
  Sours in my heart. And then I tell my mother
  The truth--of our engagement--promise her
  To break it off. I did so on that day.
  Got back the solitaire--but Elenor
  Hung to me, asked my reasons, kept the ring
  Until I wrote so sternly she gave up
  Her hope and me."

                      "But worst of all, John Campbell--
  If this be worst--this early episode
  So nipped my leaves and browned and curled them up
  To whisper sharply with their bitter edges,
  No one has seen a bridal wreath in me;
  Nor have I ever known a woman since
  That some analysis did not blow cool
  A rising admiration."

                          "Now to think
  This girl lies dead, and while we drink a beer
  You tell me that the story is a lie,
  The girl was good, walked ten miles through the dark
  To save her honor from a ruffian--
  That's what you were, as you confess it now.
  And if she did that, what is all this talk
  Of such a rat as Green, of Alma Bell?--
  It isn't true."

                    "The only truth is this:
  I took a lasting poison from a lie,
  Which built the very cells of me to resist
  The thought of marriage--poison which remains.
  I wonder should I tell the coroner?
  No good in that--you might as well describe
  A cancer to prevent the malady
  In people yet to be. Let's have a beer.
  John Campbell said: I learned from Elenor Murray
  The kind of woman I should take to wife,
  I married just the woman made for me."

  "If you can say so on your death bed, John,
  Then Elenor Murray did one man a good,
  Whatever ill she did to other men.
  See, I keep rapping for that waiter--I
  Would like another beer, and so would you."

     *       *       *       *       *

  So now it's clear the story is not true
  Which Mrs. Eaton told the coroner.
  And when the coroner told the jurymen
  What Mrs. Eaton told him, Winthrop Marion
  Skilled in the work of running down a tale
  Said: "I can look up Eaton, Campbell too,
  And verify or contradict this thing.
  We have departed far afield in this,
  It has no bearing on the cause of death.
  But none of us have liked to see, the girl's
  Good name, integrity of spirit lie
  In shadow by this story." Merival
  Was glad to have these two men interviewed
  By Winthrop Marion; so he found them, talked,
  And brought their stories back, as told above
  Which made the soul of Elenor Murray clear....

     *       *       *       *       *

  Paul Roberts was a man of sixty years,
  Who lived and ran a magazine at LeRoy.
  _The Dawn_ he called it; financed by a fund
  Left Roberts by a millionaire, who believed
  The fund would widen knowledge through the use
  Of Roberts, student of the Eastern wisdom.
  This Roberts loathed the war, but kept his peace
  Because the law compelled it. Took this time
  To fight the Christian faith, and show the age
  Submerged in Christian ethics, weak and false.
  He knew this Elenor Murray from a child,
  And knew her rearing, schooling, knew the air
  She breathed in at LeRoy. And in _The Dawn_
  Printed this essay:--

                          "We have seen," he writes,
  "Astonishing revealments, inventories
  Taken of souls, all coming from the death
  Of Elenor Murray, and the inquest held
  To ascertain her death. Perhaps fantastic
  This thing may be, but scarcely more fantastic
  Than rubbing amber, watching frogs' legs twitch,
  From which the light of cities came, the power
  That hauls the coaches over mountain tops.
  We would do well to laugh at nothing, watch
  With interested eye the capering souls
  Too moved to walk straight. If a wire grounds
  And interpenetrates the granite blocks
  With viewless fire, horses shod with steel,
  Walking along the granite blocks will leap
  Like mad things in the air. Well, so we leap
  Before we know the cause. Let sound minds laugh.

  First you agree no man has looked on God;
  And I contend the souls who found God, told
  Too little of their triumph. But I hold
  Man shall find God and know, shall see at last
  What man's soul is, and where it tends, the use
  It was made for. And after that? Forever
  There's progress while there's life, all devolution
  Returns to progress.

                              As to worship, God
  They had their amber days, days of frogs' legs.
  And yet before I trace the Christian growth
  From seed to blossom, let me prophesy:
  The light upon the lotus blossom pauses,
  Has paused these centuries and waits to move
  Westward and mingle with the light that shines
  Upon the Occident. What did Christ do
  But carry the Hebraic thrift and prudence
  Of matter and of spirit, half-corrupted
  By wisdom of the market to these races
  That crowd in Europe, in the Western World?
  Now you have seen such things as chemistry,
  And mongering in steel, the use of fire
  Made perfect in swift wheels, and swifter wings,
  Until the realm of matter seems subdued,
  Thought with her foot upon the dragon's head,
  And using him to serve. This western world
  Massing its powers these centuries to bring
  Comfort and happiness and length of days,
  And pushing commerce, trade to pile up gold,
  Knows not its soul as yet, nor God. But here
  I prophesy: Suppose the Hindu lore,
  Which has gone farther with the soul of man
  Than we have gone with business, has card cased
  The soul's addresses, introduced a system
  In the soul's business, just suppose this lore
  And great perfection in things spiritual
  Should by some process wed the great perfection
  Of this our western world, and we should have
  Mastery of spirit and of matter, too?
  Might not that progress start as one result
  Of this great war?

                      Let's see from whence we came.
  I take the Hebrew faith, the very frog legs
  Of our theology--no use to say
  It has no place with us. Your ministers
  Preach from the Pentateuch, its decalogue
  Is all our ethic nearly; and our life
  Is suckled by the Hebrews; don't the Jews
  Control our business, while our business rules
  Our spirits far too much?

                                Now let us see
  What food our spirits feed on. Palestine
  Is just a little country, fights for life
  Against a greater prowess, skill in arms.
  So as the will does not give up, but hopes
  For vengeance and for wiping out of wrongs
  The Jews conceive a God who will dry up
  His people's tears and let them laugh again!
  Hence in Jehovah's mouth they put these words:
  My word shall stand forever, you shall eat
  The riches of the Gentiles, suck their milk.
  Your ploughman shall the alien be, the stranger
  Shall feed your flock, and I will make you fat
  With milk and honey. I will give you power,
  Dominion, leadership, glory forever.
  My wrath is on all nations to avenge
  Israel's sorrow and humiliation.
  My sword is bathed in heaven, filled with blood
  To come upon Idumea, to stretch out
  Upon it stones of emptiness, confusion.
  Her fortresses shall be the habitation
  Of dragons and a court for owls. I smite
  The proud Assyrian and make them dead.
  In fury, and in anger do I tread
  On Zion's enemies, their worm shall die not,
  Nor shall their fire be quenched. I shall stir up
  Jealousy like a man of war, put on
  The garments of my vengeance, and repay
  To adversaries fury. For my word
  Shall stand to preach good tidings to the meek,
  And liberty to captives, and to chains
  The opening of prisons.

                            Don't you see
  Our western culture in such words as these?
  Your proselytes, and business man, reformer
  Nourished upon them, using them in life?
  But then you say Christ came with final truth,
  And put away Jehovah. Let us see.
  What shall become of those who turn from Christ,
  Not that their souls failed, only that they turned,
  Did not believe, accept, found in him little
  To live by, grow by? This is what Christ said:
  Ye vipers in the last day ye shall see
  The sun turned dark, the moon made blood. Behold!
  I come in clouds of glory and of power
  To judge the quick and judge the dead. Mine own
  Shall enter into blessedness. But to those
  Evil who scorned me, I shall say, depart
  Accursed into everlasting fire.
  And quick the gates of heaven shall be shut,
  And I shall reign in heaven with mine own
  And let my fire of wrath consume the world.

  But then you say, what of his love and doctrine?
  Not the old decalogue by him renewed,
  But new wine to the Jews, if not in the world
  Unknown before. Look close and you shall see
  A book of double entries, balanced columns,
  Business in matters spiritual, prudential
  Rules for life's conduct. Yes, be merciful
  But to obtain your mercy; yes, forgive
  That you may be forgiven; honor your parents
  That your days may be long. Blest are the meek
  For they shall inherit the earth. Rejoice, for great
  Is your reward in heaven if they say
  All manner of evil of you, persecute you.
  Do you not see the rule of compensation
  Shot through it all? And if you love your neighbor,
  And all men do so, then you have the state
  Composed to such a level of peace, no man
  Need fear the breaker in, unless you keep
  This mood of love for preaching, for a rule
  While business in the Occident goes on
  Under Jehovah's Hebrew manual.
  What is it all? The meek inherit the earth
  For being meek; you turn the other cheek
  And fill your enemy with shame to strike
  A cheek that does not harden to return
  The blow received. But too much in our life
  The cheek is turned, the hand not made a fist,
  But opened out to pick a pocket with,
  While the other cheek is turned. Now, at the last
  Has not this war put by resist not evil?
  Which was the way of Jesus to the end,
  Even to buffetings and the crown of thorns;
  Even the cross and death?--we put it by:
  We would not let protagonists thereof
  So much as hint the doctrine, which is to say,
  Though it be written over Jesus' life,
  And be his spirit's essence, we see through
  The fallacy of that preachment, cannot live
  In this world by it.

                        Well, let me be plain.
  Races like men find truth in living life,
  Find thereby what is food and what is poison.
  These are the phylogenetics spiritual.
  But meanwhile there's the light upon the lotus
  Which waits to mingle with the light that shines
  Upon the Occident, take Jesus' light
  Where it is bright enough to mix with it
  And show no duller splendor?

                                I look back
  Upon the Jew and Jesus, on the Thora
  The gospel, dogmatism, poetry,
  The Messianic hope and will and grace,
  Jesus the Son of God, and one with God.
  The outer theocracy, the Kingdom of God within you,
  St. Paul with metaphysics, St. Augustine
  Babbling of sin in Cicero's rhetoric,
  The popes with their intrigues and millions slain
  O ghastly waste, if not O ghastly failure,
  Beside which all the tragedies of time
  To set up doctrines, rulerships, and say:
  Are not a finger scratched. O monstrous hate
  Born of enfolding love! O martyrdom
  Of our poor world for ages, incurable madness
  Bred in the blood, and mixed in the forms of thought,
  Still maddening, maiming, crucifying, killing
  The fast appearing sons of men. Go ask
  What man you will who has lived up to forty
  And see if you find not the Christian creed
  Has not in some way gyved his life and bolted
  Body or spirit to a wall, to make
  The man live not by nature, but a doctrine
  Evolved from thought that disregards man's life.
  But oh this hunger of the mind for answers
  And hunger of the heart for life, the heart
  Thrown to the dogs of thought. What shall we do?
  I see a way, have hope.

                            The blessed Lord
  Says, ye deluded by unwisdom say:
  This day is won, this purpose gained, this wealth
  Made mine, to-morrow safe--behold
  My enemy is slain, I am well-born--
  O ye deluded ones, slaves of desire,
  Self-satisfied and stubborn, filled with pride,
  Power, lust and wrath--haters of me, the gate
  Of hell is triple, bitter is the womb
  In which ye sink deluded, birth on birth,
  These not renouncing. But O soul attend,
  Yield not to impotence, shake off your fears,
  Be steadfast, balanced, free from hate and anger,
  Balanced in pleasure and pain, and active,
  Yet disregarding action's fruits--be friendly,
  Compassionate, forgiving, self-controlled,
  Resolute, not shrinking from the world,
  But mixing in its toils as fate may say;
  Pure, expert, passionless, desire in leash,
  Renouncing good and evil, to friend and foe,
  In fame and ignominy destitute
  Of that attachment which disturbs the vision
  And labor of the soul. By these to fix
  Eyes undistracted on me, the supreme
  And Sole Reality. And O remember
  Thou soul, thou shalt not sin who workest through
  Thy Karma as its nature may command.
  Strive with thy sin and it shall make the muscles,
  And strength to take thee to another height.
  But cleave to the practice of thy soul forever,
  Also to wisdom better still than practice,
  To meditation, better still than wisdom,
  To renunciation, better than meditation,
  Beholding Me in all things, in all things
  Me who would have you peace of soul attain,
  And soul's perfection.

                        Well, I say here lies
  Profounder truth and purer than the words
  That Jesus spoke. Let's take forgiveness:
  Forgive your enemies, he said, and bless
  Them even that hate you. What did Jesus do?
  Did he forgive the thief upon the cross,
  Who railed at him? He did forgive the hands
  Who crucified him, but he had a reason:
  They knew not what they did; well, as for that
  Who knows the thing he does? Did he forgive
  Judas Iscariot? Did he forgive
  Poor Peter by specific words? You see
  In instances like these the idealist,
  Passionate and inexorable who sets up
  His soul against the world, but do you see
  The esoteric wisdom which takes note
  Of the soul's health, just for the sake of health,
  And leaves the outward recompense alone?

  Yes, what has Jesus done but make a realm
  Of outward law and force to strain and bind
  The sons of men to this thing and to that,
  Bring the fanatic and the dogmatist
  In every neighborhood in America.
  And radical with axes after trees,
  And clergymen with curses on the fig trees?
  And even bring this Kaiser and his dream
  Of God's will in him to destroy his foes,
  And launch the war therefor, to make his realm
  And Christian culture paramount in time.
  When all the while 'tis clear life does not yield
  Proof positive of exoteric things.
  Why the great truth of life is this, I think:
  The soul has freedom to create its world
  Of beauty, truth, to make the world as truth
  Or beauty, build philosophies, religions,
  And live by them, through them. It does not matter
  Whether they're true, the significant thing is this:
  The soul has freedom to create, to take
  The void of unintelligible air, or thought
  The world at large, and of it make the food,
  Impulse and meaning for its life. I say
  Life is for nothing else, truth is not ours;
  That only ours which we create, by which
  We live and grow, and so we come again
  By this path of my own to India.

  What shall we do, you ask, if business dies,
  If the western world, the world for socialism
  Lops off its leaves and branches, and the sap
  Is thrown back in the trunk unused, or if
  This light upon the lotus quiets us
  And makes us mind entirely? Well, I say,
  Men have not lived, enjoyed enough before.
  Our strength has gone to get the means for strength.
  We roll the rock of business up, and see
  The rock roll down, and roll it up again.
  And if the new day does not give us work
  In finding what our minds are, how to use them,
  And how to live more beautifully, I miss
  A guess I often make.

                            But now to close:
  Only the blind have failed to see how truly
  This Elenor Murray worked her Karma out.
  And how she put forth strength to cure her weakness,
  And went her vital way, and toiled and died.
  Peace to all worlds, and peace to Elenor Murray.

     *       *       *       *       *

  The coroner had heard that Elenor Murray
  Once crossed the Arctic Circle. What of that?
  She traveled, it was proved. What happened there?
  What hunter after secrets could find out?
  But on a day the name of Elenor Murray
  Is handled by two men who sit and talk
  In Fairbanks, and the talk is in these words:



AT FAIRBANKS


  Bill, look here! Here's the _Times_. You see this picture,
  Read if you like a little later. You never
  Heard how I came to Fairbanks, chanced to stay.
  It's eight years now. You see in nineteen eleven
  I lived in Hammond, Indiana, thought
  I'd like a trip, see mountains, see Alaska,
  Perhaps find fortune or a woman--well
  You know from your experience how it is.
  It was July and from the train I saw
  The Canadian Rockies, stopped at Banff a day,
  At Lake Louise, and so forth. At Vancouver
  Found travelers feasting, Englishmen in drink,
  Flirtations budding, coming into flower;
  And eager spirits waiting for the boat.
  Up to this time I hadn't made a friend,
  Stalked silently about along the streets,
  Drank Scotch like all the rest, as much besides.

  Well, then we took the steamship _Princess Alice_
  And started up the Inland Channel--great!
  Got on our cheeks the breezes from the crystal
  Cradles of the north, began at once
  To find the mystery, silence, see clear stars,
  The whites and blacks and greens along the shores.
  And still I had no friend, was quite alone.
  Just as I came on deck I saw a face,
  Looked, stared perhaps. Her eyes went over me,
  Would not look at me. At the dinner table
  She sat far down from me, I could not see her,
  But made a point to rise when she arose,
  Did all I could to catch her eye--no use.
  So things went and I gave up--still I wondered
  Why she had no companion. Was she married?
  Was husband waiting her, at Skagway?--well
  I fancied something of the sort, at last,
  And as I said, gave up.

                            But on a morning
  I rose to see the sun rise, all the sky
  First as a giant pansy, petals flung
  In violet toward the zenith streaked with fire;
  The silver of the snows change under light,
  Mottled with shadows of the mountain tops
  Like leaves that shadow, flutter on a lawn.
  At last the topaz splendors shoot to heaven,
  The sun just peeks and gilds the porcelain
  Of snow with purest gold. And in the valleys
  Darkness remains, Orician ebony
  Is not more black. You've seen this too, I know,
  And recognize my picture. There I stood,
  Believed I was alone, then heard a voice,
  "Is it not beautiful?" and looked around,
  And saw my girl, who had avoided me,
  Would not make friends before. This is her picture,
  Name, Elenor Murray. So the matter started.
  I had my seat at table changed and sat
  Next to my girl to talk with her. We walked
  The deck together. Then she said to me
  Her home was in Chicago, so it is
  Travelers abroad discover they are neighbors
  When they are home. She had been teaching school,
  And saved her money for this trip, had planned
  To go as far as Fairbanks. As for me,
  I thought I'd stop with Skagway--Oh this life!
  Your hat blows off, you chase it, bump a woman,
  Then beg her pardon, laugh and get acquainted,
  And marry later.

                    As we steamed along
  She was the happiest spirit on the deck.
  The Wrangell Narrows almost drove her wild,
  There where the mountains are like circus tents,
  Big show, menagerie and all the rest,
  But white as cotton with perennial snow.
  We swum past aisles of pine trees where a stream
  Rushed down in terraces of hoary foam.
  The nights were glorious. We drank and ate
  And danced when there was dancing.

                                          Well, at first,
  She seemed a little school ma'am, quaint, demure,
  Meticulous and puritanical.
  And then she seemed a school ma'am out to have
  A time, so far away, where none would know,
  And like a woman who had heard of life
  And had a teasing interest in its wonder,
  Too long caged up. At last my vision blurred:
  I did not know her, lost my first impressions
  Amid succeeding phases which she showed.

  But when we came to Skagway, then I saw
  Another Elenor Murray. How she danced
  And tripped from place to place--such energy!
  She almost wore me out with seeing sights.
  But now behold! The White Pass she must see
  Upon the principle of missing nothing--
  But oh the grave of "Soapy" Smith, the outlaw,
  The gambler and the heeler, that for her!
  We went four miles and found the cemetery,
  The grave of "Soapy" Smith.--Came back to town
  Where she would see the buildings where they played
  Stud poker, Keno, in the riotous days.
  Time came for her to go. She looked at me
  And said "Come on to Fairbanks." As for that,
  I'd had enough, was ready to return,
  But sensed an honorarium, so I said,
  "You might induce me," with a pregnant tone.
  That moment we were walking 'cross the street,
  She stopped a moment, shook from head to heels,
  And said, "No man has talked to me that way."
  I dropped the matter. She renewed it--said,
  "Why do you hurry back? What calls you back?
  Come on to Fairbanks, see the gardens there,
  That tag the blizzards with their rosy hands
  And romp amid the snows." She smiled at me.
  Well, then I thought--why not? And smiled her back,
  And on we went to Fairbanks, where my hat
  Blows off, as I shall tell you.

                                For a day
  We did the town together, and that night
  I thought to win her. First we dined together,
  Had many drinks, my little school ma'am drank
  Of everything I ordered, had a place
  For more than I could drink. And truth to tell
  At bed time I was woozy, ten o'clock.
  We had not registered. And so I said,
  "I'm Mr. Kelly and you're Mrs. Kelly."
  She shook her head. And so to make an end
  I could not win her, signed my name in full;
  She did the same, we said good night and parted.

  Next morning when I woke, felt none too good,
  Got up at last and met her down at breakfast;
  Tried eggs and toast, could only drink some coffee;
  Got worse; in short, she saw it, put her hand
  Upon my head and said, "Your head is hot,
  You have a fever." Well, I lolled around
  And tried to fight it off till noon--no good.
  By this time I was sick, lay down to rest.
  By night I could not lift my head--in short,
  I lay there for a month, and all the time
  She cared for me just like a mother would.
  They moved me to a suite, she took the room
  That opened into mine, by night and day
  She nursed me, cheered me, read to me. At last
  When I sat up, was soon to be about,
  She said to me, "I'm going on to Nome,
  St. Michael first. They tell me that you cross
  The Arctic Circle going to St. Michael,
  And I must cross the Arctic Circle--think
  To come this far and miss it. I must see
  The Indian villages." And there again
  I saw, but clearer than before, the spirit
  Adventuresome and restless, what you call
  The heart American. I said to her,
  "I'm not too well, I'm lonely,--yes, and more--
  I'm fond of you, you have been good to me,
  Stay with me here.--She darted in and out
  The room where I was lying, doing things,
  And broke my pleadings just like icicles
  You shoot against a wall.

                              But here she was,
  A month in Fairbanks, living at expense,
  Said "I am short of money--lend me some,
  I'll go to Nome, return to you and then
  We'll ship together for the States."

                                    You see
  I really owed her money for her care,
  Her loss in staying--then I loved the girl,
  Had played all cards but one--I played it now:
  "Come back and marry me." Her eyes looked down.
  "I will be fair with you," she said, "and think.
  Away from you I can make up my mind
  If I have love enough to marry you."
  I gave her money and she went away,
  And for some weeks I had a splendid hell
  Of loneliness and longing, you might know,
  A stranger in Alaska, here in Fairbanks,
  In love besides, and mulling in my mind
  Our days and nights upon the steamer _Alice_,
  Our ramblings in the Northland.

                                    Weeks went by,
  No letter and no girl. I found my health
  Was vigorous again. One morning walking
  I kicked a twenty dollar gold piece up
  Right on the side-walk. Picked it up and said:
  "An omen of good luck, a letter soon!
  Perhaps this town has something for me!" Well,
  I thought I'd get a job to pass the time
  While waiting for my girl. I got the job
  And here I am to-day; I've flourished here,
  Worked to the top in Fairbanks in eight years,
  And thus my hat blew off.

                              What of the girl?
  Six weeks or more a letter came from her,
  She crossed the Arctic Circle, went to Nome,
  Sailed back to 'Frisco where she wrote to me.
  Sent all the money back I loaned to her,
  And thanked me for the honor I had done her
  In asking her in marriage, but had thought
  The matter over, could not marry me,
  Thought in the circumstances it was useless
  To come to Fairbanks, see me, tell me so.

  Now, Bill, I'm egotist enough to think
  This girl could do no better. Now it seems
  She's dead and never married--why not me?
  Why did she ditch me? So I thought about it,
  Was piqued of course, concluded in the end
  There was another man. A woman's no
  Means she has someone else, expects to have,
  More suited to her fancy. Then one morning
  As I awoke with thoughts of her as usual
  Right in my mind there plumped an incident
  On shipboard when she asked me if I knew
  A certain man in Chicago. At the time
  The question passed amid our running talk,
  And made no memory. But you watch and see
  A woman when she asks you if you know
  A certain man, the chances are the man
  Is something in her life. So now I lay
  And thought there is a man, and that's the man;
  His name is stored away, I'll dig it up
  Out of the cells subliminal--so I thought
  But could not bring it back.

                                I found at last
  The telephone directory of Chicago,
  And searched and searched the names from A to Z.
  Some mornings would pronounce a name and think
  That is the name, then throw the name away--
  It did not fit the echo in my brain.

  But now at last--look here! Eight years are gone,
  I'm healed of Elenor Murray, married too;
  And read about her death here in the _Times_,
  And turn the pages over--column five--
  Chicago startled by a suicide--
  Gregory Wenner kills himself--behold
  The name, at last, she spoke!

     *       *       *       *       *

  So much for waters in Alaska. Now
  Turn eyes upon the waters nearer home.
  Anton Sosnowski has a fateful day
  And Winthrop Marion runs the story down,
  And learns Sosnowski read the _Times_ the day,
  He broke from brooding to a dreadful deed;
  Sosnowski saw the face of Elenor Murray
  And Rufus Fox upon the self-same page,
  And afterwards was known to show a clipping
  Concerning Elenor Murray and the banner
  Of Joan of Arc, the words she wrote and folded
  Within the banner: to be brave, nor flinch.



ANTON SOSNOWSKI


  Anton Sosnowski, from the Shakspeare School
  Where he assists the janitor, sweeps and dusts,
  The day now done, sits by a smeared up table
  Munching coarse bread and drinking beer; before him
  The evening paper spread, held down or turned
  By claw-like hands, covered with shiny scars.
  He broods upon the war news, and his fate
  Which keeps him from the war, looks up and sees
  His scarred face in the mirror over the wainscot;
  His lashless eyes and browless brows and head
  With patches of thin hair. And then he mutters
  Hot curses to himself and turns the paper
  And curses Germany, and asks revenge
  For Poland's wrongs.

                            And what is this he sees?
  The picture of his ruin and his hate,
  Wert Rufus Fox! This leader of the bar
  Is made the counselor of the city, now
  The city takes gas, cars and telephones
  And runs them for the people. So this man
  Grown rich through machinations against the people,
  Who fought the people all his life before,
  Abettor, aider, thinker for the slickers
  Regraters and forestallers and engrossers,
  Is now the friend, adviser of the city,
  Which he so balked and thwarted, growing rich,
  Feared, noted, bowed to for the very treason
  For which he is so hated, yet deferred to.

  And Anton looks upon the picture, reads
  About the great man's ancestry here printed,
  And all the great achievements of his life;
  Once president of the bar association,
  And member of this club and of that club.
  Contributor to charities and art,
  A founder of a library, a vestryman.
  And Anton looks upon the picture, trembles
  Before the picture's eyes. They are the eyes
  Of Innocent the Tenth, with cruelty
  And cunning added--eyes that see all things
  And boulder jaws that crush all things--the jaws
  That place themselves at front of drifts, are placed
  By that world irony which mocks the good,
  And gives the glory and the victory
  To strength and greed.

                            Anton Sosnowski looks
  Long at the picture, then at his own hands,
  And laughs maniacally as he takes the mug
  With both hands like a bird with frozen claws,
  These broken, burned off hands which handle bread
  As they were wooden rakes. And in a mirror
  Beside the table in the wall, smeared over
  With steam from red-hots, kraut and cookery,
  Of smoking fats, fixed by the dust in blurs,
  And streaks, he sees his own face, horrible
  For scars and splotches as of leprosy;
  The eyes that have no lashes and no brows;
  The bullet head that has no hair, the ears
  Burnt off at top.

                    So comes it to this Pole
  Who sees beside the picture of the lawyer
  The clear cut face of Elenor Murray--yes,
  She gave her spirit to the war, is dead,
  Her life is being sifted now. But Fox
  Lives for more honors, and by honors covers
  His days of evil.

