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Title: The Harbor
Author: Poole, Ernest, 1880-1950
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Harbor" ***

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Libraries.)



  THE HARBOR



  THE HARBOR

  BY

  ERNEST POOLE

  [Illustration: Publishers mark]

  NEW YORK GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS

  Published by Arrangement with The Macmillan Company.



  COPYRIGHT, 1915,

  BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

  Set up and electrotyped. Published February, 1915 Reprinted February,
  1915 Twice. March, 1915 Three Times. April, 1915 Twice May, 1915. Twice
  June, 1915. Twice July, 1915. August, 1915. September, October,
  November, December, 1915. January, 1916. March, 1916


  _TO M. A._



THE HARBOR



BOOK I

CHAPTER I


"You chump," I thought contemptuously. I was seven years old at the
time, and the gentleman to whom I referred was Henry Ward Beecher. What
it was that aroused my contempt for the man will be more fully
understood if I tell first of the grudge that I bore him.

I was sitting in my mother's pew in the old church in Brooklyn. I was
altogether too small for the pew, it was much too wide for the bend at
my knees; and my legs, which were very short and fat, stuck straight out
before me. I was not allowed to move, I was most uncomfortable, and for
this Sabbath torture I laid all the blame on the preacher. For my mother
had once told me that I was brought to church so small in order that
when I grew up I could say I had heard the great man preach before he
died. Hence the deep grudge that I bore him. Sitting here this morning,
it seemed to me for hours and hours, I had been meditating upon my hard
lot. From time to time, as was my habit when thinking or feeling deeply,
one hand would unconsciously go to my head and slowly stroke my bang. My
hair was short and had no curls, its only glory was this bang, which was
deliciously soft to my hand and shone like a mirror from much reflective
stroking. Presently my mother would notice and with a smile she would
put down my hand, but a few moments later up it would come and would
continue its stroking. For I felt both abused and puzzled. What was
there in the talk of the large white-haired old man in the pulpit to
make my mother's eyes so queer, to make her sit so stiff and still? What
good would it do me when I grew up to say that I had heard him?

"I don't believe I will ever say it," I reasoned doggedly to myself.
"And even if I do, I don't believe any other man will care whether I say
it to him or not." I felt sure my father wouldn't. He never even came to
church.

At the thought of my strange silent father, my mind leaped to his
warehouse, his dock, the ships and the harbor. Like him, they were all
so strange. And my hands grew a little cold and moist as I thought of
the terribly risky thing I had planned to do all by myself that very
afternoon. I thought about it for a long time with my eyes tight shut.
Then the voice of the minister brought me back, I found myself sitting
here in church and went on with this less shivery thinking.

"I wouldn't care myself," I decided. "If I were a man and another man
met me on the street and said, 'Look here. When I was a boy I heard
Henry Ward Beecher before he died,' I guess I would just say to him,
'You mind your business and I'll mind mine.'" This phrase I had heard
from the corner grocer, and I liked the sound of it. I repeated it now
with an added zest.

Again I opened my eyes and again I found myself here in church. Still
here. I heaved a weary sigh.

"If you were dead already," I thought as I looked up at the preacher,
"my mother wouldn't bring me here." I found this an exceedingly cheering
thought. I had once overheard our cook Anny describe how her old father
had dropped dead. I eyed the old minister hopefully.

But what was this he was saying! Something about "the harbor of life."
The harbor! In an instant I was listening hard, for this was something I
knew about.

"Safe into the harbor," I heard him say. "Home to the harbor at last to
rest." And then, while he passed on to something else, something I
_didn't_ know about, I settled disgustedly back in the pew.

"You chump," I thought contemptuously. To hear him talk you would have
thought the harbor was a place to feel quite safe in, a place to snuggle
down in, a nice little place to come home to at night. "I guess he has
never seen it much," I snorted.

For I had. From our narrow brownstone house on the Heights, ever since I
could remember (and let me tell you that seems a long time when you are
seven years old), I had looked down from our back windows upon a harbor
that to me was strange and terrible.

I was glad that our house was up so high. Its front was on a sedate old
street, and within it everything felt safe. My mother was here, and Sue,
my little sister, and old Belle, our nurse, our nursery, my games, my
animals, my fairy books, the small red table where I ate my supper, and
the warm fur rug by my bed, where I knelt for "Now I lay me."

But from the porch at the back of our house you went three steps down to
a long narrow garden--at least the garden seemed long to me--and if you
walked to the end of the garden and peered through the ivy-covered bars
of the fence, as I had done when I was so little that I could barely
walk alone, you had the first mighty thrill of your life. For you found
that through a hole in the ivy you could see a shivery distance straight
down through the air to a street below. You found that the two iron
posts, one at either end of the fence, were warm when you touched them,
had holes in the top, had smoke coming out--were chimneys! And slowly it
dawned upon your mind that this garden of yours was nothing at all but
the roof of a gray old building--which your nurse told you vaguely had
been a "warehouse" long ago when the waters of the harbor had come 'way
in to the street below. The old "wharves" had been down there, she said.
What was a "wharf?" It was a "dock," she told me. And she said that a
family of "dockers" lived in the building under our garden. They were
all that was left in it now but "old junk." Who was Old Junk, a man or a
woman? And what in the world were Dockers?

Pursuing my adventurous ways, I found at one place in the garden, hidden
by flowers near a side wall, a large heavy lid which was painted brown
and felt like tin. But how much heavier than tin. Tug as I might, I
could not budge it. Then I found it had an iron hook and was hooked down
tight to the garden. Yes, it was true, our whole garden was a roof! I
put my ear down to the lid and listened scowling, both eyes shut. I
heard nothing then, but I came back and tried it many times, until once
I jumped up and ran like mad. For faintly from somewhere deep down under
the flower beds I had heard a baby crying! What was this baby, a Junk or
a Docker? And who were these people who lived under flowers? To me they
sounded suspiciously like the goblins in my goblin book. Once when I was
sick in bed, Sue came shrieking into the house and said that a giant had
heaved up that great lid from below. Up had come his shaggy head, his
dirty face, his rolling eyes, and he had laughed and laughed at the
flowers. He was a drunken man, our old nurse Belle had told her, but Sue
was sure he was a giant.

"You are wrong," I said with dignity. "He is either a Junk or a Docker."

The lid was spiked down after that, and our visitor never appeared
again. But I saw him vividly in my mind's eye--his shaggy wild head
rising up among our flowers. Vaguely I felt that he came from the
harbor.

As the exciting weeks of my life went on I discovered three good holes
in that ivy-covered fence of ours. These all became my secret holes, and
through them I watched the street below, a bleak bare chasm of a street
which when the trucks came by echoed till it thundered. Across the
street rose the high gray front of my father's warehouse. It was part
of a solid line of similar gray brick buildings, and it was like my
father, it was grim and silent, you could not see inside. Over its five
tiers of windows black iron shutters were fastened tight. From time to
time a pair of these shutters would fly open, disclosing a dark cave
behind, out of which men brought barrels and crates and let them down by
ropes into the trucks on the street below. How they spun round and round
as they came! But most of the trucks drove rumbling into a tunnel which
led through the warehouse out to my father's dock, out to the ships and
the harbor. And from that mysterious region long lines of men came
through the tunnel at noontime, some nearly naked, some only in shirts,
men with the hairiest faces. They sat on the street with their backs to
the warehouse wall, eating their dinners out of pails, and from other
pails they took long drinks of a curious stuff all white on top. Some of
them were always crossing the street and disappearing from my view into
a little store directly underneath me. Belle spoke of this store as a
"vile saloon" and of these men as "dockers." So I knew what Dockers were
at last! In place of the one who lived under our garden and had burst up
among the flowers, I saw now that there were hundreds and thousands of
men like him down there on the docks. And all belonged to the harbor.

Their work I learned was to load the ships whose masts and spars peeped
up at me over the warehouse roofs. From my nursery window above I could
see them better. Sometimes they had large white sails and then they
moved off somewhere. I could see them go, these tall ships, with their
sails making low, mysterious sounds, flappings, spankings and deep
boomings. The men on them sang the weirdest songs as they pulled all
together at the ropes. Some of these songs brought a lump in your
throat. Where were they going? "To heathen lands," Belle told me. What
did she mean? I was just going to ask her. But then I stopped--I did not
dare! From up the river, under the sweeping arch of that Great Bridge
which seemed high as the clouds, came more tall ships, and low
"steamers" belching smoke and "tugs" and "barges" and "ferry boats." The
names of all these I learned from Belle and Anny the cook and my mother.
And all were going "to heathen lands." What in the world did Belle mean
by that?

Once I thought I had it. I saw that some of these smaller boats were
just going across the river and stopping at the land over there, a land
so crowded with buildings you could barely see into it at all. "Is that
a heathen land?" I asked her. "Yes!" said Belle. And she laughed. She
was Scotch and very religious. But later I heard her call it "New York"
and say she was going there herself to buy herself some corsets. And so
I was even more puzzled than ever. For some deep instinct told me you
could buy no corsets in "heathen land"--least of all Belle's corsets.

She often spoke of "the ocean," too, another place where the tall ships
went. But what was the ocean? "It's like a lake, but mightier," Belle
had said. But what was a lake? It was all so vague and confusing. Always
it came back to this, that I had no more seen the "ocean" than I had
seen a "heathen land," and so I did not know them.

But I knew the harbor by day and by night, on bright sunny days and in
fogs and rains, in storms of wind, in whirling snow, and under the
restful stars at night that twinkled down from so far above, while the
shadowy region below twinkled back with stars of its own, restless,
many-colored stars, yellow, green and red and blue, moving, dancing,
flaring, dying. And all these stars had voices, too. By night in my bed
I could hear them--hoots and shrieks from ferries and tugs, hoarse
coughs from engines along the docks, the whine of wheels, the clang of
bells, deep blasts and bellows from steamers. And closer still, from
that "vile saloon" directly under the garden, I could hear wild shouts
and songs and roars of laughter that came, I learned, not only from
dockers, but from "stokers" and "drunken sailors," men who lived right
inside the ships and would soon be starting for heathen lands!

"I wonder how I'd feel," I would think, "if I were out in the garden
now--out in the dark all by myself--right above that vile saloon!"

This would always scare me so that I would bury my head in the covers
and shake. But I often did this, for I liked to be scared. It was a game
I had all by myself with the harbor.

       *       *       *       *       *

And yet this old man in the pulpit called it a place where you went to
rest!

Twenty-five years have gone since then, and all that I can remember now
of anything Henry Ward Beecher said was this--that once, just once, I
heard him speak of something that I knew about, and that when he did he
was wrong.

And though all the years since then have been for me one long story of a
harbor, restless, heaving, changing, always changing--it has never
changed for me in this--it has never seemed a haven where ships come to
dock, but always a place from which ships start out--into the storms and
the fogs of the seas, over the "ocean" to "heathen lands." For so I saw
it when I was a child, the threshold of adventures.



CHAPTER II


As I walked home from church with my mother that day the streets seemed
as quiet and safe as her eyes. How suddenly tempting it seemed to me,
this quiet and this safety, compared to the place where I was going. For
I had decided to run away from my home and my mother that afternoon,
down to the harbor to see the world. What would become of me 'way down
there? What would she do if I never came back? A lump rose in my throat
at the thought of her tears. It was terrible.

"All the same I am going to do it," I kept thinking doggedly. And yet
suddenly, as we reached our front steps, how near I came to telling her.
But no, she would only spoil it all. She wanted me always up in the
garden, she wanted me never to have any thrills.

My mother knew me so well. She had seen that when she read stories of
fairies, witches and goblins out of my books to Sue and me, while Sue,
though two years younger, would sit there like a little dark imp, her
black eyes snapping over the fights, I would creep softly out of the
room, ashamed and shaken, and would wait in the hall outside till the
happy ending was in plain view. So my mother had gradually toned down
all the fights and the killings, the witches and the monsters, and much
to my disappointment had wholly shut out the gory pirates who were for
me the most frightfully fascinating of all. Sometimes I felt vaguely
that for this she had her own reason, too--that my mother hated
everything that had to do with the ocean, especially my father's dock
that made him so gloomy and silent. But of this I could never be quite
sure. I would often watch her intently, with a sudden sharp anxiety,
for I loved my mother with all my soul and I could not bear to see her
unhappy.

"Never on any account," I heard her say to Belle, "are the children to
go down the street toward the docks."

"Yes, ma'am," said Belle. "I'll see to it."

At once I wanted to go there. The street in front of our house sloped
abruptly down at the next corner two blocks through poorer and smaller
houses to a cobblestone space below, over which trucks clattered,
plainly on their way to the docks. So I could go down and around by that
way. How tempting it all looked down there. Above the roofs of the
houses, the elevated railroad made a sharp bend on its way to the
Bridge, trains roared by, high over all the Great Bridge swept across
the sky. And below all this and more thrilling than all, I caught
glimpses of strange, ragged boys. "Micks," Belle sometimes called them,
and sometimes, "Finian Mickies." Up here I had no playmates.

From now on, our garden lost its charms. Up the narrow courtway which
ran along the side of the house I would slip stealthily to the front
gate and often get a good look down the street before Belle sharply
called me back. The longest looks, I found, were always on Sunday
afternoons, when Belle would sit back there in the garden, close to the
bed of red tulips which encircled a small fountain made of two white
angels. Belle, who was bony, tall and grim, would sit by the little
angels reading her shabby Bible. Her face was wrinkled and almost brown,
her eyes now kind, now gloomy. She had a song she would sing now and
then. "For beneath the Union Jack we will drive the Finians back"--is
all I can remember. She told me of witches in the Scotch hills. At her
touch horrible monsters rose in the most surprising places. In the
bathtub, for example, when I stayed in the bath too long she would jerk
out the stopper, and as from the hole there came a loud gurgle--"It's
the Were-shark," Belle would mutter. And I would leap out trembling.

This old "Were-shark" had his home in the very middle of the ocean. In
one gulp he could swallow a boy of my size, and this he did three times
each day. The boys were brought to him by the "Condor," a perfectly
hideous bird as large as a cow and as fierce as a tiger. If ever I dared
go down that street and disobey my mother, the Condor would "swoop" down
over the roofs, snatch me up in his long yellow beak with the blood of
the last boy on it, and with thunder and lightning would carry me off
far over the clouds and drop me into the Were-shark's mouth.

Then Belle would sit down to her Bible.

Sunday after Sunday passed, and still in fascinated dread I would steal
quietly out to the gate and watch this street forbidden. Pointing to it
one day, Belle had declared in awful tones, "Broad is the way that
leadeth to destruction." But it was not broad. In that at least she was
all wrong. It was in fact so narrow that a Condor as big as a cow might
easily bump himself when he "swooped." Besides, there were good strong
lamp-posts where a little boy could cling and scream, and almost always
somewhere in sight was a policeman so fat and heavy that even two
Condors could hardly lift him from the ground. This policeman would come
running. My mother had said I must never be scared by policemen, because
they were really good kind men. In fact, she said, it was foolish to be
scared by anything ever. She never knew of Belle's methods with me.

       *       *       *       *       *

So at last I had decided to risk it, and now the fearful day had come. I
could barely eat my dinner. My courage was fast ebbing away. In the
dining-room the sunlight was for a time wiped out by clouds, and I grew
suddenly happy. It might rain and then I could not go. But it did not
rain nor did anything I hoped for happen to prevent my plan. Belle sat
down by the angels and was soon so deep in her Bible that it was plain I
could easily slip up the path. Sue never looked up from her sand-pile
to say, "Stop Billy! He's running away from home!" With a gulp I passed
my mother's window. She did not happen to look out. Now I had reached
the very gate. "I can't go! I can't open the gate!" But the old gate
opened with one push. "I can't go! There is no policeman!" But yes,
there he was on my side of the street slowly walking toward me. My heart
thumped, I could hardly breathe. In a moment with a frantic rush I had
reached the nearest lamp-post and was clinging breathless. I could not
scream, I shut my eyes in sickening fear and waited for the rushing of
enormous wings.

But there came no Condor swooping.

Another rush--another post--another and another!

"What's the matter with you, little feller?"

I looked up at the big safe policeman and laughed.

"I'm playing a game," I almost shouted, and ran without touching another
post two blocks to the cobblestone space below. I ran blindly around it
several times, I bumped into a man who said, "Heigh there! Look out!"
After that I strutted proudly, then turned and ran back with all my
might up the street, and into our house and up to my room. And there on
my bed to my great surprise I found myself sobbing and sobbing. It was a
long time before I could stop. I had had my first adventure.

       *       *       *       *       *

I made many Sunday trips after that, and on no one of them was I caught.
For delighted and proud at what I had done I kept asking Belle to talk
of the Condor, gloomily she piled on the terrors, and seeing the awed
look in my eyes (awe at my own courage in defying such a bird), she felt
so sure of my safety that often she would barely look up from her Bible
the whole afternoon. Even on workdays over her sewing she would forget.
And so I went "to destruction."

At first I stayed but a little while and never left the cobblestone
space, only peering up into the steep little streets that led to the
fearsome homes of the "Micks." But then I made the acquaintance of Sam.
It happened through a small toy boat which I had taken down there with
the purpose of starting it off for "heathen lands." As I headed across
the railroad tracks that led to the docks, suddenly Sam and his gang
appeared from around a freight car. I stood stock-still. They were
certainly "Micks"--ragged and dirty, with holes in their shoes and soot
on their faces. Sam was smoking a cigarette.

"Heigh, fellers," he said, "look at Willy's boat."

I clutched my boat tighter and turned to run. But the next moment Sam
had me by the arm.

"Look here, young feller," he growled. "You've got the wrong man to do
business with this time."

"I don't want to do any business," I gasped.

"Smash him, Sam--smash in his nut for him," piped the smallest Micky
cheerfully. And this Sam promptly proceeded to do. It was a wild and
painful time. But though Sam was two years older, he was barely any
larger than I, and when he and his gang had gone off with my boat, as I
stood there breathing hard, I was filled with a grim satisfaction. For
once when he tried to wrench the boat from me I had hit him with it
right on the face, and I had had a glimpse of a thick red mark across
his cheek. I tasted something new in my mouth and spit it out. It was
blood. I did this several times, slowly and impressively, till it made a
good big spot on the railroad tie at my feet. Then I walked with dignity
back across the tracks and up "the way of destruction" home. I walked
slowly, planning as I went. At the gate I climbed up on it and swung.
Then with a sudden loud cry I fell off and ran back into the garden
crying, "I fell off the gate! I fell on my face!" So my cut and swollen
lip was explained, and my trips were not discovered.

I felt myself growing older fast. For I knew that I could both fight and
tell lies, besides defying the Condor.

In the next years, for weeks at a time my life was centered on Sam and
his gang. How we became friends, how often we met, by just what means I
evaded my nurse, all these details are vague to me now. I am not even
sure I was never caught. But it seems to me that I was not. For as I
grew to be eight years old, Belle turned her attention more and more to
that impish little sister of mine who was always up to some mischief or
other. There was the corner grocer, too, with whom I pretended to be
staunch friends. "I'm going to see the grocer," I would say, when I
heard Sam's cautious whistle in front of the house--and so presently I
would join the gang. I followed Sam with a doglike devotion, giving up
my weekly twenty-five cents instead of saving it for Christmas, and in
return receiving from him all the world-old wisdom stored in that
bullet-shaped head of his which sat so tight on his round little
shoulders.

And though I did not realize it then, in my tense crowded childhood,
through Sam and his companions I learned something else that was to
stand me in good stead years later on. I learned how to make friends
with "the slums." I discovered that by making friends with "Micks" and
"Dockers" and the like, you find they are no fearful goblins, giants
bursting savagely up among the flowers of your life, but people as human
as yourself, or rather, much more human, because they live so close to
the harbor, close to the deep rough tides of life.

Into these tides I was now drawn down--and it did me some good and a
great deal of harm. For I was too little those days for the harbor.

Sam had the most wonderful life in the world. He could go wherever he
liked and at any hour day or night. Once, he said, when a "feller" was
drowned, he had stayed out on the docks all night. His mother always let
him alone. An enormous woman with heavy eyes, I was in awe of her from
the first. The place that she kept with Sam's father was called "The
Sailor's Harbor." It stood on a corner down by the docks, a long, low
wooden building painted white, with twelve tight-shuttered, mysterious
windows along the second story, and below them a "Ladies' Entrance." In
front was a small blackboard with words in white which Sam could read.
"Ten Cent Dinners" stood at the top. Below came, "Coffee and rolls."
Next, "Ham and eggs." Then "Bacon and eggs." And then, "To-day"--with a
space underneath where Sam's fat father wrote down every morning still
more delicious eatables. You got whiffs of these things and they made
your mouth water, they made your stomach fairly turn against your
nursery supper.

But most of our time we spent on the docks. All were roofed, and
exploring the long dock sheds and climbing down into the dark holds of
the square-rigged ships called "clippers," we found logs of curious
mottled wood, huge baskets of sugar, odorous spices, indigo, camphor,
tea, coffee, jute and endless other things. Sam knew their names and the
names of the wonder-places they came from--Manila, Calcutta, Bombay,
Ceylon. He knew besides such words as "hawser," "bulkhead" and
"ebb-tide." And Sam knew how to swear. He swore with a fascinating ease
such words as made me shiver and stare. And then he would look at me and
chuckle.

"You think I'll go to hell for this, don't you," he asked me once. And
my face grew hot with embarrassment, for I thought that he assuredly
would.

I asked him what were heathen lands, and he said they were countries
where heathen lived. And what were heathen? Cannibals. And what were
they?

"Fellers that eat fellers," he said.

"Alive?" I inquired. He turned to the gang:

"Listen to the kid! He wants to know if they eat 'em alive!" Sam spat
disgustedly. "Naw," he said. "First they roast 'em like any meat. They
roast 'em," he added reflectively, "until their skin gets brown and
bubbles out and busts."

One afternoon a carriage brought three travelers for one of the ships, a
man, his wife and a little girl with shining yellow pig-tails. "To be
et," Sam whispered as we stood close beside them. And then, pointing to
some of the half-naked brown men that made the crew of the ship near
by--"cannibals," he muttered. For a long time I stared at these eaters,
especially at their lean brown stomachs.

"We're safe enough," Sam told me. "They ain't allowed to come ashore." I
found this very comforting.

But what a frightful fate lay in store for the little girl with
pig-tails. As I watched her I felt worse and worse. Why couldn't
somebody warn her in time? At last I decided to do it myself. Procuring
a scrap of paper I retired behind a pile of crates and wrote in my
large, clumsy hand, "You look out--you are going to be et." Watching my
chance, I slipped this into her satchel and hoped that she would read it
soon. Then I promptly forgot all about her and ran off into a warehouse
where the gang had gone to slide.

These warehouses had cavernous rooms, so dark you could not see to the
ends, and there from between the wooden columns the things from the
ships loomed out of the dark like so many ghosts. There were strange
sweet smells. And from a hole in the ceiling there was a twisting chute
of steel down which you could slide with terrific speed. We used to
slide by the hour.

Outside were freight cars in long lines, some motionless, some suddenly
lurching forward or back, with a grinding and screeching of wheels and a
puffing and coughing from engines ahead. Sam taught me how to climb on
the cars and how to swing off while they were going. He had learned from
watching the brakemen that dangerous backward left-hand swing that lands
you stock-still in your tracks. It is a splendid feeling. Only once
Sam's left hand caught, I heard a low cry, and after I jumped I found
him standing there with a white face. His left hand hung straight down
from the wrist and blood was dripping from it.

"Shut up, you damn fool!" he said fiercely.

"I wasn't saying nothing," I gasped.

"Yes, you was--you was startin' to cry! Holy Christ!" He sat down
suddenly, then rolled over and lay still. Some one ran for his mother,
and after a time he was carried away. I did not see him again for some
weeks.

We did things that were bad for a boy of my size, and I saw things that
I shouldn't have seen--a docker crushed upon one of the docks and
brought out on a stretcher dead, a stoker as drunk as though he were
dead being wheeled on a wheelbarrow to a ship by the man called a
"crimp," who sold this drunken body for an advance on its future pay.
Sam told me in detail of these things. There came a strike, and once in
the darkness of a cold November twilight I saw some dockers rush on a
"scab," I heard the dull sickening thumps as they beat him.

And one day Sam took me to the door of his father's saloon and pointed
out a man in there who had an admiring circle around him.

"He's going to jump from the Bridge on a bet," Sam whispered. I saw the
man go. For what seemed to me hours I watched the Great Bridge up there
in the sky, with its crawling processions of trolleys and wagons, its
whole moving armies of little black men. Suddenly one of these tiny
specks shot out and down, I saw it fall below the roofs, I felt Sam's
hand like ice in mine. And this was not good for a boy of ten.

But the sight that ended it all for me was not a man, but a woman. It
happened one chilly March afternoon when I fell from a dock into water
covered with grease and foam, came up spluttering and terrified, was
quickly hauled to the dock by a man and then hustled by Sam and the gang
to his home, to have my clothes dried and so not get caught by my
mother. Scolded by Sam's mother and given something fiery hot to drink,
stripped naked and wrapped in an old flannel nightgown and told to sit
by the stove in the kitchen--I was then left alone with Sam. And then
Sam with a curious light in his eyes took me to a door which he opened
just a crack. Through the crack he showed me a small back room full of
round iron tables. And at one of these a man, stoker or sailor I don't
know which, his face flushed red under dirt and hair, held in his lap a
big fat girl half dressed, giggling and queer, quite drunk. And then
while Sam whispered on and on about the shuttered rooms upstairs, I felt
a rush of such sickening fear and loathing that I wanted to scream--but
I turned too faint.

I remember awakening on the floor, Sam's mother furiously slapping Sam,
then dressing me quickly, gripping me tight by both my arms and saying,

"You tell a word of this to your pa and we'll come up and kill you!"

That night at home I did not sleep. I lay in my bed and shivered and
burned. My first long exciting adventure was over. Ended were all the
thrills, the wild fun. It was a spree I had had with the harbor, from
the time I was seven until I was ten. It had taken me at seven, a plump
sturdy little boy, and at ten it had left me wiry, thin, with quick,
nervous movements and often dark shadows under my eyes. And it left a
deep scar on my early life. For over all the adventures and over my
whole childhood loomed this last thing I had seen, hideous, disgusting.
For years after that, when I saw or even thought of the harbor, I felt
the taste of foul, greasy water in my mouth and in my soul.

So ended the first lesson.



CHAPTER III


The next morning as I started for school, suddenly in the hallway I
thought of what my mother had told me--always when I was frightened to
shut my eyes and speak to Jesus and he would be sure to make everything
right. I had not spoken to Jesus of late except to say "Holy Christ!"
like Sam. But now, so sickened by Sam and his docks, my head throbbing
from the sleepless night, on the impulse I kneeled quickly with my face
on a chair right there in the hall. But I found I was too ashamed to
begin.

"If he would only ask me," I thought. Why didn't he ask me, "What's the
matter, little son?" or say, "Now, you must tell me and then you'll feel
better"--as my mother always did. But Jesus did not help me out. I could
not even feel him near me. "I will never tell anyone," I thought. And I
felt myself horribly alone.

Help came from a quite different source.

"There he is! Look!"

I heard Sue's eager whisper. Jumping quickly to my feet, I saw in the
library doorway Sue's dark little figure and her mocking, dancing eyes
as she pointed me out to our father, her chum, whose face wore a smile
of amusement. In a moment I had rushed out of doors and was running
angrily to school, furious at myself for praying, furious at Sue for
spying and at my father for that smile. My terror was forgotten. No more
telling Jesus things! I retreated deep inside of myself and worked out
of my troubles as best I could.

From that day the harbor became for me a big grim place to be let
alone--like my father. A place immeasurably stronger than I--like my
father--and like him harsh and indifferent, not caring whether when I
fell into it I was pulled up to safety or drawn far down into grease and
slime. It made no difference. I was nothing to it one way or the other.
And I was nothing to my father.

Of course this was by no means true. As I look back now I know that
often he must have tried to be kind, that in the jar and worry of his
own absorbing troubled life he must have often turned to me and tried to
make himself my friend. But children pass hard judgments. And if my
father was friendly at times it did no good. For he was a man--big and
strong--and I was a small boy craving his love.

Why couldn't he really love me? Why couldn't he ask me how I felt or
pull my ear and say "Hello, Puss?" He was always saying these things to
Sue, and caring about her very hard and trying to understand her,
although she was nothing but a girl, two years younger and smaller than
I and far less interesting. And yet with her he was kind and tender,
curious and smiling, he watched her with wholly different eyes. My
father was a short, powerful man, and though he was nearly fifty years
old his hair was black and thick and coarse. At night he would rub his
unshaven cheek on Sue's small cheek and tickle her. She would chuckle
and wriggle as though it were fun. I used to watch this hungrily, and
once I awkwardly drew close and offered my cheek to be tickled. My
father at once grew as awkward as I, and he gave me a rub so rough it
stung. And this wasn't fair--I had hoped for a cuddle. Besides, he was
always praising Sue when I knew she didn't deserve it. He called her
brave. Once when he took us duck shooting together a squall came up and
he rowed hard, and Sue sat with her eyes on his, smiling and quite
unafraid. At home that night I heard him tell my mother how wonderfully
brave she had been, and of how I, on the other hand, had gripped the
boat and turned white with fear, while little Sue just sat and smiled.

"We'll see how brave she is," I thought, and the next day I hit her in
Sam's best style, fairly "knocked her nut off," in fact, with one quick
blow. "There," I said to myself while she screamed. "I guess that shows
how brave you are. I didn't scream when Sam hit me."

He said she was quicker than I at her lessons. And this rankled the
deeper because it was true. But I would never admit it.

"Of course she's quick, when he's always helping her. Why doesn't he
ever come and help me?" I would burst into tears of vexation. My father
was unfair!

More than that, it was he and his dock and his warehouse, in the years
that followed my thrills with Sam, that stripped all these thrills away.
A great ship with her spreading, booming white sails might move up the
river from heathen lands as wonderful and strange as you please. But the
moment she reached my father's dock she became a dirty, spotted thing,
just a common every-day part of his business.

He himself was nothing but business. His business was with ships and the
sea, and yet he had never once in his life taken a long sea voyage. "Why
doesn't he? Why does he like only tiresome things?" I argued secretly to
myself. "Why does he always come ashore?" He always did. In my memories
of ships sailing I see him always there on deck talking to the captain,
scowling, wrinkling his eyes over the smoke of his cigar, but always
coming down the gang-plank at the end, unconcernedly turning his back on
all the excitement and going back to his warehouse.

He could get excited about ships, but only in the queerest way that had
something to do with his business. Late one night from my bed I heard
his voice downstairs, cutting and snarling through other voices. I got
out of bed and stole downstairs and along the half-lit hall to the
library door, and there from behind the curtain I watched what was going
on inside. The library was full of men, grave, courteous-looking
gentlemen, some of them angry, some merely amused. My father was leaning
over his table talking of ships, of mysterious things that he said must
be done with battleships and tariffs.

"And mark me, gentlemen," he cried. "If we don't do these things in time
American sails will be swept from the seas!"

Listening, I got a picture of an immense broom reaching out of the
clouds and sweeping American ships off the ocean. But I could make
nothing of this at the time. I only watched his face and eyes and his
fist that came down with a crash on the table. And I was afraid of my
father.

When ships lay at his dock the captains often came up to dinner. But
even these marvelous creatures lost in my father's presence all that Sam
had given them in my eyes. They did not like my mother, they ate in
uneasy silence, or spoke gruffly of their dull affairs. Once or twice I
heard talk of mutinies, of sailors shot down or put in irons, but all in
a matter-of-fact sort of way. Mere grunts came from my father. Steadily
drearier grew the ocean, flatter all the heathen lands.

One stout, red-faced captain, jovial even in spite of my mother, would
annoy me frightfully by joking about my going to sea. He was always
asking me when I meant to run away and be "a bloody pirate." He took it
for granted I liked the sea, was thrilled by the sea, when the truth of
it was that I hated the sea! It was business now, only business!

My father's warehouse, too, lost its mystery as I grew older. For
exploring into its darkness I found that of course it did have walls
like any common building. The things in it, too, lost their wonder. It
was as though my father had packed all the rich and romantic Far East
into common barrels and crates and then nailed down the covers. And he
himself became for me as common as his warehouse. For in his case, too,
I could see the walls.

"I know you now," I thought to myself. He could sit through supper
night after night and not utter a word in his gloom. But the mystery in
him was gone. Business, nothing but business. A man and a place to be
let alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

But it was my mother more than anyone else who drew me away from the
harbor. All through those early years she was the one who never changed,
the strong sure friend I could always come back to. My mother was as
safe as our house.

She was a small, slender woman grown bodily stronger year by year by the
sheer force of her spirit. I remember her smoothly parted hair, brown
but showing gray at forty, the strong, lined face and the kindly eyes
which I saw so often lighted by that loving smile of hers for me. If my
father didn't care for me, I was always sure she did. I could feel her
always watching, trying to understand what I was thinking and feeling.
As when I was very small she toned down the stories she read, so she did
in everything else for me, even in her religion. Though she was a strong
church woman, I heard little from her of the terrors of hell. But I
heard much of heaven and more still of a heaven on earth. "Thy will be
done on earth as it is in heaven." I can never forget how she spoke
those words as I knelt and repeated them after her--not so much in the
tone of a prayer to a higher being as in one of quiet resolve to
herself. To do her share, through church and hospital and charity work
and the bringing up of her children, her share in the establishment of a
heaven upon the earth, this was her religion.

And this heaven on earth of my mother's was made up of all that was
"fine" in humanity past and present. "Fine, fine!" she would say of some
kind deed, of some new plan for bettering life, or of some book she was
reading, some music she had heard, or of a photograph of some great
painting over in Europe. All her life she had wanted to go abroad.

My mother was one of those first American women who went to college, and
one of that army sent out from college as school teachers all over the
land. She had taught school in frontier hamlets far out West, homesick
she had looked back on the old college town in New England, and those
ten years of her life out West had been bare and hard, an exile. At last
she had secured a position in an expensive girls' school in New York,
and from there a few years later she had married my father. I think they
had been happy at first, I think that his work with the ships had seemed
to her a gateway leading out to Europe, to all the very "finest" things.
But later, as he set his whole mind upon his warehouse worries, upon his
fight for Yankee ships, a navy, subsidies, tariffs, and shut out all
thought of travel, culture, friends, all but the bare, ugly business of
life--my mother had rebelled against this, had come to hate his harbor,
and had determinedly set herself to help me get what she had missed.

I don't mean that she babied me. She was too good a teacher for that. I
mean she steered me through hard work away from what she saw in the
harbor up toward what she felt was fine. She began when I was very
little giving me daily lessons at home in the brief time she had to
spare from her house and charity work. She made me study and she studied
me. My mother, sooner or later, seemed to find out all I did or felt.

Often I would hold stubbornly back. While I was going with Sam to the
docks I never once gave her a hint of my rovings. It was not until two
years after that drunken woman disaster that I suddenly told my mother
about it. I remember then she did not chide. Instead she caught the
chance to draw out of me all I had learned from the harbor. I talked to
her long that night, but she said little in reply. I can vividly
remember, though, how she came to me a few days later and placed a "book
for young men" in my hands.

"You are only twelve," she said. "It's a pity. But after what you have
seen, my son, it is better that you know."

She did this twenty years ago. It was far in advance of what most
parents did then or are doing even now for their children. And it threw
a flood of light into the darkest place in my mind, swept away endless
forebodings, secret broodings over what until then had seemed to me the
ugliest, the dirtiest, the most frightening thing I had found in life.

"When you meet anything ugly or bad," she told me, "I don't want you to
turn away at once, I want you to face it and see what it is. Understand
it and then leave it, and then it won't follow you in the dark."

"Keep clean," she said. And understanding me as she did, I think she
added to herself, "And I must keep you quiet." She once told me she
hoped that when I grew up I might become a professor in one of those
college towns she loved, where I might work all my life in peace.

Although she never said anything to me against the harbor, I knew that
my mother put all the ugliest things in life down there. And the things
that were fine were all up here.

"I always like the front door of a house," she used to say, "to be wide
and low with only a step or two leading up. I like it to look
hospitable, as though always waiting for friends to come in."

Our front door was like that, and the neighborhood it waited for was one
of the quietest, the cleanest and the finest, according to her view, of
any in the country. The narrow little street had wide, leisurely
sidewalks and old-fashioned houses on either side, a few of red brick,
but more of brown stone with spotless white-sashed windows which were
tall and narrow and rounded at the top. There were no trees, but there
were many smooth, orderly vines. Almost all the houses had wide,
inviting doorways like ours, but the people they invited in were only
those who lived quietly here, shutting out New York and all the toots
and rumblings of the ships and warehouses and docks below, of which they
themselves were the owners.

These people in their leisurely way talked of literature and music, of
sculpture and painting and travel abroad, as their fathers and even
grandfathers had done--in times when the rest of the country, like one
colossal harbor, changing, heaving, seething, had had time for only the
crudest things, for railroads, mining camps, belching mills, vast herds
of cattle and droves of sheep, for the frontier towns my mother had
loathed, for a Civil War, for a Tweed Ring, for the Knights of Labor, a
Haymarket riot, for the astounding growth of cities, slums, corporations
and trusts, in this deep turbulent onward rush, this peopling of a
continent.

And because my father, crude and self-made and come out of the West, was
of this present country, he was an intruder politely avoided by these
people of the past. The men would come sometimes at night, but they came
only on business. They went straight through to the library, whence I
could hear my father's voice, loud, impatient, angry, talking of what
must be done soon, or Germany and England would drive the American flag
from the ocean and make us beggars on the seas, humbly asking the ships
of our rivals to give us a share in the trade of the world. To such
disturbing meetings these grave and courteous gentlemen came less and
less as the years went by.

And so that hospitable front door of ours waited long for neighbors.



CHAPTER IV


But if my father was an intruder, a disturber of the peace of these
contented gentlemen, my mother was more and more liked by their wives.
As time wore on they came to our house in the afternoons, upon hospital
and church affairs. And first in the church and then in a private school
near by I grew to be friends with their children.

Across the street from us at the corner there stood a huge, square
brownstone house with a garden and a wide yard around it. Two boys and a
little girl lived here, and about them our small circle centered. Here
we played hockey in winter, part of the yard being flooded for our use;
and in Spring and Autumn, ball, tag, I spy, prisoner's base and other
games. They were all well enough as far as they went, but all were so
very young and tame compared to my former adventures with Sam.
Adventures, that was the difference. These were only games.

I felt poor beside these boys, in this ample yard by their grandfather's
house. I often saw his great carriage roll out of the stable behind the
yard. "Coach," they called it. It had rich silver trimmings and a red
thing called a "crest," and a footman and coachman in top boots. Inside
the house was a butler who was still more imposing, and a lofty room
with spacious windows called the picture gallery. But by far the most
awesome of all was the white-headed grandfather of these boys, who had
been to Europe twenty-eight times and could read and speak "every
language on earth," as I was told in whispers while we peeped in through
his library door. There he sat with all his books, a man so rich he
never even went to his office, a man who had owned not only warehouses
but hundreds of ships and had sent them to every land in the world!
While, as for me, my grandfather was not even alive. I felt poor and
small, and I did not like it.

Besides, these unadventurous boys all put me down as "a queer kid." I
was middling good at most of their games and would get sudden spurts
when I would become almost a leader. But at other times, often right in
the middle of a game, I would suddenly forget where I was and would
think of Sam, of the cannibals that I had seen, of the man who had
jumped from the Great Bridge, or of that drunken woman. They would catch
me at it and call me queer. And I would grow hot and feel ashamed.

On the other hand, poor and queer as I felt at times, at others I would
swell with my wisdom and importance. For what did they know, these
respectable boys, about the docks and the gangs of "Micks" deep down
there below us all as we played about in our nice little gardens. When
they called me queer, sometimes I would retort with dark hints, all
games would stop, they would gather close, and then I would tell these
intense eager boys the things I had learned from the harbor. And I had
the more pleasure in the telling from the feeling of relief that now I
was safe away from it all.

"That's the real thing, that is," I would declare impressively. But how
good it felt to me to be free of such reality.

       *       *       *       *       *

At such times we made "the Chips" stay over on their side of the yard.
"The Chips" were three small admiring girls. One was my young sister
Sue, who was then about nine years old, long-legged, skinny and quick as
a flash, her black hair always flying. The second, a plump freckled
girl, was the younger sister of the boys who lived here. And the third
was a quiet little thing who lived around the corner. We called them
"Chips" to annoy them. We got the term from the stout coachman in the
barn who used it with a fine sweeping contempt that included all his
lady friends. We ourselves had the most profound contempt for these
girls who kept poking into our games. At times we would stop everything
and take the utmost pains to explain to them that they were nothing
whatever but girls. And this would make Sue furious. She would screw up
her snapping black eyes and viciously stick out her tongue and stamp her
foot and say "darn!" to show she could swear like a regular kid. And
still they hung around us.

But as time wore on we grew more indulgent, we included them more and
more. And this was largely due to me. For I took a vague curious
interest in the one who lived around the corner.

Her name was Eleanore Dillon and her age was eight, and she had
attractions that slowly grew. To begin with, as I became gradually
aware, she was much the prettiest of the three. She had light curly hair
tied up in red ribbons, always _fresh_ red ribbons. Everything about her
was always fresh and clean. She had the most serious blue eyes, which at
times would grow intent on what a tall chap of twelve like myself
condescended to tell her, and at other times wondrously confiding.

Eleanore first attracted me by making me a hero. It was a warm May
afternoon and she was sitting on the grass with her doll and her two
companions. Sue had stolen some matches and was using them as
Jackstraws. Suddenly I heard a scream, then I saw Sue racing like mad
toward the garden hose, and I saw that the white skirt of Eleanore's
dress had caught fire. As yet there was only a little flame. She was
sitting still motionless on the grass, hugging her doll, with scared
round eyes. I got to her first and with my cap I beat out the flame. I
was suddenly panting, my hands were cold. But a few moments later, when
Sue and two of the boys came tugging the hose, it as suddenly flashed
upon me that I had done a heroic thing.

"Get out!" I shouted scornfully, as they started to play the hose on
her. "Can't you see the whole fire is out?"

And then while the plump freckled girl came screeching out of the
kitchen with half the servants behind her, and presently these servants
all called me "a little heero"--the one whom I had rescued looked up at
me very gratefully and said,

"Thank you, Boy, for not letting them squirt water on my dolly's clean
dress."

"Aw, what do I care for a doll?" I retorted ungraciously.

But I liked her from that day. She was not at all like Sue. She was
quiet and knew her place. She knew that she was only a girl, how
thoroughly well she knew it. And yet, although so feminine, so
deliberate and sedate, she had "a pile of ginger" deep down inside of
her. In our games, whenever allowed to play, with a dogged resolution
she would come pegging along in the rear, she was a sticker, she never
gave up. In winter when they flooded the yard she was the poorest skater
of all, but patiently plodding along on the ice, each time she fell down
she would pick herself up with such determination that at last with a
jerk at her arm I said,

"Here, Chip, come on and I'll teach you."

She came on. I can still feel her soft determined clutch on my elbow.
When I said, "That's enough," she said, "Thank you, Boy," and went
quietly on alone.

After that I taught her many times. One afternoon when there was a thaw,
I said,

"Gee, but this ice is rotten." And then Eleanore asked me placidly,

"Do you like my pretty new shoes?"

"What's that got to do with it?" I demanded indignantly.

"Nothing, I guess," she said meekly.

This girl was full of mysteries. One great point in her favor was that
she had a mother "at death's door." This appealed to me tremendously.
It was so unusual.

"How's your mother?" I would ask her often, just for the pleasure of
hearing her answer softly,

"She's at death's door, thank you."

She soon learned to skate much better, and I remember quite vividly
still the January afternoon when as the darkness deepened a silvery moon
appeared overhead. I had not skated with her for a week, but now we'd
been skating for nearly an hour. One by one the others went home, and
the plump girl turned at the kitchen door to call back to Eleanore
tauntingly,

"You'll catch it, going home so late!"

"Never mind," said a gentle voice at my side, and round and round we
skated. The moon grew steadily brighter. Still that soft steady clutch
on my arm.

"Now you'd better go home," I said gruffly at last.

"What time is it?" she asked me. I looked at my watch.

"Gee! It's nearly seven o'clock!"

"What a pretty watch that is," she said in a pleased, quiet voice, but I
was not to be diverted.

"Go on home, I tell you. Sit down and I'll take off your skates." She
sighed regretfully but obeyed.

"What'll they do to you?" I asked her when we stopped in front of her
house.

"They'll try to punish me," she answered. I looked down at her
anxiously.

"Hard?" I inquired. She smiled at me.

"What time is it now?" she asked.

"Ten minutes after seven."

"Then they won't punish me," she said. "My father always comes home at
seven." And she went placidly into the house.

"A mighty smart Chip," I said to myself.

I had told her a little about the docks, and one day she asked me to
take her there. I promptly refused, but patiently from time to time she
repeated her request. She wanted me to take her "just for a little
walk" down there, or she would run if I preferred. She wanted to come
out after supper into her garden, which was only the third from ours,
and then she would sing and I would whistle. Then I would come around by
the street and she would meet me at her front gate. I don't know how she
ever persuaded me, but she did, and the plan worked splendidly. At the
gate without a word I took her hand and ran down the street. Soon we
were flying. Down to the open space we came, and around across the
railroad tracks. In and out among grimy freight cars we sped. I would
not stop.

"Christ!" I thought in terror. "Suppose Sam and the gang come around
this way!" I had not seen them now for years. What might not they do to
her?

But she made me stop by my father's dock. She was gasping and her face
was red, but with her hand like a little vise on mine she stood there
staring at the ship.

"Where are the heathen?" she asked at last, in a queer choking voice.

"There." I pointed to a small brown man with a white skull-cap on his
head. "There's one. See him? Now come home!"

"Wait a minute, please," she begged very softly. A moment longer she
stared at him. "All right, now we'll go," she said.

When I got her safe inside my gate I was in a cold sweat. This
adventure, to my surprise, had been one of the most thrilling of all.
And who'd have thought _her_ an adventurer?

Her mother died that summer while we were up in the mountains, and when
we came back we found the house empty. Her father had taken her out
West.

I remember being distinctly relieved when I heard that she had gone
away. For now there was something uncanny about her. It was one thing to
have a mother "at death's door." That had been quite exciting. But to
have one dead! There was something too awful about it. I would not have
known what to say to the girl. And, besides, the thought suddenly
entered my mind--suppose my own mother were to die!

       *       *       *       *       *

We had been splendid chums, my mother and I, that long delightful summer
up in the White Mountains. The mountains, we had decided together, were
our favorite place to live in. "I will lift up mine eyes unto the
hills," was the part of the Bible which she liked best. She loved these
hills for their quiet, I loved them for the exciting adventures I had
with Sue and "Stouty," the son of the farmer with whom we stayed. But
these adventures were of a kind that my mother warmly approved of for
me. They were not like those on the harbor.

An adventure to climb with Stouty and Sue up through the resinous
branches of an enormous pine on the mountainside to the hawk's nest in
the bare top branches, snatch the eggs and smash them, while Stouty with
a big thick stick would beat off the mother hawk. An adventure to
clamber half the day up a bouldery path through firs and birches,
looking into black caves, peeping over steep cliffs, and at last
reaching the wind-swept summit to look off through miles of emptiness.
An adventure, coming home from a picnic as evening was falling, to sit
snug in that creaking capacious wagon which belonged to Stouty's father,
and to watch the lights and shadows that darted in and out of the pines
as the lantern swung beneath our wheels.

But even up here in the mountains the harbor reached with its cold
embrace. For at night it was an adventure hurriedly to undress and bury
myself in the covers in time to hear the first low rumble of "the night
freight" that went by some five miles distant. It made me think of the
trains on the docks, whose voices I had heard at night, and of the
things I had done with Sam. I would hear the mountain engine come
panting impatiently up the grade. As it reached the top I would rise
from my bed and soar off into space, in one swift rushing flight through
the darkness I would be there in the nick of time, I would swing on to a
freight car in the way Sam had shown me, climb to the top and crouching
there I would watch the dark roadway open ahead through the silent
forest. Lower would sink the voice of the engine until it became a faint
confused mutter. And the rest was dreamland.

This was one of those secret games I never told my mother about--until,
to my own surprise, in one of those long talks at night when she seemed
drawing me to her right out through my eyes, I blurted this out. My
mother wanted to know all about it. Did my hands get cold? Yes, colder
and colder, as listening here in bed I heard the first muttering of the
train and knew that in a few moments more I would take that five-mile
flight, right through the window and over the trees to the distant
track, to be there just ahead of the on-puffing engine. My voice
quivered excitedly as I spoke.

"I see--I see," she said soothingly. "And when you are riding on top of
a car--aren't you ever frightened?"

"No--because all the time I know that I am back there at home in my bed.
I can see myself back there behind me."

"Do you fall asleep in bed--or are you still on the top of the car the
last thing you can remember?"

"Most always on the top of the car."

"And when you sleep--do you always dream?"

"Yes--that's the finest part of it."

"Do you ever dream of Sam?"

"Yes."

"And all those things you did on the harbor?"

"Yes--all."

For some moments she sat by my bedside quietly stroking one of my hands.

"Billy."

"Yes, mother." I was growing impatient, I wished she would go, for now
it was nearly time for the train.

"Have you ever played other games like that? I mean where you leave
yourself and look back--and see your own body behind you."

"Yes--in bed in Brooklyn when I was quite little."

"Where did you go from your bed?"

"I went to the end of the garden. I heard drunken sailors and dockers
shouting in that vile saloon below." This was not true. What I had
really done was to lie in bed and whisper, "_Suppose_ I were out
there"--which is very different. I was too young then to have learned
the real trick. But now I was so proud of it that I honestly thought I
had always known how. "It was a game I had with the harbor," I said.

"With the harbor." I felt her hand slowly tighten on mine. Then all at
once as we heard the first low grumble of the freight train coming, my
mother's hold grew tighter and tighter. "Open your eyes." I opened them
quickly, for her voice was sharp and stern. She held me until the sound
was gone.

"Do you hear it any longer?" she asked quietly at last.

"No," I whispered. My breath still came fast.

"Neither do I." There was another silence. "Let's go and sit by the
window," she said.

And there she talked to me of the stars. How great they were and how
very quiet. She said that the greatest men in the world were almost
always quiet like that. They never let their hands get cold.

Often after that in the evenings just before I went to bed we had these
talks about the stars. And not only in the mountains. On sparkling
frosty winter nights we watched them over the harbor. And the things she
said about them were so utterly absorbing that I would never think to
look down, would barely hear the toots and the puffings and grinding of
wheels from that infernal region below. For always when she spoke of
the stars my mother spoke of great men too, the men who had done the
"finest" things--a few in the clash and jar of life like Washington and
Lincoln, but most of them more quietly, by preaching, writing, painting,
composing, sermons, books, pictures and music so "fine" that all the
best people on earth had known about them and loved them.

As I grew older she read to me more and more about these men. And
sometimes I would feel deeply content as though I had found what I
wanted. But more often I would feel myself swell up big inside of me,
restless, worrying, groping for something. I didn't know what I wanted
then, but I do know now as I look back, and I think there are thousands
of children like me, the kind who are called "queer kids" by their
playmates, who are all groping for much the same thing.

"Where is the Golden Age to-day?" they are asking. "We hear of all this
from our mothers. We hear of brave knights and warriors, of God and
Christ as they walked around on earth like regular people, of saints and
preachers, writers and painters. But where are the great men living now?
Not in our house nor on our street, nor in school nor in our church on
the corner. There is nothing there that thrills us. Why isn't there?
What is the matter? We are no longer babies, we are becoming big boys
and girls. What will we do when we are grown up? Has everything fine
already been done? Is there no chance for us to be great and to do
them?"

It was to questionings like these that my mother had led me up from the
harbor.



CHAPTER V


And to such questionings I believe that for many children of my kind
there is often some familiar place--a schoolroom or a commonplace
street, or a dreary farm in winter, a grimy row of factories or the ugly
mouth of a mine--that mutely answers,

"No. There are no more great men for you, nor any fine things left to be
done. There is nothing else left in the world but me. And you'd better
stop trying to find it."

In my case this message came from the harbor, that one part of the
modern world which looked up at me steadily day after day. Vaguely
struggle as I would to build up fine things in the present from all that
my mother brought out of the past, the harbor would not let me. For what
I clothed it soon stripped naked, what I built it soon tore down.

"When you were little," it seemed to say, "for you I was filled with
thrilling idols--cannibals and condors, Sam, strange wonder-ships and
sailors adventuring to heathen lands. But then I dragged these idols
down and made you see me as I am. And as I showed myself to you, so I'll
show up all other wonderful places or men that your mother would have
you believe in."

It did this, as I remember it, in the easiest most trivial ways, like
some huge beast that flicks off a fly and then lumbers unconcernedly on.

My mother by years of patient work had built up my religion, filling it
with the grand figures of God and Christ and his followers down to the
present time, ending with Henry Ward Beecher. When this man died I felt
awe at her silent grief. All at once the idea popped into my head that I
too might become a great preacher. And still greater, I soon learned, I
might become a preacher who went far off to heathen lands, braving
cannibals and death and giving to thousands of heathen eternal happiness
and life. Our church was sending out such a man. I heard him described
as a hero of God, and I thought of pictures I had seen of saints and
martyrs with soft haloes around their heads.

But this hero of God came down to the harbor. He was to sail for China
from my father's dock. He wore, I remember, a brown derby hat and a
little top coat. He was thin, with stooping shoulders, he was flustered
in the excitement of leaving, nervously laughing as he shook hands with
admiring women and talking fast in his high jerky voice. Two big dockers
trundled his trunks. I saw them grin at the little man and spit tobacco
juice his way. My father came by, shot one contemptuous glance, and then
went on board to his business. I looked back at the hero. Off fell the
halo from his head.

"No," I said gloomily to myself, "I never want to be like you." And
drearily I looked around. What heaps and heaps of business here. What an
immense gray harbor. I found no more thrills in church after that.

And as with religion, so with love. In reading of men of the Golden Age
I came upon stories of high romance that made me strangely happy. But I
saw no love of this kind in our house. I saw my mother and father living
sharply separate lives, and I saw few kisses between them. I saw my
father absorbed in his business, with little time for my mother. And I
blamed this on the harbor. Long ago the same grim place had taught me
something else about this many-sided passion between men and women, and
one day it rose suddenly up in my mind:

I must have been about fifteen when my little friend Eleanore Dillon
came back. Soon she and Sue were intimate chums, they went to school
together. My mother invited her up to the mountains, and there I was
with her a good deal. She was now nearly twelve years old, and the life
in the West with her father had left her sturdy as you please. And yet
somehow she still seemed to me the same feminine little creature, and as
she told me stories of the life out West, where her father, who was an
engineer, had built bridges, planned out harbors and new cities, I would
wonder vaguely about her. What a fresh, clean little person to be
talking of such places.

She was talking to me in this way one drowsy August afternoon. We had
been fishing down on the river, and now on our way home up the long hot
slope of the meadow we had stopped to cool ourselves in the shadow of a
haystack. It was fragrant there. Presently, from the top of the stack
close over our heads, a bird poured forth a ravishing song. And Eleanore
with a deep "Oh-h" of delight threw both her hands behind her head, sank
back in the hay and lay there close beside me. Her eyes were shut and
she was smiling to herself. Then as the song of the bird bubbled on, I
felt suddenly a little shock, a new disturbing feeling. Breathlessly I
watched her face. The song stopped and Eleanore opened her eyes, met
mine, and closed them quickly. I saw a slight tightening of her
features. I grew anxious at once and awkward. I wanted to get away.

But as I made a first uneasy movement, a bit of bright color caught my
eye. It was one of her red garters which had slipped down from beneath
her skirt. And all at once out of my memory rose a picture of years ago,
a picture from the harbor, of that fat drunken girl I had seen. She too
had worn red garters--in fact, little else! With disgusting vividness up
she came! And I jumped trembling to my feet.

"I'm going home," I said roughly, and left my small companion.

I kept away from her after that. And even the following winter, when
she came over often to our house to spend the night with Sue, I did my
best to avoid her. I avoided all Sue's friends. I did not keep girls
quite out of my thoughts, I had spells now and then when I would read
about them in novels, papers and magazines, anything I could lay hands
on. I would read hungrily, at times almost wistfully. But all the
stories that I read, however romantic, could never quite overbalance for
me that giggling woman I had seen.

"This is what love can be these days, foul as two pigs in a sty," said
the harbor.

The same thing happened again with war and the great idea of giving
one's life for one's country.

By countless eager questionings I had forced my mother to include among
our heroes men like Napoleon, Nelson and Grant, and after I gave up
hopes of the church these men for a time became greatest of all. You
needed no mother to help you here. It was the easiest thing in the world
to picture yourself leading charges or standing high up on a hill like
Grant, quietly smoking a black cigar and sending your orderlies on the
mad gallop out to all corners of the field. My hill grew very real to
me. It had three wind-swept trees on top and I stood just in front of
them.

When the war with Spain broke out I was still in my 'teens, still rather
thin and by no means tall, but I made up my mind to try to enlist. Even
now I can shut my eyes and see again that long night on the docks when I
watched two regiments embark on ships which were to sail at dawn. With
the uniforms, the crash of bands, the flags, the cheers, the women
laughing and crying, the harbor seemed all on my side that night.

"This is certainly what I want!" I thought.

But my father forbade my going. He was not only stern, he was savage.
For once he came out of himself and talked. And his talk was not only
against this war but against all wars. The Civil War was the worst of
all. This was the more a surprise to me because I knew that he himself
had been with the Boys of Sixty One, I had often boasted about it. But
now I learned he had not fought at all, he had been a mere commissary
clerk moving rations and blankets on freight trains!

"The business side of war," he said. "And when you've seen that side of
it you know how rotten a big war is! Men in the North made millions by
sending such rotten meat to the front that we had to live on the people
down South, we had to go into their farms and plantations and plunder
defenseless women and children of all they had to eat! That's war! And
war is filthy stinking camps where men die of fever and scurvy like
flies--and war is field hospitals so rotten in their management that you
see the wounded in long lines--packed together like bloody
sardines--bleeding to death for the lack of care! When they're dead you
dig big trenches and you pile 'em in like dogs! In time of war remember
peace--and then you'll be ashamed you're there!"

For a moment I was struck dumb with surprise. What was this strange fire
deep down within my father's soul that could give out such a flash?
Confusedly I wondered. A sudden idea crossed my mind.

"But if that's how you feel," I retorted, "why are you always talking
about the battleships we need? You want a big navy----"

"Yes," he snapped, "to keep this country _out_ of war! If you live long
enough you'll see what I mean--remember then what I'm telling you! This
country needs a navy so big she can trade wherever she likes and make
other nations leave her alone! But she doesn't want war! Sixty One was
enough! Some day when you get a man's eyes in your head you'll see what
that did to this harbor!"

I had it now, the cause of all his curious wrath! War had hurt his
harbor! How or why I did not care. Could this harbor of his stand
nothing heroic? Patriotism, religion, love--must they all be shoved
aside to make way for his dull business?

       *       *       *       *       *

About a year later I was torn for months between two careers. Should I
become a great musician or a famous writer? The idea of writing came to
me first, I got it from "Pendennis," and for a time it took hold so hard
I thought I was nicely settled for life. But then my mother read aloud
"The Lives of Great Musicians," and within a few weeks the piano lessons
which for years I had thought so dull became an absorbing passion. My
mother bought me a photograph of one of the Beethoven portraits, and
around it over my desk I tacked up pictures of famous pianists that I
cut from magazines. I went to concerts in New York. Better still, my
teacher secured me admittance to some orchestra rehearsals, where like a
real professional, all mere amateurs shut out, I could sit in the dark
and listen, and shut my eyes and hold my head between my hands. I was
composing! After a month or two of this feverish life I remember the
pride with which I wrote "Opus 38" over my last composition. My rapidity
was astounding!

But one day my teacher, a kind tactful German, told me that Beethoven,
when he was composing, had not always shut himself up in a room and
scowled with both hands to his head, as in the portrait of him I had,
but had rather gone out into the world.

"The Master found his music," he said, "by listening to the life close
around him."

"He did?" I became uneasy at once, for again I felt myself being pushed
toward that eternal harbor.

"If I were you," my relentless monitor went on, "and desired to become
in music the great voice of my country"--I looked at him quickly but saw
no smile--"I should watch the great ships down there below, I should
listen to them with an artist's ears. They are here from all over the
world, these ships, they are manned by men of all nations. I should
listen to the songs of these men. I have heard," he added reflectively,
"that some of their songs are centuries old. Beethoven gathered only the
folk songs of his country. But you in your city of all nations might
gather the folk songs of all the seas."

I turned quickly. I had been walking the room.

"I have heard the sailors sing," I said, "ever since I was a little kid
out there in the garden." I scowled in the effort to search my soul, my
artist's soul. "Yes," I added triumphantly, "and sometimes it brought a
lump in my throat!"

"Ah! Now you are a musician!"

"I will see what I can do," I said.

So again I tackled the harbor. By day it was quite impossible, all toots
and blares, the most frightful discords--but at night its vulgar
loudness was toned down sufficiently so that a fellow with artist's ears
could really stand listening to its life, especially if I did not go too
close but listened from my window. Here with uglier sounds subdued I
could catch low voices, snatches of song and now and then a chorus. "The
folk songs of the Seven Seas!" How that phrase took hold of me!

I went for information to an old dock watchman who had been a sailor.

"Songs? Why sure!" he answered. "It must be the chanties ye mean."

"Chanties?"

"That's it. I've been told the word's French."

"Oh! Chanter!"

"No--chanty. An' the man that sings the verses, he's called the
chantyman. He sings while the crew heaves on the ropes an' they all come
in on the chorus. If he's a real good chantyman he makes up new verses
every time, a kind of a yarn he spins while he sings."

Soon after this, toward the end of a warm, windy April night, I awoke
and heard them singing. I jumped up and went to my window. From the dock
next to my father's, over the line of warehouse roofs, I could see the
immense white sails already slowly rising into the starlit night.
Quickly I threw on some clothes and hurried down to the docks. The
waterfront was empty, swept clean of all that I disliked. Only overhead
a few billowy clouds, the soft rush of the wind, a slight flush in the
east, it was almost dawn. Here and there gleamed a light, red, green or
yellow, with a phantom tug or barge around it, moving over the black of
the water. Not silence but something richer was here--the confused
mysterious murmuring, the creaking and the breathing of the sleeping
port. And out of this those voices singing.

I drew nearer slowly. Hungrily I tried to take in the details of color
and sound. And I felt suddenly such a deep delight as I had never
dreamed of. To look around and listen and gather it into me and
remember. This was great, no doubt about it--it fitted into all that was
fine!

"This is really what I want to do--I'd like to learn to do it well--I'd
like to do it all my life!"

Slower, more fearfully, I drew near. Would anything happen to spoil it
all? There she lay, the long white ship, laden deep, settled low in the
water. I could see the lines of little dark men heaving together at the
ropes. Each time they hove they sang the refrain, which, no doubt, was
centuries old, a song of the winds, the big bullies of the ocean,
calling to each other as in some wild storm at sea they buffeted the
tiny men who clung to the masts and spars of ships:

    "Blow the man down, bullies,
    Blow him right down!
    Hey! Hey! Blow the man down!
    Give us the time to blow the man down!"

But what were the verses? I could hear the plaintive tenor voice of the
chantyman who sang them--now low and almost mournful, now passionate,
thrilling up into the night, as though yearning for all that was hid in
the heavens. Could a man like that feel things like that? But what were
the words he was singing, this yarn he was spinning in his song?