                      Thus Sosnowski broods,
  And lives again that moment of hell when fire
  Burst like a geyser from a vat where gas
  Had gathered in his ignorance; being sent
  To light a drying stove within the vat,
  A work not his, who was the engineer.
  The gas exploded as he struck the match,
  And like an insect fixed upon a pin
  And held before a flame, hands, face and body
  Were burned and broken as his body shot
  Up and against the brewery wall. What next?
  The wearisome and tangled ways of courts
  With Rufus Fox for foe, four trials in all
  Where juries disagreed who heard the law
  Erroneously given by the court.
  At last a verdict favorable, and a court
  Sitting above the forum where he won
  To say, as there's no evidence to show
  Just how the gas got in the vat, Sosnowski
  Must go for life with broken hands unhelped.
  And that the fact alone of gas therein
  Though naught to show his fault had brought it there,
  The mere explosion did not speak a fault
  Against the brewery.

                        Out from court he went
  To use a broom with crumpled hands, and look
  For life in mirrors at his ghastly face.
  And brood until suspicion grew to truth
  That Rufus Fox had compassed juries, courts;
  And read of Rufus Fox, who day by day
  Was featured in the press for noble deeds,
  For Art or Charity, for notable dinners,
  Guests, travels and what not.

                                So now the Pole
  Reading of Elenor Murray, cursed himself
  That he could brood and wait--for what?--and grow
  More weak of will for brooding, while this woman
  Had gone to war and served and ended it,
  Yet he lived on, and could not go to war;
  Saw only days of sweeping with these hands,
  And every day his face within the mirror,
  And every afternoon this glass of beer,
  And coarse bread, and these thoughts.
  And every day some story to arouse
  His sense of justice; how the generous
  Give and pass on, and how the selfish live
  And gather honors. But Sosnowski thought
  If I could do a flaming thing to show
  What courts are ours, what matter if I die?
  What if they took their quick-lime and erased
  My flesh and bones, expunged my very name,
  And made its syllables forbidden?--still
  If I brought in a new day for the courts,
  Have I not served? he thought. Sosnowski rose
  And to the bar, drank whiskey, then went out.

  That afternoon Elihu Rufus Fox
  Came home to dress for a dinner to be given
  For English notables in town--to rest
  After a bath, and found himself alone,
  His wife at Red Cross work. And there alone,
  Collarless, lounging, in a comfort chair,
  Poring on Wordsworth's poems--all at once
  Before he hears the door turned, rather feels
  A foot-fall and a presence, hears too soon
  A pistol shot, looks up and sees Sosnowski,
  Who fires again, but misses; grabs the man,
  Disarms him, flings him down, and finding blood
  Upon his shirt sleeve, sees his hand is hit,
  No other damage--then the pistol takes,
  And covering Sosnowski, looks at him.
  And after several seconds gets the face
  Which gradually comes forth from memories
  Of many cases, knows the man at last.
  And studying Sosnowski, Rufus Fox
  Divines what drove the fellow to this deed.
  And in these moments Rufus Fox beholds
  His life and work, and how he made the law
  A thing to use, how he had builded friendships
  In clubs and churches, courted politicians,
  And played with secret powers, and compromised
  Causes and truths for power and capital
  To draw on as a lawyer, so to win
  Favorable judgments when his skill was hired
  By those who wished to win, who had to win
  To keep the social order undisturbed
  And wealth where it was wrenched to.

                                        And Rufus Fox
  Knew that this trembling wreck before him knew
  About this course of life at making law
  And using law, and using those who sit
  To administer the law. And then he said:
  "Why did you do this?"

                            And Sosnowski spoke:
  "I meant to kill you--where's your right to live
  When millions have been killed to make the world
  A safer place for liberty? Where's your right
  To live and have more honors, be the man
  To guide the city, now that telephones,
  Gas, railways have been taken by the city?
  I meant to kill you just to help the poor
  Who go to court. For had I killed you here
  My story would be known, no matter if
  They buried me in lime, and made my name
  A word no man could speak. Now I have failed.
  And since you have the pistol, point it at me
  And kill me now--for if you tell the world
  You killed me in defense of self, the world
  Will never doubt you, for the world believes you
  And will not doubt your word, whatever it is."

  And Rufus Fox replied: "Your mind is turned
  For thinking of your case, when you should know
  This country is a place of laws, and law
  Must have its way, no matter who is hurt.
  Now I must turn you over to the courts,
  And let you feel the hard hand of the law."
  Just then the wife of Rufus Fox came in,
  And saw her husband with his granite jaws,
  And lowering countenance, blood on his shirt,
  The pistol in his hand, the scarred Sosnowski,
  Facing the lawyer.

                    Seeing that her husband
  Had no wound but a hand clipped of the skin,
  And learning what the story was, she saw
  It was no time to let Sosnowski's wrong
  Come out to cloud the glory of her husband,
  Now that in a new day he had come to stand
  With progress, fairer terms of life--to let
  The corpse of a dead day be brought beside
  The fresh and breathing life of brighter truth.
  Quickly she called the butler, gave him charge
  Over Sosnowski, who was taken out,
  Held in the kitchen, while the two conferred,
  The husband and the wife.

                          To him she said,
  They two alone now: "I can see your plan
  To turn this fellow over to the law.
  It will not do, my dear, it will not do.
  For though I have been sharer in your life,
  Partaker of its spoils and fruits, I see
  This man is just a ghost of a dead day
  Of your past life, perhaps, in which I shared.
  But that dead life I would not resurrect
  In memory even, it has passed us by,
  You shall not live it more, no more shall I.
  The war has changed the world--the harvest coming
  Will have its tares no doubt, but the old tares
  Have been cut out and burned, wholly, I trust.
  And just to think you used that sharpened talent
  For getting money, place, in the old regime,
  To place you where to-day? Why, where you must
  Use all your talents for the common good.
  A barter takes two parties, and the traffic
  Whereby the giants of the era gone--
  (You are a giant rising on the wreck
  Of programs and of plots)--made riches for
  Themselves and those they served, is gone as well.
  Since gradually no one is left to serve
  Or have an interest but the state or city,
  The community which is all and should be all.
  So here you are at last despite yourself,
  Changed not in mind perhaps, but changed in place,
  Work, interest, taking pride too in the work;
  And speaking with your outer mind, at least
  Praise for the day and work.

                                I am at fault,
  And take no virtue to myself--I lived
  Your life with you and coveted the things
  Your labors brought me. All is changed for me.
  I would be poorer than this wretched Pole
  Rather than go back to the day that's dead,
  Or reassume the moods I lived them through.
  What can we do now to undo the past,
  Those days of self-indulgence, ostentation,
  False prestige, witless pride, that waste of time,
  Money and spirit, haunted by ennui
  Insatiable emotion, thirst for change.
  At least we can do this: We can set up
  The race's progress and our country's glory
  As standards for our work each day, go on
  Perhaps in ignorance, misguided faith;
  And let the end approve our poor attempts.
  Now to begin, I ask two things of you:
  If you or anyone who did your will
  Wronged this poor Pole, make good the wrong at once.
  And for the sake of bigness let him go.
  For your own name's sake, let the fellow go.
  Do you so promise me?"

                            And Rufus Fox,
  Who looked a thunder cloud of wrath and power
  Before the mirror tying his white tie,
  All this time silent--only spoke these words:
  "Go tell the butler to keep guard on him
  And hold him till we come from dinner."

                                          The wife
  Looked at the red black face of Rufus Fox
  There in the mirror, which like Lao's mirror
  Reflected what his mind was, then went out
  Gently to her bidding, found Sosnowski
  Laughing and talking with the second maid,
  Watched over by the butler, quite himself,
  His pent up anger half discharged, his grudge
  In part relieved.

  There was a garrulous ancient at LeRoy
  Who traced all evils to monopoly
  In land, all social cures to single tax.
  He tried to button-hole the coroner
  And tell him what he thought of Elenor Murray.
  But Merival escaped. And then this man,
  Consider Freeland named, got in a group
  And talked his mind out of the case, the land
  And what makes poverty and waste in lives:



CONSIDER FREELAND


  Look at that tract of land there--five good acres
  Held out of use these thirty years and more.
  They keep a cow there. See! the cow's there now.
  She can't eat up the grass, there is so much.
  And in these thirty years these houses here,
  Here, all around here have been built. This lot
  Is worth five times the worth it had before
  These houses were built round it.

                                    Well, by God,
  I am in part responsible for this.
  I started out to be a first rate lawyer.
  Was I first rate lawyer? Well, I won
  These acres for the Burtons in the day
  When I could tell you what is gavel kind,
  Advowsons, corodies, frank tenements,
  Scutage, escheats, feoffments, heriots,
  Remainders and reversions, and mortmain,
  Tale special and tale general, tale female,
  Fees absolute, conditional, copyholds;
  And used to stand and argue with the courts
  The difference 'twixt a purchase, limitation,
  The rule in Shelley's case.

                            And so it was
  In my good days I won these acres here
  For old man Kingston's daughter, who in turn
  Bound it with limitation for the life
  Of selfish sons, who keep a caretaker,
  Who keeps a cow upon it. There's the cow!
  The land has had no use for thirty years.
  The children are kept off it. Elenor Murray,
  This girl whose death makes such a stir, one time
  Was playing there--but that's another story.
  I only say for the present, these five acres
  Made Elenor Murray's life a thing of waste
  As much as anything, and a damn sight more.
  For think a minute!

                        Kingston had a daughter
  Married to Colonel Burton in Kentucky.
  And Kingston's son was in the Civil War.
  But just before the war, the Burtons deeded
  These acres here, which she inherited
  From old man Kingston, to this Captain Kingston,
  The son aforesaid of Old Kingston. Well,
  The deed upon its face was absolute,
  But really was a deed in trust.

                                  The Captain
  Held title for a year or two, and then
  An hour before he fought at Shiloh, made
  A will, and willed acres to his wife,
  Fee simple and forever. Now you'd think
  That contemplating death, he'd make a deed
  Giving these acres back to Mrs. Burton,
  The sister who had trusted him. I don't know
  What comes in people's heads, but I believe
  The want of money is the root of evil,
  As well as love of money; for this Captain
  Perhaps would make provision for his wife
  And infant son, thought that the chiefest thing
  No matter how he did it, being poor,
  Willed this land as he did. But anyway
  He willed it so, went into Shiloh's battle,
  And fell dead on the field.

                              What happened then?
  They took this will to probate. As I said
  I was a lawyer then, you may believe it,
  Was hired by the Burtons to reclaim
  These acres from the Widow Kingston's clutch,
  Under this wicked will. And so I argued
  The will had not been witnessed according to law.
  Got beat upon that point in the lower court,
  But won upon it in the upper courts.
  Then next I filed a bill to set aside
  This deed the Burtons made to Captain Kingston--
  Oh, I was full of schemes, expedients,
  In those days, I can tell you. Widow Kingston
  Came back and filed a cross bill, asked the court
  To confirm the title in her son and her
  As heirs of Captain Kingston, let the will
  Go out of thought and reckoning. Here's the issue;
  You understand the case, no doubt. We fought
  Through all the courts. I lost in the lower court,
  As I lost on the will. There was the deed:
  For love and affection and one dollar we
  Convey and warrant lots from one to ten
  In the city of LeRoy, to Captain Kingston
  To be his own forever.

                          How to go
  Behind such words and show the actual trust
  Inhering in the deed, that was the job.
  But here I was resourceful as before,
  Found witnesses to testify they heard
  This Captain Kingston say he held the acres
  In trust for Mrs. Burton--but I lost
  Before the chancellor, had to appeal,
  But won on the appeal, and thus restored
  These acres to the Burtons. And for this
  What did I get? Three hundred lousy dollars.
  That's why I smoke a pipe; that's also why
  I quit the business when I saw the business
  Was making ready to quit me. By God,
  My life is waste so far as it was used
  By this law business, and no coroner
  Need hold an inquest on me to find out
  What waste was in my life--God damn the law!

  Well, then I go my way, and take my fee,
  And pay my bills. The Burtons have the land,
  And turn a cow upon it. See how nice
  A playground it would be. I've seen ten sets
  Of children try to play there--hey! you hear,
  The caretaker come out, get off of there!
  And then the children scamper, climb the fence.

  Well, after while the Burtons die. The will
  Leaves these five acres to their sons for life,
  Remainder to the children of the sons.
  The sons are living yet at middle life,
  These acres have been tied up twenty years,
  They may be tied up thirty years beside:
  The sons can't sell it, and their children can't,
  Only the cow can use it, as it stands.
  It grows more valuable as the people come here,
  And bring in being Elenor Murrays, children,
  And make the land around it populous.
  That's what makes poverty, this holding land,
  It makes the taxes harder on the poor,
  It makes work scarcer, and it takes your girls
  And boys and throws them into life half made,
  Half ready for the battle. Is a country
  Free where the laws permit such things? Your priests,
  Your addle-headed preachers mouthing Christ
  And morals, prohibition, laws to force
  People to be good, to save the girls,
  When every half-wit knows environment
  Takes natures, made unstable in these homes
  Of poverty and does the trick.

                                  That baronet
  Who mocked our freedom, sailing back for England
  And said: Your Liberty Statue in the harbor
  Is just a joke, that baronet is right,
  While such conditions thrive.

                                Well, look at me
  Who for three hundred dollars take a part
  In making a cow pasture for a cow
  For fifty years or so. I hate myself.
  And were the Burtons better than this Kingston?
  Kingston would will away what was not his.
  The Burtons took what is the gift of God,
  As much as air, and fenced it out of use--
  Save for the cow aforesaid--for the lives
  Of sons in being.

                    Oh, I know you think
  I have a grudge. I have.

                            This Elenor Murray
  Was ten years old I think, this law suit ended
  Twelve years or so, and I was running down,
  Was tippling just a little every day;
  And I came by this lot one afternoon
  When school was out, a sunny afternoon.
  The children had no place except the street
  To play in; they were standing by the fence,
  The cow was way across the lot, and Elenor
  Was looking through the fence, some boys and girls
  Standing around her, and I said to them:
  "Why don't you climb the fence and play in there?"
  And Elenor--she always was a leader,
  And not afraid of anything, said: "Come on,"
  And in a jiffy climbed the fence, the children,
  Some quicker and some slower, followed her.
  Some said "They don't allow it." Elenor
  Stood on the fence, flung up her arms and crowed,
  And said "What can they do? He says to do it,"
  Pointing at me. And in a moment all of them
  Were playing and were shouting in the lot.
  And I stood there and watched them half malicious,
  And half in pleasure watching them at play.
  Then I heard "hey!" the care-taker ran out.
  And said "Get out of there, I will arrest you."
  He drove them out and as they jumped the fence
  Some said, "He told us to," pointing at me.
  And Elenor Murray said "Why, what a lie!"
  And then the care-taker grabbed Elenor Murray
  And said, "You are the wildest of them all."
  I spoke up, saying, "Leave that child alone.
  I won this God damn land for those you serve,
  They use it for a cow and nothing else,
  And let these children run about the streets,
  When there are grass and dandelions there
  In plenty for these children, and the cow,
  And space enough to play in without bothering
  That solitary cow." I took his hands
  Away from Elenor Murray; he and I
  Came face to face with clenched fists--but at last
  He walked away; the children scampered off.

  Next day, however, they arrested me
  For aiding in a _trespass clausam fregit_,
  And fined me twenty dollars and the costs.
  Since then the cow has all her way in there.
  And Elenor Murray left this rotten place,
  Went to the war, came home and died, and proved
  She had the sense to leave so vile a world.

     *       *       *       *       *

  George Joslin ending up his days with dreams
  Of youth in Europe, travels, and with talk,
  Stirred to a recollection of a face
  He saw in Paris fifty years before,
  Because the face resembled Elenor Murray's,
  Explored his drawers and boxes, where he kept
  Mementos, treasures of the olden days.
  And found a pamphlet, came to Merival,
  With certain recollections, and with theories
  Of Elenor Murray:--



GEORGE JOSLIN ON LA MENKEN


  Here, Coroner Merival, look at this picture!
  Whom does it look like? Eyes too crystalline,
  A head like Byron's, tender mouth, and neck,
  Slender and white, a pathos as of smiles
  And tears kept back by courage. Yes, you know
  It looks like Elenor Murray.

                                Well, you see
  I read each day about the inquest--good!
  Dig out the truth, begin a system here
  Of making family records, let us see
  If we can do for people when we know
  How best to do it, what is done for stock.
  So build up Illinois, the nation too.
  I read about you daily. And last night
  When Elenor Murray's picture in the _Times_
  Looked at me, I began to think, Good Lord,
  Where have I seen that face before? I thought
  Through more than fifty years departed, sent
  My mind through Europe and America
  In all my travels, meetings, episodes.
  I could not think. At last I opened up
  A box of pamphlets, photographs, mementos,
  Picked up since 1860, and behold
  I find this pamphlet of La Belle Menken.
  Here is your Elenor Murray born again,
  As here might be your blackbird of this year
  With spots of red upon his wings, the same
  As last year's blackbird, like a pansy springing
  Out of the April of this year, repeating
  The color, form of one you saw last year.
  Repeating and the same, but not the same;
  No two alike, you know. I'll come to that.

  Well, then, La Menken--as a boy in Paris
  I saw La Menken, I'll return to this.
  But just as Elenor Murray has her life
  Shadowed and symbolized by our Starved Rock--
  And everyone has something in his life
  Which takes him, makes him, is the image too
  Of fate prefigured--La Menken has Mazeppa,
  Her notable first part as actress, emblem
  Of spirit, character, and of omen too
  Of years to come, the thrill of life, the end.

  Who is La Menken? Symbol of America,
  One phase of spirit! She was venturesome,
  Resourceful, daring, hopeful, confident,
  And as she wrote of self, a vagabond,
  A dweller in tents, a reveler, and a flame
  Aspiring but disreputable, coming up
  With leaves that shamed her stalk, could not be shed,
  But stuck out heavy veined and muddy hued
  In time of blossom. There are souls, you know,
  Who have shed shapeless immaturities,
  Betrayals of the seed before the blossom
  Comes to proclaim a beauty, a perfection;
  Or risen with their stalk, until such leaves
  Were hidden in the grass or soil--not she,
  Nor even your Elenor Murray, as I read her.
  But being America and American,
  Brings good and bad together, blossom and leaves
  With prodigal recklessness, in vital health
  And unselective taste and vision mixed
  Of beauty and of truth.

                          Who was La Menken?
  She's born in Louisiana in thirty-five,
  Left fatherless at seven--mother takes her
  And puts her in the ballet at New Orleans.
  She dances then from Texas clear to Cuba;
  Then gives up dancing, studies tragedy,
  And plays Bianca! Fourteen years of age
  Weds Menken, who's a Jew, divorced from him;
  Then falls in love with Heenan, pugilist.
  They quarrel and separate--it's in this pamphlet
  Just as I tell you; you can take it, Coroner.
  Now something happens, nothing in her birth
  Or place of birth to prophesy her life
  Like Starved Rock to this Elenor--being grown,
  A hand instead is darted from the curtain
  That hangs between to-day, to-morrow, sticks
  A symbol on her heart and whispers to her:
  You're this, my woman. Well, the thing was this:
  She played Mazeppa: take your dummy off,
  And lash me to the horse. They were afraid,
  But she prevailed, was nearly killed the first night,
  And after that succeeded, was the rage
  And for her years remaining found herself
  Lashed to the wild horse of ungoverned will,
  Which ran and wandered, till she knew herself
  With stronger will than vision, passion stronger
  Than spirit to judge; the richness of the world,
  Love, beauty, living, greater than her power.
  And all the time she had the appetite
  To eat, devour it all. Grown sick at last,
  She diagnosed her case, wrote to a friend:
  The soul and body do not fit each other--
  A human spirit in a horse's flesh.
  This is your Elenor Murray, in a way.
  But to return to pansies, run your hand
  Over a bed of pansies; here's a pansy
  With petals stunted, here's another one
  All perfect but one petal, here's another
  Too streaked or mottled--all are pansies though.
  And here is one full petaled, strikes the eye
  With perfect color, markings. Elenor Murray
  Has something of the color and the form
  Of this La Menken, but is less a pansy,
  And Sappho, Rachel, Bernhardt are the flowers
  La Menken strove to be, and could not be,
  Ended with being only of their kind.
  And now there's pity for this Elenor Murray,
  And people wept when poor La Menken died.
  Both lived and had their way. I hate this pity,
  It makes you overlook there are two hours:
  The hour of joy, the hour of finding out
  Your joy was all mistake, or led to pain.
  We who inspect these lives behold the pain,
  And see the error, do not keep in mind
  The hour of rapture, and the pride, indeed
  With which your Elenor Murrays and La Menkens
  Have lived that hour, elation, pride and scorn
  For any other way--"this is the life"
  I hear them say.

                    Well, now I go along.
  La Menken fills her purse with gold--she sends
  Her pugilist away, tries once again
  And weds a humorist, an Orpheus Kerr--
  And plays before the miners out in 'Frisco,
  And Sacramento, gathers in the eagles.
  She goes to Europe then--with husband? No!
  James Barkley is her fellow on the voyage.
  She lands in London, takes a gorgeous suite
  In London's grandest hostlery, entertains
  Charles Dickens, Prince Baerto and Charles Read,
  The Duke of Wellington and Swinburne, Sand
  And Jenny Lind; and has a liveried coachman;
  And for a crest a horse's head surmounting
  Four aces, if you please. And plays Mazeppa,
  And piles the money up.

                          Then next is Paris.
  And there I saw her, 1866,
  When Louis Napoleon and the King of Greece,
  The Prince Imperial were in a box.

  She wandered to Vienna, there was ill,
  Came back to Paris, died, a stranger's grave
  In Pere la Chaise was given, afterwards
  Exhumed in Mont Parnasse was buried, got
  A little stone with these words carved upon it:
  "Thou Knowest" meaning God knew, while herself
  Knew nothing of herself.

                            But when in Paris
  They sold her picture taken with her arms
  Around Dumas, and photographs made up
  Of postures ludicrous, obscene as well,
  Of her and great Dumas, I have them home.
  Can show you sometime. Well she loved Dumas,
  Inscribed a book of poems to Charles Dickens,
  By his permission, mark you--don't you see
  Your Elenor Murray here? This Elenor Murray
  A miniature imperfect of La Menken?
  She loved sensation, all her senses thrilled her;
  A delicate soul too weighted by the flesh;
  A coquette, quick of wit, intuitive,
  Kind, generous, unaffected, mystical,
  Teased by the divine in life, and melancholy,
  Of deep emotion sometimes. One has said
  She had a nature spiritual, religious
  Which warred upon the flesh and fell in battle;
  Just as your Elenor Murray joined the church,
  And did not keep the faith, if truth be told.

  Now look, here is a letter in this pamphlet
  La Menken writes a poet--for she hunts
  For seers and for poets, lofty souls.
  And who does that? A woman wholly bad?
  Why no, a woman to be given life
  Fit for her spirit in another realm
  By God who will take notice, I believe.
  Now listen if you will! "I know your soul.
  It has met mine somewhere in starry space.
  And you must often meet me, vagabond
  Of fancy without aim, a dweller in tents
  Disreputable before the just. Just think
  I am a linguist, write some poems too,
  Can paint a little, model clay as well.
  And yet for all these gropings of my soul
  I am a vagabond, of little use.
  My body and my soul are in a scramble
  And do not fit each other--let them carve
  Those words upon my stone, but also these
  Thou Knowest, for God knows me, knows I love
  Whatever is good and beautiful in life;
  And that my soul has sought them without rest.
  Farewell, my friend, my spirit is with you,
  Vienna is too horrible, but know Paris
  Then die content."

                      Now, Coroner Merival,
  You're not the only man who wants to see,
  Will work to make America a republic
  Of splendors, freedoms, happiness, success.
  Though I am seventy-six, cannot do much,
  Save talk, as I am talking now, bring forth
  Proofs, revelations from the years I've lived.
  I care not how you view the lives of people,
  As pansy beds or what not, lift your faith
  So high above the pansy bed it sees
  The streaked and stunted pansies filling in
  The pattern that the perfect pansies outline,
  Therefore are smiling, even indifferent
  To this poor conscious pansy, dying at last
  Because it could not be the flower it wished.
  My heart to Elenor Murray and La Menken
  Goes out in sorrow, even while I know
  They shook their leaves in April, laughed and thrilled,
  And either did not know, or did not care
  The growing time was precious, and if wasted
  Could never be regained. Look at La Menken
  At seven years put in the ballet corps;
  And look at Elenor Murray getting smut
  Out of experience that made her wise.
  What shall we do about it?--let it go?
  And say there is no help, or say a republic,
  Set up a hundred years ago, raised to the helm
  Of rulership as president a list
  Of men more able than the emperors,
  Kings, rulers of the world, and statesmen too
  The equal of the greatest, money makers,
  And domineers of finance and economies
  Phenomenal in time--say, I repeat
  A country like this one must let its children
  Waste as they wasted in the darker years
  Of Europe. Shall we let these trivial minds
  Who see salvation, progress in restraint,
  Pre-empt the field of moulding human life?
  Or shall we take a hand, and put our minds
  Upon the task, as recently we built
  An army for the war, equipped and fed it,
  An army better than all other armies,
  More powerful, more apt of hand and brain,
  Of thin tall youths, who did stop but said
  Like poor La Menken, strap me to the horse
  I'll do it if I die--so giving to peace
  The skill and genius which we use in war,
  Though it cost twenty billion, and why not?
  Why every dollar, every drop of blood
  For war like this to guard democracy,
  And not so much or more to build the land,
  Improve our blood, make individual
  America and her race? And first to rout
  Poverty and disease, give youth its chance,
  And therapeutic guidance. Soldier boys
  Have huts for recreation, clergymen,
  And is it more, less worth to furnish hands
  Intimate, hearts intimate for the use
  Of your La Menkens, Elenor Murrays, youths
  Who feel such vigor in their restless wings
  They tumble out of crowded nests and fly
  To fall in thickets, dash themselves against
  Walls, trees?

                I have a vision, Coroner,
  Of a new Republic, brighter than the sun,
  A new race, loftier faith, this land of ours
  Made over as to people, boys and girls,
  Conserved like forests, water power or mines;
  Watched, tested, put to best use, keen economies
  Practiced in spirits, waste of human life,
  Hope, aspiration, talent, virtues, powers,
  Avoided by a science, science of life,
  Of spirit, what you will. Enough of war,
  And billions for the flag--all well enough!
  Some billions now to make democracy
  Democracy in truth with us, and life
  Not helter-skelter, hitting as it may,
  And missing much, as this La Menken did.
  I'm not convinced we must have stunted pansies,
  That have no use but just to piece the pattern.
  Let's try, and if we try and fail, why then
  Our human duty ends, the God in us
  Will have it just this way, no other way.
  And then we may accept so poor a world,
  A republic so unfinished.