I came around by the foot of the slip and walked rapidly up the dockshed
toward one of its wide hatchways. The singing had stopped, but as I drew
close a rough voice broke the silence:

"Sing it again, Paddy!"

I looked out. Close by on the deck, in the hard blue glare of an
arc-light, were some twenty men, dirty, greasy, ragged, sweating, all
gripping the ropes and waiting for Paddy, who rolled his quid in his
mouth, spat twice, and then began:

    "As I went awalking down Paradise Street
    A pretty young maiden I chanced for to meet."

A heave on the ropes and a deafening roar:

    "Blow the man down, bullies,
    Blow him right down!
    Hey! Hey! Blow the man down!"

Again the solo voice, plaintiff and tender:

    "By her build I took her for Dutch.
    She was square in the stuns'l and bluff in the bow."

The rest was a detailed account of the night spent with the maiden. Roar
on roar rose the boisterous chorus: "Blow the man down, bullies, blow
him right down!" The big patched, dirty sails went jerking and flapping
up toward the stars, which from here were so faint they could barely be
seen. And the ship moved out on the harbor.

"There go the folk songs of the seas," I thought disgustedly, looking
out on the water now showing itself grease-mottled in the first raw
light of day.

I tried other songs with my artist's ears and found them all much like
the first, the music like the very stars, the words like the grease and
scum on the water. I was about giving up my search when I met my old
friend, the watchman.

"Well, did ye find the chanties?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. "They can't be printed." His old eyes twinkled merrily:

"Of course they can't. An' _most_ songs an' stories can't. But I'll give
ye a nice little song ye can print. It's the oldest chanty of 'em all.
I'll try to remember an' write it down."

Here is the song he gave me:

ROLLING HOME

    To Australia's fair-haired maidens
    We will bid our last good-bye.
    We are going home to England,
    We may never more see you.

          Rolling home, rolling home,
          Rolling home across the sea,
          Rolling home to merry England,
          Rolling home dear land to thee.

    We will leave you our best wishes
    As we leave your rocky shores,
    We are going home to England,
    We may never see you more.
          Rolling home....

    Up aloft amidst her rigging
    Spreading out her snow white sails,
    Like a bird with outstretched pinions,
    On we speed before the gale.
          Rolling home....

    And the wild waves, as we leave them,
    Seem to murmur as they roll;
    There are hands and hearts to greet thee
    In that land to which you go.
          Rolling home....

    Cheer up, Jack, fond hearts await thee,
    And kind welcomes everywhere;
    There are hands and hearts to greet thee,
    Kind caresses from the fair.

          Rolling home, rolling home,
          Rolling home across the sea,
          Rolling home to merry England,
          Rolling home dear land to thee.

"Do they ever sing those words?" I asked suspiciously. The old Irishman
looked steadily back.

"Sure they sing 'em--sometimes," he said. "It's the same thing as them
other songs--only nicer put. Put to be printed," he added.

He found me others "put to be printed." Soon I had quite a collection.
And with the help of my German teacher I wrote down the music.

"There are not enough for a book," he said. "Why don't you write an
article, tell where you found them, put them in, and send it to a paper?
So you can give them to the world."

This I at once set out to do. In the writing I found again that deep
delight I had had on the dock, just far enough off to miss the dirt, the
sweat and the words of the song. I showed the article to my mother, and
she was surprised and delighted. Working together, in less than a week
we had polished it off. I heard her read it aloud to my father, I
watched his face, and I saw the grim smile that came over it as he asked
me,

"Are those the words you heard them sing?"

"Not all of them are," I answered. And suddenly, somehow or other, I
felt guilty, as though I had done something wrong. But angrily I shook
it off. Why should I always give in to his harbor? This that I had
written was fine! This was Art! At last in spite of him and his docks I
had found something great that I could do!

When the article was taken by a Sunday paper in New York and a check for
eight dollars was sent me with a brief but flattering letter, my pride
and hopes rose high. The eight dollars I spent on a pin for my mother,
as "Pendennis" or some other boy genius had done. When the article
appeared in the paper my mother bought fifty copies and gave them out to
our neighbors. There was nothing to shock such neighbors here, and they
praised me highly for what they called my "real descriptive power."

"That boy will go far," I heard one cultured old gentleman say. And I
lost no time in starting out. No musical career for me, down came
Beethoven from my wall, for I was now a writer. And not of mere
articles, either. Inside of six months I had written a dozen short
stories, and when each of these in turn was rejected I began to plan out
a five-act play. But here my mother stopped me.

"You're trying to go too fast," she said. "Think of it, you are barely
nineteen. You must give up everything else just now and spend all your
time getting ready for college. For if you are going to be a strong
writer, as I hope, you need to learn so many things first. And you will
find them all in college--as I did once when I was young," she added a
little wistfully.



CHAPTER VI


The first thing I needed in college was a good thorough dressing down.
And this I got without any delay. In the first few weeks my artist's
ears and eyes and soul were hazed to a frazzle. From "that boy who will
go far" I became "you damn young freshman." I was told to make love to a
horse's hind leg, I was made to perch on a gatepost and read the
tenderest passages of "Romeo and Juliet," replacing Romeo's name by my
own, and Juliet's by that of stout Mrs. Doogan, who scrubbed floors in a
dormitory close by. Refusals only made matters painful. Besides, I was
told by a freshman friend that I'd better fit in or I'd "queer" myself.

This dread of "queering" myself at first did me a world of good. Dumped
in this community of over a thousand callow youths, three hundred in my
class alone and each one absorbed in getting acquainted, fitting in,
making friends and a place for himself, I was soon struggling for a
foothold as hard as the rest. Within a month the thing I wanted above
all else was to shed my genius and become "a good mixer" in the crowd.

This drew me at first from books to athletics. Though still slight of
build I was wiry, high-strung and quick of movement. I had a snub nose
and sandy hair, and I was tough, with a hard-set jaw. And I now went
into the football world with a passion and a patience that landed me at
the end of the season--one of the substitute quarterbacks on the
freshman team. I did not get into a single game, I was only used on the
"scrub" in our practice. This made for a wholesome humility and a real
love of my college.

The football season over, I tried for the daily paper. One of the
freshman candidates for the editorial Spring elections, I became a daily
reporter slave. Here at first I drew on my "queer" past, turning all my
"descriptive powers" to use. But a fat senior editor called "Pop"
inquired one day with a sneer, "For God's sake, Freshman, why these
flowers?" And the flowers forthwith dropped out of my style. At all
hours, day and night, to the almost entire neglect of studies, I went
about college digging up news--not the trivial news of the faculty's
dull, puny plans for the development of our minds, but the real vital
news of our college life, news of the things we were here for, the
things by which a man got on, news of all the athletic teams, of the
glee, mandolin and banjo clubs, of "proms," of class and fraternity
elections, mass meetings and parades. Ferreting my way into all nooks
and crannies of college life, ears keen for hints and rumors, alert to
"scoop" my eighteen reporter rivals--the more I learned the better I
loved. And when in the Spring I was one of the five freshman editors
chosen, the conquest was complete. No more artist's soul for me. I was
part and parcel of college life.

Together with my companions I assumed a genial tolerance toward all
those poor dry devils known to us as "profs." I remember the weary sighs
of our old college president as he monotoned through his lectures on
ethics to the tune of the cracking of peanuts, which an old darky sold
to us at the entrance to the hall. It was a case of live and let live.
He let us eat and we let him talk. With the physics prof, who was known
as "Madge the Scientist," our indulgence went still further. We took no
disturbing peanuts there and we let him drone his hour away without an
interruption, except perhaps an occasional snore. We were so good to
him, I think, because of his sense of humor. He used to stop talking now
and then and with a quizzical hopeless smile he would look about the
hall. And we would all smile broadly back, enjoying to the full with
him the droll farce of our presence there. "Go to it, Madge," someone
would murmur. And the work of revealing the wonders of this material
universe would limp quietly along. In examinations Madge gave no marks,
at least not to the mass of us. If he had, over half of us would have
been dropped, so he "flunked" the worst twenty and let the rest through.

The faculty, as a whole, appeared to me no less fatigued. Most of them
lectured as though getting tired, the others as though tired out. There
were a few lonely exceptions but they had to fight against heavy odds.

The hottest fighter of all against this classic torpor was a tall,
joyous Frenchman who gestured not only with his hands but with his
eloquent knees as well. His subject was French literature, but from this
at a moment's notice he would dart off into every phase of French life.
There was nothing in life, according to him, that was not a part of
literature. In college he was considered quite mad.

I met him not long ago in New York. We were both hanging to straps in
the subway and we had but a moment before he got off.

"I have read you," he said, "in the magazines. And from what you write I
think you can tell me. What was the trouble with me at college?" I
looked into his black twinkling eyes.

"Great Scott!" I said suddenly. "You were alive!"

"Merci! Au revoir, monsieur!"

What a desert of knowledge it was back there. Our placid tolerance of
the profs included the books they gave us. The history prof gave us ten
books of collateral reading. Each book, if we could pledge our honor as
gentlemen that we had read it, counted us five in examination. On the
night before the examination I happened to enter the room of one of our
football giants, and found him surrounded by five freshmen, all of whom
were reading aloud. One was reading a book on Russia, another the life
of Frederick the Great, a third was patiently droning forth Napoleon's
war on Europe, while over on the window-seat the other two were racing
through volumes one and two of Carlyle's French Revolution. The room was
a perfect babel of sound. But the big man sat and smoked his pipe, his
honor safe and the morrow secure. In later years, whatever might happen
across the sea would find this fellow fully prepared, a wise,
intelligent judge of the world, with a college education.

"This reminds me," he said, "of last summer--when I did Europe in three
weeks with Dad."

The main idea in all courses was to do what you had to but no more. One
day an English prof called upon me to define the difference between a
novel and a book of science.

"About the same difference," I replied, "as between an artist's painting
and a mathematical drawing."

"Bootlick, bootlick," I heard in murmurs all over the hall. I had
answered better than I had to. Hence I had licked the professor's boots.
I did not offend in this way again.

       *       *       *       *       *

But early in my sophomore year, when the novelty had worn away, I began
to do some thinking. Was there nothing else here? My mother and I had
had talks at home, and she had told me plainly that unless I sent home
better reports I could not finish my four years' course. And after all,
she wasn't a fool, there was something in that idea of hers--that here
in this quiet old town, so remote from the harbor and business, a fellow
ought to be getting "fine" things, things that would help him all his
life.

"But look what I've got!" I told myself. "When I came here what was I? A
little damn prig! And look at me now!"

"All right, look ahead. I'm toughened up, I've had some good things
knocked into me and a lot of fool things knocked out of me. But that's
just it. Are all the fine things fool things? Don't I still want to
write? Sure I do. Well, what am I going to write about? What do I know
of the big things of life? I was always hunting for what was great. I'm
never hunting for it now, and unless I get something mighty quick my
father will make me go into his business. What am I going to do with my
life?"

At first I honestly tried to "pole," to find whether, after all, I
couldn't break through the hard dry crust of books and lectures down
into what I called "the real stuff." But the deeper I dug the drier it
grew. Vaguely I felt that here was crust and only crust, and that for
some reason or other it was meant that this should be so, because in the
fresh bubbling springs and the deep blazing fires whose presence I could
feel below there was something irritating to profs and disturbing to
those who paid them. These profs, I thought confusedly, had about as
much to do with life as had that little "hero of God" who had cut such a
pitiful figure when he came close to the harbor. And more pitiful still
were the "polers," the chaps who were working for high marks. They
thought of marks and little else. They thrived on crust, these fellows,
cramming themselves with words and rules, with facts, dates, theorems
and figures, in order to become professors themselves and teach the same
stuff to other "polers." There was a story of one of them who stayed in
his room and crammed all through the big football game of the season,
and at night when told we had won remarked blithely,

"Oh, that's splendid! I think I'll go out and have a pretzel!"

God, what a life, I thought to myself! None of that for me! And so I
left the "polers."

But now in my restless groping around for realities in life that would
thrill me, things that I could write about, I began trying to test
things out by talking about them with my friends. What did a fellow want
most in life--what to do, what to get and to be? What was there really
in business beside the making of money? In medicine, law and the other
professions, in art, in getting married, in this idea of God and a
heaven, or in the idea I vaguely felt now filtering through the nation,
that a man owed his life to his country in time of peace as in time of
war. The harbor with rough heavy jolts had long ago started me thinking
about questions of this kind. Now I tackled them again and tried to talk
about them.

And at once I found I was "queering" myself. For these genial companions
of mine had laid a most decided taboo upon all topics of this kind. They
did so because to discuss them meant to openly think and feel, and to
think or feel intensely, about anything but athletics and other things
prescribed by the crowd, was bad form to say the least.

Bad form to talk in any such fashion of what we were going to make of
our lives. Nobody cared to warm up on the subject. Many had nothing at
all in sight and put off the whole idea as a bore. Others were already
fixed, they had positions waiting in law and business offices, in
factories, mines, mills and banks, and they took these positions as
settled and sure.

"Why?" I would argue impatiently. "How do you know it's what you want
most?"

"Oh, I guess it'll do as well as another."

"But damn it all, why not have a look? We can have a big look now, we've
got a chance to broaden out before we jump into our little jobs--to see
all the jobs and size 'em up and look at 'em as a part of the world!"

"Oh, biff." I got little or no response. The greater part of these
decent likable fellows could not warm up to anything big, they simply
hadn't it in them.

"Why in hell do you want me to get all hot?" drawled one fat sluggard of
a friend. "I'll keep alive when the time comes." And he and his kind set
the standard for all. Sometimes a chap who could warm up, who had the
real stuff in him, would "loosen up" about his life on some long tramp
with me alone. But back in college his lips were sealed. It was not
exactly that he was ashamed, it was simply that with his college friends
such talk seemed utterly out of place.

"Look out, Bill," said one affectionately. "You'll queer yourself if you
keep on."

The same held true of religion. An upper classman, if he felt he had to,
might safely become a leader of freshmen in the Y. M. C. A. But when one
Sunday evening I disturbed a peaceful pipe-smoking crowd by wondering
why it was that we were all so bored in chapel, there fell an
embarrassing silence--until someone growled good-humoredly, "Don't bite
off more'n you can chew." Nobody wanted to drop his religion, he simply
wanted to let it alone. I remember one Sunday in chapel, in the midst of
a long sermon, how our sarcastic old president woke us up with a start.

"I was asked," he said, "if we had any free thinkers here. 'No,' I
replied. 'We have not yet advanced that far. For it takes half as much
thinking to be a free thinker as it does to believe in God.'"

And I remember the night in our sophomore club when the news came like a
thunderclap that one of our members had been killed pole-vaulting at a
track meet in New York. It was our habit, in our new-found manliness, to
eat with our hats on, shout and sing, and speak of our food as
"tapeworm," "hemorrhage," and the like. I remember how we sat that
night, silent, not a word from the crowd--one starting to eat, then
seeing it wasn't the thing to do, and staring blankly like the rest.
They were terrible, those stares into reality. That clutching pain of
grief was real, so real it blotted everything out. Later some of us in
my room began to talk in low voices of what a good fellow he had been.
Then some chap from the Y. M. C. A. proposed timidly to lead us in
prayer. What a glare he got from all over the room! "Damn fool," I heard
someone mutter. Bad form!

Politics also were tabooed. Here again there were exceptions. A still
fiery son of the South could rail about niggers, rapes and lynchings and
the need for disenfranchising the blacks. It was good fun to hear him.
Moreover, a fellow who was a good speaker, and needed the money, might
stump the state for either political party, and his accounts were often
amusing. But to sit down and talk about the trusts, graft, trade unions,
strikes, or the tariff or the navy, the Philippines, "the open door," or
any other of the big questions that even then, ten years ago, were
beginning to shake the country, and that we would all be voting on soon?
No. The little Bryan club was a joke. And one day when a socialist
speaker struck town the whole college turned out in parade, waving red
sweaters and firing "bombs" and roaring a wordless Marseillaise! We
wanted no solemn problems here!

Finally, it was distinctly bad form to talk about sex. Not to tell
"smutty stories," they were welcomed by the average crowd. But to look
at it squarely, as I tried to do, and get some light upon what would be
doubtless the most vital part of our future lives--this simply wasn't
done. What did women mean to us, I asked. What did prostitutes mean at
present? What would wives mean later on? And all this talk about
mistresses and this business of free love, and easy divorces and
marriage itself--what did they all amount to? Was love really what it
was cracked up to be, or had the novelists handed us guff? When I came
out with questions like these, the chaps called "clean" looked rather
pained; the ones who weren't, distinctly bored.

For this whole intricate subject was kept in the cellars of our minds,
cellars often large but dark. Because "sex" was wholly rotten. It had
nothing to do, apparently, with the girls who came chaperoned to the
"proms," it had to do only with certain women in a little town close by.
Plenty of chaps went there at times, and now and then women from over
there would come to us on the quiet at night. But one afternoon I saw a
big crowd on the front campus. It grew every moment, became a mob,
shoving and surging, shouting and jeering. I climbed some steps to look
into the center, and saw two painted terrified girls, hysterical,
sobbing, swearing and shrieking. So they were shoved, a hidden
spectacle, to the station and put on the train. Nothing like that on our
front campus! Nothing like "sex" in the front rooms of our minds. The
crowd returned chuckling. Immoral? Hell, no. Simply bad form.

       *       *       *       *       *

"What am I going to write about?"

"Games," said the college. "Only games. Don't go adventuring down into
life."



CHAPTER VII


Then I found Joe Kramer.

He had "queered" himself at the beginning in college. I had barely known
him. He belonged to no fraternity, and except on the athletic field he
kept out of all our genial life. And this life of ours, for all its
thoughtlessness, was so rich in genuine friendships, so filled and
bubbling over with the joy of being young, that we could not understand
how any decent sort of chap could deliberately keep out of it. We put
Joe Kramer down as a "grouch."

But now that I too was "queering" myself, our queerness drew us
together, or rather, Joe's drew mine. In the ten years that have gone
since then I have never met any man who drew me harder than he did, than
he is drawing me even still--and this often in spite of my efforts to
shake him off, and later of his quite evident wish to be rid of me. For
Joe had what is so hard to find among us comfortable mortals, a
sincerity so real and deep that it absolutely ruled his life, that it
kept him exploring into things, kept him adventuring always.

In long tramps over the neighboring hills, on our backs in the grass
staring up at the clouds, or in winter hugging a bonfire in the shelter
of a boulder, or back in college over our beer or over countless pipes
in our rooms, together we adventured through books and long hungry talks
down into life--and of the paths we discovered I see even now no end.

Joe was tall and lean, with heavy shoulders stooping slightly. He was
sallow, he never took care of himself. He ate his meals at all hours at
a small cheap restaurant, where he bought a bunch of meal tickets each
week. His face was obstinate, honest, kindly, his features were as blunt
as his talk. He was the first to understand what I was so vaguely
looking for, and to say, "All right, Kid, you come right along." And as
he was farther along than I, he pulled me after him on the hunt after
what he called "the genuine article" in this bewildering modern life.

His own life, to begin with, was a tie with this real modern world that
had forced itself on me long ago through the harbor. For Joe had been
"up against it" hard. Though blunt and frank about most things he talked
little about himself, but I got his story bit by bit. "Graft" had come
into it at the start. In a town of the Middle West his father had been a
physician with a good practice, until when Joe was eleven years old a
case of smallpox was discovered. Joe's father vaccinated about a score
of children that week. The "dope" he used was mailed to him by a drug
firm in Chicago. It was "rotten." Over half the children were
desperately ill and seven of them died. Joe's father, his mother and
both older sisters did duty as nurses day and night. After that they
left town, moved from town to town, that story always following, and
finally both parents died. Since then Joe had been a teamster, a clerk
in a hardware store, a brakeman, a telegrapher, and last, the assistant
editor of a paper in a small town. He had scraped and slaved and studied
throughout with the idea of coming East to college. He had come at
twenty-two, beating his way on freight trains. On the top of a car one
night he had fallen asleep and been knocked on the head by a steel beam
jutting down under a bridge. Then, after two weeks on a hospital bed, he
had arrived at college.

Here he had earned a meager way by writing football and baseball news
for a string of western papers. Here he had looked for an education, and
here "a bunch of dead ones" had handed him "news from the graveyard"
instead.

I can still see him in classroom, head cocked to one side, grimly
watching the prof. And once during a Bible course lecture I heard his
voice blandly ironic behind me:

"Will somebody ask Mister Charley Darwin to be so good as to step this
way?"

"We've been cheated, Bill," he told me. "We've been cheated right along.
Take history, for instance, the kind of stuff we were handed in school.
I got onto it first when I was fourteen. It was a rainy Saturday and my
mother told me to go and clean out an old closet up in the attic. Well,
I found my German grandfather's diary there, written when he was in
college in Leipsic, in 1848. The way those kids jumped into things! The
way they got themselves mixed up in the Revolution of Forty Eight! To
hear my young grandfather talk, that year was one of the biggest times
in European history. Our school history gave it five pages and then
druled on about courts and kings. 'I'll go to college,' I made up my
mind. 'College will put me next to the truth.' So I saved my little
nickels and came. But college," he added moodily, "ain't advanced as far
as it was in my young grandfather's time."

"Do you know who's to blame for this stuff?" he said. "It's not the
profs, I've nothing against them, all they need is to be kicked out. No,
it's us, because we stand for their line of drule. If we got right up on
our honkeys and howled, all of us, for a real education, we'd get it by
next Saturday night. But we don't care a damn. Why don't we? Are we all
of us dubs? No we're not. Go down to the football field and see. There's
as much brains in figuring out those plays as there is in mathematics.
Would we stand for coaches like our profs? But that's just it. It's the
thing to be alive in athletics and a dub in everything else. And because
it's the thing, every fellow fits in. On the whole," he added
reflectively, "I think it's this 'dear old college' feeling that's to
blame for it all."

"My God, Joe!" This was high treason!

"Sure it is," he retorted. "It _is_ your god and the god of us all. This
dear old college feeling. It's got us all stuck together so close that
nobody dares to be himself and buck against its standards."

This from Joe Kramer! How often, in a football game, have I seen him on
the reporter's bench, his sallow face now all a-scowl, now beaming
satisfaction as he pounded his neighbor on the back.

In pursuit of "a real education" we got into the habit of spending
almost every evening in the college library, where except at examination
times there was nobody but a few silent "polers."

I grew to love this place. It was so huge and shadowy, with only shaded
lights here and there. It had such tempting crannies. I loved its deep
quiet, so pleasantly broken now and then by a step, a whisper, the sound
of a book being moved from its shelf where perhaps it had stood unread
for years, or occasional voices passing outside or snatches of song from
the campus. And here I thought I was finding myself. That French prof
had introduced me to Voltaire, Hugo, Balzac, Maupassant and others who
were becoming my new idols. This was art, this was beauty and truth,
this was getting at life in a way that thrilled.

But now and then looking up from my book I would see Joe prowling about
the place, taking down a book, then shoving it back and scowling as he
ran his eyes along whole rows of titles.

"This darned library shut its doors," he would growl to himself, "just
as the real dope was coming along. But there's been such a flood of it
ever since that some leaked in in spite of 'em."

Joe would search and search until he found "it" on back shelves or stuck
away in corners. Angrily he would blow off the dust and then settle
himself with a sigh to read. There was always something wistful to me in
the way Joe opened each new book. But what a joy when he found
"it"--Darwin, Nietzsche, Henry George, Walt Whitman, Zola, Samuel
Butler. What a sudden sort of glee the night he discovered Bernard Shaw!

When the library closed we adjourned for beer and a smoke, and often we
would argue long about what we had been reading. Joe had little use for
the stuff I liked. Beauty and form were nothing to him, it was "the
meat" he was after. My mother's idols he laid low.

"The first part was big," he said one night of a recent English novel.
"But the last part was the kind of thing that poor old Thackeray might
have done."

In an instant I was up in arms, for to my mother and me the author of
"Pendennis" had been like a great lovable patron saint, a refuge from
all we abhorred in the harbor. To slight him was a sacrilege. But
reverence to Joe Kramer was a thing unknown. "Show me," he said, in
reply to my outburst, "a single thing he ever wrote that wasn't
sentimental bosh!" And we went at it hammer and tongs.

It was so in all our talks. Nothing was too sacred. Joe always insisted
on "being shown."

He had a keen liking but little respect for the nation built by our
fathers. From his own father's tragedy, caused by graft, his own hard
struggles in the West and the Populist doctrines he had imbibed, he had
come East with a deep conviction that "things in this country are one
big mess with the Constitution sitting on top." And when the term
"muckraker" came into use, I remember his deep satisfaction. "Now I know
my name," he said.

He was equally hard on the church. How he kicked against our compulsory
chapel. "Broad, isn't it, scientific," he growled, "to yank a man out of
bed every morning, throw him into his seat in chapel and tell him,
'Here. This is what you believe. Be good now, take your little dose and
then you can go to breakfast.'"

"I'm no atheist," he remarked. "I'm only a poor young fellah who asks,
'Say, Mister, if you _are_ up there why is it that no big scientist has
brains enough to see you?'"

"Look here, J. K., that isn't so!"

"Isn't it? Show me!" And we would start in. I had a deep repugnance for
his whole materialistic view. But I liked the way he jarred me.

"What I want to do," he said, "is to bust every hold that any creed ever
had on me. I don't mean only creeds in churches, I mean creeds in
politics, business and everywhere else. I want to get 'em all out of my
eyes so I can see what's really here--because I'm so sure there's an
awful lot here and an awful lot more that's coming. If I make a noise
like a knocker at times you don't want to put me down as any
Schopenhauer fan. None of that pessimistic dope for little Joey Kramer.
I never open a new book without hoping I'll find the real stuff I want,
and I never open a paper without hoping that some more of it will be
right here in the news of the day. Kid," he ended intensely, "you can
take it from me there are going to be big doings soon in this little old
world, big doings and great big ideas, as big as what caused the Civil
War and a damn sight more scientific. And the thing for you and me to do
is to get ourselves in some kind of shape so we can shake hands with 'em
when they arrive, and say, 'Hello, fellahs, come right in. You're just
what we've been waiting for.'"

When Joe gave up college at the end of the junior year, he left a small
group of us behind. "The Ishmaelites," we called ourselves. For though
most of us "couldn't quite go Joe," we had all "queered" ourselves in
college through the influence on us he had had.

There are thousands of Joe Kramers now in colleges scattered all over
the land. Each year their numbers grow, each year more deep their vague
conviction that somehow they've been cheated, more harsh and insistent
every year their questioning of all "news from the graveyard," whether
it comes from old fogey professors or from parents or preachers, eminent
lawyers or business men, great politicians or writers of books. Arrogant
and sweeping, sparing nothing sacred--young. Ignorant, confused and
groping, almost wistful--new. They are becoming no insignificant part in
this swiftly changing national life.

Joe Kramer was one of the pioneers.



CHAPTER VIII


It was with an unpleasant shock of surprise that I found Joe liked the
harbor.

When I took him home for Christmas he spent half his time down there on
the docks. He explored the whole region for miles around, in a week he
spoke in familiar terms of slips and bays and rivers that to me were
still nothing but names. Moreover, he liked my father. And my father,
opening up by degrees, showed an unmistakable relish for Joe.

They had long talks in the study at night, where I could hear them
arguing about the decline of our shipping, the growth of our trusts and
railroads, graft and high finance and strikes, the swift piling up of
our troubles at home--and about the great chance we were losing abroad,
the blind weak part we were playing in this eager ocean world where
every nation that was alive was rushing in to get a place. As their
voices rose loud and excited, even my young sister Sue, who was just out
of high school now and doing some groping about of her own, would go
into the study to listen at times. But I kept out. For already I was
tired again of all these harbor problems, I wanted to get at life
through Art! And I felt besides that if I entered into long talks with
my father, sooner or later he would be sure to bring up the dreaded
question of my going into his business. And this I was firmly resolved
not to do. For my dislike of all his work, his deepening worries, his
dogged absorption in his tiresome hobby of ships, was even sharper than
before.

"That dad of yours," Joe told me, "is a mighty interesting old boy. He
has had a big life with a big idea."

"Has he?" said I. "Then he's lost it."

"He hasn't! That's just the trouble. He thinks he's a comer when he's a
goer--he can't see his idea is out of date. It's a pity," he added
sadly. "When a man can spend his days and nights hating the trusts and
the railroads as he does, it's a pity he's so darned old in his views of
what ought to be done about it. Your father believes that if only we'd
get a strong navy and a large mercantile marine----"

"Oh, cut it, J. K.," I said pettishly. "I tell you I don't care what he
believes! The next thing you'll be telling me is that I ought to take a
job in his warehouse!"

"You might do worse," said Joe.

"What?" I demanded indignantly.

"That's just what I said. If you'd go on a paper and learn to write like
a regular man I'd be tickled to death. But if all you want to be in life
is a young Guy de Maupassant and turn out little gems for the girls,
then I say you'd be a lot better off if you went into your father's
warehouse and began telling Wall Street to get off the roof!"

"Thank you," I said stiffly.

From that talk Joe and I began drifting apart. I never brought him home
again, I saw less of him at college. And at the end of the college year
he went to New York, where he found a job on a paper.

And so all through my senior year I was left undisturbed to "queer"
myself in my own sweet way, which was to slave for hours over Guy de
Maupassant and other foreign authors, write stories and sketches by the
score, and with two other "Ishmaelites" plan for a year's work in Paris.
The French prof was delighted and spurred us on with glowing accounts of
life in "the Quarter." One of us wanted to be a painter. No place for
that like Paris! Another an architect--Paris! Myself a writer--Paris!
For what could American writers to-day, with their sentimental little
yarns covering with a laugh or a tear all the big deep facts of life,
show to compare to the unflinching powerful work of the best writers
over in France? In Paris they were training men to write of life as it
really is! How that prof did drum it in. Better still, how he talked it
up to my mother--the last time she came to college.

I soon found she was on my side. If only she could bring father around.

I still remember vividly that exciting night in June when the three of
us, back there at home, sat on the terrace and fought it out. I remember
the beauty of the night, I mean of the night up there in the garden
under the stars, my mother's garden and her stars, and of the hideous
showing put up by my father's harbor below.

Of course he opposed my going abroad. His old indifference to me had
vanished, I saw he regarded me now as worth while, grown up, a business
asset worth fighting for. And my father fought. He spoke abruptly,
passionately of the great chance on the docks down there. I remember
being surprised at his talk, at the bigness and the intensity of this
hunger of his for ships. But of what he said I remembered nothing, I did
not hear, for I was eyeing my mother.

I saw she was watching him pityingly. Why? What argument had she still
to use? I waited in increasing suspense.

"So that's all there is to it," I heard him end. "You might as well get
it right out of your head. You're not going over to Europe to fool away
any more of your time. You're going to buckle down right here."

"Billy, leave us alone," said my mother.

What in the name of all the miracles did she do to him that night--my
mother so frail (she had grown so of late), my father so strong? The
next day she told me he had consented.

I saw little of him in the next two weeks. He left me alone with her
every evening. But when I watched him he looked changed--beaten and
broken, older. In spite of myself I pitied him now, and a confused
uneasiness, almost remorse, came over me at the way I had opposed him.
"What's come over Dad?" I wondered. Once I saw him look at my mother,
and his look was frightened, crushed. What was it she had told him?

Those evenings I read "Pendennis" aloud for the third time to my mother.
It had been our favorite book, and I took anxious pains to show her how
I loved it still. But once chancing to look quickly up, I caught my
mother watching me with a hungriness and an utter despair such as I'd
never seen before. It struck me cold, I looked away--and suddenly I
realized what a selfish little beast I was, beside this woman who loved
me so and whom I was now leaving. My throat contracted sharply. But when
I looked back the look was gone, and in its place was a quiet smile.

"Oh, my boy, you must do fine work," she said. "I want it so much more
than anything else in my whole life. In my whole life," she repeated. I
came over to her chair, bent over her and kissed her hard.

"I'm sorry I'm going! I'm sorry!" I whispered. "But mammy! It's only for
a year!"

Why did that make her cling to me so? If only she had told me.

But what young egotists we sons are. It was only a few days later that
with my two college chums, from the deck of an ocean liner, I said
good-by to the harbor.

"Thank God I'm through with you at last."



CHAPTER IX


I was in Paris for two years.

In those first weeks of deep delight I called it, "The Beautiful City of
Grays." For this town was certainly mellowed down. No jar of an ugly
present here, no loud disturbing harbor. But on the other hand, no
dullness of a fossilized past. What college had been supposed to do this
city did, it took the past and made it alive, richly, thrillingly alive,
and wove it in with the present. In the first Sorbonne lectures, even
with my meager French, I felt this at once, I wanted to feel it. These
profs were brilliant, sparkling, gay. They talked as though Rousseau and
Voltaire, Hugo, Balzac and Flaubert, Maupassant and all the rest were
still vital dazzling news to the world, because these men were still
molding the world. And from here exploring out over the town, I was
smilingly greeted everywhere by such affable gracious old places, that
seemed to say:

"We've been written about for a thousand years, and now you also wish to
write. How charming of you. Please sit down. Garçon, un bock."

And I sat down. Scenes from the books of my great idols rose around
every corner, or if they didn't I made them rise. There was pride in the
process. To go to the Place de la République, take a seat before some
cheap, jolly café, squint out at the Place with an artist's eye,
reconstruct the Bastille, the Great Revolution, dream back of that to
Rousseau and Voltaire and the way they shook the world by their
writings--and then wake up and find that I had been at it for three
mortal hours! What a chap I was for dreams. I must be quite a genius.
There were hours with Hugo in Notre Dame in one of its most shadowy
corners; with Zola on top of a 'bus at night as it lumbered up into the
Belleville slums; with Balzac in an old garden I found; with Guy de
Maupassant everywhere, in the gay hum and lights of those endless cafés,
from bridges at sunset over the Seine, or far up the long rich dusk of
the Champs Élysées, lights twinkling out, and _his_ women laughing,
chattering by.

Nothing left in this rich old world but the harbor? Nothing beautiful,
fine or great for an eager, hungry, happy young man? I could laugh! I
knew now that the harbor had lied! For into this radiant city not only
the past but the whole present of the earth appeared to me to be pouring
in. Painters, sculptors, writers and builders were here from all
nations, with even some Hindus and Japs thrown in, young, bringing all
their dreams and ambitions, their gaiety, their vigor and zest.

"Young men are lucky. They will see great things."

Voltaire had said that about thirty years before the French Revolution.
It had been true then, true ever since, it was true to-day and
here--though _our_ great things I felt very sure were not to come in
violence--the world had gone beyond all that. No, these immense
surprises that were lurking just before us, these astounding miracles
that were to rise before our eyes, would come in the unfolding of the
powers in men's minds, working free and ranging wide, with a deep
resistless onward rush--in the stirring times of peace!

And we were not only to see great things but we were all to do them!
That was the very keynote of the place. Here a fellow could certainly
write if only he had it in him. Impatiently I slaved at my French. Five
hours sleep was plenty.

In the small apartment we had taken just on the edge of the Luxembourg
Gardens, on the nights when we were working at home, one of us at his
easel, another at his drafting board, myself at my desk, we would knock
off at about eleven o'clock and come down for beer and a long smoke in
front of the café below. A homely little place it was, with two rows of
small iron tables in front, and at one of these we would seat ourselves.
Behind us in the window was a long glass tank of gold fish, into which
from time to time a huge cat would reach an omnivorous paw. Often from
within the café we would hear Russian folk songs played on balalaikas by
a group of Russian students there. And between the songs a low hubbub
rose, in French and many other tongues, for here were French and
Germans, English and Bohemians, Russians and Italians, all gathered here
while they were young.

How serene the old city seemed those nights. The street outside was
quiet. The motor 'bus, that pest of Paris, had not yet appeared. Only an
occasional cab would come tinkling on its way. Our street was absurdly
short. At one end was a gay cluster of lights from the crowded cafés of
the "Boul' Mich'," at the other were the low lighted arches at the back
of the Odéon, from which when the play was over fluffy feminine figures
would emerge from the stage entrance; we would hear their low musical
voices as they came merrily by us in cabs. Other figures would pass.
Across the street before us rose the trees and the lofty iron fence of
the Gardens, with a rich gloom of shrubs behind, and against this
background figures in groups and alone and in couples would come
strolling by with their happiness or hurrying eagerly toward it. Or to
what else were they hurrying? From what were they coming so slowly away?

These strangers in this setting thrilled me. Comedy, tragedy, character,
plot--there seemed nothing in life but the writing of tales--watching,
listening, dreaming, finding, then becoming deeply excited, feeling them
grow inside of you, planning them out and writing them off, then working
them over and over and over, little by little building them up. What a
rich absorbing life for a fellow, and for me it still lay all ahead. I
had used but twenty-two years of my life, there were fifty left to write
in, and what couldn't you write in fifty years!

Often, sitting here at night, I would get an idea and begin to work, and
I would keep on until at last the enormous old woman who kept the
café--we called her "The Blessed Damozel"--would come lumbering out and
good humoredly growl,

"Couches-toi donc. Une heure vient de sonner."

       *       *       *       *       *

There came a brief interruption. Into our street's procession one
evening, over its round cobblestones on a bicycle that wearily wobbled,
there came a lean dusty figure with something distinctly familiar in the
stoop of the big shoulders.

"Hello, boys," said a deep gruff voice.

"J. K.!"

It was. Joe Kramer arriving in Paris at midnight on a punctured tire,
and cursing the cobblestone pavements over which he had hunted us out.

A hot supper, a bottle of wine, a genial beam on all three of us, and
Joe told his story. After leaving college, from New York he had gone to
Kansas City, and by the "livest paper" there he had been sent abroad
with a bike to do a series of "Sunday specials." He had come over
steerage and written an exposé of his passage. He had two weeks for
Paris and then was off to Berlin and Vienna.

"I'm just breaking ground this time, boys," he said. "I want to get the
hang of the countries and a start in their infernal languages."

The next day he began to break ground in our city. Early the next
morning I found Joe propped up in bed scowling into _Le Matin_ as he
tried to butt his way through the language into the news events of the
day. What I tried to tell him of the Paris I had found made no appeal
whatever.

"All right, Kid," he said indulgently. "If I had a dozen lifetimes I
might be a poet. But I haven't, so I'll just be a reporter."

And he and his bike plunged into the town. He found its "newspaper row"
that day and a Frenchman to whom he had a letter. With this man Joe went
to the Bourse and that night to the Chamber of Deputies. He got "Sunday
specials" out of them both, and then went on to the Bourse de Travail.
And in the few spare moments he had, Joe told us of the things he had
seen. Rumors of war and high finance, trade unions, strikes and sabotage
burst on my startled artist's ears. It made me think of the harbor!
_This_ was not my Paris!

"It is," said J. K. stoutly. "There's no place like a newspaper office
to put you right next to the heart of a town."

He would not hear to our seeing him off. I remember him that last night
after supper strapping his bag onto his bike and starting off down our
quiet old street on his way to the station.

"To-morrow," he said, "I'll stop off in Leipsic. I want to have a look
at the college that stirred my young grandfather up for life. I've got
his diary with me."

Again, in spite of the gruffness, I felt that wistful quality in him.
J. K. was hunting for something too.



CHAPTER X


But what a relief to see him go, to forget his loud disturbing Paris and
again drink deep of mine, the city of great writers.

"I'll never really know them," I thought, "until I can not only talk but
think and feel in their language."

So I drudged for hours a day in my room. I inflicted my French on my
chums at meals, on defenseless drivers of 'buses who could not rise and
go away, and on the Blessed Damozel, who said:

"Va donc, cherches-toi une fille. C'est la seule manière d'apprendre le
Français."

I was vaguely thrilled by this idea, the more because so far in my life
I had had no experience of the kind. On the streets, in cabs, and in
cafés I began watching women with different eyes, more eagerly selecting
eyes that picked out of the throng the one _her_ of the moment so that
for me she was quite alone. She was alone for a thousand reasons,
different ones in every case. She was of many ages, rich and poor, now
gorgeous and now simply dressed, now a ravishing creature that took your
breath and again just funny and very French with a saucy way of wearing
her clothes. Her fascinations were always new. I watched her twinkling
earrings, her trick of using her lips when she smiled, her hands, her
silk clad ankles, her swelling young bust, the small coquettish hat she
wore, her shoulders, their expressive shrugs, her quick vivacious
movements--and I watched her eyes. Her eyes would meet mine now and
then, often with only a challenging smile but again in an intimate
dazzling way that gave me a deep swift shock of delight and left me
confused and excited.

"In a little while," I thought. I decided to wait till I knew more
French. "She'll be strange enough, God knows," I thought half
apprehensively, "even when I can talk her language." And with a feeling
almost of relief I would plunge back into my work and forget her. For me
she was only an incident in this teeming radiant life.

I must learn French! I strained my ears at lectures, at plays from the
top gallery, I hired a tutor to hurry it on. Years later in New York I
met a Russian revolutionist come to raise money for his cause. "Three
weeks have I been in this country," he said in utter exasperation. "And
not yet do I speak fluently the English!" That was how I felt about
French. What a delight to begin to feel easy, to catch the fine
shadings, the music and color of words and of phrases. How much more
pliant and smooth and brilliant than English. How remote from the
harbor.

I could study my models now, not only their construction but their small
character touches as well. De Maupassant was still first for me. So
simple and sure, with so few strokes but each stroke counting to the
full, one suggestive sentence making you imagine the rest, everything
else in the world shut out, your mind gripped suddenly and held,
focussed on this man and this woman who a moment before had been nothing
to you but were now more real than life itself. Especially this woman,
what an absorbing creature he made her--and the big human ideas he
injected into these petites histoires.

I wrote short stories by the score. Each one had a perfectly huge idea
but each seemed worse than the one before. I took to myself the advice
of Flaubert, and from a table before a café I would watch the people
around me and jot down the minutest details, I filled whole pages with
my strokes. But which to choose to make this person or this scene like
no other in the world? There came the rub. How had De Maupassant done
it? The answer came to me one night:

"Not only by watching people. He talked to 'em, lived with 'em, knew
their lives!"

The very thing my music teacher had said about Beethoven. How uneasy I
had been then, how absurdly young and priggish then in the gingerly way
I had gone at the harbor. Thank heaven there was no harbor here. I could
enter this life with a wholehearted zest.

I began with one of my roommates. He was to be an architect. A
hard-working little chap, his days were filled with sharp suspense. The
Beaux Arts entrance examinations were close ahead. If he did not pass,
he told me, his parents in Ohio were too poor to give him another
chance.

"If I have to go back to Ohio now," he said in that soft reflective
voice of his, "I'll put up cowsheds--later on, barns--and maybe when I'm
fifty, a moving picture theater. If I stay here and go back a Beaux Arts
man, I can go to New York or Chicago and get right into the center of
the big things being done."

With a wet towel bound around his head he used to sit at his work half
the night. I watched the lines tighten about his thin lips and between
his gray eyes, grew to know the long weariness in them over some
problem, the sudden grim joy when the problem worked out. One day he
came home early.

"Queer," he said simply. "I can see one side of your face, one side of
your body, one leg and one arm. But the other side don't seem to be
there." I looked up at him a moment.

"Let's go out for a walk," I suggested. We went for a stroll in the
Gardens. And here I was surprised and just a bit ashamed to find that
while I had a real sympathy for him I had just as real curiosity. For
here was a living illustration of the horror of going blind. I could see
his jaws set like a vise, I could hear his low voice talking steadily on
as though to keep from thinking. What was he thinking? What was he
feeling? We talked of the most commonplace things. But moment by moment,
through his voice and his grip on my arm, those sudden waves now of
sickening fear, now of keen suspense, now of angry groping around for a
foothold, seemed pouring from him right into me, became part of
me--while the other part of me stood off and listened.

"By God, this is life!" said one part of me. "No, it isn't; it's hell,"
growled the other part. "This thing has got to be settled!"

I took him to an oculist, and there I had another close view, this time
of intense relief.

"Blind? Why, no, you're not going blind," said the oculist kindly. "All
you need is"--I heard nothing more. I had never had any idea before of
how swift and deep relief could be. On the street outside I heard it not
only in his unsteady laugh but in my own as well. We celebrated long
that night, and very late he took me to his favorite place down on the
lower quay of the river, where with the lights and the sounds of the
city far off it felt like some old dungeon. But just over our heads hung
the heavy black arch of a stone bridge, and looking up through this arch
as a frame we could see close above a gray, luminous mass rising and
rising in great sweeping lines till it filled half the sky--silent,
tremendous, Notre Dame. From down here the old edifice seemed alive. And
though my friend talked little here, I felt him again coming into me.
And this time it was his religion that came, his curious passion for
building.

When at last we went home he could see my whole body, and I felt as
though I had seen his whole soul.

Then I carefully wrote this down on paper. I put in every touch that I
could remember. I rewrote it to make it big, and I made it so big I
spoiled it all. I tore this up and began again. For about two weeks I
wrote nothing else. But at last I tore up everything. After all, he was
a friend of mine.

"But where's the harm," I argued, "so long as I always tear it up? This
is real stuff. I'll get somewhere this way if I keep on."

And I did keep on. Shamelessly I wormed my way into friends by the
dozen. I found it such an absorbing pursuit I could hardly wait to
finish up one before I went on to another. There were such a bewildering
lot of them, now that I had pried open my eyes. Would-be painters,
sculptors, poets, dramatists, novelists, rich and poor, tragic ones and
comic ones, with the meanest pettiest jealousies, the most bumptious
self-conceits, the blindest worship of masters, the most profound
humility, ambition so savage it made men inhuman. Many were starving
themselves to death.

There was a little Hungarian Jew, an ardent follower of Matisse.

"Technique?" he cried. "It is nothing! To grip your soul in your two
hands and press it on your canvas--that is art, that is Matisse!"

He took me night after night through old buildings up in Montparnasse,
immense and dismal rookeries crowded with Poles, Bohemians and God knows
what other races, all feverish post-impressionists. Often we would find
three together close around one candle, scowling and squinting at their
easels, gaunt, silent, eager. Matisse--Matisse!

"Most of them," said my guide, "are just mad. They cannot paint. All
think they are going to do great things, but all they are going to do is
to die."

It was through this little Hungarian that I made my first study of
female life.

Why delay any longer? I had been in Paris over six months, and I had
qualms almost of guilt at the thought of this chastity of mine. At first
I said, "Art is a jealous mistress." And this did splendidly for a time.
But then a stout German youth came along and laid it down as an absolute
law that no writer could do a woman right until he had lived with a
dozen. Hence that scented little cat with whom he had lived for the past
year. She was the first of the dozen, eh? Damn the fellow, how much was
there in it? De Maupassant certainly hadn't held off. In fact there were
few of my idols who had. Why not be brave and take the plunge? It need
not be such a terrific plunge; no doubt if I went at it right I could
find a safe, easy kind of a _her_, friendly and confiding, a thoroughly
good fellow with none of these wild ups and downs. The less temperament
the better; she must have a good quiet head on her shoulders; no doubt
we would need it. And she must not be too young. Let her have had
affairs enough to know that ours was only one more and would probably be
as brief as the rest--the briefer the better.

So tamely I pictured my first love. And the gay old city of Paris
smiled, and in that bantering way of hers she brought to me in a café
one night a perfect young tigress of a girl, a lithe, dusky beauty with
smouldering eyes, and said:

"Without doubt this one is better for you. Regard what loveliness, what
fire! Oh, my son, why not be brave?"

I was not brave, I barely spoke, and my friend the little Hungarian Jew
who had brought her to my table was forced to do the talking. For she,
too, was silent. But how different was her silence from the quiet I had
pictured. Presently, however, I became a little easier, and by degrees
we began to talk. She told me she was a painter. An Armenian by birth,
she had run away from home at eighteen, and here for two years in
Julien's she had tried to paint till she felt she'd go mad. She talked
in abrupt, eager sentences, breaking off to watch people around us. How
her big eyes fastened upon them. "To watch faces until you are sure--and
then paint! There is nothing else in the world!" she said. And I found
this reassuring.

After that I saw her many nights. And from time to time breaking that
silence of hers, she became so fiercely confiding, not only about her
painting, but about what she called her innermost soul, that soon I
could look my De Maupassant square in the face, man to man, for I was
learning a lot about women. As yet we were friends and nothing more, but
I could feel both of us changing fast. "In a little while," I thought.

But alas. One night she took me up to her room and showed me her
paintings. They were bad. They were fearfully bad, and my face must have
shown the impression they made.

"You consider them frightful!" she exclaimed. I stoutly denied it, but
things only went from bad to worse. Here was that temperament I had
dreaded. Now she was clutching both my arms.

"Mon dieu! Why not say it? Why cannot you say it?"

"No," I replied. "You have done some extremely powerful work!" Anything
to quiet her nerves. "Especially this one--look--over here!" And I
pointed to one of her pictures.

"I will show you how I shall look at it!" she cried in a perfect frenzy
of tears. She snatched up a knife that lay on her table, a very old,
curved, Armenian knife, and went at the painting and slashed it to
shreds, and then scattered the shreds all over the room.

And watching this little festival, I thought to myself excitedly,

"I know enough about this girl!"

My retreat was so precipitate as to appear almost a flight.

"Yes," I said to myself, outside, "De Maupassant knew women. And he went
insane at forty-five."

And so my next case was a chap from Detroit, whose aim, he told me, was
no less than to make himself "by the sheer force of my will a perfect,
all-round, modern man."

It was over his case that I lost what was left of my sense of honor. For
I not only wrote him down, I kept what I had written. "Ten years from
now," I said in excuse, "I won't believe him unless he's on paper." But
having kept this, I began keeping others, until my locked drawer was
filled with the dreams and ambitions and even the loves of my confiding,
innocent friends. At last I was a writer.

What a relief when my mother wrote that my father had consented to a
second year abroad for me. In my gratitude I even grew just a trifle
homesick.

"Hadn't I better come home for the summer?" I wrote her.

"No," she replied, "we cannot afford it. I want you to keep right on
with your work. I feel so sure you are working hard and will do things I
shall be proud of."

I was not only working, but living, feeling, listening hard, under the
stimulus day and night of the tense, rich life around me. About this
time I made a friend of a gaunt, bearded Russian chap, whose dream for
years had been, like mine, to become a writer of fiction. His god had
been Turgenief. And a year ago, leaving his home, a little town near
Moscow, with forty roubles in his purse he had set out on foot with a
pack on his back to tramp the long and winding road that stretched away
two thousand miles to the distant city of Paris, the place where his
idol had lived and studied and written for so many years. Through this
young Russian pilgrim I came to know the books of some of his
countrymen, and through him I caught glimpses down into the vast,
mysterious soul of that people in the North.

Through other chaps I met those days, other deep, tremendous vistas
opened up as backgrounds for these Paris friends of mine. Half the
night, in that café endeared to so many youths of all nations under its
name of "The Dirty Spoon," I heard talk about all things under the sun,
talk that was a merry war of words, ideas and points of view as wide
apart as that of a Jap and a German. For every land upon the earth had
sent its army of ideas, and they all charged together here, and the
walls of the Dirty Spoon resounded with the battle--with roars of
laughter and applause. For we were of free, tolerant minds. We were gay,
young dogs of war who had left our tails behind us--our tails of
prejudice, distrust--and our emancipated souls had only scorn for
hatreds born of race or creed. Like J. K., we had rid ourselves of all
creeds past and present--but J. K. had always been free with a scowl,
his feet set grimly on the ground--we here were free with a verve and a
dash that took us careering up into the stars to laugh at the very
heavens.

There was breadth in our very manner of speech. For here were we from
all over the earth, all speaking one tongue, the language in which half
the things that had moved the world had been said by men before us. And
what sparkling things there were still to be said, what dazzling things
we would see and do, in this prodigious onward march of the armies of
peace, out of all dark ages into a glad new world for men, where our
great smiling goddess of all the arts would reign supreme, where we
would dream mighty visions of life and all these visions would come
true.

So we saw the world those days in the radiant city on the Seine.

And meanwhile far up in the North, the Russian Czar, having started with
loud ostentation the movement for a world-wide peace, was swiftly
completing his preparations to strike with his armies at Japan. And the
other nations of Europe, jealous and suspicious of each other's every
secret plan--they, too, were making ready for what the future years
might bring.

"Young men are lucky. They will see great things."

And these young men have seen great things. But they have not been
lucky.



CHAPTER XI


It was about a year after this that again Joe Kramer broke in on my
dreams.

He arrived early on a raw, wet morning in the following winter. His
all-night ride from Cherbourg had left him disheveled, unshaven and
hungry.

"Well, boys," he asked when our greetings were over, "what do you think
of the news?"

"What news?"

Joe gave us a grim, fatherly smile.

"Say. Do I have to come all the way from Chicago to tell you what's
happening down the street? Well, you young beauty boosters, there's a
panic on the Bourse this week that's got your fair city flat on her
back. And the cause of the said panic is that France is in deep on
Russian bonds, which are now worth about a cent to the dollar. Because
the Russian people--already dead sick of the war with Japan--have risen
in a howling mob against their government. See?"

"I did hear of that," said the painter among us. "A Polish chap in the
studio said something about it yesterday."

"Now, did he?" said the ironical Joe. "Just kind of murmured it, I
suppose, while bending reverently over his art." He rose. "Well, boys,
I'm sorry for you, but I've only got a day in this town, I'm off for
Russia on the night train. Bill, I wish you'd help me here. I've got an
awful lot to do and my French is still a little weak."

It was not at all weak, it was strong and loud. I can hear it still, Joe
Kramer's French, and it is a fitting memory of that devastating day.

The day began so splendidly, so big with promise of great ideas. I grew
quite excited about it. Here was Joe on his way to a real revolution.
Sent out by his Chicago paper, he was going to Russia to see a whole
people fight to be free--a struggle prophesied long ago by Turgenief,
Tolstoy and other big Russians whose work I admired. And now it was
actually coming off--and Joe, the lucky devil, was going to be right on
hand! From some mysterious source in New York he had secured a letter to
a Russian revolutionist leader who for many years had been an exile here
in Paris. Joe was anxious to see him at once.

"All right," I said eagerly. "Give me his address."

"Hold on," J. K. retorted. "It's not so easy as all that. I want to get
into Russia. This man's house in Paris is watched day and night by the
Russian secret police, and nobody who's seen with him has a chance of
crossing the frontier. We've got to go slow."

"What'll we do?"

"I want you to steer me first to a Frenchman. He's an anarchist. Here's
his address."

The anarchist was a bit disappointing. A mild little man, we found him
in an attic room receiving a vigorous scolding from the huge blonde with
whom he lived. But after reading Joe's letter, he, too, took on a
mysterious air. He came with us in our cab, and off we went over Paris
until I thought we should never end. Again and again the cab would stop
and our guide would darkly disappear. But from one of these trips he
returned triumphant.

"I have found his wife," he announced. "But she says she must have a
look at you first." The cab rattled off, and the next stop was in front
of a public library.

"Now," said our guide, "go in and sit down at a table and pretend you
are reading."

We went in and did as he said. Soon a middle-aged woman in black sat
down at the other side of the table. She stared at us gloomily a
moment; then with a yawn she opened a book and calmly started making
notes. Presently, scowling over her work, she began muttering to
herself.

"You must not look up," I heard in French. "A Russian spy sits over
there. You wish to see my husband. Come to-night at nine o'clock to the
second floor of the Café Voltaire. He will be at the top of the stairs.
Good-by." And she yawned again over her writing.

"Now, this," I thought, "is a revolution!" I thoroughly approved of
this. The Café Voltaire was an excellent choice, an almost perfect
mise-en-scène. It had long been one of my favorite haunts. A tall white
wooden building, so toned down, so tumbled down, so heavy laden with
memories of poets, dramatists, pamphleteers and fiery young orators, who
had sat here and conspired and schemed and exhorted over human rights.
It had well lived up to its glorious name. What great ideas had started
from here! Here French history had been made!

But alas! Into this hallowed spot that night, at nine o'clock on his way
to his train, came Joe in a yellow mackintosh with a brand-new suitcase
in his hand--and showed me history in the making. It was made in a
small, stuffy room upstairs. On the one side J. K. with a million
American readers behind him, on the other this revolutionist whose name
that week had been in newspapers all over the world. So far, so good.
But look at him, look at this history maker. Tall, sallow and dyspeptic,
a professor of economics. Romance, liberty, history, thrill? Not at all.
They talked of factories, wages, strikes, of railroads, peasants' taxes,
of plows and wheat and corn and hay! They got quite excited over hay.

And all this had to come through their defenseless interpreter--me. My
head ached, one foot fell asleep. The Social Democratic Party, the
Social Revolutionist Party, the Constitutional Democrats, in and out of
my head they trooped. If this be revolution, then God save the king!
Crushed to earth, as we left at last, my head still buzzing with
economics, I looked dismally back on my poor café, on liberty, justice
and human rights. There was something as bad as the harbor in Joe; he
was always spoiling everything.

"Why don't you take Carlyle's French Revolution along?" I suggested
forlornly. "You might read it on the train."

"Because, you poor kid, he's way out of date."

It took me days to get into my work.

       *       *       *       *       *

About two months later, back he came. From one of our front windows he
looked down into the old Gardens, into all the loveliness the April
twilight was bringing there, and,

"Where can I get a typewriter?" he asked. "I've got such an awful lot of
stuff that I want to dictate it right off the bat."

This was _literature_ in the making. For hours in Joe's room that week I
sat and heard him make it. In one corner lay a heap of dirty shirts and
collars, in another a stack of papers and books. An English stenographer
sat at the window, J. K. strode up and down and talked. It was real
enough, this narrative. Facts and figures, he had them down cold, to
back up with a crushing force the points he was making against the Czar.
Poverty, tyranny, bloody oppression, wholesale slaughter of a people in
a half-mad monarch's war--Joe pounded them in with sledgehammer blows.
He not only made you sure they were true, he made you sure that these
things must be stopped and that you as a decent American certainly
wanted to help with your money. And as for the revolution itself, he
left no doubt in your mind about that. It was there all right, Joe had
seen people give up their lives, he had seen men and women clubbed and
shot down, he had been so near he had seen the blood. (But he made human
blood so darned commonplace, curse him!) And in Petersburg for two long
nights he had gone about a city in darkness, every street light put out
by the strikers, the streets filled with surging black masses of
figures. Yes, Joe had certainly seen big things.

Then what was the matter with me, I thought, that all this did not
thrill me? "Young men are lucky. They will see great things." All right,
here was one of _my_ great things, a whole nation rising to throw off
its chains, to show the world that wars must cease--and to me it didn't
seem great at all, it seemed only big, and there was a world of
difference. Big? It was enormous, not only what Joe had seen up there,
but what he was doing right here in this room. He was talking to a
million people, damn him, and doubtless this was just the kind of
writing that would appeal to them. Thousands of his commonplace readers
would send their dollars to Russia, where dyspeptic professors of
economics would use the money to hire halls, into which millions of
commonplace Russians would crowd to hear about strikes, wages, taxes and
hay! And then some more commonplace blood would be shed, the dyspeptic
professors would be put in office--and this was a modern revolution!

Was everything modern only big? Must I always have that feeling the
harbor used to give me?

"No!" I decided angrily. The fault didn't lie in me nor in Russia, but
in J. K. and the way he was writing. As I followed that blunt narrative
of his journey through cities and factory towns, into deep forests,
across snowy plains and through little hamlets half buried in snow and
filled with the starving families of the men who had gone to the war, I
tried to picture it all to myself--not as he described it, confound him,
but with all the beauty which must have been there. Ye Gods of the Road,
what a journey! What tremendous canvases teeming with life, such
strange, dramatic significant life! What a chance for a writer!

One night on a train whose fifth-class cars, cattle cars and nothing
more, were packed with wounded men from the front, out of one of those
traveling hells Joe had pulled a peasant boy half drunk, and by the
display of a bottle of vodka had enticed him into his own compartment in
a second-class car ahead. The boy's right arm was a loathsome sight,
festering from a neglected wound. Amputation was plainly a matter of
days. But it was not to forget that grim event that the boy had jumped
off at each little station to spend his few kopecks on vodka. No, he was
stolidly getting drunk because, as he confided to Joe, at dawn he would
come to his home town and there he knew he was going to tell twenty-six
wives that their men had been killed. He laboriously counted them off on
his fingers--each wife and each husband by their long, homely Russian
names. Then he burst into half-drunken sobs and pounded the window ledge
with his fist. It was the fist of his right arm, and the kid gave a
queer, sharp scream of pain.

If Voltaire had been there he would have come back and described that
peasant boy he'd seen in a way that would have gripped men's souls and
sent a great shudder over the world at war and what it meant to
mankind--while Joe was simply slapping it down like some hustling, keen
reporter.

"Look here, Joe; you make me sick!" I exploded at last. "You ought to
stick right here for months and work on this wonderful stuff you've got
till there's nothing left you can possibly do!"

"Be an artist, eh, a poet, a great writer." He gave me one of those
fatherly smiles. "I've got some things to say to _you_, Kid. I don't
like the life you're leading."

"Don't you? Why don't you?" I rejoined. And so began a fight that lasted
as long as he was in Paris.

Nothing that I had been doing here made any appeal whatever to Joe. I
showed him my sketch of Notre Dame from under that old bridge at night.

"Yes," he said, "this is fine writing, awful fine. But it has about as
much meaning to me as a woman's left ear. What's the use of sitting down
under a bridge and looking up at an ancient church and trying to feel
like a two-spot? For God's sake, Bill, get it out of your system, quit
getting reverent over the past. You're sitting here at the feet of the
Masters, fellahs who were all right in their day, but are now every one
of 'em out of date. And you're so infernally busy copying their
technique and style and trying to learn just how to write, that you're
getting nothing to write about. Why can't you go to life for your
stuff?"

"Go to life?" I said indignantly. "I've done nothing else for over a
year!"

"Show me."

"Here!"

He read more of my sketches.

"But damn it, Bill, these people aren't alive. They're only a bunch of
artist kids as reverent over the past as yourself, they have about as
much connection with anything live and vital to-day as so many mediæval
monks. You fellahs think you're free of creeds. You're the creediest
kids I ever saw, your religion is style, technique and form. For God's
sake lose it and use your own eyes, forget you're an artist and be a
reporter, come out in the world and have a try. You'll find so much
stuff you won't need any plots, you'll simply report events as they
happen. And you won't have any time for technique, the next event will
be tuning up before you've got to the end of the last. With a big daily
paper behind him a good reporter can follow the front page around the
world. Russia's on the front page now. All right, you can go to Russia.
By June it may be Hindustan, or Pittsburgh, Turkey or China. Believe me,
Bill, the nations of this planet are working themselves into a state
where they're ready to do things you never dreamed of. I'm not talking
of kings and governments, I'm talking of the people themselves, the
people in such excited crowds that nobody knows who's who or what's
next.

"I saw my first crowd in Petersburg the very day I got off the train.
They filled a street from wall to wall and as far as you could see. They
weren't saying a word or singing a song, and there wasn't even a drum to
keep time. But they moved along with their wives and kids as though
they'd left home, job and church, and were looking for something else so
hard they didn't care for bullets. I saw 'em shot down like so many
sheep. But bullets won't stop what I saw in their eyes. God knows I
don't want a religion. I'm no socialist nor anarchist. But if there's
one thing I want to hang on to it's my belief in the common crowd.
They've had a raw deal since the world began. They can have the whole
earth whenever they want it. And they're beginning to want it hard!

"Forget your own name and jump into the crowd, write and don't stop to
remember you're writing! The place _you_ need is the U. S. A.--and the
work you need is a job on a paper!"

"Are you through?" I snapped.

"I am!"

"All right," said I. "I'm going to stay just where I am! I'm not going
to be yanked by you all over the earth, to write news articles on the
run! I'm going to stick in one place--right here--and take my time and
learn my job. I don't want to write news, I want to write books. I'd
rather write one good novel than all the headline stuff in the world.
It's books that make the headlines."

"_Books?_" Joe's look was funny.

"Sure they do. Take Russia. What started this whole revolution! Books.
It didn't start with your common crowds--they were all eating fried
onions. It started with a few writers of novels!"

"Who left their little mahogany desks," said Joe, "got into peasant
clothes and went to live with the peasants!"

"Oh no they didn't. Only a few. Turgenief didn't. Tchernichefsky didn't.
Dostoiefsky----"

"Say. Are they Russians? I never heard their names up there."

I looked at J. K. thoughtfully.

"No," I said. "You wouldn't. As yet they're not quite crowdy enough. But
they are Russians and their ideas made most of the first revolutionists.
The whole revolution was started by books."

"It wasn't," snapped Joe. "It was taxes. Their taxes were doubled
because of the war, and----"

"Oh, damn your war taxes, and damn your plows and your corn and hay!
You've got a hay mind, that's the trouble with you! You've got so you
think that hay and bread and pork and beans are all men live and die
for! They don't, Mister Reporter, they die for ideals--freedom,
democracy, human rights--which are in 'em so deep that when a big writer
sees 'em there and brings 'em out and holds 'em up and says, 'Here! This
is you, this is what you want, this is what you believe in!'--your crowd
says, 'Sure! Why didn't we see it long ago?' And then they do things that
go into headlines! But to be able to write like that a man can't go
chasing all over the earth, he's got to quit sneering at art and
technique, he's got to learn how to make characters real and build plots
that make readers sit up all night to see what becomes of the people
he's made! If believing that is a creed, then I'm creedy! I'm willing to
throw over everything else, but I'll hang on to this one thing all my
life--the fact that big art means working like hell!"

"Gee," said J. K. "What an artist."

These fights of ours left me weak and sore, as though I'd been back on
the terrace at home, listening to my father talk and looking at his
harbor.



CHAPTER XII


When Joe left me in peace at last, just for the sake of the rest and
change I turned my attention to music, or, rather, to a musical friend,
a young Bohemian composer who lived wholly in a world of his own. I
explored this musical world of his, by his side in dark top galleries,
in the Café Rouge on concert nights, in his room at his piano. How
deliciously far away from hay was this chap's feeling for Mozart. With
him I could feel sure of myself, of the way I was living for my art, of
what my mother way back at the start had called the "fine things" in
humanity.

I remember the night we heard "Bohème" from the gallery of the Opéra
Comique. I remember the talk we had late that night, and my walk by the
edge of the Gardens home--and the letter and the cable that I found
waiting on my desk. The letter was from my father and told me that my
mother was dying. The cable told me she was dead.

I remember learning that letter by heart on that long ocean voyage home.
This was no sudden illness, I learned, my mother had known of it while I
was home, known that she had it and that it was fatal. That was the news
she had told my father alone that night on the terrace! That was why she
had been so eager to get me away to Paris; that was why she had kept me
abroad!

"She did not want you to see how she looked," my father wrote. "She
wanted you to remember her always as she was when you saw her last."

I remembered her now. What a young beast I had been to forget her, to
drop her so utterly out of my thoughts in that selfish happy Paris life,
when it was she who had sent me there, when it was she who had set me
free for a time from the harbor which was now dragging me back, when it
was she from the very start who had fostered this passion for "all that
is fine." I remembered her now--remembered and remembered--until her
dear image filled me.

My father's letter went on to tell how she had fought for her life.
Three operations, all three of them failures, but still she had held
bravely on in hopes of some new discovery which science might make and
so bring her a cure. A thought suddenly gripped me and struck me cold.
It had all depended on science, on men working calmly and coldly along
in laboratories all over the world, while my mother had held to her
thread of life and hoped that these laboratory gods would hurry, hurry
while yet there was time! How many thousands like her every day, every
hour all over the world were watching those gods with that awful
suspense. For they were the only gods that were left, and a comfortless
set of gods they were! They were like J. K., they had hay minds! They
were businesslike, relentless, cold, they belonged to the world of the
harbor! My mother's kind god was a myth and a joke, with no power here
one way or the other. I _felt_ that now, I had _thought_ it before, only
thought it, with that gay freedom of thought we had aired back there in
Paris. But I knew now that deep underneath I had believed all along in
this god of hers, as I had in my beautiful goddess of art and in all the
things that were fine. It had taken this news from the harbor to bring
him tottering, crashing down. For no god like hers would have let her
die! And I felt fear now, the fear of Death, whom I'd never really
noticed before and who now seemed to say to me,

"She is nothing--has gone nowhere--she is only dead!"

And fiercely in a bewildered way I rebelled against this emptiness. I
rebelled against this world of hay that was so abruptly dragging me back
to a sense of its almighty grip on my life. When my ship came up the
Bay, the world looked harsh and gray to me, though there was a bright
and sunny glare on the muddy waves of the harbor.



BOOK II

CHAPTER I


My mother had been buried several days before I reached home.

I found Sue waiting on the dock, and I saw with a little shock of
surprise that my young sister was grown up. I had never noticed her much
before. Sue and I had never got on from the start. She had been my
father's chum and I had been my mother's. I had always felt her mocking
smile toward me and all my solemn thoughts. And after that small
catastrophe which I had had with Eleanore, I had more than ever avoided
Sue and her girl friends. Then I had gone to college, and each time that
I came home she had seemed to me all arms and legs, fool secrets and
fool giggles--a most uninteresting kid. I remember being distinctly
surprised when I brought Joe home for Christmas to find that he thought
her quite a girl. But now she was all different. She had grown tall and
graceful, lithe, and in her suit of mourning she looked so much older,
her face thin and worn, subdued and softened by all she'd been through.
For the weight of all those weary weeks had been upon her shoulders.
There was something pitiful about her. I came up and kissed her
awkwardly, then found myself suddenly holding her close. She clung to me
and trembled a little. I found it hard to speak.

"I wish I'd been here, too," I said gruffly.

"I wish you had, Billy--it's been a long time."

All at once Sue and I had become close friends.

We had a long talk, at home that day, and she told me how our parents
had drawn together in the last years, of how my poor mother had wanted
my father close by her side and of how he had responded, neglecting his
business and spending his last dollar on doctors, consultations and
trips to sanitariums, anything to keep up her strength. He had even read
"Pendennis" aloud. How changed he must have been to do that. I knew why
she had wanted to hear it again. It had been our favorite book. I
remembered how I had read it to her just before I went abroad, and how I
had caught her watching me with that hungry despairing look in her eyes.
What a young brute I had been to go!... For a time Sue's voice seemed
far away. Then I heard her telling how over that story of a young author
my mother had talked to my father of me.

"He's going to try to know you, Billy, and help you," said Sue. "He
promised her that before she died. And I hope you're going to help him,
too. He needs you very badly. You never understood father, you know. I
don't believe you have any idea of what he has gone through in his
business."

"What do you mean? Have things gone wrong?"

"I don't understand it very well. He hardly ever speaks of it. I think
he'd better tell you himself."

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening in his library, from my seat by the table, I furtively
watched my father's face. He sat in a huge chair against the wall, with
a smaller chair in front for his feet, his vest unbuttoned, his short
heavy body settled low as he grimly kept his eyes on his book. The
strong overhead light which shone on his face showed me the deeper
lines, all the wrinkles, the broad loose pouch of skin on the throat,
the gray color, the pain, the weakness and the age in his motionless
eyes. What was going on in there? Sometimes it would seem an hour before
he turned another page. All afternoon he had been at her grave.

He had given her no happy life. Was it of that he was thinking? I felt
ashamed to be wondering, for he seemed so weak and old in his grief. Two
years ago his hair had been gray, but he had still looked strong and
hale. I could hardly feel now that he was the same man. I felt drawn to
him now, I wished he would put down his book and talk and tell me
everything about her.

But what an embarrassing job it is to get acquainted with one's father.
When Sue had left us after dinner, there had been a few brief remarks
and then this long tense silence. I, too, pretended to be reading.

"Your mother thought a lot of you, boy." He spoke at last so abruptly
that I looked up at him with a start, and saw him watching me anxiously.

"Yes, sir." I looked quickly down, and our eyes did not meet again after
that.

"It was her pluck that kept you in Paris--while she was dying."

I choked:

"I know."

"You don't know--not how she wanted you back--you'll never know. I
wanted to write you to come home."

"I wish you had!"

"She wouldn't hear of it!"

"I see." Another silence. Why couldn't I think of something to say?

"She kept every letter you wrote her. They're up there in her bureau
drawer. She was always reading 'em--over and over. She thought a lot of
your writing, boy--of what you would do when--when she was dead." The
last came out almost fiercely. I waited a moment, got hold of myself.

"Yes, sir," I brought out at last.

"I hope you'll make it all worth while."

"I will. I'll try. I'll do my best." I did not look up, for I could
still feel his anxious eyes upon my face.

"Do you want to go back to Paris?"

"No, sir! I want to stay right here!" What was the matter with my fool
voice?

"Have you got any plans for your writing here? How are you going about
it to start?"

"Well, sir, to begin with--I've got some stuff I did abroad."

"Stories?"

"Not exactly----"

"Poems?" My father's look was tragic.

"No."

And I tried to explain what I had been doing. But my attempts to tell
him of my work in Paris were as forced and as pathetic as his efforts to
attend. More and more halting grew our talk, and it ended in a silence
that seemed to have no end. Then I went to the fireplace, knocked the
ashes out of my pipe, refilled it and relit it. When I returned he was
reading his book, and with deep relief I took up mine. That much of it
was over.

But again I found myself watching him. What was in my father's mind? Why
this anxious almost humble tone? It made me wince, it made me ashamed. I
sat there all evening pretending to read and feeling that he was doing
the same.

"Good night, dad--I think I'll go to bed." Even this little came
clumsily. I had never called him "dad" before.

"Good night, my boy. See you at breakfast."

"Yes, sir."

I glanced back as I turned down the hall and saw him staring after me.

What was it he was thinking?



CHAPTER II


"I'm closing out my business, son," he told me the next morning. Here
was another sharp surprise. I did not look at him as I asked:

"Why are you doing that, sir?"

"It's a long story. Times have changed and I'm getting old."

Again I felt suddenly drawn to him. He was old and no mistake. Why had I
never known him till now?

"Look here--Dad." The last word still came awkwardly. "Can't I possibly
be any help down there?" He shot an anxious look at me:

"Why, yes. Glad to have you. I still have a young clerk, but I'd rather
have you."

Only one clerk! What had gone wrong with his business?

But that day in his warehouse, which was empty now and silent, the mere
ghost of what it had been, he seemed in no hurry to show me. On the
contrary, he went back to the ledgers of his earliest years in business,
on the flimsy pretext of looking up certain figures and dates. He did
not need me here, the work he gave me was absurd, I was simply taking
the musty books from their piles in the closet and arranging them by
years on the floor. "To save time," he said. But he himself was still on
that first ledger, stopping to talk, to ramble off from the pages before
him. What did it mean? As the days wore on and he still delayed and at
night that strange humility crept again into his eyes, with a slowly
deepening suspense I came to feel that instead of saving time my father
was trying to make it, to go far back into his vigorous past for
strength to meet his present--because he dreaded what we would find at
the end of our work on these dusty books, the last grim figure in
dollars and cents that would stand there as the result of his life, as
the stepping-stone for Sue's and mine. And that was why he wanted me
here, this was his way of telling me the story of his business
life--before I saw what lay at the end. And as in our work that story
unfolded, though at times it cast its spell on me hard, revealing what a
man he had been, there were other times when from somewhere deep inside
of me a small selfish voice would ask:

"What is left? How much has he saved from the wreck? What is this going
to mean to my life?"

In the ledgers his story was still alive. Yellow and dusty as they were,
for me day by day they revivified that still odorous old warehouse until
I saw it as it had been, a huge dim caravansary for the curious products
of all the earth. And that trick of feeling a man, which I had learned
in Paris, made me keenly sensitive now to this lonely old stranger by my
side with whom I was becoming acquainted. I could feel the pull of these
books upon him, pulling him out of his cramped old age back to his glad
boundless youth. How suddenly spacious they became as he slowly turned
the pages. Palm oil from Africa, cotton from Bombay, coffee from Arabia,
pepper from Sumatra. Turn the page. Ivory from Zanzibar, salt from Cadiz
and wines from Bordeaux. Turn the page. Whale oil from the Arctic, iron
from the Baltic, tortoise shell from the Fiji Islands. Turn the page!
India silks and rugs and shawls, indigo, spices! Turn the page!

I began to see the sails speed out along those starlit ocean roads. I
began to feel the forces that had shaped my father's life. And little by
little I saw in those days what not even my mother had understood, that
in my father's business life there had been more than dollars, that what
to us had seemed only a hobby, a dull obstinate fixed idea, had been for
him a glorious vision--the white sails of American clippers dotting all
the seven seas.

So they were in the late Fifties, when leaving the farm in Illinois he
came at sixteen to New York and found a job as time clerk in one of the
ship yards along the East River. They are all gone now, but then they
were humming and teeming with work. And my young father was deeply
excited. He told me of his first day here, when he stood on the deck of
a ferry and watched three great clippers go out with the tide, bound for
Calcutta. There were pictures of these vessels on the walls of his
office, stately East Indiamen bearing such names as _Star of Empire_,
_Daniel Webster_, _Ocean Monarch_, _Flying Cloud_--ships known in every
port of the world for their speed. He told how a British vessel, her
topsails reefed in a gale of wind, would see a white tower of swelling
canvas come out of the spray behind her, come booming, staggering,
plunging by--a Yankee clipper under royals. Press of sail? No other
nation knew what it meant! Our owners took big chances, it was no trade
for nervous men!

He found a harbor that welcomed young men, where cabin boys rose to be
captains, and clerks became owners of hundreds of ships. To work! To
rise! To own yards like these, build ships like these and send them
rushing on their courses out to all parts of the ocean world! This had
been his vision, at the time when it was bright and clear. And as now he
made me feel it, the crude vital force that had been in his dream poured
into me deep, made me feel how shut in and one-sided had been my own
vision and standards of life, gave me that profound surprise which many
sons, I suppose, never have:

"My father was once young like me--wiry, straight and tough like me, and
as full of dreams of the things he would do."

But then had come the Civil War. Although only nineteen when the war
broke out, he was already the head clerk in his office. "But like every
other young fool those days," he said, "I was caught by the noise of a
brass band!" Down South as a commissary clerk he found himself a tiny
pawn in that gigantic game of graft which made fat fortunes in the North
and cost tens of thousands of soldiers their lives. He himself took
typhoid, and when the war was over he returned to New York, weak,
penniless, to find his old work gone.

"For the war," he said, "had busted American shipping sky high. Even
before it began it had made the South so bitter that just for the sake
of attacking the North the Solid South in congress had joined the damn
fool Farmer West and attacked our mail subventions. 'No more of the
nation's money,' they said, 'for ship subsidies for New York and New
England!' And so all government protection of our shipping was
withdrawn. And when the war ended, with forty per cent of our ships
grabbed, sunk or sold, it was ruination to build any more, for the
British and German governments were pouring millions of dollars a year
into the Cunard and the North German Lloyd, and we couldn't compete
against them.

"Still a few of the ship yards kept on, and in one of these at last I
got a job at eight dollars a week. 'The war is over,' we told ourselves,
'and the government can't stay blind forever. They'll see what they've
done, and within a few months they'll go back to the old policy.'
Months? I stuck to that job and waited five years--and still no news
from Washington. 'My boy,' said a doddering Brooklynite, 'the nation has
turned her face westward.'"

Then he left the ship yards and went into a warehouse, where the work
lay mainly in handling cargoes of foreign ships. And starting life all
over again he tried to make up for lost time. The first year he was a
shipping clerk; the second, a bookkeeper; the third, he kept two sets of
books for two different docks, one by day and the other at night. And by
forty he had become a part owner in the old warehouse in which he now
sat grimly reading the record of his life--of a long stubborn losing
fight, for he stuck to his dream of Yankee sails.

He married my mother when he was still strong and full of hope. He must
have been so much kindlier then and brighter, more human to live with.
They bought that pleasant house of ours with its hospitable front door.
My father's doddering Brooklynites seemed wonderful neighbors to his
young wife. And so that front door waited for friends. As the years
dragged on and they did not come, she blamed it all on the harbor. She
saw what it was making him, jealous of every dollar and every hour spent
at home. He worked all day and half the night. It took him into
politics, on countless trips to Washington, and she knew he spent
thousands of dollars there in ways that were by no means "fine." It made
him morose and gloomy, a man of one idea, to be shunned.

And she no more saw behind all this than I did when I was a boy. For his
vision was neither of pirates nor of bringing the heathen to Christ, but
of imports and of exports. He dreamed in terms of battleships and of a
mercantile marine. Each year he watched the chances grow, vast
continents opening up to commerce with hints of such riches as staggered
the mind. He saw the ocean world an arena into which rushed all nations
but ours.

"Everyone but us," he said, "had learned the big lesson--that you can
get nothing on land or sea unless you're ready to fight for it hard!"

He saw other nations get ready to fight. He watched them build huge
navies and grant heavy subsidies to their fast growing merchant fleets,
send vessels by thousands over the seas. He saw their shipowners draw
swiftly together in great corporations. Here was an age for immense
adventures in this growing trade of the world. To wait, to hold on
grimly, to keep up the fight at Washington for that miracle, Protection,
which would start the boom. To see the shipping yards teeming again with
the building of ships by the hundreds and thousands, to see them go out
again over the seas with our flag at the mast and our sailors below. To
feel the new call go over the nation--"Young men, come east and west,
come out! The first place on the oceans can still be yours!" This was my
father's great idea.

Ship subsidies and battleships, discriminating tariffs. What a religion.
But it was his. Of the miracles these things would work my father was
more sure than of a god in heaven. For he had thought very little about
a god, and all his life he had thought about this. For this he had spent
at least half his wealth on the congressmen that he despised. Bribery?
Yes. But for a religion.

"Go all around South America and to the Far East," he told me. "And
you'll see the flags at sea of England, Germany, Austria, France, of
Russia, Norway, Spain, Japan. But if you see the American flag you'll
see it waved by a little girl from the deck of a British liner. This
means that we are losing in marine freights and foreign trade billions
of dollars every year. And it means more and worse than that. For it's
ship building and ship sailing that take a nation's men out of their
ruts, whip up their minds and imaginations, make 'em broad as the seven
seas. And we've lost all that, we've thrown it away, to breed a race of
farmers--of factory hands and miners and anarchists in slums. We've
built a nation of high finance--and graft--and a rising angry mob. But
sooner or later, boy, this country will wake up to what it has done. And
with our grip on both oceans and the blood we've still got in our veins,
we'll reach out and take what is ours--as soon as we're ready to fight
for it hard--the mastery of the ocean world!"

For this idea he had lived his life. For this he had neglected his
business, for this he had lost favor with the usurping foreign
ships--until his dock and his warehouse were often idle for weeks at a
time.

And the very bigness of things, the era of big companies which at forty
had thrilled him by the first signs of its coming, now crushed down
upon his old age. Vaguely he knew that the harbor had changed and that
he was too old to change with it. An era no longer of human adventures
for young men but of financial adventures for mammoth corporations,
great foreign shipping companies combining in agreements with the
American railroads to freeze out all the little men and take to
themselves the whole port of New York. My father was one of these little
men. The huge company to which he was selling owned the docks and
warehouses for over two miles, and this was only a part of their
holdings.

"Nothing without fighting." That had been his motto. And he had fought
and he had lost. And so in this new harbor of big companies my father
was now closing out. Too late for any business here, too late for life
up there in his home. He had kept my mother waiting too long, he was
ready at last but she was dead. Too late. He had been born too late, had
dreamed his dream of sails too late, and now he was too late in dying.
There was nothing left to live for. How much better for him to be dead.



CHAPTER III


I have tried to tell his story as my father felt it, at the times when
it took him out of himself and made him forget himself and me. But there
were other times when he remembered himself and me, and those were the
times that hurt the most. For in that new humility in his eyes and in
his voice I could feel him then preparing us both--me to see why it was
that he could not do for me what _she_ had wished; himself to hold on
grimly, to find a new job for his old age, to keep from becoming a
burden--on me.

At last we were coming to the end--to that last figure in dollars and
cents. I caught his suspense and we talked little now. I knew the price
at which he was selling, and toward that figure I watched the debts
creep slowly up. I saw them creep over, and knew that we had not a
dollar left to live on. And still the debts kept mounting. How small
they were, these last ones, a coil of rope, two kegs of paint--the irony
of it compared to the bigness of his life. Still these little figures
climbed. At last he handed me his balance. He was in debt four thousand,
one hundred and forty-six dollars and seventeen cents.

He had risen from his old office chair:

"Well, son, I guess that ends our work."

"Yes, sir."

He went out of the office.

I sat there dully for some time. Then I remember there came a harsh
scream from a freight engine close outside. And I looked out of the
window.

The harbor of big companies, uglier than I had ever seen it, no longer
dotted with white sails, but clouded with the smoke and soot of an age
of steam, and iron, lay sprawled out there like a thing alive. Always
changing, always growing, it had crushed the life out of my father and
mother, and now it was ready for Sue and me.

"I've got to stay here and make money."

Good-by to the Beautiful City of Grays. A clock in an outer room struck
five. In Paris it was ten o'clock, and those friends of mine from all
countries were crowding into "The Dirty Spoon." I could see them
sauntering one by one on that summer's night down the gay old Boulevard
Saint Michel and dropping into their seats at the table in the corner.

"How am I to make money? By writing?"

I thought of De Maupassant and the rest, and the two years I had spent
in trying to make vivid and real the life I had seen. In these last
anxious weeks I had sent some of my Paris sketches to magazine offices
in New York. They had all been returned with printed slips of rejection,
except in one case where the editor wrote, "This is a good piece of
writing, but the subject is too remote. Why not try something nearer
home?"

"All right," I thought, "what's near me here? Let's see. There's a cloud
of yellow smoke I can do, with a brand-new tug below it dragging a
string of good big barges. What are they loaded with? Standard Oil. Wait
till they get closer and I can even describe the smell! No," I concluded
savagely. "Let's keep my writing clean out of this hole and get the
money some other way!"

Then suddenly I forgot myself and thought of my stern brave old dad.
What under the sun was he going to do?

That week he mortgaged our house on the Heights for five thousand
dollars. With this he paid off all his debts and put the balance in the
bank. Then from the big dock company he got a job in his own warehouse
at a hundred dollars a month.

"Kind of 'em," he said gruffly. He was sixty-five years old. They were
even kind enough to add to that a job for me. I sat at the desk next to
his and I was paid ten dollars a week.

Sue let the servants go, hired one green German girl and said she knew
she could run the house on a hundred and twenty dollars a month. But the
August bills went over that, so we drew money out of the bank. My father
had bronchitis that week. We managed to keep him in bed for three days,
but then he struggled up and dressed and went back to his desk in the
warehouse.

"Keep your eye on him down there," said Sue. "He's so terribly feeble."

"This can't go on," I told her.

I must make more than ten dollars a week. Again I sent out some of my
sketches, again the magazines sent them back. I went to a newspaper
office, but there an ironical office boy, with the aid of the city
editor, made me feel that reporting was not in my line. What other work
could I find to do? How much time did I have? How long was my father
going to last? I watched his face and our bank account. I studied the
"want ads" in the press. But the more I studied the smaller I felt, for
this was one of the years of depression. "Two Hundred Thousand In New
York Idle," I read in a headline. Here was literature that gripped!

"I guess I'll stay right where I am. It's safer," I thought anxiously.
"Perhaps if I work hard enough they'll give me a raise at Christmas.
When Dad was my age he kept two sets of books, one by day and the other
at night. How can I make my evenings pay?"

I took long walks in Brooklyn and picked up night work here and there.
It was monotonous clerical work, and being slow at figures I was often
at it till midnight. Very late one evening, while making out bills in a
hardware store, I suddenly came to a customer whose initials were J. K.
It started me thinking of Joe Kramer and our last long talk--about hay.

"So this is hay," I told myself. "How long will it take me to get a hay
mind, back here by this damned harbor?"



CHAPTER IV


Then Sue began to take me in hand. From the subdued and weary girl that
I had found when I came home, in the last few weeks she had blossomed
out. The color had come into her cheeks, a new animation into her voice,
a resolute brightness into her eyes.

"This thing has got to stop, Billy," she said determinedly. "This house
has been like a tomb for months, you and Dad are so gloomy and tired
you're sights. He needs a change, and so do you. You're getting into a
little rut and throwing away your chance to write. You need friends who
are writers, you need a lot of fresh ideas to tone you up. There's
plenty of money in writing. And I need a change myself. I can't stand
this house any longer. After all, I've got my own life to live. I'm
going to get a job before long. In the meantime I'm going to see my
friends. And what's more, I'm going to have them here to the house---
just as often as they'll come! Let's brighten things up a little!"

I looked at her with interest. Here was _another_ sister of mine--risen
out of her sorrow and eager to live, and talking of running our lives as
well, of curing us both by large, firm doses of "fresh ideas," while she
herself looked around for a job that would help her to "live her own
life."

"Look here, Sue," I argued vaguely. "You don't want to take a job----"

"I certainly do----"

"But you can't! Dad wouldn't hear to it!"

"He'll have to--when I've found it. No poor feeble old man supporting
me, thank you--quite probably no man at all--ever! But you needn't
worry. I won't take any old job that comes along. And I won't bother
Dad till I've found just what I really want--something I can grow in."

"That's right, take it easy," I said.

"Where have you been!" I thought as I watched her. It came over me as a
distinct surprise that Sue had been in all sorts of places and had been
making all sorts of friends, had been having ambitions and dreams of her
own--all the time I had been having mine. Most older brothers, I
suppose, at some time or another have felt this same bewilderment. "Look
here, Sis," they wonder gravely, "where in thunder have you been?"

I took a keen interest in her now. In the evenings when I wasn't out
working we had long talks about our lives, which to my satisfaction
became almost entirely talks about _her_ life, her needs, her growth.
Her delight in herself, her intensity over plans for herself, her
enthusiasm for all the new "movements," reforms and ideas that she had
heard of God-knows-where and felt she must gather into herself to expand
herself--it was wonderful! She was like that chap from Detroit, that
would-be perfect all-round man. But Sue was so much less solemn about
it, one minute in art and the next in social settlements, so little
hampered by ever putting through what she planned.

"In short, a woman," I thought sagely.

I felt I knew a lot about women, although I had had no more intimate
talks since that affair in Paris. I had felt that would last me for
quite a while. But here was something perfectly safe. A sister, decent
but far from dull, well stocked with all the feminine points and only
too glad to be confidential. She wanted to study for the stage! Of
course that was the kind of thing that Dad and I would stop darned
quick. Still--I could see Sue on the stage. She was not at all like me.
I was middling small, with a square jaw, snub nose and sandy hair. Sue
was tall and easy moving, with an abundance of soft brown hair worn low
over large and irregular features. She had fascinating eyes. She could
sprawl on a rug or a sofa as lazy and indolent as you please--all but
her eyes, they were always doing something or other, letting this out or
keeping that back, practicing on me!

"Oh, yes, she'll marry soon enough," I thought. "This talk of a job for
life is a joke."

Some nights I would listen to her for hours. It was so good to come back
to life, to feel younger than my worries, to forget for a little while
that stark heavy certainty that poor old Dad would soon be a burden in
spite of himself, and that with a family on my hands I'd have to spend
the best years of my life slaving for a little hay.

I took the same delight in her friends.

Starting with her classmates in a Brooklyn high school, most of whom
were working over in New York, Sue had followed in their trail, and at
settlements, in studios and in girl bachelor flats she had picked up an
amazing assortment of friends. "Radicals," they called themselves.
Nothing was too wild or new for these friends of Sue's to jump into--and
what was more, to tie themselves to by a regular job in some queer
irregular office. "Votes for Women" was just starting up, and one of
this group, a stenographer in a suffragette office, had been in the
first small parade. Another, a stout florid youth who wrote poems for
magazines, had paraded bravely in her wake. Here were two girls who
lived in a tenement, did their own cooking and pushed East Side
investigations that they said would soon "shake up the town." There were
several rising muckrakers, too, some of whom did free work on the side
for socialist papers. There was one real socialist, a painter, who had a
red membership card in his pocket to prove that he belonged to "the
Party." Others were spreading music and art and dramatics through the
tenements--new music, new art and new dramatics. One young husband and
wife, intensely in love with one another, were working together night
and day for easier divorces which would put an end to the old-fashioned
home.

These people seemed to me to be laughing at a different old thing every
time. But when they weren't laughing they were scowling, over some new
attack upon life--and when they did that they were laughable. At least
so they were to me. Not that I minded attacking things, I had done
plenty of that myself in Paris. But how different we had been back
there. We, too, had thrown old creeds to the winds, but with how much
more finesse and art. And there had been a large remoteness about it.
Each one had tossed his far-away country into the cosmopolitan pot, our
talk had been on a world-wide scale. But this crude crowd, except for
occasional mental flights, kept all its attention, its laughs and its
jeers, its attacks and exposures centered on this one mammoth town,
against which as a background they seemed the merest pigmies. Three
little muckrakers loomed against Wall Street, one small, scoffing
suffragette against a hundred and eighty thousand solid stolid Brooklyn
wives. They had posed themselves so absurdly close to the world of
things as they are.

And they were in such a rush about their work. Over there in Paris, with
all our smashing of idols, we had at least held fast to our one great
goddess of art, we had slaved like dogs at the hard daily labor of
honestly learning our various crafts. But here they stopped for nothing
at all. The magazine writers were "tearing off copy," the painters were
simply "slapping it down." One of them told me he "painted the real
stuff right out of life"--dashed it off with one hand, so to speak,
while he shook his fist at the town with the other. Everyone wanted to
see something done--and done damn quick--about this, that or the other.

My artist's eyes surveyed this group and twinkled with amused surprise.
But I could sit by the hour and listen to their talk. I found it mighty
refreshing, after those bills in the hardware shop, that monotonous
martyr feeling of mine and those worries down by the harbor.

But I felt the harbor always there, slowly closing in on my father, who
looked older day by day, slowly bringing things to a crisis. In the
garden behind our house on warm September evenings when these pigmies
gathered to chatter reforms, the harbor hooted at their little plans as
it had hooted at my own. One evening, I remember, when the talk had
waxed hot and loud in favor of labor unions and strikes, Sue left the
group and with a friend strolled to the lower end of the garden. There I
saw them peer over the edge and listen to the drunken stokers singing in
the barrooms deep under all these flower beds and all this adventurous
chatter of ours. I thought of the years I had spent with Sam--and Sue,
too, seemed to me to be having a spree. Poor kid, what a jolt she would
get some day. She called me "our dreamer imported from France." But I
was far from dreaming.

Presently the harbor just opened one of its big eyes and sent up by a
messenger a little grim reality.

A Russian revolutionist had appeared among us with a letter to Sue from
Joe Kramer. Joe, I found to my surprise, had seen quite a little of Sue
over here while I had been in Paris--and from the various ships and
hotels that had been his "home" of late, he had written her now and
then. Through him Sue had joined a society known as "The Friends of
Russian Freedom," and Joe wrote now from Moscow urging her to "stir up
the crowd and lick this fellow into shape to talk at big meetings and
raise some cash. He has the real goods," Joe added. "All he needs is the
English language and a few points about making it yellow. If handled
right he'll be a scream."

He was handled right and he was a scream. Three months later he finished
a tour that had netted over ten thousand dollars. Now to buy guns and
ship them to Russia--where in the awful poverty bequeathed to them by
the war with Japan, a bitter people was still fighting hard to make an
end of autocracy.

"I think I can help you, Puss," said Dad.

I looked at him with interest. I knew he had been as tickled as I by
these astonishing friends of hers. "Revolooters," he called them. He was
a great favorite with the girls.

"I once knew a man in a business way who dealt in guns," he explained to
Sue. "He shipped some to Bolivia from my dock. I'll have him up to meet
your friend."

So this messenger from the harbor, a keen lean man of business, gave one
hour of his time to the problem in which the Russian dreamer had been
absorbed for fifteen years. And the hour made the fifteen years look
decidedly dreamy.

"Guns for Russia, eh?" he said. "How'll you get 'em into your country?
Where's your frontier weakest? You don't know? Then I'll tell you." And
the man of business did. "Now what kind of guns do you want? You hadn't
thought? Well, my friend, you want Mausers. They happen to be cheap just
now in Vienna. You should have looked into that before you traipsed way
over here. You can get 'em there for three twenty apiece--they dropped
three cents last Tuesday."

The dreamer dreamed hard and fast for a moment.

"Then," he cried triumphantly, "wit' ten t'ousand dollairs I can buy
over t'ree t'ousand guns!"

The gunman's look was patient.

"Don't you want to shoot 'em off?" he inquired. "Because if you do
you'll need ammunition. You ought to have a thousand rounds, which will
come to a little over three times the actual cost of the guns
themselves. You see when you shoot off a gun at an army you want to have
plenty of cartridges or else be ready to run like hell.

"On second thought," he added, "I advise you to give up the Mausers and
go in for Springfields over here--old ones--you can get 'em cheap.
They're no good at over a mile, but for the first few months your
fellahs will be lucky if they hit a man at a hundred yards. And there's
one good point about Springfields, they make a devil of a noise--and
that's all you need for a starter, noise enough to break into headlines
all over the world as a 'Brave Little Rebel Army.' If you can do that,
and the word goes around on the quiet that you're using American
rifles--well, there's a kind of a sentiment in our trade--you'll find us
all behind you. We'll even _lose_ money. We're a queer bunch."

"But wait!" cried the Russian. "Dere ees a trouble! Your tr-reaty wit'
Russia! Have you not a tr-reaty which makes it forbidden to sell to me
guns?"

Again that look of patience:

"Yes, General, we have a tr-reaty. But we'll ship your guns as grand
pianos to Naples, from there by slow boat down to Brazil and then up to
the Baltic, where they'll arrive with their pedigrees lost. Our agent
will be there ahead, he'll have found a customhouse man he can fix,
he'll cable us where--and when those fifty pianos are landed the said
official will open the box marked twenty-two. It'll take him over an
hour to do it, the boards will be nailed so cussedly tight. And he'll
find a real piano inside. Then he'll look at the other forty-nine crates
and say, 'Oh, Hell!' in Russian. Then they'll go on to wherever you want
'em--and you'll revolute. But don't forget that what you need most is
the livest press agent you can find. I've got to go now. Think it over.
And if you want to do business with me come to my office to-morrow at
ten."

The man of business left us. And while the dreamer talked like mad and
finally decided that as Mausers were "shoot farther guns" he had better
go to Vienna, I watched the twinkle in Dad's gray eyes and thought of
the cool contempt in his friend's. And from being amused I became rather
sore. For, after all, this little Russian cuss had risked his life for
fifteen years and expected to lose it shortly. (As a matter of fact, he
was stood up against a wall and shot the following April.) Why make him
look so small?

Was there nothing under the heavens that this infernal harbor didn't
know all about, and "do business with" so thoroughly that it could
always smile?



CHAPTER V


As I drudged on down there in the warehouse, my bitterness became an
obsession. I even talked about it to Sue.

"Oh, Billy, you make me tired," she said. "Here I've taken the trouble
to bring to the house every magazine writer I know. And they're all
ready to help you break in--but you won't write, you won't even try!"

"How do you know I haven't tried?" I retorted hotly. "But I'm working
all day as it is--and four nights a week besides. And the other three
nights, when I try to think of the kind of thing that I could sell to
the magazines--well, I simply can't do it, that's all--it's not my way
of writing!"

"Then your way is just plain morbid," she said, "and it's about time you
dropped it." She seemed to get a sudden idea. "I know the person _you_
ought to meet----"

"Do you? What's his name?" I inquired.

"Eleanore Dillon," she answered. I looked up at her with a start.

"Eleanore Dillon? Is she still around?"

I hadn't thought of that girl in years.

"She is--and she's just what you need," said Sue, with that know-it-all
smile of hers. Her head was now cocked a bit to one side. "Your little
friend of long ago," she added sympathetically. I eyed Sue for a moment.
I did not care at all for her tone.

"What do I need _her_ for?" I asked.

"To talk to you of the harbor, of course--that's her especial line these
days."

"The harbor?" I demanded. "That girl?"

"Yes--the harbor, that girl." Sue seemed to be having quite a good time.
My jaw set tight.

"What does she do down there?" I asked.

"She worships her father. Don't you remember? An engineer. He's doing a
big piece of work on the harbor and Eleanore is wrapped up in his work,
she's a beautiful case of how a fond parent can literally swallow up his
child. There used to be nothing whatever that Eleanore Dillon wasn't
going to do in life. Don't you remember, when she was small, that little
determined air she had in the way she went at every game? Well, she grew
even more like that. From school she went to college and worked herself
to a frazzle. Then she broke down and had to drop out, and now that
she's strong again she's changed. She used to go in for everything. Now
she goes in for nothing at all except her father and his work. She
thinks we're all a lot of young fools."

"Oh, now, Sue," I put in derisively. "You people fools? How could she?"

"You'll see," my sister sweetly replied, "for she'll probably think
you're another. She detests morbid people, they're not her kind. But if
she'll give you a talking to it may do you a lot of good."

       *       *       *       *       *

She did give me a talking to and it did do me a lot of good, although
when I came to think of it I found she had barely talked at all.

She wasn't the sort who liked to talk, she was just as quiet as before.
When she arrived rather late one evening and Sue brought her out on the
verandah into a group of those radical friends who were a committee for
something or other, after the general greetings were over she settled
back in a corner with the air of one who likes just to listen to people,
no matter whether they're fools or not. But as I watched her I decided
she did not consider these people fools. That quiet smile that came on
her face showed a comfortable curiosity and now and then a gleam of
amusement, but no contempt whatever. She seemed a girl so well pleased
with her life that she could be pleased with the world besides and keep
her eyes open for all there was in it. Although she was still rather
small and still demurely feminine, with the same grave sweetness in her
eyes, that same enchanting freshness about everything she wore, she
struck me at once as having changed, as having grown tremendously, as
having somehow filled herself deep with a quiet abundant vitality.
"Where have _you_ been," I wondered.

There came a loud blast from the harbor. At once I saw her turn in her
chair and look down to the point below where a river boat was just
leaving her slip, sweeping silently out of the darkness into the moonlit
water. My curiosity deepened. Where _had_ she been, and what was she
doing, what queer kind of a girl was this? I took a seat beside her.

"Don't you remember me?" I asked. She turned her head with a quiet
smile.

"Of course I do," she answered. Her low voice had a frankly intimate
tone. "I did the moment I saw you. Besides, Sue told me about you."

"She's been telling me quite a lot about _you_."

"Has she? What?"

"That you know all about the harbor these days."

"Sue's wonderful," Eleanore murmured. "She's so sure her friends know
everything."

"Let's stick to the harbor."

"All right, let's. I know enough about it to like it. Sue says you know
enough to hate it. I wonder which of us knows more."

"I do."

"How do you know you do?"

"Because I've been here longer," I said. "I've hated it for twenty odd
years."

She looked at me with interest. Her eyes were not at all like Sue's.
Sue's eyes were always wrapped up in herself; Eleanore's in somebody
else. They were as intimate as her voice.

"Don't you remember the evening when you took me down to the docks?" she
asked.

"I do--very well," I said.

"And do you mean to tell me you didn't like the harbor then?"

"I do--I hated the harbor then. I was scared to death that Sam and his
gang would appear around the end of a car."

"Who was Sam?" she asked me. "He sounds like a very dreadful small boy."

Soon she had me telling her of Sam and his gang and the harbor of
thrills, from the time of old Belle and the Condor.

"I was a toy piano," I said. "And the harbor was a giant who played on
me till I rattled inside. We had a big spree together."

"Not a very healthy spree, was it?" she said quietly, turning her
gray-blue eyes on mine. For some reason we suddenly smiled at each
other. "You're a good deal like your father--aren't you?" she said. "The
same nice twinkle in your eyes. Please go on. What did the harbor do to
you next?"

I thought all at once of the August day when she had lain, a girl of
twelve, in the fragrant meadow beside me. And as then, so now, the
drunken woman's image rose for an instant in my mind.

"It wiped the thrills all out," I said abruptly. I told how the place
grew harsh and bare, how I could always feel it there stripping
everything naked like itself, and how finally when later in Paris I felt
I had shaken it off for life, it had now suddenly jerked me back, let me
see what my father had really been, and had then repeated its same old
trick, closing in on his great idea and making it look like an old man's
hobby, crowding him out and handing us grimly two dull little jobs--one
to live on and one to die on.

"It's getting monotonous," I ended.

While I talked she had been watching it, now a bustling ferry crossing,
now a tug with a string of barges working up against the tide.

"How do you know it's so bad for you to be brought back from Paris?" she
asked me, without looking around.

"Have you ever been in Paris?"

"Yes--and I want to go again. But I don't believe it will ever feel as
real to me as this place does. And I shouldn't think it would to you.
Because you were born here, weren't you--and you've been so close to it
most of the time that you're all mixed into it, aren't you? I mean
you've got your roots here. Why don't you write about _them_ for a
while?"

"What?"

"Your roots."

She turned and again her eyes met mine, and again for some reason or
other we smiled.

"All right," I assented gravely, "I'll buy a hoe and start right in."

"That's it, hoe yourself all up. Get as far down as you can remember.
Dig up Belle and Sam, and Sue and your mother and father. Then take a
hoe to Paris and find out why you loved it so, and why you hate the
harbor. Be sure you get all the hate there is, it makes such interesting
reading. Besides, it may be just what you need--it may take the hate all
out of your system."

"Who'll print it?" I demanded.

"Oh, some magazine," she said.

"Do you think this kind of thing would interest their readers?"

"It would interest _me_----"

"Thank you. I'll tell the editors that."

"You'll do no such thing," she said severely. "You'll tell the magazine
editors, please, that I'm only one of thousands of girls who are
getting sick and tired of the happy, cheery little tales they print for
our special benefit. It's just about time they got over the habit of
thinking of us as sweet, young things and gave us some roots we can grow
on."

Another modern girl, I thought.

"Do you, too, want to vote?" I asked her, with a fine, indulgent irony.

"Some day I do," she answered. And then she added with placid scorn,
"When I've learned all the political wisdom that _you_ have to teach
me." And as if that were a good place to stop, she rose from her seat.

"The others seem to have left us," she said. "I think I'd better be
going home."

"Wait a minute, please," I cried. "When am I going to hear about
you--and your side of this dismal body of water?"

She looked back at me serenely.

"Wait till you've got yours all written down," she replied. "You see
mine might only mix you up. Mine is so much pleasanter. Good night," she
added softly.



CHAPTER VI


Until late that night, and again the next day at my desk down in the
warehouse, my thoughts kept drifting back to our talk. With a glow of
surprise I found I remembered not only every word she had said, but the
tones of her voice as she said it, the changing expressions on her face
and in her smiling gray-blue eyes. Her picture rose so vividly at times
it was uncanny.

"What do you think of her?" asked Sue.

"Mighty little," I replied. I did not care to discuss her with Sue, for
I had not liked Sue's tone at all.

But how little I'd learned about Eleanor's life. Where did she live? I
didn't know. When I had hinted at coming to see her she had smilingly
put me off. What was this pleasant harbor of hers? "Wait till you've got
yours all written down," she had said, and had told me nothing whatever.
Yes, I thought disgustedly, I was quite a smart young man. Here I had
spent two years in Paris learning how to draw people out. What had she
let me draw out of her? What hadn't I let her draw out of me? I wondered
how much I had told that girl.

For some reason, in the next few days, my thoughts drifted about with
astonishing ease and made prodigious journeys. I roved far back to my
childhood, and there the most tempting incidents rose, and solemn little
thoughts and terrors, hopes and plans, some I was proud of, some mighty
ashamed of. Roots, roots, up they came, as though they'd just been
waiting, down there deep inside of me, for that girl and her hoeing.

Presently, just to get rid of them all, I began writing some of them
down. And again I was surprised to find that I was in fine writing
trim. The words seemed to come of themselves from my pen and line
themselves up triumphantly into scenes of amazing vividness. At least so
they looked to me. How good it felt to be at it again. Often up in my
room at night I kept on working till nearly dawn. I was getting on
famously now.

       *       *       *       *       *

And so now, as was his habit, Joe Kramer came crashing into my life and
as usual put a stop to my work.

Having just landed from Russia, he had "breezed over" to our house, had
had a talk with Sue downstairs and had then come up to my room to
surprise me--just as I had a good firm grip on one of my most entrancing
roots.

"Hello, Bill," he cried. "What are you up to?"

"Hello, J. K. How are you?"

I knew that I ought to be genial, and for a few moments I did my best. I
went through all the motions. I grabbed his hand, I smiled, I talked, I
told him I was tickled to death, I even tried pounding him on the back.
But it was quite useless.

"Kid," he said with that grin of his, "you're up to something idealistic
and don't want to be disturbed. But I'm here and it can't be helped. So
out with it--what have you gone and done?"

And he jerked my story out of me.

"All right," he declared, "this has got to stop!"

"I knew it," I said. I had known it the minute he came in the room.

"You've got to throw up your ten-dollar job, quit working all night on
stuff that won't sell, and come on a paper and make some real money."

"I can't do it," I snapped.

"You can," said J. K.

"But I tell you I tried! I went to a paper----"

"You'll go to a dozen before I get through!"

"J. K.--I won't do it"

"Kid--you will!"

And he kept at me night after night. He was working for a New York paper
now as a special correspondent. He had a talk with his editor and got me
a chance to go on as a "cub" and write about weddings, describing the
costume of the bride. At least it was a starter, he said, and would lead
to divorces later on, and from there I might be promoted to graft. He
talked to Sue and my father about it, persuading them both to take his
side. Day by day the pressure increased. I set my young jaw doggedly and
kept on writing about my roots.

"Look here," said Joe one evening. "Your sister tells me you're sore on
the harbor. Then have a look at this." And he showed me a newspaper
clipping headed, "Padrone System Under the Dumps."

"Well, what about it?" I asked him.

"What about it? My God! Here's a chance to show up the harbor on one of
its ugliest, rottenest ideas! A dump is a pier that sticks out in the
river. We'll go there at night, get down underneath it and look at the
kids--Dago child-slaves working like hell. You say that weddings are not
in your line--all right, here's just the opposite--stuff that'll make
your women readers sit right up and sob out aloud! I don't care for
tear-jerkers myself," he added. "But even tear-jerkers are better than
Art."

"All right," I muttered savagely, "let's go and get a tear-jerker to
write!"

If I must write of this modern harbor, at least it was some satisfaction
to write about one of its ugliest sides.

We went the next night.

Joe had chosen a dump which jutted out from the Manhattan side of the
river just about opposite our house. A huge, long, shadowy pile of city
refuse of all kinds, we caught the sour breath of it as we drew near in
the darkness. There was not a sound nor a light. We climbed down onto a
greenish beam that ran along by the side underneath, about a foot from
the water, and cautiously working our way outward for a hundred yards
or more, we stopped abruptly and drew back.

For just before us under the dump was a cave with walls of papers and
rags. A lantern hung from overhead, swung gently in the raw salt breeze,
and by its light we could see a half dozen swarthy small boys. Five were
intent on a game of dice, whispering fiercely while they played. Their
boss lay asleep in a corner. The sixth, the smallest of them all, sat
smoking in the mouth of the cave, his knees drawn up and his big dilated
black eyes roving hungrily out over the water. All at once around the
end of the pier, a dark, tall shadow like a spook swept silently out
before him. He sprang back and fervently crossed himself, then grinned
and drew on his cigarette hard. For the shadow was only a scow with a
derrick. The imp continued his watching.

"Now," said J. K. a few minutes later back on shore, "you want to get
their hours and wages. You want to look up the fire law about lighted
cigarettes and a lantern----"

"Oh, damn your fire law," I growled. "I want to know where that kid with
the cigarette was born, and what he thinks of the harbor!" Joe gave me
one of his cheerful grins.

"You might get his views on the tariff," he said.

"Look here, J. K.," I implored him; "go home. Go on home and leave me
alone. It's all right, I'm glad you brought me here--darned good of you,
and I'll get a story. Only for God's sake leave me alone!"

"Sure," said Joe. "Only don't try to talk to those little Guineys. Their
boss wouldn't let 'em say a word and you'd lose your chance of watching
'em. Make it a kind of a mystery story."

And a mystery story I made it.

Where had he been a year ago, this imp who had fervently crossed
himself? In Naples, Rome or Venice, or poking his toes into the dust of
a street in some dull little town in the hills? What great condor of
to-day had picked him up and dropped him here? How did it look to him?
What did he feel?

I came back to the dump night after night, and writing blindly in the
dark I tried to jot down what he saw--gigantic shapes and shadows, some
motionless, some rushing by with their dim spectral little lights, and
over all the great arch of the Bridge rearing over half the sky. The
lantern in the cave behind threw a patch of light on the water below,
and across that patch from under the pier where the water was slapping,
slapping, there came an endless bobbing procession--a whisky bottle, a
broken toy horse, a bit of a letter, a pink satin slipper, a dirty white
glove--things tossed out of people's lives. On and on they came. And I
knew there were miles of black water like this all covered with tiny
processions like this moving slowly out with the ebb tide, out from the
turbulent city toward the silent ocean. One night the watchman on the
dump showed me a heavy paper bag with what would have been a baby
inside. Where had it come from? He didn't know. Tossed out of some
woman's life, in a day it would be far out on the ocean, bobbing,
bobbing with the rest. Water from here to Naples, water from here to
heathen lands. Just here a patch of light from a lantern. That imp from
Italy looking down--into something immense and dark and unknown.

He was having a spree with the harbor, as I had had when as small as he.
I saw him watch the older boys and listen thrilled to their wonderful
talk--as once I, too, had been thrilled by Sam. I watched him over a
game of dice, quarreling, scowling, grabbing at pennies, slapped by some
one, whimpering, then eagerly getting back to the game. It was "craps,"
I had played it with Sam and the gang. One night he dropped a cigarette
still lighted into the rags and was given a blow by his boss that
knocked him into a corner. But presently he crawled cautiously forth,
and again with both hands hugging his knees he sat and watched the
harbor. What a big spree for a little boy.

I put my own childhood into this imp, into him my first feelings toward
this place. And so I came again to my roots. How the memories rose up
now--the fascinations and terrors that I, too, had felt before something
immense and dark and unknown.

Thank heaven J. K. had given me up and gone to Colorado--so I was left
to work in peace. I called my sketch "A Patch of Light," and sent it to
a magazine. It came back with a note explaining that, while this was a
fine little thing in its way, its way wasn't theirs, it was neither an
article full of facts nor a story full of romance. In short, I told
myself savagely, it was neither hay nor tears! Again it went forth and
again back it came. Then Sue gave it to one of her writer friends who
said he knew just the place for it.

"No, you don't," I thought drearily. "Nobody knows--in this whole
damnable desolate land."

But Sue's friend sold my story--for twenty-two dollars and fifty cents!
And he said that the editor wanted some more!

It was curious, from my window that night, what a different harbor I saw
below. Ugly still? Of course it was. But what a _rich mine_ of ugliness
for the pen of a rising young author like me!



CHAPTER VII


Now for something bigger. I would have a whack at the place by day. No
mystery now, just ugliness. I would show it up in broad daylight,
bringing out every detail in the glare. I would do this by comparing it
to the harbor of long ago, and the snowy white sails of my father's
youth.

His youth was gone. A thick-set and gray-headed old figure, he bent over
his desk by my side, putting up a fierce, silent fight for his strength,
and now slowly getting enough of it back to keep him at his job as a
clerk in what had been his warehouse. Only once, coming suddenly into
the room, I found him settled deep down in his chair, heavy, inert, his
cigar gone out, staring vacantly out of the window.

The sails were gone. Down there at his dock, where even in days that I
could remember the tall clippers had lain for weeks, I saw now a German
whaleback. She had slipped in but three days before and was already
snorting to get away. She was black and she wallowed deep, and she had
an enormous bulging belly into which I descended one day and explored
its metallic compartments that echoed to the deafening din of some
riveters at work on her sides. Though short and stout, she was nine
thousand tons. Hideous, she was practical, as practical as a factory. In
her the romance of the sea was buried and choked in smoke and steam, in
grime, dirt, noise and a regular haste. One morning as her din increased
and the black, sooty breath of her came drifting in through our window,
my father rose abruptly and slammed the window down.

"The damn sea hog!" he muttered.

Gone, too, were the American sailors. All races of men on the earth but
ours seemed gathered around this hog of the sea. From barges filled with
her cargo, the stuff was being heaved up on the dock by a lot of Irish
bargemen. Italian dockers rolled it across to this German ship, and on
deck a Jap under-officer was bossing a Coolie crew. These Coolies were
dwarfs with big white teeth and stooping, round little shoulders. They
had strange, nervous faces, long and narrow with high cheek bones and no
foreheads at all to speak of. Their black eyes gleamed. Back and forth
they scurried to the sound of that guttural Japanese voice.

"The cheapest sea labor there is," growled Dad. "Good-by to Yankee
sailors."

The Old East with its riches was no longer here. For what were these
Coolies doing? Handling silks and spices? Oh, no. They were hoisting and
letting down into the hold an automobile from Dayton, Ohio, bound for
New South Wales. Gone were the figs and almonds, the indigo, ivory,
tortoise shells. Into the brand-new ledgers over which my father worked,
he was entering such items as barbed wire, boilers, car wheels and gas
engines, baby carriages, kegs of paint. I reveled in the commonplace
stuff, contrasting it vividly in my mind with the starlit ocean roads it
would travel, the picturesque places it would help spoil.

I filled in the scene with all its details, the more accurate, glaring
and real the better--the brand-new towering skyline risen of late on
Manhattan, the new steel bridge, an ugly one this, and all the modern
steam craft, tugs, river boats, Sound steamers, each one of them panting
and spewing up smoke. I sat there like a stenographer and took down the
harbor's dictation, noting the rasping tones of its voice, recording
eagerly all its smells. And all this and more that I gathered, I
focussed on the sea hog.

And then toward the end of a winter's day we looked out of our window
and saw her "sail." She sailed in a nervous, worrying haste to the
grunts and shrieks of a lot of steam winches. Up rattled her anchor, out
she waddled, tugs puffing their smoke and steam in her face. She didn't
depart. Who ever heard of a hog departing? She just went. There were no
songs, no last good-byes--except from a man in his shirt sleeves who
called from the deck to a man on the pier, "So long, Mac, see you next
Spring," and then went into the factory.

When the work of the day was over, I went down into the dock shed. My
father's old place was at peace for a time, the desecration done with.
She was empty, dark and silent. In her long, inward-sloping walls the
eight wide sliding doors were closed. Only through the dusty skylights
here and there fell great masses of soft light. Big bunches of canvas
hung from above, ropes dangled out of the shadows. And there were huge
rhythmic creakings that made you feel the ocean still here, an old ocean
under an old, old dock. The place grew creepy with its past.

"Faint, spicy odors," I jotted down, as I stood there in the dimness,
"ghosts of long ago--low echoes of old chanties sung by Yankee
sailors--romance--mystery----"

I broke off writing and drew back behind a crate. My father had entered
the dock shed and was coming slowly up the dock. Presently I saw him
stop and look into the shadows around him. I saw a frown come on his
face, I saw his features tighten. So he stood for some moments. Then he
turned and walked quickly out. A lump had risen in my throat, for I
thought I knew what he had seen.

"The Phantom Ship" became my title. A fine contrast to the sea hog, I
thought. I asked Dad endless questions at night about the old days not
only here, but all up along the coast of New England, and hungrily I
listened while he glorified the rich life and color of those seaport
towns now gray, those wharves now rotting and covered with moss. He
glorified the spacious homes of the men who had ordered their captains
to search the Far East for the rugs and the curtains, the chairs and the
tables, the dishes, the vase, the silks and the laces, the silver and
gold and precious stones with which those audacious old houses were
stored. He glorified the ships themselves. From the quarter decks of our
clippers, those marvels of cleanliness and speed, he told how those
miraculous captains had issued their orders to Yankee sailors, brawny,
deep-chested, keen-eyed and strong-limbed. He told what perils they had
faced far out on the Atlantic--"the Roaring Forties" those waters were
called!

"Yes, boy, in those days ships had men!"

In my room I eagerly wrote it all down and added what I myself could
remember. Here from my bedroom window I tried to see what I had seen as
a boy, the immaculate white of the tall sails, the fresh blue and green
of the dancing waves. Oh, I was romancing finely those nights! And there
came no Blessed Damozel to say to me gruffly, "Couches-toi. Il est
tard."

When the sketch was completed at last I gave it to my father to read and
then went out for a long walk. It was nearly midnight when I returned,
but he was still reading. He cleared his throat.

"Son," he said very huskily, "this is a strong piece of work!" His eyes
were moist as they moved rapidly down the page. He looked up with a
jerk. "Who'll print it?" he asked.

"I wish I knew, Dad----"

I mailed it that night to a magazine. In the next two weeks my father's
suspense was even deeper than my own, though he tried hard to joke about
it, calling me "Pendennis." One day in his office chair he wheeled with
a nervous sharpness, and I could feel his eyes fixed on the envelope
which the postman had just thrown on my desk. God help me, it was heavy
and long, it had my manuscript inside. Dismally I searched for a letter.
Still I could feel those anxious eyes.

"Hold on!" I cried. "They've taken it! All they want me to do is to cut
it down!"

"Then do it!" My radiant father snarled. "It ought to be cut to half its
length! That's the way with beginners, a mass of details! Some day maybe
you'll learn to write!"

I smiled happily back. He came suddenly over and gripped my hand.

"My boy, I'm glad, I'm very glad! I'm"--he cleared his throat and went
back to his desk and tried to scowl over what he was doing.

"Dad."

"Huh?"

"They say they'll give me a hundred dollars. Pretty good for one month's
work."

"Huh."

"And they want me to do some more on the harbor. They say it's a new
field. Never been touched."

"Then touch it," he said gruffly. "Leave me alone. I'm busy."

But coming in late after luncheon that day, I found him reading the
editor's letter.

"Boy," he said that evening, "you ought to read Thackeray for style, and
Washington Irving, and see what a whippersnapper you are. Work--work! If
your mother were only alive she could help you!"

And just before bedtime, taking a bottle of beer with my pipe, I caught
his disapproving eye.

"Worst thing you can put in your stomach," he growled. He said this
regularly each night, and added, "Why can't you keep up your health for
your work?"

His own health had improved astonishingly.

"It's the winter air that has done it," he said.



CHAPTER VIII


My work, as my father saw it now, was to write "strong, practical
articles" presenting the respective merits of free ships, ship subsidies
and discriminating tariffs to build up our mercantile marine.

But I was growing tired these days of my father's idea, his miracle and
his endless talk of the past. On walks along the waterfront he would
treat it all like a graveyard. But while he pointed out the tombs I felt
the swift approach of Spring. It was March, and in a crude way of its
own the harbor was expressing the season--in warm, salty breezes, the
odor of fish and the smell of tar on the bottoms of boats being
overhauled for the Summer. Our Italian dockers sang at their work, and
one day the dock was a bright-hued mass of strawberries and early Spring
flowers landed by a boat from the South. Everywhere things seemed
starting--starting like myself.

I had given up my warehouse job, and free at last from that tedious desk
to which I once thought I was tied for years, with two sketches sold and
ideas for others, so many others, rising daily in my mind, I went about
watching the life of the port. Poor Dad. He was old. Could I help being
young?

Without exactly meaning to, I drew away from my father to Sue. We felt
ourselves vividly young in that house. We quarreled intensely over her
friends and were pleased with ourselves in the process. We had long
talks about ourselves. Sue let me talk to her by the hour about my work
and my ideas, while she sat and thought about her own.

"If you're planning to write up the harbor," she said sleepily late one
night, "you ought to cruise around a bit in Eleanore Dillon's motor
boat."

I looked at her in astonishment.

"Does that girl run a motor boat?"

"Her father's." Sue yawned and gave me a curious smile. "I'll see if I
can't arrange it," she said. And about a week later she told me,
"Eleanore's coming to take us out to-night."

Some of Sue's friends came to supper that evening and later we all went
down to the dock. There was no moon but the stars were out and the night
was still, the slip was dark and empty. Suddenly with a rush and a swirl
a motor boat rounded the end of the pier, turned sharply in and came
shooting toward us. A boiling of water, she seemed to rear back, then
drifted unconcernedly in to the bottom of the ladder.

In the small circle of light down there I saw Eleanore Dillon smiling
up. She sat at her wheel, a trim figure in white--a white Jersey,
something red at her throat and a soft white hat crushed a bit to one
side. Beneath it the breeze played tricks with her hair.

We scrambled down into the cock-pit. It was a deep, cozy little place,
with the wide open doors of a cabin in front, in which I caught a
glimpse of two bunks, a table, a tiny electric cooking stove and a
shaded reading light over the one small easy chair. There were impudent
curtains of blue at the port holes. There was a shelf of books and
another of blue and white cups and saucers and dishes. And what was
that? A monkey crouching under the table, paws clutching the two
enormous brass buttons on the gay blue jacket he wore, eyes watching us
angrily as he chattered.

"Buttons," commanded his mistress, "come out here this minute and stop
your noise. There's nothing for you to be peevish about, the water's
like glass. When it's rough," she explained, "he gets fearfully seasick.
Come here now, pass the cigarettes." And this her Buttons proceeded to
do--very grumpily.

Then as a small, quiet hand pulled a lever, I felt a leap of power
beneath me, the boat careened as she turned, then righted, there was a
second pull on the lever, another surging leap of speed, and as we
rushed out on the river now up rose her bow higher and higher, a huge
white wave on either side. The spray dashed in our faces. Everyone began
talking excitedly. Only the Buttons kept his monkey eyes fixed anxiously
on his captain's face while he clasped the pit of his stomach.

"Oh, Buttons, don't be such a coward," she said. "I tell you it's smooth
and you won't be sick! Go out there and stop being silly!"

Slowly and with elaborate caution the monkey crept forward over the
cabin. For a moment up at the bow he paused, a ridiculous little
dark-jacketed figure between the two white crests of our waves. Then
with a spring he was up to his place on the top of the light, and there
with gay gesticulations he greeted every vessel we passed.

I had taken a seat by Eleanore's side. She was driving her boat with
eyes straight ahead. Now and then she would close them, draw in a deep
breath of the rough salt air, and smile contentedly to herself. After a
time I heard her voice, low and intimate as before:

"Finished up that hideous harbor of yours?"

"No," I answered hungrily, "I think I've just begun." I caught a gleam
in her eyes.

"You'll be out of your rut in a moment," she said.

"What do you mean, my rut?" I demanded.

"The East River, Stupid--wait and see."

From the little East River corner I'd lived in, we sped far out on the
Upper Bay, a rushing black speck on a dim expanse, with dark, empty
fields of water around us, long, luminous paths stretching off to the
shores, where the lights twinkled low for miles and miles and there were
sudden bursts of flame from distant blast furnace fires.

"Tell me what you've been writing about this hideous place," she said.

"Who said it was hideous at night? Of course if you wrap it all up in
the dark, so that you can see none of its sea hogs----"

"What's a sea hog?"