     *       *       *       *       *

  Will Paget is another writer of letters
  To Coroner Merival. The coroner
  Spends evenings reading letters, keeps a file
  Where he preserves them. And the blasphemy
  Of Paget makes him laugh. He has an evening
  And reads this letter to the jurymen:



WILL PAGET ON DEMOS AND HOGOS


  To Coroner Merival, greetings, but a voice
  Dissentient from much that goes the rounds,
  Concerning Elenor Murray. Here's my word:
  Give men and women freedom, save the land
  From dull theocracy--the theo, what?
  A blend of Demos and Jehovah! Say,
  Bring back your despots, bring your Louis Fourteenths,
  And give them thrones of gold and ivory
  From where with leaded sceptres they may whack
  King Demos driven forth. You know the face?
  The temples are like sea shells, hollows out,
  Which narrow close the space for cortex cells.
  There would be little brow if hair remained;
  But hair is gone, because the dandruff came.
  The eyes are close together like a weasel's;
  The jaws are heavy, that is character;
  The mouth is thin and wide to gobble chicken;
  The paunch is heavy for the chickens eaten.
  Throned high upon a soap box Demos rules,
  And mumbles decalogues: Thou shalt not read,
  Save what I tell you, never books that tell
  Of men and women as they live and are.
  Thou shalt not see the dramas which portray
  The evil passions and satiric moods
  Which mock this Christian nation and its hope.
  Thou shalt not drink, not even wine or beer.
  Thou shalt not play at cards, or see the races.
  Thou shalt not be divorced! Thou shalt not play.
  Thou shalt not bow to graven images
  Of beauty cut in marble, fused in bronze.
  Behold my name is Demos, King of Kings,
  My name is legion, I am many, come
  Out of the sea where many hogs were drowned,
  And now the ruler of hogocracy,
  Where in the name of freedom hungry snouts
  Root up the truffles in your great republic,
  And crunch with heavy jaws the legs and arms
  Of people who fall over in the pen.
  Hierarchies in my name are planted under
  Your states political to sprout and take
  The new world's soil,--religious freedom this!--
  Thought must be free--unless your thought objects
  To such dominion, and to literal faith
  In an old book that never had a place
  Except beside the Koran, Zarathustra.
  So here is your theocracy and here
  The land of Boredom. Do you wonder now
  That people cry for war? You see that God
  Frowns on all games but war. You shall not play
  Or kindle spirit with a rapture save
  A moral end's in view. All joy is sin,
  Where joy stands for itself alone, nor asks
  Consent to be, save for itself. But war
  Waged to put down the wrong, it's always that;
  To vindicate God's truths, all wars are such,
  Is game that lets the spirit play, is backed
  By God and moral reasons, therefore war,
  A game disguised as business, cosmic work
  For great millenniums, no less relieves
  The boredom of theocracies. But if
  Your men and women had the chance to play,
  Be free and spend superfluous energies,
  In what I call the greatest game, that's Life,
  Have life more freely, deeply, and you say
  How would you like a war and lose a leg,
  Or come from battle sick for all your years?
  You would say no, unless you saw an issue,
  Stripped clean of Christian twaddle, as we'll say
  The Greeks beheld the Persians. Well, behold
  All honest paganism in such things discarded
  For God who comes in glory, trampling presses
  Filled up with grapes of wrath.

                                  Now hear me out:
  I knew we'd have a war, it wasn't only
  That your hogocracy was grunting war
  We'd fight Japan, take Mexico--remember
  How dancing flourished madly in the land;
  Then think of savages who dance the Ghost Dance,
  And cattle lowing, rushing in a panic,
  There's psychic secrets here. But then at last
  What can you do with life? You're well and strong,
  Flushed with desire, mad with appetites,
  You turn this way and find a sign forbidden,
  You turn that way and find the door is closed.
  Hogocracy, King Demos say, go back,
  Find work, develop character, restrain,
  Draw up your belt a little tighter, hunger
  And thirst diminish with a tighter belt.
  And none to say, take off the belt and eat,
  Here's water for you.

                        Well, you have a war.
  We used to say in foot ball kick their shins,
  And gouge their eyes out--when our shins were kicked
  We hollered foul and ouch. There was the south
  Who called us mud-sills in this freer north,
  And mouthed democracy; and as for that
  Their churches made of God a battle leader,
  An idea come from Palestine; oh, yes,
  They soon would wipe us up, they were the people.
  But when we slaughtered them they hollered ouch.
  And why not? For a gun and uniform,
  And bands that play are rapturous enough.
  But when you get a bullet through the heart,
  The game is not so funny as it was.
  That's why I hated Germany and hate her,
  And feel we could not let this German culture
  Spread over earth. That culture was but this:
  Life must have an expression and a game,
  And war's the game, besides the prize is great
  In land and treasure, commerce, let us play,
  It lets the people's passions have a vent
  When fires of life burn hot and hotter under
  The kettle and the lid is clamped by work,
  Dull duty, daily routine, inhibitions.
  Before this Elenor Murray woke to life
  LeRoy was stirring, but the stir was play.
  It was a Gretna Green, and pleasure boats
  Ran up and down the river--on the streets
  You heard the cry of barkers, in the park
  The band was playing, and you heard the ring
  Of registers at fountains and buffets.
  All this was shabby maybe, but observe
  There are those souls who see the wrath of God
  As blackest background to the light of soul:
  And when the thunder rumbles and the storm
  Comes up with lightning then they say to men
  Who laugh in bar-rooms, "Have a care, blasphemers,
  You may be struck by lightning"--here's the root
  From which this mood ascetic comes to leaf
  In all theocracies, and throws a shadow
  Upon all freedom.

                    Look at us to-day.
  They say to me, see what a town we have:
  The men at work, smoke coming from the chimneys,
  The banks full up of money, business good,
  The workmen sober, going home at night,
  No rowdy barkers and no bands a-playing,
  No drinking and no gaming and no vice.
  No marriages contracted to be broken.
  Look how LeRoy is quiet, sane and clean!
  And I reply, you like the stir of work,
  But not the stir of play; your chimneys smoke,
  Your banks have money. Let me look behind
  The door that closes on your man at home,
  The wife and children there, what shall I find?
  A sick man looks to health as it were all,
  But when the fever leaves him and he feels
  The store of strength in muscles slumbering
  And waiting to be used, then something else
  Than health is needful, he must have a way
  To voice the life within him, and he wonders
  Why health seemed so desirable before,
  And all sufficient to him.

                            Take this girl:
  Why do you marvel that she rode at night
  With any man who came along? Good God,
  If I were born a woman and they put me
  In a theocracy, hogocracy,
  I'd do the first thing that came in my mind
  To give my soul expression. Don't you think
  You're something of a bully and a coward
  To ask such model living from this girl
  When you, my grunting hogos, run the land
  And bring us scandals like the times of Grant,
  And poisoned beef sold to the soldier boys,
  When we were warring Spain, and all this stuff
  Concerning loot and plunder, malversation,
  That riots in your cities, printed daily?
  I roll the panoramic story out
  To Washington the great--what do I see?
  It's tangle foot, the sticky smear is dry;
  But I can find wings, legs and heads, remember
  How little flies and big were buzzing once
  Of God and duty, country, virtue, faith;
  And beating wings, already gummed with sweet,
  Until their little bellies touched the glue,
  They sought to fill their bellies with--at last
  Long silence, which is history, scroll rolled up
  And spoken of in sacred whispers.

                                    Well,
  I'm glad that Elenor Murray had her fling,
  If that be really true. I understand
  What drove her to the war. I think she knew
  Too much to marry, settle down and live
  Under the rule of Demos or of Hogos.
  I wish we had a dozen Elenor Murrays
  In every village in this land of Demos
  To down Theocracy, which is just as bad
  As Prussianism, is no different
  From Prussianism. And I fear but this
  As fruitage of the war: that men and women
  Will have burnt on their souls the words ceramic
  That war's the thing, and this theocracy,
  Where generous outlets for the soul are stopped
  Will keep the words in mind. When boredom comes,
  And grows intolerable, you'll see the land
  Go forth to war to get a thrill and live--
  Unless we work for freedom, for delight
  And self-expression.

     *       *       *       *       *

  Dwight Henry is another writer of letters,
  Stirred by the Murray inquest; writes a screed
  "The House that Jack Built," read by Merival
  To entertain his jury, in these words:



THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT


  Why don't they come to me to find the cause
  Of Elenor Murray's death? The house is first;
  That is the world, and Jack is God, you know;
  The malt is linen, purple, wine and food,
  The rats that get the malt are nobles, lords,
  Those who had feudal dues and hunting rights,
  And privileges, first nights, all the rest.
  The cats are your Voltaires, Rousseaus; the dogs,
  Your jailers, Louis, Fredericks and such.
  And O, you blessed cow, you common people,
  Whom maidens all forlorn attend and milk.
  Here is your Elenor Murray who gives hands,
  Brain, heart and spirit to the task of milking,
  And straining milk that other lips may drink,
  Revive and flourish, wedding, if she weds,
  The tattered man in church, which is your priest
  Shaven and shorn, and wakened with the sun
  By the cock, theology that keeps the house
  Well timed and ruled for honor unto Jack,
  Who must have order, rising on the hour,
  And ceremony for his house.

                              If rats
  Had never lived, or left the malt alone,
  This girl had lived. Let's trace the story down:
  We went to France to fight, we go to France
  To get the origin of Elenor's death.
  It's 1750, say, the malt of France
  And Europe, too, is over-run by rats;
  The nobles and the clergy own the land,
  Exact the taxes, drink the luscious milk
  Of the crumpled horns. But cats come slinking by
  Called Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau. Now look!
  Cat Diderot goes after war and taxes,
  The slave trade, privilege, the merchant stomach.
  In England, too, there is a sly grimalkin,
  Who poisons rats with most malicious thoughts,
  And bears the name of Adam--Adam Smith,
  By Jack named Adam just to signify
  His sinful nature. But the cat Voltaire
  Says Adam never fell, that man is good,
  An honest merchant better than a king,
  And shaven priests are worse than parasites.
  He rubs his glossy coat against the legs
  Of Quakers, loving natures, loathes the trade
  Of war, and runs with velvet feet across
  The whole of Europe, scaring rats to death.
  The cat Rousseau is instinct like a cat,
  And purrs that man born free is still in chains
  Here in this house that Jack built. Consequence?
  There is such squeaking, running of the rats,
  The cats in North America wake up
  And drive the English rats out; then the dogs
  Grow cautious of the cats, poor simple Louis
  Convokes a French assembly to preserve
  The malt against the rats and give the cow
  Whose milk is growing blue and thin some malt.
  And all at once rats, cats and dogs, the cow,
  The shaven priest, the maiden all forlorn,
  The tattered man, the cock, are in a hubbub
  Of squeaking, caterwauling, barking, lowing,
  With cock-a-doodles, curses, prayers and shrieks
  Ascending from the melee. In a word,
  You have a revolution.

                          All at once
  A mastiff dog appears and barks: "Be still."
  And in a way in France's room in the house
  Brings order for a time. He grabs the fabric
  Of the Holy Roman Empire, tears it up,
  Sends for the shaven priest from Rome and bites
  His shrunken calves; trots off to Jena where
  He whips the Prussian dogs, but wakes them too
  To breed and multiply, grow strong to fight
  All other dogs in Jack's house, bite to death
  The maidens all forlorn, like Elenor Murray.

  This mastiff, otherwise Napoleon called,
  Is downed at last by dogs from everywhere.
  They're rid of him--but still the house of Jack
  Is better than it was, the rats are thick,
  But cats grow more abundant, malt is served
  More generously to the cow. The Prussian dogs
  Discover malt's the thing, also the cow
  Must have her malt, or else the milk gives out.
  But all the while the Prussian dogs grow strong,
  Well taught and angered by Napoleon.
  And some of them would set the house in order
  After the manner of America.
  But many wish to fight, get larger rooms,
  Then set the whole in order. At Sadowa
  They whip the Austrian dogs, and once again
  A mastiff comes, a Bismarck, builds a suite
  From north to south, and forces Austria
  To huddle in the kitchen, use the outhouse
  Where Huns and Magyars, Bulgars and the rest
  Keep Babel under Jack who split their tongues
  To make them hate each other and suspect,
  Not understanding what the other says.
  This very Babel was the cause of death
  Of Elenor Murray, if I chose to stop
  And go no further with the story.

                                    Next
  Our mastiff Bismarck thinks of Luneville,
  And would avenge it, grabs the throat of France,
  And downs her; at Versailles growls and carries
  An emperor of Germany to the throne.
  Then pants and wags his tail, and little dreams
  A dachshund in an early day to come
  Will drive him from the kennel and the bone
  He loves to crunch and suck.

                                This dachshund is
  In one foot crippled, rabies from his sires
  Lies dormant in him, in a day of heat
  Froth from his mouth will break, his eyes will roll
  Like buttons made of pearl with glints of green.
  Already he feels envy of the dogs
  Who wear brass collars, bay the moon of Jack,
  And roam at will about the house of Jack,
  The English, plainer said. This envy takes
  The form of zeal for country, so he trots
  About the house, gets secrets for reforms
  For Germany, would have his lesser dogs
  All merchants, traders sleek and prosperous,
  Achieve a noble breed to rule the house.
  And so he puts his rooms in order, while
  The other dogs look on with much concern
  And growing fear.

                    The business of the house
  In every room is over malt; the cow
  Must be well fed for milk. And if you have
  No feudal dues, outlandish taxes, still
  The game of old goes on, has only changed
  Its dominant form. Grimalkin, Adam Smith
  Spied all the rats, and all the tricks of rats,
  Saw in his day the rats crawl hawser ropes
  And get on ships, embark for Indias,
  And get the malt; and now the merchant ships
  For China bound, for Africa, for the Isles
  Of farthest seas take rats, who slip aboard
  And eat their fill before the patient cow,
  Milked daily as before can lick her tongue
  Against a mouthful of the precious stuff.
  You have your eastern question, and your Congo.
  France wants Morocco, gives to Germany
  Possessions in the Congo for Morocco.
  The dogs jump into China, even we
  Take part and put the Boxers down, lay hands
  Upon the Philippines, and Egypt falls
  To England, all are building battle ships.
  The dachshund barking he is crowded out,
  Encircled, as he says, builds up the army,
  And patriot cocks are crowing everywhere,
  Until the house of Jack with snarls and growls,
  The fuff, fuff, fuff of cats seems on the eve
  Of pandemonium. The Germans think
  The Slavs want Europe, and the Slavs are sure
  The Germans want it, and it's all for malt.
  Meantime the Balkan Babel leads to war.
  The Slavic peoples do not like the rule
  Of Austro-Hungary, but the latter found
  No way except to rule the Slavs and rule
  Southeastern Europe, being crowded out
  By mastiff Bismarck. And again there's Jack
  Who made confusion of the Balkan tongues.
  And so the house awaits events that look
  As if Jack willed them, anyway a thing
  That may be put on Jack. It comes at last.
  All have been armed for malt. A crazy man
  Has armed himself and shoots a king to be,
  The Archduke Francis, on the Serbian soil,
  Then Austria moves on Serbia, Russia moves
  To succor Serbia, France is pledged to help
  The Russians, but our dachshund has a bond
  With Austria and rushes to her aid.
  Then England must protect the channel, yes,
  France must be saved--and here you have your war.

  And now for Elenor Murray. Top of brain
  Where ideals float like clouds, we owed to France
  A debt, but had we paid it, if the dog,
  The dachshund, mad at last, had left our ships
  To freedom of the seas? Say what you will,
  This England is the smartest thing in time,
  Can never fall, be conquered while she keeps
  That mind of hers, those eyes that see all things,
  Spies or no spies, knows every secret hatched
  In every corner of the house of Jack.
  And with one language spoken by more souls
  Than any tongue, leads minds by written words;
  Writes treaties, compacts which forstall the sword,
  And makes it futile when it's drawn against her....
  You cuff your enemy at school or make
  A naso-digital gesture, coming home
  You fear your enemy, so walk beside
  The gentle teacher; if your enemy
  Throws clods at you, he hits the teacher. Well,
  'Twas wise to hide munitions back of skirts,
  And frocks of little children, most unwise
  For Dachshund William to destroy the skirts
  And frocks to sink munitions, since the wearers
  Happened to be Americans. William fell
  Jumping about his room and spilled the clock,
  Raked off the mantel; broke his billikens,
  His images of Jack by doing this.
  For, seeing this, we rise; ten million youths
  Take guns for war, and many Elenor Murrays
  Swept out of placid places by the ripples
  Cross seas to serve.

                      This girl was French in part,
  In spirit was American. Look back
  Do you not see Voltaire lay hold of her,
  Hands out of tombs and spirits, from the skies
  Lead her to Europe? Trace the causes back
  To Adam, or the dwellers of the lakes,
  It is enough to see the souls that stirred
  The Revolution of the French which drove
  The ancient evils from the house of Jack.
  It is enough to hope that from this war
  The vestiges of feudal wrongs shall lie
  In Jack's great dust-pan, swept therein and thrown
  In garbage cans by maidens all forlorn,
  The Fates we'll call them now, lame goddesses,
  Hags halt, far sighted, seeing distant things,
  Near things but poorly--this is much to hope!
  But if we get a freedom that is free
  For Elenor Murrays, maidens all forlorn,
  And tattered men, and so prevent the wars,
  Already budding in this pact of peace,
  This war is good, and Elenor Murray's life
  Not waste, but gain.

                        Now for a final mood,
  As it were second sight. I open the door,
  Walk from the house of Jack, look at the roof,
  The chimneys, over them see depths of blue.
  Jack's house becomes a little ark that sails,
  Tosses and bobbles in an infinite sea.
  And all events of evil, war and strife,
  The pain and folly, test of this and that,
  The groping from one thing to something else,
  Old systems turned to new, old eras dead,
  New eras rising, these are ripples all
  Moving from some place in the eternal sea
  Where Jack is throwing stones,--these ripples lap
  Against the house of Jack, or toss it so
  The occupants go reeling here and there,
  Laugh, scowl, grow sick, tread on each other's toes.
  While all the time the sea is most concerned
  With tides and currents, little with the house,
  Ignore this Elenor Murray or Voltaire,
  Who living and who dying reproduce
  Ripples upon the pools of time and place,
  That knew them; and so on where neither eye
  Nor mind can trace the ripples vanishing
  In ether, realms of spirit, what you choose!

     *       *       *       *       *

  Now on a day when Merival was talking
  More evidence at the inquest, he is brought
  The card of Mary Black, associate
  Of Elenor Murray in the hospital
  Of France, and asks the coroner to hear
  What Elenor Murray suffered in the war.
  And Merival consents and has her sworn;
  She testifies as follows to the jury:

  Poor girl, she had an end! She seems to me
  A torch stuck in a bank of clay, snuffed out,
  Her warmth and splendor wasted. Never girl
  Had such an ordeal and a fate before.
  She was the lucky one at first, and then
  Evils and enemies flocked down upon her,
  And beat her to the earth.

                            But when we sailed
  You never saw so radiant a soul,
  While most of us were troubled, for you know
  Some were in gloom, had quarreled with their beaux,
  Who did not say farewell. And there were some
  Who talked for weeks ahead of seeing beaux
  And having dinners with them who missed out.

  We were a tearful, a deserted lot.
  And some were apprehensive--well you know!
  But Elenor, she had a beau devoted
  Who sent her off with messages and love,
  And comforts for her service in the war.
  And so her face was lighted, she was gay,
  And said to us: "How wonderful it is
  To serve, to nurse, to play our little part
  For country, for democracy." And to me
  She said: "My heart is brimming over with love.
  Now I can work and nurse, now use my hands
  To soothe and heal, which burn to finger tips,
  With flame for service."

                            Oh she had the will,
  The courage, resolution; but at last
  They broke her down. And this is how it was:
  Her love for someone gave her zeal and grace
  For watching, working, caring for the sick.
  Her heart was in the cause too--but this love
  Gave beauty, passion to it. All her men
  Stretched out to kiss her hands. It may be true
  The wounded soldier is a grateful soul.
  But in her case they felt a warmer flame,
  A greater tenderness. So she won her spurs,
  And honors, was beloved, she had a brain,
  A fine intelligence. Then at the height
  Of her success, she disobeyed a doctor--
  He was a pigmy--Elenor knew more
  Than he did, but you know the discipline:
  War looses all the hatreds, meanest traits
  Together with the noblest, so she crumpled,
  Was disciplined for this. About this time
  A letter to the head nurse came--there was
  A Miriam Fay, who by some wretched fate
  Was always after Elenor--it was she
  Who wrote the letter, and the letter said
  To keep a watch on Elenor, lest she snag
  Some officer or soldier. Elenor,
  Who had no caution, venturesome and brave,
  Wrote letters more than frank to one she loved
  Whose tenor leaked out through the censorship.
  Her lover sent her telegrams, all opened,
  And read first by the head nurse. So at last
  Too much was known, and Elenor was eyed,
  And whispers ran around. Those ugly girls,
  Who never had a man, were wagging tongues,
  And still her service was so radiant,
  So generous and skillful she survived,
  Helped by the officers, the leading doctors,
  Who liked her and defended her, perhaps
  In hopes of winning her--you know the game!
  It was through them she went to Nice; but when
  She came back to her duty all was ready
  To catch her and destroy her--envy played
  Its part, as you can see.

                            Our unit broke,
  And some of us were sent to Germany,
  And some of us to other places--all
  Went with some chum, associate. But Elenor,
  Who was cut off from every one she knew,
  And shipped out like an animal to be
  With strangers, nurses, doctors, wholly strange.
  The head nurse passed the word along to watch her.
  And thus it was her spirit, once aflame
  For service and for country, fed and brightened
  By love for someone, thus was left to burn
  In darkness and in filth.

                            The hospital
  Was cold, the rain poured, and the mud was frightful--
  Poor Elenor was writing me--the food
  Was hardly fit to eat. To make it worse
  They put her on night duty for a month.
  Smallpox broke out and they were quarantined.
  A nurse she chose to be her friend was stricken
  With smallpox, died and left her all alone.
  One rainy morning she heard guns and knew
  A soldier had been stood against the wall.
  He was a boy from Texas, driven mad
  By horror and by drink, had killed a Frenchman.
  She had the case of crazy men at night,
  And one of them got loose and knocked her down,
  And would have killed her, had an orderly
  Not come in time. And she was cold at night,
  Sat bundled up so much she scarce could walk
  There in that ward on duty. Everywhere
  They thwarted her and crossed her, she was nagged,
  Brow-beaten, driven, hunted and besought
  For favors, for the word was well around
  She was the kind who could be captured--false,
  The girl was good whatever she had done.
  All this she suffered, and her lover now
  Had cast her off, it seems, had ceased to write,
  Had gone back to America--even then
  They did not wholly break her.

                                  But I ask
  What soldier or what nurse retained his faith,
  The splendor of his flame? I wish to God
  They'd pass a law and make it death to write
  Or speak of war as glory, or as good.
  What good can come of hatred, greed and murder?
  War licenses these passions, legalizes
  All infamies. They talk of cruelties--
  We shot the German captives--and I nursed
  A boy who shot a German, with two others
  Rushed on the fallen fellow, ran him through,
  Through eyes and throat with bayonets. The world
  Is better, is it? And if Indians scalped
  Our women for the British, and if Sherman
  Cut through the south with sword and flame, to-day
  Such terrors should not be, we are improved!
  Yes, hate and lust have changed, and maniac rage,
  And rum has lost its potency to fire
  A nerve that sickens at the bloody work
  Where men are butchered as you shoot and slash
  An animal for food!

                      Well, now suppose
  The preachers who preach Jesus meek and mild,
  But fulminate for slaughter, when the game
  Of money turns its thumbs down; if your statesmen
  With hardened arteries and hardened hearts,
  Who make a cult of patriotism, gain
  Their offices and livelihood thereby;
  Your emperors and kings and chancellors,
  Who glorify themselves and win sometimes
  Lands for their people; and your editors
  Who whip the mob to fury, bellies fat,
  Grown cynical, and rich, who cannot lose,
  No matter what we suffer--if we nurses,
  And soldiers fail; your patriotic shouters
  Of murder and of madness, von Bernhardis,
  Treitschkes, making pawns of human life
  To shape a destiny they can't control--
  Your bankers and your merchants--all the gang
  Who shout for war and pay the orators,
  Arrange the music--if I say--this crowd
  Finds us, the nurses and the soldiers, cold,
  Our fire of youth and faith beyond command,
  Too wise to be enlisted or enslaved,
  What will they do who shout for war so much?

  And haven't we, the nurses and the soldiers
  Written some million stories for the eyes
  Of boys and girls to read these fifty years?
  And if they read and understand, no war
  Can come again. They can't have war without
  The spirit of your Elenor Murrays--no!

     *       *       *       *       *

  So Mary Black went on, and Merival
  Gave liberty to her to talk her mind.
  The jury smiled or looked intense for words
  So graphic of the horrors of the war.
  Then David Barrow asked: "Who is the man
  That used to write to Elenor, went away?"
  And Mary Black replied, "We do not know;
  I do not know a girl who ever knew.
  I only know that Elenor wept and grieved,
  And did her duty like a little soldier.
  It was some man who came to France, because
  The word went round he had gone back, and left
  The service, or the service there in France
  Had left. Some said he'd gone to England, some
  America. He must have been an American,
  Or rather in America when she sailed,
  Because she went off happy. In New York
  Saw much of him before we sailed."

                                    And then
  The Reverend Maiworm juryman spoke up--
  This Mary Black had left the witness chair--
  And asked if Gregory Wenner went to France.
  The coroner thought not, but would inquire.

     *       *       *       *       *

  Jane Fisher was a friend of Elenor Murray's
  And held the secret of a pack of letters
  Which Elenor Murray left. And on a day
  She talks with Susan Hamilton, a friend.
  Jane Fisher has composed a letter to
  A lawyer in New York, who has the letters--
  At least it seems so--and to get the letters,
  And so fulfill the trust which Elenor
  Had left to Jane. Meantime the coroner
  Had heard somehow about the letters, or
  That Jane knows something--she is anxious now,
  And in a flurry, does not wish to go
  Down to LeRoy and tell her story. So
  She talks with Susan Hamilton like this:



JANE FISHER


  Jane Fisher says to Susan Hamilton,
  That Coroner has no excuse to bring
  You, me before him. There are many too
  Who could throw light on Elenor Murray's life
  Besides the witnesses he calls to tell
  The cause of death: could he call us and hear
  About the traits we know, he should have us.
  What do we know of Elenor Murray's death?
  Why, not a thing, unless her death began
  With Simeon Strong and Gregory Wenner--then
  I could say something, for she told me much
  About her plan to marry Simeon Strong,
  And could have done so but for Gregory Wenner,
  Whose fault of life combined with fault of hers
  To break the faith of Simeon Strong in her.
  And so what have we? Gregory Wenner's love
  Poisons the love of Simeon Strong, from that
  Poor Elenor Murray falls into decline;
  From that, re-acts to nursing and religion,
  Which leads her to the war; and from the war
  Some other causes come, I know not what;
  I wish I knew. And Elenor Murray dies,
  Is killed or has a normal end of life.