"A sea hog is a wallowing boat with a long, black, heavy snout." And
mustering all that was left of my hatred I plunged into my picture. "The
whole place is like that," I ended. "Full of smoke and dirt and
disorder, everything rushing and jamming together. That's how it looks
to me in the daytime!"

"Are you sure it does--still?"

"I am," I answered firmly. "And I'm going to write it just as it looks."

"Then look back of you," she suggested.

Behind us, at the tip of Manhattan, the tall buildings had all melted
together into one tremendous mass, with only a pin point of light here
and there, a place of shadowy turrets and walls, like some mediæval
fortress. Out of it, in contrast to its dimness, rose a garish tower of
lights that seemed to be keeping a vigilant watch over all the dark
waters, the ships and the docks. The harbor of big companies.

"My father works up in that tower," she said. "He can see the whole
harbor spread out below. But he keeps coming down to see it all close,
and I've steered him up close to everything in it. You've no idea how
much there is." She threw me a glance of pitying scorn. "There are over
seven hundred miles of waterfront in this small port, and I'm not going
to have you trudging around and getting lost and tired and cross and
working off your grudge in your writing. You come with me some afternoon
and I'll do what I can to open your eyes."

"Please do it," I said quickly.

       *       *       *       *       *

She took me down, to the sea gate at the end of a warm, still, foggy
day. There in the deepening twilight we drifted without a sign of a
world around us--till in from the ocean there came a deep billow, then
another and another, and as our small craft darted off to one side a
gigantic gray shadow loomed through the fog with four black towers of
smoke overhead, lights gleaming from a thousand eyes.

"Another sea hog," murmured a voice.

"I said in the daytime," I replied.

We went out on another afternoon to watch the fisherman fleets at their
work or scudding before a strong wind home with a great, round, radiant
sun behind. She showed me fishers in the air, lonely fish hawks one by
one flying in the late afternoon back to their nests on the Atlantic
Highlands. And far out on the Lower Bay she knew where to stir up whole
armies of gulls, till there seemed to be thousands wheeling in air with
the bright sunshine on all the wings. The sunshine, too, with the help
of the breeze, stole glinting deep into her hair. She watched me out of
half-closed eyes.

"Is this daylight enough?" she demanded.

"This is simply absurd," I answered. "You know very well that this
harbor is ugly in places----"

"Only in places. That's better," she said.

"In a great _many_ places," I rejoined. "Please take me to Bayonne some
day--at two p. m.," I added.

It seemed a good, safe, unmysterious hour, and as we neared the place
next day my hopes mounted high, for there was a leaden sky overhead and
loathsome blotches and streaks of oil on the gray water around us--while
ahead on the Jersey shore, from two chimneys that rose halfway to the
clouds, poured two foul, sluggish columns of smoke.

"Still New York harbor, I believe?" I inquired maliciously. But Eleanore
was smiling. "What's the joke?" I demanded.

"The southwest wind," she softly replied. I could feel it coming as she
spoke. As I watched I saw it take that sky and tear jagged rifts in it
for the sun, and then as those two columns of smoke began twisting and
writhing like monster snakes they took on purple and greenish hues and
threw ghostly reflections of themselves down on the oily water around
us, filled with blue and gold shimmerings now.

"What a strange, wonderful purple," murmured a quiet voice by my side.

Stubbornly I resisted conversion. I wanted more afternoons in that boat.

"Now it's blowing that oily odor our way," I declared in sudden
annoyance. "I no sooner get to enjoying myself when along comes one of
the smells of this place. And where's the beauty in _them_? Can you show
me? Here's a place that should be a great storehouse of pure fresh air
for the city to breathe, and----"

"Oh, hush up!" said Eleanore.

But I doggedly found other blemishes here--swamps, railroad yards and
sooty tracks that filled the waterfront for miles where there should
have been parks and boulevards. At the same time I assumed the tone of
one who tries to be fair and patient. Whenever she showed me some new
beauty in water or sky I took great pains to look at it well. When an
angry little squall of wind came ruffling over the sunny waves in
sweeping bands of deep, soft blues, I gazed and gazed at its wonder as
though I could never have enough. And so gazing I spied floating there a
sodden old mattress, a fleet of tin cans. And I said that it seemed an
unhealthy thing to dump all our refuse so close to the city.

"They don't!" she retorted indignantly. "They take it out miles beyond
the Hook!"

In short, I considered myself mighty clever. Day by day I prolonged my
conversion, holding obstinately back--while Eleanore revealed to me the
miracles worked by the sunset here, and by the clouds, the winds, the
tides, the very smoke and the ships themselves, all playing weird
tricks on each other. Slowly the crude glory of it stole upon me
unawares--until to my own intense surprise the harbor now became for me
a breathing, heaving, gleaming thing filled deep with the rush and the
vigor of life. A thing no longer sinister, crushing down on a man's old
age--but strangely deeply stirring.

"Look out, my friend," I warned myself. "This is no harbor you're
falling in love with."



CHAPTER IX


Although at such lucid moments I would sometimes go a-soaring up into
the most dazzling dreams, more often I would plunge in gloom. For
Eleanore's dreams and all her thoughts seemed centered on her father.
From each corner of that watery world, no matter how far we wandered,
the high tower from which he looked down on it all would suddenly loom
above the horizon. Over the dreariest marshes it peeped and into all our
talk he came. A marsh was a place that he was to transform, oily odors
were things he would sweep away. For every abuse that I could discover
her father was working out some cure. With a whole corps of engineers
drafting his dreams into practicable plans, there was no end to the
things he could do.

"Here is a girl," I told myself, "so selfishly wrapped up in her father
she hasn't a thought for anyone else. She's using me to boom his work,
as she has doubtless used writers before me and will use dozens more
when I'm gone. No doubt she would like to have _dozens of me_ sitting
right here beside her now! It's not at all a romantic thought, but think
how she could use me then!" And I would glower at her.

But it is a lonely desolate job to sit and glower at a girl who appears
so placidly unaware of the fact that you are glowering. And slowly
emerging from my gloom I would wonder about this love that was in her.
At times when she talked she made me feel small. My own love for my
mother, how utterly selfish it had been. Here was a passion so deep and
real it made her almost forget I was there, asking questions, hungrily
watching her, trying to learn about her life.

"While I was in school," she said, in that low deliberate voice of hers,
"my father and I went abroad every summer. We tramped in the Alps for
weeks at a time, keeping way off the beaten paths to watch the work of
the Swiss engineers. One of them was a woman. We saw the bridge she'd
built over a gorge, and I became deeply excited. Until then I had never
had any idea that I could go into my father's work. But now I wondered
if I could. That winter in school I really worked. I was dreadfully dull
at mathematics, but I wouldn't see it. I made up my mind to go to
Cornell for the course on engineering. I worked like a slave for two
years to get ready and just succeeded in getting in.

"Then toward the middle of Freshman year I realized that I was becoming
a quite absurdly solemn young grind. There were over a hundred girls in
college but I had made barely any friends. And so I firmly resolved to
be gay. I made a regular business of it and worked my way into clubs and
dances, hunting for the girls I liked and scheming to make them like me
too. By May I was way behind in my work. I tried to make up, I began
cramming every night until one or two in the morning. And I passed my
examinations--but that summer I broke down. My father had to drop his
work and take me abroad for an operation, and by the time we got back he
had lost nearly six months of his time. I decided that as an engineer I
was a dismal failure. I'd much better give my father a chance.

"So when he took up this work in New York I spent all my time on our new
apartment. I loved fussing with it, I shopped like a bee, and this kept
me busy all Autumn. Besides I was going about with Sue. She had managed
me long ago at school and I was glad to let her now, for I was hunting
for new ideas. But Sue put me on so many committees that by Spring my
nerves were in shreds, and again for weeks I was flat on my back.

"One evening then--when my father came home and sat down by my
bedside--it came over me all of a sudden--the wonderful quiet strength
in his hand, in the look of his eyes.

"'Where have you been?' I asked him.

"'Down on the harbor,' he told me. Since eight in the morning he'd been
in a launch exploring it all. I shut my eyes--my wretched eyelids
quivering--and I made him describe the whole day's trip while I tried to
see it all in my mind. Soon I was feeling deliciously quiet. 'I'm going
down there too,' I thought.

"By the next evening I had the idea for this boat. When I told him he
was delighted, and we both grew excited over the plans--which he drew by
my bed, I made him draw dozens. At last it was built and lay at its
dock, and I packed all I needed into a trunk and we came down in a taxi.
It was a lovely May afternoon and we had a beautiful ride up the Hudson.
And from then on through the Summer I hardly went ashore at all, I knew
if I did it would spoil it all.

"Every night we slept on board in those two cozy little bunks. I learned
to cook here. Soon I was able to run the boat and even to help my father
a little. I knew just enough about his work to go places for him and
save his time. I'd forgotten I ever had any nerves, for I felt I
belonged to something now that got way down to the roots of things. Do
you see what I mean? This harbor isn't like a hotel, or an evening gown
or Weber and Fields. I love pretty gowns, and my father and I wouldn't
miss Weber and Fields for worlds. But they're all on top, this is down
at the bottom, it's one of those deep places that seem to make the world
go 'round. It's right where the ocean bumps into the land. You can get
your roots here, you can feel you are real.

"You see what my father is doing is to take this whole harbor and study
it hard--not just the water, the shipping and docks, for when he says
'the port of New York' he means all the railroads too--and he's
studying how they all come in and why it is that everything has become
so frightfully snarled. A lot of big shipping men are behind him, and
he's to draw up a plan for it all which they're going to give to the
city to use, to make this port what it's got to be, the very first in
the ocean world. It's one of those slow tremendous pieces of work, it
will take years to carry it out and hundreds of millions of dollars. My
father thinks there's hardly a chance that he'll ever live to see it all
done. I know he will, I'm sure he will, he's the kind of a man who keeps
himself young. But whether he really sees it or not, or gets any credit,
he doesn't care.

"That's the kind of a person my father is," Eleanore added softly.

       *       *       *       *       *

"My father wants to meet you," she told me toward the end of June, at
one of those times when she let the boat drift while we had long
absorbing talks. "He has read that thing you wrote about the German sea
hog, and he thinks it's awfully well done."

"That's good of him," I said gruffly.

Somehow or other it always makes me uncomfortable when people talk about
my work. When they criticize I am annoyed and when they praise I am
uneasy. What do they know about it? They spent an hour reading what it
took me weeks to write. They don't know what I _tried_ to do, nor do
they care, they haven't time. I never feel so cut off from people, so
utterly alone in the world, as when some benevolent person says, "I
liked that little story of yours." Instantly I shut up like a clam.

"I liked it too," said Eleanore.

"Did you?" I asked delightedly. Far from retiring into my shell, I
wanted at once to open up and make her feel how much I had missed in
that crude effort. Soon she had me talking about it. And while I talked
on eagerly, I tried to guess from her questions whether she'd read it
more than once. Finally I guessed she had. And, glancing at her now and
then, I wondered how much she could ever know about me or I about
her--really know. And the intimacy I saw ahead loomed radiant and
boundless. I strained every nerve to show her myself, to show her the
very best of myself.

But then I heard her ask me,

"Wouldn't you like to talk to my father?"

Here was a fine end to it all.

"I don't know," I answered gloomily. I could see already those engineer
eyes moving amusedly down my pages. I could see her watching his face
and getting to feel as he did about me. "What good would it do?" I
added.

"What good would it do?" Her sharply offended tone brought me back with
a jerk to try to explain.

"Don't you see what I mean!" I asked eagerly. "Why should a man as busy
as he is waste his time on a kid like me? After all that you've told me
about him, I feel sometimes as though all the writers on earth don't
count any more, because all the really big things are being done by men
like your father."

"That's much better," said Eleanore. "Only of course it isn't true. If
you poor little writers want to get big and really count," she went on
serenely, "all you have to do is to write about my father."

"I'll begin the minute you say so," I told her.

"Then it's arranged," said my companion, with an exceedingly comfortable
sigh. "We've taken a cottage up on the Sound for the summer," she
continued. "And we're moving up to-morrow. Suppose you come up over
Sunday."

"Thanks. I'd love to," I replied.

"So she's to be away for months," I added dismally to myself. "No more
of these long afternoons."



CHAPTER X


On the following Saturday, when I met her boat at an East River dock, at
once I felt a difference. We were waiting for her father. The moments
dragged and I grew glum, try as I would to be pleasant.

"Here he is," she said at last.

Tall, rather lank and loosely clothed, Dillon was coming down the pier
in easy leisurely fashion, talking to a man by his side. His face
lighted up when he saw us.

"Just a minute," he said.

His voice was low but it had a peculiar carrying quality. His rugged
face was deeply lined, and I noticed a little gray in his hair. He was
smiling straight down into the eyes of his companion, a much younger
man, thin and poorly dressed, whose face looked drawn and tired.

"When I was your age," I heard Dillon remark, "I got into just the same
kind of a snarl." And he began telling about it. A frightfully technical
story it was, full of engineer slang that was Greek to me, but I saw the
younger man listen absorbed, his thin lips parting in a smile. I saw him
come out from under his worries, I saw his chief watching him, pulling
him out.

"All right, Jim," he ended. "See what you can do."

"Say, Chief, just you forget this, will you?" the other said intensely.
"Don't give it a thought. It's go'n' to be done!"

"It's forgotten."

Another easy smile at his man, and then Eleanore's father turned to us.
I could feel him casually take me in.

"The thing I liked most in that sketch of yours," he was saying a few
minutes later, when our boat was on her course, "was the way you listed
that Dutchman's cargo. 'One baby carriage--to Lahore.' A very large
picture in five little words. I can see that Hindu baby now--being
wheeled in its carriage to Crocodile Park and wondering where the devil
this queer new wagon came from. I've been nosing around these docks for
years, but I missed that part of 'em right along--that human part--till
you came along with your neat writer's trick. 'One baby carriage--to
Lahore.' You ought to be proud, young man, at your age to have written
one sentence so long that it goes half way around the world."

As he talked in that half bantering tone I tried to feel cross, but it
wouldn't do. That low voice and those gray eyes were not making fun of
me, they were making friends with me, they were so kindly, curious, so
open and sincere. Soon he had lighted a cigar and was telling Eleanore
gravely just how she ought to run her boat.

"Why be so busy about it?" he asked.

"Oh, you be quiet!" she replied, as she sharply spun her wheel. Like an
automobile in a crowded street our craft was lurching its way in short
dashes in and out of the rush hour traffic. The narrow East River was
black with boats. Ferries, tugs and steamers seemed to be coming at us
from every side. Now with a leap we would be off, then abruptly churning
the water behind us we would hold back drifting, watching our chance for
another rush. Eleanore's face was glowing now, her hat was off, her neck
was tense--and her blue-gray eyes, wide open, fixed on the chaos ahead,
were shining with excitement. Now and then a long curling wisp of her
hair would get in her eyes and savagely she would blow it back. And her
lank quiet father puffed his cigar, with his gray eyes restfully on her.
"The serenity of her," he murmured to me.

"Oh, now, my dear," he said gently, as we careened to starboard, "_that_
was a slip. I can't say I would have done it like that."

"Have you ever run a boat in your life?" came back the fierce rejoinder.

"No," said Dillon calmly, "I can't exactly say I have. Still"--he
relapsed and enjoyed his cigar.

Just a short time after this, we had the only ugly moment that I had
been through in all our rides. A huge Sound steamer was ahead. Dashing
close along under her port, we came suddenly out before her and met a
tug whose fool of a captain had made a rush to cross her bow. It was one
of those sickening instants when you see nothing at all to do. But
Eleanore saw. A quick jerk on her lever, a swift spinning of her wheel,
and with a leap we were right under the steamer's bow. It missed our
stern by a foot as it passed and then we were safe on the other side.
She made a low sound, in a moment her face went deathly white, her eyes
shut and she nearly let go the wheel. But then, her slight form
tightening, slowly opening her eyes she turned toward her father.

"Now?" he asked very softly. And there passed a look between them.

"All right," she breathed, and turned back to her wheel. And for some
time very little was said.

But I understood her love for him now. These two were such companions as
I had never seen before. And though I myself felt quite out of it all,
this did not bother me in the least. For watching her father and feeling
the abounding reserve of force deep under his quiet, I told myself that
here was a big man, the first really big one I'd ever come close to. And
I was so eager to know him and see just what he was like inside, that I
had no room for myself or his daughter--because I wanted to write him
up. What a weird, curious feeling it is, this passion for writing up
people you meet.

On the remainder of the ride, and at supper that night on the porch of
their cottage, a little house perched on a rocky point directly
overlooking the water, I did my best to draw him out, and Eleanore
seemed quite ready to help me. And later, when he went inside to do
some work, I went on with the same eagerness, obliterating my own small
self, exploring this feeling of hers for him and his dream of a future
harbor.

Soon she was doing all the talking, her voice growing lower and more
intense as she tried to make me feel all he meant when he said, "It's
going to be the first port in the world." She told how up in his tower
he made you see the commerce of this whole mighty world of peace
converging slowly on this port. She told of the night two years before
when he had come home "all shaken and queer" and had said to her
huskily, "Eleanore, child, at last it's sure. There's to be a Panama
Canal." Of other nights when he didn't come home and at last she went
down to his office to fetch him and found him at midnight there with his
men, "all working like mad and gay as larks!"

"When it comes to millions of dollars for his work," she said, "he's so
very keen that he makes you feel like a little child. But when it's
merely a question of dollars for himself to live on, he's a perfect
baby. He won't look at a bill, he always turns them over to me. He won't
enter a shop, he won't go to a tailor. One ready-made clothing store has
his measure and twice a year I order his clothes and then have a fight
to get him to wear them. He never knows what he eats except steak. One
night when we had been having steak six evenings in succession I tried
chicken for a change. At first he didn't know what was wrong. Every now
and then he would seem to notice something. 'What's the matter with me?'
I could see he was asking. Then all at once he had it. 'My dear,' he
said, very coaxingly, 'could we have a nice juicy porterhouse steak for
supper to-morrow evening?'"

From these and many other details slowly I got the feel of my man.
Closer, more intimate he grew. All the work I had done in Paris,
questioning, drawing out my friends until I could feel their inner
selves coming out of them into me, was counting now. I had never done so
well before, I was sliding my questions in just right, very cautiously
turning her memory this way and that on her father's life, watching her
grow more and more unaware of my presence beside her, although now I had
her bending toward me, eagerly, close.

"And she thinks she's doing it all by herself," I thought exultingly.

But as there came a pause in our talk, she turned slightly in her seat
and glanced in through the window into the lighted room behind. And
instantly her expression changed. A swift look of surprise, a puzzled
frown and a moment of hard thinking--and then with a murmured excuse she
rose and went away quickly into the house. In the meantime I had
followed her look. Sitting close by the lamp, in the room inside, Dillon
was staring straight at this spot where I was invisible in the dark. And
he looked old--and rigid, as though he'd been staring like that for some
time. I caught just a glimpse. Then he heard her step and turned hastily
back to his work. I looked at my watch. It was after twelve.

"And he never knew it was all about him," I said to myself disgustedly.
"I hope this doesn't spoil it all."

       *       *       *       *       *

But that is precisely what it did. The next morning she was coolly
polite and Dillon determinedly genial. I could feel a silent struggle
between them as to what should be done with me. She wanted to get rid of
me, he wanted to keep us together. Gone was all his quiet strength, in
its place was an anxious friendliness. He made me tell him what I was
writing. He said he was glad that his press agent daughter had taken me
'round and opened my eyes. And as soon as she got through with me he
himself would do all he could.

"I'm through with him," said Eleanore cheerfully. "I've shown him all I
possibly can. What you need now," she added, turning to me in her old
easy manner, "is to watch the harbor all by yourself and get your own
feelings about it. You might begin at the North River docks."

I spent a wretched afternoon. All my plans for my work and my life
assumed the most gray and desolate hues. Eleanore was taking a nap. At
last she came down and gave me some tea.

"May I come out and see you now and then?" I asked her very humbly. "It
would help me so much to talk over my work."

"No," she answered kindly, "I think you'd better not."

"Why not?" I blurted. "What have I done?"

She hesitated, then looked at me squarely.

"You've made my absurd young father," she said, "think that he is no
longer young."

I lost just a moment in admiration. There wasn't one girl in a hundred
who would have come out with it like that. Then I seized my chance.

"Why, it's perfectly idiotic," I cried. "Here's a man so big he's a
giant beside me, so full of some queer magnetic force that on the way up
here in the boat he made me forget that I was there. I forgot that _you_
were there," I threw in, and I caught just the sign of a gleam in her
eyes. "No longer young?" I continued. "That man will be young when you
and I are blinking in our dull old age! He's the biggest man I ever met!
And I want to know him, I want to know how he thinks and feels, I want
that more than anything else! And now you come between us!"

"Are you real?" asked Eleanore. I looked back unflinchingly.

"Just you try me," I retorted.

"No," she replied with a quiet smile.

She said good-by to me that night.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next morning at seven o'clock I met her father down at the boat. We
had a quick swim together and then climbed on board. And the next
minute, with a sober old seaman called "Captain Arty" at the wheel, the
boat was speeding for New York while we dressed and cooked and
breakfasted.

"This was Eleanore's idea," Dillon said. "It gets me to town by nine
o'clock and takes me back each day at five. So I hardly miss a night at
home.... Did she ever tell you," he went on, "about the first week she
spent in this boat?"

"She said it was a wonderful time."

"It was a nightmare," Dillon said. I looked at him quickly:

"What do you mean?"

"Her fight for her strength. She looked like a ghost--with a stiff upper
lip. She fainted twice. But she wouldn't give up. She said she knew she
could do it if I'd only let her stick it out. She has quite a will, that
daughter of mine," he added quietly.

"You know," he went on, "that idea of hers that you tackle the North
River piers isn't bad. Why don't you put in the whole Summer there,
watching the big liners? I won't ask you to come to my office now, for
our work is still in that early stage where we don't want any
publicity." I could feel his casual glance, and I wondered whether he
noticed my sharp disappointment. "When we are ready," he resumed, "we're
sure to be flooded with writers. I hope there'll be one man in the lot
who'll stick to the work for a year or more, a man with a kind of a
passion in him for the thing we're trying to do. There's nothing we
wouldn't do for that man. I hope he's going to be you."

At once a vision opened of work with Eleanore's father, of long talks
with Eleanore.

"I'll try to get ready for it," I said.

"You've made a fine start," he continued, "and I think you're going to
make good. But first let's see what you'll do by yourself. Get your own
view of this place as it is to-day before we talk about plans for
to-morrow. And don't hurry. Take your time."

As he said this quietly, I suddenly awoke to the fact that we were
tearing down the river at a perfectly gorgeous speed. The river was
crowding with traffic ahead, all was a rushing chaos of life and we were
rushing worst of all. And yet we did not seem to hurry. Old Captain Arty
sat at the wheel with the most resigned patient look in his eyes. And
drawing lazily on his cigar Dillon was watching a new line of wharves.

"You know I've found," he was saying, "the only way to live in this age
and get any pleasure out of life is to always take more time than you
need for every job you tackle. I'm taking at least seven years to this
job. I might possibly do it as well in five, but I'd miss half the fun
of it all, I'd be glaring at separate parts of it, each one as it came
along, and I'd never have time to see it full size and let it carry me
'round the world--to that baby carriage, for instance, over in Lahore."

We were rounding the Battery now. And in that sparkling morning light,
with billowy waves of sea green all around us, sudden snowy clouds of
spray, we watched for a moment the skyscraper group, the homes of the
Big Companies. The sunshine was reflected from thousands of dazzling
window eyes, little streamers of steam were flung out gaily overhead,
streets suddenly opened to our view, narrow cuts revealing the depths
below. And there came to our ears a deep humming.

"That's the brains of it all," said Dillon. "In all you'll see while
exploring the wharves you'll find some string that leads back here. And
you don't want to let that worry you. Let the muckrakers worry and plan
all they please for a sea-gate and a nation that's to run with its
brains removed. You want to remember it can't be done. You want to look
harder and harder--until you find out for yourself that there are men up
there on Wall Street without whose brains no big thing can be done in
this country. I'm working under their orders and some day I hope you'll
be doing the same. For they don't need _less_ publicity but _more_."

He left me at the Battery, and as I stood looking after him I found
myself feeling somewhat dazed. A question flashed into my mind. What
would Joe Kramer say to this? I remembered what he had said to me once:
"Tell Wall Street to get off the roof." Well, that was _his_ view. Here
was another. And this man was certainly just as sincere and decidedly
more wise and sane, altogether a larger size.

Besides, I was in love with his daughter.



CHAPTER XI


On the Manhattan side of the North River, from Twenty-third Street down
for a mile there stretches a deafening region of cobblestones and
asphalt over which trucks by thousands go clattering each day. There are
long lines of freight cars here and snorting locomotives. Along the
shore side are many saloons, a few cheap decent little hotels and some
that are far from decent. And along the water side is a solid line of
docksheds. Their front is one unbroken wall of sheet iron and concrete.

I came up against this wall. Over the top I could see here and there the
great round funnels of the ships, but at every passenger doorway and at
every wide freight entrance I found a sign, "No Visitors Admitted," and
under the sign a watchman who would ungraciously take a cigar and then
go right on being a watchman. There seemed no way to get inside. The
old-fashioned mystery of the sea was replaced by the inscrutability of
what some muckrakers called "The Pool."

"Don't hurry," Eleanore's father had said. All very well, but I needed
money. While I had been making with Eleanore those long and delightful
explorations of the harbor and ourselves, at home my father's bank
account had been steadily dwindling, and all that I had been able to
make had gone into expenses.

"I don't know what to do," said Sue, alone with me that evening. "The
butcher says he won't wait any longer. He has simply got to be paid this
week."

"I'll see what I can do," I said.

I came back to my new hunting ground and all night long I prowled
about. I sipped large schooners of beer at bars, listening to the burly
dockers crowded close around me. I watched the waterfront, empty and
still, with acres of spectral wagons and trucks and here and there a
lantern. I had a long talk with a broken old bum who lay on his back in
an empty truck looking up at the stars and spun me yarns of his life as
a cook on ships all up and down the world. Now and again in the small
wee hours I met hurrying groups of men, women and children poorly clad,
and following them to one of the piers I heard the sleepy watchman
growl, "Steerage passengers over there." I saw the dawn break slowly and
everything around me grow bluish and unreal. I watched the teamsters
come tramping along leading horses, and harness them to the trucks. I
heard the first clatter of the day. I saw the figures of dockers appear,
more and more, I saw some of them drift to the docks. Soon there were
crowds of thousands, and as stevedores there began bawling out names,
gang after gang of men stepped forward, until at last the chosen throngs
went marching in past the timekeepers. Hungrily I peered after them up
the long cavernous docksheds. "No Visitors Admitted."

Then I went into a lunchroom for ham and eggs and a huge cup of coffee.
I ate an enormous breakfast. On the floor beside me a cross and weary
looking old woman was scrubbing the dirty oil cloth there. But I myself
felt no weariness. While all was still vivid and fresh in my mind,
sitting there I wrote down what I had seen. A magazine editor said it
would do. And so we paid the butcher.

The same editor gave me a sweeping letter of introduction to all ocean
liners. This I showed to a dock watchman, who directed me upstairs. In
the office above I showed it to a clerk, who directed me to the dock
superintendent, who read it and told me to go downtown. I recalled what
Dillon had said about strings. Here was string number one, I reflected,
and I followed it down Manhattan into the tall buildings, only to be
asked down there just what it was I wanted to know.

"I don't want to know anything," I replied. "I just want permission to
watch the work."

"We can't allow that," was the answer of this harbor of big companies.

At every pier that I approached I received about the same reply. At home
Sue spoke of other bills. And now that I was in trouble, hard pressed
for money and groping my way about alone, I found myself missing
Eleanore to a most desperate degree. Her face, her smiling blue-gray
eyes, kept rising in my mind, sometimes with memories and hopes that
permeated my whole view both of the harbor and my work with a warm glad
expectant glow, but more often with no feeling at all but one of
sickening emptiness. She was not here. The only way to get back to her
was to make good with her father. And so I would not ask his aid or even
go to him for advice. Testing me, was he? All right, I would show him.

And I returned to my editor, whom my intensity rather amused.

"The joke of it is," he said, "that they think down there you're a
muckraker."

"I'll be one soon if this keeps on."

"But it won't," he replied. "As soon as you've once broken in, and they
see it's a glory story you want, you can't imagine how nice they'll be."

"I haven't broken in," I said.

"You will to-morrow," he told me, "because Abner Bell will be with you.
He's our star photographer. Wait till you see little Ab go to work. The
place he can't get into hasn't been invented. Besides," the editor
added, "Abner is just the sort of chap to take hold of an author from
Paris and turn him into a writer."

And this Abner Bell proceeded to do. He was a cheerful, rotund little
man with round simple eyes and a smile that went all over his face.

"You see," he said, when I met him the next day down at the docks, "you
can't ask a harbor to hold up her chin and look into your camera while
you count. She's such a big fat noisy slob she wouldn't even hear you.
You've got to run right at her and bark."

"Look here, old man," he was asking a watchman a few moments later.
"What's the name of the superintendent on the next pier down the line!"

"Captain Townes."

"Townes, Townes? Is that Bill Townes?"

"No, it's Ed."

"I wonder what's become of Bill. All right, brother, much obliged. See
you again." And he went on.

"Say," he asked the next watchman. "Is Eddy--I mean Captain--Townes
upstairs?"

"Sure he is. Go right up."

"Thank you." Up we went to the office. "Captain Townes? Good-morning."

"Well, sir, what can I do for you?" The captain was an Englishman with a
voice as heavy and deep as his eyes.

"Why, Captain, I'm sent here by the firm that's putting Peevey's Paris
Perfume on the market out in the Middle West. They're going in heavy on
ads this Fall and I've got an order to hang around here until I can get
a photo of one of your biggest liners. The idea is to run it as an ad,
with a caption under it something like this: '_The Kaiser Wilhelm_
reaching New York with twenty thousand bottles of Peevey's Best, direct
from Paris.'"

"_The Kaiser Wilhelm_," said the captain ponderously, "is a German boat.
She docks in Hoboken, my friend."

"Of course she does," said Abner. "And I can lug this heavy camera way
over there if you say so, and hand ten thousand dollars worth of free
ads to a German line, stick up pictures of their boat in little
drugstore windows all up and down the Middle West. Do you know how to
tell me to go away?"

Captain Townes smiled heavily.

"No," he said, "I guess I don't. Here's a pass that'll give you the run
of the dock."

"Make it two," said Abner, "and fix it so my friend and I can stick
around for quite a while."

"You're a pretty good liar," I told him as we went downstairs.

"Oh, hell," he answered modestly. "Let's go out on the porch and get
cool."

We went out on the open end of the pier and sat down on a wooden beam
which Abner called a bulkhead.

"If we don't begin calling things names," he remarked, "we'll never get
to feeling we're here. Let's just sit and feel for a while."

"I've begun," I replied.

We sat in the shade of two wooden piles with the glare of a midsummer
sun all around us. The East River had been like a crowded creek compared
to this wide expanse of water slapping and gleaming out there in the sun
with smoke shadows chasing over it all. There was the rough odor of
smoke in the air from craft of all kinds as they skurried about. The
high black bow of a Cunarder loomed at the end of the dock next ours.
Far across the river the stout German liners lay at their berths--and
they did not look like sea hogs. What a change had come over the harbor
since I had met that motorboat. How all the hogs had waddled away, and
the very smoke and the oil on the waves had taken on deep, vivid
hues--as I had seen through Eleanore's eyes. "What a strange wonderful
purple," her low voice seemed to murmur at my side.

"She's going away from here," said Ab. I started:

"Who is?"

"That Cunarder. Look at the smoke pour out of her stacks. Got a
cigarette about you?"

"No," I answered gruffly.

"Damn."

In the slip on our other side a large freight boat was loading, and a
herd of scows and barges were pressing close around her. These clumsy
craft had cabins, and in some whole families lived. "Harbor Gypsies." A
good title. I had paid the butcher, but the grocer was still waiting. So
I dismissed my motorboat and grimly turned to scows instead. Children by
the dozen were making friends from barge to barge. Dogs were all about
us and they too were busy visiting. High up on the roof of a coal
lighter's cabin an impudent little skye-terrier kept barking at the
sooty men who were shoveling down below. One of these from time to time
would lift his black face and good-humoredly call, "Oh, you go to
hell"--which would drive the small dog into frenzies. Most of the barges
had derrick masts, and all these masts were moving. They rose between me
and the sky, bobbing, tossing and criss-crossing, filling the place with
the feeling of life, the unending, restless life of the sea.

An ear-shattering roar broke in on it all. Our Cunarder was starting.
Smoke belching black from her funnels, the monster was beginning to
move.

But what was this woman doing close by us? Out of the cabin of a barge
she had dragged a little rocking chair, and now she had brought out a
baby, all dressed up in its Sunday best, and was rocking expectantly,
watching the ship. Thundering to the harbor, the Cunarder now moved
slowly out. As she swept into the river the end of the pier was revealed
to our eyes all black with people waving. They waved until she was out
in midstream. Then, as they began to turn away, one plump
motherly-looking woman happened to glance toward us.

"Why, the cute little baby," we heard her exclaim. And the next minute
hundreds of people were looking. The barge mother rocked serenely.

Abner grabbed his camera and jumped nimbly down on the barge, where he
took the baby's picture, with the amused crowd for a background.

"The kid's name," he remarked on his return, "is Violetta Rosy. She was
born at two a. m. at Pier Forty-nine." He was silent for a moment and
then went on sententiously, "Think what it'll mean to her, through all
the storm and stress of life, to be able to look fondly back upon the
dear old homestead. There's a punch to Violetta. Better run her in."

"I will," I said.

"And that little thing of mine," he queried modestly, "about the dear
old homestead."

"I've got it," I replied.

"I hand quite a few little things to writers," Ab continued cheerfully.
"If you'll just give me some idea of what it is you're looking for----"

"I'm looking for the punch," I answered promptly.

"Then we'll get on fine," he said. "The editor got me worried some. He
said you'd trained in Paris."

"Oh, that was only a starter," I told him.

Presently he went into the dockshed on his unending quest of "the
punch." And left to myself I got thinking. What did Paris know about us?
De Maupassant's methods wouldn't do here. I noticed two painters in
overalls at work on that large freighter. With long brooms that they
held in both hands they were slapping a band of crude yellow paint along
her scarred and rusted side. That was what I needed, the broom! All at
once the harbor took hold of me hard. And exulting in its bigness, the
bold raw splattering bigness of my native Yankee land, "Now for some
glory stories," I said.

I went into the dockshed, and there I stayed right through until night,
till my mind was limp and battered from the rush of new impressions. For
in this long sea station, under the blue arc-lights, in boxes, barrels,
crates and bags, tumbling, banging, crashing, came the products of this
modern land. You could feel the pulse of a continent here. From the
factories, the mines and mills, the prairies and the forests, the
plantations and the vineyards, there flowed a mighty tide of
things--endlessly, both day and night--you could shut your eyes and see
the long brown lines of cars crawl eastward from all over the land, you
could see the stuff converging here to be gathered into coarse rope nets
and swept up to the liners. The pulse beat fast and furious. In gangs at
every hatchway you saw men heaving, sweating, you heard them swearing,
panting. That day they worked straight through the night. For the pulse
kept beating, beating, and the ship must sail on time!

And now I too worked day and night. In the weeks that followed, Abner
Bell came and went many times, but for me it was my entire life. Though
small of build I was tough and hard, I had not been sick for a day in
years, and now I easily stood the strain. Day by day my story grew, my
glory story of world trade. Watching, questioning, listening here,
making notes, writing hasty sketches to help keep us going at
home--slowly I could feel this place yielding up its inner self, its
punch and bigness, endless rush, its feeling of a nation young and
piling up prodigious wealth. From the customhouse came fabulous tales of
millionaires ransacking the world. Rare old furniture, rugs and
tapestries, paintings, jewels, gorgeous gowns poured in a dazzling
torrent all that summer through the docks. One day on a Mediterranean
ship, in their immaculate "stalls de luxe," came two black Arab horses,
glistening, quivering creatures, valued by the customhouse at twenty
thousand dollars each. And into the same ship that week, as though in
payment for these two, in dust and heavy smell of sweat I saw a thousand
cattle driven, bellowing and lowing.

I exulted in these symptoms of our crude and lusty youth. I watched my
countrymen going abroad. Not only through the Summer but straight on
into the Fall they came by tens of thousands out of the West, people who
had made some money and were going to blow it in, to buy things and to
see things, to learn things and to eat things. One day at noon, on the
end of a dock, when the ship was already far out in midstream and all
the crashing music and cheers had died away, a meek old lady wiped her
eyes and murmured very tearfully, "I suppose they'll be eating their
luncheon soon." And then the loud voice of her daughter replied:

"Eat? Why, ma, God bless their hearts, they'll sit on that boat and eat
all day!"

And I echoed her wish with a keen delight. God bless their hearts and
stomachs. Oh, hungry vigorous Yankee land, so mightily young--eat on,
eat on!

And the land ate on.

       *       *       *       *       *

My work here rose to a climax a week or two before Christmas, when the
newest liner of them all pulled off a new world's record for speed. With
the company's publicity man, who had become a friend of mine, I went on
the health officer's tug down the Bay to meet her, on the coldest,
darkest night I've ever known on water. Shortly after nine o'clock the
big boat's light gleamed off the Hook and she bore down upon us. She
came close, slowed down and towered by our side, weird as a ghost with
snow and ice in glimmering sheets on her steel sides. She did not stop.
We caught a rope ladder and scrambled up, and at once we felt her
speeding on.

And she was indeed a story that night. Bellowing hoarsely now in warning
to all small craft to get out of her way, she was rushing into the
harbor. Suddenly she slowed again, and three dark mail tugs ranged
alongside, and through canvas chutes four thousand sacks of Christmas
mail began to pour down while the ship moved on. Up her other side came
climbing gangs of men who began to make ready her winches and open up
her hatches. Now we were moving in close to the pier, with a whole fleet
of tugs around us. Faint shouts rose in the zero night, toots and sharp
whistles. One of the gang-planks was down at last and two hundred
dockers came up on the run. Off went the passengers and the luggage,
reporters skurrying through the crowds. But the ship did not rest. For
she was to sail again the next night. This was to be a world's record
for speed!

All night long the work went on, and I watched it from a deck above,
going in now and then for food and hot drinks. On her dock side,
forward, Christmas boxes, bales and packages were being whipped up out
of her hold to the rattle of her winches. One sharp whistle and up they
shot into the air till they swung some seventy feet above. Another
whistle and down they whirled into the dockshed far below from which a
blaze of light poured up. At the same time she was coaling. Along the
black wall of her other side, as I peered over the rail above, I saw far
below a row of barges crowded with Italians. Powerful lights swung over
their heads in the freezing wind, swung above black coal heaps and the
lapping water. It was an inferno of shifting lights and long leaping
shadows.

I watched till daylight blotted out the yellow glare of the lanterns.
Then I went home to get some sleep. And late that night when I came back
I found her almost ready to sail.

Out of taxis and automobiles chugging down in front of the pier, the
passengers were pouring in. Many were in evening clothes, some just come
from dinners and others from box parties. The theaters had just let out.
The rich warm hues of the women's cloaks, the gay head dresses here and
there and the sparkling earrings, immaculate gloves and dainty wanton
slippered feet, kept giving flashes of color to this dark freezing ocean
place. Most of these people went hurrying up into the warm, gorgeous
café of the ship, which was run from a hotel in Paris. What had all this
to do with the sea?

"Come on," said the genial press agent. "You're the company's
guest-to-night."

And while we ate and drank and smoked, and the tables around us filled
with people whose ripples and bursts of laughter rose over the
orchestra's festive throb, and corks kept popping everywhere, he told me
where they were going, these gay revellers, for their Christmas Day--to
London, Brussels, Berlin and Vienna, Paris, Nice, Monte Carlo, Algiers.

"Now come with me," he said at last, and he took me along warm
passageways to the row of cabins de luxe.

First we looked into the Bridal Suite, to which one of the Pittsburgh
makers of steel, having just divorced a homely old wife, was presently
to bring his new bride, a ravishing young creature of musical comedy
fame. They had been married that afternoon. A French maid was unpacking
dainty shimmering little gowns, soft furry things and other things of
silk and lace, and hanging them up in closets. It was a large room, and
there were other rooms adjoining and two big luxurious baths. The cost
of it all was four thousand dollars for the five days. There were tall
mirrors and dressing tables, there were capacious easy chairs. Low
subdued lights were here and there, and a thick rug was on the floor.
Over in one corner was a huge double bed of cream colored wood with rich
soft quilts upon it. Beside the bed in a pink satin cradle there lay a
tiny Pekinese dog.

"Next," he whispered. We peeped into the next stateroom, and there
divided from her neighbors by only one thin partition, a sober, wrinkled
little old lady in black velvet sat quietly reading her Bible. Soon she
would be saying her prayers.

"Next," he whispered. And in the cabin on her other side we caught a
glimpse of two jovial men playing cards in gay pajamas with a bottle of
Scotch between them.

"Next." And as we went on down the row he gave me the names of an
English earl, a Jewish clothing merchant, a Minnesota ranchman, a
banker's widow from Boston, a Tammany politician, a Catholic bishop from
Baltimore, a millionaire cheese maker from Troy and a mining king from
Montana.

"How about that," he asked at the end, "for an American row de luxe?"

"My God, it's great," I whispered.

"There's only one big question here," he added. "Your long respectable
pedigrees and your nice little Puritanical codes can all go to
blazes--this big boat will throw 'em all overboard for you--if you can
answer, 'I've got the price.'"



CHAPTER XII


Meanwhile, in the late Autumn, Eleanore had come back to town. I had a
note from her one day.

"Come and tell me what you are writing," she said.

I went to see her that afternoon, and I was deeply excited. I had often
felt her by my side when I was watching the harbor life and as often
behind me while I wrote. We had had long talks together, absorbing talks
about ourselves. And though now in her easy welcome and through all her
cheerful questions there was not a suggestion that we two had been or
ever would be anything but genial friends, this did not discourage me in
the least. No fellow, I thought, could be happy as I and have nothing
better than friendship ahead. The Fates could never be so hard, for
certainly now they were smiling.

Here was her apartment, just the place I had felt it would be, only
infinitely more attractive. High up above the Manhattan jungle, it was
quiet and sunny and charming here. From the low, wide living-room
windows you could see miles out over the harbor where my work was going
so splendidly, and all around the room itself I saw what I was working
for. Eleanore's touch was everywhere. An intimate, lovable feminine home
with man-sized views from its windows--just like Eleanore herself, from
whom I found it difficult to keep my hungry eyes away. To that soft
bewildering hair of hers she had done something different--I couldn't
tell what, but I loved it. I loved the changing tones of her voice--I
hate monotonous voices. I watched the smiling lights in her eyes. She
was at her small tea table now. Her motorboat, thank Heaven, was laid
up for the winter, and I had her right here in a room, with nothing to
do with her eyes but pay a decent amount of attention to me. Then by
some chance remark I learned that she had been reading what I wrote,
almost all of it, in fact. And at the slight exclamation I made I saw
her color slightly and bite her lip as though she were angry with
herself for having let that secret out.

"What do you want to write," she asked, "when you get through with the
harbor?"

"Fiction," I said. "I want it so hard sometimes that it seems like a
long way ahead. It seems sometimes," I added, "like a girl I'd fallen in
love with--but I couldn't even ask her--because I'm so infernally
poor."

Over the tea cup at her lips Eleanore looked thoughtfully straight into
and through and behind my eyes.

"Fiction is such a broad field," she remarked. "What kind do you think
you're going to try?"

"I don't know," I answered. "It still seems so far ahead. You see, I
have no name at all, and this harbor at least is a good safe start. I'm
afraid I'm rather a cautious sort. When I find what I want--and want so
hard that it's the deepest part of me--I like to go slow. I'm afraid to
risk losing it all--deciding my life one way or the other--by taking a
chance." I made a restless movement. "I wasn't speaking of my work just
then," I added gruffly.

I suddenly caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror back of Eleanore's
chair. And I glared at myself for the fool that I was to have said all
that. I hadn't meant to--not in the least! What a paltry looking cuss I
was--small, tough and wiry, hair sandy, eyes of no color at all, snub
nose and a jaw shut tight as in pain.

"You're a queer person," said a voice.

"I am," I agreed forlornly. "I'm the queerest fellow I ever met." I
caught a grim twinkle in my eyes. Thank God for a sense of humor.

"Sometimes," she went on, reflectively, "you seem to me as old as the
hills--and again so young and obvious. I'm so sorry to hear you say that
you weren't talking of your work. I like to hear men talk of their
work."

"I know you do," I said hungrily. "And that's one of the reasons why
you're going to mean so much some day--to somebody's work--and to his
whole life."

Why couldn't I stop? Had I gone insane? I rose and moved about the room.
A low rippling laugh brought me back to my senses.

"But how about _me_ and _my_ life?" she asked. "That ought to be thought
of a little, you know."

I came close beside her:

"Let me say this. Won't you? I'll promise never to say it again. Your
life is going to be all right. It's going to be quite wonderful--you'll
be tremendously happy. I'm sure of that. It's not only the way you
always--look--it's the way you always think and feel. It's everything
about you."

She had looked down at her hands for a moment. Now she looked up
suddenly.

"Thank you," she said smiling, in a way that told me to smile too. I
obeyed.

"I did that rather badly, didn't I," I said.

"No, you did that rather well. Especially the first part--I think I
liked that best of all--the part where you promised so solemnly that
you'd never do it again."

I went indignantly back to my chair.

"Do you know," I said, "I feel sometimes when I'm with you as though I
were being managed! Absolutely managed!"

"I should think you wouldn't like that," she replied. Her hands were
peacefully folded now and she looked at me serenely: "I should think
you'd rather manage yourself."

I took the hint. From, that day on, each time I came to see her, I
managed myself severely. And this apparently pleased her so much that
she seemed no longer the least afraid to let me know her as well as I
liked. Her father, too, when I met him now and then in the evenings, was
most kindly in his welcome. And as winter wore on, my hopes rose high.

But one evening, after Dillon had read my story about the Christmas
Boat, he gave me a bitter disappointment.

"I like it," he said, as he handed it back. "It's a fine dramatic piece
of work. But it's only a starter here. To get any idea of our problem
you'll have to go all over the harbor. When you've done that for a few
months more, and I get back from my trip abroad, I'll be glad to help
you."

"You're going abroad?" I asked abruptly.

"Next month," he said, "with Eleanore. She seems to think I need a
rest."

Back came the old feeling of emptiness. And gloomily at home that night
I wondered if it was because she knew she was leaving so soon that she
had been so intimate lately. How outrageous women are.



CHAPTER XIII


They sailed the middle of March.

It is easy to look back now and smile at my small desolate self as I was
in the months that followed. But at the time it was no smiling matter. I
was intensely wretched and I had a right to be, for I could see nothing
whatever ahead but the most dire uncertainties. Did Eleanore really care
for me? I didn't know. When could I ask her? I didn't know. For when
would I be earning enough to ask any girl to marry me? At present nearly
all I earned was swallowed up by expenses at home, and I knew that in
all likelihood this drain would soon grow heavier.

For we could not count much longer on my father's salary. Already I had
done my best to make him give up his position. He stubbornly resisted.

"I'm strong as I ever was," he declared, and he took great pains to
prove it. He would sit down to dinner, his face heavy and gray with
fatigue, but by a hard visible effort slowly he would throw it off,
keenly questioning me about my work, more often quizzing me about it, or
Sue about her "revolooters." He had a stock of these dry remarks and he
used them over and over. When the same jokes came night after night we
knew he was very tired. After dinner on such evenings, when I went with
him into his study to smoke, he would invariably settle back in his
chair with the same loud "Ah!" of comfort, and he would follow this up
as he lit his cigar with the most obvious grunts expressive of health to
prove to me how strong he was. He was always grimly delighted when I
spent these evenings with him, but always before his cigar was out his
head would sink slowly over his book and soon he would be sound asleep.
Then as I sat at my writing I would glance over from time to time. I
could tell when he was waking, and at once I would grow absorbed in my
work. Soon I would hear a slight snort of surprise, I would hear him
stealthily feel for his book, and then presently out of the silence----

"This is a devilish good piece of writing, boy," he would announce
abruptly. "When _you_ learn to hold your reader like this I'll begin to
think you're a writer."

Yes, my father was aging fast, I would soon be the only breadwinner
here. Sue fought hard against this idea, she was still set on finding
work for herself, but each time she proposed it Dad would rise so
indignantly, with such evident pain in his glaring old eyes, that she
would be forced to give up her plan. In such talks I supported him, and
in return when we two were alone Sue would revenge herself on me by the
most cutting comments on "this inane habit of looking at girls as fit
for nothing better than marriage."

These comments, I was well aware, were aimed at my feeling for Eleanore,
for whom Sue had no longer any good word but only a smiling derision.
Her remarks were straight out of Bernard Shaw's most ribald works, and
they left me miserably wondering whether any man had ever loved in any
way that wasn't the curse or the joke of his life. Sue dwelt on this
glorious age of deep radical changes going on, she spoke of Joe Kramer,
with whom she still corresponded, and enlarged on the wonderful freedom
he had to go anywhere at any time. Thank a merciful heaven _he_ wasn't
tied down! And if Joe would only keep his head and not marry, not get a
huge family on his hands----

Sue made me perfectly wretched.

       *       *       *       *       *

In this frame of mind I again tackled the harbor. Dillon had told me to
cover it all, and this I now set out to do. On warm muggy April days I
tramped what appeared to me hundreds of miles. But the regions that from
Eleanore's boat had somehow had a feeling of being one great living
thing, now on these dreary trudging days fell apart into remote bays and
slips and rivers, hours of weary travel apart and each without any
connection with any other that I could see. Railroad tracks wound in and
out with no apparent purpose, dirty freight boats crawled helter-skelter
this way and that. All seemed a meaningless chaos and jam.

And still worse, as I wrestled with this confusion I found it was
growing stale to me. In those Spring days I was fagged and dull, my
imagination would not work. And this gave me a scare. I must _not_ grow
stale, I must keep right on making money to meet the bills that were
still piling up at home. And so for a Sunday paper I undertook a series
on "The Harbor from a Police Boat." This sounded rather exciting and I
hoped that it might restore the lost thrill. The harbor that it showed
me made fine Sunday reading. Out of its grim waters dead bodies bobbed,
dead faces leered, the sodden ends of mysteries. I wrote them and got
paid for them. And I felt no thrill but only disgust. I made some more
money out of rats--rats in countless ravenous hordes that had a harbor
world of their own. This world extended for hundreds of miles in the
dark chill places under the wharves. And the rats kept gnawing, gnawing,
and slowly with the help of the waves they wore away to splinters and
pulp the millions of beams and planks and piles. I found that entire
mountains were denuded each year of their forests to supply food for the
rats and the ocean here. I was almost a muckraker now.

Meanwhile I had gone in June to the South Brooklyn waterfront and had
taken a room in a tenement near the end of a dock peninsula which jutted
out into the bay. For I wanted to live in the very heart of the big
port's confusion, to grapple alone with the chaos out of which Dillon's
engineers were striving to bring order. Here I lived for weeks by
myself, taking my meals in a barroom below.

There were no stately liners here. The North River piers with their rich
life had been like a show room. I had come down into the factory now. I
could see them still, those liners, but only in the distance steaming
through the Narrows. Eleanore had gone that way. Here close around me
were grimy yards with heaps of coal, enormous sheds, and inland one of
the two narrow mouths of the crowded Erie Basin, out of which slid ugly
freighters through the dirty water.

Like the Ancient Mariner I sat there dully on the pier watching the life
of the ocean go past, and I would try to jot it down. But soon I would
stop. "All right--who cares?" The punch was gone. It grew hot and the
water smelt. And I was as blue a reporter of life as ever chewed his
pencil.

But life has a way of punching up even a stale young writer. In the
rooms above mine lived a man and wife who quarreled half way through the
night. Night after night they railed at each other, until one horrible
night of screams, in the middle of which I heard the man come running
downstairs. He banged at my door.

"Come in," I cried morosely. A big figure entered the dark room.

"Look here," said a rough frightened voice. "Get up and get dressed and
run for a doctor. Will you, son? I'm in a hell of a hole!"

"What's the matter!"

"My woman is havin' a baby, that's what," he answered fiercely. "We
wasn't expectin' it so soon! An' there ain't a single doctor in miles!
But there's a night watchman with a 'phone down there in the dockshed!"

"All right, old man, I'll do my best."

"Say!" he shouted after me, as I hurried down the stairs. "If you know a
damn thing about this business come back here the minute you've
'phoned! I'm in a hole, brother, a hell of a hole!"

I came back soon, and within a few minutes after I came I saw a baby
born.

I did not sleep that night. My mind was curiously clear. I had had the
jolt that I needed from life--its agony and bloody sweat, its mystery.
It was not dull, it was not stale. The only trouble lay in me. I must
find a new angle from which to write.

Why not try becoming one of the workers? The man upstairs was a tug
captain, and grateful to me for what help I had given; he now agreed to
take me on his tug, where there was plenty of simple work which I did
for a dollar a day and my board. And at once I felt a difference. The
light work steadied my overwrought nerves and unlocked my mind which had
set tight. And now at last I began to see my way out of the jungle.

For the tug belonged to a row of piers about a mile to the southward.
Brand new gigantic piers they were, with solid rows of factory buildings
on the shore behind them, all owned by one great company, which rented
floors or parts of floors to hundreds of manufacturers here. The raw
materials they required were landed from barges or ships at the piers
and delivered to their doors at once, and their finished products were
conveyed in the same way to all parts of the world. Here was a key to
the future port of ordered combination that Eleanore's father was
working toward. Here was the place I must write up before he came back
from abroad, to show him that I had found it.

And the very certainty of this increased my exasperation. For even still
I could not write. Doggedly I worked at night up there in my room in the
tenement, but I wrote the most tedious dismal stuff which I would tear
up savagely. Inanely I would pound my head as though to put punch into
it.

But another miracle happened to me.

On one of those enormous piers, roofed over, dim and cool inside, I
stood one day looking out on the deck of an East Indian freighter, where
two half-naked Malays were polishing the brasswork. One of them was a
boy of ten. His small face was uncouth and primitive almost as some
little ape's, but I saw him look up again and again with a sudden
gleaming expectancy. I grew curious and waited. Now the looks came
oftener, his every move was restless. And after a time another boy, a
little New York "newsie," with a pack of evening papers, came loitering
along the pier. Unconcernedly up the gang-plank he went, while the Malay
crouched in his corner, rigid and tense, his black eyes fixed. The white
boy took no notice. Climbing up a ladder he sold a couple of papers to
some officers on a deck above, and then he went down again to the dock.
Presently one of the officers yawned and threw his paper over the rail,
and as it fell to the lower deck in an instant the Malay boy was upon
it, devouring its headlines and its pictures with his animal eyes, with
one of his small bare brown feet upon the jeweled bosom of the latest
Fifth Avenue divorcee.

"Where does that kid sleep?" I asked an officer. I was shown his bunk
below, and there I found I had guessed right. For the side and the top
and both ends of his bunk were lined with red headlines and newspaper
pictures all carefully cut and pasted on. Five of the New York "Giants"
were there.

And as though the fresh fierce hungriness had passed from that small
heathen's soul into my own, that day I again became a reporter of things
to be seen in the port of New York.

Back into the dockshed I went, and all up and down and in and out among
piles of strange and odorous stuffs. And once more I felt the wonder of
this modern ocean world. I followed this raw produce of Mother Earth's
four corners back into those factory buildings ashore. I saw it made
into chewing-gum, toys, sofas, glue, curled hair and wall-paper. I saw
it made into ladles' hats, corks, carpets, dynamos, stuffed dates. I saw
it made into dirt-proof collars and shirt bosoms, salad dressing,
blackboards, corsets and the like. Again I fairly reveled in lists of
things and the places they came from and the places to which they were
going. I saw chewing-gum start for Rio and Quaker Oats for Shanghai,
patent medicine for Nabat, curled hair for Yokohama, "movy" theater
seats for Sydney, tomato soup for Cape Town and corsets for Rangoon.

"From Everywhere to Anywhere" was the title of my article. It took only
a week to write, and was ready when the Dillons came home.



CHAPTER XIV


They landed toward the end of July and I went to the dock to meet them.

Elated over my finished story, which I had in my pocket, and made
absurdly happy by the sight of Eleanore smiling down at me over the
rail, I was surprised at the greeting she gave me.

"Why, you poor boy. How terribly hard you've been working," she said.
And she looked at me as though I were sick and worn to the bone. The end
of it was that I accepted delightedly an invitation to spend a week up
at their cottage on the Sound.

Those were seven vivid glowing days. I could not relax, I was too
intensely happy, I had too much to tell her, not only about my work but
about a host of other things that without rhyme or reason popped into my
mind and had to be said. The range of our talk was tremendous, and the
wider we ranged the closer we drew. For she too was telling things, and
her things were as unexpected as mine and infinitely more absorbing. Her
manner toward me had quite changed. It was that of a nurse with an
invalid, she frankly ordered me about.

"Why can't you lie back on those cushions?" she asked one morning when
we were out in her boat. "You ought to be dozing half the day--and
instead you're as wide awake as an owl."

"I am," I admitted happily. "I'm trying to see everything." The chic
little hat and the blouse she wore were adorably fresh from Paris, and
as I watched her run her boat I could feel flowing into my body and soul
a perfectly boundless store of new life.

"I've been thinking you over," she said.

"Have you?" I asked delightedly. I had often wondered if she had. "What
do you think?" I inquired.

Eleanore frowned perplexedly.

"You're such a queer combination," she said. "You have such ridiculous
ups and downs. To-day you're way up, aren't you."

"I am," I said very earnestly. She looked off placidly over the Sound.

"You're so very sensitive," she went on. "You let things take hold of
you so hard. And yet on the other hand you seem to be so very----" she
hesitated for a word.

"Tough," I suggested cheerfully.

"No--hungry," Eleanore said. "You're always reaching out for things--you
jump right into them so hard. And even when they hurt you--and you're
hurt quite easily--you hang on and won't let go. Look at the way you've
gone at the harbor right from the start. And you're doing it
still--you've done it all summer until it has made you look like a
ghost. And I guess you'll keep on all your life. There are harbors
everywhere, you know--in a way the whole world is a harbor--and unless
you change a lot you're going to be hurt a good deal."

"My mother agreed with you," I said. "She wanted me to be a professor in
a quiet college town."

"Please stop twinkling your eyes," Eleanore commanded. "Your mother knew
you very well. You might have done that--and settled down--with some
nice quiet college girl--if you had done it years ago. As it is, of
course you're hopeless."

"I am not hopeless," I declared indignantly. "If I can only get what I
want I'll be the happiest fellow alive!"

"I know," she answered thoughtfully. "You told me that before. You want
fiction, don't you."

"Yes, fiction," I said wrathfully. "I want that more than anything
else. But I don't want any quiet kind, and I don't want any quiet town,"
I went on, leaning forward intensely. "I want the harbor and the city--I
want it thick and heavy, and just as fast as it will come. I want all
the life there is in the world--all the beauty--all the happiness! And I
can't wait--I want it soon!"

From under the brim of her soft white hat her blue-gray eyes were fixed
intently on the shore, which was miles away. But watching her I saw she
knew that all the time I was saying desperately, "I want you."

I knew she did not want me to say anything like that out loud, and I
felt myself that I had no right--not until I had done so much more in my
writing. But I kept circling around it. Half the time on purpose and as
often quite unconsciously, in all we talked about those days I kept
eagerly filling in the picture of the life we two might lead. When in
one of her cool hostile moods--moods which came over her suddenly--she
told me almost jealously how happy she'd been with her father abroad and
how together they had planned to go to India, China, Japan in the years
to come, I brought her back to my subject by saying: "I mean to travel a
lot myself."

"That's one advantage I have as a writer," I continued earnestly. "I'll
never be tied down to one place. All my life--whenever I choose--I can
pick up my work and go anywhere."

She looked straight back into my eyes.

"I wish my father could," she said.

"Look here," I said indignantly. "Your father has been four months
abroad while I have been in Brooklyn! Isn't it only fair and square to
let _me_ travel this afternoon?" She looked at me reluctantly.

"Yes," she agreed. "I suppose it is."

"Come along," I urged, and off we went. While our boat drifted idly that
long, lazy afternoon, we went careering all over the world and I kept
doggedly by her side. Every now and then I would make her stop while we
had a good look at each other, exploring deep into the old questions,
"What are you and what do you want?"

"You can't run a motorboat all your life," I reminded her. "What are you
going to tackle next?"

"Our living-room," she answered. "I'm going to have it done over next
month."

That took us into house furnishings, and I gave her ideas by the score.
I had never thought about this before, but now I thought hard and
eagerly--until she brought me up with a jerk, by pityingly murmuring:

"What perfectly frightful taste you have. It's funny--because you're an
artist--you really write quite beautiful things."

"I don't care," I answered grimly. "I can see that living-room----"

"So can I," she said cheerfully. "But so long as you like it, that's all
there is to be said. You're the one who has to live in it, you know. Now
my father likes a room----"

And while I looked gloomily over the water she told me what her father
liked.

       *       *       *       *       *

He came out from the city each evening by train. He refused to use the
boat these days, he said he was so infernally busy that he could not
spare the time. He brought out stacks of papers and plans which had
piled up while he was abroad, and with these he busied himself at night.
And though Eleanore from the veranda glanced in at him frequently, she
never again caught him looking old. And when she went in to make him
stop working he smilingly told her to leave him alone. He smoked many
cigars with apparent enjoyment, his lean face wrinkling over the smoke
as he turned over plan after plan for the harbor. His manner to me was
if anything even kindlier than before. He began calling me "Billy" now.

On the last night of my stay he said:

"I think you're the man I've been looking for. I've just read your story
and you've done exactly what I hoped. You've pictured one spot of
efficiency in a whole dreary desert of waste. Come up to my office
to-morrow at ten."



CHAPTER XV


So at last I went up to the tower.

His office took up an entire floor near the tapering top of the
building, and as we walked slowly around the narrow steel balcony
outside, a tremendous panorama unrolled down there before our eyes. We
could see every part of the port below stretching away to the horizon,
and through Dillon's powerful field glass I saw pictures of all I had
seen before in my weary weeks of trudging down there in the haze and
dust. Down there I had felt like a little worm, up here I felt among the
gods. There all had been matter and chaos, here all was mind and a will
to find a way out of confusion. The glass gave me the pictures in swift
succession, in a moment I made a leap of ten miles, and as I listened on
and on to the quiet voice at my elbow, the pictures all came sweeping
together as parts of one colossal whole. The first social vision of my
life I had through Dillon's field glass.

"To see any harbor or city or state as a whole," he said, "is what most
Americans cannot do. And it's what they've got to learn to do."

And while I looked where he told me to, like a surgeon about to operate
he talked of his mighty patient, a giant struggling to breathe, with
swollen veins and arteries. He made me see the Hudson, the East River
and the railroad lines all pouring in their traffic, to be shifted and
reloaded onto the ocean vessels in a perfect fever of confusion and
delay. Far below us you could see long lines of tiny trucks and wagons
waiting hours for a chance to get into the docksheds. New York, he
said, in true Yankee style had developed its waterfront pell mell, each
railroad and each ship line grabbing sites for its own use, until the
port was now so clogged, so tangled and congested that it was able to
grow no more.