  But, Susan, Elenor Murray feasted richly
  While life was with her, spite of all the pain.
  If you could choose, be Elenor Murray or
  Our schoolmate, Mary Marsh, which would you be?
  Elenor Murray had imagination,
  And courage to sustain it; Mary Marsh
  Had no imagination, was afraid,
  Could not envision life in Europe, married
  And living there in England, threw her chance
  Away to live in England, was content,
  And otherwise not happy but to lift
  Her habitation from the west of town
  And settle on the south side, wed a man
  Whose steadiness and business sense made sure
  A prosperous uniformity of life.
  Life does not enter at your door and seek you,
  And pour her gifts into your lap. She drops
  The chances and the riches here and there.
  They find them who fly forth, as faring birds
  Know northern marshes, rice fields in the south;
  While the dull turtle waddles in his mud.
  The bird is slain perhaps, the turtle lives,
  But which has known the thrills?

                                    Well, on a time
  Elenor Murray, Janet Stearns, myself
  Thought we would see Seattle and Vancouver,
  We had saved money teaching school that year--
  The plan was Elenor Murray's. So we sailed
  To 'Frisco from Los Angeles, saw 'Frisco
  By daylight, but to see the town by night
  Was Elenor Murray's wish, and up to now
  We had no men, had found none. Elenor said,
  "Let's go to Palo Alto, find some men."
  We landed in a blinding sun, and walked
  About the desolate campus, but no men.
  And Janet and myself were tired and hot;
  But Elenor, who never knew fatigue,
  Went searching here and there, and left us sitting
  Under a palm tree waiting. Hours went by,
  Two hours, I think, when she came down the walk
  A man on either side. She brought them up
  And introduced them. They were gay and young,
  Students with money. Then the fun began:
  We wished to see the place, must hurry back
  To keep engagements in the city--whew!
  How Elenor Murray baited hooks for us
  With words about the city and our plans;
  What fun we three had had already there!
  Until at last these fellows begged to come,
  Return with us to 'Frisco, be allowed
  To join our party. "Could we manage it?"
  Asked Elenor Murray, "do you think we can?"
  We fell into the play and talked it over,
  Considered this and that, resolved the thing,
  And said at last to come, and come they did....
  Well, such a time in 'Frisco. For you see
  Our money had been figured down to cents
  For what we planned to do. These fellows helped,
  We scarcely had seen 'Frisco but for them.
  They bought our dinners, paid our way about
  Through China Town and so forth, but we kept
  Our staterooms on the boat, slept on the boat.
  And after three days' feasting sailed away
  With bouquets for each one of us.

                                    But this girl
  Could never get enough, must on and on
  See more, have more sensations, never tired.
  And when we saw Vancouver then the dream
  Of going to Alaska entered her.
  I had no money, Janet had no money
  To help her out, and Elenor was short.
  We begged her not to try it--what a will!
  She set her jaw and said she meant to go.
  And when we missed her for a day, behold
  We find her, she's a cashier in a store,
  And earning money there to take the trip.
  Our boat was going back, we left her there.
  I see her next when school commences, ruling
  Her room of pupils at Los Angeles.
  The summer after this she wandered east,
  Was now engaged to Simeon Strong, but writing
  To Gregory Wenner, saw him in Chicago.
  She traveled to New York, he followed her.
  She was a girl who had to live her life,
  Could not live through another, found no man
  Whose life sufficed for hers, must live herself,
  Be individual.

                  And en route for France
  She wrote me from New York, was seeing much
  Of Margery, an aunt--I never knew her,
  But sensed an evil in her, and a mind
  That used the will of Elenor Murray--how
  Or why, I knew not. But she wrote to me
  This Margery had brought her lawyer in,
  There in New York to draw a document,
  And put some letters in a safety box.
  Whose letters? Gregory Wenner's? I don't know.
  She told me much of secrets, but of letters
  That needed for their preciousness a box,
  A lawyer to arrange the matter, nothing.
  For if there was another man, she felt
  Too shamed, no doubt, to tell me:--"This is he,
  The love I sought, the great reality,"
  When she had said as much of Gregory Wenner.
  But now a deeper matter: with this letter
  She sent a formal writing giving me
  Charge of these letters, if she died to give
  The letters to the writer. I'm to know
  The identity of the writer, so she planned
  When I obtain them. How about this lawyer,
  And Margery the aunt? What shall I do?
  Write to this lawyer what my duty is
  Appointed me of her, go to New York?

  I must do something, for this lawyer has,
  As I believe, no knowledge of my place
  In this affair. Who has the box's key?
  This lawyer, or the aunt--I have no key--
  And if they have the key, or one of them,
  And enter, take the letters, look! our friend
  Gets stains upon her memory; or the man
  Who wrote the letters finds embarrassment.
  Somehow, I think, these letters hold a secret,
  The deepest of her life and cruelest,
  And figured in her death. My dearest friend,
  What if they brought me to the coroner,
  If I should get these letters, and they learned
  I had them, this relation to our Elenor!
  Yet how can I neglect to write this lawyer
  And tell him Elenor Murray gave to me
  This power of disposition?

                              Come what may
  I must write to this lawyer. Here I write
  To get the letters, and obey the wish
  Of our dear friend. Our friend who never could
  Carry her ventures to success, but always
  Just at the prosperous moment wrecked her hope.
  She really wished to marry Simeon Strong.
  Then why imperil such a wish by keeping
  This Gregory Wenner friendship living, go
  About with Gregory Wenner, fill the heart
  Of Simeon Strong with doubt?

                                 Oh well, my friend,
  We wonder at each other, I at you,
  And you at me, for doing this or that.
  And yet I think no man or woman acts
  Without a certain logic in the act
  Of nature or of circumstance.

                                Look here,
  This letter to the lawyer. Will it do?
  I think so. If it brings the letters--well!
  If not, I'll get them somehow, it must be,
  I loved her, faults and all, and so did you....

  So while Jane Fisher pondered on her duty,
  But didn't write the letter to the lawyer,
  Who had the charge of Elenor Murray's letters,
  The lawyer, Henry Baker, in New York
  Finds great perplexity. Sometimes a case
  Walks in a lawyer's office, makes his future,
  Or wrecks his health, or brings him face to face
  With some one rising from the mass of things,
  Faces and circumstance, that ends his life.
  So Henry Baker took such chances, taking
  The custody of these letters.

                                James Rex Hunter
  Is partner of this Baker, sees at last
  Merival and tells him how it was
  With Baker at the last; he died because
  Of Elenor Murray's letters, Hunter told
  The coroner at the Waldorf. Dramatized
  His talk with Lawyer Baker in these words:--



HENRY BAKER, AT NEW YORK


  One partner may consult another--James,
  Here is a matter you must help me with,
  It's coming to a head.

                          Well, to be plain,
  And to begin at the beginning first,
  I knew a woman up on Sixty-third,
  Have known her since I got her a divorce,
  Married, divorced, before--last night we quarreled,
  I must do something, hear me and advise.

  She is a woman notable for eyes
  Bright for their oblong lights in them; they seem
  Like crockery vases, rookwood, where the light
  Shows spectrally almost in squares and circles.
  Her skin is fair, nose hooked, of amorous flesh,
  A feaster and a liver, thinks and plans
  Of money, how to get it. And this husband
  Whom she divorced last summer went away,
  And left her to get on as best she could.
  All legal matters settled, we went driving--
  This story can be skipped.

                             Last night we dined,
  Afterward went to her apartment. First
  She told me at the dinner that her niece
  Named Elenor Murray died some days ago.
  I sensed what she was after--here's the point:--
  She followed up the theme when we returned
  To her apartment, where we quarreled. You see
  I would not do her bidding, left her mad,
  In silent wrath after some bitter words.
  I managed her divorce as I have said,
  Then I stepped in as lover, months had passed.
  When Elenor Murray came here to New York,
  I met her at the apartment of the aunt
  Whose name is Margery Camp. Before, she said
  Her niece was here, was happy and in love
  But sorrowful for leaving, just the talk
  That has no meaning till you see the subject
  Or afterwards, perhaps; it passes in
  One ear and out the other. Then at last
  One afternoon I met this Elenor Murray
  When I go up to call on Margery Camp.
  The staging of the matter is like this:
  The niece looks fagged, is sitting on the couch,
  Has loosed her collar for her throat to feel
  The air about it, for the day is hot.
  And Margery Camp goes out, brings in a pitcher
  Of absinthe cocktails, so we drink. I sit,
  Begin to study what is done, and look
  This Elenor Murray over, get the thought
  That somehow Margery Camp has taken Elenor
  In her control for something, has begun
  To use her, manage her, is coiling her
  With dominant will or cunning. Then I look,
  See Margery Camp observing Elenor Murray,
  Who drinks the absinthe, and in Margery's eyes
  I see these parallelograms of light
  Just like a vase of crockery, there she stands,
  Her face like ivory, and laughs and shows
  Her marvelous teeth, smooths with her shapely hands
  The skirt upon her hips. Somehow I feel
  She is a soul who watches passion work.
  Then Elenor Murray rouses, gets her spirits
  Out of the absinthe, rises and exclaims:
  "I'm better now;" and Margery Camp speaks up,
  Poor child, in intonation like a doll
  That speaks from reeds of steel, no sympathy
  Or meaning in the words. The interview
  Seems spooky to me, cold and sinister.
  We drink again and then we drink again.
  And what with her fatigue and lowered spirits,
  This Elenor Murray drifts in talk and mood
  With so much drink. At last this Margery Camp
  Says suddenly: "You'll have to help my niece,
  There is a matter you must manage for her,
  We've talked it over; in a day or two
  Before she goes away, we'll come to you."
  I took them out to dinner, after dinner
  Drove Margery Camp to her apartment, then
  Went down with Elenor Murray to her place.

  Then in a day or two, one afternoon
  Margery Camp and Elenor Murray came
  Here to my office with a bundle, which
  This Margery Camp was carrying, rather large.
  And Margery Camp was bright and keen as winter.
  But Elenor Murray seemed a little dull,
  Abstracted as of drink, or thought perhaps.
  After the greeting and preliminaries,
  Margery said to Elenor: "Better tell
  What we have come for, get it done and go."
  Then Elenor Murray said: "Here are some letters,
  I've tied them in this package, and I wish
  To put them in a safety box, give you
  One key and keep the other, leave with you
  A sealed instruction, which, in case I die,
  While over-seas, you may break open, read
  And follow, if you will." She handed me
  A writing signed by her which merely read
  What I have told you--here it is--you see:
  "When legal proof is furnished I am dead,
  Break open the sealed letter which will give
  Instruction for you." So I took the trust,
  Went with these women to a vault and placed
  The letters in the box, gave her a key,
  Kept one myself. They left. At dinner time
  I joined them, saw more evidence of the will
  Of Margery Camp controlling Elenor's.
  Which seemed in part an older woman's power
  Against a younger woman's, and in part
  Something less innocent. We ate and drank,
  I took them to their places as before,
  And didn't see this Elenor again.

  But now last night when I see Margery
  She says at once, "My niece is dead;" goes on
  To say, no other than herself has care
  Or interest in her, was estranged from father,
  And mother too, herself the closest heart
  In all the world, and therefore she must look
  After the memory of the niece, and adds:
  "She came to you through me, I picked you out
  To do this business." So she went along
  With this and that, advancing and retreating
  To catch me, bind me. Well, I saw her game,
  Sat non-committal, sipping wine, but keeping
  The wits she hoped I'd lose, as I could see.

  After the dinner we went to her place
  And there she said these letters might contain
  Something to smudge the memory of her niece,
  She wished she had insisted on the plan
  Of having one of the keys, the sealed instruction
  Made out and left with her; being her aunt,
  The closest heart in the world to Elenor Murray,
  That would have been the right way. But she said
  Her niece was willful and secretive, too,
  Not over wise, but now that she was dead
  It was her duty to reform the plan,
  Do what was best, and take control herself.

  So working to the point by devious ways
  She said at last: "You must give me the key,
  The sealed instruction: I'll go to the box,
  And get the letters, do with them as Elenor
  Directed in the letter; for I think,
  Cannot believe it different, that my niece
  Has left these letters with me, so directs
  In that sealed letter." "Then if that be true,
  Why give the key to me, the letter?--no
  This is a trust, a lawyer would betray,
  A sacred trust to do what you request."
  I saw her growing angry. Then I added:
  "I have no proof your niece is dead:" "My word
  Is good enough," she answered, "we are friends,
  You are my lover, as I thought; my word
  Should be sufficient." And she kept at me
  Until I said: "I can't give you the key,
  And if I did they would not let you in,
  You are not registered as a deputy
  To use the key." She did not understand,
  Did not believe me, but she tacked about,
  And said: "You can do this, take me along
  When you go to the vault and open the box,
  And break the letter open which she gave."
  I only answered: "If I find your niece
  Has given these letters to you, you shall have
  The letters, but I think the letters go
  Back to the writer, and if that's the case,
  I'll send them to the writer."

                                  Here at last
  She lost control, took off her mask and stormed:
  "We'll see about it. You will scarcely care
  To have the matter aired in court. I'll see
  A lawyer, bring a suit and try it out,
  And see if I, the aunt, am not entitled
  To have my niece's letters and effects,
  Whatever's in the package. I am tired
  And cannot see you longer. Take five days
  To think the matter over. If you come
  And do what I request, no suit, but if
  You still refuse, the courts can settle it."
  And so I left her.

                      In a day or two
  I read of Elenor Murray's death. It seems
  The coroner investigates her death.
  She died mysteriously. Well, then I break
  The sealed instruction, look! I am to send
  The package to Jane Fisher, in Chicago.
  We know, of course, Jane Fisher did not write
  The letters, that the letters are a man's.
  What is the inference? Why, that Elenor Murray
  Pretended to comply, obey her aunt,
  Yet slipped between her fingers, did not wish
  The aunt or me to know who wrote the letters.
  Feigned full submission, frankness with the aunt,
  Yet hid her secret, hid it from the aunt
  Beyond her finding out, if I observe
  The trust imposed, keep hands of Margery Camp
  From getting at the letters.

                                Now two things:
  Suppose the writer of the letters killed
  This Elenor Murray, is somehow involved
  In Elenor Murray's death? If that's the case,
  Should not these letters reach the coroner?
  To help enforce the law is higher trust
  Than doing what a client has commanded.
  And secondly, if Margery Camp should sue,
  My wife will learn the secret, bring divorce.
  Three days remain before the woman's threat
  Is ripe to execute. Think over this.
  We'll talk again--I really need advice....

     *       *       *       *       *

  So Hunter told the coroner. Then resumed
  The matter was a simple thing: I said
  To telegraph the coroner. You are right:
  Those letters give a clue perhaps, your trust
  Is first to see the law enforced. And yet
  I saw he was confused and drinking too,
  For fear his wife would learn of Margery Camp.
  I added, for that matter open the box,
  Take out the letters, find who wrote them, send
  A telegram to the coroner giving the name
  Of the writer of the letters. Well, he nodded,
  Seemed to consent to anything I said.
  And Hunter left me, leaving me in doubt
  What he would do. And what is next? Next day
  He's in the hospital and has pneumonia.
  I take a cab to see him, but I find
  He is too sick to see, is out of mind.
  In three days he is dead. His wife comes in
  And tells me worry killed him--knows the truth
  About this Margery Camp, oh, so she said.
  Had sent a lawyer to her husband asking
  For certain letters of an Elenor Murray.
  And that her husband stood between the fire
  Of some exposure by this Margery Camp,
  Or suffering these letters to be used
  By Margery Camp against the writer for
  A bit of money. This was Mrs. Hunter's
  Interpretation. Well, the fact is clear
  That Hunter feared this Margery Camp--was scared
  About his wife who in some way had learned
  just at this time of Margery Camp--I think
  Was called up, written to. Between it all
  Poor Hunter's worry, far too fast a life,
  He broke and died. And now you know it all.
  I've learned no client enters at your door
  And nothing casual happens in the day
  That may not change your life, or bring you death.
  And Hunter in a liaison with Margery
  Is brought within the scope of Elenor's
  Life and takes his mortal hurt and dies.

     *       *       *       *       *

  So much for riffles in New York. We turn
  Back to LeRoy and see the riffles there,
  See all of them together. Loveridge Chase
  Receives a letter from a New York friend,
  A secret service man who trails and spies
  On Henry Baker, knows about the letters,
  And writes to Loveridge Chase and says to him:
  "That Elenor Murray dying near LeRoy
  Left letters in New York. I trailed the aunt
  Of Elenor Murray, Margery Camp. Also
  A lawyer, Henry Baker, who controls
  A box with letters left by Elenor Murray--
  So for the story. Why not join with me
  And get these letters? There is money in it,
  Perhaps, who knows? I work for Mrs. Hunter--
  She wants the letters placed where they belong,
  And wants the man who killed this Elenor Murray
  Punished as he should be. Go see the coroner
  And get the work of bringing back the letters."
  And Chase came to the coroner and spoke:



LOVERIDGE CHASE


  Here is the secret of the death of Elenor,
  From what I learn of her, from what I know
  In living, knowing women, I am clear
  About this Elenor Murray. Give me power
  To get the letters, power to give a bond
  To indemnify the company, for you know
  Letters belong to him who writes the letters;
  And if the company is given bond
  It will surrender them, and then you'll know
  What man she loved, this Gregory Wenner or
  Some other man, and if some other man,
  Whether he caused her death.

                                The coroner
  And Loveridge Chase sat in the coroner's office
  And talked the matter over. And the coroner,
  Who knew this Loveridge Chase, was wondering
  Why Loveridge Chase had taken up the work
  Of secret service, followed it, and asked,
  "How did you come to give your brains to this,
  Who could do other things?" And Loveridge said:
  "A woman made me, I went round the world
  As jackie once, was brought into this world
  By a mother good and wise, but took from her,
  My father, someone, sense of chivalry
  Too noble for this world, a pity too,
  Abused too much by women. I came back,
  Was hired in a bank; had I gone on
  By this time had been up in banking circles,
  But something happened. You can guess, I think
  It was a woman, was my wife Leone.
  It matters nothing here, except I knew
  This Elenor Murray through my wife. These two
  Were schoolmates, even chums. I'll get these letters
  If you commission me. The fact is this:
  I think this Elenor Murray and Leone
  Were kindred spirits, and it does me good
  Now that I'm living thus without a wife
  To ferret out this matter of Elenor Murray,
  Perhaps this way, or somewhere on the way,
  Find news of my Leone; what life she lives,
  And where she is. I'm curious still, you see."
  Then Coroner Merival, who had not heard
  Of Elenor Murray's letters in New York
  Before this talk of Loveridge Chase, who heard
  This story and analysis of Leone
  Mixed in with other talk, and got a light
  On Elenor Murray, said: "I know your work,
  Know you as well, have confidence in you,
  Make ready to go, and bring the letters back."

  And on the day that Loveridge Chase departs
  To get the letters in New York, Bernard,
  A veteran of Belleau, married that day
  To Amy Whidden, on a lofty dune
  At Millers, Indiana, with his bride--
  Long quiet, tells her something of the war.
  These soldiers cannot speak what they have lived.
  But Elenor Murray helps him; for the talk
  Of Elenor Murray runs the rounds, so many
  Stations whence the talk is sent:--the men
  Or women who had known her, came in touch
  Somehow with her. These newly wedded two
  Go out to see blue water, yellow sand,
  And watch the white caps pat the sky, and hear
  The intermittent whispers of the waves.
  And here Bernard, the soldier, tells his bride
  Of Elenor Murray and their days at Nice:



AT NICE


  Dear, let me tell you, safe beside you now,
  Your hand in mine, here from this peak of sand,
  Under this pine tree, where the wild grapes spill
  Their fragrance on the lake breeze, from that oak
  Half buried in the sand, devoured by sand--
  The water of the lake is just as blue
  As the sea is there at Nice, the caps as white
  As foam around Mont Boron, Cap Ferrat.
  Here let me tell you things you do not know,
  I could not write, repeat what well you know,
  How love of you sustained me, never changed,
  But through a love was brighter, flame of the torch
  I bore for you in battle, as an incense
  Cast in a flame awakes the deeper essence
  Of fire and makes it mount.

                              And I am here--
  Here now with you at last--the war is over--
  I have this aching side, these languid mornings,
  And pray for that old strength which never knew
  Fatigue or pain--but I am here with you,
  You are my bride now, I have earned you, dear.
  I fought the fight, endured the endless days
  When rain fell, days of absence, and the days
  Of danger when my only prayer was this:
  Give me, O God, to see you once again.
  This is the deepest rapture, tragedy
  Of this our life, beyond our minds to fathom,
  A thing to stand in awe of, touch in reverence,
  That we--we mortals, find in one another
  Such source of ecstasy, of pain. My love,
  I lay there in the hospital so weak,
  Flopping my hands upon the coverlet,
  And praying God to live. In such an hour
  To be away from you! There are no words
  To speak the weary hours of fear and thought,
  In such an absence, facing death, perhaps,
  A burial in France, with thoughts of you,
  Mourning some years, perhaps, healed partly then
  And wedded to another; then at last
  Myself forgot, or nearly so, and life
  Taking you on with duties, house and children;
  And my poor self forgotten, gone to dust,
  Wasted along the soil of France.

                                    Thank God,
  I'm here with you--it's real, all this is true:
  The roar of the water, sand-hills, infinite sky,
  The gulls, the distant smoke, the smell of grapes,
  The haze of amethyst behind us there,
  In those ravines of stunted oak and pine.
  All this is real. This is America.
  The very air we find from coast to coast,
  The sensible air for lungs seems freer here.
  I had no sooner landed in New York
  Than my arms said stretch out, there's room to stretch.
  I walked along the streets so happy, light
  Of heart and heard the newsboys, shop-girls talk:
  "O, what a cheese he is," or "beat it now"--
  I can't describe the thrill I had to hear
  This loose abandoned slang spilled all around,
  Like coppers soiled from handling, but so real,
  And having power to purchase memories
  Of what I loved and lost awhile, my land!
  Well, then I wanted roast-beef, corn on cob,
  And had them in an hour at early lunch.
  I telegraphed you, gave New York a day,
  And came to you. We are together now,
  We do not dream, do we? We are together
  After the war, to live our lives and grow
  And make of love, experience, life more rich.
  That's what you say to me--it shall be so.

  Now I will tell you what I promised to tell
  About my illness and the battle--well,
  I wrote you of my illness, only hinted
  About the care I had, that is the point;
  'Twas care alone that saved me, I was ill
  Beyond all words to tell. And all the while
  I suffered, fearing I would die; but then
  I could not bear to think I should not rise
  To join my fellows, battle once again,
  And charge across the trenches, take no part
  In crushing down the Prussian. For I knew
  He would be crushed at last. I could not bear
  To think I should not take a hand in that,
  Be there when he lay fallen, victory
  From voice to voice should pass along the lines.
  Well, for some weeks I lay there, and at last
  Words dropped around me that the time was near
  For blows to count--would I be there to strike?
  Could I get well in time? And every day
  A sweet voice said: "You're better, oh it's great
  How you are growing stronger; yesterday
  Your fever was but one degree, to-day
  It is a little higher. You must rest,
  Not think so much! It may be normal perhaps
  To-morrow or the next day. In a week
  You will be up and gaining, and the battle
  Will not be fought before then, I am sure,
  And not until you're well and strong again."
  And thus it went from day to day. Such hands
  Washed my hot face and bathed me, tucked me in,
  And fed me too. And once I said to her:
  "I love a girl, I must get well to fight,
  I must get well to go to her." And she,
  It was the nurse I spoke to, took my hand,
  And turned away with tears. You see it's there
  We see the big things, nothing else, the things
  That stand out like the mountains, lesser things
  Are lost like little hillocks under the shadows
  Of great emotions, hopes, realities.
  Well, so it went. And on a day she leaned
  Above my face to smooth the pillow out.
  And from her heart a golden locket fell,
  And dangled by the silver chain. The locket
  Flew open and I saw a face within it,
  That is I saw there was a face, but saw
  No eyes or hair, saw nothing to limn out
  The face so I would know it.

                                Then I said:
  "You have a lover, nurse." She straightened up
  And questioned me: "Have you been ill before?
  Do you know of the care a nurse can give,
  And what she can withhold?" I answered "Yes."
  And then she asked: "Have you felt in my hands
  Great tenderness, solicitude, even prayer?"--
  Here, sweetheart, do not let your eyes get moist,
  I'll tell you everything, for you must see
  How spirits work together, love to love
  Passes and does its work.

                            Well, it was true,
  I felt her tenderness, which was like prayer,
  And so I answered her: "If I get well,
  You will have cured me with your human love."
  And then she said: "Our unit reached this place
  When there was neither stoves nor lights. At night
  We went to bed by candles. Stumbled around
  Amid the trunks and beds by candle light.
  Well, one of us would light a candle, then
  Each, one by one, the others lighted theirs
  From this one down the room. And so we passed
  The light along. And as a candle died,
  The others burned, to which the light was passed.
  Well, now," she said, "that is a figure of love:
  We get the flame from someone, light another,
  Make brighter light by holding flame to flame--
  Sometimes we searched for something, held two candles
  Together for a greater light. And so,
  My soldier, I have given you the care
  That comes from love--of country and the cause,
  But brightened, warmed by one from whom the flame
  Was passed to me, a love that took my hand
  And warmed it, made it tender for that love,
  Which said pour out and serve, take love for him
  And use it in the cause, by using hands
  To bathe, to soothe, to smooth a pillow down,
  To heal, sustain."

                      The truth is, dearest heart,
  I had not lived, I think, except for her.
  And there we were: I filled with love for you,
  And therefore praying to get well and fight,
  Be worthy of your love, and there she was
  With love for someone, striving with that love
  To nurse me through and give me well and strong
  To battle in the cause.

                              Then I got well
  And joined my company. She took my hand
  As I departed, closed her eyes and said:
  "May God be with you."

                          Well, it was Belleau,
  That jungle of machine guns, like a thicket
  Of rattle snakes. And there was just one thing
  To clean that thicket out--we had to charge,
  And so we yelled and charged. No soldier knows
  How one survives in such a charge as that.
  You simply yell and charge; the bullets fall
  Like drops of rain around you pitter-pat;
  And on you go and think: where will it get me,
  The stomach or the heart or through the head?
  What will it be like, sudden blackness, pain,
  No pain at all? And so you charge the nests.
  The fellows fell around us like tenpins,
  Dropped guns, or flung them up, fell on their faces,
  Or toppled backward, pitched ahead and flung
  Their helmets off in pitching. And at last
  I found myself half-dazed, as in a dream,
  Right in a nest, two Boches facing me,
  And then I saw this locket, as I saw it
  Fall from her breast, it might have been a glint
  Of metal, flash of firing, I don't know.
  I only know I ran my bayonet
  Through one of them; he fell, I stuck the other,
  Then something stung my side. When I awoke
  I lay upon a cot, and heard the nurses
  Discuss the peace, the armistice was signed,
  The war was over. Well, and in a way
  We won the war, I won the war, as one
  Who did his part, at least.

                              Then I got up,
  But I was weak and dazed. They said to me
  I should not cross the ocean in the winter,
  My lungs might get infected; anyway,
  The flu was raging. So they sent me down
  To Nice upon a furlough, as I wrote.
  I could not write you all I saw and heard,
  It was all lovely and all memorable.

  But first before I picture Nice to you,
  My days at Nice, lest you have doubts and fears
  When I reveal to you I saw this nurse
  First on the Promenade des Anglais there,
  Saw much of her in Nice, I saw at once
  She was that Elenor Murray whom they found
  Along the river dead; and for the rest
  To make all clear, I'll tell you everything.
  You see I didn't write you of this girl
  And what we did there, lest you might suspect
  Some vagrant mood in me concealed or glossed,
  Which ended in betrayal of our love.
  Eyes should look into eyes to supplement
  The words of truth with light of truth, where nothing
  Of thoughts that hide have chance to slip and crawl
  Through eyes averted, twinklings, change of light,
  Or if they do, reveal themselves, as snakes
  Are seen when winding into coverts of grass.

  Well, then we met upon the promenade.
  She ran toward me, kissed me--oh so glad.
  I told her of the battle, of my wound.
  And for herself it seemed she had been ill,
  Off duty for a month before she came
  To Nice for health; she said as much to me.
  I think she had been ill, yet I could sense,
  Or seemed to sense a mystery, I don't know,
  Behind her illness. Yet you understand
  How it was natural we should be happy
  To meet again, in Nice, too. For you see
  The army life develops comradeship.
  And when we meet the old life rises up
  And wakes its thrills and memories. It seemed
  She had been there some days when I arrived
  And knew the place, and said, "I'll show you Nice."
  There was a major she was waiting for,
  As it turned out. He came there in a week,
  We had some walks together, all the three,
  And then I lost them.

                        But before he came
  We did the bright cafés and Monte Carlo,
  And here my little nurse showed something else
  Besides the tender hands, the prayerful soul.
  She had been taking egg-nogs, so she said,
  But now she took to wine, and drink she could
  Beyond all men I know. I had to stop
  Or fall beneath the table, leaving her
  To order more. And she would sit and weave
  From right to left hip in a rhythmic way,
  And cast her eyes obliquely right and left.
  It was this way: The music set her thrilling,
  And keeping time this way. She loved to go
  Where we could see cocotes, adventurers;
  Where red vitality was feasting, drinking,
  And dropping gold upon the gaming table.
  We sunned ourselves within the Jardin Public,
  And walked the beach between the bathing places
  Where they dry orange peel to make perfumes.
  And in that golden sunshine by the sea
  Caught whiffs of lemon blossoms, and each day
  I bought her at the stands acacia,
  Or red anemones--I tell you all--
  There was no moment that my thought betrayed
  Your heart, dear one. She had been good to me.
  I saw that she was hungry for these things,
  For rapture, so I gave them--you don't mind,
  It came to nothing, dearest.

                                But at last
  A different Elenor Murray than I knew
  There in the hospital took shape before me.
  That serving soul, that maid of humble tasks,
  And sacrifice for others, and that face
  Of waitress or of ingenue, day by day
  Assumed sophistication, looks and lines
  Of knowledge in the world, experience
  in places of patrician ways. She knew
  New York as well as I, cafés and shops;
  Dropped pregnant hints at times that made me think
  What more she knew, what she was holding back.
  Until at last all she had done for me
  Seemed just what mortals do to earn their bread
  In any calling, made more generous, maybe,
  By something in a moment's mood. In truth
  The ideal showed the clogged pores in the skin
  Under the light she stood in. For you know
  When we see people happy we can say
  Those tears were not all tears--we pitied more
  Than we were wise to pity--that's the feeling:
  Most men are Puritans in this, I think.
  A woman dancing, drinking, makes you laugh,
  And half despise yourself for great emotion
  When seeing her in prayer or reverent thought.
  But now I come to something more concrete:
  The day before the major came we lunched
  Where we could see the Mediterranean,
  The clubs, hotels and villas. There she sat
  All dressed in white, a knitted jacket of silk
  Matching the leaves upon the trees, and looked
  As fashionable as the rest. The waiter came.
  She did not take the card nor order from it,
  Was nonchalant, familiar, said at last:
  "We want some Epernay. You have it doubtless."
  The waiter bowed. I looked at Elenor,
  That was the character of revealing things
  I saw from day to day. For truth to tell
  This Epernay might well have been charged water
  For all I knew. I asked her, and she said:
  "Delicious wine, not strong." And so we lunched,
  And the music stormed, and lunchers gabbled, smoked,
  And dandies ogled. And this Epernay
  Worked in our blood and Elenor rattled on.
  And she was flinging eyes from right to left
  And moving rhythmically from hip to hip,
  And with a finger beating out the time.
  Somehow our hands touched, then she closed her eyes,
  Her body shook a little and grew limp.
  "What is the matter?" Then she raised her eyes
  And looked me through an instant. What, my dear,
  You won't hear any more? Oh, very well,
  That's all, there is no more.

                                But after while
  When things got quieter, the lunchers thinned,
  The music ended, and the wine grown tame
  Within our veins, she told me on a time
  Some years before she was confirmed, and thought
  She'd take the veil, and for two years or more
  Was all absorbed in pious thoughts and works.
  "But how we learn and change," she added then,
  "In training we see bodies, learn to know
  How thirst and hunger, needs of body cry
  For daily care, become materialists,
  Unmoralists a little in the sense
  That any book, or theories of the soul
  Should tie the body from its natural needs.
  Though I accept the faith, no less than ever,
  That God is and the Savior is and spirit
  Is no less real than body, has its needs,
  Separate or through the body."

                                Oh, that girl!
  She made me guess and wonder. But next day
  I had a fresh surprise, the major came
  And she was changed completely. I forgot,
  I must tell you what happened after lunch.
  We rose and she grew impish, stood and laughed
  As if the secret of the laugh was hers
  Beyond the concrete matter of the laugh.
  She said, "I'll show you something beautiful."
  We started out to see it, walked the road
  Around the foot of Castle Hill. You know
  The wind blows gustily at Nice; and so
  All of a sudden went my hat, way up,
  Far off, and instantly such laughter rose,
  And boisterous shouts that made me think at once
  I had been tricked, somehow. It is this way:
  The gamins loiter there to watch the victims
  Who lose their hats. And Elenor sat down,
  And laughed until she cried. I do not know,
  Perhaps I was not amorous enough
  At luncheon and she pranked me for revenge.
  Well, then the major came, he took my place.
  I was the third one in the party now,
  But saw them every day. What did we do?
  No Monte Carlo now, nor ordering
  Without the card, she was completely changed,
  Demure again, all words of lovely things:
  The war had changed the world, had lifted up
  The spirit of man to visions, and the major
  Adored her, drank it in. And we explored
  Limpia and the Old Town, looked aloft
  At Mont Cau d'Aspremont, picked hellebore,
  And orchids in the gorges, saw St. Pons,
  The Valley of Hepaticas, sunned ourselves
  Within the Jardin Public, where the children
  Play riotously; and Elenor would draw
  A straying child to her and say: "You darling."
  I saw her do this once and dry her eyes
  And to the major say: "They are so lovely,
  I had to give up teaching school, the children
  Stirred my emotions till I could not bear
  To be among them." And to make an end,
  I spent the parts of three days with these two.
  And on the last day we went to the summit
  Of the Corinche Road, and saw the sea and Europe
  Spread out before us--oh, you cannot know
  The beauty of it, dear, until you see it.
  And Elenor sat down as in a trance,
  And looked and did not speak for minutes. Then
  She said: "How pure a place this is--it's nature,
  And I can worship here, this makes you hate
  The cafés and the pleasures of the town."
  What was this woman, dear, what was her soul?
  Or was she half and half? Oh, after all,
  I am a hostile mixture, so are you.

  And so I drifted out, and only stayed
  A day or two beyond that afternoon.
  I took a last walk on the Promenade;
  At last saw just ahead of me these two,
  His arm was fast in hers, they sauntered on
  As if in serious talk. As I came up,
  I greeted them and said good-bye again.

  Where is the major? Did the major steal
  The heart of Elenor Murray, speed her death?
  They could have married. Why did she return?
  Or did the major follow her? Well, dear,
  Here is the story, truthful to a fault.
  My soul is yours, I kept it true to you.
  Hear how the waters roar upon the sand!
  I close my eyes and almost can believe
  We are together on the Corniche Road.

     *       *       *       *       *

  Well, it may never be that Merival
  Heard from Bernard of Elenor at Nice,
  Although he knew it sometime, knew as well
  Her service in the war had nerved the men
  And by that much had put the Germans down.
  America at the fateful moment lent
  Her strength to bring the war's end. Elenor
  Was one of many to cross seas and bring
  Life strength against the emperor, once secure,
  And throned in power against such phagocytes
  As Elenor Murray, Bernard, even kings.
  And sawing wood at Amerongen all
  He thought of was of brains and monstrous hearts
  Which sent the phagocytes from America,
  England and France to eat him up at last.

  One day an American soldier, so 'tis said
  Someone told Merival, was walking near
  The house at Amerongen, saw a man
  With drooped mustache and whitened beard approach,
  Two mastiffs walked beside him. As he passed
  Unrecognized, the soldier to a mate
  Spoke up and said: "What hellish dogs are those?--
  Like Bismarck used to have; I saw a picture
  Of Bismarck with his dogs." The drooped mustache
  Turned nervously and took the soldiers in,
  Then strode ahead. The emperor was stunned
  To hear an American soldier use a knife
  As sharp as that.

                    But Elenor at Nice
  Walked with the major as Bernard has told.
  And this is wrinkled water, dark and far
  From Merival, unknown to him. He hears,
  And this alone, she went from Nice to Florence,
  Was ill there in a convent, we shall see.
  This is the tale that Irma Leese related
  To Coroner Merival in a leisure hour:



THE MAJOR AND ELENOR MURRAY AT NICE


  Elenor Murray and Petain, the major,
  The Promenade des Anglais walked at Nice.
  A cloud was over him, and in her heart
  A growing grief.

                    He knew her at the hospital,
  First saw her face among a little group
  Of faces at a grave when rain was falling,
  The burial of a nurse, when Elenor's face
  Was bathed in tears and strained with agony.
  And after that he saw her in the wards;
  Heard soldiers, whom she nursed, say as she passed,
  Dear little soul, sweet soul, or take her hand
  In gratitude and kiss it.

                            But as a stream
  Flows with clear water even with the filth
  Of scum, debris that drifts beside the current
  Of crystal water, nor corrupts it, keeps
  Its poisoned, heavier medium apart,
  So at the hospital where the nurses' hands
  Poured sacrifice, heroic love, the filth
  Of envy, anger, malice, plots, intrigue
  Kept pace with pure devotion, noble work
  For suffering and the cause.

                                The major helped
  To free the rules for Elenor Murray so
  She might recuperate at Nice, and said:
  "Go and await me, I shall join you there.
  For in my trouble I must have a friend,
  A woman to assuage me, give me light,
  And ever since I saw you by that grave,
  And saw you cross yourself, and bow your head
  And watched your services along the wards
  Among the sick and dying, I have felt
  The soul of you, its human tenderness,
  Its prodigal power of giving, pouring forth
  Itself for others. And you seem a soul
  Where nothing of our human frailty
  Has come to dim the flame that burns in you,
  You are all light, I think."

                                And Elenor Murray
  Looked down and said: "There is no soul like that.
  This hospital, the war itself, reflects
  The good and bad together of our souls.
  You are a boy--oh such a boy to see
  All good in me."

                    And Major Petain said:
  "At least you have not found dishonor here
  As I have found it, for a lust of flesh
  A weakness and a trespass."

                              This was after
  The hospital was noisy with the talk
  Of Major Petain and his shame, the hand
  Of discipline lay on him.

                              Elenor Murray
  Looked steadily in his eyes, but only said:
  "We mortals know each other but a little,
  Nor guess each other's secrets." And she glanced
  A moment at the tragedy that had come
  To her at Paris on her furlough there,
  And of its train of sorrows, even now
  Her broken health and failure in the work
  As consequence to that, and how it brought
  The breaking of her passionate will and dream
  To serve and not to fail--she glanced at this
  A moment as she faced him, looked at him.
  Then as she turned away: "There is one thing
  That I must tell you, it is fitting now,
  I love and am beloved. But if you come
  To Nice and I can help you, come, if talk
  And any poor advice of mine can help."

  So Major Petain, Elenor Murray walked
  The Promenade at Nice, arm fast in arm.
  And Major Petain to relieve his heart
  Told all the tragedy that had come to him:

  "Duty to France was first with me where love
  Was paramount with you, if I divine
  Your heart, America's, at least a love
  Unmixed of other feelings as may be.
  What could you find here, if you seek no husband,
  Even in seeing France so partially?
  What in adventure, lures to bring you here,
  Where peril, labor are? You either came
  To expiate your soul, or as you say,
  To make more worthy of this man beloved
  Back in America your love for him.
  Dear idealist, I give my faith to you,
  And all your words. But as I said 'twas duty,
  Then dreams of freedom, Europe's chains struck off,
  The menace of the German crushed to earth
  That fired me as a soldier, trained to go
  When France should need me. So it is you saw
  France go about this business calm and stern,
  And patient for the prize, or if 'twere lost
  Then brave to meet the future as France met
  The arduous years that followed Metz, Sedan."

  "But had I been American to the core,
  Would I have put the sweet temptation by?
  However flamed with zeal had I said no
  When lips like hers were offered? Oh, you see
  Whatever sun-light gilds the mountain tops
  Rich grass grows in the valleys, herds will feed,
  Though rising suns put glories on the heights.
  And herds will run and stumble over rocks,
  Break fences and encounter beasts of prey
  To get the grass that's sweetest."

                                      "To begin
  I met her there in Paris. In a trice
  We loved each other, wrote, made vows, she pledged
  The consummation. There was danger here,
  Great danger, as you know, for her and me.
  And yet it never stopped us, gave us fear.
  And then I schemed and got her through the lines,
  Took all the chances."

                        "Danger was not all:
  There was my knowledge of her husband's love,
  His life immaculate, his daily letters.
  He put by woman chances that arose
  With saying, I am married, am beloved,
  I love my wife, all said so earnestly
  We could not joke him, though behind his back
  Some said: He trusts her, but he'd better watch;
  At least no sense of passing good things by.
  I sat with him at mess, I saw him read
  The letters that she wrote him, face of light
  Devouring eyes. The others rallied him;
  But I was like a man who knows a plot
  To take another's life, but keeps the secret,
  Eats with the victim, does not warn him, makes
  Himself thereby a party to the plot.
  Or like a man who knows a fellow man
  Has some insidious disease beginning,
  And hears him speak with unconcern of it,
  And does not tell him what to do, you know,
  And let him go to death. And just for her,
  The rapture of a secret love I choked
  All risings of an honest manhood, mercy,
  Honor with self and him. Oh, well you know
  The isolation, hunger of us soldiers,
  I only need to hint of these. But now
  I see these well endured for sake of peace
  And quiet memory."

                      "For here we stood
  Just 'round the corner in that long arcade
  That runs between our building, next to yours.
  And this is what I hear--the husband's voice,
  Which well I knew, the officer's in command:
  'Why have you brought your wife here?' asked the officer.
  'Pardon, I have not done so,' said the husband.
  'You're adding falsehood to the offense; you know
  The rules forbid your wife to pass the lines.'
  'Pardon, I have not brought her,' he exclaimed
  In passionate earnestness.

                            "Well, there we stood.
  My sweetheart, but his wife, was turned to snow,
  As white and cold. I got in readiness
  To kill the husband. How could we escape?
  I thought the husband had been sent away;
  Her coming had been timed with his departure,
  Arriving afterward, and we had failed.
  But as for that, before our feet could stir,
  The officer said, 'Come now, I'll prove your lie,'
  And in a twinkling, taking a dozen steps
  They turned into the arcade, there they were,
  The officer was shaking him and saying,
  'You lie! You lie!'

                      "All happened in a moment,
  The humbled, ruined fellow saw the truth,
  And blew his brains out on the very spot!
  And made a wonder, gossip for you girls--
  And here I am."

                  So Major Petain finished.
  Then Elenor Murray said: "Let's watch the sea."
  And as they sat in silence, as he turned
  To look upon her face, he saw the tears,
  Hanging like dew drops on her lashes, drip
  And course her cheeks. "My friend, you weep for me,"
  The major said at last, "my gratitude
  For tears like these." "I weep," said Elenor Murray,
  "For you, but for myself. What can I say?
  Nothing, my friend, your soul must find its way.
  Only this word: I'll go to mass with you,
  I'll sit beside you, pray with you, for you,
  And do you pray for me."

                            And then she paused.
  The long wash of the sea filled in the silence.
  And then she said again, "I'll go with you,
  Where we may pray, each for the other pray.
  I have a sorrow, too, as deep as yours."



THE CONVENT


  Elenor Murray stole away from Nice
  Before her furlough ended, tense to see
  Something of Italy, and planned to go
  To Genoa, explore the ancient town
  Of Christopher Columbus, if she might
  Elude the regulation, as she did,
  In leaving Nice for Italy. But for her
  Always the dream, and always the defeat
  Of what she dreamed.

                        She found herself in Florence
  And saw the city. But the weariness
  Of labor and her illness came again
  At intervals, and on such days she lay
  And heard the hours toll, wished for death and wept,
  Being alone and sorrowful.

                              On a morning
  She rose and looked for galleries, came at last
  Into the Via Gino Capponi
  And saw a little church and entered in,
  And saw amid the darkness of the church
  A woman kneeling, knelt beside the woman,
  And put her hand upon the woman's forehead
  To find that it was wrinkled, strange to say
  A scar upon the forehead, like a cross....
  Elenor Murray rose and walked away,
  Sobs gathering in her throat, her body weak,
  And reeled against the wall, for so it seemed,
  Against which hung thick curtains, velvet, red,
  A little grimed and worn. And as she leaned
  Against the curtains, clung to them, she felt
  A giving, parted them, and found a door,
  Pushed on the door which yielded, opened it
  And saw a yard before her.

                              It was walled.
  A garden of old urns and ancient growths,
  Some flowering plants around the wall.

                                          Before her
  And in the garden's center stood a statue,
  With outstretched arms, the Virgin without the child.
  And suddenly on Elenor Murray came
  Great sorrow like a madness, seeing there
  The pitying Virgin, stretching arms to her.
  And so she ran along the pebbly walk,
  Fell fainting at the Virgin's feet and lay
  Unconscious in the garden.

                              When she woke
  Two nuns were standing by, and one was dressed
  In purest white, and held within her hands
  A tray of gold, and on the tray of gold
  There was a glass of wine, and in a cup
  Some broth of beef, and on a plate of gold
  A wafer.

            And the other nun was dressed
  In purest white, but over her shoulders lay
  A cape of blue, blue as the sky of Florence
  Above the garden wall.

                          Then as she saw
  The nuns before her, in the interval
  Of gathering thought, re-limning life again
  From wonder if she had not died, and these
  Were guides or ministrants of another world,
  The nun with cape of blue to Elenor
  Said: "Drink this wine, this broth;" and Elenor
  Drank and arose, being lifted up by them,
  And taken through the convent door and given
  A little room as white and clean as light,
  And a bed of snowy linen.

                            Then they said:
  "This is the Convent where we send up prayers,
  Prayers for the souls who do not pray for self--
  Rest, child, and be at peace; and if there be
  Friends you would tell that you are here, then we
  Will send the word for you, sleep now and rest."
  And listening to their voices Elenor slept.
  And when she woke a nurse was at her side,
  And food was served her, broths and fruit. Each day
  A doctor came to tell her all was well,
  And health would soon return.

                                So for a month
  Elenor Murray lay and heard the bells,
  And breathed the fragrance of the flowering city
  That floated through her window, in the stillness
  Of the convent dreamed, and said to self: This place
  Is good to die in, who is there to tell
  That I am here? There was no one. To them
  She gave her name, but said: "Till I am well
  Let me remain, and if I die, some place
  Must be for me for burial, put me there.
  And if I live to go again to France
  And join my unit, let me have a writing
  That I did not desert, was stricken here
  And could not leave. For while I stole away
  From Nice to get a glimpse of Italy,
  I might have done so in my furlough time,
  And not stayed over it." And to Elenor
  The nuns said: "We will help you, but for now
  Rest and put by anxieties."

                              On a day
  Elenor Murray made confessional.
  And to the nuns told bit by bit her life,
  Her childhood, schooling, travels, work in the war,
  What fate had followed her, what sufferings.
  And Sister Mary, she who saw her first,
  And held the tray of gold with wine and broth,
  Sat often with her, read to her, and said:
  "Letters will go ahead of you to clear
  Your absence over time--be not afraid,
  All will be well."

                      And so when Elenor Murray
  Arose to leave she found all things prepared:
  A cab to take her to the train, compartments
  Reserved for her from place to place, her fare
  And tickets paid for, till at last she came
  To Brest and joined her unit, in three days
  Looked at the rolling waters as the ship
  Drove to America--such a coming home!
  To what and whom?

     *       *       *       *       *

  Loveridge Chase returned and brought the letters
  To Coroner Merival from New York. That day
  The chemical analysis was finished, showed
  No ricin and no poison. Elenor Murray
  Died how? What were the circumstances? Then
  When Coroner Merival broke the seals of wax,
  And cut the twine that bound the package, found
  The man was Barrett Bays who wrote the letters--
  There were a hundred--then he cast about
  To lay his hands on Barrett Bays, and found
  That Barrett Bays lived in Chicago, taught,
  Was a professor, aged some forty years.
  Why did this Barrett Bays emerge not, speak,
  Come forward? Was it simply to conceal
  A passion written in these letters here
  For his sake or his wife's? Or was it guilt
  For some complicity in Elenor's death?
  And on this day the coroner had a letter
  From Margery Camp which said: "Where's Barrett Bays?
  Why have you not arrested him? He knows
  Something, perhaps about the death of Elenor."
  So Coroner Merival sent process forth
  To bring in Barrett Bays, _non est inventus_.
  He had not visited his place of teaching,
  Been seen in haunts accustomed for some days--
  Not since the death of Elenor Murray, none
  Knew where to find him, and none seemed to know
  What lay between this man and Elenor Murray.
  This was the more suspicious. Then the _Times_
  Made headlines of the letters, published some
  Wherein this Barrett Bays had written Elenor:
  "You are my hope in life, my morning star,
  My love at last, my all." From coast to coast
  The word was flashed about this Barrett Bays;
  And Mrs. Bays at Martha's Vineyard read,
  Turned up her nose, continued on the round
  Of gaieties, but to a chum relieved
  Her loathing with these words: "Another woman,
  He's soiled himself at last."

                                And Barrett Bays,
  Who roughed it in the Adirondacks, hoped
  The inquest's end would leave him undisclosed
  In Elenor Murray's life, though wracked with fear
  About the letters in the vault, some day
  To be unearthed, or taken, it might be,
  By Margery Camp for uses sinister--
  He reading that the letters had been given
  To Coroner Merival, and seeing his name
  Printed in every sheet, saw no escape
  In any nook of earth, returned and walked
  In Merival's office: trembling, white as snow.

  So Barrett Bays was sworn, before the jury
  Sat and replied to questions, said he knew
  Elenor Murray in the fall before
  She went to France, saw much of her for weeks;
  Had written her these letters before she left.
  Had followed her in the war, and gone to France,
  Had seen her for some days in Paris when
  She had a furlough. Had come back and parted
  With Elenor Murray, broken with her, found
  A cause for crushing out his love for her.
  Came back to win forgetfulness, had written
  No word to her since leaving Paris--let
  Her letters lie unanswered; brought her letters,
  And gave them to the coroner. Then he told
  Of the day before her death, and how she came
  By motor to Chicago with her aunt,
  Named Irma Leese, and telephoned him, begged
  An hour for talk. "Come meet me by the river,"
  She had said. And so went to meet her. Then he told
  Why he relented, after he had left her
  In Paris with no word beside this one:
  "This is the end." Now he was curious
  To know what she would say, what could be said
  Beyond what she had written--so he went
  Out of a curious but hardened heart.



BARRETT BAYS


  "I was walking by the river," Barrett said,
  "When she arrived. I took her hand, no kiss,
  A silence for some minutes as we walked.
  Then we began to take up point by point,
  For she was concentrated on the hope
  Of clearing up all doubtful things that we
  Might start anew, clear visioned, perfect friends,
  More perfect for mistakes and clouds. Her will
  Was passionate beyond all other wills,
  And when she set her mind upon a course
  She could not be diverted, or if so,
  Her failure kept her brooding. What with me
  She wanted after what had stunned my faith
  I knew not, save she loved me. For in truth
  I have no money, and no prospects either
  To tempt cupidity."

                      "Well; first we talked--
  You must be patient with me, gentlemen,
  You see my nerves--they're weakened--but I'll try
  To tell you all--well then--a glass of water--
  At first we talked but trifles. Silences
  Came on us like great calms between the stir
  Of ineffectual breezes, like this day
  In August growing sultry as the sun
  Rose upward. She was striving to break down
  The hard corrosion of my thought, and I
  Could not surrender. Till at last, I said:
  'That day in Paris when you stood revealed
  Can never be forgotten. Once I killed
  A love with hatred for a woman who
  Betrayed me, as you did. And you can kill
  A love with hatred but you kill your soul
  While killing love. And so with you I kept
  All hatred from my heart, but cannot keep
  A poisonous doubt of you from blood and brain.'...
  I learned in Paris, (to be clear on this),
  That after she had given herself to me
  She fell back in the arms of Gregory Wenner.
  And here as we were walking I revealed
  My agony, my anger, emptied out
  My heart of all its bitterness. At last
  When she protested it was natural
  For her to do what she had done, the act
  As natural as breathing, taking food,
  Not signifying faithlessness nor love--
  Though she admitted had she loved me then
  She had not done so--I grew tense with rage,
  A serpent which grows stiff and rears its head
  To strike its enemy was what I seemed
  To myself then, and so I said to her
  In voice controlled and low, but deadly clear,
  'What are you but a whore--you are a whore!'
  Murderous words no doubt, but do you hear
  She justified herself with Gregory Wenner;
  Yes, justified herself when she had written
  And asked forgiveness--yes, brought me out
  To meet her by the river. And for what?
  I said you whore, she shook from head to heels,
  And toppled, but I caught her in my arms,
  And held her up, she paled, head rolled around,
  Her eyes set, mouth fell open, all at once
  I saw that she was dead, or syncope
  Profound had come upon her. Elenor,
  What is the matter? Love came back to me,
  Love there with Death. I laid her on the ground.
  I found her dead.

                    "If I had any thought
  There in that awful moment, it was this:
  To run away, escape, could I maintain
  An innocent presence there, be clear of fault?
  And if I had that thought, as I believe,
  I had no other; all my mind's a blank
  Until I find myself at one o'clock
  Disrobing in my room, too full of drink,
  And trying to remember.