"And it's got to grow," he said. The old helter-skelter method had
served well enough in years gone by, for this port had been like this
whole bountiful land, its natural advantages had been so prodigious it
could stand all our blind and hoggish mistakes. But now we were rapidly
nearing the time when every mistake we made would cost us tens of
millions of dollars. For within a few years the Big Ditch would open
across Panama, and the commerce of South America, together with that of
the Orient, would pour into the harbor here to meet the westbound
commerce of Europe. Ships of all nations would steam through the
Narrows, and we must be ready to welcome them all, with an ample
generous harbor worthy of the world's first port.

"To get ready," he said, "what we've got to do is to organize this port
as a whole, like the big industrial plant it is."

He began to show me some of the plans in blue-print maps and sketches. I
saw tens of thousands of freight cars gathered in great central yards at
a few main strategic points connected by long tunnels with all the minor
centers. I saw the port no longer as a mere body of water, but with a
whole region deep beneath of these long winding tunnels through which
flowed the traffic unseen and unheard. I saw along the waterfronts
continuous lines of docksheds where by huge cranes and other devices the
loading and unloading could be done with enormous saving of time. Along
the heavy roofs of steel of these continuous lines of buildings
stretched wide ocean boulevards with trees and shrubs and flowers to
shut out the clamorous life below. Warehouses and factory buildings rose
in solid rows behind. The city was to build them all, and the city as
the landlord was to invite the ships and railroads, and the
manufacturers too, to come in and get together, to stop their fighting
and grabbing and work with each other in one great plan.

"That's what we mean nowadays by a port," he told me at the end of our
talk. "A complicated industrial organ, the heart of a country's
circulation, pumping in and out its millions of tons of traffic as
quickly and cheaply as possible. That's efficiency, scientific
management or just plain engineering, whatever you want to call it. But
it's got to be done for us all in a plan instead of each for himself in
a blind struggling chaos."

       *       *       *       *       *

I came down from the tower with a dazed, excited feeling which lasted
all the rest of the day. That harbor of confusion had been for months my
entire world, it had baffled and beaten me till I was weak. And now this
man had swept together all its parts and showed me one immense design.

He had promised me the first use of his plans. With this to go on I
drafted a scheme for a series of magazine articles on "The First Port of
the World," and I soon placed it in advance at four hundred dollars an
article. At last I was coming up in life, my first big story had begun!

I went with Dillon each week-end up to the cottage on the Sound. Here he
talked in detail of his dreams, and Eleanore with her old passion and
pride delighted to draw him out for me. And not only her father--for to
help me in my work she invited out here in the evenings many of his
engineer friends.

"It has always been awfully hard for me," she confided, "to understand
big questions by reading about them out of books. But I love to hear
about them from men who are living and working right in them. I love to
feel a little how it must be to be living their lives."

She was a wonderful listener, for she had quietly studied each man until
now she had a kind of an instinct for drawing the very best of him out.
While he talked she would sit with her sewing, now and then putting in a
question to help. Often I would glance at her there and see in her
slightly frowning face how intently she was listening, thinking and
planning to help me. Sometimes she would meet my look. I would grow
tremendously happy.

"In a little while," I thought. But then I would pull myself up with a
jerk: "Stop looking at her, you young fool, keep your mind on this
engineer. You've got the chance of your life right now to make good in
your work and be happy. Don't fall down! Get busy!"

And I did. I threw myself into the lives of these men who were the
living embodiments of all that bigness, boldness, punch that had so
gripped and thrilled me. The harbor had drawn them around it out of the
hum and rush of the country, and here they were in its service, watching
it, studying, planning for its even more stupendous growth. One night I
heard them discuss the idea of moving the East River, making it flow
across Long Island, filling in its old water bed and making New York and
Brooklyn one. They talked of this scheme in a hard-headed Yankee way
that made me forget for the moment its boldness, until some cool remark
opened my eyes to the fact that this change would shift vast
populations, plant millions of people this way and that.

But against these men of the tower, with their wide, deliberate views
ahead, embracing and binding together not only this port but the whole
western world depending upon it, I found in the city jungle innumerable
petty men, who could see only their own narrow interests of to-day, and
who fought blindly any change for a to-morrow--fellows in such mortal
fear of some possible benefit to their rivals that they could see none
for themselves. They were hopelessly used to fighting each other. And I
came to feel that all these men, though many were still young in years,
belonged to a generation gone by, to the age of individual strife that
my father had lived and worked in--and that like him they were all soon
to be swept to one side by the inexorable harbor of to-day, which had no
further use for them.

It needed bigger men. It needed men like Dillon and behind him those
mysterious powers downtown, the men he had called the brains of the
nation, who read the signs of the new times, who saw that the West was
now fast filling up, that the eyes of the nation were once more turning
outward, and that untold resources of wealth were soon to be available
for mighty sea adventures, a vast fleet of Yankee ships that should
drive the surplus output of our teeming industries into all markets of
the world. And the men who saw these things coming were the only ones
who were big enough to prepare the country to meet them. My father's
dream was at last coming true--too late for him to play a part. He had
been but a prophet, a lonely pioneer.

My view of the harbor was different now. I had seen it before as a vast
machine molding the lives of all people around it. But now behind the
machine itself I felt the minds of its molders. I saw its ponderous
masses of freight, its multitudes of people, all pushed and shifted this
way and that by these invisible powers. And by degrees I made for myself
a new god, and its name was Efficiency.

Here at last was a god that I felt could stand! I had made so many in
years gone by, I had been making them all my life--from those first
fearful idols, the condors and the cannibals, to the kind old god of
goodness in my mother's church and the radiant goddess of beauty and art
over there in Paris. One by one I had raised them up, and one by one the
harbor had flowed in and dragged them down. But now in my full manhood
(for remember I was twenty-five!) I had found and taken to myself a god
that I felt sure of. No harbor could make it totter and fall. For it was
armed with Science, its feet stood firm on mechanical laws and in its
head were all the brains of all the strong men at the top.

And all the multitudes below seemed mere pigmies to me now. I remember
one late twilight, coming back from a talk with an engineer, I boarded a
ferry at the rush hour and watched the people herd on like sheep. How
small they seemed, how petty their thoughts compared to mine, how blind
their views of the harbor.

Here was a little Italian bride, just landed, by the looks of her. She
kept her face close to her lover's, smiling dazedly into his eyes. And
she saw no harbor. Here near by was a fat old gentleman with a highly
painted young lady who laughed and swore softly at him as I passed. I
sat down beside them a moment and listened. The old gentleman seemed
quite mad with desire. He was pleading eagerly, whining. And he saw no
harbor. Close by sat two tall serious men. One was deep in a socialist
book, the other in news of the Giants. Both seemed equally absorbed. And
they saw no harbor. I moved on to another spot, and sitting down by a
thin seedy-looking Irish girl I heard her talk to her husband about
having their baby's life insured according to a wonderful plan an agent
had described to her. As she spoke she was frowning anxiously--and she
saw no harbor. Not far away a plump flashy young creature was smiling
down on the bootblack who was busily shining her small patent leather
shoes. Her bright blue petticoat lifted high displayed the most enticing
charms, and as now she turned to look off toward the lights of the city
ahead, she smiled gaily to herself. And she saw no harbor. And alone up
at the windy bow I found a squat husky laborer with his dirty coat and
shirt thrown open wide, the wind on his bare hairy chest, hungrily
watching the dock ahead as though for his supper--seeing no harbor, no
world's first port, no plans for vast fleets or a great canal, none of
the big things shaping his life.

But I saw. Orders had gone out from the tower east and west and south
and north to show me every courtesy. And with a miraculous youthful ease
I understood all that I saw and heard. The details all fitted right into
the whole, or if they didn't I made them fit. Here was a splendid end to
chaos and blind wrestling with life. And feeling stronger and more sure
than ever in my life before, I set out to build my series of glory
stories about it all, laying on the color thick to reach a million pigmy
readers, grip them, pull them out of their holes, make them sit up and
rub their eyes.

For I was now a success in life! The exuberant joy of youth and success
filled the whole immense region for me. In those Fall days there was
nothing too hard to try, no queer hours too exhausting, no deep corner
too remote, in the search for my material. I saw the place from an old
fisherman's boat and from a revenue launch at night, with its
searchlight combing the waters far and wide for smugglers. I saw it from
big pilot boats that put far out to sea to meet the incoming liners. I
ate many good suppers and slept long nights on a stout jolly tug called
_The Happy_, where from my snug bunk at the stern through the open door
I could watch the stars. I went down into tunnels deep beneath the
waters. I went often to the Navy Yard. I dined many nights on
battleships, where the talk of the naval officers recalled my father's
picture of a fighting ocean world. They too talked of the Big Canal, but
in terms of war instead of peace. I went out to the coast defenses, and
with an army major I made a tour of the lights and buoys.

And perhaps more often than anywhere else, I went to a rude log cabin on
the side of a wooded hill high up on Staten Island, where lived a
Norwegian engineer. He had a cozy den up there, with book-shelves set
into the logs, two deep bunks, a few bright rugs on the rough floor,
some soft, ponderous leather chairs and a crackling little stove on
which we cooked delicious suppers. Later out on the narrow porch we
would puff lazy smoke wreaths and watch the vast valley of lights below,
from the distant twinkling arch of the Bridge to the sparkling towers of
old Coney. Down there like swarms of fire-flies were countless darting
skurrying lights, red and blue and green and white. Far off to the south
flashed the light of the Hook, and still other signals gleamed low from
the ocean.

Here I came often with Eleanore, for she had now come back to town. In
her boat we went to many new spots and back to all the old ones. We
found new beauties in them all. At home in the evenings we had long
talks. And all the time I could feel that we two both knew what was
coming, that steadily we were drawing together, that all my work and my
view of the harbor took its joy and its glory from this.

"In a little while," I thought.



CHAPTER XVI


I had been little at home those days, for the house in Brooklyn
disturbed me now. Poor old Dad. Since I had secured my contract he had
tried so hard to help me, to be eager, interested, alive, to talk it all
over with me at night. And this I did not like to do. A vague feeling of
guilt and disloyalty would creep into my now boundless zest for the
harbor that had crowded him out. And I think that he suspected this. One
night, when with this feeling I stupidly tried to talk as though I still
hated all its ugliness, its clamor, smoke and grime, I caught a twinkle
of pain in his eyes.

"Boy," he broke in roughly, "I hope you'll always talk and write what
you believe and nothing else! I wouldn't give a picayune for any chap
who didn't!"

I could feel him watching anxiously my affair with Eleanore. In the days
when she had come to the house he had grown very fond of her, and now by
frequent questions, slipped in with a studied indifference, he showed an
interest which in time became a deep suspense.

"Out again this evening, son?" he called in one night from the bathroom
where he was washing his hands and face before going down to supper. In
my room adjoining I was dressing to go out.

"Yes, Dad."

"What for?"

"Some work."

"Be out for dinner too?"

"Yes."

"Who with?"

"Oh, a pilot," I answered abstractedly. I was wondering if she would
wear her blue gown. She had asked quite a number of people that night.
Then I saw Dad in the doorway. Briskly rubbing his gray head with a
towel, he was eyeing my evening clothes.

"Devilish polished chaps these days--pilots," he commented. I heard a
low snort of glee from his room.

My sister, on the other hand, had no more patience than before with this
fast deepening love of mine, which had drawn me away from her radical
friends up to the men of the tower who worked for the big companies. By
the most vigorous ironies, the most industrious witty remarks, she made
me feel how thoroughly she disapproved of anything so deadening as
marriage, home and settling down, in this glorious age of new ideas.

One morning at breakfast, when I remarked as I commonly did that I would
be out for dinner that night,

"Where are you going?" she asked abruptly.

"To Eleanore Dillon's," I replied. Our eyes met squarely for a moment.

"Do you know what it means to go there so often, almost every night?"
she asked.

"I do," I answered bluntly. I would finish this meddling once and for
all. But Sue did not look finished.

"You'd better stay home to-night, Billy," she said.

"Why?"

"Joe Kramer is coming."

"What?"

"He telephoned me late last night. He's just come from Colorado and he
sails to-morrow for England. He's awfully anxious to see you."

Of course he was, and I knew what about! I saw at once by the look on
her face that Sue had told him all about me and had begged him to see
what he could do. Why couldn't they leave a fellow alone, I said
wrathfully to myself.

But my ire softened when I met Joe. In the year and a half since I had
seen him the lines in his face had deepened, the stoop of his big
shoulders had grown even more pronounced, and again I felt that wistful,
frowning, searching quality in him. Beneath his gruffness and his jeers
he was so honestly pushing on for what he could find most real in life.
A wave of the old affection came over me suddenly without warning.
Vaguely I wondered about it. Why did he always grip me so?

My father too appeared at first delighted to see him. He had shown a
keen relish for J. K. from that first time in college when I had brought
him home for Christmas. Since then, whenever Joe had come, he and Dad
had always managed to retreat to the study together and smoke and have
long dogged arguments. But to-night it was not the same. For in his
growth as a radical, Joe had gone beyond all arguing now. Lines of deep
displeasure slowly tightened on Dad's face. All through dinner he kept
attempting to turn the talk from Joe's work to mine. But this I would
have none of, I wanted to be let alone. So I nervously kept the
conversation on what Joe was up to. And Sue seemed more than eager to
learn.

J. K. was up to a good deal.

"This muckraking game is played out," he said. "We all know how rotten
things are. All we want to know now is what's to be done." And he
himself had become absorbed in what the working class was doing. As a
reporter in the West he had been to strike after strike, ending with a
long ugly struggle in the Colorado mines. He talked about it intensely,
the greed of the mine owners, the brutality of the militia, the "bull
pens" into which strikers were thrown. Vaguely I felt he was giving us a
most distorted picture, and glancing now and then at my father I saw
that he thought it a pack of lies. Joe made all the strikers the most
heroic figures, and he spoke of their struggle as only a part of a great
labor war that was soon to sweep the entire land.

Sue excitedly drew him out, and I felt it was all for my benefit. Joe
said that he was going abroad in order that he might write the truth
about the labor world over there. The American papers and magazines
would let you write the truth, he said, about labor over in Europe,
because it was at a safe distance. But they wouldn't allow it here. And
then Sue looked across at me as though to say, "It's only stuff like
_yours_ they allow."

"Why don't you two go out for a walk?" she suggested sweetly after
dinner. And I consented gladly, for there are times when nothing on
earth can be worse than your own sister.

       *       *       *       *       *

We went down to the old East River docks and walked for some time with
little said. Then Joe turned on me abruptly.

"Well, Bill," he said, "I've read your stuff. It's damn well written."

"Thanks," I replied.

"If I've got any knocking to do," he went on with a visible effort, "I
know you'll give me credit for not knocking out of jealousy. I'm not
jealous, I'm honestly tickled to death. I was wrong about you in Paris.
You and me were different kinds. What you got over there was just what
you needed, it has put you already way out of my class, and it's going
to give you a lot of power as a spreader of ideas. That's why I hate so
like the devil to see you starting out like this, with what I'm so sure
are the wrong ideas."

"How are they wrong?"

"Think a minute. Why is your magazine pushing you so? The first story of
your series is only just out and they've already boomed you all over the
country. Why, Bill, I saw your picture in a trolley car in Denver--and
you're only twenty-five years old! It's damn fine writing, I'll say it
again, but that's not reason enough for this. You've got to go down
deeper and look into your magazine's policy--which is to strike a
balance for all kinds of middle-class readers and for their advertisers
too. They've run some radical stuff this year, and they're booming you
now to balance off, to show how 'safe and sane' they can be in the way
they look at life, at big business and at industry--as you do here in
the harbor. You're making gods out of the men at the top, you've seen
'em as they see themselves, and you've only seen what they see here.
You've missed all the millions of people here who depend on the place
for their jobs and their lives. They don't count for you----"

"That's not true at all!" I interrupted hotly. "It's just for them and
their children that fellows like Dillon are on the job--to make a better
harbor!"

"_For_ them, _for_ the people!" said Joe. "That's what I'm kicking at in
you, Bill--you treat us all like a mass of dubs that need gods above to
do everything _for_ us because we can't do it all by ourselves!"

"I don't believe the people can," I retorted. "From what I've seen I
honestly don't believe they count. The fellows that count in a job like
this are the fellows with punch and grit enough to fight their way up
out of the ranks----"

"I know, and be lieutenants and captains in a regular army of peace,
with your friend Dillon in command and Wall Street in command of him!
Isn't that your view?"

"All right, it is! I don't see any harm in that. It's the only safe way
that I can see out of this mess of a harbor we've got. These men are the
efficient ones--they're the fellows that have the brains and that know
how to work--to use science, money, everything--to get a decent world
ahead. What's the matter with efficiency?"

"Your latest god," sneered J. K.

"Suppose it is! What's wrong with it? What's the matter with Dillon? Is
he a crook?"

"No," said Joe, "that's just the worst of him. He's so damned honest,
he's such a hard worker. I've met men like him all over the country,
and they're the most dangerous men we've got. Because they're the real
strength of Wall Street--just as thousands of clean hard working priests
are the strength of the Catholic church! They keep their church going
and Dillon keeps his--he's a regular priest of big business! And he
takes hold of kids like you and molds your views like his for life. Look
at what he has done with you here. Does he say a word to you about
Graft? Does he talk of the North Atlantic Pool or any one of the other
pools and schemes by which they keep up rates? Does he make you think
about low wages and long hours and all the fellows hurt or killed on the
docks and in the stoke holes? Does he give you any feeling at all of
this harbor as a city of four million people, most of 'em getting a raw
deal and getting mad about it? That's more important to you and me than
all the efficiency gods on earth. You've got to decide which side you're
on. And that's what's got me talking now. I see so plain which way
you're letting yourself be pulled. I've seen so many pulled the same
way. It's so pleasant up there at the top, there's so much money and
brains up there and refinement--such women to get married to, such homes
to settle down in. Sometimes I wish every promising radical kid in the
country could get himself into some scandal that would cut him off for
life from any chance of being received by this damned respectable upper
class!"

He stopped for a moment, and then with a gruff intensity:

"We need you, Bill," he ended. "We need you bad. We don't want you to
marry a girl at the top. We don't want you anchored up there for life."

We were standing still now, and I was looking out on the river. Through
the grip of his hand on my arm I could feel his body taut and quivering,
his whole spirit hot with revolt. The same old Joe, but tenser now,
strained almost to the breaking point. But I myself was different. In
college he had appealed to me because there I was groping and had found
nothing. But now I had found something sure. And so, though to my own
surprise a deep emotional part of me rose up in sudden response to Joe
and made me feel guilty to hold back, it was only for a moment, and then
my mind told me he was wrong. Poor old J. K. What a black distorted view
he had--grown out of a distorted life of traveling continually from one
center of trouble to another. How could he be any judge of life?

"Look here, Joe," I said. "I'm a kid, as you say, and some day I may see
your side of this. But I don't now, I can't--for since I left Paris I've
been through enough to make me feel what a job living is, I mean really
living and growing. And I know what a difference Dillon has made. He has
been to my life what he is to this harbor. And I'm not old enough nor
strong enough to throw over a man as big as that and as honest and clean
in his thinking, and throw myself in with your millions of people, who
seem to me either mighty poor thinkers or fellows who don't think at
all. They're not in my line. I believe in men who can think clean, who
have trained their minds by years of hard work, who don't try to tear
down and bring things to a smash, but are always building, building! You
talk about this upper class. But they're my people, aren't they, that's
where I was born. And I'm going on with them. I believe they're right
and I know they're strong--I mean strong enough to handle all this--make
it better."

"They'll make it worse," Joe answered. And then as he turned to me once
more he added very bitterly, "You'll see strength enough in the people
some day."

A few moments later he left me.

I looked at my watch and found it was not yet nine o'clock. I went to
Eleanore Dillon. And within an hour Joe and his world of crowds and
confusion were swept utterly out of my mind.



CHAPTER XVII


I had often told Eleanore of Joe. She had asked me about him many times.
"It's queer," she had said, "what a hold he must have had on you. I feel
sure he's just the kind of a person I wouldn't like and who wouldn't
like me. I don't think he's really your kind either, and yet he has a
hold on you still. Yes, he has, I can feel he has."

And to-night when I told her that I had been with him,

"What did he want of you?" she asked.

"He wants me to drop everything," I answered. And I tried to give her
some idea of what he had said.

But as I talked, the thought came suddenly into my mind that here at
last was the very time to settle my life one way or the other, to ask
her if she would be my wife. I grew excited and confused, my voice
sounding unnatural to my ears. And as I talked on about Joe, my heart
pounding, I could barely keep the thoughts in line.

"And I don't want what he wants," I ended desperately. "That nor
anything like it. I want just what I've been getting--just this kind of
work and life. And I want _you_--for life, I mean--if you can ever feel
like that."

Eleanore said nothing. In an instant the world and everything in it had
narrowed to the two of us. The intensity was unbearable. I rose abruptly
and turned away. I felt suddenly far out of my depth. Confusedly and
furiously I felt that I had bungled things, that here was something in
life so strange I could do nothing with it. What a young fool I was to
have thought she could ever care for a fellow like me! I felt she must
be smiling. Despairingly I turned to see.

And Eleanore was smiling--in a way that steadied me in a flash. For her
smile was so plainly a quick, strong effort to steady herself.

"I'm glad you want me like that," she said, in a voice that did not
sound like hers. "I don't believe in hiding things.... I'm--very happy."
She looked down at her hands in her lap and they slowly locked together.
"But of course it means our whole lives, you see--and we mustn't hurry
or make a mistake. Now that we know--this much--we can talk about it
quite openly--about each other and what we want--what kinds of
lives--what we believe in--whether we'd be best for each other. It's
what we ought to talk about--a good many times--it may be weeks."

"All right," I agreed. I was utterly changed. At her first words I had
felt a deep rush of relief, and seeing her tremendous pluck and the
effort she was making, I pitied, worshiped and loved her all in the same
moment. And as we talked on for a few minutes more in that grave and
unnaturally sensible way about the pros and cons of it all, these
feelings within me mounted so swiftly that all at once I again broke
off.

"I don't believe there's any use in this," I declared. "It's perfectly
idiotic!"

"Of course it is," she promptly agreed.

And then after a rigid instant when each of us looked at the other as
though asking, "Quick! What are we going to do?"--she burst out laughing
excitedly. So did I, and that carried her into my arms and--I remember
nothing--until after a while she asked me to go, because she wanted to
be by herself. And I noticed how bright and wet were her eyes.

I saw them still in the darkness down along the river front, where I
walked for half the rest of the night, stopping to draw a deep breath
of the sea and laugh excitedly and go on.

       *       *       *       *       *

Life changed rapidly after that night. I grew so absorbed in Eleanore
and in all that was waiting just ahead, that it was hard not to shut out
everything else, most of all impersonal things. It was hard to write,
and for days I wrote nothing. I remember only intimate talks. Everyone I
talked to seemed to be deeply personal.

I told my father about it the next evening before supper. I found him in
his old chair in the study buried deep in his paper.

"Say, Dad--would you mind coming up to your room?" He smote his paper to
one side.

"What the devil," he asked, "do I want to come up to my room for?"

"I've--the fact is I've something you ought to know." I could hear Sue
in the other room.

"All right, my boy," he said nervously. As he followed me he kept
clearing his throat. Sue must have guessed and prepared him. In his room
he fussed about, grunted hard over getting off his shoes and, finding
his slippers, then lay back on his sofa with his hands behind his head
and uttered an explosive sigh.

"All right, son, now fire ahead," he said jocosely. I loved him at that
moment.

"You know Eleanore Dillon," I began.

"She turned you down!"

"No! She took me!"

"The devil you say!" He sat bolt upright, staring. "Well, my boy, I'm
very glad," he said thickly. His eyes were moist. "I'm glad--glad! She's
a fine girl--strong character--strong! I wish your poor mother were
alive--she'd be happy--this girl will make a good wife--you must bring
her right here to live with us!"

And so he talked on, his voice trembling. Then out of his confusion rose
the money question, and at once his mind grew clear. And to my surprise
he urged me to lose no time in looking around for "some good, steady
position" in a magazine office. My writing I could do at night.

"It's so uncertain at best," he said. "It's nothing you can count on.
And you've got to think of a wife and children. _Her_ father has no
money saved."

I found he'd been looking Dillon up, and this jarred on me horribly. But
still worse was his lack of faith in my writing. I was making four
hundred dollars a month, and it was a most unpleasant jolt to have it
taken so lightly.

I went down to Sue. As I came into the living room she met me suddenly
at the door. In a moment her arms were about my neck and she was saying
softly:

"I know what it is, dear, and I'm glad--I'm awfully glad. If I've been
horrid about it ever, please forgive me. I'm sure now it's just the life
you want!"

And that evening, while Dad slept in his chair, Sue and I had a long
affectionate talk. We drew closer than we had been for months. She was
eager to hear everything, she wanted to know all our plans. When I tried
at last to turn our talk to herself and our affairs at home, at first
she would not hear to it.

"My dear boy," she said affectionately, "you've had these worries long
enough. You're to run along now and be happy and leave this house to Dad
and me."

I slipped my arm around her:

"Look here, Sis, let's see this right. You can't run here on what Dad
earns, and if you try to work yourself you'll only hurt him terribly. My
idea is to help as before, without letting him know that I'm doing it.
Make him think you've cut expenses."

It took a long time to get her consent.

The next night I went to Eleanore's father. He received me quietly, and
with a deep intensity under that steady smile of his, which reminded me
so much of hers, he spoke of all she had meant to him and of her brave
search for a big, happy life. He told how he had watched her with me
slowly making up her mind.

"It took a long time, but it's made up now," he said. "And now that it
is, she's the kind that will go through anything for you that can ever
come up in your life." He looked at me squarely, still smiling a little,
frankly letting his new affection come into his eyes. "I wish I knew all
that's going to happen," he added, almost sadly. "I hope you'll get used
to telling me things--talking things over--anything--no matter
what--where I can be of the slightest help."

Then he, too, spoke of money. He meant to keep up her allowance, he
said, and he had insured his life for her. Again, as with my father, I
felt that disturbing lack of faith in my work. I spoke of it to Eleanore
and she looked at me indignantly.

"You must never think of it like that," she said. "I won't have you
writing for money. Dad has never worked that way and you're not to do it
on any account--least of all on account of me. Whatever you make we'll
live on, and that's all there is to be said--except that we'll live
splendidly," she added very gaily, "and we won't spend the finest part
of our lives saving up for rainy days. We'll take care of the rain when
it rains, and we'll have some wonderful times while we can."

We decided at once on a trip abroad as soon as I had finished my work.
And I remember writing hard, and reading it aloud to her and rewriting
over and over again, for Eleanore could be severe. But I remember, too,
more trips in her boat to gather the last odds and ends. I remember how
the big harbor took on a new glory to our eyes, mingled with all the
deep personal joys and small troubles and crises we went through, the
puzzles and the questionings and the glad discoveries that made up the
swift growth of our love.

And though I never once thought of Joe Kramer, he had prophesied
aright. I belonged wholly now to Dillon's world, a world of clean
vigorous order that seemed to welcome me the more as I wrote in praise
of its power. And happy over my success, and in love and starting life
anew with all the signs so bright--how could I have any doubts of my
harbor?

We were married very quietly late one April afternoon. It rained, I
remember, all that day, but the next was bright and clear for our
sailing. In our small stateroom on the ship we found a note from the
company, a large, engraved impressive affair, presenting their best
wishes and asking us to accept for the voyage one of their most
luxurious cabins.

"This is what comes," said Eleanore gaily, "of being the wife of a
writer."

"Or the daughter," I said softly, "of a very wonderful engineer."

"You darling boy!"

We moved up to a large sunny cabin. I remember her swiftly reading the
telegrams and letters there as though to get them all out of the way. I
remember her unpacking and taking possession of our first home.

"We're married, aren't we," said a voice.

There was only one more good-by to be said. On the deck, as we went out
of the harbor, Eleanore stood by the rail. I felt her hand close tight
on mine and I saw her eyes glisten a little with tears.

"What a splendid place it has been," she said.



CHAPTER XVIII


We found every place splendid in those weeks as we let the wanderlust
carry us on. And as though emerging from some vivid dream, various
places and faces of people stand out in my memory now, as then they
loomed in upon our absorption.

I remember the little old harbor of Cherbourg, gleaming in the
moonlight, where when we landed Eleanore said, "Let's stay here awhile."
So of course we did, and then went on to Paris. We took an apartment,
very French and absurdly small, from a former Beaux Arts friend of mine.
I remember the kindly face of the maid who took such beaming care of us,
the café in front of which late at night we sat and watched the huge
shadowy carts go by on their way to the market halls, the sunrise flower
market, where we filled our cab with moss roses and plants, Polin's
songs in the "Ambassadeurs," delicious petites allées in the Bois, our
favorite rides on the tops of the 'buses, that old religious place of
mine down under the bridge by Notre Dame.

All these and more we saw in fragments, now and then, looking out with
vivid interest on all the life around us, only to return to each other,
_into_ each other I should say, for the exploring was quite different
now, there had been such hours between us that nothing intimate could be
held back. Nothing? Well, nothing that I thought of then. For somehow or
other, in those glad, eager afternoons and evenings, in those nights,
nothing disturbingly ugly in me so much as thought of showing its head.
Three years before in this stirring town I had felt guilty at being a
monk. But now I felt no guilt at all. For down the Champs Élysées our
cab rolled serenely now, and even our driver's white hat wore an air as
though it had a place in life.

From Paris we started for Munich, but we did not stop there, we happened
to feel like going on. So we went through to Constantinople, whence we
took a boat to Batoum and went up into the Caucasus, which Eleanore had
heard about once from an engineer friend of her father's. I remember
Koutais, a little town by a mountain torrent with gray vine-covered
walls around it. Shops opened into the walls like stalls. There we would
buy things for our supper and then in a crazy vehicle we would drive
miles out on the broad mountainside to an orchard pink with blossoms,
where we would build a fire and cook, and an old man in a long yellow
robe and with a turban on his head would come out of his cabin and bring
us wine. And the stars would appear and the frogs tune up in the marshes
far down in the valley below, and the filmy mists would rise and the
mountains would tower overhead. And the effect of this place upon us was
to make us feel it was only one of innumerable such vacation places that
lay ahead, festival spots in long, radiant lives. We felt this vaguely,
silently. So often we talked silently.

Then there would come the most serious times, when with the deepest
thoughtfulness we would survey the years ahead and very solemnly place
ourselves, our views and beliefs. Miraculous how agreed we were! We
believed, we found, in good workmanship, in honest building, in getting
things done. We believed in Eleanore's father and all those around and
above him that could help his kind of work. We were impatient of
soft-headedness in rich people who had nothing to do, and of heavy
muddle-headedness in the millions who had too much to do, and of
muckraking of every kind which only got in the way of the builders. For
the building of a new, clean vigorous world was our religion. And it did
not seem cold to us, because our lives were in it and because we were
in love.

There was no end to the plans for ourselves, for my writing, our home,
the friends we wanted, the trips, the books and the music. And through
it all and from under it all there kept bursting up that feeling which
we knew was the most important of all, the exultant realization that we
two were just starting out.

       *       *       *       *       *

When at last we came back home this feeling took a deeper turn. I
noticed a change in Eleanore. She had far less thought and time for me
now, she seemed to be strangely absorbed in herself. Nearly all her time
and strength were given to our small apartment, in the same building as
that of her father. By countless feminine touches she was making it look
like the home she had planned. She was getting all in order. And then
one night she told me why. Her arms were close around me and her voice
was so low I could barely hear:

"There's going to be another soon--another one _of us_--do you hear?--a
very tiny blessed one."

I held her slowly tighter.

"Oh, my darling girl," I whispered.

Suddenly I relaxed my hold, for I was afraid of hurting her now. In a
moment all was so utterly changed. And as in that brave, quiet way of
hers she looked smiling steadily into my eyes, my throat contracted
sharply. For into my mind leaped the memory of what the harbor had shown
to me on that sultry hideous summer night in the tenement over in
Brooklyn. And _that_ must happen to _my wife_!

"Oh, my dear," she whispered, "if you only knew how much strength I
stored up way over there in the mountains."

So she had been thinking of this even then, and yet had told me nothing!

Here was the beginning of a long anxious period. Month after month I
watched her quietly preparing. Slowly we drew into ourselves, while her
father and mine and Sue and our friends came and went, but mattered
little. I wondered if Dillon ever felt this. As he came down to us in
the evenings from the apartment upstairs, where he and Eleanore had
meant so much to each other only a year before, he gave no sign that he
saw any change. But one night after he had gone, Eleanore happened to
pick up the evening paper which had dropped from his bulging overcoat
pocket.

"Billy, come here," she said presently.

"What is it?"

"Look at this."

The President of the United States had gone with Eleanore's father that
day in a revenue cutter over the harbor and had spoken of Dillon's great
dream in vigorous terms of approval.

"And father was here this evening," said Eleanore very slowly, "and yet
he never told me a word. He saw that I'd heard nothing and he thought I
didn't care. Oh, Billy, I feel so ashamed."

But she soon forgot the incident.

My suspense grew sharp as the time drew near. I had a good doctor, I was
sure of that, and he told me he had an excellent nurse. But what good
were all these puny precautions? The tenement room in Brooklyn kept
rising in my mind.

She sat by the window that last night, and looking down on the far-away
lights of the river we planned another trip abroad.

A few hours later I stood over her, holding her hand, and with her white
lips pressed close together and her eyes shut, she went through one of
those terrible spasms. Then she looked up in the moment's relief. And
suddenly here was that smile of hers. And she said low, between clenched
teeth,

"Well, dearie, another starting out----"



CHAPTER XIX


The next morning, after the rush of relief at the news of Eleanore's
safety and the strange sight of our tiny son, I felt keyed gloriously
high, ready for anything under the sun. But there seemed to be nothing
whatever to do, I felt in the way each time that I moved, so I took to
my old refuge, work. And then into my small workroom came Eleanore's
father for a long talk. He too had been up all night, his lean face was
heavily marked from the strain, but their usual deep serenity had come
back into his quiet eyes.

"Let's take a day off," he said, smiling. "We're both so tired we don't
know it."

"Tired?" I demanded.

"Yes," he said, "you're tired--more than you've ever been in your life.
You'll feel like a rag by to-morrow, and then I hope you'll take a good
rest. But to-day, while you are still way up, I want to talk about your
work. Do you mind?"

"Mind? No," I replied, a bit anxiously. "It's just what I'm trying to
figure out."

"I know you are. You've figured for months and you've worked yourself
thin. I don't mind that, I like it, because I know the reason. But I
don't think the result has been good. It seems to me you've been so
anxious to get on, because of this large family of yours, that you've
shut yourself up and written too fast, you've gotten rather away from
life. Shall I go right on?"

"Yes," I said, watching intently.

"Well," he continued, "you've been using what name you've already made
and writing short stories of harbor life."

"That's what the editors want," I said. "When a man makes a hit in one
vein of writing they want that and nothing else."

"At this rate you'll soon work out the vein," he said. "I'd like to see
you stop writing now, take time to find new ground--and dig."

"There's not an awful lot of time," I remarked.

"My plan won't stop your making money," he replied. "I want you to write
less, but get more pay."

"That sounds attractive. How shall I do it?"

"By writing about big men," he said. "I suggest that you try a series of
portraits of some of the big Americans and the America they know."

I jumped up so suddenly he started.

"What's the matter?" he asked with a glance at the door. "Did you hear
anything?"

"Yes," I said excitedly. "I heard a stunning title! The America They
Know!"

We discussed it all that morning and it appealed to me more and more.
Later on, with Eleanore's help (for she grew stronger fast those days),
I prevailed upon her father to let me practice upon himself as my first
subject. I worked fast, my material right at hand, and within a few
weeks I had written the story of those significant incidents out of
thirty years of work and wanderings east and west that showed the
America he had known, his widening view. I did his portrait, so to
speak, with his back to the reader, letting the reader see what he saw.
This story I sold promptly, and under the tonic of that success I went
into the work with zest and vim.

It filled the next four years of my life. It took the view I had had of
the harbor and widened it to embrace the whole land, which I now saw
altogether through the eyes of the men at the top.

The most central figure of them all, and by far the most difficult to
attack, was a powerful New York banker, one of those invisible gods
whose hand I had felt on the harbor.

"The value of him to you," Dillon said, "is that if you can only make
him talk you'll find him a born storyteller. The secret scandal of his
life is that once in a short vacation he tried to write a play."

It was weeks before he would see me, and I had my first interview at
last only by getting on a night train which he had taken for Cleveland.
There in his stateroom, cornered, he received me with a grim reluctance.
And with a humorous glint in his eyes,

"How much do you know about banking?" he asked.

"Nothing," I said frankly. And then I took a sudden chance. "What do you
know about writing?" I asked.

"Nothing," he said placidly.

"Is that true? I thought you once wrote a play." He sat up very quickly.
"If you did," I went on, "you've probably read some of Shakespeare's
stuff. It was strong stuff about strong men. If he were alive he'd write
about you, but I'm sure that he wouldn't know about banking. That's only
your job."

"What do you want of me, young man?" he inquired. "Is it my soul?"

"Not at all," I answered. "It's the America you know, expressed in such
simple human terms that even a young ignoramus like me will be able to
understand it. Out of this big country a good many thousands of men, I
suppose, have come to you for money. Which are the most significant
ones?"

And I went on to explain my idea. Soon it began to take hold of him. We
talked until after midnight, and later we had other talks. It was hard
at first in the questioning to dodge the technical side of it all, the
widely intricate workings of that machine of credit of which he was
chief engineer. But as he saw how eager I was to feel his view and
become enthused, by degrees he humanized it all. And not only that, he
trusted me, he gave me the most intimate glimpses into this life of big
money, although when I dared to include such bits in the story that I
showed him he calmly scratched them out and said:

"You're mistaken, young man. I didn't say that."

As he talked I saw again that vision I had had on the North River docks.
For into this man's office had come the men of the mines, the factories
and the mills, the promoters of vast irrigations on prairies, builders
of railroads, real estate plungers, street traction promoters,
department store owners, newspaper proprietors, politicians--the
builders and boomers, the strong energetic men of the land. He showed me
their power and made me feel it was still but in its infancy. He made me
feel a dazzling future rushing upon us, a future of plenty still more
controlled by the keen minds and wide visions of the powerful men at the
top.

Of all these men and the rushing world of power they lived in, I have
only a jumble of memories now. For my own life was a jumble--irregular,
crowded and intense. In their offices, clubs and homes, in their motors,
on yachts and trains, in Chicago and Pittsburgh and other cities, I
followed them, making my time suit theirs. Some had no use for me at
all, but I found others delighted to talk--like the great Dakota
ranchman who ordered twenty thousand copies of the issue in which his
story appeared and scattered them like seeds of fame over the various
counties of wheat, corn and alfalfa he owned. And in the main I had
little trouble. I met often that curious respect which so many men of
affairs seem to have, God knows why, for a successful writer.

I got in where men with ten times my knowledge were barred. I remember
with a touch of shame the institute of scientific research where the
chief of the place took a whole afternoon to show me around, and while I
looked wise and tried to feel thrilled over glass tubes and jars and
microscopes through which I peered at microbes, a simple old country
doctor, one of the thousands of _common_ visitors, by my invitation
followed humbly in my wake, murmuring from time to time,

"Miraculous, by George, astounding!" And gratefully pressing my hand at
the end, "This has been the chance of a lifetime," he said.

Perhaps the principal reason why I got so warm a welcome was the name I
had already made as a writer of glory stories. I liked these men; I
liked to enthuse over all the big things they were doing. And still true
to my efficiency god, the immense importance of getting things done
loomed so high in my view of life as to overshadow everything else. My
sense of moral values changed.

It was a strange unmoral world.

In the institute of science these keen laboratory gods (who had seemed
so cold and comfortless to me but a few short years ago) were perfecting
a cure for syphilis. Strong men were removing the wages of sin!

In Chicago I met the president of a huge industrial company who had
found it necessary at times to use money on politicians. For this he had
been sent to jail, but later his influence got him out. Promptly he was
made treasurer of another company. In one year, through his energy, now
more intense than ever, the business of that company increased some
thirty-five per cent., whereupon the directors of the original
corporation, after a stormy meeting in which two church deacon directors
fussed and fumed considerably, unanimously decided to ask him to come
back. He did. He told me the story quite frankly himself. I admired him
tremendously.

The head of a mining company sat in his office one afternoon and talked
of the labor problem. There was no right or wrong involved, he said, it
was simply a matter of force. Once when a strike threatened he had
called in a "labor expert" who had used money wholesale and there had
been no strike.

"Well?" he asked, smiling. "What do you think of it?"

"I think I can't print it." He still smiled.

"Naturally not. But what do you think? If you yourself were responsible
to several hundred stockholders, what would you do? Risk a strike that
might wipe out their dividends? Or would you resort to bribery"--his
smile slowly deepened--"which is a penal offense in this State?"

I found such questions cropping up almost everywhere I went. In their
dealings with the public and still more with their rivals, there was a
ruthless vigor that swept old-fashioned maxims aside. And I liked this,
for it got things done! I was bored to find, as I often did, these men
in their homes quite old-fashioned again to suit sober old wives who
still went to church. I remember one such elderly lady and the shock I
unwittingly gave her. She had deplored the decline of churches; her own,
she said, was barely half full. And I then tried to cheer her by an
account of my last story, which was of an advertising man, a genius who
in the last two years had made churches his especial line and by his
up-to-date methods had packed church after church on a commission basis.
Her burst of disapproval almost drove me from the house. And there were
so many homes like that. Men who were perfect giants by day would become
the gentlest babies at night, allowing their wives to read to them such
sentimental drivel as would have been kicked from the office by day.

"But God knows they need such vacuous homes," I reflected, "to rest in."

I had never dreamed before how strenuous men's lives could be. One day
in the New York office of a big plunger in real estate I pointed to a
map on the wall.

"What are all those lots marked 'vacant' for?" I asked him. "I never saw
many vacant lots in that part of town." He grinned cheerfully.

"Anything under four stories is vacant to us," he answered, "because it
pays to buy it, tear it down and build something higher."

That was the way they crowded their cities, and as with their cities, so
with their lives. One story that interested me most was of the weird
America which a renowned nerve specialist knew. To him came these men
broken down, some on the verge of insanity. He gave me stories of their
lives, of his glimpses into their straining minds, he described their
pathetic efforts to rest, their strenuous attempts to relax. He himself
had some mysterious ailment, his hands kept trembling while he talked.
His wife said he hadn't had a vacation of over a week in eleven years.

From such men I would turn to exuberant lives, like that of the Tammany
leader now dead, who gave a ten-thousand-dollar banquet one night, in
the Ten Eyck in Albany, in honor of the newsboy who every morning for
twenty-two winters had brought morning papers to him in bed in his hotel
room. Or like that of the millionaire merchant who told me with the most
naïve pride of the eleven hundred electric lights in his new home on
Fifth Avenue, and of how the bathrooms of both his large daughters were
fitted in solid silver throughout.

"Not plated, understand," he said. "I told the architect while he was at
it to put in the real solid stuff--and plenty of it!"

Through this varied throng of successes, this rich abundance of types, I
ranged with an ever deepening zest. As a hunter of game I watched that
endless human procession on and off the front pages of papers, the men
who were for the moment news. Often small people too would be
there--like the telephone girl from a suburb, who for one day, as the
most important witness in a sensational case of graft, was suddenly
before the whole country and then as suddenly dropped out of sight. In
fact, that was now my view of the land, figures emerging from dark
obscure multitudes up into a bright circle of light.

And I took this front-page view of New York. I saw it as a city where
big exceptional people were endlessly doing sensational things, both in
the making and spending of money. I saw it not only as a cluster of tall
buildings far downtown, but uptown as well a towering pile of rich
hotels and apartments, a region that sparkled gaily at night, lights
flashing from tens of thousands of rooms, in and out of which, I felt
delightedly, millions of people had passed through the years. I loved to
look up at these windows at night, at the sheer inscrutability of them.
For behind these twinkling masses I knew were all things tragic,
comic--people laughing, fighting, hating, scheming, dreaming, loving,
living. I thought of that row of cabins de luxe that I had seen on the
Christmas boat. Here was the same thing magnified, a monstrous
caravansary with but one question over its doors: "Have You Got the
Price?"

Once I had seen a harbor. Then it had grown into a port. And now I saw a
metropolis, the hub of a successful land.

And through this gay city of triumph I moved, myself a success, and my
view of the whole was colored by that. My life as an observer was
sprinkled with personal moments that made me see everything in high
lights. I would watch the life of a street full of people, and I myself
would be on my way to an interview with some noted man or coming away
from one who had given me stuff that I knew would write up big--I knew
just how! Or at a corner newsstand I would catch a glimpse of my name on
the cover of some magazine. Again I would be hurrying home, or into a
neighboring florist's or a theater ticket office, or diving into the
jolly whirl of the large Fifth Avenue toy shop in which I took an
unflagging delight. In my mind would be thoughts of a pillow fight or a
long evening with Eleanore, or we would be having friends to dine or
going out to dinner.

For Eleanore had been swift to use my success to broaden both our lives.
Young and adorably happy, eagerly alive, she did for me what she had
done for her father, filling my life with other lives. She was an artist
in living. It was a joy to see her make out a list of people to be asked
to dine. Her father, once watching the process, remarked to me in low,
solemn tones:

"She's a regular social chemist--who has never had an explosion."

He was often on the list, and through him and his many friends and the
ones I made through my writing, by degrees our circle widened. We met
all kinds of people, for Eleanore hated "sets" and "cliques." We met not
only successful men but (God help us sometimes) we also met their wives.
We met successful writers, artists and musicians, and a few people of
the stage. We met visitors from the West and from half the big cities of
Europe. We furbished up our French and German, our knowledge of books
and pictures and plays--_successful_ books and pictures and plays.

Through Eleanore's father and his work our minds were still held to the
past, to the harbor which had taken me, bruised and blind and petty, and
lifted me up and taught me to live, had given me my work, my home and my
new god. I was grateful, I was proud, I was in love and I felt strong.
And my view of the harbor in those days was of a glorious symbol of the
power of mind over matter, and of the mighty speeding up of a world of
civilization and peace, a successful world, strong, broad, tolerant,
sweeping on and bearing us with it.

So we adventured gaily, not deeper down, but higher and higher up into
life.



BOOK III

CHAPTER I


We had been married four years.

At the end of a crisp November day I was just about starting home. I
remember how keenly alive I felt, how tingling with bodily health, and
above all how successful.

I had had such a successful day. I had written hard all morning and my
work had been going splendidly. I had lunched downtown with the man
whose life I was writing that month, a man of astounding fertility, who
had started fifteen years ago with a small hotel in a western town, had
made money, had built a larger hotel, had made money, had moved to a
larger town and bought a still larger hotel, had made money, had moved
to Chicago, New York, had made money. And the America he knew was made
up of people who themselves had made their money so suddenly they had to
come to hotels to spend it. The stories that he told me, both scandalous
and otherwise, of these men and women who shot up rich and diamondy out
of this booming country of ours, had a range and a richness of color
that had held me delighted through many long talks. During luncheon he
had told some of his best, and had given me permission to print, with a
discreet twist or so to disguise them, certain intimate episodes in the
first fat years of men whose names were by-words now all over the land.
I could already see that story selling on the newsstands.

From this man I had come uptown to a branch of the Y. M. C. A., where
after an hour of hand-ball and a plunge in the swimming tank I had gone
to a room downstairs, to which ambitious youngsters came for free advice
from an expert who told them how to get on in life. His room was a
confessional. He would cross-examine each suppliant hard, make a
diagnosis of each one and then give him advice as to what to do--whether
or not to throw over his job, what kind of work he was suited for best.
The America he knew was made up of these small human units, some
pitiably or absurdly small, but all anxiously straining upward. And they
too appealed to me.

For I was so successful now that I was growing mellow. From certain big
men I had written about I had taken a spacious breadth of view that
included a deep indulgence for all these skurrying pigmies. Poor little
devils, give 'em a chance, especially those among them who had "bim"
enough to want a chance, to wonder why they were not getting on and want
to do something about it. And so I had formed the habit of dropping in
often at this room, hearing its confessions and now and then helping get
someone a job. As the swimming tank made my body tingle, so this place
affected my soul. It warmed me to do all I could for some fellow, some
decent kid who was down on his luck. Besides, some confessions were gems
of their kind, glimpses into human lives, hard struggles, wild
ambitions. I meant to write them up some day. In fact, I meant to write
everything up, I felt everything waiting for my pen.

And as I went down to the coat-room, the thought I had had so often
lately came again into my mind. I too would soon throw over my job,
leave articles and write fiction--my old Paris dream. But what a wide
and varied experience of life I had gathered since those ingenuous Paris
days. Yes, I would do it real and big, out of the big life I had known.
And my heroes would no longer be watching at my elbow to point to the
choicest bits and say, "You're mistaken, young man, I never said that."
No, all those lifelike human touches would stay in. Stories kept coming
up in my mind, one especially of late. As I stood in line for my hat and
coat I thought of it now and grew so absorbed I forgot that I was
standing in a line of insignificant clerks--until the one ahead of me,
who had just come in from the street, asked the chap in front of him:

"Say, Gus, did you see the suffragettes? Their parade's just going by."

This brought me down from the clouds with a jerk. For I had meant to see
that parade. Sue was in it, in it hard. Suffrage was her latest fad.

"Naw," growled Gus. "If I was the mayor and they came to me for a permit
to march I'd tell 'em to go and buy corsets. That's their complaint.
They can't get kissed so they want to vote." The other one chuckled:

"I saw one who can have my vote--and all I'll ask is a better look.
Believe me, some silk stockings!"

As they went away I glared after them. "Damn little muts," I thought. I
was rather in favor of suffrage, at least I felt indulgent about it. Why
shouldn't I be? The great thing was to keep your mind open and kindly,
to feel contempt for nothing whatever. And because I felt contempt for
no thing or person in all the world, I now glared with the most utter
contempt on these narrow-minded little clerks.

Then I hurried out and over to Fifth Avenue, where the throb of the
drums was still to be heard. And there I found to my surprise that in a
very real sense this parade was different from anything that I had ever
seen before. I was more than indulgent, I was excited. And by what? Not
by the marching lines of figures, fluttering banners, booming bands, nor
just by the fact that these marchers were women, and women quite frankly
dressed for effect, so that the whole rhythmic mass had a feminine color
and dash that made it all gay and delightful. No, there was something
deeper. And that something, I finally made out, was this. These women
and girls were all deeply thrilled by the feeling that for the first
time in their lives they were doing something all together--for an idea
that each one of them had thought rather big and stirring before, but
now, as each felt herself a part of this moving, swinging multitude, she
felt the idea suddenly loom so infinitely larger and more compelling
than before that she herself was astounded. Here for the first time in
my life I felt the power of mass action.

And as presently I started home and the intensity of it was gone, there
was an added pleasure to me in remembering how I had felt it. Another
proof of my breadth of mind. I hurried home to dinner.

As I entered our apartment I gave a long, low mysterious whistle. And
after a moment another whistle, which tried hard to be mysterious,
answered mine from another room. Then there were stealthy footsteps
which ended in a sudden charge, and my wee son, "the Indian," hurled me
onto a sofa, where, to use his expression, we "rush-housed" each other.
We did this almost every night.

When the big time was about over Eleanore appeared:

"Come, Indian, it's time for bed." She led him off protesting and blew
me back a kiss from the door.

She had developed wonderfully, this bewitching wife of mine, this quiet
able one in her work, this smiling humorous one in her life, this
watchful, joyous, intimate one in the hours that shut everything out.
Sue said I idolized my wife, that I saw her all perfection, "without one
redeeming vice." Not at all. I knew her vices well enough. I knew she
could get distinctly cross when a new gown came home all wrong. I knew
that she could lie to me, I had caught her at it several times when she
said she was feeling finely and then confessed to me the next day, "I
had a splitting headache last night." In fact, she had any number of
vices--queer, mysterious feminine moods when she quite shamelessly shut
me out. She didn't half take care of herself, she went places when she
should have stayed at home. And finally, she was slow at dressing.
Placidly seated in front of her mirror she could spend an entire hour in
doing her soft luxuriant hair.

I went over all these vices now as I lay back on the sofa. Idolize her?
Not at all. I knew her. We were married, thank God.

Then she came back into the room. She was smiling in rather a curious
way, an expectant way, and I noticed that her color was unusually high.
Eleanore always dressed so well, but to-night she had outdone herself.
From her trim blue satin slippers to the demure little band of blue at
her throat she was more enchantingly fresh than ever. Suffragettes and
that sort of thing were all very well on the Avenue. Give me Eleanore at
home.

"Did you see the parade?" she inquired.

"Yes."

"Did you see me?"

I fairly jumped!

"You?" I demanded. "Were you in that march?"

"I most certainly was," she said quietly. Having shot her bolt she was
regarding me gravely now, with the merest glint of amused delight
somewhere in her gray-blue eyes. "Why not?" she asked. "I believe in it,
I want the vote. Why shouldn't I march? I paraded," she added serenely,
"in the college section right up near the head of the line. That's why
I'm home so early. I'm afraid I was quite conspicuous, for you see I'm
rather small and I had to take long swinging strides to keep in step.
But I soon got used to it, and I thoroughly enjoyed the cheers. We waved
back at them with our flags."

"But," I cried, "my darling wife! Why didn't you tell me about it
ahead?"

"Because"--she came close up to me and said quite confidentially, "we
do these things all by ourselves. You don't mean to say that you mind
it, dear?"

I lost about five seconds and then I did exactly right. I took her in my
arms and laughed and called my wife by many names and said she couldn't
worry me, that I didn't mind it in the least, was proud of her and so
on. In short, to use a slang expression, I distinctly got away with it.
Moreover, I soon felt what I said. I was honestly rather proud of my
wife for having had the nerve to march. It must have been quite a
struggle, for she was no born marcher.

And I was glad that I was proud. Another proof of my tolerance--which
was the more grateful to me just now because a magazine man I admired
had genially hinted the other day that I was rather narrow.

"Did you see Sue?" I inquired.

"Only for a moment," she said. "Sue was one of the marshals and she was
all up and down the lines. She's coming to supper with many paraders."

"A crowd of women here? I'm off!"

"No you're not. She's bringing some men paraders too."

Men paraders! Now I could smile. I had earned the right, I had been
broad. But after all, there are limits. I could see those chaps parading
with women. I knew them, I had seen them before, for Sue had often
brought them here. I enjoyed myself immensely--till Eleanore shot
another bolt.

"Smile on, funny one," she said. "You'll be in line yourself in a year."

"I will not be in line!"

"I wonder." She looked at me in a curious way. The mirth went slowly out
of her eyes. "There are so many queer new ideas crowding in all around
us," she said. "And I know you, Billy, oh, so well--so much better than
you know yourself. I know that when you once feel a thing you're just
the kind to go into it hard. I'm not speaking of suffrage now--that's
only one nice little part. I mean this whole big radical movement--all
the kind of thing your friend Joe Kramer stood for." She put her arms
about my neck. "Don't get too radical, husband mine--you're so nice and
funny now, my love."

I regarded her anxiously:

"Has this parade gone to your head--or has Sue been talking to you
again?"

"I lunched with Sue----"

"I knew it! And now she's coming here to supper--bringing men paraders!"

"And they'll all be rabidly hungry," said Eleanore with a sudden change.
She went quickly in to see the cook and left me to grim meditation.

I a radical? I smiled. And my slight uneasiness passed away, as I
thought about my sister.



CHAPTER II


Poor old Sue. What queer friends she had, what a muddled life compared
to ours. What a vague confused development, jumping from one idea to
another, never seeing any job through, forever starting all over again
with the same feverish absorption in the next new radical fad. High-brow
dramatics, the settlement movement, the post-impressionists, socialism,
votes for women, one thing after the other pell mell. She would work
herself all up, live hard, talk, organize, think and feel till her
nerves went all to pieces, and then she would come to us for a rest and
laugh at us for our restfulness and at herself for the state she was in.
That was one thing at least she had learned--to laugh at herself--she
could be deliciously humorous. And Eleanore, meeting her on that ground,
would quiet her and steady her down.

We had grown very fond of Sue. We knew her life was not easy at home.
Alone over there with poor old Dad and feeling herself anchored down,
she would still at intervals rebel--against his sticking to his dull
job, against her own dependence, against the small monthly allowance
which without my father's knowledge they still had from me.

"Let me earn my own living!" she would exclaim. "Why shouldn't I? I'm
twenty-six--and I'm working hard enough as it is--the Lord knows! I'm
organizing every day and making speeches half my nights. Other girls
take pay for that. Now Father, please be sensible. I'm going to take a
good salaried job."

But then Dad, whose mind was so old and rigid, so much less tolerant
than mine, would grow excited or, still worse, ashamed that he couldn't
make money enough to give her all she wanted. And that desperate hungry
love with which he clung to her these latter days would in the end make
her give in. For under all her radical talk Sue had the kindest heart in
the world.

Eleanore did her best to help. She was always having Dad over to dinner,
and we had a room which she called his, where he would come and stay the
week-end. At six o'clock each Saturday night he would arrive with his
satchel.

"Daughter-in-law," he would announce, "my other daughter's _agin_ the
law, she's gone off revolooting. Can you take a decent old gentleman in
out of the last century? Don't change any plans on my account. If you're
going out to dinner just tell the cook to give me a snack and a cup of
tea, and then I'll light a good cigar and read the works of my great
son. Go right ahead as if I wasn't here."

If we had he would have been furious. Eleanore always made it his
night--and no quiet evening, either. When we didn't take him out to a
play she invited people to dinner--young people, for he liked them best.
And late on Sunday morning the "Indian" would wake him up, would watch
him shave and dress and breakfast, and then they would be off to the
Park. We had named our small son after Dad and they were the most
splendid chums. They had any number of secrets.

Eleanore too had made Sue use our apartment. Sue called it her Manhattan
club and brought her friends here now and then--"to stir you people up,"
she said. But this did not disturb me, I felt too secure in life. And
with a safe, amused and slightly curious attitude I found Sue quite a
tonic. I liked to hear her knock my big men in her cocksure superior
way. It was mighty good fun. And every now and then by mistake she would
hit on something that was true.

I found something too in her ideas. This suffrage business, for
example. She had stuck to this hobby quite a while, and through it she
had reached the conviction that women would never get the vote until the
great mass of working girls were drawn into the movement. So she had
gone in for working girls' clubs, and from clubs into trade unions and
from trade unions into strikes. There had been a strike of laundry girls
which for a week was the talk of the town. Sue and some of her suffrage
friends had organized meetings every night, and in a borrowed automobile
she had rushed from meeting to meeting with two laundry women, meager
forlorn-looking creatures who stood up much embarrassed and awkwardly
told about their lives. One of them, a young widow, had gone home from
work one night at eleven and found that her small baby had died of
convulsions during her absence. It was grim, terrible stuff of its kind,
and Sue was so intensely wrought up you'd have thought there was nothing
else in the world. But the strike stopped as suddenly as it began, and
the two women whose names she had brought into headlines were refused
jobs wherever they went. Sue tried to help them for a while, until this
suffrage parade came along, when she went into this equally hard and
quite forgot their existence.

And then Eleanore took them up. Quietly and as a matter of course, she
took their troubles on her hands, sent one to a hospital and got the
other work, looked into their wretched home affairs and had them come
often to see her. And this kind of thing was happening often, Sue taking
up and dropping what Eleanore then took up and put through. I compared
them with a glow of pride.

Eleanore's way was so sane and sure. She looked upon society much as she
did upon our son, who had frequent little ailments but through them all
what a glorious growth, to watch it was a perpetual joy. I remember
once, when in his young stomach there were some fearful goings on,
Eleanore's remarking:

"Now if Sue had a child with a stomach in trouble, I suppose her way
would be to quickly remove the entire stomach and put some new radical
thing in its place."

And then she went to the medicine chest, and a vastly comforted Indian
was soon cheerfully sitting up in bed.

Eleanore could help others, I felt, because she had first helped
herself, had tackled the mote in her own eye, from the time when she had
gone down to the harbor to get her roots, as she called it. She was a
wonderful manager, our budget was carefully worked out. And she had
herself so well in hand she could put herself behind herself and smile
clearly out on life.

"When Eleanore takes up a charity case," said her father, "she turns it
into a person at once, and later into an intimate friend."

He himself took a quiet interest in all her charity cases. They would
often talk them over at night, and in his easy careless way he would
turn over all his spare money to help in the work. Eleanore would
protest at times, and tell him how utterly foolish he was in not putting
money aside for himself. But soon, deep in another case of poignant
human misery, she would throw all caution to the winds and use her
father's money--every dollar he could spare. That was another vice she
had.

How she hated all the red tape in that huge network of institutions by
which New York City provides "relief." She never dropped a case of hers
into that cumbrous relief machine and then let it slip out of her sight.
She did the hard thing, she followed it up. She had learned, as I had in
my work, to "get on the inside" of this secretive city, to go to the
gods behind it all and so have her cases shoved. One day when one of
them, a woman, was in a hospital so desperately ill that her very life
depended on being moved to a private room--"It can't be done," said the
superintendent. Eleanore took the subway downtown to the Wall Street
office of the man who was the hospital's principal backer. She found
his outer office crowded with men who were waiting to see him on
business. "He can't see you," she was told. Then she scribbled this on
her card:

"I want none of your money, a little of your influence and one minute of
your time on behalf of a woman who is dying."

About twenty minutes later that woman was in a private room.

It is hard to stop talking about my wife. But to return to my sister:

       *       *       *       *       *

Into my reverie that night Sue burst with a dozen radical friends.
Others kept arriving, and our small rooms were soon a riot of color and
chatter. Banners were stacked against the wall, bright yellow ribbons
were everywhere, faces were flushed and happily tired. Eleanore sat at
her coffee urn, cups and saucers and plates went around, and people
still too excited to rest stood about eating hungrily. The talking was
fast and furious now. I listened, watched their faces.

These "radicals," it seemed to me, had talked straight on both day and
night ever since the evenings years ago when one of their earliest
coteries had gathered in our Brooklyn home. And talking they had
multiplied and ramified all over the town. There was nothing under
heaven their fingers did not itch to change. Here close by my side were
three of them, two would-be Ibsen actresses and one budding playwright
who had had two Broadway failures and one Berkeley Lyceum success. But
were they talking of plays? Not at all. They talked of the Russian
Revolution. It had died down in the last few years, and they wanted to
help stir it up again by throwing some more American money into the
smoldering embers. To do this they planned to whip into new life "The
Friends of Russian Freedom."

That was it, I told myself, these people were all friends of
revolutions. Vaguely as I watched them now I felt I was seeing the
parlor side, the light and fluffy outer fringe, of something rather
dangerous. I thought again of that parade and my impression of mass
force. No danger in that, it was dressy and safe. But some of these
youngsters did not stop there, they went in for stirring up people in
rags, mass force of a very different kind. Here was a sculptor socialist
who openly bragged that he'd had a hand in filling Union Square one day
with a seething mass of unemployed, and then when some poor crazed
fanatic threw a bomb, our socialist friend, as he himself smilingly put
it, never once stopped running until he reached his studio.

It was this kind of thing that got on my nerves. For I pitied the
unwieldy poor, the numberless muddle-headed crowds down there in the
tenements, and it seemed to me perfectly criminal that a lot of these
young high-brows should be allowed to stir them up. Their own thinking
was so muddled, their views of life so out of gear.

I a radical? No chance!