                          "With the morning
  I lay in bed and thought: Did Irma Leese
  Know anything of me, or did she know
  That Elenor went out to meet a man?
  And if she did not know, who could disclose
  That I was with her? No one saw us there.
  Could I not wait from day to day and see
  What turn the news would take? For at the last
  I did not kill her. If the inquest showed
  Her death was natural, as it was, for all
  Of me, why then my secret might be hidden
  In Elenor Murray's grave. And if they found
  That I was with her, brought me in the court,
  I could make clear my innocence. And thus
  I watched the papers, gambled with the chance
  Of never being known in this affair.
  Does this sound like a coward? Put yourself
  In my place in that horror. Think of me
  With all these psychic shell shocks--first the war,
  Its great emotions, then this Elenor."

  And thus he spoke and twisted hands, and twitched,
  And ended suddenly. Then David Borrow,
  And Winthrop Marion with the coroner
  Shot questions at him till he woke, regained
  A memory, concentration: Who are you?
  What was your youth? Your love life? What your wife?
  Where did you meet this Elenor at the first?
  Why did you go to France? In Paris what
  Happened to break your balance? Tell us all.
  For as they eyed him, he looked down, away,
  Stirred restless in the chair. And was it truth
  He told of meeting Elenor, her death?
  Guilt like a guise was on his face. And one--
  This Isaac Newfeldt, juryman, whispered, "Look,
  That man is guilty, let us fly the questions
  Like arrows at him till we bring him down."
  And as they flew the arrows he came to
  And spoke as follows:--

                          "First, I am a heart
  That from my youth has sought for love and hungered.
  And Elenor Murray's heart had hungered too,
  Which drew our hearts together, made our love
  As it were mystical, more real. I was
  A boy who sought for beauty, hope and faith
  In woman's love; at fourteen met a girl
  Who carried me to ecstasy till I walked
  In dreamland, stepping clouds. She loved me too.
  I could not cure my heart, have always felt
  A dull pain for that girl. She died, you know.
  I found another, rather made myself
  Discover my ideal in her, until
  My heart was sure she was the one. And then
  I woke up from this trance, went to another
  Still searching; always searching, reaching now
  An early cynicism, how to play with hearts,
  Extract their beauty, pass to someone else.
  I was a little tired now, seemed to know
  There is no wonder woman, just a woman
  Somewhere to be a wife. And then I met
  The woman whom I married, thought to solve
  My problem with the average things of life;
  The satisfaction of insistent sex,
  A home, a regular program, turn to work,
  Forget the dream, the quest. What did I find?
  A woman who exhausted me and bored me,
  Stirred never a thought, a fancy, brought no friends,
  No pleasures or diversions, took from me
  All that I had to give of mind and heart,
  Purse, or what not. And she was barren too,
  And restless; by that restlessness relieved
  The boredom of our life; it took her off
  In travels here and there. And I was glad
  To have her absent, but it still is true
  There is a hell in marriage, when it keeps
  Delights of freedom off, all other women
  Not willing to intrigue, pass distantly
  Your married man; but on the other hand
  What was my marriage with a wife away
  Six months or more of every year? And when
  I said to her, divorce me, she would say,
  You want your freedom to get married--well,
  The other woman shall not have you, if
  There is another woman, as I think.
  And so the years went by. I'm thirty-five
  And meet a woman, play light heartedly,
  She is past thirty, understands nor asks
  A serious love. It's summer and we jaunt
  About the country, for my wife's away.
  As usual, in the fall returns, and then
  My woman says, the holiday is over,
  Go back to work, and I'll go back to work.
  I cannot give her up, would still go on
  For this delight so sweet to me. By will
  I hold her, stir the fire up to inflame
  Her hands for me, make love to her in short
  And find myself in love, beholding in her
  All beauties and all virtues. Well, at first
  What did I care what she had been before,
  Whose mistress, sweetheart? Now I cared and asked
  Fidelity from her, and this she pledged.
  And so a settled life seemed come to us,
  We had found happiness. But on a day
  I caught her in unfaithfulness. A man
  She knew before she knew me crossed her path.
  Why do they do this, even while their lips
  Are wet with kisses given you? I think
  A woman may be true in marriage, never
  In any free relationship. And then
  I left her, killed the love I had with hate.
  Hate is an energy with which to save
  A heart knocked over by a blow like this.
  To forgive this wrong is never to forget,
  But always to remember, with increasing
  Sorrow and dreams invest the ruined love.
  And so I turned to hate, came from the flames
  As hard and glittering as crockery ware,
  And went my way with gallant gestures, winning
  An hour of rapture where it came to me.
  And all the time my wife was much away,
  Yet left me in this state where I was kept
  From serious love if I had found the woman.
  A pterodactyl in my life and soul:
  Had wings, could fly, but slumbered in the mud.
  Was neither bird nor beast; as social being
  Was neither bachelor nor married man.

  The years went on with work, day after day
  Arising to the task, night after night
  Returning for the rest with which to rise,
  Forever following the mad illusion,
  The dream, the expected friend, the great event
  Which should change life, and never finding it.
  And all the while I see myself consumed,
  Sapped somehow by this wife and hating her;
  Then fearful for myself for hating her,
  Then melting into generosities
  For hating her. And so tossed back and forth
  Between such passions, also never at peace
  From the dream of love, the woman and the mate
  I stagger, amble, hurtle through the years,
  And reach that summer of two years ago
  When life began to change. It was this way:
  My wife is home, for a wonder, and my friend,
  Most sympathetic, nearest, comes to dine.
  He casts his comprehending eyes about,
  Takes all things in. As we go down to town,
  And afterward at luncheon, when alone
  He says to me: she is a worthy woman,
  Beautiful, too, there is no other woman
  To make you happier, the fault is yours,
  At least in part, remove your part of the fault,
  To woo her, give yourself, find good in her.
  Go take a trip. For neither man nor woman
  Yields everything till wooed, tried out, beloved.
  Bring all your energies to the trial of her.
  She will respond, unfold, repay your work.

  He won me with his words. I said to her,
  Let's summer at Lake Placid--so we went.
  I tried his plan, did all I could, no use.
  The woman is not mine, was never mine,
  Was meant for someone else. And in despair,
  In wrath as well, I left her and came back
  And telephoned a woman that I knew
  To dine with me. She came, was glad and gay,
  But as she drew her gloves off let me see
  A solitaire. What, you? I said to her,
  You leave me too? She smiled and answered me;
  Marriage may be the horror that you think,
  And yet we all must try it once, and Charles
  Is nearest my ideal of any man.
  I have been very ill since last we met,
  Had not survived except for skillful hands,
  And Charles was good to me, with heart and purse.
  My illness took my savings. I repay
  His goodness with my hand. I love him too.
  You do not care to lose me. As for that
  I know one who will more than take my place;
  She is the nurse who nursed me back to health,
  I'll have you meet her, I can get her now.
  She rose and telephoned. In half an hour
  Elenor Murray joined us, dined with us.
  I watched her as she entered, did not see
  A single wonder in her, cannot now
  Remember how she looked, what dress she wore,
  What hat in point of color, anything.
  After the dinner I rode home with them,
  Saw Elenor at luncheon next day. So
  The intimacy began."

                        "She was alone,
  Unsettled and unhappy, pressed for funds.
  She had, it seemed, nursed Janet without pay
  Till Charles made good at last the weekly wage;
  Since Janet's illness had no work to do.
  I was alone and bored, she came to me
  Almost at first as woman never came
  To me before, so radiant, sympathetic,
  Admiring, so devoted with a heart
  That soothed and strove to help me. Strange to say
  These manifests of spirit, ministrations
  Bespoke the woman who has found a man,
  And never knew a man before. She seemed
  An old maid jubilant for a man at last,
  And truth to tell I took her rapturous ways
  With just a little reticence, and shrinking
  Of spirit lest her hands would touch too close
  My spirit which misvalued hers, withdraw
  Itself from hers with hidden smiles that she
  Could find so much in me. She did not change,
  Retreat, draw in; advanced, poured out, gave more
  And wooed me, till I feared if I should take
  Her body she would follow me, grow mad
  And shameless for her love."

                                "But as for that
  That next day while at luncheon, frank and bold,
  I spoke right out to her and then she shook
  From head to foot, and made her knife in hand
  Rattle the plate for trembling, turned as pale
  As the table linen. Afterward as we met,
  Having begun so, I renewed the word,
  Half smiling to behold her so perturbed,
  And serious, and gradually toning down
  Pursuit of her this way, as I perceived
  Her interest growing and her clinging ways,
  Her ardor, huddling to me, great devotion;
  Rapt words of friendship, offers of herself
  For me or mine for nothing were we ill
  And needed her."

                    "These currents flowed along.
  Hers plunged and sparkled, mine was slow for thought.
  A doubt of her, or fear, till on a night
  When nothing had been said of this before,
  Quite suddenly when nearing home she shrank,
  Involved herself in shrinking in the corner
  Of the cab's seat, and spoke up: 'Take me now,
  I'm yours to-night, will do what you desire,
  Whatever you desire.' I acted then,
  Seemed overjoyed, was puzzled just the same,
  And almost feared her. As I said before,
  I feared she might pursue me, trouble me
  After a hold like this,--and yet I said:
  'Go get your satchel, meet me in an hour.'
  I let her out, drove to the club, and thought;
  Then telephoned her, business had come up,
  I could not meet her, but would telephone
  To-morrow."

                "And to-morrow when it came
  Brought ridicule and taunting from myself:
  To have pursued this woman, for two months,
  And if half-heartedly, you've made her think
  Your heart was wholly in it, now she yields,
  Bestows herself. You fly, you are a fool;
  A village pastor playing Don Juan,
  A booby costumed as a gallant--pooh!
  Go take your chance. I telephoned her then,
  That night she met me."

                            "Here was my surprise:
  All semblance of the old maid fell away,
  Like robes as she disrobed. She brought with her
  Accoutrements of slippers, caps of lace,
  And oriental perfumes languorous.
  The hour had been all heaven had I sensed,
  Sensed without thinking consciously a play,
  Dramatics, acting, like an old maid who
  Resorts to tricks of dress she fancies wins
  A gallant of experience, fancies only
  And knows not, being fancied so appears
  Half ludicrous."

                  "But so our woe began.
  That morning we had breakfast in our room,
  And I was thinking, in an absent way
  Responded to her laughter, joyous ways.
  For I was thinking of my life again,
  Of love that still eluded me, was bored
  Because I sat there, did not have the spirit
  To share her buoyancy--or was it such?
  Did she not ripple merriment to hide
  Her disappointment, wake me if she could?
  And spite of what I thought of her before
  That she had known another man or men,
  I thought now I was first. And to let down,
  Slope off the event, our parting for the day
  Have no abruptness, I invited her
  To luncheon, when I left her 'twas to meet
  Again at noon. We met and parted then.
  So now it seemed a thing achieved. Two weeks
  Elapsed before I telephoned her. Then
  The story we repeated as before,
  Same room and all. But meantime we had sat
  Some moments over tea, the orchestra
  Played Chopin for her."

                          "Then she handed me
  A little box, I opened it and found
  A locket too ornate, her picture in it,
  A little flag."

                  "So in that moment there
  Love came to me for Elenor Murray. Music,
  That poor pathetic locket, and her way
  So humble, so devoted, and the thought
  Of those months past, wherein she never swerved
  From ways of love, in spite of all my moods,
  Half-hearted, distant--these combined at once,
  And with a flame that rose up silently
  Consumed my heart with love."

                                "She went away,
  And left me hungering, lonely. She returned,
  And saw at last dubieties no more,
  The answering light for her within my eyes."

  "I must recur a little here to say
  That at the first, first meeting it may be,
  With Janet, there at tea, she said to me
  She had signed for the war, would go to France,
  To nurse the soldiers. You cannot remember
  What people say at first, before you know,
  Have interest in them. Also at that time
  I had no interest in the war, believed
  The war would end before we took a hand.
  The war lay out of me, objectified
  Like news of earthquakes in Japan. And then
  As time went on she said: 'I do not know
  What day I shall be called, the time's at hand.'
  I loathed the Germans then; but loathed the war,
  The hatred, lying, which it bred, the filth
  Spewed over Europe, from the war, on us
  At last. I loathed it all, and saw
  The spirit of the world debauched and fouled
  With blood and falsehood."

                              "Elenor found in me
  Cold water for her zeal, and even asked:
  'Are you pro-German?--no!' I tried to say
  What stirred in me, she did not comprehend,
  And went her way with saying: 'I shall serve,
  O, glorious privilege to serve, to give,
  And since this love of ours is tragedy,
  Cannot be blessed with children, or with home,
  It will be better if I die, am swept
  Under the tide of war with work.' This girl
  Exhausted me with ardors, spoken faiths,
  And zeal which never tired, until at last
  I longed for her to go and make an end.
  What better way to end it?"

                              "April came,
  One day she telephoned me that to-morrow
  She left for France. We met that night and walked
  A wind swept boulevard by the lake, and she
  Was luminous, a spirit; tucked herself
  Under my coat, adored me, said to me:
  'If I survive I shall return to you,
  To serve you, help you, be your friend for life,
  And sacrifice my womanhood for you.
  You cannot marry me, in spite of that
  If I can be your comfort, give you peace,
  That will be marriage, all that God intends
  As marriage for me. You have blessed me, dear,
  With hope and happiness. And oh at last
  You did behold the war as good, you give me,
  You send me to the war. I serve for you,
  I serve the country in your name, your love,
  So blessed for you, your love.'"

                                    "That night at two
  I woke somehow as if an angel stood
  Beside the bed in light, beneficence,
  And found her head close to my heart--she woke
  At once with me, spoke dreamily 'Dear heart,'
  Then turned to sleep again. I loved her then."

  "She left next day. An olden mood came back
  Which said, the end has come, and it is best.
  I left the city too, breathed freer then,
  Sought new companionships. But in three days
  My heart was sinking, sickness of the heart,
  Nostalgia took me. How to fight it off
  Became the daily problem; work, diversions
  Seemed best for cures. The malady progressed
  Beyond the remedies. My wife came back,
  Divined my trouble, laughed. And every day
  The papers pounded nerves with battle news;
  The bands were playing, soldiers marched the streets.
  And taggers on the corner every day
  Reminded you of suffering and of want.
  And orators were talking where you ate:
  Bonds must be bought--war--war was everywhere.
  There was no place remote to hide from it,
  And rest from its insistence. Then began
  Elenor Murray's letters sent from France,
  Which told of what she did, and always said:
  'Would you were with me, serving in the war.
  If you could come and serve; they need you, dear;
  You could do much.' Until at last the war
  Which had lain out of me, objectified,
  Became a part of me, I saw the war,
  And felt the war through her, and every tune
  And every marching soldier, every word
  Spoken by orators said Elenor Murray.
  At dining places, theatres, pursued
  By this one thought of war and Elenor Murray;
  In every drawing room pursued, pursued
  In quiet places by the memories.
  I had no rest. The war and love of her
  Had taken body of me, soul of me,
  With madness, ecstasy, and nameless longing,
  Hunger and hope, fear and despair--but love
  For Elenor Murray with intenser flame
  Ran round it all."

                    "At last all other things:
  Place in the world, my business, and my home,
  My wife if she be counted, sunk away
  To nothingness. I stood stripped of the past,
  Saw nothing but the war and Elenor,
  Saw nothing but the day of finding her
  In France, and serving there to be with her,
  Or near where I could see her, go to her,
  Perhaps if she was ill or needed me.
  And so I went to France, began to serve,
  Went in the ordnance. In that ecstasy
  Of war, religion, love, found happiness;
  Became a part of the event, and cured
  My languors, boredom, longing, in the work;
  And saw the war as greatest good, the hand
  Of God through all of it to bring the world
  Beauty and Freedom, a millennium
  Of Peace and Justice."

                        "So the days went by
  With work and waiting, waiting for the hour
  When Elenor should have a furlough, come
  To Paris, see me. And she came at last."

  "Before she came she wrote me, told me where
  To meet her first. 'At two o'clock,' she wrote,
  'Be on the landing back of the piano'
  Of a hotel she named. An ominous thought
  Passed through my brain, as through a room a bat
  Flits in and out. I read the letter over:
  How could this letter pass the censor? Escape
  The censor's eye? But eagerness of passion,
  And longing, love, submerged such thoughts as these.
  I walked the streets and waited, loitered through
  The Garden of the Tuilleries, watched the clocks,
  The lagging minutes, counted with their strokes.
  And then at last the longed for hour arrived.
  I reached the landing--what a meeting place!
  With pillars, curtains hiding us, a nook
  No one could see us in, unless he spied.
  And she was here, was standing by the corner
  Of the piano, very pale and worn,
  Looked down, not at me, pathos over her
  Like autumn light. I took her in my arms,
  She could not speak, it seemed. I could not speak.
  Dumb sobs filled heart and throat of us. And then
  I held her from me, looked at her, re-clasped
  Her head against my breast, with choking breath
  That was half whisper, half a cry, I said,
  'I love you, love you, now at last we're here
  Together, oh, my love!' She put her lips
  Against my throat and kissed it: 'Oh, my love,
  You really love me, now I know and see,
  My soul, my dear one,' Elenor breathed up
  The words against my throat."

                                  "We took a suite:
  Soft rugs upon the floor, a bed built up,
  And canopied with satin, on the wall
  Some battle pictures, one of Bonaparte,
  A bottle of crystal water on a stand
  And roses in a bowl--the room was sweet
  With odors, and so comfortable. Here we stood.
  'It's Paris, dear,' she said, 'we are together;
  You're serving in the war, how glorious!
  We love each other, life is good--so good!'
  That afternoon we saw the city a little,
  So many things occurred to prophesy,
  Interpret."

              "And that night we saw the moon,
  One star above the Arc de Triomphe, over
  The chariot of bronze and leaping horses.
  Dined merrily and slept and woke together
  Beneath that satin canopy."

                              "In brief,
  The days went by with laughter and with love.
  We watched the Seine from bridges, in a spell
  There at Versailles in the Temple of Love
  Sat in the fading day."

                          "Upon the lawn
  She took her diary from her bag and read
  What she had done in France; years past as well.
  Began to tell me of a Simeon Strong
  Whom she was pledged to marry years before.
  How jealousy of Simeon Strong destroyed
  His love, and all because in innocence
  She had received some roses from a friend.
  That led to other men that she had known
  Who wished to marry her, as she said. But most
  She talked of Simeon Strong; then of a man
  Who had absorbed her life until she went
  In training as a nurse, a married man,
  Whom she had put away, himself forgetting
  A hopeless love he crushed. Until at last
  I said, no more, my dear--The past is dead,
  What is the past to me? It could not be
  That you could live and never meet a man
  To love you, whom you loved. And then at last
  She put the diary in her bag, we walked
  And scanned the village from the heights; the train
  Took back for Paris, went to dine, be gay.
  This afternoon was the last, this night the last.
  To-morrow she was going back to work,
  And I was to resume my duties too,
  Both hopeful for another meeting soon,
  The war's end, a re-union, some solution
  Of what was now a problem hard to bear."

  "We left our dinner early, she was tired,
  There in our room again we clung together,
  Grieved for the morrow. Sadness fell upon us,
  Her eyes were veiled, her voice was low, her speech
  Was brief and nebulous. She soon disrobed,
  Lay with her hair spread out upon the pillow,
  One hand above the coverlet."

                                "And soon
  Was lying with head turned from me. I sat
  And read to man my grief. You see the war
  Blew to intenser flame all moods, all love,
  All grief at parting, fear, or doubt. At last
  As I looked up to see her I could see
  Her breast with sleep arise and fall. The silence
  Of night was on the city, even her breath
  I heard as she was sleeping--for myself
  I wondered what I was and why I was,
  What world is this and why, and if there be
  God who creates us to this life, then why
  This agony of living, peace or war;
  This agony which grows greater, never less,
  And multiplies its sources with the days,
  Increases its perplexities with time,
  And gives the soul no rest. And why this love,
  This woman in my life. The mystery
  Of my own torture asked to be explained.
  And why I married whom I married, why
  She was content to stand far off and watch
  My crucifixion. Why?"

                          "And with these thoughts
  Came thought of changing them. A wonder slipped
  About her diary in my brain. I paused,
  Said to myself, you have no right to spy
  Upon such secret records, yet indeed
  A devilish sense of curiosity
  Came as relaxment to my graver mood,
  As one will fetch up laughter to dispel
  Thoughts that cannot be quelled or made to take
  The form of action, clarity. I arose
  Took from her bag the diary, turned to see
  What entry she had made when first she came
  And gave herself to me. And look! The page
  Just opposite from this had words to show
  She gave herself to Gregory Wenner just
  The week that followed on the week in which
  She gave herself to me."

                          "A glass of water,
  Before I can proceed!"...

                              "I reeled and struck
  The bed post. She awoke. I thought that death
  Had come with apoplexy, could not see,
  And in a spell vertiginous, with hands
  That shook and could not find the post, stood there
  Palsied from head to foot. Quick, she divined
  The event, the horror anyway, sprang out,
  And saw the diary lying at my feet.
  Before I gained control of self, could catch
  Or hold her hands, she seized it, threw it out
  The window on the street, and flung herself
  Face down upon the bed."

                          "Oh awful hell!
  What other entries did I miss, what shames
  Recorded since she left me, here in France?
  What was she then? A woman of one sin,
  Or many sins, her life filled up with treason,
  Since I had left her?"

                        "And now think of me:
  This monstrous war had entered me through her,
  Its passion, beauty, promise came through her
  Into my blood and spirit, swept me forth
  From country, life I knew, all settled things.
  I had gone mad through her, and from her lips
  Had caught the poison of the war, its hate,
  Its yellow sentiment, its sickly dreams,
  Its lying ideals, and its gilded filth.
  And here she lay before me, like a snake
  That having struck, by instinct now is limp;
  By instinct knows its fangs have done their work,
  And merely lies and rests."

                              "I went to her,
  Pulled down her hands from eyes and shook her hard:
  What is this? Tell me all?"

                                "She only said:
  'You have seen all, know all.'"

                                    "'You do not mean
  That was the first and last with him?' She said,
  'That is the truth.' 'You lie,' I answered her.
  'You lie and all your course has been a lie:
  Your words that asked me to be true to you,
  That I could break your heart. The breasts you showed
  Flowering because of me, as you declared;
  Our intimacy of bodies in the dance
  Now first permitted you because of love;
  Your plaints for truth and for fidelity,
  Your fears, a practiced veteran in the game,
  All simulated. And your prayer to God
  For me, our love, your protests for the war,
  For service, sacrifice, your mother hunger,
  Are all elaborate lies, hypocrisies,
  Studied in coolest cruelty, and mockery
  Of every lovely thing, if there can be
  A holy thing in life, as there cannot,
  As you have proven it. The diary's gone--
  And let it go--you kept it from my eyes
  Which shows that there was more. What are you then,
  A whore, that's all, a masquerading whore,
  Not worthy of the hand that plies her trade
  In openness, without deceit. For if
  This was the first and only time with him
  Here is dissimulation month by month
  By word of mouth, in letters by the score;
  And here your willingness to take my soul
  And feed upon it. Knowing that my soul
  Through what I thought was love was caught and whirled
  To faith in the war, and faith in you as one
  Who symbolized the war as good, as means
  Of goodness for the world--and this deceit,
  Insane, remorseless, conscienceless, is worse
  Than what you did with him. I could forgive
  Disloyalty like that, but this deceit
  Is unforgivable. I go,' I said.
  I turned to leave. She rose up from the bed,
  'Forgive! Forgive!' she pleaded, 'I was mad,
  Be fair! Be fair! You took me, turned from me,
  Seemed not to want me, so I went to him.
  I cried the whole day long when first I gave
  Myself to you, for thinking you had found
  All that you wanted, left me, did not care
  To see me any more. I swear to you
  I have been faithful to you since that day
  When we heard Chopin played, and I could see
  You loved me, and I loved you. O be fair!'"...

  Then Barrett Bays shook like an animal
  That starves and freezes. And the jury looked
  And waited till he got control of self
  And spoke again his horror and his grief:--
  "I left her, went upon the silent streets,
  And walked the night through half insane, I think.
  Cannot remember what I saw that night,
  Have only blurs of buildings, arches, towers,
  Remember dawn at last, returning strength,
  And taking rolls and coffee, all my spirit
  Grown clear and hard as crystal, with a will
  As sharp as steel to find reality:
  To see life as it is and face its terrors,
  And never feel a tremor, bat an eye.
  Drink any cup to find the truth, and be
  A pioneer in a world made new again,
  Stripped of the husks, bring new faith to the world,
  Of souls devoted to themselves to make
  Souls truer, more developed, wise and fair!
  Write down the creed of service, and write in
  Self-culture, self-dependence, throw away
  The testaments of Jesus, old and new,
  Save as they speak and help the river life
  To mould our truer beings; the rest discard
  Which teaches compensation, to forgive
  That you may be forgiven, mercy show
  That mercy may be yours, and love your neighbor,
  Love so to gain--all balances like this
  Of doctrine for the spirit false and vile,
  Corrupted with such calculating filth;
  And if you'd be the greatest, be the servant--
  When one to be the greatest must be great
  In self, a light, a harmony in self,
  Perfected by the inner law, the works
  Done for the sake of beauty, for the self
  Without the hope of gain except the soul,
  Your one possession, grows a perfect thing
  If tended, studied, disciplined. While all
  This ethic of the war, the sickly creed
  Which Elenor Murray mouthed, but hides the will
  Which struggles still, would live, lies to itself,
  Lies to its neighbor and the world, and leaves
  Our life upon a wall of rotting rock
  Of village mortals, patriotism, lies!"

  "And as for that, what did I see in Paris
  But human nature working in the war
  As everywhere it works in peace? Cabals,
  And jealousies and hatreds, greed alert;
  Ambition, cruelty, strife piled on strife;
  No peace in labor that was done for peace;
  Hypocrisy elaborate and rampant.
  Saw at first hand what coiled about the breast
  Of Florence Nightingale when she suffered, strove
  In the Crimean War, struck down by envy,
  Or nearly so. Oh, is it human nature,
  That fights like maggots in the rotting carcass?
  Or is it human nature tortured, bound
  By artificial doctrines, creeds which all
  Pretend belief in, really doubt, resist
  And cannot live by?"

                        "If I had a thought
  Of charity toward this woman then
  It was that she, a little mind, had tried
  To live the faith against her nature, used
  A woman's cunning to get on in life.
  For as I said it was her lies that hurt.
  And had she lied, had she been living free,
  Unshackled of our system, faith and cult,
  American or Christian, what you will?

  "She was a woman free or bound, but women
  Enslave and rule by sex. The female tigers
  Howl in the jungle when their dugs are dry
  For meat to suckle cubs. And Germany
  Of bullet heads and bristling pompadours,
  And wives made humble, cowed by basso brutes,
  Had women to enslave the brutes with sex,
  And make them seek possessions, land and food
  For breeding women and for broods."

                                          "And now
  If women make the wars, yet nurse the sick,
  The wounded in the wars, when peace results,
  What peace will be, except a peace that fools
  The gaping idealist, all souls in truth
  But souls like mine? A peace that leaves the world
  Just where it was with women in command
  Who, weak but cunning, clinging to the faith
  Of Christ, therefore as organized and made
  A part, if not the whole of western culture.
  Away with all of this! Blow down the mists,
  The rainbows, give us air and cloudless skies.
  Give water to our fevered eyes, give strength
  To see what is and live it, tear away
  These clumsy scaffoldings, by which the mystics,
  Ascetics, mad-men all St. Stylites
  Would rise above the world of body, brain,
  Thirst, hunger, living, nature! Let us free
  The soul of man from sophists, logic spinners,
  The mad-magicians who would conjure death,
  Yet fear him most themselves, the coward hearts
  Who mouth eternal bliss, yet cling to earth
  And keep away from heaven."

                                "For it's true
  Nature, or God, gives birth and also death.
  And power has never come to draw the sting
  Of death or make it pleasant, creed nor faith
  Prevents disease, old age and death at last.
  This truth is here and we must face it, or
  Lie to ourselves and cloud our brains with lies,
  Postponements and illusions, childish hopes!
  But lie most childish is the Christian myth
  Of Adam's fall, by which disease and death
  Entered the world, until the Savior came
  And conquered death. He did? But people die,
  Some millions slaughtered in the war! They live
  In heaven, say your Elenor Murrays, well,
  Who knows this? If you know it, why drop tears
  For people better off? How ludicrous
  The patch-work is! I leave it, turn again
  To what man in this world can do with life
  Made free of superstition, rules and faiths,
  That make him lie to self and to his fellows."...

  And Barrett Bays, now warmed up to his work,
  Grown calmer, stronger, mind returned, that found
  Full courage for the thought, the word to say it
  Recurred to Elenor Murray, analyzed:--
  And now a final word: "This Elenor Murray,
  What was she, just a woman, a little life
  Swept in the war and broken? If no more,
  She is not worth these words: She is the symbol
  Of our America, perhaps this world
  This side of India, of America
  At least she is the symbol. What was she?
  A restlessness, a hunger, and a zeal;
  A hope for goodness, and a tenderness;
  A love, a sorrow, and a venturing will;
  A dreamer fooled but dreaming still, a vision
  That followed lures that fled her, generous, loving,
  But also avid and insatiable;
  An egoism chained and starved too long
  That breaks away and runs; a cruelty,
  A wilfulness, a dealer in false weights,
  And measures of herself, her duty, others,
  A lust, a slick hypocrisy and a faith
  Faithless and hollow. But at last I say
  She taught me, saved me for myself, and turned
  My steps upon the path of making self
  As much as I can make myself--my thanks
  To Elenor Murray!"

                        "For that day I saw
  The war for what it was, and saw myself
  An artificial factor, working there
  Because of Elenor Murray--what a fool!
  I was not really needed, like too many
  Was just pretending, though I did not know
  That I was just pretending, saw myself
  Swept in this mad procession by a woman;
  And through myself I saw the howling mob
  Back in America that shouted hate,
  In God's name, all the carriers of flags,
  The superheated patriots who did nothing,
  Gave nothing but the clapping of their hands,
  And shouts for freedom of the seas. The souls
  Who hated freedom on the sea or earth,
  Had, as the vile majority, set up
  Intolerable tyrannies in America,
  America that launched herself without
  A God or faith, but in the name of man
  And for humanity, so long accursed
  By Gods and priests--the vile majority!
  Which in the war, and through the war went on
  With other tyrannies as to meat and drink,
  Thought, speech, the mind in living--here was I
  One of the vile majority through a woman--
  And serving in the war because of her,
  And meretricious sentiments of her.
  You see I had the madness of the world,
  Was just as crazy as America.
  And like America must wake from madness
  And suffer, and regret, and build again.
  My soul was soiled, you see. And now I saw
  How she had pressed her lips against my soul
  And sapped my spirit in the name of beauty
  She simulated; for a loyalty
  Her lips averred; how as a courtesan
  She had made soft my tissues, like an apple
  Handled too much; how vision of me went
  Into her life sucked forth; how never a word
  Which ever came from her interpreted
  In terms of worth the war; how she had coiled
  Her serpent loins about me; how she draped
  Herself in ardors borrowed; how my arms
  Were mottled from the needle's scar where she
  Had shot the opiates of her lying soul;
  How asking truth, she was herself untrue;
  How she, adventuress in the war, had sought
  From lust grown stale, renewal of herself.
  And then at last I saw her scullery brows
  Fail out and fade beside the Republic's face,
  And leave me free upon the hills, who saw,
  Strong, seeking cleanliness in truth, her hand
  Which sought the cup worn smooth by leper lips
  Dipped in the fountain where the thirst of many
  Passionate pilgrims had been quenched,
  Not lifted up by me, nor yet befriended
  By the cleaner cup I offered. Now you think
  That I am hard. Philosophy is hard,
  And I philosophize, admit as well
  That I have failed, am full of faults myself,
  All faults, we'll say, but one, I trust and pray
  The fault of falsehood and hypocrisy."...

  "I gave my work in Paris up--that day
  Made ready to return, but with this thought
  To use my wisdom for the war, do work
  For America that had no touch of her,
  No flavor of her nature, far removed
  From the symphony of sex, be masculine,
  Alone, and self-sufficient, needing nothing,
  No hand, no kiss, no mate, pure thought alone
  Directed to this work. I found the work
  And gave it all my energy."

                              "From then
  I wrote her nothing, though she wrote to me
  These more than hundred letters--here they are!
  Since you have mine brought to you from New York
  All written before she went to France, I think
  You should have hers to make the woman out
  And read her as she wrote herself to me.
  The rest is brief. She cabled when she sailed,
  And wrote me from New York. While at LeRoy
  With Irma Leese she wrote me. Then that day
  She telephoned me when she motored here
  With Irma Leese, and said: 'Forgive, forgive,
  O see me, come to me, or let me come
  To you, you cannot crush me out. These months
  Of silence, what are they? Eternity
  Makes nothing of these months. I love you, never
  In all eternity shall cease to love you,
  Love makes you mine, and you must come to me
  Now or hereafter.'"

                      "And you see at last
  My soul was clear again, as clean and cold
  As our March days, as clear too, and the war
  Stood off envisioned for the thing it was.
  Peace now had come, which helped our eyes to see
  What dread event the war was. So to see
  This woman with these eyes of mine, made true
  And unpersuadable of her plaints and ways
  I gave consent and went."

                              "Arriving first,
  I walked along the river till she came.
  And as I saw her, I looked through the tricks
  Of dress she played to win me, I could see
  How she arrayed herself before the mirror,
  Adjusting this or that to make herself
  Victorious in the meeting. But my eyes
  Were wizard eyes for her, and this she knew,
  Began at first to writhe, change color, flap
  Her nervous hands in gestures half controlled.
  I only said, 'Good morning,' took her hand,
  She tried to kiss me, but I drew away.
  'I have been true,' she said, 'I love you, dear,
  If I was false and did not love you, why
  Would I pursue you, write you, all against
  Your coldness and your silence? O believe me,
  The war and you have changed me. I have served,
  Served hard among the sufferers in the war,
  Sustained by love for you. I come to you
  And give my life to you, take it and use,
  Keep me your secret joy. I do not dream
  Of winning you in marriage. Here and now
  I humble self to you, ask nothing of you,
  Except your kindness, love again, if love
  Can come again to you--O this must be!
  It is my due who love you, with my soul,
  My body.'"

                "'No,' I said, 'I can forgive
  All things but lying and hypocrisy.'...
  How could I trust her? She had kept from me
  The diary, threw it from the window, what
  Was life of her in France? Should I expunge
  This Gregory Wenner, what was life of her
  In France, I ask. And so I said to her:
  'I have no confidence in you'--O well
  I told the jury all. But quick at once
  She showed to me, that if I could forgive
  Her course of lying, she was changed to me,
  The war had changed her, she was hard and wild,
  Schooled in the ways of soldiers, and in war.
  That beauty of her womanhood was gone,
  Transmuted into waywardness, distaste
  For simple ways, for quiet, loveliness.
  The adventuress in her was magnified,
  Cleared up and set, she had become a shrike,
  A spar hawk, and I loathed her for these ways
  Which she revealed, dropping her gentleness
  When it had failed her. Yes, I saw in her
  The war at last; its lying and its hate,
  Its special pleading, and its double dealing,
  Its lust, its greed, its covert purposes,
  Its passion out of hell which obelised
  Such noble things in man. Its crooked uses
  Of lofty spirits, flaming fires of youth,
  Young dreamers, lovers. And at last she said,
  As I have told the jury, what she did
  Was natural, and I cursed her. Then she shook,
  Turned pale, and reeled, I caught her, held her up,
  She died right in my arms! And this is all;
  Except that had I killed her and should spend
  My days in prison for it, I am free,
  My spirit being free."

                        "Who was this woman?
  This Elenor Murray was America;
  Corrupt, deceived, deceiving, self-deceived,
  Half-disciplined, half-lettered, crude and smart,
  Enslaved yet wanting freedom, brave and coarse,
  Cowardly, shabby, hypocritical,
  Generous, loving, noble, full of prayer,
  Scorning, embracing rituals, recreant
  To Christ so much professed; adventuresome;
  Curious, mediocre, venal, hungry
  For money, place, experience, restless, no
  Repose, restraint; before the world made up
  To act and sport ideals, go abroad
  To bring the world its freedom, having choked
  Freedom at home--the girl was this because
  These things were bred in her, she breathed them in
  Here where she lived and grew."

                           Then Barrett Bays stepped down
  And said, "If this is all, I'd like to go."
  Then David Borrow whispered in the ear
  Of Merival, and Merival conferred
  With Ritter and Llewellyn George and said:
  "We may need you again, a deputy
  Will take you to my house, and for the time
  Keep you in custody."

                        The deputy
  Came in and led him from the jury room.



ELENOR MURRAY


  Coroner Merival took the hundred letters
  Which Elenor Murray wrote to Barrett Bays,
  Found some of them unopened, as he said,
  And read them to the jury. Day by day
  She made a record of her life, and wrote
  Her life out hour by hour, that he might know.
  The hundredth letter was the last she wrote.
  And this the Coroner found unopened, cut
  The envelope and read it in these words:

  "You see I am at Nice. If you have read
  The other letters that I wrote you since
  Our parting there in Paris, you will know
  About my illness; but I write you now
  Some other details."

                        "I went back to work
  So troubled and depressed about you, dear,
  About myself as well. I thought of you,
  Your suffering and doubt, perhaps your hate.
  And since you do not write me, not a line
  Have written since we parted, it may be
  Hatred has entered you to make distrust
  Less hard to bear. But in no waking hour,
  And in no hour of sleep when I have dreamed,
  Have you been from my mind. I love you, dear,
  Shall always love you, all eternity
  Cannot exhaust my love, no change shall come
  To change my love. And yet to love you so,
  And have no recompense but silence, thoughts
  Of your contempt for me, make exquisite
  The suffering of my spirit. Could I sing
  My sorrow would enchant the world, or write,
  I might regain your love with beauty born
  Out of this agony."

                        "When I returned
  I had three typhoid cases given me.
  And with that passion which you see in me
  I gave myself to save them, took this love
  Which fills my heart for you and nursed them with it;
  Said to myself to keep me on my feet
  When I was staggering from fatigue, 'Give now
  Out of this love, it may be God's own gift
  With which you may restore these boys to health.
  What matter if he love you not.' And so
  For twelve hours day by day I waged with death
  A slowly winning battle."

                            "As they rallied,
  But when my strength was almost spent--what comes?
  This Miriam Fay writes odiously to me.
  She has heard something of our love, or sensed
  Some dereliction, since she learned that I
  Had not been to confessional. Anyway
  She writes me, writes our head-nurse. All at once
  A cloud of vile suspicion, like a dust
  Blown from an alley takes my breath away,
  And blinds my eyes. With all these things piled up,
  My labors and my sorrow, your neglect,
  My fears of a dishonorable discharge
  From service, which I love, I faint, collapse,
  Have streptococcus of the throat, and lie
  Two weeks in fever, sleepless, and with thoughts
  Of you, and what may happen, my disgrace.
  But suffering brought me friends, the officers
  Perhaps had heard the scandal, but they knew
  My heart was in the work. The major who
  Was the attending doctor of these boys
  I broke myself with nursing, cared for me,
  And cheered me with his praise. And so it was
  Your little soldier, still I call myself,
  Your little soldier, though you own me not,
  Turned failure into victory, won by pain
  Befriending hands. The major kept me here
  And intercepted my discharge, procured
  My furlough here in Nice."

                                "I rose from bed,
  Went back to work, in nine days failed again,
  This time with influenza; for three weeks
  Was ill enough to die, for all the while
  My fever raged, my heart was hurting too,
  Because of you. When I got up again
  I looked a ghost, was weaker than a child,
  At last came here to Nice."

                              "This is the hundredth
  Letter that I've written since we parted.
  My heart is tired, dear, I shall write no more.
  You shall have silence for your silence, yet
  When I am silent, trust me none the less,
  Believe I love you. If you say that I
  Have hidden secrets, have not told you all,
  The diary flung away to keep my life
  Beyond your eye's inspection, still I say
  Where is your right to know what lips I've kissed,
  What hopes or dreams I cherished in the past
  Before I knew you. If you still accuse
  My spirit of deceit, hypocrisy
  In lifting up my flower of love to you
  Fresh, as it seemed, with morning dew, not tears,
  I have my own defense for that, you'll see.
  Or lastly, if your love is turned to gall
  Because, as you discovered, body of love
  Was given to Gregory Wenner, after you
  Had come to me in love and chosen me
  As servant of you in the war, I write
  To clear myself to you respecting that,
  And re-insist 'twas body of love alone,
  Not love I gave, and what I gave was given
  Because you won me, left me, did not claim
  As wholly yours what you had won. But now,
  As I have hope of life beyond the grave,
  As I love God, though serving Him but ill,
  I say to you, I have been wholly yours
  In spirit and in body since the day
  I gave to you the locket, sat with you
  And heard the waltz of Chopin, six days after
  I went with Gregory Wenner. I explain
  Why I did this, shall mention it no more;
  You must be satisfied or go your way
  In bitterness and hatred."

                            "But first, my love,
  As spirits equal and with equal rights,
  Or privilege of equal wrongs, have I
  Demanded former purity of you?
  I have repelled revealments of your past;
  Have never questioned of your marriage, asked,
  Which might be juster, rights withdrawn from her;
  May rightly think, since you and she have life
  In one abode together, that you live
  As marriage warrants. And above it all
  Have I not written you to go your way,
  Find pleasures where you could, have only begged
  That you keep out of love, continue to give
  Your love to me? And why? Be cynical,
  And think I gave you freedom as a gallant
  That I might with a quiet conscience take
  Such freedom for myself. It is not true:
  I've learned the human body, know the male,
  And know his life is motile, does not rest,
  And wait, as woman's does, cannot do so.
  So understanding have put down distaste,
  That you should fare in freedom, in my heart
  Have wished that love or ideals might sustain
  Your spirit; but if not, my heart is filled
  With happiness, if you love me. Take these thoughts
  And with them solve your sorrow for my past,
  Your loathing of it, if you feel that way
  However bad it be, whatever sins
  Imagination in you stirred depicts
  As being in my past."

                        "Men have been known
  Whom women made fifth husbands, more than that.
  Not my case, I'll say that, and if you face
  Reality, and put all passion love
  Where nature puts it by the side of love
  Which custom favors, you have only left
  The matter of the truth to grasp, believe,
  See clearly and accept: Do I swear true
  I love you, and since loving you am faithful,
  Cannot be otherwise, nor wish to be?"

  "Dear, listen and be fair. You did not love me
  When first I came to you. You did not ask,
  Because of love, a faithfulness; in truth
  You did not ask a faithfulness at all.
  But then and theretofore you treated me
  As woman to be won, a happiness
  To be achieved and put aside. Be fair,
  This was your mood. But if you loved me then,
  Or soon thereafter loved me, as I know,
  What should I do? I loved you, am a woman.
  At last behold your love, am lifted, thrilled.
  See what I thought was love before was nothing;
  Know I was never loved before you loved me;
  And know as well I never loved before;
  Know all the former raptures of my heart
  As buds in March closed hard and scentless, never
  The June before for my heart! O, my love,
  What should I do when this most priceless gift
  Was held up like a crown within your hands
  To place upon my brows--what should I do?
  Take you aside and say, here is the truth,
  Here's Gregory Wenner--what's the good of that?
  How had it benefited you or me,
  Increased your love, or founded it upon
  A surer rock than beauty? Hideous truth!
  Useless too often, childish in such case.
  You would have suffered, turned from me, and lost
  The rapture which I gave you, and if rapture
  Be not a prize, where in this world so much
  Of ugliness and agony prevails,
  I do not know our life."

                          "But just suppose
  I gave you rapture, beauty--you concede
  I gave you these, that's why you suffer so:
  You choose to think them spurious since you found
  I knew this Gregory Wenner, are they so?
  They are as real in spite of Gregory Wenner
  As if my lips had been a cradled child's.
  But just suppose, as I began to say,
  You never had discovered Gregory Wenner,
  And had the rapture, beauty which you had,
  How stands the case? Was I not justified
  In hiding Gregory Wenner to preserve
  The beauty and the rapture which you craved?
  Dear, it was love of beauty which impelled
  What you have called deceit, it was my woman's
  Passionate hope to give the man she loved
  The beauty which he saw in her that inspired
  My acting, as you phrase it, an elaborate
  Hypocrisy, an ugly word from you!...
  But listen, dear, how spirit works in love:
  When you beheld me pure, I would be pure;
  As virginal, I would be virginal;
  As innocent, I would be innocent;
  As truthful, constant, so I would be these
  Though to be truthful, constant when I loved you
  Came to me like my breath, as natural.
  So I would be all things to you for love,
  Fill full your dreams, your vision of my soul
  For now and future days, but make myself
  In days before I knew you what you thought,
  Believed and cherished. Hence if you combine
  The thought that what I was did not concern you,
  With fear that if you knew, your heart would change;
  And with these join that passionate zeal of love
  To be your lover, wholly beautiful,
  You have the exposition of my soul
  In its elaborate deceit,--your words."

  "Some fifty years ago a man and woman
  Are talking in a room, say certain things,
  We were not there! We two are with each other
  Somewhere, and fifty years from now, we two
  Will look to after souls who were not there
  Like figures in a crystal globe; I mean
  To lift to light the wounds of brooding love,
  And show you that the world contains events
  Of which we live in ignorance, if we know
  They hurt us with their mystery, coming near
  In our soul's cycle, somehow. But the dead,
  And what they lived, what are they?--what the things
  Of our dead selves to selves who are alive,
  And live the hour that's given us?"

                                      "What's your past
  To me, beloved, if your soul and body
  Are mine to-day, not only mine, but made
  By living more my own, more rich for me,
  More truly harmonized with me? Believe me
  You are my highest hope made real at last,
  The climax of my love life, I accept
  Whatever passed in rooms in years gone by;
  Whatever contacts, raptures, pains or hopes
  As schooling of your soul to make it precious,
  And for my worship, my advancement, kneel
  And thank the God of mysteries and wisdom
  Who made you for me, let me find you, love you!"

  "Now of myself a word. In years to come
  These words I write will seem all truth to you,
  Their prism colors, violet and red,
  Will fade away and leave them in the light
  Arranged and reasonable and wholly true.
  Then you will read the words: I found you, dear,
  After a life of pain; and you will see
  My spirit like a blossom that you watch
  From budding to unfolding, knowing thus
  How it matured from day to day. I say
  My life has been all pain, I see at first
  A father and a mother linked in strife.
  Am thrown upon my girlhood's strength to teach,
  Earn money for my schooling, would know French;
  I studied Greek a little, gave it up,
  Distractions, duties, came too fast for me.
  I longed to sing, took lessons, lack of money
  Ended the lessons. But above it all
  My heart was like an altar lit with flame,
  Aspired to heaven, asked for sacrifice,
  For incense to be bright, more beautiful
  For beauty's sake. And in my soul's despair,
  And just to use this vital flame, I turned
  To God, the church. You must be stone to hear
  Such words as these and not relent, an image
  Of basalt which I pray to not to see
  And not to hear! But listen! look at me,
  Did I become a drifter, wholly fail?
  Did I become a common woman, turn
  To common life and ways? Can you dispute
  My eyes were fixed upon a lovelier life,
  Have never gaze withdrawn from loveliness?
  Did I give up, or break, turn to the flesh,
  Pleasures, the solace of the senses--No!
  Where some take drink to ease their hurts and dull
  Their disappointments, I renewed my will
  To sacrifice and service, work, who saw
  These things in essence may be drink as well,
  And bring the end, oblivion while you live,
  But bring supremacy instead of failure,
  Collapse, disgust and fears. Think what you will
  Of me for Gregory Wenner, and imagine
  The worst you may, I stand here as I am,
  With my life proven! And to end the pain
  I went to nurse the soldiers in the war
  With thoughts that if I died in service, good!
  Not that I gladly give up life, I love it.
  But life must be surrendered; let it be
  In service, as some end it up in drink,
  Or opium or lust. Beloved heart,
  I know my will is stronger than my vision,
  That passion masters judgment; that my love
  For love and life and beauty are too much
  For gifts like mine; I know that I am dumb,
  Songless, without articulate words--but still
  My very dumbness is a kind of speech
  Which some day will flood down your deafened rocks,
  And sweep my meaning over you."

                                  "Well, now
  Why did I turn to Gregory from you?
  I did not love you or I had not done it.
  You did not love me or I had not done it.
  I loved him once, he had been good to me.
  He was an old familiar friend and touch....
  Farewell, if it must be, but save me grief,
  The greatest agony: Be brave and strong,
  Be all that God requires your soul to be,
  O, give me not this cup of poison--this:
  That I have been your cause of bitterness;
  Have stopped your growth and introverted you,
  Given you eyes that see but lies and lust
  In human nature, evil in the world--
  Eyes that God meant to see the good and strive
  For goodness. If I drove you from the war,
  Made you distrust its purpose and its faith,
  Triumphant over selfishness and wrong,
  Oh, leave me with the hope that peace will come,
  And vision once again to bless your life.
  Behold me as America, taught but half,
  Wayward and thoughtless, fighting for a chance;
  Denied its ordered youth, thrown into life
  But half prepared, so seeking to emerge
  Out of a tangled blood, and out of the earth
  A creature of the earth that strives to win
  A soul, a voice. Behold me thus--forgive!
  Take from my life the beauty that you found,
  Nothing can kill that beauty if you press
  Its blossom to your heart, and with it rise
  To nobleness, to duty, give your life
  To our America."

                    "The Lord bless you,
  And make his face to shine upon you, and
  Be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance
  Upon you, give you peace, both now and ever
  More. Amen!"

     *       *       *       *       *

                  So Elenor's letters ended
  The evidence. The afternoon was spent.
  The inquest was adjourned till ten o'clock
  Next morning. They arose and left the room....
  And Merival half-ill went home. Next day
  He lounged with books and had the doctor in,
  And read his mail, more letters, articles
  About the inquest, Elenor. And from France
  A little package came. And here at last
  Is Elenor Murray's diary! Merival turns
  And finds the entries true to Barrett Bays;
  Some word, a letter too from France which says:
  The sender learned the name by tracing out
  A number in the diary, heard the news
  Of Elenor Murray from the paper at home
  In Illinois. And of the diary this:
  He got it from a poilu who was struck
  By this same diary on the cheek. A slap
  That stung him, since the diary had been thrown
  By Elenor Murray from the second story.
  This poilu, being tipsy, raved and thought
  Some challenger had struck him. Roaring so
  He's taken in. Some weeks elapse, he meets
  Our soldiers from the States, and shows the diary,
  And tells the story, has the diary read
  By this American, gives up the diary
  For certain drinks. And this American
  Has sent it to the coroner.

                              A letter
  To Merival from an old maiden aunt,
  Who's given her life to teaching, pensioned now
  And visiting at Madison, Wisconsin.
  Aunt Cynthia writes to Merival and says:
  "I know you are fatigued, a little tired
  With troubles of the lower plane of life.
  Quit thinking of the war and Elenor Murray.
  Each soul should use its own divinity
  By mastering nature outward and within.
  Do this by work or worship, Soul's control,
  Philosophy, by one or more or all.
  Above them all be free. This is religion,
  And all of it. Books, temples, dogmas, rituals
  Or forms are details only. By these means
  Find God within you, prove that you and God
  Are one, not several, justify the ways
  Of God to man, to speak the western way.
  I wish you could be here while I am here
  With Arielle, she is a soul, a woman.
  You need a woman in your life, my dear--
  I met her in Calcutta five years since,
  She and her husband toured the world--and now
  She is a widow these two years. I started
  Arielle in the wisdom of the East.
  That avid mind of hers devours all things.
  She is an adept, but she thinks her sense
  Of fun and human nature as the source
  Of laughter and of tears keep her from being
  A mystic, though she uses Hindu thought
  And practice for her soul."

                                "I'd like to send
  Some pictures of her, if she'd let me do it:
  Arielle with her dogs upon the lawn,
  Her arms about their necks. Or Arielle
  About her flowers. I've another one,
  Arielle on her favorite horse: another,
  Arielle by her window, hand extended,
  The very soul of rhythm; and another,
  Arielle laughing like a rising sun,
  No one can laugh as she does. For you see
  Her outward soul is love, her inward soul
  Is wisdom and that makes her what she is:
  A Robin Goodfellow, a Puck, a girl,
  A prankish wit, a spirit of bright tears,
  A queenly woman, clothed in majesty,
  A rapture and a solace, comrade, friend,
  A lover of old women such as I;
  A mother to young children, for she keeps
  A brood of orphans in her little town.
  She is a will as disciplined as steel,
  Has suffered and grown wise. Her tenderness
  Is hidden under words so brief and pure
  You cannot sense the tenderness in all
  Until you read them over many times.
  She is a lady bountiful, who gives
  As prodigally as nature, and she asks
  No gifts from you, but gets them anyway,
  Because all spirits pour themselves to her.
  If I were taking for America
  A symbol, it would be my Arielle
  And not your Elenor Murray."

                                "Here's her life!
  Her father died when she was just a child,
  Leaving a modest fortune to a widow,
  Arielle's mother, also other children.
  After a time the mother went to England
  And settled down in Sussex. There the mother
  Was married to a scoundrel, mad-man, genius,
  Who tyrannized the household, whipped the children.
  So Arielle at fourteen ran away.
  She pined for her Wisconsin and America.
  She went to Madison, or near the place,
  And taught school in the country, much the same
  As Elenor Murray did.

                          "Now here is something:
  Behold our world, humanity, the groups
  Of people into states, communities,
  Full up of powers and virtues, aid and light--
  Friends, helpers, understanders of the soul.
  It may be just the status of enlightment,
  But I think there are brothers of the light,
  And powers around us; for if Elenor Murray
  Half-fails, is broken, here is Arielle
  Who with the surer instinct finds the springs
  Of health and life. And so, I say, if I
  Had daughters, and were dying, leaving them,
  I should not fear; for I should know the world
  Would care for them and give them everything
  They had the strength to take."