While they chattered on excitedly, I thought of my trip uptown on the
"El" that afternoon, a trip that I had made hundreds of times. Coming as
I usually was from some big man or other, whose busy office and whose
mind was a clean, brilliant illustration of what efficiency can be, I
would sit in the car and idly watch the upper story windows we passed,
with yellow gas jets flaring in the cave-like rooms behind them. There I
had glimpses of men and girls at long crowded tables making coats,
pants, vests, paper flowers, chewing-gum, five-cent cigars. I saw
countless tenement kitchens, dirty cooking, unmade beds. These glimpses
followed one on the other in such a dizzying torrent they merged into
one moving picture for me. And that picture was of crowds, crowds,
crowds--of people living frowzily.

This was poverty. And it was like some prodigious swamp. What could you
do about it? You could pull out individuals here and there, as Eleanore
did. I considered that a mighty fine job--for a woman or a clergyman.
But to go at it and drain the swamp was a very different matter. You
couldn't do it by easy preaching of patent cure-alls, nor by stirring up
class hatred through rabid attacks upon big men. No, this was a job for
the big men themselves, men who would go at this human swamp as
Eleanore's father had gone at the harbor--quietly and slowly, with an
engineer's precision. He had been at it six solid years, but he still
remarked humbly, "We've only begun."

Then from thinking of big men I thought of the one I had seen that day,
and of my story about him. It was just in the stage I liked, where I
could feel it all coming together. Incidents, bits of character and neat
little turns of speech rose temptingly before my mind.

Presently, through the clamor around me, I heard "the Indian" crying.
All this chatter had waked him up. I saw Eleanore go in to him and soon
I heard the crying stop, and I knew she was telling him a story, a nice
sleepy one to quiet him down.

What an infernal racket these people were making about the world. I went
on thinking about my work.



CHAPTER III


"You two," said Sue, when at last her friends had gone away, "have built
up a wall of contentment around you a person couldn't break through with
an axe."

"Have a little," I suggested.

"Stay all night," said Eleanore.

"No, thanks," said Sue. "I promised Dad that I'd be home."

And then instead of going home she sprawled lazily on the sofa with her
head upon one elbow, and settled in for some more talk. But her talk was
different to-night. She usually talked about herself, but to-night she
talked of us instead, of our contemptible content. And presently through
her talk I felt that she had some surprise to spring. In a few moments
Eleanore felt it too, I could tell that by the vigilant way she kept
glancing up from her knitting.

"I think," I was remarking, "we're a pretty liberal-minded pair."

"That's it," said Sue. "You're liberals!" What utter disdain she threw
into the word. "And what's more you're citizens. In all these
movements," she went on, "you always find two classes--citizens and
criminals. You two are both born citizens."

"What's the difference?" I inquired.

"Citizens," said Sue impressively, "are ready to _vote_ for what they
believe in. Criminals are ready to get arrested and go to jail."

Eleanore looked up at her.

"Who gave you that?" she asked. Sue looked a little taken back, but only
for a moment.

"One of the criminals," she said. Her voice was carefully casual now but
her eyes were a little excited. "He's a man who made up his mind that he
wanted to get way down to the bottom, and see how it feels to be down
there. So he took the very worst job he could find. For two years he was
a stoker--on ships of all kinds all over the world. And now that he
knows just how it feels, he has an office down on the docks where he's
getting the stokers and dockers together--getting them ready for a
strike--on your beloved harbor."

"Joe Kramer," said Eleanore quietly. Sue gave a sudden, nervous start.

"Eleanore," she severely rejoined, "sometimes you're simply uncanny--the
way you quietly jump at a thing!"

Eleanore had gone on with her knitting. I rose and lit a cigarette. I
could feel Sue's eyes upon me. So _this_ was her infernal surprise! J.
K. banging into my life again!

"How long has Joe been here?" I asked.

"About five months," Sue answered.

"He might have looked me up," I said.

"He doesn't want to look anyone up, I've only seen him once myself. He
has simply buried himself down there. Why don't you go and see him,
Billy?" she added, with a quick glance at Eleanore. "He won't amuse you
the way we do. He's one of the real criminals now."

Still Eleanore did not look up.

"What's his address?" I asked gruffly. Sue gave it to me and
good-humoredly yawned and said she must be getting home.

"Good-night, dear," said Eleanore. She had risen and come to the door.
"What a love of a hat you're wearing. It's a new one, isn't it? I caught
sight of it in the parade."

But the smile which my tall sister threw back at us from the doorway
had nothing whatever to do with hats. It said as plainly as in words:

"Now, you cozy liberals, go over and touch _that_ spot if you dare."

When she had gone I took up a book and tried to read. But I soon
gloomily relapsed. Would J. K. never leave me alone? What was he doing
with my harbor? Why should I look him up, confound him--he hadn't
bothered his head about me. But I knew that I _would_ look him up and
would find him more disturbing than ever. How he did keep moving on. No,
not on, but down, down--until now he had bumped the bottom!

"Are you going to see him?"

Glancing sharply up, I saw Eleanore carefully watching my face.

"Oh, I suppose so," I replied. She bent again to her knitting.

"He must be a strange kind of a person," she said.



CHAPTER IV


I slept little that night, and my work the next morning went badly. So,
after wasting an hour or two, I decided to stop. I would go and see Joe
and be done with it.

What was he doing with my harbor? The address Sue had given me was down
on the North River, my old hunting ground. The weather had turned cold
over-night, and when I came to the waterfront I felt the big raw breath
of the sea. I had hardly been near the harbor in years. It had become
for me a deep invisible corner-stone upon which my vigorous world was
built. I had climbed up into the airy heights, I had been writing of
millionaires. And coming so abruptly now from my story of life in rich
hotels, the place I had once glorified looked bleak and naked,
elemental. Down to the roots of things again.

I came to a bare wooden building, climbed some stairs and entered a
large, low-ceilinged room which was evidently a meeting hall. Chairs
were stacked along the walls and there was a low platform at one end. As
I lingered there a moment, by habit my eyes took in the details. The
local color was lurid enough. On the walls were foreign pictures, one of
the anarchist Ferrer being executed in Spain, and another of an Italian
mob shaking their fists and yelling like demons at a bloated hideous
priest. There were posters in which flaming torches, blood-red flags and
barricades and cannon belching clouds of smoke stood out in heavy blacks
and reds. And all this foreign violence was made grimly real in its
purpose here by the way these pictures centered around the largest
poster, which was of an ocean liner with all its different kinds of
workers gathered together in one mass and staring fixedly up at the
ship.

Through a door in a board partition I went into a narrow room from which
two dirty windows looked out upon the docks below. This room was cramped
and crowded. Newspapers and pamphlets lay heaped on the floor, and in
the corners were four desks, at one of which three men, whom I learned
later to be an Italian, an Englishman and a Spaniard, were talking
together intensely. They took no notice of my entrance, for many other
visitors, burly, sooty creatures, were constantly straggling in and out.

I saw Joe at a desk in one corner. Looking doubly tall and lean and
stooped, and with a tired frown on his face, he sat there with his
sleeves rolled up slowly pounding out a letter on the typewriter before
him. On top of his desk were huge ledgers, and over them upon hooks on
the wall hung bunches of letters from other ports. It all gave me a
heavy impression of dull daily drudgery. And in this Joe was so absorbed
that he took no notice of my presence, although I now stood close behind
him. When at last he did look up and I got a full view of his face, with
its large, familiar features, tight-set jaw and deep-set eyes, I was
startled at its gauntness.

"Hello, Joe----"

"Hello." A dullish red came into his face and then a slight frown. He
half rose from his seat. "Hello, Bill," he repeated. "What's brought you
here?"

He appeared a little dazed at first, then anything but glad to see me.
The thought of our old college days flashed for a moment into my mind.
How far away they seemed just now. Through our first few awkward remarks
he lapsed back into such a tired, worn indifference that I was soon on
the point of leaving. But that bony gauntness in his face, and all it
showed me he had been through, gave him some right to his rudeness, I
thought. So I changed my mind and stuck to my purpose of having it all
out with Joe and learning what he was about. Persisting in my
friendliness my questions slowly drew him out.

Since I had seen him five years ago he had continued his writing, but as
he had grown steadily more set on writing only what he called "the truth
about things," the newspapers had closed their doors. While I had gone
up he had gone down, until finally throwing up in disgust "this whole
fool game of putting words on paper," he had made up his mind to throw
in his life with the lives of the men at the bottom. So for two years he
had shoveled coal in the stokeholes of ships by day and by night, he had
mixed with stokers of every race, from English, French and Germans to
Russians and Italians, Spaniards, Hindus, Coolies, Greeks. He had worked
and eaten and slept in their holes, he had ranged the slums of all the
seas. And of all this he spoke in short, commonplace phrases, still in
that indifferent tone, as though personal stories were a bore.

"But look here, Joe," I asked at the end, "what's the good of living
like this? What the devil can you do?"

I still remember the look he gave me, the weary remoteness of it. But
all he said was,

"Organize strikes."

"Here?"

"Everywhere."

"Of stokers?"

"No, of all industries."

"For higher pay, eh, and shorter hours."

Another brief look.

"No, for revolution," he said.

Briefly, in reply to my questions, he explained how he and his friends
had already induced some twelve thousand stokers and dockers to leave
their old trade unions and enroll themselves as members of this new
international body, which was to embrace not only one trade but all the
labor connected with ships--ships of all nations. He was here doing the
advance work. As soon as the ground was made ready, he said, some of the
bigger leaders would come. Then there would be mass meetings here and
presently a general strike. And as the years went on there would be
similar strikes in all trades and in all countries, until at some time
not many years off there would be such labor rebellions as would
paralyze the industrial world. And out of this catastrophe the workers
would emerge into power to build up a strange new world of their own.

This was what Joe saw ahead. He seemed to be seeing it while he spoke,
with a hard, clear intensity that struck me rather cold. Here was no
mere parlor talk, here was a man who lived what he said.

"You comfortable people," he said, "are so damn comfortable you're
blind. You see nothing ahead but peace on earth and a nice smooth
evolution--with a lot of steady little reforms. You've got so you
honestly can't believe there's any violence left in the world. You're as
blind as most folks were five years before the Civil War. But what's the
use talking?" he ended. "You can't understand all this." Again my
irritation rose.

"No, I can't say I do," I replied. "To stir up millions of men of that
kind and then let 'em loose upon the world strikes me as absolutely
mad!"

"I knew it would."

"Look here, Joe, how are _you_ so sure about all this? Hasn't it ever
struck you that you're getting damnably narrow?" He smiled.

"I don't care much if I'm narrow," he said.

"You think it's good for you, being like this?"

"I don't care if it's good for me."

"Don't you want to see anything else?"

"Not in your successful world."

"Well, J. K., I'm sorry," I retorted hotly. "Because I'd like to see
your world, I honestly would! I'm not like you, I'm always ready to be
shown!"

"All right, come and see it. Why don't you write up Jim Marsh?" He
smiled as he named the notorious leader of the whole organization.
"He'll be here soon, and in his line he has been a mighty successful
man. All up and down the U. S. A. Jim's name has been in headlines and
Jim himself has been in jail. A successful revolutionist. So why not add
him to your list? Write up the America _he_ knows." There was a
challenge in Joe's voice.

"All right, perhaps I will," I said. At least I had him talking now.
"Come out to lunch and tell me some more."

"I don't want any lunch."

Something in the way he said that made me look at him quickly. He
appeared to me now not only thin but tense and rather feverish. His
nerves were plainly all on edge. He had smoked one cigarette after
another.

"I've got a lot of work to-day," he added restlessly. "Not only these
damn letters to write--I've got to make up our paper besides--it goes to
the printer to-morrow. Here, take a copy with you."

And he handed me the last week's issue. It was a crude and flimsy
affair, with its name, in scarehead letters, "WAR SURE." I glanced it
over in silence a moment. What a drop for Joe, from what he had been, to
this wretched violent little sheet, this muckraker of the ocean world.

"Not like the harbor _you_ painted," he said.

"No," I answered shortly.

"Do you want another look at your harbor?"

I eyed him for a moment:

"All right--I'll look----"

"Fine business." He had risen now, and a gleam of the old likable Joe
came for a moment into his eyes.

"Meet me to-morrow at seven a. m. And let's look at some of its
failures," he said.



CHAPTER V


"Did you see him?" Eleanore asked that night.

"Yes--I saw him----"

I could feel her waiting, but I could not bring myself to talk. Eleanore
wouldn't like J. K. She wouldn't like what I had told him I'd do. I was
sorry now that I had, it was simply looking for trouble. I damned that
challenge in Joe's voice. Why did he always get hold of me so?

"How did he look? Is he much changed?" Eleanore asked me quietly.

"Yes. He looks half sick--and old. He's been through a good deal," I
answered.

"Did he talk about that?"

"Yes"--I hesitated--"and of what he wants to show me," I said. Eleanore
looked quickly up.

"Are you going to see him soon again?"

"Yes--to-morrow morning--to have a look at his stoker friends. I want to
have just one good look at the life that has made him what he is. That's
all--that's all it amounts to----"

There was another silence. Then she came over behind my chair and I felt
the cool quiet of her hand as she slowly stroked my forehead.

"You look tired, dear," she said.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just before daylight the next morning I rose and dressed, swallowed some
coffee and set out. I took a surface car downtown.

I had not been out at this hour in years. And as in my present mood,
troubled and expectant, I watched the streets in the raw half-light,
they looked as utterly changed to me as though they were streets of a
different world. The department store windows looked unreal. Their soft
rich lights had been put out, and in this cold hard light of dawn all
their blandishing ladies of wax appeared like so many buxom ghosts. Men
were washing the windows. Women and girls were hurrying by, and as some
of them stopped for a moment to peer in at these phantoms of fashion,
their own faces looked equally waxen to me. A long, luxurious motor
passed with a man and a woman in evening clothes half asleep in each
other's arms. An old man with a huge pack of rags turned slowly and
stared after them. The day's work was beginning. Peddlers trundled
push-carts along, newspaper vendors opened their stands, milk wagons and
trucks from the markets came by, some on the gallop. Our car had filled
with people now. Men and boys clung to the steps behind and women and
girls were packed inside, most of them hanging to the straps. How badly
and foolishly dressed were these girls. There must be thousands of them
out. Two kept tittering inanely. All the rest were silent.

By the time that I reached the docksheds the day was breaking over their
roofs. It was freezing cold, and the chill was worse in the dock that I
entered. I buttoned my ulster tighter. The big place was dark and empty.
The dockers, I learned from the watchman, had quit work at three
o'clock, for a few tons of fruit was all the freight that remained to be
loaded. The ship was to sail at nine o'clock.

The stokers had not yet gone aboard. I found about a hundred of them
huddled along the steel wall of the shed. Some of them had old leather
grips or canvas bags, but many had no luggage at all. A few wore seedy
overcoats, but the greater part had none, they stood with their hands in
their ragged pockets, shivering and stamping. Most of them were
undersized, some tough, some rather sickly. A dull-eyed, wretched,
sodden lot. I got the liquor on their breaths. A fat old Irish stoker
came drifting half-drunk up the pier with a serene and waggish smile.

"Hello," said Joe at my elbow.

He looked more fagged than the day before. I noticed that his lips were
blue and that his teeth were chattering.

"Joe," I said abruptly, "you're not fit to be here. Let's get out of
this, you belong in bed." He glanced at me impatiently.

"I'm fit enough," he muttered. "We'll stay right here and see this
show--unless you feel you want to quit----"

"Did I say I did? I'm ready enough----"

"All right, then wait a minute. They're about ready to go on board."

But as we stood and watched them, I still felt the chattering teeth by
my side, and a wave of pity and anger and of disgust swept over me. Joe
wouldn't last long at this kind of thing!

"What do you think of my friends?" he asked.

"I think you're throwing your life away!"

"Do you? How do you make it out?"

"Because they're an utterly hopeless crowd! Look at 'em--poor
devils--they look like a lot of Bowery bums!"

"Yes--they look like a lot of bums. And they feed all the fires at sea."

"Are they all like these?" I demanded.

"No better dressed," he answered. "A million lousy brothers of Christ."

"And you think you can build a new world _with them_?"

"No--I think they can do it themselves."

"Do you know what I think they'll do themselves? If they ever do win in
any strike and get a raise in wages--they'll simply blow it in on
drink!"

Joe looked at me a moment.

"They'll do so much more than drink," he said. "Come on," he added.
"They're going aboard."

They were forming in a long line now before the third-class gang-plank.
As they went up with their packs on their shoulders, a man at the top
gave each a shove and shouted out a number, which another official
checked off in a book. The latter I learned was the chief engineer. He
was a lean, powerful, ruddy-faced man with a plentiful store of
profanity which he poured out in a torrent:

"Come on! For Christ's sake! Do you want to freeze solid, you ---- human
bunch of stiffs?"

We came up the plank at the end of the line, and I showed him a letter
which I had procured admitting us to the engine rooms. He turned us over
promptly to one of his junior engineers, and we were soon climbing down
oily ladders through the intricate parts of the engines, all polished,
glistening, carefully cleaned. And then climbing down more ladders until
we were, as I was told, within ten feet of the keel of the ship, we came
into the stokers' quarters.

And here nothing at all was carefully cleaned. The place was foul, its
painted steel walls and floor and ceiling were heavily encrusted with
dirt. The low chamber was crowded with rows of bunks, steel skeleton
bunks three tiers high, the top tier just under the ceiling. In each was
a thin, dirty mattress and blanket. In some of these men were already
asleep, breathing hard, snoring and wheezing. Others were crowded around
their bags intent on something I could not see. Many were smoking, the
air was blue. Some were almost naked, and the smells of their bodies
filled the place. It was already stifling.

"Had enough?" asked our young guide, with a grin.

"No," I said, with an answering superior smile. "We'll stay a while and
get it all."

And after a little more talk he left us.

"How do you like our home?" asked Joe.

"I'm here now," I said grimly. "Go ahead and show me. And try to believe
that I want to be shown."

"All right, here comes our breakfast."

Two stokers were bringing in a huge boiler. They set it down on the
dirty floor. It was full of a greasy, watery soup with a thick, yellow
scum on the top, through which chunks of pork and potato bobbed up here
and there.

"This is scouse," Joe told me. Men eagerly dipped tin cups in this and
gulped it down. The chunks of meat they ate with their hands. They ate
sitting on bunks or standing between them. Some were wedged in close
around a bunk in which lay a sleeper who looked utterly dead to the
world. His face was white.

"He reminds me," said Joe, "of a fellow whose bunk was once next to
mine. He was shipped at Buenos Ayres, where the crimps still handle the
business. A crimp had carried this chap on board, dumped him, got his
ten dollars and left. The man was supposed to wake up at sea and shovel
coal. But this one didn't. The second day out some one leaned over and
touched him and yelled. The crimp had sold us a dead one."

As Joe said this he stared down at the sleeper, a curious tensity in his
eyes.

"Joe, how did you ever stand this life?"

My own voice almost startled me, it sounded so suddenly tense and
strained. Joe turned and looked at me searchingly, with a trace of that
old affection of his.

"I didn't, Kid," he said gruffly. "The two years almost got me. And
that's what happens to most of 'em here. Half of 'em," he added, "are
down-and-outers when they start. They're what the factories and mills
and all the rest of this lovely modern industrial world throw out as no
more wanted. So they drift down here and take a job that nobody else
will take, it's so rotten, and here they have one week of hell and
another week's good drunk in port. And when the barrooms and the women
and all the waterfront sharks have stripped 'em of their last red cent,
then the crimps collect an advance allotment from their future wages to
ship 'em off to sea again."

"That's not true in _this_ port," I retorted, eagerly catching him up on
the one point that I knew was wrong. "They don't allow crimps in New
York any more."

"No," Joe answered grimly. "The port of New York has got reformed, it's
become all for efficiency now. The big companies put up money for a kind
of a seamen's Y. M. C. A. where they try to keep men sober ashore, and
so get 'em back quick into holes like these, in the name of Christ.

"But there's one thing they forget," he added bitterly. "The age of
steam has sent the old-style sailors ashore and shipped these fellows in
their places. And that makes all the difference. These chaps didn't grow
up on ships and get used to being kicked and cowed and shot for mutiny
if they struck. No, they're all grown up on land, in factories where
they've been in strikes, and they bring their factory views along into
these floating factories. And they don't like these stinking holes! They
don't like their jobs, with no day and no night, only steel walls and
electric light! You hear a shout at midnight and you jump down into the
stokehole and work like hell till four a. m., when you crawl up all
soaked in sweat and fall asleep till the next shout. And you do this,
not as the sailor did for a captain he knew and called 'the old man,'
but for a corporation so big it has rules and regulations for you like
what they have in the navy. You're nothing but a number. Look here."

He took me to a bulletin that had just been put up on the wall. Around
it men were eagerly crowding.

"Here's where you find by your number what shift you're to work in," he
said, "and what other number you have to replace if he goes down. Heart
failure is damn common here, and if your man gives out it means you
double up for the rest of the voyage. So you get his number and hunt for
him and size him up. You hope he'll last. I'll show you why."

He crawled down a short ladder and through low passageways dripping wet
and so came into the stokehole.

This was a long, narrow chamber with a row of glowing furnace doors. Wet
coal and coal-dust lay on the floor. At either end a small steel door
opened into bunkers that ran along the sides of the ship, deep down near
the bottom, containing thousands of tons of soft coal, which the men
called "trimmers" kept shoveling out to the stokers. As the voyage went
on, Joe told me, these trimmers had to go farther and farther back into
the long, black bunkers, full of stifling coal-dust, in which if the
ship were rolling the masses of coal kept crashing down. Hundreds of men
had been killed that way. In the stokehole the fires were not yet up,
but by the time the ship was at sea the furnace mouths would be white
hot and the men at work half naked. They not only shoveled coal into the
flames, they had to spread it out as well and at intervals rake out the
"clinkers" in fiery masses on the floor. On these a stream of water
played, filling the chamber with clouds of steam. In older ships, like
this one, a "lead stoker" stood at the head of the line and set the pace
for the others to follow. He was paid more to keep up the pace. But on
the fast new liners this pacer was replaced by a gong.

"And at each stroke of the gong you shovel," said Joe. "You do this till
you forget your name. Every time the boat pitches, the floor heaves you
forward, the fire spurts at you out of the doors and the gong keeps on
like a sledgehammer coming down on top of your mind. And all you think
of is your bunk and the time when you're to tumble in."

From the stokers' quarters presently there came a burst of singing.

"Now let's go back," he ended, "and see how they're getting ready for
this."

As we crawled back the noise increased, and it swelled to a roar as we
entered. The place was pandemonium now. Those groups I had noticed
around the bags had been getting out the liquor, and now at eight
o'clock in the morning half the crew were already well soused. Some
moved restlessly about. One huge bull of a creature with large, limpid,
shining eyes stopped suddenly with a puzzled stare, then leaned back on
a bunk and laughed uproariously. From there he lurched over the shoulder
of a thin, wiry, sober man who, sitting on the edge of a bunk, was
slowly spelling out the words of a newspaper aeroplane story. The big
man laughed again and spit, and the thin man jumped half up and snarled.

Louder rose the singing. Half the crew was crowded close around a little
red-faced cockney. He was the modern "chanty man." With sweat pouring
down his cheeks and the muscles of his neck drawn taut, he was jerking
out verse after verse about women. He sang to an old "chanty" tune, one
that I remembered well. But he was not singing out under the stars, he
was screaming at steel walls down here in the bottom of the ship. And
although he kept speeding up his song the crowd were too drunk to wait
for the chorus, their voices kept tumbling in over his, and soon it was
only a frenzy of sound, a roar with yells rising out of it. The singers
kept pounding each other's backs or waving bottles over their heads. Two
bottles smashed together and brought a still higher burst of glee.

"I'm tired!" Joe shouted. "Let's get out!"

I caught a glimpse of his strained, frowning face. Again it came over me
in a flash, the years he had spent in holes like this, in this hideous,
rotten world of his, while I had lived joyously in mine. And as though
he had read the thought in my disturbed and troubled eyes,

"Let's go up where _you_ belong," he said.

I followed him up and away from his friends. As we climbed ladder after
ladder, fainter and fainter on our ears rose that yelling from below.
Suddenly we came out on deck and slammed an iron door behind us.

And I was where I belonged. I was in dazzling sunshine and keen frosty
Autumn air. I was among gay throngs of people. Dainty women brushed me
by. I felt the softness of their furs, I breathed the fragrant scent of
them and of the flowers that they wore, I saw their fresh immaculate
clothes, I heard the joyous tumult of their talking and their laughing
to the regular crash of the band--all the life of the ship I had known
so well.

And I walked through it all as though in a dream. On the dock I watched
it spellbound--until with handkerchiefs waving and voices calling down
good-bys, that throng of happy travelers moved slowly out into
midstream.

And I knew that deep below all this, down in the bottom of the ship, the
stokers were still singing.



CHAPTER VI


That same day I had an appointment to lunch with the owner of rich
hotels whose story I was writing. And the interview dragged. For the
America he knew was like what I'd seen on the upper decks of the ship
that had sailed a few hours before. And I could not get back my old zest
for it all, I kept thinking of what I had seen underneath. The faces of
individual stokers, some fiery red, some sodden gray, kept bobbing up in
my memory. Angrily trying to keep them down, I went on with my
questions. But I caught the hotel millionaire throwing curious looks at
me now and then.

I went home worried and depressed and shut myself up in my workroom.
This business had to be thought out. It wasn't only stokers; it was
something deep, world-wide. I had come up against the slums. What had I
to do with it all?

I was in my room all afternoon. I heard "the Indian" at my door, but I
sat still and silent, and presently he went away.

Late in the twilight Eleanore came. How beautiful she was to-night. She
was wearing a soft gown of silk, blue with something white at her throat
and a brooch that I had given her. As she bent over my shoulder I felt
her clean, fresh loveliness.

"Don't you want to tell me, love, just what it was he showed you?"

"I'd rather not, my dear one, it was something so terribly ugly," I
said.

"I don't like being so far away from you, dear. Please tell me. Suppose
you begin at the start."

It took a long time, for she would let me keep nothing back.

"I wouldn't have thought it could hit me so hard," I said at the end.

"I'm not surprised," said Eleanore.

"I can't be simply angry at Joe," I went on. "He's so intensely and
gauntly sincere. It isn't just talk with him, you see, as it is with
Sue's parlor radical friends. Think of the life he's been leading, think
of it compared to mine. Joe and I were mighty close once"--I broke off
and got up restlessly. "I hate to think of him," I said.

"It's funny," said Eleanore quietly. "I knew this was coming sooner or
later. Ever since we've been married I've known that Joe Kramer still
means more to you than any man you've ever met."

"He doesn't," I said sharply. "Where on earth did you get that idea?"

"From you, my love," she answered. "You can't dream how often you've
spoken about him."

"I didn't know I had!" It is most disquieting at times, the things
Eleanore tells me about myself.

"I know you don't," she continued, "you do it so unconsciously. That's
why I'm so sure he has a real place in the deep unconscious part of you.
He worries you. He gets you to think you've no right to be happy!" There
was a bitterness in her voice that I had never heard before. "I believe
in helping people--of course--whenever I get a chance," she said. "But I
don't believe in this--I hate it! It's simply an insane attempt to pull
every good thing down! It's too awful even to think of!"

"We're not going to," I told her. "I'm sorry for Joe and I wish I could
help him out of his hole. But I can't--it's too infernally deep. He
won't listen to any talk from me--and as long as he won't I'll leave him
alone. It's hideous enough--God knows. But if I ever tackle poverty and
labor and that sort of thing it'll be along quite different lines."

The door-bell rang.

"Oh Billy," she said, "I forgot to tell you. Father's coming to dinner
to-night." I looked at her a moment:

"Did you ask him here on my account?" Eleanore smiled frankly.

"Yes--I thought I might need him," she said.

I did not talk to her father of Joe--his plans for a strike were his
secret, not mine. But with Eleanore pushing me on, I described the hell
I had seen in the stokehole.

"You're right, it's hell," her father agreed. "But in time we'll do away
with it."

"I knew it," Eleanore put in.

"How?" I asked.

"By using oil instead of coal. Or if we can't get oil cheap enough by
automatic stokers--machines to do the work of men."

I thought hard and fast for a moment, and suddenly I realized that I had
never given any real thought to matters of this kind before.

"Then what will become of the stokers?" I asked him.

"One thing at a time." I caught Dillon keenly watching me over his
cigar. "Don't give up your faith in efficiency, Bill. If they'll only
give us time enough we'll be able to do so much for men."

There was something so big and sincere in his voice and in his clear and
kindly eyes.

"I'm sure you will," I answered. "If you don't, there's nobody else who
can."

In a week or two, by grinding steadily on at my work and by a few more
quiet talks with Eleanore and her father, I could feel myself safely
back on my ground.

       *       *       *       *       *

But one morning Sue broke in on me.

"I've just heard from a friend of Joe Kramer's," she said, "that he is
dangerously ill. And there's no one to look after him. Hadn't you better
go yourself?"

"Of course," I assented gruffly. "I'll go down at once."

It seemed as though the Fates and Sue were in league to keep Joe in my
life.

I went to Joe's office and found the address of the room where he slept.
It was over a German saloon close by. It was a large, low-ceilinged
room, bare and cheaply furnished, with dirty curtains at the windows,
dirty collars and shirts on the floor. It was cold. In the high
old-fashioned fireplace the coal fire had gone out. Joe was lying
dressed on the bed. He jumped up as I entered and came to me with his
face flushed and his eyes dilated. He gripped my hand.

"Why, hello, Kid," he cried. "Glad to see you!" And then with a quick
drop of his voice: "Hold on, we mustn't talk so loud, we've got to be
quiet here, you know." He turned away from me restlessly. "I've been
hunting for hours for that damn book. Their cataloguing system here is
rotten, Kid, it's rotten!" As he spoke he was slowly feeling his way
along the dirty white wall of his room. "They've cheated us, Bill, I'm
on to 'em now! That's what college is really for these days, to hide the
books we ought to read!"

It came over me suddenly that Joe was back in college, on one of those
library evenings of ours. I felt a tightening at my throat.

"Say, Joe." I drew him toward the bed. "The chapel bell has just struck
ten. Time for beer and pretzels."

"Fine business! Gee, but I've got a thirst! But where's the door? God
damn it all--I can't find anything to-night!" He laughed unsteadily.

"Right over here," I answered. "Steady, old man----"

And so I got him to his bed. He fell down on it breathing hard and I
brought him a drink of water. He began to shiver violently. I covered
him up with dirty blankets, went down to the barroom and telephoned to
Eleanore. Too deeply disturbed to think very clearly, acting on an
impulse, I told her of Joe's condition and asked if I might bring him
home.

"Why of course," came the answer, a little sharp. "Wait a moment. Let me
think." There was a pause, and then she added quietly, "Go back to his
room and keep him in bed. I'll see that an ambulance comes right down."

Within an hour after that Joe was installed in our guest room with a
trained nurse to attend to him. The doctor pronounced it typhoid and he
was with us for nine weeks.

       *       *       *       *       *

The effect upon our lives was sharp. In our small crowded apartment all
entertaining was suddenly stopped, and with the sole exception of Sue no
one came to see us. Even our little Indian learned to be quiet as a
mouse. Our whole home became intense.

Through the thin wall of my workroom I could hear Joe in his delirium.
Now he was busily writing letters, now in a harsh excited voice he was
talking to a crowd of men, again he was furiously shoveling coal. All
this was incoherent, only mutterings most of the time. But when the
voice rose suddenly it was so full of a stern pain, so quivering with
revolt against life, and it poured out such a torrent of commonplace
minute details that showed this was Joe's daily life and the deepest
part of his being--that as I listened at my desk the ghost I thought I
had buried deep, that vague guilty feeling over my own happiness, came
stealing up in me again. And it was so poignant now, that struggle
angrily as I would to plunge again into my work, I found it impossible
to describe the life in those rich gay hotels with the zest and the dash
I needed to make my story a success.

But it had to be a success, for we needed money badly, the expenses of
Joe's sickness were already rolling in. So I did finish it at last and
took it to my successful man, who read it with evident disappointment.
It was not the glory story that I had led him to expect. My magazine
editor said he would use it, but he, too, appeared surprised.

"You weren't up to your usual form," was his comment. "What's the
matter?"

"A sick friend."

I started another story at once, one I had already planned, about a man
who was to build a string of gorgeous opera houses in the leading
American cities. This story, too, went slowly. Joe Kramer's voice kept
breaking in. From time to time as I struggled on I could feel Eleanore
watching me.

"Don't try to hurry it," she said. "We can always borrow from father,
you know--and besides, I'm going to cut our expenses."

She was as good as her word. She dismissed the nurse, and through the
last weeks of delirium and the first of returning consciousness she
placed herself in Joe's borderland as the one whose presence he vaguely
felt pulling him back into comfort and strength.

"No, don't talk," I heard her say to him one evening. "I don't want to
hear you. All I want is to get you well. That's the only thing you and I
have to talk of."

But having so thrown him off his guard, as his mind grew clearer she
began cautiously drawing him out, despite his awakening hostility to
this woman who had made me a success. From my room I heard snatches of
their talk. She surprised J. K. by the intimate bits of knowledge about
him that she had collected both from me and from his own sick ramblings.
She had just enough of his point of view to rouse him from his
indifference, to annoy him by her mistakes and her refusals to
understand. I remember one afternoon when I went in to sit with him, his
staring grimly up at my face and saying:

"Bill, that wife of yours is such a born success she scares me.
Everything she touches, everything she brings me to drink, everything
she does to this bed, is one thundering success. And she won't listen to
anything _but_ success. Your case is absolutely hopeless."

They became grim enemies, and both of them enjoyed it. She let our
small son come and sit by the bed. The Indian promptly worshiped Joe as
the "longest" man he had ever seen, and they became boon companions.

"It's pathetic," Eleanore told me, "the little things that appeal to him
here. Poor boy, he has forgotten what a decent home is like."

As he grew stronger she read the paper to him each morning, and they
quarreled with keen relish over the news events of the day. And as at
the start, so now, she kept giving him little shocks of surprise by her
intimate glimpses into his views. On one of these occasions, after she
had come out from his room and was sitting by me reading,

"You're a wonder, Eleanore," I said. "I don't see how you've done it."

"Done what, my love?" asked Eleanore.

"Wormed all his views out of poor old Joe."

"I haven't done anything of the sort. I've learned over half of it from
Sue. She comes here often nowadays and we have long talks about him. Sue
seems to know him rather well."

This did not interest me much, so I switched our talk to something that
did.

"What bothers me," I said with a scowl, "is this infernal work of mine.
What are you smiling at?" I asked.

"Nothing," she murmured, beginning to read. "But if I were you I'd stick
at my work. You're good at that."

"Not now I'm not," I retorted. "This story about the opera man isn't
coming on at all! The more I work the worse it gets!"

"It will get better soon," she said.

"I'm not so sure. Do you know what I think is the matter with me? I was
in to-day looking at Joe asleep, and watching the lines in that face of
his it came over me all of a sudden what a wretched coward I've been."
Eleanore looked up suddenly. "I know there's something in all his talk,
I've known it every time we've met. His view's so distorted it makes me
mad, but there's something in it you can't get away from. Poverty,
that's what it is, and I've always steered way clear of it as though I
were afraid to look. I've taken your father's point of view and left the
slums for him and his friends to tackle when they get the time. I was
only too glad to be left out. But that hour with J. K. and his stokers
gave me a jolt. I can feel it still. I can't seem to shake it off. And
I'm beginning to wonder now why I shouldn't get up the nerve to see for
myself, to have a good big look at it all--and write about it for a
while."

"Don't!" said Eleanore. "Leave it alone!" Her voice was so sharp it
startled me.

"Why?" I rejoined. "You've tackled poverty often enough. I guess I can
stand it if you can."

"You're different," she answered. "You leave poverty alone and force
yourself to go on with your work. You've made a very wonderful start.
You'll be ready to take up fiction soon. When you have, and when you
have gone so far that you can feel sure of your name and yourself, then
you can look at whatever you like."

"I wonder what Joe would say to that."

"I know what he'll say--he'll agree with me. Why don't you ask him and
see for yourself? I'm beginning to like Joe Kramer," she added with a
quiet smile, "because now that I understand him I know that his life and
yours are so far apart you've hardly a point in common."

And in the talks I had with Joe this soon proved to be the case.
Eleanore brought us together now and listened with deep satisfaction as
we clashed and jarred each other apart.

His old indifferent manner was gone, he was softened, grateful for what
we had done--but he held to that view of his like a rock, and the view
entirely shut me out. Joe saw society wholly as "War Sure" between two
classes, and I was hopelessly on the wrong side. My work, my home and my
whole life were bound in with the upper class. And there could be no
middle ground. My boasted tolerance, breadth of mind, my readiness to
see both sides, my passion for showing up all men as human--this to Joe
was utter piffle. He had no use for such writing, or in fact for art of
any kind. "Propaganda" was all that he wanted, and that could be as
cheap as Nick Carter, as sentimental as Uncle Tom's Cabin, if only it
had the kind of "punch" that would reach to the mass of ignorant workers
and stir their minds and their passions into swift and bitter revolt.
Revolution! That was the thing. The world had come to a time, he said,
when talking and writing weren't going to count. We were entering into
an age of force--of "direct action"--strikes and the like--by prodigious
masses of men. All I could do was worthless.

These talks made me so indignant and sore, so sure that Joe and all his
work were utterly wild and that only in Dillon and his kind lay any hope
of solving the dreary problems of the slums--that within a few days more
I was delving into my opera man with a most determined approval. He at
least was a builder, he didn't want to tear everything down! In his
every scheme for a huge success I took now an aggravated delight. All my
recent tolerance gone, I threw into my work an intensity that I had not
felt in months.

And Eleanore smiled contentedly, as though she knew what she was about.
When at last the time came for Joe to leave, she was twice as friendly
to him as I.



CHAPTER VII


But on coming home one evening two or three weeks later, I found
Eleanore reading aloud to our son with a most preoccupied look on her
face.

"Joe Kramer is coming to dinner," she said. "He called up this morning
and said he'd like to see us again. Sue is coming, too, as it happens.
She dropped in this afternoon."

Sue arrived a few minutes later, and at once I thought to myself I had
never seen her look so well. For once she had taken time to dress. She
had done her dark hair in a different way. Her color, which had been
poor of late, to-night was most becomingly high, and those fascinating
eyes of hers were bright with a new animation.

"She has found a fine new hobby," I thought.

Her whole attitude to us was one of eager friendliness. She made much of
what we had done for Joe.

"You've no idea," she told me, "how he feels about you both." She was
speaking of this when Joe came in.

He, too, appeared to me different. Into his blunt manner had crept a
certain awkwardness, his gruff voice had an anxious note at times and
his eyes a hungry gleam. Poor old Joe, I thought. It must be hard,
despite all his talk, to see what he had missed in life, to feel what a
sacrifice he had made. He had thrown everything aside, love, marriage,
home, all personal ties--to tackle this bleak business of slums. The
more pity he had such a twisted view. And as presently, in reply to
Sue's questions, he talked about the approaching strike, my irritation
at his talk grew even sharper than before.

"Your stokers and dock laborers," I interrupted hotly, "are about as
fit to build up a mew world as they are to build a Brooklyn Bridge! When
I compare them to Eleanore's father and his way of going to work"--I
broke off in exasperation. "Can't you see you're all just floundering in
a perfect swamp of ignorance?"

"No," said Joe. "I don't see that----"

"I'm mighty glad you don't," said Sue. Eleanore turned on her abruptly.

"Why are _you_ glad, Sue?" she asked.

"Because," Sue answered warmly, "he's where every one of us ought to be!
He's doing the work we all ought to be doing!"

"Then why don't you do it?" said Joe. His voice was low but sharp as in
pain. The next instant he turned from Sue to me. "I mean all of you," he
added. I looked at him in astonishment. What had worked this change in
Joe? In our last talk he had shut me out so completely. He seemed to
feel this at once himself, for he hastened to explain his remark. He had
turned his back on Sue and was talking hard at me:

"Of course I don't mean you can do it, Bill, unless you change your
whole view of life. But why shouldn't you change? You're young enough.
That look at a stokehole got hold of you hard. And if you're able to
feel like that why not do some thinking, too?"

"I'm thinking," I said grimly. "I told you before that I wanted to help.
But you said----"

"I say it still," J. K. cut in. "If you want to help the people you've
got to drop your efficiency gods. You've got to believe in the people
first--that all they need is waking up to handle this whole job
themselves. You've got to see that they're waking up fast--all over the
world--that they're getting tired of gods above 'em slowly planning out
their lives--that they don't want to wait till they're dead to be
happy--that they feel poverty every day like a million tons of brick on
their chests--it's got so they can't even breathe without thinking! And
you've got to see that what they're thinking is, 'Do it yourself and do
it quick!' The only thing that's keeping them back is that in these
times of peace men get out of the habit of violence!

"But the minute you get this clear in your mind, then I say you can help
'em. Because what's needed is so big. It's not only more pay and shorter
hours and homes where they needn't die off like flies--they need more
than that--they need a change as much as you--in their whole way of
looking at things. They've got to learn that they are a crowd--and can't
get anywhere at all until all pull together. Ignorant? Of course they
are! But that's where you and me come in--we can help 'em get together
faster than they would if left to themselves! You can help that way a
lot--by writing to the tenements! _That's_ what I meant!"

Joe stopped short. And after his passionate outburst, Eleanore spoke up
quietly.

"This sounds funny from you," she said. "A few weeks ago you were just
as sure that Billy could do nothing. What has made you change so?"

Joe reddened and looked down at his hands.

"I suppose," he said gruffly after a moment, "it's because I'm still
weak from typhoid--weak enough to want to see some one but stokers get
into the job that's become my life. You see," he muttered, "I was raised
among people like you. It's a kind of a craving, I suppose--like
cigarettes." Again he stopped short and there was a pause.

"Rather natural," Sue murmured. Again he turned sharply from her to me.

"I say you can help by your writing," he said. "You call my friends an
ignorant mob. But thousands of 'em have read your stuff!"

I looked up at Joe with a start.

"Oh they don't like it," he went on. "It only makes 'em sore and mad.
But if you ever see things right, and get into their side of this fight
with that queer fountain-axe of yours, you'll be surprised at the
tenement friends who'll pop up all around you. The first thing you know
they'll be calling you 'Bill.' That's the kind they are--they don't want
to shut anyone out--all they want to know is whether he means business.
If he doesn't he's no use, because they know that sooner or later
they'll do it anyhow themselves. It's going to be the biggest fight
that's happened since the world began! No cause has ever been so fine,
so worth a man's giving his life to aid! And all you've got to decide is
this--whether you're to get in now, and help make it a little easier,
help make it come without violence--or wait till it all comes to a crash
and then be yanked in like a sack of meal!"

Before I could speak, Sue drew a deep breath.

"I don't see how there's any choice about that," she said.

Eleanore turned to her again:

"Do you mean for Billy?"

"I mean for us all," Sue answered. "Even for a person like me!" Sue was
beautiful just then--her cheeks aglow, her features tense, a radiant
eagerness in her eyes. "I've felt it, oh so long," she said. "It's gone
all through my suffrage work--through every speech that I have
made--that the suffragists need the working girls and ought to help them
win their strikes!"

"And what do _you_ think, Joe?" Eleanore persisted. "Were you speaking
of Billy alone just now or did you have Sue, too, in mind?"

Joe looked back at her steadily.

"I don't want to shut out the women," he said. "I've seen too many girls
jump in and make a big success of it. Not only working girls, but plenty
of college girls like you." He turned from Eleanore to Sue--and with a
gruff intensity, "You may think you can't do it, Sue," he said. "But I
know you can. I've seen it done, I tell you, all the way from here to
the Coast--girls like you as speakers, as regular organizers--forgetting
themselves and sinking themselves--ready for any job that comes."

"That's the way I should want to do it," said Sue, her voice a little
breathless.

"But how about wives?" asked Eleanore. "For some of these girls marry, I
suppose," she added thoughtfully. "At least I hope they do. I hope Sue
will."

"I never said anything against that," Joe answered shortly.

"But if they marry and have children," Eleanore continued, "aren't they
apt to get sick of it then, even bitter about it, this movement you
speak of that takes you in and sinks you down, swallows up every dollar
you have and all your thoughts and feelings?"

"It needn't do as much as that," Joe muttered as though to himself.

"Still--I'd like to see it work out," Eleanore persisted. "Do you happen
to know the wives of any labor leaders?"

"I do," Joe answered quickly. "The wife of the biggest man we've got.
Jim Marsh arrived in town last night. His wife is with him. She always
is."

"Now are you satisfied, dear?" Sue asked. But Eleanore smiled and shook
her head.

"Is Mrs. Marsh a radical, too--I mean an agitator?" she asked. Joe's
face had clouded a little.

"Not exactly," he replied. Eleanore's eyes were attentive now:

"Do you know her well, Joe?"

"I've met her----"

"I'd like to meet her, too," she said. "And find out how she likes her
life."

"I think I know what you'd find," said Sue, in her old cocksure,
superior manner. "I guess she likes it well enough----"

"Still, dear," Eleanore murmured, "instead of taking things for granted
it would be interesting, I think, in all this talk to have one look at a
little real life."

"Aren't you just a little afraid of real life, Eleanore?" Sue demanded,
in a quick challenging tone.

"Am I?" asked Eleanore placidly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Long after Joe had left us, Sue kept up that challenging tone. But she
did not speak to Eleanore now, her talk like Joe's was aimed at me.

"Why not think it over, Billy?" she urged. "You're not happy now, I
never saw you so worried and blue."

"I'm not in the least!" I said stoutly. But Sue did not seem to hear me.
She went on in an eager, absorbed sort of way:

"Why not try it a little? You needn't go as far as Joe Kramer. He may
even learn to go slower himself--now that he has had typhoid----"

"Do you think so?" Eleanore put in.

"Why not?" cried Sue impatiently. "If he keeps on at this pace it will
kill him! Has he no right to some joy in life? Why should you two have
it all? Just think of it, Billy, you have a name, success and a lot of
power! Why not use it here? Suppose it is harder! Oh, I get so out of
patience with myself and all of us! Our easy, lazy, soft little lives!
Why can't we _give_ ourselves a little?" And she went back over all Joe
had said. "It's all so real. So tremendously real," she ended.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I wonder what's going to happen," said Eleanore when we were alone.

"God knows," I answered gloomily. That hammering from Joe and Sue had
stirred me up all over again. I had doggedly resisted, I had told Sue
almost angrily that I meant to keep right on as before. But now she was
gone, I was not so sure. "I still feel certain Joe's all wrong," I said
aloud. "But he and his kind are so dead in earnest--so ready for any
sacrifice to push their utterly wild ideas--that they may get a lot of
power. God help the country if they do."

"I wasn't speaking of the country, my love," my wife informed me
cheerfully. "I was speaking of Sue and Joe Kramer."

"Joe," I replied, "will slam right ahead. You can be sure of that, I've
got him down cold."

"Have you?" she asked. "And how about Sue?"

"Oh Sue," I replied indifferently, "has been enthused so many times."

"Billy."

I turned and saw my wife regarding her husband thoughtfully.

"I wonder," she said, "how long it will be before you can write a love
story."

"What?"

"Sue and Joe Kramer, you idiot."

I stared at her dumfounded.

"Did you think all that talk was aimed at you?" my pitiless spouse
continued. "Did you think all that change in Joe's point of view was on
your account?"

I watched her vigilantly for a while.

"If there's anything in what you say," I remarked carefully at last,
"I'll bet at least that Joe doesn't know it. He doesn't even suspect
it."

"There are so many things," said Eleanore, "that men don't even suspect
in themselves. I'm sorry," she added regretfully. "But that summer
vacation we'd planned is off."

"What?"

"Oh, yes, we'll stay right here in town. I see anything but a pleasant
summer."

"Suppose," I said excitedly, "you tell me exactly what you _do_ see!"

"I see something," Eleanore answered, "which unless we can stop it may
be a very tragic affair. Tragic for Sue because I feel sure that she'd
never stand Joe's impossible life. And even worse for your father. He's
not only old and excitable, and very weak and feeble, too, but he's so
conservative besides that if Sue married Joe Kramer he'd consider her
utterly damned."

"But I tell you you're wrong, all wrong!" I broke in. "Joe isn't that
kind of an idiot!"

"Joe," said my wife decidedly, "is like every man I've ever met. I found
that out when he was sick. He has the old natural longing for a wife and
a home of his own. His glimpse of it here may have started it rising.
I'm no more sure than you are that he admits it to himself. But it's
there all the same in the back of his mind, and in that same mysterious
region he's trying to reconcile marrying Sue to the work which he
believes in--even with this strike coming on. It's perfectly pathetic.

"Isn't it funny," she added, "how sometimes everything comes all at
once? Do you know what this may mean to us? I don't, I haven't the least
idea. I only know that you yourself are horribly unsettled--and that now
through this affair of Sue's we'll have to see a good deal of Joe--and
not only Joe but his friends on the docks--and not even the quiet ones.
No, we're to see all the wild ones. We're to be drawn right into this
strike--into what Joe calls revolution."

"You may be right," I said doggedly. "But I don't believe it."



CHAPTER VIII


A few days later Joe called me up and asked me to come down to his
office. His reason for wanting to see me, he said, he'd rather not give
me over the 'phone.

"You're right," I told Eleanore dismally. "He's going to talk to me
about Sue."

I dreaded this talk, and I went to see Joe in no easy frame of mind. But
it was not about Sue. I saw that in my first glimpse of his face. He sat
half around in his office chair listening intensely to a man by his
side.

"I want you to meet Jim Marsh," he said.

I felt a little electric shock. So here was the great mob agitator, the
notorious leader of strikes. Eleanore's words came into my mind: "We're
to meet all the wild ones. We're to be drawn right into this
strike--into what Joe calls revolution." Well, here was the
arch-revolutionist, the prime mover of them all. Of middle size, about
forty years old, angular and wiry, there was a lithe easy force in his
limbs, but he barely moved as he spoke to me now. He just turned his
narrow bony face and gave me a glance with his keen gray eyes.

"I've known your work for quite a while," he said in a low drawling
voice, "Joe says you're thinking of writing me up."

So this was why Joe had sent for me. I had quite forgotten this idea,
but I took to it eagerly now. My work was going badly. Here was
something I could do, the life story of a man whose picture would soon
be on the front page of every paper in New York. It would interest my
magazine, it would give me a chance to get myself clear on this whole
ugly business of labor, poverty and strikes. I had evaded it long
enough, I would turn and face it squarely now.

"Why yes, I'd like to try," I said.

"He wants to do your picture with the America you know," said Joe. "He
says he's ready to be shown."

Marsh glanced out at the harbor.

"If he'll trail around with us for a while we may show him some of it
here," he drawled. And then quietly ignoring my presence he continued
his talk with Joe, as though taking it for granted that I was an
interested friend. I listened there all afternoon.

The thing that struck me most at first was the cool effrontery of the
man in undertaking such a struggle. The old type of labor leader had at
least stuck to one industry, and had known by close experience what he
had to face. But here was a mere outsider, a visitor strolling into a
place and saying, "I guess I'll stop all this." Vaguely I knew what he
had to contend with. Sitting here in this cheap bare room, the thought
of other rooms rose in my mind, spacious, handsomely furnished rooms
where at one time or another I had interviewed heads of foreign ship
companies, railroad presidents, bankers and lawyers, newspaper editors,
men representing enormous wealth. All these rooms had been parts of my
harbor--a massed array of money and brains. He would have all this
against him. And to such a struggle I could see no end for him but jail.

For against all this, on his side, was a chaotic army of ignorant men,
stokers, dockers, teamsters, scattered all over this immense region,
practically unorganized. What possible chance to bring them together?
How could he feel that he had a chance? How much did he already know?

I asked him what he had seen of the harbor. For days, I learned, he had
told no one but Joe of his coming, he had wandered about the port by
himself. And as a veteran tramp will in some mysterious fashion get the
feel of a new town within a few short hours there, so Marsh had got the
feel of this place--of a harbor different from mine, for he felt it from
the point of view of its hundred thousand laborers. He felt it with its
human fringe, he saw its various tenement borders like so many camps and
bivouacs on the eve of a battle.

He told a little incident of how the harbor learned he was here. About
nine o'clock one morning, as he was waiting his chance to get into one
of the North River docks, a teamster recognized him there from a picture
of him he had once seen. The news traveled swiftly along the docks, out
onto piers and into ships. And at noon, way over in Hoboken, Marsh had
overheard a German docker say to the man eating lunch beside him,

"I hear dot tamn fool anarchist Marsh is raising hell ofer dere in New
York."

"But I wasn't raising hell," he drawled. "I was over here studying
literature." And he drew out from his pocket a tattered copy of a
report, the result of a careful investigation of work on the docks, made
recently by a most conservative philanthropic organization.

"'In all the fierce rush of American industry,'" he read, with a quiet
smile of derision, "'no work is so long, so irregular or more full of
danger. Seven a. m. until midnight is a common work day here, and in the
rush season of winter when ships are often delayed by storms and so must
make up time in port, the same men often work all day and night and even
on into the following day, with only hour and half-hour stops for
coffee, food or liquor. This strain makes for accidents. From police
reports and other sources we find that six thousand killed and injured
every year on the docks is a conservative estimate.'"

Marsh glanced dryly up at me:

"Here's the America I know."

I said nothing. I was appalled. Six thousand killed and injured! I could
feel his sharp gray eyes boring down into my soul:

"You wrote up this harbor once."

"Yes," I said.

"Did you write this?"

"No. I would have said it was a lie."

"Do you say so now? These people are a careful crowd." I took the
pamphlet from his hands.

"Queer," I muttered vaguely. "I never saw this report before."

"Not so queer," he answered. "I'm told that it wasn't _meant_ to be
seen--by you and the general public. That's the way this society works.
They spend half a dead old lady's cash investigating poverty and the
other half in keeping the public from learning what they've discovered.
But we're going to furnish publicity to this secluded work of art.

"On Saturday afternoon," he continued, "I went along the North River
docks. I found long lines of dockers there--they were waiting for their
pay. At every pay window one of 'em stood with an empty cigar box in his
hands--and into that box every man as he passed dropped a part of his
pay--for the man who had been hurt that week--for him or for his widow.

"And over across the way," he went on, "I saw something on the
waterfront that fitted right into the scenery. It was a poster on a high
fence, and it had a black border around it. On one side of it was a
picture of a tall gent in a swell frock suit. He was looking squarely at
the docks and pointing to the sign beside him, which said, '_Certainly_
I'm talking to you! Money saved is money earned. Read what I will
furnish you for seventy-five dollars--cash. Black cloth or any color you
like--plush or imitation oak--casket with a good white or cream
lining--pillow--burial suit or brown habit--draping and embalming
room--chairs--hearse--three coaches--complete care and attendance--also
handsome candelabra and candles if requested.'"

As Marsh read this grisly list from his notebook, it suddenly came into
my mind that in my explorations years ago I had seen this poster at many
points, all along the waterfront. It had made no impression on me then,
for it had not fitted into my harbor. But Marsh had caught its meaning
at once and had promptly jotted it down for use. For it fitted his
harbor exactly.

Vaguely, in this and a dozen ways, I could feel him taking my harbor to
pieces, transforming each piece into something grim and so building a
harbor all his own. Disturbedly and angrily I struggled to find the
flaws in his building, eagerly I caught at distortions here and there,
twisted facts and wrong conclusions. But in all the terrible stuff which
he had so hastily gathered here, there was so much that I could not
deny. And he gave no chance for argument. Quickly jumping from point to
point he pictured a harbor of slaves overburdened, driven into fierce
revolt. It was hard to keep my footing.

For his talk was not only of this harbor. It ranged out over an ocean
world which was all in a state of ferment and change. Men of every race
and creed, from English, Germans, Russians to Coolies, Japs and Lascars,
had crowded into the stokeholes, mixing bowls for all the world. And the
mixing process had begun. At Copenhagen, two years before, in a great
marine convention that followed the socialist congress there, Marsh had
seen the delegates from seventeen different countries representing
millions of seamen. And this crude world parliament, this international
brotherhood, had placed itself on record as against wars of every kind,
except the one deepening bitter war of labor against capital. To further
this they had proposed to paralyze by strikes the whole international
transport world. The first had followed promptly, breaking out in
England. The second was to take place here.

"You don't see how it can happen," said Marsh, with one of those keen
sudden looks that showed he was aware of my presence. "You admit this
place is a watery hell, but you don't believe we can change it. You
don't see how ignorant mobs of men can rise up and take the whole game
in their hands. Do I get you right?"

"You do," I said.

"Look over there."

I followed his glance to the doorway. It was filled with a group of big
ragged men. Some of the faces were black with soot, some were smiling
stolidly, some scowling in the effort to hear. All eyes were intent on
the face of the man who had never been known to lose a strike.

"That's the beginning," Marsh told me. "You keep your eyes on their
faces--from now on right into the strike--and you may see something grow
there that'll give you a new religion."

As the day wore into evening the crowd from outside pressed into the
room until they were packed all around us.

"Let's get out of this," said Joe at last. We went to a neighboring
lunchroom and ate a hasty supper. But as here, too, the crowd pressed in
to get a look at Marsh, Joe asked us to come up to his room.

"They _know_ your room," Marsh answered. His tone was grim, as though he
had been accustomed for years to this ceaselessly curious pressing mass,
pressing, pressing around him tight. "Suppose we go up to mine," he
said. "I want you fellows to meet my wife. She has never met any writers
before," he added to me, "and she's interested in that kind of thing.
She was a music teacher once."

I was about to decline and start for home, but suddenly I recalled
Eleanore's saying that she would like to meet Mrs. Marsh. So I accepted
his invitation. And what I saw a few minutes later brought me down
abruptly from these world-wide schemes for labor.

We entered a small, cheap hotel, climbed a flight of stairs and came
into the narrow bedroom which was for the moment this notorious
wanderer's home. A little girl about six years old lay asleep on a cot
in one corner, and under the one electric light a woman sat reading a
magazine. She had a strong rather clever face which would have been
appealing if it were not for the bitter impatient glance she gave us as
we entered.

"Talk low, boys, our little girl's asleep," Marsh said. "Say, Sally," he
continued, with his faint, derisive smile, "here's a writer come to see
you."

"Pleased to meet you, I'm sure," she said, then relapsed into a stiff
silence. I tried to break through her awkwardness but entirely without
avail. I grew more and more sure of my first impression, that this woman
hated her husband's friends, his strikes, his "proletariate." She was
smart, pushing, ambitious, I thought, just the kind that would have got
on in any middle western town. Eleanore must meet her.

Then presently I noticed that only Marsh was talking. I glanced at Joe
and was startled by the intensity in his eyes.

For Joe was watching his leader's wife. And watching, he appeared to me
to be seeing her in a dreary succession of rooms like these, in cities,
towns and mining camps, wherever her husband was leading a strike--and
then trying to see his own home in such rooms, and Sue in his home, a
wife like this. The picture struck me suddenly cold. Sue pulled into
this for life! Again I remembered Eleanore's words--"Drawn into
revolution."

"Say, Joe," drawled Marsh, with a sharp look at him. "Got any of that
typhoid left?"

Joe laughed quickly, confusedly.

Soon after that I left them.



CHAPTER IX


The next day I went to the editor for whom I was doing most of my work.
When I told him I wanted to try Jim Marsh, the editor looked at me
curiously.

"Why?" he asked.

I spoke of the impending strike.

"Have you met Marsh?" he inquired.

"Yes."

"Do you like him?"

"No."

"But he struck you as big."

"Yes--he did."

"Are you getting interested in strikes?"

"I want to see a big one close."

"Why?"

"Why not?" I retorted. "They're getting to be significant, aren't they?
I want to see what they're like inside." The editor smiled:

"You'll find them rather hot inside. Don't get overheated."

"Oh you needn't think I'll lose my head."

"I hope not," he said quietly. "Go ahead with your story about Marsh.
I'll be interested to see what you do."

I went out of the office in no easy frame of mind. The editor's
inquisitive tone had started me thinking of how J. K. had been shut out
by the papers because he wrote "the truth about things."

"Oh that's all rot," I told myself. "Joe's case and mine are not the
same. The magazines aren't like the papers and I'm not like Joe. His
idea of the truth and mine will never be anywhere near alike."

But what would Eleanore think of it? I went home and told her of my
plan. To my surprise she made no objection.

"It's the best thing you can do," she said. "We're in this now--on
account of Sue--we can't keep out. And so long as we are, you might as
well write about it, too. You think so much better when you're at
work--more clearly--don't you--and that's what I want." She was looking
at me steadily out of those gray-blue eyes of hers. "I want you to think
yourself all out--as clearly as you possibly can--and then write just
what you think," she said. "I want you to feel that I'm never afraid of
anything you may ever write--so long as you're really sure it's true."

I held her a moment in my arms and felt her tremble slightly. And then
she said with her old quiet smile:

"Sue has asked us over to Brooklyn to-night--Joe Kramer is to be there,
too."

"That affair is moving rather fast."

"Oh yes, quite fast," she said cheerfully.

"How will Dad look at it?" I asked.

"As you did," said Eleanore dryly. "He'll look at it and see nothing at
all."

"I've half a mind to tell him!"

"Don't," she said. "If you did he would only get excited, become the
old-fashioned father and order Sue to leave Joe alone--which would be
all that is needed now to make Sue marry Joe in a week."

"Sue is about as selfish," I said hotly, "about as wrapped up in her own
little self----"

"As any girl is who thinks she's in love but isn't sure," said Eleanore.
"Sue isn't sure--poor thing--she's frightfully unsettled."

"But why drag Joe way over there?"

"Because she wants to look at him there. It's her home, you know, her
whole past life, all that she has been used to. It's the place where she
has breakfast. She wants to see how Joe fits in."

"But they'd never live _there_ if they married!"

"Nevertheless," said Eleanore, "that's one of the ways a girl makes up
her mind." She looked pityingly into my eyes. "Women are beyond
you--aren't they, dear?" she murmured.

"J. K. isn't," I rejoined. "And I can't see him in _any_ home!"

"Can't you! Then watch him a little closer the next time he comes to
ours."

I went out for a walk along the docks and tried to picture the coming
strike. When I came home I found Joe there, he had come to go with us to
Brooklyn. He was sitting on the floor with our boy gravely intent on a
toy circus. Neither one was saying a word, but as Joe carefully poised
an elephant on the top of a tall red ladder, I recalled my wife's
injunction. By Jove, he did fit into a home, here certainly was a
different Joe. He did not see me at the door. Later I called to him from
our bedroom:

"Say, Joe. Don't you want to come in and wash?"

He came in, and presently watching him I noticed his glances about our
room. It was most decidedly Eleanore's room, from the flowered curtains
to the warm soft rug on the floor. It was gay, it was quiet and restful,
it was intimately personal. Here was her desk with a small heap of
letters and photographs of our son and of me, and here close by was her
dressing-table strewn with all its dainty equipment. A few invitations
were stuck in the mirror. Eleanore's hat and crumpled white gloves lay
on our bed. I had thrown my coat beside them. There were such things in
this small room as Joe had never dreamed of.

"Oh Joe," said Eleanore from the hall. "Don't you want to come into the
nursery? Somebody wants a pillow fight."

"Sure," said Joe, with a queer little start.

"By the way," I heard her add outside. "Billy told me he saw Mrs. Marsh,
and I should so like to meet her, too. Couldn't you have us all down to
your room some evening?"

"If you like," he answered gruffly.

"I'm honestly curious," Eleanore said, "to see what kind of a person she
is. And I'm sure that Sue is, too. May we bring her with us?"

"Of course you may--whenever you like."

"Would Friday evening be too soon?"

"I'll see if I can fix it."

When Eleanore came in to me, her lips were set tight as though something
had hurt her.

"That was pretty tough," I muttered.

"Yes, wasn't it," she said quickly. "I don't care, I'm not going to have
him marrying Sue. I'm too fond of both of them. Besides, your father has
to be thought of. It would simply kill him!"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Yes," I thought to myself that night. "No doubt about that, it would
kill him."

How much older he looked, in the strong light of the huge old-fashioned
gas lamp that hung over the dining-room table. He was making a visible
effort to be young and genial. He had not seen Joe in several years, and
he evidently knew nothing whatever of what Joe was up to, except that he
had been ill at our home. Joe spoke of what we had done for him, and Sue
eagerly took up the cue, keeping the talk upon us and "the Indian," to
my father's deep satisfaction. From this she turned to our childhood and
the life in this old house. Dad pictured it all in such glowing colors I
recognized almost nothing as real. But watching Sue's face as she
listened, she seemed to me trying to feel again as she had felt here
long ago when she had been his only chum. Every few moments she would
break off to throw a quick, restless glance at Joe.

When the time came for us to go, my father assured us warmly that he had
not felt so young in years. He said we had so stirred him up that he
must take a book and read or he wouldn't sleep a wink all night. Joe did
not come away with us. As we stood all together at the door, I saw
Eleanore glance into Dad's study where his heavy leather chair was
waiting, and then into the room across the hall where Sue had drawn up
two chairs to the fire. And I thought of the next hour or two. My father
already had under his arm a book on American shipping, which told about
the old despotic sea world of his day, in which there had been no
strikers but only mutineers.

       *       *       *       *       *

"There's very little time to lose," said Eleanore on the way home.

"Look here," I suggested. "Why don't you talk this out with Sue, and
tell her just what you think of it all?"

"Because," said Eleanore, "what I think and what you think has nothing
whatever to do with the case. Sue would say it was none of our business.
And she'd be quite right. It isn't."

"Aren't we making it our business?" My wife at times gets me so
confused.

"I'm not _telling_ them anything," she rejoined. "I'm only trying to
_show_ them something and let the poor idiots see for themselves. If
they won't see, it's hopeless."



CHAPTER X


On Friday evening Sue sent word that she would be late and that she
would meet us at Joe's room. So we went down without her.

His room had changed since I'd seen it last, I took in at once his
pathetic attempts to fix it up for our coming. Gone were the dirty
curtains, the dirty collars and shirts, and the bed was concealed by an
old green screen borrowed from his landlady, the German saloon-keeper's
wife below. The same woman had scrubbed the floor and put down a faded
rag carpet in front of the old fireplace, in which now a coal fire was
burning. Poor Joe had turned up all the lights to make things bright and
cheerful, but it only showed things up as they were. The room was
glaringly forlorn.

And now that Eleanore had come, her presence made him feel at once what
a wretchedly dreary place it was. Eleanore knew what she wanted to do
and she had dressed herself for the part. And as Joe took in the effect
of her smart little suit, and waited for Sue and Mrs. Marsh, he became
so anxious and gloomy that he could only speak with an effort. He kept
glancing uneasily at the door.

"I don't like the idea," said Eleanore, "of Sue's coming down here alone
at night through this part of town." Joe looked around at her quickly.
"But I suppose," she added thoughtfully, "that she'd have to get used to
queer parts of towns if she ever took up the life you spoke of."

"I don't think that would bother her," Joe answered gruffly.

Presently there was a step on the stairs. He jumped up and went to the
door, and a moment later Sue entered the room.

Immediately its whole atmosphere changed. Sue was plainly excited. She,
too, had dressed herself with care--or rather with a careful neglect.
She wore the oldest suit she had and a simple blouse with a gay red tie.
With one sharp glance at Eleanore, she took in the strained situation
and set about to ease it.

"What a nice old fireplace," she exclaimed. "Let's turn down the lights
and draw 'round the fire. You need more chairs, Joe; go down and get
some."

And soon with the lights turned low and the coals stirred into a ruddy
glow, we were sitting in quite a dramatic place, the scene was set for
"revolution." The curtainless windows were no longer bleak, for through
them from the now darkened room we looked out on the lights of the
harbor. Sue thought the view thrilling, and equally thrilling she found
the last issue of Joe's weekly paper, _War Sure_, which lay on the
table. It was called "Our Special Sabotage Number," and in it various
stokers and dockers, in response to an appeal from Joe, had crudely
written their ideas upon just how the engines of a ship or the hoisting
winches on a dock could be most effectively put out of order in time of
strike. "So that the scabs," wrote one contributor, "can see how they
like it."

"Why not have blue-penciled some of this?" I asked, with a faint
premonition of trouble ahead.

"Because Joe believes in free speech, I suppose," Sue answered for him
quickly.

"I'm not much of a lawyer, Joe," I said. "But this stuff looks to me a
good deal like incitement to violence."

"Possibly," J. K replied.

"You don't look horribly frightened," laughed Sue. And she wanted to
hear all the latest strike news. The time was rapidly drawing near. It
was now close to the end of March and the strike was expected in April.

When Marsh arrived about nine o'clock, there was an awkward moment. For
behind him came his wife and their small daughter, both of whom were
stiffly dressed, and with one glance at Eleanore they felt immediately
out of place. Mrs. Marsh was even more hostile and curt than when I had
seen her last. She was angry at having been dragged into this and took
little pains to hide it.

"My husband would have me come," she said. "And I couldn't leave my
little girl, so I had to bring her along." And she stopped abruptly with
a look that asked us plainly, "Now that I'm here, what do you want?"

"How old is your little girl?" Eleanore inquired.

"Six last month."

"Are you going to put her in school in New York?"

And in spite of short suspicious replies she soon had Mrs. Marsh and her
child talking of kindergartens and parks and other parts of the town
they must see. Sue was now eagerly talking to Marsh, Joe was beside her
helping her out, and both seemed wholly to have forgotten the disturbing
woman behind them. But by the quick looks that Eleanore gave them now
and then, I could see she was only holding back until she should have
Mrs. Marsh in a mood where she could be brought into the talk and made
to tell about her life.

"Don't you ever want to settle down?" she asked when there had come a
pause. Marsh turned abruptly to Eleanore.

"Of course she does," he answered. "Did you ever know a woman who
didn't, the minute that she got a kid? But my wife can't, if she sticks
to me. She has had to make up her mind to live in any old place that
comes along, from a dollar room in a cheap hotel to a shanty in a mining
camp." And his look at Eleanore seemed to add, "That's the kind she is,
you little doll."

Eleanore quickly made herself look as much like a doll as possible. She
placidly folded her dainty gloved hands.

"I should think," she murmured in ladylike tones, "Mrs. Marsh would find
that rather difficult."

"She does," said Marsh aggressively. "But my wife has nerve enough to
stand up to the rough side of life--as the wives of most workingmen
have to--in this rich and glorious land."

"Won't you tell us about it?" asked Eleanore sweetly. "I should be so
interested to hear. It's so different, you see, from all I've been
accustomed to."

"Yes," Marsh answered grimly, "I've no doubt it is. Go ahead, Sally, and
tell them about it."

And Sally did. Gladly taking her husband's aggressive tone, she started
out almost with a sneer. Her remarks at first were disjointed and brief,
but I told her I was writing the story of her husband's life, that I
wanted her side of it from the start. I promised to show her what I
wrote and let her cut anything she had told me if she did not want it in
print. And so in scattered incidents, with bits thrown in now and then
by Marsh, the lives of these two began to come out. And we understood
her bitterness.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Mr. Marsh was born," she said, "in one of the poorest little towns in
Southern Iowa. It was nothing but a hole of a place about six miles from
the county seat where my father was a lawyer. But even in that little
hole his family was the poorest there. I've been all over the States
since then, and I've seen poor people, the Lord knows--but I want to say
I've never seen people anywhere that were any worse off than my husband
was when he was a boy. And yet he got out of it all by himself. He
didn't need any strikes to help him."

"But of course," Sue put in smoothly, "your husband was an exceptional
man." Mrs. Marsh threw her a bitter glance.

"He might have been," she answered.

"What was he like as a boy?" I asked.

"A fighter," she said. For a moment her sharp voice grew proud. "His
father took diabetes and died, and they went into debt to bury him. Jim
helped his mother run the farm and missed half his schooling. But his
teacher loaned him text-books--and at home they had no candles, so he
used to work with his back to the fire--half the night. My father used
to call him a regular little Honest Abe. That's a surprise to you, isn't
it," she added with a hard little laugh.

"But then the town had a sudden boom. A new branch of the railroad came
through that way and houses and stores went up over night. Jim was only
sixteen then, but he grabbed the chance to get into the building. In
less than a year he had earned enough money so he could quit and go to
school. He came over to high school in our town, walking his six miles
twice a day. And that's where I met him.

"My father took a shine to him right off and promised to make him a
lawyer. He loaned him law books the first year, and the second Jim
worked in his office." She looked for a moment at the wall. "I expect
it's not a love story you're after--so I'll leave that part of it out.
Papa was mad when I broke the news--and I can't say I blame him. He was
the richest man in town, the railroad lawyer of the place--and he had
meant that I should go to a polishing school in St. Louis.

"Well, I did go to St. Louis, but I was eloping at the time and I became
Jim's wife. We had a hard fight for a year or two, but we made up our
minds we'd make it go. Jim got a job on a skyscraper which was going up
at that time. I got him his breakfast at six every morning and he got
home about seven at night, and right after supper he went at his
Blackstone and dug into it all evening. As a rule he got to bed at one,
and five hours' sleep was all he had--with a few hours extra Sundays.

"I knew a girl from home in St. Louis whose husband was making money
fast. But Jim was too proud to make use of my friends or go to her home
when we were invited. We missed three card parties on that account. But
she helped me get some pupils and I gave piano lessons. When my baby was
born I had to quit--but I thought we were out of the woods by then, for
Jim was made foreman of his gang and was raised to a hundred dollars a
month. We moved from our boarding house into a flat. I hired a young
Swedish girl and began to feel that I knew where I was.

"But then the building workers struck. Jim had always been popular with
his men, and now he wanted his boss to give them half of what they asked
for. But his boss didn't see it that way at all, and he and Jim had
trouble. The next week Jim decided he wouldn't manage what he called
'scabs.' So he left his employment, went in with the men and made the
strike a great success. That left him leader of their union. The salary
they paid him was eighty dollars instead of a hundred--so I let our
Swedish girl go.

"He said his new position would give him more time to study law. But it
didn't turn out quite that way. He got so wrapped up in his union
affairs that he had no time for his law books. One day I put them up on
a shelf and found he didn't notice it."

Eleanore suddenly tightened at this, a quick sympathy came into her
eyes. Sue gave a restless little sigh.

"He'd be out at meetings most every night," Mrs. Marsh continued. "At
the end of the year he was one of three leaders in a strike of all the
building trades in town. All work of that kind in the city was stopped
and things got very ugly. One night a man came to our flat and informed
me that my husband was in jail. I went to the jail the next morning and
saw him. We had quite a talk. And that afternoon I gave up our flat."

"Why?" asked Eleanore softly.

"I presumed the landlord wished it," said Mrs. Marsh without looking
around. "I took a room in a cheap hotel. Mr. Marsh came out of jail with
ideas that were all new to me. He had left his old trade union and gone
in with a new crowd of men who stood for out-and-out revolution--which I
couldn't understand. But we made the best of it. We went to the theater
that night and then he took the midnight train on one of his first
labor trips. At first these trips were only for a week or so, but as
time went on they grew longer. As a rule I never wrote him because I
never knew his address. On one trip he was away five weeks--and before
he got back there was time enough for my second baby, a little boy, to
be born and die of pneumonia."

Eleanore flinched as though that had hurt. I saw her turn and look at
Sue, who seemed even more restless than before.

"You decided to travel with him then--didn't you?" Eleanore murmured.

"Yes," said the other gruffly. "We used to try to figure out what city
he would likely be in, or at least not far away from--and then my little
girl and I would find a place to board there. It has been like that for
the past four years. In that time we've lived in fourteen places all the
way between here and the Coast."

"Have you lived all the time at hotels?" Eleanore inquired.

"We have," said the woman curtly, "but hardly the kind you're accustomed
to. As a rule, as soon as we reach a town my husband's name appears in
the papers, and on that account the more refined houses wouldn't care to
keep us long."

Eleanore leaned forward, her eyes troubled and intent. She seemed to
have forgotten Sue.

"How do you know they wouldn't?" she asked.

"I found out by trying--twice."

I heard a sudden angry creak in the battered old chair in which Sue was
sitting.

"So my little girl Lucy and I," the embittered voice went on, "go to
hotels that don't ask many questions. We pass the time going to parks or
museums--or now and then to a concert--where I try to give her a taste
for good music."

"Do you find time to keep up your music?" I asked.

"There's time enough," came the quick reply. "You see as a rule I'm just
waiting around. One night in Pittsburgh it was my birthday, and as the
Grand Opera was there for a week and I had never been to one, I got Mr.
Marsh to take me. We made it a regular celebration, with dinner in a
first-class restaurant just for once. But my husband is generally
watched, and the papers all took it up the next day. 'Marsh and wife
dine and see opera after his speech to starving strikers,' or similar
words to that effect."

"Do you see anything of the strikers?" I asked.

"Not much," she replied. "We used to be invited to go to parties at
their homes. But most of them, even the leaders, were Irish, Germans,
Italians or Jews whose wives could barely speak English. I found them
not very pleasant affairs. Some of the wives drank a good deal of beer
and most of them had very little to say. Strike dances were no better.
The wives as a rule sat with their children around the walls--while a
lot of young factory girls, Jewesses for the most part, danced turkey
trots around the hall."

"There were speeches, I suppose?" Sue put in impatiently.

"Yes--Mr. Marsh and others made speeches between dances. They weren't
the kind of affairs I'd been used to in our home town," said Mrs. Marsh.
"I've lost track of the folks at home. I never write and they don't
write me. Only once when my mother knew where I was she sent me a box at
Christmas. Lucy and I got quite excited over that box, it was all the
presents we'd had from outside in quite a line of Christmases. So we
thought we'd celebrate."

"How did you celebrate Christmas?" Eleanore asked softly.

"We went out and bought a tree and candles, some gold balls and popcorn
and all the other fixings. And we popped the corn over the gas that
night. The next day we bought things for each other's stockings. Lucy
was then only four years old, but I'd leave her at a counter and tell
the clerk to let her have all she wanted to buy for me up to a dollar.
That was how we worked it. The next night we had the tree in our room. I
got Mr. Marsh to help me trim it. At last we lit the candles and let
Lucy in from the hotel hall, where she'd nearly caught her death of
cold. Then we opened the box from home. There was a doll for Lucy and a
framed photograph of my mother for me--and for Mr. Marsh a Bible. He got
laughing over that and so did I. And that ended Christmas.

"We had another Christmas last year," she said in a slow, intense sort
of way as though seeing the place as she spoke, "in a mining town in
Montana, where Jim had been in jail five days and the whole place was
under martial law. A major of the militia came to me on Christmas Eve.
He claimed that Jim had been seen by detectives traveling with another
woman and that I was not his wife. They locked me up for two hours that
night as an immoral woman."

Sue was sitting rigid now, her lips pressed tight. And Joe with a
strained unnatural face was staring into the fire.

"But of course," Mrs. Marsh concluded, "most of the time it isn't like
that. As a rule when we come to a city nothing especial happens at all.
We just take a room like the one we have now and wait till the strike is
over. I've got so I have a queer view of towns. I'm always there at the
time of a strike, when crowds of Italians and Poles and Jews fill the
streets on parade or jam into halls and talk about running the world by
themselves. And I guess they're going to do it some day--but I presume
not by to-morrow."

For some time while she was speaking her eyes had been fixed steadily
upon Joe's only picture. It stood on the mantel, a big charcoal sketch
of a crowd of immigrants just leaving Ellis Island. They were of all
races. Uncouth, heavy, stolid, with that hungry hope in all their eyes
for more of the good things of the earth, they seemed like some barbaric
horde about to pour in over the land. With her eyes upon their faces in
deep, quiet hatred this woman from the Middle West had told the story of
her life.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Well, Sally," said her husband, who had grown restive toward the end,
"I guess that'll do. Let's go on home."

"I'm sure I'm ready," she quickly replied. Now that she had come out of
herself she seemed angry at having told so much.

When they had left there was a silence, which Sue broke with a breath of
impatience.

"What a frightful thing it must be for a man in this work," she
exclaimed, "to have a wife like that! A woman so hard and narrow, so
wrapped up in her own little life, with not a spark of sympathy for any
of his big ideals!"

"I suppose it's the life that has done it," said Eleanore quietly,
looking at Sue.

"I'd like to see some women," Sue retorted angrily, "who have been in
that life for years and years, and _have_ sympathy, have _everything_,
don't care for anything else in the world!" She turned suddenly to Joe.
"You said there were hundreds, didn't you?"

Joe looked back at her a moment. There was a startled, groping,
searching expression in his eyes.

"Yes," he said. "There are hundreds."

"Are many of them married?" Eleanore inquired.

"Some of them are," he answered.

"When a woman who, as Sue has just said, throws herself into this heart
and soul, marries a man who is in it, too, how much of their time can
they spend together?"

"That depends on the kind of work," he said. Eleanore held his eyes with
hers.

"In some cases, I suppose," she went on, "like yours, for example, where
the man's work keeps him moving--if the woman's work wouldn't let her
go with him they would have to be half their time apart."

"Yes."

"As Mrs. Marsh and her husband were at the time when her second baby was
born."

"Yes," said Joe, still watching her.

"Aren't there a good many, too, who don't exactly marry--but marry just
a little--one woman here, another there, and so on?"

"Yes," said Joe, "there are some who do that."

"I should think," said Eleanore thoughtfully, "that in a movement of
this kind a man ought not to marry at all--or else marry a little a good
many times--so as always to be free for the Cause."

"Unless," said Joe, quite steadily, "he finds a woman like some I've
known, whose feeling for a man, one man, seems to be planted in her for
life--who can easily stand not being with him because she herself is
deep in her own job, and her job is about the same as his--and because
the two of them have decided to see the whole job through to the end."

His eyes went up to the charcoal sketch.

"It's a job worth seeing through," he said.

Sue was leaning forward now.

"Where did you get that picture, Joe?" she asked.

"It was an illustration," he said, "for a thing I once had in a
magazine." And then as though almost forgetting us all, his eyes still
upon those immigrant faces, he said with a slow, rough intensity:

"I know every figure in it. I know just where they're strong and where
each one of 'em is weak. I've never made gods out of 'em. But I know
they do all the real work in the world. They're the ones who get all the
rotten deals, the ones who get shot down in wars and worked like dogs in
time of peace. They're the ones who are ready to go out on strike and
risk their lives to change all this. They're the people worth spending
your life with. But it's a job for your whole life--and before a man or
a woman jumps in they want to be sure they're ready."

He did not look at Sue as he spoke. He seemed barely able to hold
himself in. His relief was plain when we took her away.

Sue took a car to Brooklyn and we started homeward. Eleanore wanted to
walk for a while. She walked quickly, her face set.

"What do you think of it?" I asked.

"I wasn't thinking of Sue," she said. "I was thinking of Mrs. Marsh.
I've never tormented a woman like that and I never will again in my
life--not for Sue or anyone else--she can marry anybody she likes!"

"Well, she won't marry Joe," I said. "Did you see his face--poor devil?
You've certainly settled that affair."

"Have I?" she asked sharply. And then her curious feminine mind took a
long leap. "And what are _you_ going to be," she asked, "in a year from
now?" I smiled at her.

"Not a second Marsh," I said. "But even if I were the man in the moon,
you'd make a success of being my wife."

"I think I would," said Eleanore. "It must be so quiet up there in the
moon."



CHAPTER XI


"Come over here at once." My father's voice over the telephone, one
morning a few days later, sounded thick and unnatural.

"What about?" I asked.

"Your sister."

When I reached the house in Brooklyn he came himself to let me in and
took me into the library. I was shocked by his face, it was terribly
worn, quite plainly he had been up all night. As he began speaking his
voice shook and he leaned forward, every inch of him tense.

Sue had told him the night before that she was going to marry Joe
Kramer. In reply to his anxious questions she had given him some of the
facts about what Joe was doing. And Dad had stormed at her half the
night.

"She wants to marry him, Billy," he cried. "She's got her mind set on a
man like that! What has he got to support her with? Not a cent, not even
a decent job! He's not writing now. Do you know what he's doing?
Stirring up strikes--of the ugliest kind--of the most ignorant class of
men--foreigners! I know such strikes--I've fought 'em myself and I know
how they're handled! That young man will land in jail! And it's where he
belongs! Do you know what he's up to right here on the docks?"

"Yes, I know----"

"Why didn't you tell me? Why did you let him come to the house?"

"I was doing my best to stop it, Dad."

"You were, eh--well, you'll stop it now! Understand me, Billy, he's
your friend--you brought him here--way back at the start. You've got to
put a stop to this----"

"But how?" I asked, trying to steady my voice. "What do you think that I
can do?"

"You can talk to her, can't you? God Almighty! Make her see this will
ruin her life!"

"I can't do that."

"Can't you?" He rose and bent over me gripping my arms, and I felt his
violent trembling. "If you don't, it's the end of me," he said.

"Steady, Dad--now steady--this is coming out all right, you know----" I
got him back into his chair. "I'm going to do all I possibly can. I'm
going to see Joe Kramer now--he's the only one who can influence her.
I'm going to get him to come to Sue and help me make her feel what's
ahead--the hardest, ugliest parts of his life. Now promise you'll keep
out of it, promise you'll leave her alone while I'm gone."

He agreed to this at last and I left him. But as I went into the hall
Sue came to me from the other room. Her face was white and strained.

"Well, Billy?" she said. My throat tightened. She looked so pitifully
worn.

"I'm sorry, Sue----"

"Is that all you have to say to me?" she cut in with a quick catch of
her breath.

"No, no." I took her in my arms. "Dear old Sue--don't you know how I
feel? I want to see you happy. I'm trying to see what on earth we can
do."

"Why can't you all leave me alone?" she demanded, in low broken tones.
"That's all I want--I'm old enough! I love him! Isn't that enough? To be
treated like this--like a bad little child! If you'd been here and heard
him--Dad, I mean--I tell you he's half out of his mind! I'm afraid to be
left alone with him!"

"Sue?" It was our father's voice. He had come out close behind us.

"Leave me alone!" Sue started back, but he caught her arm:

"You'll stay right here with me till he comes."

"Till who comes?"

"Kramer."

"Who said he was coming?"

"Your brother."

"Billy!"

"Now, Sis, I'm going to talk to Joe and try to persuade him to see you
and me together, that's all--quietly--over in our apartment."

"No," said our father. "He'll see her right here!"

"Now, Dad----"

"Careful, son, don't get in my way. I'm standing about as much as I can.
Kramer is to come right here. If there's any seeing Sue to be done it's
to be in her home, where she belongs. I won't let her out of it--not for
an hour out of my sight!"

"You'll lock me in here?" she panted. He turned on her.

"You can call the police if you want to." He let go his hold and turned
to me. "I'm thinking of her mother. If she sees this man at all again
I'll see him too."

"Can't you leave us?" I implored her. "Sue--please! Go up to your room!"

When she'd gone I tried to quiet him. And now that Sue was out of the
way I partly succeeded. But he stuck to his purpose. Joe must come and
see Sue here.

"I want to be on hand when she sees him," he insisted. "I don't want to
talk--I've done all that--I won't say a word--but I want to be here. You
think you know her better than I do because you're younger--but you
don't. We've lived right here together--she's been my chum for
twenty-five years, and I know things about her you don't know. She's
wilful, she's as wild as a hawk--but she can't hold out, she hasn't it
in her."

"She will if you act as you did just now----"

"But I won't," he said sharply. "That was a mistake--and I won't let it
happen again. When he comes you do the talking, boy--and if we're beaten
I won't try to keep her, she goes and it's ended, I promise you that.
But, son, don't make any mistake about this--I have an influence over
this girl that you haven't got and nobody has. I want her to feel me
beside her."

He went over this again and again, and with this I had to leave him.

       *       *       *       *       *

I found Joe in his office. He rose abruptly when I came in, and reached
for his hat.

"Let's go out for a walk," he said. Down in the street he turned on me:
"Sue has just 'phoned me you were there. She thought you were going to
help her, Bill, she thought that you'd stand by her. She didn't get any
sleep last night--she's been through hell with that father of hers----"

"Oh, I've been all through Sue's sufferings, Joe. Don't give me any more
of that."

"You mean you think she's faking?"

"No. But to be good and brutally frank about it, what she suffers just
now doesn't count with me. It's what her whole life may be with you."

"That's not exactly your business, is it?"

"It wouldn't be if I didn't know Sue."

"What do you know?"

"I know that in spite of all her talk and the way she acts and honestly
feels whenever she's with you," I replied, "Sue wants to hang on to her
home and us. She isn't the heroic kind. She can't just follow along with
you and leave all this she's used to."

Joe's face clouded a little.

"She'll get over that," he muttered.

"Perhaps she will and perhaps she won't. How do you know? You want to
know, don't you? You want her to be happy?"

"No, that's not what I want most. Being happy isn't the only thing----"

"Then tell her so. That's all I ask. I'll tell you what I've come for,
Joe. You've always been more honest, more painfully blunt and open than
any man I've ever known. Be that way now with Sue. Give her the
plainest, hardest picture you can of the life you're getting her into."

"I've tried to do that already."

"You haven't! If you want to know what you've done I can tell you.
You've painted up this life of yours--and all these things you believe
in--with power enough and smash enough to knock holes through all I
believe in myself. And I'm stronger than Sue--you've done more to her.
What I ask of you now is to drop all the fire and punch of your dreams,
and line out the cold facts of your life on its personal side--what it's
going to be. I'll help draw it out by asking you questions."

"What's the use of that? I know it won't change her!"

"Maybe it won't. But if it won't, at least it'll make my father give up.
Can't you see? If you and I together--I asking and you answering--paint
your life the way it's to be, and she says, 'Good, that's what I
want'--he'll feel she's so far away from him then that he'll throw up
his hands and let her go. He can rest then, we can help him
then--Eleanore and I can--it may save the last years of his life. And
Sue will be free to come to you."

"You mean the more ugly we make it the better."

"Just that. Let's end this one way or the other."

"All right. I agree to that."

       *       *       *       *       *

When Joe and I came into the library my father rose slowly from his
chair and the two stood looking at one another. And by some curious
mental process two memories flashed into my mind. One was of the
towering sails that my father had told me he had seen on his first day
on the harbor, when coming here a crude boy from the inland he had
thrilled to the vision of owning such ships with crews to whom his word
should be law, and of sending them over the ocean world. Such was the
age he had lived in. The other was of the stokers down in the bottom of
the ship, and Joe's tired frowning face as he said, "Yes, they look like
a lot of bums--and they feed all the fires at sea." What was there in
common between these two? To each age a harbor of its own.

"Well, young man, what have you to say to me?"

"Nothing."

Sue came into the room. Briefly I explained to her what our father had
agreed upon, that she was to do the deciding and that he would abide by
her decision. Then I began my questions to Joe. I felt awkward,
painfully the intruder into two other people's lives. And I felt as
though I were operating upon the silent old man close by. "The uglier
the better," I kept repeating to myself.

"Let's take up first the money side, Joe. Have you any regular salary?"

"No."

"Such as it is, where does it come from?"

"Out of the stokers."

"How much do you get?"

"One week twenty dollars and another ten or five," he said. "One week I
got three dollars and eighty-seven cents."

"Is that likely to grow steadier?"

"Possibly--more likely worse."

"But can two of you live on pay like that--say an average of ten dollars
a week?"

"I know several millions of people that have to. And most of them have
children too."

"And you'd expect to live like that?"

"No better," was his answer. My father turned to him slowly as though he
had not heard just right.

"But as a matter of fact," I went on, "you wouldn't have to, would you?
You'd expect Sue to earn money as well as yourself."

"I hope so--if she wants to--it's my idea of a woman's life."

"And the work you hope she'll enter will be the kind you believe
in--organizing labor and taking an active part in strikes?"

"Yes. She's a good speaker----"

"I see. And if you were out of a job at times you'd be willing to let
her support you?"

Sue angrily half rose from her chair, but Joe with a grim move of his
hand said softly, "Sit down and try to stand this. Let's get it over and
done with." Then he turned quietly back to me.

"Why yes--I'd let her support me," he said.

"You mean you don't care one way or the other. You'd both be working for
what you believe in, and how you lived wouldn't especially count?"

"That's about it."

"What do you believe in, Joe? Just briefly, what's your main idea in
stirring up millions of ignorant men?"

"Mainly to pull down what's on top."

"As for instance?"

"All of it. Business, industry and finance as it's being run at
present."

"A clean sweep. And in place of that?"

"Everything run by the workers themselves."

"For example?" I asked. "The ships by the stokers?"

"Yes, the ships by the stokers," he said. And I felt Dad stiffen in his
chair. "As they will be when the time comes," Joe added.

"How soon will that be?"

"I'll see it," he said.

"The working people in full control. No restraints whatever from above."

"There won't be anyone left above. No more gods," he answered.

"Not even one?"

"Is there one?" he asked.

"You're an atheist, aren't you," I said.

"Yes, when I happen to think of it."

"And Sue would likely be the same."

"Isn't she now?" he inquired. I dropped the point and hurried on.

"How about Sue's friends, Joe? In a life like that--always in
strikes--she'd have to give them up, wouldn't she?"

"Probably. Some of 'em think they're radicals, but I doubt if they'd
come far out of the parlor."

"So her new friends would be either strikers or the people who lead in
strikes. Her life would be practically sunk in the mass."

"I hope so."

"You may be in jail at times."

"Quite probably."

"Sue too?"

"Possibly."

I caught the look in my father's face and knew that I had but a few
moments more.

"Do you want to marry her, Joe?" I asked.

"Yes, I'll go down to City Hall--if a large fat Tammany alderman can
make our love any cleaner."

"You mean you don't believe in marriage."

"Not especially," he said.

"And so if either gets sick of the other he just leaves without any
fuss."

"Naturally."

There was a pause. And then Joe spoke again.

"You're a better interviewer than I thought you were," he said. "You've
made the picture quite complete--as far as you can see it. Of course
you've left all the real stuff out----"

"What is the real stuff, as you call it, young man?" My father's voice
had a deadly ring. Joe turned and looked at him as before.

"You couldn't understand," he said.

"I think I understand enough." Dad rose abruptly and turned to Sue.
"Sue," he said. "Shall I ask your anarchist friend to go?"

I could feel Sue gather herself. She was white.

"I'll have to go with him," she managed to say. A slight spasm shot over
our father's face. For a moment there was silence.

"You've heard all he said of this life of his?"

"Yes."

"And what he wants and expects you to do?"

"I heard it."

"And just how he wants you to live--with nothing you've been used
to--nothing? No money but what a few drunken stokers throw your way, no
decent ideals, no religion, no home?"

Again a pause.

"I want to go with him," she brought out at last.

Dad turned sharply and left the room.

       *       *       *       *       *

I heard a deep breath behind me. It came from Joe Kramer, whose face was
set in a frown of pain.

"He's so damn old," Joe muttered. "You operated on him hard."

Suddenly Sue threw herself on the lounge. She huddled there shaking and
motioned us off.

"Leave me alone, can't you, go away!" we heard between her sobs. "It's
all right--I'm ready--I'll come to you, Joe--but not now--not just now!
Go away, both of you--leave me alone!"

Joe left the house. Soon after that Eleanore arrived and I told her what
had happened. She went in to Sue, I left them together and went up to
my father's room. He lay on the bed breathing quickly.

"You did splendidly, son," he said. "You slashed into her hard. It hurt
me to listen--but it's all right. Let her suffer--she had to. It hit
her, I tell you--she'll break down! If we can only keep her here! Get
Eleanore!"

He stopped with a jerk, his hand went to his heart, and he panted and
scowled with pain.

"I sent for her," I told him. "She's come and she's in Sue's room now.
Let's leave them alone. It's going to be all right, Dad."

I sent for a doctor who was an old friend of my father's. He came and
spent a long time in the room, and I could hear them talking. At last he
came out.

"It won't do," he said. "We can't have any more of this. We must keep
your sister out of his sight. She can't stay alone with him in this
house, and she can't go now to your anarchist friend. If she does it may
be the end of your father. Suppose you persuade her to come to you."

But here Eleanore joined us.

"I have a better plan," she said. "I've been talking to Sue and she has
agreed. She's to stay--and we'll move over here and try to keep Sue and
her father apart."

"What about Joe?" I asked her.

"Sue has promised me not to see Joe until the strike is over. It will
only be a matter of weeks--perhaps even days--it may break out
to-morrow. It's not much of a time for Joe to get married--besides, it's
the least she can do for her father--to wait that long. And she has
agreed. So that much is settled."

She went home to pack up a few things for the night. When she came back
it was evening. She spent some time with Sue in her room, while I stayed
in with father. I gave him a powder the doctor had left and he was soon
sleeping heavily.

At last in my old bedroom Eleanore and I were alone. It was a long time
before we could sleep.

"Funny," said Eleanore presently, "how thoroughly selfish people can be.
Here's Sue and your father going through a perfectly ghastly crisis. But
I haven't been thinking of them--not at all. I've been thinking of
us--of you, I mean--of what this strike will do to you. You're getting
so terribly tense these days."

I reached over and took her hand:

"You don't want me to run away from it now?"

"No," she said quickly. "I don't want that. I've told you that I'm not
afraid----"

"Then we'll have to wait and see, won't we, dear? We can't help
ourselves now. I've got to keep on writing, you know--we depend on that
for our living. And I can't write what I did before--I don't seem to
have it in me. So I'm going into this strike as hard as I can--I'm going
to watch it as hard as I can and think it out as clearly. I know I'll
never be like Joe--but I do feel now I'm going to change. I've got
to--after what I've been shown. The harbor is so different now. Don't
you understand?"

I felt her hand slowly tighten on mine.

"Yes, dear," she said, "I understand----"



CHAPTER XII


The events of that day dropped out of my mind in the turbulent weeks
that followed. For day by day I felt myself sink deeper and deeper into
the crowd, into surging multitudes of men--till something that I found
down there lifted me up and swept me on--into a strange new harbor.

Of the strike I can give only one man's view, what I could see with my
one pair of eyes in that swiftly spreading confusion that soon embraced
the whole port of New York and other ports both here and abroad. War
correspondents, I suppose, must feel the same chaos around them, but in
my case it rose from within me as well. I was like a war correspondent
who is trying to make up his mind about war. What was good in this labor
rebellion? What was bad? Where was it taking me?

From the beginning I could feel that it meant for me a breaking of ties
with the safe strong world that had been my life. I felt this first
before the strike, when I went to my magazine editor. He had taken my
story about Jim Marsh, but when I came to him now and told him that I
wanted to cover the strike,

"Go ahead if you like," he answered, a weary indulgence in his tone, "I
don't want to interfere in your work. But I can't promise you now that
we'll buy it. If you feel you must write up this strike you'll have to
do it at your own risk."

"Why?" I asked. For years my work had been ordered ahead. I thought of
that small apartment of ours, of my father sick at home--and I felt
myself suddenly insecure.

"Because," he answered coolly, "I'm not quite sure that what you write
will be a fair unbiassed presentation of the facts. I've seen so many
good reporters utterly spoiled in strikes like this. They lose their
whole sense of proportion and never seem to get it quite back."

This little talk left me deeply disturbed. But I was unwilling to give
up my plan, and so, after some anxious thinking, I decided to free-lance
it. After all, if this one story didn't sell I could borrow until I
wrote something that did. And I set to work with an angry vim. The very
thought that my old world was closing up behind me made my mind the more
ready now for the new world opening ahead.

From the old house in Brooklyn I once more explored my harbor. All day
and the greater part of each night I went back over my old ground. Old
memories rose in sharp contrast to new views I was getting. From the top
I had come to the bottom. Crowds of sweating laborers rose everywhere
between me and my past. And as between me and my past, and between these
masses and their rulers, I felt the struggle drawing near, the whole
immense region took on for me the aspect of a battlefield, with puffs
and clouds and darting lines of smoke and steam from its ships and
trains and factories. Through it I moved confusedly, troubled and
absorbed.

I saw the work of the harbor go now with an even mightier rush, because
of the impending strike. The rumor of its coming had spread far over the
country, and shippers were hurrying cargoes in. I saw boxes and barrels
by thousands marked "Rush." And they were rushed! On one dock I saw the
dockers begin at seven in the morning and when I came back late in the
evening the same men were there. At midnight I went home to sleep. When
I came back at daybreak the same men were there, and I watched them
straining through the last rush until the ship sailed that day at noon.
They had worked for twenty-nine hours. In that last hour I drew
close--so close that I could feel them heaving, sweating, panting, feel
their laboring hearts and lungs. Long ago I had watched them thus, but
then I had seen from a different world. I had felt the pulse of a nation
beating and I had gloried in its speed. But now I felt the pulse-beats
of exhausted straining men, I saw that undertaker's sign staring fixedly
from across the way. "_Certainly_ I'm talking to you!" Six thousand
killed and injured!

I saw accidents that week. I saw a Polish docker knocked on the head by
the end of a heavy chain that broke. I saw a little Italian caught by
the foot in a rope net, swung yelling with terror into the air, then
dropped--his leg was broken. And toward the end of a long night's work I
saw a tired man slip and fall with a huge bag on his shoulders. The bag
came down on top of him, and he lay there white and still. Later I
learned that his spine had been broken, that he would be paralyzed for
life.

But what I saw was only a part. From the policemen's books alone I found
a record for that week of six dockers killed and eighty-seven injured. I
traced about a score of these cases back into their tenement homes, and
there I found haggard, crippled men and silent, anxious women, the
mothers of small children. Curious and deeply thrilled, these children
looked at the man on the bed, between his groans of pain I heard their
eager questions, they kept getting in their mother's way. One thin
Italian mother, whose nerves were plainly all on edge, suddenly slapped
the child at her skirts, and then when it began to cry she herself burst
into tears.

These tragic people gripped me hard. The stokers down in their foul hole
in the bottom of the ship had only disturbed and repelled me. But these
crippled dockers in their homes, with their women and their children,
their shattered lives, their agony, starvation looming up ahead--they
brought a tightening at my throat--nor was it all of pity. For these
labor victims were not dumb, I heard the word "strike!" spoken bitterly
here, and now I felt that they had a right to this bitter passion of
revolt.

But still I felt their way was wrong. How could any real good, any sure
intelligent remedies for all this fearful misery, come out of the minds
of such people as these, who were rushing so blindly into revolt? I went
into saloons full of dockers and stokers, and out of the low harsh
hubbub there the word "strike!" came repeatedly to my ears, recklessly
from drunken tongues. Wherever I went I heard that word. I heard it
spoken in many languages, in many tones. Anxious old women said
"strike!" with fear. Little street urchins shouted it joyously. Even the
greenest foreigner understood its meaning. A little Greek, who had
broken his arm and was one of the cases I traced home, understood none
of my questions. "You speak no English?" He shook his head. "Strike!" I
ventured. Up he leaped. "Yo' bet!" he cried emphatically.

What was it deep within me that leaped up then as though to meet that
burning passion in his eyes?

"Keep your head," I warned myself. "To change all this means years of
work--thinking of the clearest kind. And what clear thinking can these
men do? The ships have got them down so low they've no minds left to get
out of their holes!"

And yet--as now on every dock, that "strike feeling" in the air kept
growing tenser, tenser--its tensity crept into me. What was it that lay
just ahead? I felt like a man starting out on a journey--a journey from
which when he comes back he will find nothing quite the same.

I had a talk about the strike one day with Eleanore's father. I can
still see the affectionate smile on his face, he looked as though he
were seeing me off.

"My dear boy," he said, in his kind quiet voice, "don't forget for even
a minute that the men who stand behind my work are going to stamp out
this strike. This modern world is too complex to allow brute force and
violence to wreck all that civilization has done. I'm sorry you've gone
into this--but so long as you have, as Eleanore's father, I want you now
to promise you won't write a line until the strike is over and you have
had plenty of time to get clear. Don't let yourself get swamped in
this--remember that you have a wife and a small son to think of."

My father had put it more sharply. He was out of bed now and he seemed
to take strength from the news reports that he eagerly read of the
struggle so fast approaching.

"At sea," he said, "when stokers try to quit their jobs and force their
way on deck, they're either put in irons or shot down as mutineers.
You'll see your friend Kramer dead or in jail. No danger to your sister
now. Only see that _you_ keep out of it!"

I did not tell him of my work, for I knew it would only excite him
again, and excitement would be dangerous.

"Now you and Eleanore must go home," said Sue that night. "You'll have
enough to think of. I'll be all right with father--he knows there's
nothing to do but wait, and he's so kind to me now that it hurts. Poor
old Dad--how well he means. But he's the old and we're the new--and
that's the whole trouble between us." A sudden light came in her eyes.
"The new are bound to win!" she said.

But I was not so sure of the new. To me it was still very vague and
chaotic. After we had moved back to New York, at the times when I came
home to sleep, Eleanore was silent or quietly casual in her remarks, but
I felt her always watching me. One night when I came in very late and
thought her asleep, being too tired to sleep myself, I went to our
bedroom window and stood looking off down, into the distant expanse of
the harbor. How quiet and cool it seemed down there. But presently out
of the darkness behind, Eleanore's arm came around me.

"I wonder whether the harbor will ever let us alone," she said. "It was
so good to us at first--we were getting on so splendidly. But it's
taking hold of us now again--as though we had wandered too far away and
were living too smoothly and needed a jolt. Never mind, we're not
afraid. Only let's be very sure we know what we are doing."

"We'll be very sure," I whispered, and I held her very close.

"Let's try to be sure together," she said. "Don't leave me out--I want
to be in. I want to see as much as I can--and help in any way I can. If
you make any friends I want to know them. Remember that whatever comes,
thy people shall be mine, my dear."

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day the strike began.

Out of the docks at nine in the morning I saw dockers pour in crowds.
They moved on to other docks, merged themselves in other crowds,
scattered here and gathered there, until at last a black tide of men,
here straggling wide, here densely massed, moved slowly along the
waterfront.

In and out of these surging throngs I moved, so close that in the quiver
of muscles, the excited movements of big limbs, the rough eagerness of
voices that spoke in a babel of many tongues, such a storm of emotions
beat in upon me that I felt I had suddenly dived into an ocean of human
beings, each one of whom was as human as I. I caught a glimpse of Joe
hurrying by. And I thought of Sue, and of Joe's appeal to her and to me
to throw in our lives with such strangers as these whose coarse heavy
faces were pressing so close. And I thought of Eleanore at home. "Thy
people shall be mine, my dear."

Teamsters drove clattering trucks through the crowds. Some of them did
not unload, but others dumped piles of freight by the docks. The dam had
begun. All day long the freight piled up, and by evening the light of a
pale moon shone down upon acres of barrels and boxes. Then the teamsters
unharnessed their teams, left the empty trucks with poles in air, and
the teamsters and their horses and all the crowds of strikers scattered
by degrees up into the tenement regions. Bursts of laughter and singing
came now and then out of the saloons.

Silence settled down over the docks. Walking now down the waterfront I
met only a figure here and there. A taxi came tearing and screeching by,
and later down the long empty space came a single wagon slowly. A smoky
lantern swung under its wheels, and its old white horse with his shaggy
head down came plodding wearily along. He alone had no strike feeling.

Battered and worn from the day's impressions I wanted to be alone and to
think. I made my way in and out among trucks and around a dockshed out
to a slip. It was filled with barges, tugs and floats jammed in between
the two big vessels that loomed one at either pier. It was a dark jumble
of spars and masts, derricks, funnels and cabin roofs, all shadowy and
silent. A single light gleamed here and there from the long dark deck of
the Morgan coaster close to my right. She was heavily loaded still, for
she had come to dock too late. Smoke still drifted from her stout
funnel, steam puffed now and then from her side. Behind her, reaching a
mile to the North, were ships by the dozen, coasters and great ocean
liners, loaded and waiting to discharge or empty and waiting to reload.
And to the South were miles of railroad sheds already packed to
bursting. I thought of the trains from all over the land still rushing a
nation's produce here, and of the starlit ocean roads, of ships coming
from all over the world, the men in their fiery caverns below feeding
faster the fires to quicken their speed, all bringing cargoes to this
port. More barrels, boxes, crates and bags to be piled high up on the
waterfront. For the workers had gone away from their work, and the great
white ships were still.

"What has all this to do with me?"

There came into my mind the picture of a little man I had seen that day,
a suburban commuter by his looks, frowning from a ferryboat upon a
cheering crowd of strikers. I laughed to myself as I thought of him. He
had seemed so ludicrously small.

"Yes, my friend," I thought, "you and I are a couple of two-spots here,
swallowed up in the scenery."

I thought of what Joe had said that day: "When you see the crowd, in a
strike like this, loosen up and show all it could be if it had the
chance--that sight is so big it blots you out--you sink--you melt into
the crowd."

Something like that happened to me. I had seen the multitudes "loosen
up," I had felt myself melt into the crowd. But I had not seen what they
could be nor did I see what they could do. Far to the south, high over
all the squalid tenement dwellings, rose that tower of lights I had
known so well, the airy place where Eleanore's father had dreamed and
planned his clean vigorous world. It was lighted to-night as usual, as
though nothing whatever had happened. I thought of the men I had seen
that day. How crassly ignorant they seemed. And yet in a few brief hours
they had paralyzed all that the tower had planned, reduced it all to
silence, nothing. Could it be that such upheavals as these meant an end
to the rule of the world from above, by the keen minds of the men at the
top? Was that great idol which had been mine for so many glad years,
that last of my gods, Efficiency, beginning to rock a little now upon
its deep foundations?

What could these men ever put in its place? I recalled the words of an
old dock watchman with whom I had talked the evening before. From the
days of the Knights of Labor he had been through many strikes, and all
had failed, he told me. His dog sat there beside him, a solemn old red
spaniel, looking wistfully into his master's face. And with somewhat the
same expression, looking out on the moonlit Hudson, the old striker had
said slowly:

"Before these labor leaders will do half of what they say--a pile of
water will have to go by."

A sharp slight sound behind me jerked me suddenly out of my thoughts. I
jumped as though at a shot. How infernally tight my nerves were getting.
The sound had come from a mere piece of paper blown by the wind--a rough
salt wind which now blew in from the ocean as though impatient of all
this stillness. From below came a lapping and slapping of waves. Above
me a derrick mast growled and whined as it rocked. And now as I looked
about me all those densely crowded derricks moved to and fro against the
sky. I had never felt in this watery world such deep restlessness as
now.

"I wonder if you'll ever stop heaving," I thought half angrily. "I
wonder what I'll be like when you finally get through with me. When will
you ever let me stand pat and get things settled for good and all? When
stop this endless starting out?"



CHAPTER XIII


What could such men as these raise up in place of the mighty life they
had stilled?

At first only chaos.

As I went along the waterfront I felt a confused disappointment. Deep
under all my questioning there had been a vague subconscious hope that I
would see a miracle here. I had looked for an army. I saw only mobs of
angry men. They were "picketing" the docks, here making furious rushes
at men suspected of being "scabs," there clustering quickly around some
talker or some man who was reading a paper, again drifting up into the
streets of teeming foreign quarters, jamming into barrooms, voicing
wildest rumors, talking, shouting, pounding tables with huge fists. And
to me there was nothing inspiring but only something terrible here, an
appalling force turned loose, sightless and unguided. What a fool I had
been to hope. The harbor held no miracles.

The strike leaders seemed to have little control. Headquarters were in
the wildest disorder. Into the big bare meeting hall and through the
rooms adjoining drifted multitudes of men. There were no inner private
rooms and Marsh saw everyone who came. He was constantly shaking hands
or drawling casual orders, more like suggestions than commands. I caught
sight of Joe Kramer's face at his desk, where he was signing and giving
out union cards to a changing throng that kept pressing around him.
Joe's face was set and haggard. He had been at that desk all night.

"It's hopeless. They can do nothing," I thought.

But when I came back the next morning I felt a sudden shock of
surprise. For in some mysterious fashion a crude order had appeared. The
striker throng had poured into the hall, filled all the seats and then
wedged in around the walls. They were silent and attentive now. On the
stage sat Marsh and his fellow leaders. Before them in the first three
rows of seats was the Central Committee, a rough parliament sprung up
over night. Each member, I found, had been elected the night before by
his "district committee." These district bodies had somehow formed in
the last two days and in them leaders had arisen. The leaders were here
to plan together, the mass was here to make sure they planned right. And
watching the deep rough eagerness on all those silent faces, that vague
hope stirred again in my breast.

Presently I caught Joe's eye. At once he left his platform seat and came
to me in the rear of the hall.

"Come on, Bill," he said. "We want you up here." And we made our way up
to the platform. There Marsh reached over and gripped my hand.

"Hello, Bill, glad you're with us," he said. I tingled slightly at his
tone and at a thousand friendly eyes that met mine for an instant. Then
it was over. The work went on.

What they did at first seemed haphazard enough. Reports from the
districts were being read with frequent interruptions, petty corrections
and useless discussions that strayed from the point and made me
impatient. And yet wide vistas opened here. Telegrams by the dozen were
read from labor unions all over the country, from groups of socialists
East and West, there were cables from England, Germany, France, from
Russia, Poland, Norway, from Italy, Spain and even Japan. "Greetings to
our comrades!" came pouring in from all over the earth. What measureless
army of labor was this? All at once the dense mass in the rear would
part to let a new body of men march through. These were new strikers to
swell the ranks, and at their coming all business would stop, there
would be wild cheers and stamping of feet, shrill whistles, pandemonium!

Gradually I began to feel what was happening in this hall. That first
"strike feeling"--diffused, shifting and uncertain--was condensing as in
a storm cloud here, swelling, thickening, whirling, attracting swiftly
to itself all these floating forces. Here was the first awakening of
that mass thought and passion, which swelling later into full life was
to give me such flashes of insight into the deep buried resources of the
common herd of mankind, their resources and their power of vision when
they are joined and fused in a mass. Here in a few hours the great
spirit of the crowd was born.

For now the crowd began to question, think and plan. Ideas were thrown
out pell mell. I found that every plan of action, everything felt and
thought and spoken, though it might start from a single man, was at once
transformed by the feeling of all, expressed in fragments of speech, in
applause, or in loud bursts of laughter, or again by a chilling silence
in which an unwelcome thought soon died. The crowd spoke its will
through many voices, through men who sprang up and talked hard a few
moments, then sat down and were lost to sight--some to rise later again
and again and grow in force of thought and expression, others not to be
seen again, they had simply been parts of the crowd, and the crowd had
made them rise and speak.

On the first day of this labor parliament, up rose a stolid Pole. He was
no committeeman but simply a member of the throng.

"Yo' sand a spickair to my dock," he said. "Pier feefty-two--East
Reever. I t'ink he make de boys come out." He sat down breathing
heavily.

"You don't need any speaker, go yourself," an Irishman called from
across the hall.

"I no spick," said the Pole emphatically.

"You're spicking now, ain't you?" There was a burst of laughter, and
the big man's face grew red. "You don't need to talk," the voice went
on. "Just go into your dock and yell 'Strike!' You've got chest enough,
you Pollock."

The big Pole made his way out of the hall. In the rear I saw him light
his pipe and puff and scowl in a puzzled way. Then he disappeared. The
next day, in the midst of some discussion, he rose from another part of
the hall.

"I want to say I strike my dock," he shouted. Nobody seemed to hear him,
it had nothing whatever to do with the subject, but he sat down with a
glow of pride.

A Norwegian had arisen and was speaking earnestly, but his English was
so wonderful that no one could understand.

"Shut up, you big Swede, go and learn English," somebody said.

"He don't have to shut up." The voice of Marsh cut in, and the mass
backed up his curt rebuke by a murmur of approval. He had risen and come
forward, and now waited till there was absolute silence. "Everyone gets
a hearing here," he said. "We've got nine nationalities, but each one
checks his race at the door. Every man is to have a fair show. What we
need is an interpreter. Where's someone who can help this Swede?"

There was a quick stirring in the mass and then a man was shoved out of
it. He went over to the speaker, who at once began talking intensely.

"The first thing he wants to say," said the interpreter at the end of
the torrent, "is that he'd rather be dead than a Swede. He says he's a
Norwegian. His second point is that all bad feeling between
nationalities ought to be stopped if the strike's to be won. He says
he's seen fights already between Irish and Eyetalians."

Up leaped an enormous negro docker who sounded as though he preached
often on Sundays.

"Yes, brothers," he boomed, "let us stop our fights. Let us desist--let
us refrain. We are men from all countries, black and white. The last
speaker came from Norway--he came from way up there in the North. My
father came from Africa----"

"He must have come last Monday," said a dry, thin voice from the back of
the hall, and there was a laugh.

"Brothers," cried the black man, "I come here from the colored race. At
my dock I got over sixty negroes to walk out. Is there no place for us
in this strike? If my father was a slave, is my color so against me?"

"It ain't your color, it's your scabbing," a sharp voice interrupted.
"They broke the last strike with coons like you. They brought you up in
boats from the South. And you scabbed--you scabbed yourself! Didn't you?
You did! You ---- of a nigger!"

A little Italian sprang up in reply. He did not look like a docker. He
was gaily dressed in a neat blue suit with a bright red tie:

"Fellow workers--I am Italian man! You call me Guinney, Dago, Wop--you
call another man Coon, Nigger--you call another man a Sheeny! Stop
calling names--call men fellow workers! We are on strike--let us not
fight each other--let us have peace--let us have a good time! I know a
man who has a big boat--and he say now we can have it for nothing--to
take our wives and children and make excursions every day. On the boat
we will have a good time. I am a musician--I play the violin on a boat
till I strike--so now I will get you the music. And we shall run that
boat ourselves! We have our own dockers to start it from dock--we have
our own stokers, our own engineers--we have our own pilots--we have all!
And it will be easy to steer that boat--for we have made the harbor
empty--we shall have the whole place to ourselves! Some day maybe soon
we have all the boats in the world for ourselves--and we shall be free!
All battle boats we shall sink in the sea--we stop all wars! So now we
begin--we stop all our fighting--we take out this boat--all our
comrades on board! No coons, no niggers, no sheenies, no wops! Fellow
workers--I tell you the name of our boat! _The Internationale!_"

The little man's speech was greeted with a sudden roar of applause. For
the crowd had seen at once this danger of race hatred and was eager to
put it down. _The Internationale_ made her first trip on the following
day, and after that her daily cruise became the gala event of the
strike. Both decks of the clumsy craft were packed with strikers, their
wives and their children, and all up and down the harbor she went. The
little Italian and his friends had had printed a red pamphlet,
"Revolutionary Songs of the Sea," the solos of which he sang on the boat
while the rest came in on the chorus. A new kind of a "chanty man" was
he, voicing the wrongs and the fierce revolt and the surging hopes and
longings of all the toilers on the sea--while this ship that was run by
the workers themselves plowed over a strange new harbor. I watched it
one day from the end of a pier. It approached with a swelling volume of
song. It drew so near I could see the flushed faces of those who were
singing, some with their eyes on their leader's face, others singing out
over the water as though they were spreading far and wide the exultant
prophecy of that song. It passed, the singing died away--and still I sat
there wondering.

"We shall have all the boats in the world for ourselves--and we shall be
free! All battle boats we shall sink in the sea! We stop all wars! So
now we begin!"

Was it indeed a beginning? Was this the opening measure of music that
would be heard round the world? My mind rejected the idea, I thought it
merest madness. But still that song rang in my ears. What deep
compelling force was here--this curious power of the crowd that had so
suddenly gripped hold of this simple Italian musician, this fiddler on
excursion boats, and in a few short days and nights had made him pour
into music the fire of its world-wide dreams?

I saw it seize on others. One day a young girl rose up in the hall. A
stenographer on one of the docks, she was neatly, rather sprucely
dressed, but her face was white and scared. She had never made a speech
before. She was speaking now as though impelled by something she could
not control.

"Comrades--fellow workers." Her voice trembled violently. She paused and
set her teeth, went on. "How about the women and babies?" she asked. "I
know of one who was born last night. And that's only one of a lot. We
have thousands of kids and old people--sick people too, and cripples and
drunks--all that these lovely jobs of ours have left on our backs.
They've got to be carried. Who's to take care of 'em, feed 'em, doctor
'em? If we're going to run the earth let's begin at home. What does
anyone know about that?"

She sat down with a kind of a gasp of relief. Her seat was close to the
platform, and I could see her bright excited eyes as she listened to
what she had started here. For the crowd, as though it had only been
waiting for this girl to speak its thought, now seized upon her
question. Sharp voices were heard all over the hall. Some said they
could get doctors, others knew of empty stores that could be had for
nothing and used as free food stations. An assistant cook from an ocean
liner told where his chief bought wholesale supplies. And the girl who
had roused this discussion, her nervousness forgotten now, rose up again
and again with so many quick, eager suggestions, that when the first
relief station was opened that evening she was one of those placed in
charge.

I saw her grow amazingly, for now I came to know her well. Her name was
Nora Ganey. At home that night when Eleanore said, "Remember, dear, I
want something to do that will let me see the strike for myself"--I
thought at once of this work of relief. Eleanore would be good at this,
she had trained herself in just such work. And it appealed to her at
once. She went down with me the next morning, and she and Nora Ganey,
though their lives had been so different, yet proved at once to be
kindred souls. Eleanore gave half her time to the work, and these two
became fast friends.

Before the strike Nora had sat all day in an office pounding a
typewriter, several nights a week she had gone to dances in public
halls, and that had made her entire life. In the strike she was at her
food station all day, and each evening till late she visited homes,
looking into appeals for aid and if need be issuing tickets for food.
She heard the bitterest stories from wives of harbor victims, and she
began telling these stories in speeches. Soon she was sent out over the
city to speak at meetings and ask for aid. With Eleanore I went one
night to hear this young stenographer speak to twenty thousand in
Madison Square Garden. And the strike leader who made that speech was
not the girl of two weeks before. Her life had been as utterly changed
as though she had jumped to another world.

Through Marsh and Joe, in those tense days, I was fast making striker
friends. With some I had long intimate talks, I ate many kitchen suppers
and spent many evenings in tenement homes. But though by degrees I felt
myself drawn to these men who called me "Bill," when alone with each one
I felt little or none of that passion born of the crowd as a whole. With
a sharp drop, a sudden reaction, I would feel this new world gone. Its
strength and its wide vision would seem like mere illusions now. What
could we little pigmies do with the world? Its guidance was for Dillon
and all the big men I had known. Often in those days of groping, knotty
problems all unsolved, with a sickening hunger I would think of those
men at the top, of their keen minds so thoroughly trained, their vast
experience in affairs. I would feel myself in a hopeless mob, a dense,
heavy jungle of ignorant minds. And groping for a foothold here I would
find only chaos.

But back we would go into the crowd, and there in a twinkling we would
be changed. Once more we were members of the whole and took on its huge
personality. And again the vision came to me, the dream of a weary world
set free, a world where poverty and pain and all the bitterness they
bring might in the end be swept away by this awakening giant here--which
day by day assumed for me a personality of its own. Slowly I began to
feel what It wanted, what It hated, how It planned and how It acted. And
this to me was a miracle, the one great miracle of the strike. For years
I had labored to train myself to concentrate on one man at a time, to
shut out all else for weeks on end, to feel this man so vividly that his
self came into mine. Now with the same intensity I found myself striving
day and night to feel not one but thousands of men, a blurred
bewildering multitude. And slowly in my striving I felt them fuse
together into one great being, look at me with two great eyes, speak to
me with one deep voice, pour into me with one tremendous burning passion
for the freedom of mankind.

Was this another god of mine?



CHAPTER XIV


The great voice of the crowd--incessant, demanding of me and of all
within hearing to throw in our lives, to join in this march to a new
free world regardless of all risk to ourselves--grew clear to me now.

I felt myself drawn in with the rest. I was helping in the publicity
work, each day I met with the leaders to draw up statements for the
press. And these messages to the outside world that I wrote to the slow
and labored dictation of some burly docker comrade, or again by myself
at dawn to express the will of a meeting that had lasted half the
night--slowly became for me my own. Almost unawares I had taken the
habit of asking:

"How much can _we_ do? How sane and vigilant can _we_ be to keep clear
of violence, bloodshed, mobs and a return to chaos? How long can we hold
together fast? How far can we march toward this promised land?"

In order to see ourselves as a whole and feel our swiftly swelling
strength, having now burst the confines of our hall, we began to hold
meetings out on "the Farm." There are many "farms" on the waterfront,
for a "farm" is simply the open shore space in front of a dock. But
this, which was one of the widest of all, now came to be spoken of as
"the Farm," and took on an atmosphere all its own. For there were scenes
here which will long endure in the memories of thousands of people. For
them it will be a great bright spot in the times gone by--in one of
those times behind the times, as this strange world keeps rushing on.

From the top of a pile of sand, where I stood with the speakers at the
end of a soft April day, I saw the whole Farm massed solid with people.
This mass rose in hummocks and hills of humanity over the piles of brick
and sand and of crates and barrels dumped by the trucks, and out over
the water they covered the barges and the tugs, and there were even
hundreds upon the roofs of docksheds. The yelp of a dog was heard now
and then and the faint cries of children. But the mass as a whole stood
motionless, without a sound. They had stood thus since two o'clock, and
now the sun was setting. To the west the harbor was empty, no smoke from
ships obscured the sun, and it shone with radiant clearness upon eleven
races of men, upon Italians, Germans, French, on English, Poles and
Russians, on Negroes and Norwegians, Lascars, Malays, Coolies, on
figures burly, figures puny, faces white and faces swarthy, yellow,
brown and black. The sun shone upon all alike--except where that Morgan
liner, still lying unloaded at her dock, threw a long dark creeping
shadow out across the throng.

Thirty thousand people were here. Thirty thousand intensely alive. As I
eagerly watched their faces it was not their poverty now but their
boundless fresh vitality that took hold of me so hard. I had read many
radical books of late, in my groping for a foothold, and I had found
most of them dry affairs. But now the crowd through its leaders had laid
hold upon the thoughts in these books, had made them its own and so
given them life. In the process the thoughts had been twisted and bent,
some parts ignored and others brought out of all their nice proportions.
Exaggeration, sentiment, all kinds of crudity were here. But it was
crudity alive, a creed was here in action. Out of all the turmoil, the
take and give, the jar and clash back there in the meeting hall, had
come certain thoughts and passions, hopes and plans, that the multitude
had not ignored or hooted but had caught up and cheered into life. And
these ideas that they had cheered were now being pounded back into their
minds. Monotonous repetition, you say? Yes, monotonous repetition--slow
sledgehammer blows upon something red hot--pounding, pounding,
pounding--that when it cooled its shape might be changed.

Nora Ganey was speaking.

"Look at those ocean liners!" she cried. Her voice was sharp and
strident. "They're paralyzed now, and because they are they're costing
the big companies millions of dollars every day. That's what their time
is worth to their owners. But what are those ships worth to you? Ten
dollars a week and a broken arm--or a leg or a skull, you can take your
choice. Six thousand of you men were crippled or crushed to death last
year--and that, let me remind you, was only in the port of New York. Why
was it? Why did it have to be? And why will it always have to be until
you make these ships your own? Because, fellow workers, the time of the
ships is worth so much to their owners that the work has got to be
rushed day and night--and in that rush somebody's bound to get hurt--if
he isn't killed he's lucky! And as for the rest, when at last you're
through and dead tired--they point to the saloons and say, 'Now have a
few drinks! We won't need you again till next Tuesday'! Do you know what
all this means in your homes? It means drunks, cripples, sick and poor!
It means such sights as I'll never forget. I've seen 'em all--just
lately!