                                  "Here's Arielle.
  She teaches school and studies--O that wag--
  She posts herself in Shakespeare, forms a class
  Of women thrice her age and teaches them,
  Adds that way to her earnings. Just in time--
  Such things are always opportune, a man
  Comes by and sees her spirit, says to her
  You may read Plato, and she reads and passes
  To Kant and Schopenhauer. So it goes
  Until by twenty all her brain is seething
  With knowledge and with dreams. She is beloved
  By all the people of the country-side,
  Besought and honored--yet she keeps to self,
  Has hardly means enough, since now she sends
  Some help to mother who has been despoiled,
  Abandoned by the mad-man."

                              "Then one spring
  A paper in Milwaukee gives a prize,
  A trip to Europe, to the one who gets
  The most subscriptions in a given time--
  And Arielle who has so many friends--
  Achievement brings achievement, friends bring friends--
  Finds rallying support and wins the prize.
  Is off to Europe where she meets the man
  She married when returned."

                                  "He is a youth
  Of beauty and of promise, yet a soul
  Who riots in the sunlight, honey of life.
  And gets his wings gummed in the poisonous sweet.
  And Arielle one morning wakes to find
  A horror on her hands: her husband's found
  Dead in a house of ill-fame. She is calm
  Out of that rhythm, sense of beauty which
  Makes her a power, all her deeds a song.
  She lays the body under the dancing muses
  There in the wondrous library and flings
  A purple robe across it, kneels and lays
  Her sunny head against it, says a prayer.
  She had been constant, loyal even to dreams,
  To this wild youth, whose errant ways she knew.
  Now don't you see the contrast? I refrain
  From judging Elenor Murray, but I say
  One thing is beautiful and one is not.
  And Arielle is beautiful as a spirit,
  And Elenor is somewhat beautiful,
  But streaked and mottled, too. Say what you will
  Of freedom, nature, body's rights, no less
  Honor and constancy are beautiful,
  And truth most beautiful. And Arielle
  Could kneel beside the body of her dead,
  Who had neglected her so constantly,
  And say a prayer of thankfulness that she
  Had honored him throughout those seven years
  Of married life--she prayed so--why, she says
  That prayer was worth a thousand stolen raptures
  Offered her in the years of life between."

                            "Now here she was at thirty
  Left to a mansion there in Madison.
  Her husband lived there; it was life, you know,
  For her to meet one of her neighborhood
  In Europe, though a stranger until then.
  And here is Arielle in her mansion, priestess
  Amid her treasures, beauties, for this man
  Has left her many thousands, and she lives
  Among her books and flowers, rides and walks,
  And frolics with her dogs, and entertains."...

  And as the Coroner folded the letter out
  A letter from this Arielle fell, which read:
  "We have an aunt in common, Cynthia.
  I know her better than you do, I think,
  And love her better too. You men go off
  With wandering and business, leave these aunts,
  And precious kindred to be found by souls
  Who are more kindred, maybe. I have heard
  Most everything about you, of your youth
  Your schooling, shall I say your sorrow too?
  Admire your life, have studied Elenor,
  As I have had the chance or got the word.
  And what your aunt writes in advice I like,
  Approve of and commend to you. You see
  I leap right over social rules to write,
  And speak my mind. So many friends I've made
  By searching out and asking. Why delay?
  Time slips away like moving clouds, but Life
  Says to the wise make haste. Is there a soul
  You'd like to know? Then signal it. I light
  From every peak a beacon fire, my peaks
  Are new found heights of vision, reaching them
  I either see a beacon light, or flash
  A beacon light. And thus it was I found
  Your Cynthia and mine, and now I write.
  I have a book to send you, show that way
  How much I value your good citizenship,
  Your work as coroner. I had the thought
  Of coroners as something like horse doctors--
  Your aunt says you're as polished as a surgeon.
  When I was ripe for Shakespeare some one brought
  His books to me; when I was ripe for Kant,
  I found him through a friend. I know about you,
  I sense you too, and I believe you need
  The spiritual uplifting of the Gita.
  You haven't read it, have you? No! you haven't.
  I wish that Elenor Murray might have read it.
  I grieve about that girl, you can't imagine
  How much I grieve. Nov write me, coroner,
  What is your final judgment of the girl."

  "I have so many friends who love me, always
  New friends come by to give me wisdom--you
  Can teach me, I believe, a man like you
  So versed in life. You must have learned new things
  Exploring in the life of Elenor Murray.
  I was about to write you several times.
  I loved that girl from all I heard of her.
  She must have had some faculty or fault
  That thwarted her, and left her, so to speak,
  Just looking into promised lands, but never
  Possessing or enjoying them--poor girl!
  And here she flung her spirit in the war
  And wrecked herself--it makes me sorrowful.
  I went to Europe through a prize I won,
  And saw the notable places--but this girl
  Who hungered just as much as I, saw nothing
  Or little, gave her time to labor, nursing--
  It is most pitiful, if you'll believe me
  I've wept about your Eleanor. Write me now
  What is your final judgment of the girl?"...

  So Merival read these letters, fell asleep.
  Next day was weaker, had a fever too,
  And took to bed at last. He had to fight
  Six weeks or more for life. When he was up
  And strong enough he called the jury in
  And at his house they talked the case and supped.



THE JURY DELIBERATES


  The jurymen are seated here and there
  In Merival's great library. They smoke,
  And drink a little beer or Scotch. Arise
  At times to read the evidence taken down,
  And typed for reference. Before them lie
  Elenor Murray's letters, all the letters
  Written to Merival--there's Alma Bell's,
  And Miriam Fay's, letters anonymous.
  The article of Roberts in the _Dawn_,
  That one of Demos, Hogos; a daily file
  Of Lowell's _Times_--Lowell has festered now
  Some weeks, a felon-finger in a stall.
  And where is Barrett Bays? In Kankakee
  Where Elenor Murray's ancestor was kept.
  The strain and shame had broken him; a fear
  Fell on him of a consequence when the coroner
  Still kept him with a deputy. He grew wild,
  Attacked the deputy, began to wander
  And show some several selves. A multiple
  Spirit of devils had him. Dr. Burke
  Went over him and found him mad.

                                    And now
  The jury meet amid a rapid shift
  Of changes, mist and cloud. The man is sick
  Who administers the country. Has come back
  To laud the pact of peace; his auditors
  Turn silently away, whole states assemble
  To hear and turn away, sometimes to heckle.
  And if a mattoid emperor caused the war,
  And Elenor Murrays put the emperor down,
  The emperor, could he laugh at all, can laugh
  To see a country, bent to spend its last
  Dollar, its blood to the last drop, having spent
  Enough of these, go mad as Barrett Bays.
  And like a headless man, seen in a dream,
  Go capering in an ecstasy of doubt,
  Regret and disillusion. He can laugh
  To see the pact, which took the great estate,
  Once his and God's, and wrapt it as with snakes
  That stung and sucked, rejected in the land
  That sent these Elenor Murrays to make free
  The world from despotism. See that very land
  Crop despotisms--so the jury sees
  Convened to end the case of Elenor Murray....

  And Rev. Maiworm, juryman, gives his thought
  To conquest of the world for Christ, and says
  The churches must unite to free the world
  From war and sin. Result? Why less and less
  Homes like the Murray home, where husband, wife,
  Live in dissension. More and more of schools
  For Elenor Murrays. Happy marriages
  Will be the rule, our Elenors will find
  Good husbands, quiet hearths, a competence.
  And Isaac Newfeldt said: "You talk pish-posh.
  You go about at snipping withered leaves,
  And picking blasted petals--take the root,
  Get at the soil--you cannot end these wars
  Until you solve the feeding problem. Quit
  Relying on your magic to make bread
  With five loaves broken, raise a bigger crop
  Of wheat, and get it to the mouths of men.
  And as for sin--what is it?--All of sin
  Lies in the customs, comes from how you view
  The bread and butter matter; all your gods
  And sons of God are guardians of the status
  Of business and of money; sin a thing
  Which contradicts, or threatens banks and wharves.
  And as for that your churches now control
  As much as human nature can digest
  A dominance like that. And what's the state
  Of things in Christendom? Why, wars, and want
  And many Elenor Murrays. Tyrannies
  Are like as pea and pea; you shall not drink,
  Or read, or talk, or trade, are from one pod.
  What would I do? Why, socialize the world,
  Then leave men free to live or die, let nature
  Go decimating as she will, and weed
  The worthless with disease or alcohol--
  You won't see much of that, however, if
  You socialize the world."

                            And David Barrow
  Spoke up and said: "No ism is enough.
  The question is, Is life worth living, good
  Or bad? If bad, I think that Elenor Murray had
  As good a life as any. Here we've sat
  These weeks and heard these stories--nothing new;
  And as to waste, our time is wasted here,
  If there were better things to do; and yet
  Perhaps there is no better. I've enjoyed
  This work, association. Well, you're told
  To judge not, and that means to judge not man;
  You are not told to judge not God. And so
  I judge Him. And again your Elenor Murrays,
  Your human being cannot will his way,
  But God's omnipotent, and where He fails
  He should be censured. Why does He allow
  A world like this, and suffer earthquakes, storms,
  The sinking of _Titanics_, cancers? Why
  Suffer these wars, this war?--Talk of the riffles
  That flowed from Elenor Murray--here's a wave
  Of tidal power, stirred by a greedy coot
  Who called himself an emperor! And look
  Our land, America, is ruined, slopped
  For good, or for our lives with filth and stench;
  So that to live here takes what strength you have,
  None left for living, as a man should live.
  And this America once free and fair
  Is now the hatefulest, commonest group of men,
  Women and children in the Occident.
  What's life here now? Why, boredom, nothing else....
  Why pity Elenor Murray? Gottlieb Gerald
  Told of her home life; it was good enough,
  Average American, or better. Schools
  She had in plenty, what would she have done
  With courses to the end in music, art?
  She was not happy. Elenor had a brain,
  And brains and happiness are at enmity.
  And if the world goes on some thousand years,
  The race as much advanced beyond us now
  In feeling, thought, as we are now beyond
  Pinthecanthropus, say, why, all will see
  What I see now;--'twere better if the race
  Had never risen. All analogies
  Of nature show that death of man is death.
  He plants his seed and dies, the resurrection
  Is not the man, but is the child that grows
  From sperm he sows. The grain of wheat that sprouts
  Is not the stalk that bore it. Now suppose
  We get the secret in a thousand years,
  Can prove that death's the end, analogies
  Put by with amber, frogs' legs--tell me then
  What opiate will still the shrieks of men?
  But some of us know now, and I am one.
  There is no heaven for me; and as for those
  Who make a heaven to get out of this--
  You gentlemen who call life good, the world
  The work of God's perfection; yet invent
  A heaven to rest in from this world of woe--
  You do not wish to go there; and resort
  To cures and Christian Science to stay here!
  Which shows you are not sure. And thus we have
  Your Christian saying at heart that life is bad,
  And heaven is good, but not so good and sure
  That you will hurry to it. Why, I'll prove
  The Christian pessimist, as well as I.
  He says life is so bad it has no meaning,
  Unless there be a future; and I say
  Life's bad, and if no future, then is worse.
  And as it has no future, is a hell.
  This girl was soaked in opiates to the last.
  Religion, love for Barrett Bays, believed
  That God is love. Love is a word to me
  That has no meaning but in terms of man.
  And if a man cause war, or suffer war,
  When he could stop it, do we say he loves?
  Why call God love who can prevent a war?
  To chasten us, to better, purge our sins?
  Well, if it be then we are bettered, purged
  When William Hohenzollern goes to war
  And makes the whole world crazy."

                                      "Understand
  I do not mock, I pity man and life.
  No man has sat here who has suffered more,
  Seeing the life of Elenor Murray, through
  Her life beholding life, our country's life.
  I pity man and life. I curse the scheme
  Which wakes the senseless clay to lips that bleed,
  And eyes that weep, and hearts that agonize,
  Then in an instant make them clay again!
  And for it all no reason, that the reason
  Can bring to light to stand the light."

                                            "And yet
  I'd make life better, food and shelter better
  And wider happiness, and fuller love.
  We're travelers on a ship that has no bourne
  But rocks, for us. On such a ship 'twere wise
  To have the daily comforts, foolish course
  To neither eat, nor sleep, keep warm, nor sing.
  But only walk the rainy deck and wait.
  The little opiates of happiness
  Would make the sailing better, though we know
  The trip is nowhere and the rocks will sink
  The portless steamer."

                          "Is it portless?" asked
  Llewellyn George, "you're leaping to a thought,
  And overlook a world of intimations,
  And hints of truth. I grant you take this race
  That lives to-day, and make the world a boat
  There is no port for us as human lives
  In this our life. But look, you see the race
  Has climbed, a mountain trail, and looks below
  From certain heights to-day at man the beast.
  We scan a half a million years of man
  From caves to temples, gestures, beacon fires
  To wireless. Call that mechanical,
  And power developed over tools. But here
  Is mystery beyond these.--What of powers,
  Devotions, aspirations, sacred flame
  Which masters nature, worships life, defies
  Death to obstruct it, hungers for the right,
  The truth, hates wrong, and by that passion wills
  All art, all beauty, goodness, and creates
  Those living waters of increasing life
  By which man lives, and has to-day the means
  Of fuller living. Here's a realm of richness,
  Beyond and separate from material things,
  Your aeroplanes or conquests. Now I put
  This question to you, David Barrow, what
  But God who is and has some end for life,
  And gives it meaning, though we see it not--
  What is it in the heart of man which lifts,
  Sustains him to the truth, the harmony,
  The beauty say of loyalty, or truth
  Or art, or science? lighting lamps for men
  To walk by, men who hate the lamps, the hand
  That lights? What is this spirit, but the spirit
  Of Something which moves through us, to an end,
  And by its constancy in man made constant
  Proclaims an end? There's Bruno, Socrates,
  There's Washington who might have lost his life,
  Why do these men cling to the vision, hope?
  When neither poverty, nor jeers, nor flames,
  Nor cups of poison stay? Who say thereby
  That death is nothing, but this life of ours,
  Which can be shaped to truth and harmony,
  And rising flame of spirit, giving light,
  Is everything worth while, must be lived so
  And if not lived so, then there's death indeed,
  By turning from the voice that says that man
  Must still aspire. And why aspire if death
  Ends us, the scheme? And all this realm of spirit,
  Of love for truth and beauty, is the play
  Of shadows on the tomb?"

                                "Now take this girl:
  She knew before she sailed to France, this man,
  This Barrett Bays was mad about her--knew
  She could stay here and have him, live with him,
  And thus achieve a happiness. And she knew
  To leave him was to make a chance to lose him.
  But then you say she knew he'd tire of her,
  And left for France. And still that happiness
  Before he tired would be hers. You see
  This spirit I'd delineate working here:
  To sacrifice and by the sacrifice
  Rise to a bigger spirit, make it truer;
  Then bring that truer spirit to her love
  For Barrett Bays, and not just loll and slop
  In love to-day. Why does she wish to give
  A finer spirit to this Barrett Bays?
  And to that end take life in hand? It's this:
  My Something, God at work. You say it's woman
  In sublimate of passion--call it that.
  Why sublimate a passion? All her life
  This girl aspires--you think to win a man?
  But win a man with what? With finest self
  Make this her contribution to these riches,
  Which Bruno and the others filled so full.
  You see this Something going on, but races
  Come up, express themselves and pass away;
  But yet this Something manifests itself
  Through souls like Elenor Murray's--fills her life
  With fuller meanings, maybe at the last
  This Something will reveal itself so clear
  That men like David Barrow can perceive.
  And Love, this spirit, twin of Death, you see
  Love slays this girl, but Love remains to slay,
  Lift up, drive on and slay. I call Death twin
  Of Love, and why? Because two things alone
  Make what we are and live, first Love the flame,
  And Death the cap that snuffs it. Is it bread
  That keeps us dancing, skating like these bugs
  That play criss-cross on evening waters?--no!
  It's bread to get more life to give more love,
  Bring to some heart a fuller life, receive
  A fuller life for having given life.
  This force of love may look demonical.
  It tears, destroys, and crushes, chokes and kills,
  Is always stretching hands to Death its twin.
  And yet it is creation and creates,
  Feeds roses, jonquils, columbines, gardenias,
  As well as thistles, cockle burrs and thorns.
  This is the force to which the girl's alert,
  And sensitive, is shaken by its power,
  Driven, uplifted, purified; a doll
  Of paper dancing on magnetic plates;
  And by that passion lusts for Death himself,
  For union with another, sacrifice,
  Beauty, and she aspires and toils, and turns
  To God, the symptom always of this nature.
  My fellow-jurymen, you'll never see,
  Or learn so well about another soul
  That had this Love force deeper in her flesh,
  Her spirit, suffered more. Why do we suffer?
  What is this love force? 'Tis the child of blood
  Of madness, as this Elenor is the seed
  Of that old grandma, who was mad, and cousin
  Of Taylor who did murder. What is this
  But human spirit flamed and subtleized
  Until it is a poison and a food;
  A madness but a clearest sanity;
  A vision and a blindness, all as if
  When nature goes so far, refines so much
  Her balance has been broken, if the Something
  Makes not a genius or a giant soul.
  And so we suffer. But why do we suffer?
  Well, not as Barrow said, that life is bad;
  A failure and a fraud. Not suffering
  That points to dust, defeat, is painfulest;
  But suffering that points to skies and realms
  Above us, whence we came, or where we go,
  That suffering is most poignant, as it is
  Significant as well, and rapturous too.
  The pain that thrills us for the singing Flame
  Of Love, the force creative, that's the pain!
  And those must suffer most to whom the sounds
  Of music or of words, or scents, or scenes
  Recall lost realms. No soul can understand
  Music or words in whom there is not stirred
  A recollection--that is genius too:
  A memory, and reliving hours we lived
  Before we looked upon this world of man."...

  Then Winthrop Marion said: "I like your talk,
  Llewellyn George, but still what killed the girl?
  What was the cause of death of Elenor Murray?
  She died from syncope, that's clear enough.
  The doctors tell us that in syncope
  The victim should be laid down, not held up.
  And Barrett Bays, the bungler, held her up
  When she was stricken--like the man, I think!
  Well, Coroner, suppose we make a verdict,
  And say we find that had this Barrett Bays
  Sustained this Elenor Murray in the war,
  And in her life, with friendship, and with faith
  She had not died. Suppose we further find
  That when he took her, held her in his arms
  When she had syncope, he was dull or crazed,
  And missed a chance to save her. We could find
  That had he laid her down when she was stricken
  She might have lived--I knew that much myself.
  And we could find that had he never driven
  This woman from his arms, but kept her there,
  Before said day of August 7th, no doubt
  She had not died on August 7th. In short,
  He held her up, and should have laid her down,
  And drove her from him when she needed arms
  To hold her up. And so we find her death
  Was due to Barrett Bays--we censure him,
  Would hold him to the courts--that cannot be--
  And so we hold him up for memory
  Contemptuous, and say his bitter words
  Brought on the syncope, so long prepared
  By what he did. We write his course unfeeling,
  Weak, selfish, petty, flowing from the craze
  Of sexual jealousy, made worse by war,
  And universal madness, erethism
  Of hellish war. And, gentlemen, one thing:
  Paul Robert's article in the _Dawn_ suggests
  Some things I credit, knowing them. We get
  Our notions of uncleanness from the Jews,
  The Pentateuch. There are no women here,
  And I can talk;--you know the ancient Jews
  Deemed sex unclean, and only to be touched
  At sufferance of Jehovah; birth unclean,
  A mother needing purification after
  Her hour of giving birth. You know their laws
  Concerning adultery. Well, they've tainted us
  In spite of Greece. Now look at Elenor Murray:
  What if she went with Gregory Wenner. Hell!
  Did that contaminate her, change her flesh,
  Or change her spirit? All this evidence
  Shows that it did not. But it changed this man,
  Because his mind was slime where snakes could breed.
  But now what do we see? That woman is
  Essential genius, man just mechanism
  Of conscious thought and strength. This Elenor
  Is wiser, being nature, than this man,
  And lives a life that puts this Barrett Bays
  To shame and laughter. Look at her: She's brave,
  Devoted, loyal, true and dutiful,
  She's will to life, and through it senses God,
  And seeks to serve the cosmic soul. I think
  This jury should start now to raise a fund
  To erect a statue of her in the park
  To keep her name and labors fresh in mind
  To those who shall come after."

                                      "And I'll sign
  A verdict in these words, but understand
  Such things are _Coram non judice_; still
  We can chip in our money, start the fund
  To build this monument."

                              Ritter interrupted.
  The banker said: "I'll start it with a hundred,"
  And so the fund was started.

                                Marion
  Resumed to speak of riffles: "In Chicago
  There's less than half the people speaking English,
  The rest is Babel: Germans, Russians, Poles
  And all the tongues, much rippling going on,
  And if we couldn't trace the riffles out
  From Elenor Murray, We must give this up.
  One thing is sure: Look out for England, if
  America shall grow a separate soul.
  You may have congresses, and presidents,
  These states, but if America is a realm.
  Of tribute as to thought, America
  Is just a province. And it's past the time
  When we should be ourselves, we've wasted time,
  And grafted alien things upon our bole.
  A Domesday of the minds that think and know
  In our America would give us hope,
  We have them in abundance. What I hate
  Is that crude Demos which shouts down the minds,
  Outvotes them, takes these silly lies that move
  The populace and makes them into laws,
  And makes a village of a great republic."

  And Merival listened as the jurymen
  Philosophied the case of Elenor Murray,
  And life at large. And having listened spoke:
  "I like the words Llewellyn George has said.
  Love is a sea which wrecks and sinks our craft,
  But re-creates the hands that build again;
  And like a tidal wave which sponges out
  An island or a city, lifts and leaves
  Fresh seeds and forms of beauty on the peaks.
  The whinchat in the mud upon its claws,
  Storm driven from its course to sea, brings life
  Of animal and plant to virgin shores,
  And islands strange and new. These happenings
  Of Elenor Murray carry beauty forth,
  Unhurt amid the storm-cloud, darkness, fire,
  To lives and eras. And our country too,
  So ruined and so weltering, like a ball
  Of mud made in a missile by a god
  May bear, no less, a pearl at core, a truth,
  A liberty, a genius, beauty,--thrown
  In mischief by the god, and staining walls
  Of this our temple; in a day to be
  Dried up, cracks open, and the pearl appears
  To be set in a precious time beyond
  Our time and vision. This is what I mean:
  Call Elenor egoist, and make her work,
  And life the means of rich return to her
  In exaltation, pride;--a missile of mud,
  It carries still the pearl of her, the seed
  Of finer spirits. We must open eyes
  To see inside the mud-ball. If it be
  We conquered slavery of the negro through,
  Because of economic forces, yet
  We conquered it. Trade, cotton, were the mud
  Upon the whinchat's claws containing seeds
  Of liberties to be, and carried forth
  In mid seas of the future to sunny isles,
  More blest than ours. And as for this, you know
  The English blotted slavery from their books
  And left their books unbalanced in point of cash,
  But balanced richly in a manhood gain.
  I warn you, David Barrow, pessimist,
  Against a general slur on life and man.
  Deride the Christian ethic, if you choose,
  You must retain its word of benevolence;
  Or better, you must honor man, whose heart
  Leaps up to its benevolence, from whose heart
  The Christian doctrine of benevolence
  Did issue to this world. If Christian doctrine
  Be man-made, not a miracle, as it is
  All man-made, still it's out of generous fire
  Of human spirit; that's the thing divine....
  Now how is Elenor Murray wonderful
  To me viewed through this mass of evidence?
  Why, as the soul maternal, out of which
  All goodness, beauty, and benevolence,
  All aspiration, sacrifice, all death
  For truth and liberty blesses life of us.
  This soul maternal, passion to create
  New life and guide it into happiness,
  Is Mother Mary of all tenderness,
  All charity, all vision, rises up
  From its obscurity and primal force
  Of romance, passion and the child, to realms,
  Democracies, republics; never flags
  To make them brighter, freer, so to spread
  Its ecstasy to all, and take in turn
  Redoubled ecstasy! The tragedy
  Is that this Elenor for her mother gift
  Is cursed and tortured, sent a wanderer;
  And in her death must find much clinging mud
  Around the pearl of her. If that be mud,
  Which we have heard, around her, is it mud
  That weights the soul of America, the pure
  Dream of our founders? Larger Athens, where
  All things should be heard gladly and considered,
  And men should grow, be forced to grow, because
  Not driven or restrained by usages,
  Or laws of mad majorities, but left
  At their own peril to work out their lives....
  Well, gentlemen, I'll tell you what I've learned.
  What is a man or woman but a sperm
  Accreted into largeness? Still a sperm
  In likeness, being brain and spinal cord,
  Fed by the glands, the thyroid and the rest,
  Whose secrets we are ignorant of. We know
  That when they fail our minds fail. But the glands
  Are visible and clear: but in us whirl
  Emotions; fear, disgust, murder or wrath,
  Traced back to animals as moods of flight
  Repulsion, curiosity, all the rest.
  Now what are these but levers of our machine?
  Elenor Murray teaches this to me:
  Build up a science of these levers, learn
  To handle fear, disgust, anger, wonder.
  They teach us physiology; who teaches
  The use of instincts and emotions, powers?
  All learning may be that, but what is that?
  Why just a spread of food, where after nibbling
  You learn what you can eat, and what is good
  For you to eat. You'll see a different world
  When this philosophy of levers rules."...

  Then Merival tacked round and said: "I'll show
  The riffles in my life from Elenor Murray:
  The politicians give me notice now
  I cannot be the coroner again.
  I didn't want to be, but I had planned
  To go to Congress, and they say to that
  We do not want you. So my circle turns,
  And riffles back to breeding better hogs,
  And finer cattle. Here's the verdict, sign
  Your names, and I'll return it to the clerk.



THE VERDICT


  "An inquisition taken for the people
  Of the State of Illinois here at LeRoy,
  County aforesaid, on the 7th of August,
  Anna Domini, nineteen hundred nineteen,
  Before me, William Merival, coroner
  For the said County, viewing here the body
  Of Elenor Murray lying dead, upon
  The oath of six good lawful men, the same
  Of the said County, being duly sworn
  To inquire for the said people into all
  The circumstances of her death, the said
  Elenor Murray, and by whom the same
  Was brought about, and in what manner, when,
  And where she came to death, do say upon
  Their oaths, that Elenor Murray lying dead
  In the office of the coroner at LeRoy
  Came to her death on August 7th aforesaid
  Upon the east shore of the Illinois River
  A mile above Starved Rock, from syncope,
  While in the company of Barrett Bays,
  Who held her in his arms when she was seized,
  And should have laid her down when she was seized
  To give her heart a chance to resume its beat."

     *       *       *       *       *

  The jury signed the verdict and arose
  And said good-night to Merival, went their way.
  Next day the coroner went to Madison
  To look on Arielle, who had written him.





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