"I never thought of such things before. I liked my office job on the
dock and all the jobs around me--and when sailing time drew near I liked
the last excitement. I liked the rich furs and dresses and the cute
little earrings and slippers and dogs that were attached to the women
who came. I liked to see them pile out of their motors and laugh and
make eyes at the men they belonged to. I liked to peep into the cabins
they had--get on to all the luxuries there.

"But out of all this magnificence, friends, and this work that keeps it
going--I saw one day a man come on a stretcher. He was dead. And that
started me thinking. That's why I came out when the strike was called.
And in the strike I've gone into your homes. I've seen what those soft
expensive female dolls and all the work that makes them costs. And I've
got a thrill of another kind! It's a thrill that'll last for the rest of
my life! And in yours, too, fellow workers! For I believe that you'll go
right on--that you'll strike and strike and strike again--till you make
these tenements own these ships--and a life won't be thrown away for a
dollar!"

She stopped sharply and stepped back, and there burst out a frenzy of
applause, which died down to be caught up and prolonged and deepened
into a steady roar, as Marsh came slowly forward. He stood there
bareheaded, impassive and quiet, listening to the great voice of the
mass. At last he turned to the chairman. The latter picked up a whistle,
and at that piercing call to order slowly the cheering began to subside.
Faces pressed eagerly closer. Marsh looked all around him.

"Fellow workers," he began, "it's hard for a man to be understood when
he's talking to men from all over the world." He pointed down to a
cluster of Lascars with white turbans on their heads. "_You_ don't
understand me. But some of your comrades will give you my speech, for we
are all strike brothers here. On the ship there is no flag--on the ship
there is no nation--on the ship there is only work--on the ship there
are only the workers!

"For a ship may be equipped with the most powerful engines to drive
her--she may have the best brains to direct her course--but the ship
can't sail until you go aboard! You're the men who make the ships of
use, you're the men who give value to the stock of all the big ship
companies! You are the ship industry--and to you the ship industry
should belong!

"I want you now to think of a tombstone. Out in the Atlantic, two miles
down they tell me, a big ship is stuck with her bow in the ooze of the
ocean floor and her stern six hundred feet up in the water. In the cold
green light down there she looks like a tombstone--and she is packed
with dead people inside. She is there because where she should have had
lifeboats she had French cafés instead, and sun parlors for the ladies.
Some of these ladies went down with the ship, and we heard a lot about
their screams. But we haven't heard much of the cries for help of the
thousands of men who go down every year in rotten old ships upon the
seas! Nor have we heard of the millions more who are killed on land--on
the railroads, in the mines and mills and stinking slums of cities!

"But now we've decided that cries like these are to be heard all over
the world. For we've only got one life apiece--we're not quite sure of
another. And because we do all the work that is done we want all the
life there is to be had! All the life there is to be had--that's what we
are striking for! That is our share of the life in this world! And until
we get our share this labor war will have no end! Other wars may come
and go--but under them all on land and sea this war of ours will go
steadily on--will swallow up all other wars--will swallow up in all your
minds all hatred of your brother men! For you they will be workers all!
With them you will rise--and the world will be free!"

       *       *       *       *       *

When the long stormy din of cheers had little by little died away Joe
Kramer began the last speech of the day. He had eaten and slept little,
he had lived on coffee and cigarettes, and there was a strained look in
his deep eyes as he rose up lean and gaunt by my side.

"I'm here to-day to speak to the men who work in stokeholes naked," he
said. "I'm here to talk of the lives you lead--the lives that millions
before you have led--for a few brief years--and then they have died. For
lives in stokeholes are not long. And before I begin I propose that we
stand for a moment with uncovered heads." He looked out over the
multitude as though seeing far beyond them, and his voice was as harsh
as the look in his eyes. "As a tribute to all the dead stokers," he
said.

And in a breathless silence the multitude did what he had asked. Joe
broke this silence sharply.

"Now for life and the living," he said. "Why was it that those men all
died? What has the change from sails to steam done to the lives of the
men at sea?

"The old sailor at least had air to breathe. But what you breathe is red
hot gas--I know because I've been there. There is a gong upon the wall,
and when it clangs you heave in coal, and if when it clangs faster you
don't keep quite up to its pace, a white light flashes out of the wall,
and that light is the Chief Engineer's way of saying, 'God damn you,
keep up those fires down there! Time is money! Who are you?'

"The old-time sailor lived on deck. He had the winds, the sun and the
stars. But you live down between steel walls--with only the glare of
electric lights in which you sleep and eat and sweat. You work at all
kinds of irregular hours, for you there is no day or night. You don't
know whether the millionaire and his last and loveliest wife are
drinking champagne before going to bed, in their cabin de luxe above
you, or taking their coffee the next day at noon. You don't know about
anything way up there--unless you go up as I've seen you do, half out of
your senses from the heat, and make a sudden jump for the rail. The cry
is heard--'Man overboard!'--then shrieks and a chorus of 'Oh-my-God's!'
And then somebody says, 'It's only a stoker.'"

He stopped short, and at the sudden roar of the crowd I saw him frown
and quiver. He drew a deep, slow breath and went on:

"They threw off all the good in the ship with sails--but they carefully
kept all that was bad. The old mutiny laws--they kept all that.
Undermanning of crews--they kept all that. The waterfront sharks--they
kept all that. But there was one thing they couldn't keep--the old
sailor's habit of standing all this! He had run away to sea as a boy,
he'd been kicked all his life by the bucko mate into a state where he
couldn't kick back. But with you men it is not so. Among all the
thousands standing here most were on shore a few years ago, and you took
your land views with you on board. You organized seamen's unions. The
one in this country was meek and mild. It did not strike, it went on its
knees to Congress instead, and here's part of the written petition it
made. 'We raise our manacled hands in humble supplication--and we pray
that the nations of the earth issue a decree for our emancipation--restore
us our rights as brother men.' But Congress had no ear for you then.
Sailors are men who have no votes. And so you failed in your pleading.

"But in the labor movement there seems to be no such word as fail! You
have not given up your union--instead you have formed one of a kind more
dangerous to your masters! You have not made smaller your requests--no,
you are now demanding more! And instead of asking for merciful laws you
are saying, 'We are done with your laws, will have none of your laws,
will break your laws when they come in our way!'

"And what do your masters answer? Here are thousands of deserters--every
man here has broken the law by leaving his ship! But have they tried to
arrest you? No! They're afraid to arrest twenty thousand men, they're
afraid of this strike, they're afraid of you! They're so almighty scared
downtown that though we've been only a week on strike they've already
sent their commands to their Congress to give us what merciful laws we
like. They're scared because we've thrown over their laws--because they
know that we now see our power--to stop all their ships and the trade of
their land and send their stock market into a panic!

"And now do you know what I want you to do? I want you to look at their
ships, at their docks, at their harbor, men--and laugh--laugh! Don't you
see there's no need of violence? Laugh! In old times the people built
barricades. You don't need barricades nor any guns--all you've got to do
is to stand here and laugh! Look at all you have done to your
bosses--and laugh! To this town, to this nation--and laugh, laugh!
Look--and think--of what you _can_ do--all you--and you--and you--and
you--by just folding your arms! Think of all you _will_ do! And
laugh--laugh! Laugh! Laugh!"

He broke off with both arms raised, and there followed one moment
without a sound. Then suddenly, quick and hard and clear, from a corner
of this human ocean, I heard a single peal of laughter. In an instant
scores joined in. Rising in outbursts here and there, deepening, rushing
out over the Farm, it gathered and rolled in wave on wave, rising,
always rising. And it swelled into such a laugh that I saw the police
feel for their clubs. Reporters scrambled for high places, turned their
kodaks on it all. Women snatched up their babies in terror and ran.
Marsh stepped forward, caught Joe by the arm and jerked him back to
where I was standing. I gripped Joe's hand, it was icy cold.

Marsh shouted to the chairman, and the piercing whistle for order was
heard. But it took a long time for that laugh to die. Long after the
meeting had broken up I saw groups gather together, and presently they
would begin to laugh, and their laughter would take on again that same
convulsive tensity. I heard small clusters laughing, and dense throngs
in hot saloons where the low rooms would echo and double the roar.

Late at night out on the waterfront, under the bow of that Morgan ship,
I found two strikers smoking their pipes, and I sat down and lighted
mine. One was a Lascar, the other a Pole. In the strike these wanderers
over the earth had met on the waterfront under a wagon where each had
come to sleep the night. Since then they had become good friends. Each
spoke a little English, each one had caught bits here and there from the
speeches made that afternoon--and they had been trying to pool what
they'd heard, trying to find why it was they had laughed. As now I tried
to give them the gist of what Joe Kramer had said, from time to time
they would glance up at the big ship they had paralyzed and chuckle
softly to themselves.

Then I went on to Marsh's speech. And out there in the darkness I could
feel their rough faces, one white and one brown, grow deeply, eagerly
intent, as these strike brothers listened to the voice that had spoken
the dream of the crowd:

"Other wars may come and go--but under them all on land and sea this war
of ours will go steadily on--will swallow up all other wars--will
swallow up in all your minds all hatred of your brother men. For you
they will be workers all. With them you will rise--and the world will be
free."



CHAPTER XV


To all this, from the buildings far downtown that loomed like tall grim
shadows, the big companies said nothing.

But that same night, while I sat talking to those two men, we heard a
sharp excited cry. We saw a man behind us running along the line of
saloons. From these and from the tenements came pouring angry throngs of
men. And out of the hubbub I caught the words,

"They're bringing in the scabs! By boat!"

Past a watchman that I knew I ran into a dockshed and out to the open
end of the dock. And there I saw a weird ominous scene. Up the empty
harbor, under a dark and cloudy sky, came four barges, black with negro
laborers, and ahead and around and behind them came police boats
throwing their searchlights upon an angry swarm of union picket dories,
from which as they drew nearer I heard furious voices shouting, "Scab!"
One of the barges docked where I stood and the negroes quickly slunk
inside. I drew back from them as they passed, for to me too they were
"scabs" that night. Afraid to face the men outside, whose jobs they had
taken, these strike-breakers were to live on the dock, under cover of
police. Soon half of them lay snoring on long crowded rows of cots. Food
and hot coffee were served to the rest. Then I heard the harsh rattle of
winches, I saw these negroes trundling freight, the cargo went swooping
up into the ship--and with a deep dismay, a sharp foreboding of trouble
ahead, I felt the work of the harbor begun.

I heard a quick voice at my elbow:

"Say. What the hell are _you_ doing here!" I turned to the Pinkerton man
by my side:

"I'm reporting this strike."

"No you're not, you're in here to report what you see to the strikers.
Now don't let's have any words, my friend, we've seen you in their
meeting-hall and we've all got your number. Go on out where you belong!"

So I went out where I belonged.

I went out to the crowd--but I found it changed, split up into furious
swarms of men, I found the beginning of chaos here. And the world that I
had left behind, the old world of order and rule from above, which I had
all but forgotten of late, now sharply made its presence felt. For the
god I had once known so well was neither dead nor sleeping. Behind
closed doors, the doors that had flown open once to show me every
courtesy, it had been silently laying plans and sending forth orders or
"requests" to all those in its service.

The next day the newspapers changed their tone. Until now they had given
us half the front page. Every statement I had written had been printed
word for word. The reporters had been free to dig columns of "human
interest stuff" out of the rich mine of color here, and they had gone at
it hungrily, many with real sympathy. You would have thought the entire
press was on the side of the strikers, at times it had almost seemed to
me as though the entire country had risen in revolt. But now all this
was suddenly stopped, and in its place the front pages were filled with
news of a very different kind. "Big Companies Move at Last," were the
headlines, "Work of Breaking Strike Begun." The first ship would sail
that evening, three more would be ready to start the next day, and
within a week the big companies hoped to resume the regular service.
They regretted the loss to shippers of all the perishable produce which
to the value of millions of dollars had been rotting away at the docks.
They deplored the inconvenience and ruin which had been brought on the
innocent public by these bodies of rough, irresponsible men who had
openly defied the law. With such men there could be no arbitration, and
in fact there was no need. The port would be open inside of a week.

So the big companies spoke at last. And as I read the papers, at home
that day at breakfast, I remembered what Eleanore's father had said:
"Don't let yourself forget for one minute that the men behind me are
going to stamp out this strike." Not without a fight, I thought. But I
was anxious and depressed. Dillon had not come of late, he had felt that
we wanted to be alone. As now I glanced at Eleanore, whose eyes were
intent on the news of the day, I saw with a rush of pity and love how
alone she suddenly felt in all this. A moment later she looked up.

"Pretty bad, isn't it, dear?" she said.

"It doesn't look very fine just now."

"Are you going down to the docks?"

"Yes, they'll want me," I replied, "to write some answer to this stuff."

"Can you wait a few moments?" Eleanore rose. "I'll get on my hat. I
promised Nora Ganey I'd run her relief station for her to-day." I took
her a moment in my arms:

"You're no quitter, are you?" I said.

"We're in this now," she answered, just a little breathlessly. "And so
of course we'll see it through."

So we went down together.

The waterfront looked different now. In front of the docks where work
had begun a large space had been roped off. Inside the rope was an
unbroken cordon of police. And without, but pressing close, the
multitude of people for whom in a day so much had been changed, moved
restlessly, no longer sure of its power, no longer sure of anything but
a fast rising hatred of the men who had taken their jobs. As at times
the police lines tightened and the negroes came out for more freight,
thousands of ominous eyes looked on. Standing here at one such time, I
saw a negro striker pass. His head was down and he walked quickly--for
race feeling had begun.

The first ship sailed that evening. Tens of thousands watched her sail.
And a bitter voice beside me said,

"Laughing ain't going to be enough."

Among men on strike there are two kinds of attitudes toward those who
take their places. The first is the scorn of the man who is winning.
"You are a dirty scab," it says. "You're a Judas to the working class
and a thief who is trying to steal my job. But you won't get it, we're
bound to win, and you're barely worth kicking out of the way." The
second is quite a different feeling. In this is the fear of the man who
is losing--and fear, as an English writer has said, is the great mother
of violence. "You _may keep_ my job! And if you do I'll be left with
nothing to live on!" It is this second attitude which is dreaded by
strike leaders, for it leads to a loss of all control, to machine guns
and defeat.

With a deepening uneasiness I saw this feeling now appear. Starting in
small groups of men, I saw it spread out over the mass with the speed of
a prairie fire. I felt it that afternoon on the Farm, changing with a
startling speed that sure and mighty giant, the crowd, into a blind
disordered throng, a mottled mass of groups of men angrily discussing
the news. Threats against "scabs" were shouted out, the word "scab"
arose on every side. Bitter things were said against "coons," not only
"scabs" but "all of 'em, God damn 'em!" There were hints of violence and
open threats of sabotage, things done to dock machinery.

But presently, by slow degrees, as though by a deep instinct groping for
the giant spirit that had been its life and soul, I felt the crowd now
gather itself. Slowly the cries all died away and all eyes turned to the
leader. Facing them with arms upraised, Marsh stood on the speakers'
pile, his own face imperturbable, his own voice absolutely sure.

"Boys," he said, when silence had come, "one lonesome ship has gone to
sea--so badly loaded, they tell me, that she ain't got even a chance in
a storm. She was loaded by scabs."

A savage storm of "booh's" burst forth. He waited until it subsided and
then continued quietly:

"We have no use for scabs, black or white. But we have use for strikers,
_both_ black and white--our negro brothers are with us still, and we'll
show them we know that they are our brothers. We're going to stand
together, we won't let the bosses split us apart. And when we read the
papers to-morrow we're going to ask if the news is all there--not the
little news in big headlines about a ship or two leaving port, but the
big news in a little paragraph, that you have so stopped this nation's
trade that now its Congress is demanding that your masters come to
terms! And as for this lonesome ship that has sailed, if you want to see
just how much that means, go down and look at Wall Street. They say down
there, 'We're all right now.' But their market prices say, 'We're all
wrong!'"

Suddenly out of the multitude there came a high, clear voice:

"You seem to know Wall Street, Brother Marsh. Have you been selling
short down there? Who's your private broker?"

Instantly there was a rush toward the questioner, but a group of police
formed quickly around him and he was hurried out of the way.

"Get after that, Jim, get after it quick!" said Joe by my side. And
Marsh lost not a moment.

"Let that man go!" he shouted. "He was sent here to try to stir up a
riot. That lie was framed up 'way downtown! But it is a lie and you all
know it--you know how I live and how my wife lives--we don't exactly
roll in wealth! But even if I were a crook, or if I were dead, this
strike would go on exactly the same--for think a minute and you'll see
that whatever has been done in this struggle has been done each time by
you. It's you who have decided each point. It's you who have been called
here to-day to decide the one big question. Congress has said,
'Arbitrate.' It's for you all to decide on our answer. This is no
one-man union, there is no one man they can fix, nor even a small
committee. We're a committee of fifty thousand here to make our own laws
for ourselves. As you lift up your hands and vote, so it will be
decided. But before you do I want to say this. I care so little for Wall
Street and I am so sure we'll win this strike, that with all the
strength I have in me I beg you to answer, 'No arbitration, nothing half
way! All or nothing!' If this is your answer, hold up your hands!"

Up went the hands by thousands, the crowd was all together now and again
it spoke in one great roar. And with a sudden rush of hope I told
myself, "It's still alive! This fight has only just begun!"

"That is our answer to Congress," said Marsh, when again quiet had been
restored. "That is the law which we have enacted. This strike is to be
fought through to the end. We are not to be scared by Wall Street or
worked upon by their hired thugs and so resort to violence. I am not
afraid of violence," he continued sharply, "I am here to preach it. But
the only violence I preach is the violence of folded arms. You have
folded your arms and their ships are dead. No other kind is so deadly as
that. Only hold to this kind of violence, and though they may send out a
ship here and there, this great port of New York will stay
closed--bringing ruin all over the land--till the nation turns to Wall
Street and says, 'We cannot wait! You will have to give in!'"

As he ended his speech, it seemed to me as though he were reaching far
out, gripping that throng and holding it in. But for how long could he
hold them?

Every paper that they read had suddenly turned against them and
prophesied their swift defeat. Two more ships sailed that night. And as
Marsh had foretold, their sailing was played up in pictures and huge
headlines, while the statement that I wrote was cut to one small
paragraph and put upon the second page.

That night, with the eager aid of strikers of five nationalities, I
wrote a message to the crowd, translated it into German and French,
Spanish, Italian and Polish. A socialist paper loaned us their press,
and by noon our message was scattered in leaflets all up and down the
waterfront. This message went out daily now. For the greater part of
each night I sat in strike headquarters and wrote direct to the
tenements.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day Marsh proposed a parade, and the Farm took it up with
prompt acclaim. He challenged the mayor of the city to stop it. To
friends who came to him later he said:

"You tell the mayor that I'm doing my best to give these men something
peaceful to do. If he wants to help me, all well and good. If he don't,
let him try to stop this parade."

And the mayor granted a permit.

The next afternoon the Fifth Avenue shops all closed their doors, and
over the rich displays in their windows heavy steel shutters were rolled
down. The long procession of motors and cabs with their gaily dressed
shoppers had disappeared, and in their place was another procession,
men, women and children, old and young. All around me as I marched I
heard an unending torrent of voices speaking many languages, uniting in
strange cheers and songs brought from all over the ocean world.
Bright-colored turbans bobbed up here and there, for there was no
separation of races, all walked together in dense crowds, the whole
strike family was here. And listening and watching I felt myself a
member now. Behind me came a long line of trucks packed with sick or
crippled men. At their head was a black banner on which was painted,
"Our Wounded." Behind the wagons a small cheap band came blaring forth a
funeral dirge, and behind the band, upon men's shoulders, came eleven
coffins, in which were those dock victims who had died in the last few
days. This section had its banner too, and it was marked, "Our Dead."

But at one point, late in the afternoon, some marcher just ahead of me
suddenly started to laugh. At first I thought he was simply in fun. But
he kept on. Those near him then caught the look on his face and they all
began to laugh with him. Each moment louder, uglier, it swept up the
Avenue. And as it swelled in volume, like the menace of some furious
beast, the uncontrollable passion I heard filled me again with a sharp
foreboding of violence in the crisis ahead.

"Why are you here?" I asked myself. "You can't join in a laugh like
that--you're no real member of this crowd--their world is not where you
belong!"

But from somewhere deep inside me a voice rose up in answer:

"If the crowd is growing blind--is this the time to leave it? Wait."



CHAPTER XVI


Five more vessels sailed that day. And in the evening Eleanore said:

"The women who came to our station to-day kept asking, 'Why can't they
close up the saloons? They're just the places for trouble to start.'"

"We'll try," I said, and that same night Marsh sent word through a
friend to the mayor asking him to close all barrooms on the waterfront
during the strike. The mayor sent back a refusal. He said he had no
power.

Late that night I went down the line and found each barroom packed with
men who were talking of those ships that had sailed. And they talked of
"scabs." Speakers I had not heard before were now shouting and pounding
the bar with their fists. The papers the next morning ran lurid accounts
of these saloons and the open threats of violence there. They censured
the mayor for his weakness and called for the militia. Why wait for mobs
and bloodshed?

To that challenge I heard the reply of the crowd, on the Farm that
afternoon, in their applause of the fiery speech of a swarthy little
Spaniard. Francesco Vasca was his name.

"They are sending hired murderers who will come here to shoot us down!
But when they come," he shouted, "I want you to remember this! A jail
cell is no smaller than our holes in the bottoms of their ships, the
food is no worse than the scouse we shall eat if we give in and go back
to our jobs! And so we shall not be driven back! When the militia come
against us, armed with guns and bayonets, then let us go to meet them
armed----"

He stopped short, and from one end to the other of that motionless mass
of men there fell a death-like silence. Then he grimly ended his speech:

"Armed with patience, courage and a deep belief in our cause."

In the sudden storm of cheers and "booh's" I leaned over to Joe at my
side:

"Why did you let that man speak?"

The frown tightened on Joe's face.

"Because he's one of us," he said.

Seven more ships had sailed by that night.

In front of the docksheds, outside the double line of police, the throng
had grown denser day by day, and each time the "scabs" came out there
had been a burst of imprecations, a fierce pressing forward. The police
had repeatedly used their clubs. Now late in the afternoon a red
hospital ambulance came clanging down the waterfront. It was greeted by
triumphant shouts. "Some black bastard hurt at last!" There was a quick
gathering of police and a lane was formed reaching into the dock.
Through this lane drove the ambulance, and as presently it emerged it
was greeted by tumultuous cheers.

The papers the next morning said that a raging, howling mob had tried to
reach the injured man. Cries of "Sabotage!" had been heard. Two men,
they said, had been injured and one killed on the docks the day before.
Was this Sabotage? Had the strikers fixed the winches with the purpose
of killing strike-breakers? Why not? Their leaders had openly preached
it. Not only the Spaniard but Marsh himself was quoted as favoring
violence, and from that special Sabotage Issue of Joe Kramer's paper
long extracts were reprinted. Were not these three leaders responsible
for the death of that innocent black man? And should leaders such as
these be allowed to go on preaching murder? Put them in jail! Quell this
insurrection while still there was time! So spoke the press.

The rumor quickly spread about that Marsh and the Spaniard and Joe
Kramer were to be arrested that day. All three remained at strike
headquarters, and a dozen burly strikers kept the throng from pouring
in. "Go on home," I could hear them shouting. But far from going, the
throng increased until it filled the whole street outside. Suddenly we
heard their cries rise into a raging din.

"Well, boys," said Marsh, "I guess they're here." He gave a few more
sharp directions to his aides and then went out into the hall. A dozen
Central Office police in plain clothes were just coming in at the door.

"All right," said Marsh, "we're ready. But unless you men were sent here
with the idea of starting trouble, suppose you leave here now without
us. Each one of us will meet you at any place and time you say."

"We can't take your orders, Mr. Marsh."

"You mean you _were_ sent here for trouble?"

"I mean I have warrants for the arrest of yourself, Joseph Kramer and
Francesco Vasca on a charge of incitement to murder."

And in less than a minute I saw Marsh, the Spaniard and Joe Kramer each
handcuffed to two men, one on either side. As they left the hall I came
close behind with a score of eager reporters.

The crowd, to my excited eyes, was like a crouching tiger now, glaring
out of countless eyes. Through the solid mass of men that packed the
street from wall to wall, the police had forced a narrow lane from the
patrol wagon to the door. On either side of this lane I saw a line of
faces, eyes. Some looked anxious, frightened, and were trying to press
back, but at the sight of their leaders now with a roar the multitude
swept in. In a moment the lane was gone, and some fifty police had
formed in a circle around the prisoners. Quickly their clubs rose and
fell, and men dropped all around them. But furious hundreds kept rushing
in from every side, women and children caught in the tide were swept
helplessly forward, came under the clubs and went down with the rest,
and still the mass poured over them. Now at last the circle of bluecoats
was broken, policemen alone and in small clusters were rushed and
whirled this way and that. Outnumbered twenty to one, they began to go
down in the scrimmage.

Then I heard a quick shout:

"Use your guns!"

After that, two pistol shots. Then more in a sharp, steady crackle. The
mass began breaking, out on the edges I could see men starting to run.
But down the street came a troop of mounted police on the gallop, and
straight through the multitude they rode. I saw the three prisoners
seized and surrounded and thrown into the wagon. I saw it go rapidly
away. The police were now making wholesale arrests. That deep strident
roar of the crowd had died down and broken into panting voices,
everywhere were struggling forms.

Just before me the throng opened and I saw a woman at my feet. Her face
was bleeding from a club. As I stooped to lift her, I felt a big hand
grip my arm and then a heavy, crushing weight press down upon my head. I
felt myself sink down and down into an empty darkness.

When I came to, I was being half pushed and half thrown by police up
into one of their wagons. I remember a blurred glimpse of more fighting
forms around me. Then a gong clanged and our wagon was off. And in a few
moments we had emerged out of all this turbulence into the quiet
commonplace streets of a city of every-day business life.

In the wagon a voice began singing. I looked up and saw our Italian
musician, the leader of those gay excursions on _The Internationale_.
Now he was singing the song of that name. And as all came in on the
chorus, I caught a glimpse of his face. One cheek was bleeding profusely
and with one hand he was keeping the blood from trickling down. With
the other hand he was beating time. And his black eyes were blazing.

Soon after, we came to Jefferson Market and stopped at the entrance of
the jail. As we were hustled out of the wagon, and in the stronger light
our cuts and swelling bruises came suddenly in view, two young girls
among us began to laugh hysterically. In a moment we were inside the
jail and shoved into a striker group that had come in wagons ahead of
ours. A grim old sergeant at the desk was taking down names and
addresses and sending the prisoners to their cells.

I found my cell a cool relief after all that fever of cries. With
surprise I noticed it was clean. I had thought all cells were filthy
holes. Still in a daze, I sat down on my cot and felt the big bruise on
my head.

"Where am I? What has happened? What has all this to do with me? What is
it going to mean in my life?"

I heard a nasal voice from somewhere say:

"I know this pen. They're putting the girls with the prostitutes."

I heard clanging gongs outside and soon the banging of steel doors as
more prisoners were put into cells. And little by little, through it
all, I made out a low, eager murmur.

"Say," inquired a drunken old voice. "Who are all you damn fools? What
is this party, anyhow?"

"It is a revolution!" a sharp little voice replied. And at that, from
all sides other voices broke out. Then from his cell our musical friend
again started up the singing, his strained tenor voice rising high over
all. The song rose in volume, grew more intense.

"Heigh! Quit that noise!" a policeman shouted.

"Aw, let 'em alone," said another. "They'll soon work it off."

But we seemed to be only working it up. Up and up, song followed song,
and then short impassioned speeches came out of cells, and there was
applause. A voice asked each one of us to name his nationality, and we
found we were Americans, Irish, Scotch and Germans, Italians and
Norwegians, and three of us were Lascars and one of us was a Coolie.
Then there were cheers for the working class all over the world, and
after that a call for more singing. And now, as one of the songs died
away, we heard from the woman's part of the jail the young girls singing
in reply.

And slowly as I listened to those songs that rose and swelled and beat
against those walls of steel, I felt once more the presence of that
great spirit of the crowd.

"That spirit will go on," I thought. "No jail can stop the thing it
feels!"

And at last with a deep, warm certainty I felt myself where I belonged.



CHAPTER XVII


Early in the evening I was taken out to the visitor's room, and there I
found Eleanore's father. When he saw me, Dillon smiled.

"Do you know where you are?" he asked. "You're not in the Bastille--or
even Libby Prison. You're in the Jefferson Market Jail."

"It hasn't felt that way," I said.

"Probably not. But it is that way, and there's Eleanore to be thought
of."

"Eleanore will understand."

I saw his features tighten. I noticed now that his face was drawn, as
though he, too, had been through a good deal.

"Yes," he said, "she understands. But it's a bit tough on her, isn't it?
Jail is not quite in her line."

I felt my throat contracting:

"I know all that. I'm sorry enough--on her account----"

"Then let's get out of this," he said. "I've brought you bail. No use
staying in here all night."

"None at all," I agreed. "I want to get back to the waterfront. We're
going to issue an answer to this. They'll need me for the writing."

Dillon watched me a moment.

"You won't be allowed to do that," he said. "They're under martial law
down there."

I looked up at him quickly:

"The troops are here?"

"Yes," he replied, and there was a pause.

"These arrests, this riot," I said a little huskily. "Weren't they all
framed up ahead? They needed the riot to get in the troops."

"The troops are here."

"Rather damnable. Do you think the people on the docks will just sit
back and take it all?"

"They'll have to," he said gently. "The world's work has been clogged up
a little. It's to go on again now."

On the street outside he took my hand:

"My boy, when this is over we'll get together, you and I."

"All right--when it's over," I said.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Farm that night again changed to my eyes. It was now an orderly
village of tents, two regiments of militia were here, and their sentries
reached for a mile to the north watching the big companies' docks.

I walked up along the line and had talks with some of the sentries. I
remember one in particular, a thin, nervous little man, a shoe-clerk in
a department store. Every work-day for six years he had fitted shoes on
ladies' feet; he had been doing it all that morning. And now here he was
down on the waterfront with only the stars above him and great shadowy
spaces all around, out of which at any moment he expected rushes by
strikers. These strikers to him were not human, they were "foreigners,"
for the moment gone mad, to be treated very much as mad dogs. And here
he was all by himself, his nerves on edge, with a gun in his hands. The
absurdity of that gun in his hands! And the serious danger.

I went into many tenements, into homes I had come to know in the strike.
And they, too, were different now. Their principal leaders taken away
and their headquarters closed by the police, the disorganization was
complete. That spirit they had relied upon, that strange new spirit of
the mass which they had created by coming together, was now dead--and
each one felt the weakness of being alone, the weakness of his separate
self. Blindly they fought against their despair. I found them packing
tenement rooms, gathering instinctively in search of their great friend,
the crowd.

But from such gatherings as these, the weaker, the more timid and the
wiser kept away. Rash spirits led these meetings, and here was the same
hot passion that I had felt back in the jail. These people did not want
to think, the time for thinking had gone by. They wanted to act, to do
something quick. Their minds were fiercely set on the "scabs," the
police and the militia.

Their strike was not yet lost. Their friends and sympathizers were
working hard that very night to get their leaders out on bail. In
Washington a House committee was striving still to compel arbitration.
Everywhere the more moderate spirits were drawing together, trying to
work out something safe.

But these people did not know this. They were in their tenements, they
were scattered far apart. They only knew how they had been clubbed, that
three had been killed and many more wounded, and that now the troops
were here. And the more fiery ones among them were feeling only one
thing now, that when you are hit you must hit back, you must show you're
not scared, you must show you're a man.

And so on the next morning, no women and no children but huge, silent
throngs of men drifted out of the tenements down to the docks and moved
slowly along the sentry lines.

The chance to show they were not afraid came late in the afternoon. The
clear, sweet call of a bugle came floating gaily on the air, then the
long, hard roll of drums, and from their camp on the Farm the troops
came on the double-quick up along the waterfront. Now thousands of
strikers were running that way. From the foot of a city street across
the wide open space to a pier the militia formed in two double lines,
each line facing outward. Then down that street came mounted police and
behind them a score of trucks loaded with freight.

At first I had hopes that the mass would not move. But out of the
silence came angry shouts and those behind pushed forward. Those in
front were pressed close up to the sharp lines of bayonets, were prodded
savagely by the troops. Militia youngsters but half trained, in two thin
lines opposing what appeared to them a furious sea of faces, fists and
angry cries--no wonder they were nervous. Bricks came flying from all
sides and even heavy paving-stones, and then a few pistol shots out of
the mass. I saw a militia man drop on one knee and slowly topple over. I
saw an excited young officer shout at his men and wave his sword. I saw
long rows of guns make quick rhythmic movements, then level straight
out, and there were two long flashes of fire.

Disordered throngs were running now. Only a few men here and there
turned to fire their pistols or to shout back frenzied, quivering oaths.
Behind them a few soldiers were still shooting without orders. Near the
sand-pile on which I stood I saw a young militia man enough like that
little shoe-clerk to have been his brother. His face was white and his
eyes wild, he was panting, pumping his lever and blindly firing shot
after shot.

"God damn 'em, slaughter 'em, slaughter 'em!"

An officer knocked up his gun.

       *       *       *       *       *

That night the waterfront was still. Only the long, slow moving line of
the figures of sentries was to be seen. The troops were back in their
camp on the Farm. Bivouac fires were burning down there, but up here was
only a dark, empty space.

Here scattered about on the pavement, after the firing had ceased, I had
seen the dark inert bodies of men. Most of them had begun to move, until
fully half were crawling about. They had been picked up and counted.
Thirty-nine wounded, fourteen dead. These, too, had all been taken away.

From the high steel docksheds there came a deep, harsh murmur made up of
faint whistles, the rattle of winches, the shouts of the foremen, the
heavy jar and crash of crates. A tug puffed smoothly into a slip with
three barges in her wake. I walked slowly out that way. The tugmen and
the bargemen talked in quiet voices as they made fast their craft to the
pier. Below them the water was lapping and slapping.

"The world's work has been clogged up a little. It's to go on again
now."

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day three heavy battleships steamed sluggishly through the
Narrows and came to anchor in the bay. When interviewed by reporters,
their commanders were vastly amused. No, they said, the United States
Navy was not governed as to its movements by strikes. They simply
happened to be here through orders issued weeks ago. But their coming
was featured in headlines.

I saw something else in the papers that night, a force greater than all
battleships. As a week before I had felt a whole country in revolt, I
felt now a country of law and order, a whole nation of angry tradesmen
impatiently demanding an end to all this "foreign anarchy."

"We want no more of your strikes," it said. "None of your new crowd
spirit, none of your wild talk and dreams! We want no change in this
country of ours!"

The authorities obeyed this will. Bail was denied to Marsh, Vasca and
Joe, and for them a speedy trial was urged. The press now held them
responsible not only for that first negro's death, but for all the
deaths since their arrest. Let them pay the full penalty! Let them be
made an example of! Let this business of anarchy be dealt with and
settled once and for all!

The work of crushing the strike went on. More troops were brought to the
harbor. On the docks there were not only negroes now, thousands of
immigrant laborers were brought from Ellis Island and put to work at
double pay, and on every incoming vessel the stokers were all kept on
board. Among the strikers there was a break that swiftly spread and
became a stampede. And in the following week the work of the harbor went
on as before, with its regular commonplace weekly toll of a hundred
killed and injured. Peace had come again at last.

       *       *       *       *       *

On Saturday morning of that week I stood on the deck of a ferryboat
packed with little commuters who waved and cheered a huge ocean liner
bound for Europe. Lying deep in the water, her hold laden heavy with the
products of this teeming land, her decks thronged with travelers with
money in their pockets, her band playing, her flags streaming out, and
over all on the captain's bridge the officers up there in command--she
was a mighty symbol of order and prosperity and of that Efficiency which
to me had been a religion for so many years. We all followed the great
ship with our eyes as, gathering headway, she steamed out past the
Statue of Liberty toward the battleships beyond.

"Well," said an amused little man close by me, "I guess that'll be about
all from the strikers."

"Oh my smiling little citizen--you've only seen the beginning," I
thought.

What were the strikers thinking now, and what would they be thinking
soon? They had wanted easier lives, they had wanted to feel themselves
powers here. Caught up in the tide of democracy now sweeping all around
the earth, they had wanted to feel themselves running themselves in all
this work they were doing. So they had come out on strike and become a
crowd, and in the crowd they had suddenly found such strength as they
never dreamed could be theirs. And they would not easily forget. The
harbor was already seeing to that, for already its work had gone on with
a rush, and all its heavy labor was weighing down upon them--"like a
million tons of brick on their chests." I remembered what Joe Kramer had
said: "It's got so they can't even breathe without thinking."

Was the defeat of this one strike the end?

The grim battleships answered, "Yes, it is the end."

But the restless harbor answered, "No."

What change was coming in my life? I did not know. Of one thing only I
was sure. The last of my gods, Efficiency, whose feet had stood firm on
mechanical laws and in whose head were all the brains of all the big men
at the top, had now come tottering crashing down. And in its place a
huge new god, whose feet stood deep in poverty and in whose head were
all the dreams of all the toilers of the earth, had called to me with
one deep voice, with one tremendous burning passion for the freedom of
mankind.



BOOK IV

CHAPTER I


Once I saw the harbor in a February storm. And in the wind and skurrying
snow I saw it all together like one whirling thing alive. But the next
morning the storm had died away, and a wind from the south had brought
banks of fog that moved sluggishly low down on the water dividing the
whole region into many separate parts. And from above, a dazzling sun
shone down upon three objects near me, a ferryboat, a puffing tug, and a
tramp which lay at anchor, shone so brightly on these three they seemed
alone, with nothing but mist all about them.

So it was now for a time with me. The strike, which had so suddenly
drawn me into its whirling crowd-life, now as suddenly dropped away. And
personal troubles piled one on the other. In place of that mass of
thousands, I saw only a few people I loved, and I saw them so intensely
that for a time we were quite alone, with nothing but mist all around
us.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sue sent for me one morning and I went over to our house. I was startled
by the change in her face. It looked not only tired, it looked so
disillusioned, done, so through with all the absorbing ideas and warm
enthusiasms that had given it abundant life.

"I'm not going to marry Joe Kramer," she said. "And I want you to tell
him so."

I stared at her blankly.

"I'm sorry," I said.

"Are you?" There was just a worn shadow of her old smile.

"I don't know why I said that," I replied. "My head's rather dull this
morning. All right, Sis, I'll tell him." Still I watched her pityingly.
Poor old Sue. What a crash in her life.

"I'd like you to tell him the whole truth," my sister went on sharply,
"just why I've decided as I have. Don't say it's because of father. When
I wanted Joe, Dad didn't count, he was nothing to me but a back number.
But I _don't_ want him now--Joe, I mean--I don't love him any more. If I
went to him to-day in his cell and said I'd stick by him no matter what
happened because he was the man I loved--I'd be lying--that wouldn't be
me. The real me is a much smaller person than that. I don't love Joe
because I've been scared--because he's in a common jail--waiting to be
tried for murder." Her face contracted slightly. "I suppose it's the way
I've been brought up."

"But Sue----"

"Don't stop me, Billy, let me talk!" And she talked on intensely, so
absorbed in this fierce impulsive confession that she seemed to forget I
was there. "I've been thinking what's to become of me. I've been
thinking about all the things I've been in, and none seem real any
longer--I wanted a thrill and I got it--that's all. Then I met Joe and I
got it again, I got a thrill out of all his life and the big things it
was made of. I got a _great_ thrill out of the strike. Don't you
remember how I talked three weeks ago when you were here? Dad was the
Old and I was the New. I saw everything beginning. I read Walt Whitman's
'Open Road' and I felt like Joe's 'camarado.' Well, and I kept on like
that. And like a little idiot I couldn't keep it to myself, I went and
told some of my friends. That's what's really the hardest now, what
hurts the most--I told my friends. I posed as a young Joan of Arc. I
was going to marry, give up everything, chuck myself into this fight for
the people, into revolution! Thrills, I tell you, thrills and thrills!

"But then Joe got arrested. I knew he was in a cell in the Tombs, in
Murderers' Row. And that drove all the thrills away. That was real. Dad
made it worse. He talked about the coming trial, Sing Sing and the death
house there. One morning he tried to read to me an account of an
execution. I ran away, but I came back and read it myself, I read all
the hideous details right up to the iron chair. And just because there
was a chance of Joe's being like that, all at once I stopped loving him.
Not just because I was frightened, it wasn't so simple as a scare. It
was something inside of me shuddering, and saying 'how revolting!' I
tried to shake it out of me, I tried to keep on loving him! But I
couldn't shake it out of me! Joe had become--revolting, too! It's
because of the way I've been brought up and because of the way I've
always lived! I can't stand what's real--if it's ugly! That's me!"

She broke off and looked down. I came and sat beside her, and took her
cold, quivering hands in mine:

"I guess I _am_ sorry, Sue old girl----"

"Don't be," she retorted. "I'm too sorry for myself as it is! That's
another part of me!" Again she broke off with a hard little laugh.
"Let's forget me for a minute. What has this sweet strike done to
_you_?"

"I'm not sure yet," I answered. "Where is Dad?"

"Up in his room."

"Tell me about him," I said. Sue drew an anxious little breath:

"Oh Billy, he has been getting so queer. It has all been such a strain
on his mind. Every day he kept reading the news of the strike--and some
days he would stamp and rage about till I was afraid to be with him. He
talked about that death cell until I thought that I'd go mad. Sometimes
when we were talking I thought that we had both gone mad."

I went upstairs and found him in a chair by the window. With unnatural,
clumsy motions he rose and came to meet me.

"I'm all right, my boy." His voice had a mumbling quality and I noticed
the strangeness in his eyes. "I'm all right. I'm glad to see you." Then
his face clouded and hardened a little, and he tried to speak to me
sternly:

"I'm glad you're clean out of that strike and its notions--glad you've
come to your senses," he said. "You're lucky in having such a wife.
She's been over here often lately--and she's worth a dozen like you and
Sue. Have you seen Sue?"

"Yes."

"Well, _she's_ all right."

I said nothing to this, and he shot a sidelong look at me:

"I had quite a time, my boy--I had to keep right at her." Another quick
look. "I suppose she's told you how I went at her."

"Never mind, Dad, it's over now."

"I had to make her feel the noose, I mean the chair," he went on in
those thick, mumbling tones, "and that she'd have to choose between that
and a decent Christian home--like the home her mother had. She was a
wonderful woman, your mother," he wandered off abruptly. "If she'd only
understood me--seen what it was I was trying to do--for American
shipping--Yankee sails!" He sank down in his chair exhausted, and I
noticed he was breathing hard. "I'm all right, my boy, I'm quite all
right----"

With a sudden rush of pity and of love and deep alarm, I bent gently
over him:

"Of course you are--why Dad, old boy--just take it easy--quiet, you
know--we're going to pull right out of this----"

The tears welled suddenly up in his eyes:

"I'm lonely, boy--I'm glad you're here!"

Presently I went down to Sue:

"When is the doctor coming next?"

"Not till this afternoon," she said.

"I'll be home to-night for supper. Phone me what he says."

"All right--where are you going now? To Joe?"

"Yes, Sis," I said.

She turned and went quickly out of the room.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Tombs, when Joe was brought out to me, I saw that he, too, had
been through a deep change. He had been quiet enough all through the
strike, except for that one big speech of his--but he had been _tensely_
quiet. Now the tension appeared to be gone. He seemed wrapped up in
thoughts of his own.

"Have you seen Sue?" he asked me at once.

"Yes Joe, I've just been with her."

"What did she say?"

I began to tell him.

"I knew it," he interrupted me. "I made up my mind to this the first
night I spent here in my cell. It couldn't have happened, it wouldn't
have worked. Tell her I understand all about it, tell her that I'm sure
she's right. Tell her--it's funny but it's true--tell her this infernal
pen has worked the same way on me as on her. I mean it has made me not
want her now. I feel sorry for her and that's all--deeply and infernally
sorry. I was a fool to have let her into it. My only excuse for being so
blind was that damned fever that left me so weak. At any other time I
would have seen what a farce it was. I wasn't booked for a life like
that. It doesn't fit in with this job of mine." He smiled a little
bitterly. "I used to say," he continued, "that if I had time I'd like to
do something yellow enough so that I'd be cut off for life from any
chance of church bells. And I guess I've done it this time--no danger
of getting respectable now."

"How do you look at this, Joe?" I asked him. "What do you think they'll
do to you?"

"I don't know." Again he smiled slightly and wearily. "And I can't say I
_care_ a damn. I feel like those fellows over in Russia, the
revolutionist chaps I met, who didn't know if they'd croak in a month
and didn't care one way or the other. But as a matter of fact," he
added, "I think this time it's mainly bluff. They wanted to get us away
from the crowd and keep us away while they broke the strike. Now that
it's over you'll probably find they'll let us all off with light
sentences. Of course the murder charge can't hold.... By the way," he
added, smiling, "I hear they got you, too."

"Yes," I answered, smiling back. "The Judge fined me ten dollars and let
me go. He said he hoped this would be a lesson."

Joe looked at me curiously:

"How much of a lesson, Kid, do you think this strike has been to you?"

"Quite a big one, Joe," I said.

"What are you going to do about it?"

"I haven't decided."

"How is Eleanore taking it all?"

"She's not saying much and neither am I. We're both doing some thinking
before we talk."

"You're a quiet pair," J. K. remarked. "I shouldn't wonder if you'd nose
along quite a distance before you get through--I mean in our direction."

"That's what we're thinking about," I replied. Again he turned to me
curiously:

"You two can think together--without talking--can't you?"

"Yes--sometimes we can."

"I never got that far with Sue." All at once he came closer, his whole
manner changed: "Say, Bill--tell her all I've said--will you? I'm
sorry! Honest Injun! Make her feel how damnably sorry I am that I ever
let her in for this!"

When I left him I went off for a walk, for I wanted to be alone awhile.
I wondered just how sure Joe felt about his fast approaching trial. It
seemed to me that he had a good chance of going where Sue had pictured
him.



CHAPTER II


That evening I learned that my father was worse, and I spent the next
day by his bedside. He had had a stroke in the morning and was not
expected to live through the night.

I found him mumbling fast to himself and making slight, restless efforts
to move. At last he grew quiet, and presently his half-open gnarled
right hand came groping out over the covers. I took it in mine, and at
once I felt it close on mine with a quick, convulsive strength. His hand
was moist, his eyes saw nothing. I sat there thus for a long time. Then
suddenly,

"Good boy," he muttered thickly. "Good boy--good--always good to your
mother!" He kept repeating this over and over, with pauses between, then
again with an effort, fiercely, as though from a distance his mind were
set on getting this message over to me, over from an age that was dying
into an age that was coming to life, a last good-by to hold me back.

Soon he was only mumbling figures, names of ships and distant ports,
freight consignments. Now and then his finger would go to his lips, as
he turned phantom pages in feverish haste. Again, in gasping whispers,
he would break out into arguments for the protection of Yankee sails.

"Protection!" he would whisper. "Damn fools not to see it!
Discriminating tariffs! Subsidies! A Navy!... Don't forget the Navy!
Remember War of 1812!... Nothing without fighting!"

"Nothing without fighting." He had been learning this all his life--and
after he had said it now, he stopped speaking and grew still. Little by
little his movements grew weaker. Finally he lay like a log, and the
doctor said he would be so until dead.

I went up to my old bedroom and sat down by the open window. It was a
beautiful night. From the garden below, where long ago I had felt such
shivers over the ocean and heathen lands, a graceful poplar rose. Behind
it from the river the huge, dim funnel of a steamer rose over the roof
of the warehouse. Overhead to the right swept the Great Bridge of my
childhood. But behind it were other bridges now, and off across the
river the buildings of Manhattan loomed in loftier masses to their apex
in the tower of lights. How changed it all was since I was a boy. And
yet how like. On the harbor still the hurrying lights, yellow, blue and
green and red. The same deep, restless hum of labor. And from the
waterfront below the same puffs and coughs of engines, the same sharp
toots and treble pantings, the same raucous whine of wheels.

There came a rough salt breeze from the sea, and it made me think of
billowy sails and the days of my father's boundless youth, and of the
harbor of long ago that had so gripped and molded him--as I felt mine
now molding me. And for what? I asked. To what were we both
adventuring--out of these little harbors of ours?

Toward dawn a tramp came down the river. Dimly as she passed below I
could see how old she was, how worn and battered by the waves. A
desolate and lonely craft, the smoke draggled out of her funnel. I
watched her steam into the Upper Bay and pass around Governor's Island.
I watched till in the first raw light of day I could see only her smoke
through the Narrows. Then even this became but a blur, which crept away
in that strange dawn light out into the wide ocean.

A few hours later my father died.

One by one, from different parts of the port, the queerest old men came
into our house on the day of my father's funeral--men who still
believed in American ships, still thrilled to the dream of the Stars and
Stripes wherever there is an ocean breeze; men who still believed in
ships that had sails and moved along with the force of the winds; who
still believed that cabin boys could rise by the sheer force of their
wills to be powers in the ocean world; men who had for the common crowd
only the iron discipline, the old brute tyranny of the sea. These
strange old men stood with their white heads bowed, a little group,
looking down into my father's grave.

"He was a magnificent fighter," I heard one of them say as we left. "He
wrecked his own business for what he believed in. How many of us would
go that far?"

       *       *       *       *       *

From the grave Sue came to our apartment. Eleanore had packed her trunk.

"Sue must keep out of that dreary old house," she told me. "Luckily she
has a friend out of town whom she's going to visit. When she comes back
we must have the house closed, and I hope she'll live with us for a
while."

We talked of this that evening, for Sue seemed to want to talk. We
stayed up until late and planned and planned. Many different kinds of
work for Sue were taken up and discussed by us all. She surprised me by
the brave effort she made.

"I've got to want something--that's sure," she said. "I can't just yet.
I've wanted so many things so hard, one after the other for nearly eight
years, that now I feel as though I'd used up all the wanting that I've
got. But of course I haven't. If I have I'm a back number--and I'd a
great deal rather be dead. So don't you people worry. Depend upon it, in
less than a year I'll be all wrapped up in something new. I'll be
tremendously enthused," she ended, smiling wearily.

She agreed with me that the house be sold, and after she had left us I
made every effort to sell it at once. I found it was heavily mortgaged
now, but when at last I made a sale there was enough to clear off all
debts and leave about two thousand dollars for Sue. She would have at
least something to start on.

As we set about to dismantle the house, various things thickly covered
with dust came out of closets, drawers and shelves. And these objects
brought near again to me my mother's life and that hunger of hers for
the things that were "fine," that hospitable door which had waited for
friends from the handsome old homes all around us. These homes all along
the street had now lost their quiet dignity. Some were empty and marked
for sale, others that had already been sold were cheerless boarding
houses. The most handsome home of all, with its ample yard where I used
to play, was gone, and in its place rose an apartment building which
made the old houses all seem dwarfs.

Her world and his were both slipping away. Her life and his, her creed
and his, were little now but memories--memories which in Sue and in me
must take their chance with the warm, new feelings, the cravings, hopes,
loves, doubts and dreams of this absorbing world of our own. For the
harbor was still molding lives.

How anxious Eleanore seemed to be through, I thought a little
bitterly.



CHAPTER III


But Eleanore had good reason. When at last the house had been closed,
back at home one evening she told me what she had known for weeks but
had kept to herself until I should be free from other things. We were to
have another child.

The news was a shock, it frightened me. "Where's the money to come
from?" flashed into my mind. In an instant it had passed and I was
holding her tight in my arms. But she must have caught that look in my
face, for I could feel her trembling.

"The same funny old world, my dearest one," she whispered, "with its
same old trick of starting out. But oh my dear, in spite of it all--or
because of it all--how good it is to be alive! More than ever--a hundred
times!"

"You darling girl," I whispered back, "you're the bravest one of all!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Her father came to us the next night, and after Eleanore went to bed he
and I talked long together. He looked worn and tired, but the same quiet
affection was in his eyes.

"Let's see where we are," he said, "and what we've got to go on. To
begin with, thank God, you and I are still friends. Then there's
Eleanore and your small son and the smaller one that's coming. We're
just starting in on a long, hot summer. She must of course be got out of
town. How much have you in the bank?"

"Thirty-seven dollars," I said.

He looked thoughtfully at his cigar.

"You've never yet taken money from me," he continued, after a moment.
"Still, you'd do it if you had to--because this is _our_ affair. But
unluckily, just at present, I'm nearly as high and dry as yourself. The
men who have backed my harbor work have lost so heavily in the strike
that they feel now they must recoup. I've already proposed to them a
plan which they have as good as accepted. They'll provide enough money
to pay the rent of a smaller office. I can borrow enough to pay half my
men. The rest I'll have to let go for a time."

"And _your_ salary?" I ventured.

"Is left out," he answered. "I mean it is if I stay here. I want to stay
here, I want to put through this job if I can, you see it has taken six
years of my life. And besides," he added wistfully, "in a very few weeks
they'll finish the work at Panama--and the ships of the world will begin
to crowd into a harbor that isn't ready here--we haven't even completed
our plans. It's not a good time to stop our work. But of course if you
and Eleanore get into a hole that is serious--as I said before and
you'll agree, you'd have to let me help you--even if to do it I should
have to give up my work for a while and take up something that will
pay."

"No sir!"

"Yes sir," he replied. "Unless you can earn enough money yourself."

We looked at each other a moment.

"You know how to bring pressure, don't you?" I said.

"Yes, I'm bringing pressure. I want to see you go on as before."

"That won't be easy," I remarked.

"Shall we talk it over a little?"

"Yes."

"All right," he said. "Since that talk we had together the day
Eleanore's first child was born, what a splendid start you made in your
writing. You were not only earning big pay, you were doing fine work,
work that was leading somewhere. I could see you learning to use your
tools, getting a broad, sane view of life--and of yourself--training
yourself and building yourself. You were right on the threshold of big
results. But then your friend Kramer came along. He had not built
himself, he had chucked himself over, neglected himself, his health
included. So he took typhoid and came to your home. His being there was
a drain on your pocket and a heavy strain on your nerves. He got you
unsettled. Then came the strike. And what has it done? It has taken your
time, health, money. It has left two good workmen stranded--you and me.
And I don't see that it's done the crowd any good. What has the strike
given you in return for all it has taken away?"

"A deeper view of life," I said. "I saw something in that strike so much
bigger than Marsh or Joe or that crude organization of theirs--something
deep down in the people themselves that rises up out of each one of them
the minute they get together. And I believe that power has such
possibilities that when it comes into full life not all the police and
battleships and armies on earth can stop it."

The look in Dillon's eyes was more anxious than impatient.

"Billy," he said, "I've lived a good deal closer than you have to the
big jobs of this world. And I know those jobs are to get still bigger,
even more complex. They're to require even bigger men." I smiled a bit
impatiently.

"Still the one man in a million," I said.

"Yes," said Dillon, "his day isn't over, it has only just begun. He may
have his bad points--I'll admit he has--but compared to all the little
men his vision is wide and it goes deep. And if they'll only leave him
alone and give him a chance, he'll take me and the other engineers, and
the chemists and doctors and lawyers, and he'll make a world--he's doing
it now--where ignorance and poverty will in time be wiped completely
out."

"They're not going to leave him alone," I said. "I'm sure of that now.
Whether he grafts or whether he's honest won't make any difference. The
crowd is going to pull him down. Because it's not democracy. The trouble
with all your big men at the top is that they're trying to do for the
crowd what the crowd wants to do for itself. And it may not do it half
so well--but all the time it will be learning--gathering closer every
year--and getting a spirit compared to which your whole clean clear
efficiency world is only cold and empty!"

He must have caught the look in my eyes.

"You're thinking that I'm getting old," he said softly. "I and all the
men like me who have been building up this country. You're thinking that
we're all following on after your father into the past." As I looked
back I felt suddenly humble. Dillon's voice grew appealing and kind.
"But you belong with us, Billy," he said. "It was under us you won your
start. And what I want now," he added, "is not only for Eleanore's sake,
but your own. I want you to try to write again about all the work we are
doing and see what it will do for you. Why not give it another chance?
You're not afraid of it, are you?"

"No," I said, "I'm not afraid--and I'll give it another chance if you
like--I don't want to be narrow about it, God knows. But before I tackle
anything else I'll finish my story of the strike."

"All right," he agreed. "That's all I ask. Now suppose you take Eleanore
up to the mountains and write your strike article up there. Let me loan
you a little just at the start."

"How much money have _you_ in the bank?"

"Enough to send Eleanore where she belongs."

"Eleanore belongs right here," said a voice from the other room, and
presently Eleanore appeared. She surveyed us both with a scorn in her
eyes that made us quake a little. "I never heard," she went on calmly,
"of anything quite so idiotic. Go home, Dad, and go to bed, and please
drop this insane idea that I'm afraid of July in New York, or of August
or September. Do you know what you're going to do to-morrow, both of you
poor foolish boys? You're going sensibly to work and worry about nothing
at all. And to-morrow night we're all three of us going to forget how it
feels to work or think, and get on an open trolley and go down and hear
Harry Lauder. Thank Heaven he happens to be in town. To hear you talk
you'd think the whole American people had forgotten how to laugh.

"Now Billy," she ended smoothly, "go to the icebox and get two bottles
of nice cool beer--and make me a tall glass of lemonade. And don't use
too much sugar."



CHAPTER IV


The next day and the next evening Eleanore's program was carried out.
But after that night the laughing stopped. For Joe Kramer was coming to
trial.

I had not seen Joe for over two weeks, and I had taken his view of his
case, that there was no serious danger. But now I learned from a good
source that Joe and both his colleagues were to be brought to trial at
once, while the public feeling was still hot against them. As the time
of the trials drew near every paper in town took up the cry. Let these
men be settled once and for all, they demanded. Let them not be set free
for other strikes, for wholesale murder and pillage. Let them pay the
full penalty for their crimes!

In the face of this storm, I found myself on Joe's defense committee,
the best part of my time each day and evening taken up with raising
money, helping to find witnesses and doing the press work for parades
and big mass meetings of labor.

Through this work, in odd hours, I finished my story of the strike. It
all came back to me vividly now and I tried to tell what I had seen. I
took it to my editor.

"Print that?" he said when he'd read it. "You're mad."

"It's the truth," I remarked.

"As you see it," he said. "And you've seen it only from one side. If
this story had been written and signed by Marsh or your friend Kramer,
we might have run it, with a reply from the companies. But I don't want
to see _you_ stand for this--in our magazine or anywhere else--it means
too much to you as a writer. Look out, my boy," he added, with a
return to the old brusque kindliness which he had always shown me in the
years I had worked under him. "We think a lot of you in this office. For
God's sake don't lose your head. Don't be one more good reporter
spoiled."

I took my story of the strike to every editor I knew, and it was
rejected by each in turn. They thought it all on the side of the crowd,
an open plea for revolution. Then I took it to Joe in the Tombs.

"Will you sign this, Joe?" I asked, when he had read it.

"No," he replied. "It's too damn mild. You've given too much to the
other side. All these bouquets to efficiency and all this about the weak
points of the crowd. The average stoker reading this would think that
the revolution won't come till we are all white-haired."

"I don't believe it will," I said.

"I know you don't. That's why you're no good to us," he said. "We want
our stuff written by men who are sure that a big revolution is just
ahead, men who are certain that a strike, to take in half the civilized
world, is coming in the next ten years."

"I don't believe that."

"I know. You can't. You're still too soaked in the point of view of your
efficiency father-in-law."

"So you don't feel you can sign this?"

"No."

That day I sent my story to a small magazine in New England, which from
the time of the Civil War had retained its traditions of breadth of
view. Within a week the editor wrote that he would be glad to publish
it. "Our modest honorarium will follow shortly," he said at the end. The
modest honorarium did. Meanwhile I had sent him a sketch of Nora Ganey
which I had written just after the strike. I received a letter equally
kind, and another honorarium. I began to see a future of modest
honoraria.

In the meantime, to meet our expenses at home, I had borrowed money and
given my note. And the note would soon fall due. Those were far from
pleasant days. On the one side Joe in his cell waiting to be tried for
his life; on the other, Eleanore at home waiting for a new life to be
born. By a lucky chance for me, Joe's trial was again postponed, so I
could return to my own affairs. I had to have some money quick. I went
back to my magazine editor and asked for a job in his office.

"I'm ready now to be sane," I said.

"Glad to hear it," he replied. "I'll give you a steady routine job where
you can grind till you get yourself right."

"Till I get back where I was, you mean?"

"Yes, if you can," he answered.

I went for a walk that afternoon to think over the proposition he'd
made.

"I have seen three harbors," I said to myself. "My father's harbor which
is now dead, Dillon's harbor of big companies which is very much alive,
and Joe Kramer's harbor which is struggling to be born. It's an
interesting age to live in. I should like to write the truth as I see it
about each kind of harbor. But I need the money--my wife is going to
have a child. So I'll take that steady position and try to grind part of
the truth away."

       *       *       *       *       *

"What have you been doing?" Eleanore asked when I came home. "You look
like a ghost."

"Not at all," I replied. "I've been getting a job."

"Tell me about it."

I told her part. She went and got her sewing, and settled herself
comfortably for a quiet evening's work. Eleanore loved baby clothes.

"Now begin again and tell me all," she ordered. And she persisted until
I did.

"It won't do," she said, when I had finished.

"It will do," I replied decidedly. "It's the best thing in sight. It
will see us through till the baby is born. After all, it's only for a
year."

"It's a mighty important year for you, my love," said Eleanore. She
thoughtfully held up and surveyed a tiny infant's nightgown. "If you do
this you'll be giving up. It's not writing your best. It's giving up
what you think is the truth. And that's a bad habit to get into."

"It's settled now. Please leave it alone."

"Oh very well," she said placidly. "Let's talk of what I've been doing."

"What _you've_ been doing?"

"Precisely. I've taken a little apartment downtown, over by the river.
The rent is twenty-eight dollars a month. It's on the top floor and has
plenty of air, and there's a nice roof for hot summer evenings. You're
to carry two wicker chairs up there each night after supper."

"I'll do nothing of the kind," I rejoined indignantly. "You're going to
pack up at once and go to the mountains! And when you come back you're
coming right here!"

"Oh no I'm not," she answered.

"Don't be an idiot, Eleanore! Think of moving out of here now! In your
condition!"

"It's better than moving out of your work. Dad has kept right on with
his, even when they stopped his pay. Well, now they've stopped your pay,
that's all, and we've got to do the best we can. We've simply got to
live for a while on modest honorariums. Now don't talk, wait till I get
through. You've got to work harder than ever before but for much less
money. But with less money than before we're going to be happier than
we've ever been in all our lives. And you can't do a thing to stop it.
If you do take that office work and bring a lot of money home, do you
know what I'll do? I'll move to that little flat just the same, and all
the extra money you bring will go to Mrs. Bealey."

"Who in God's name is Mrs. Bealey?"

"One of my oldest charity cases. She was here this afternoon. The
trouble with you is, my dear," my wife continued smoothly, "that you've
been so wrapped up in your own little changes you haven't given a
thought to mine. Well, I've done some changing, too. Every time that Sue
or you have taken up a new idea I've taken up a Mrs. Bealey. I did the
same thing in the strike. I went with Nora Ganey into the very poorest
of all the tenements down by the docks. I saw the very worst of it
all--and I tried to do what I could to help. But I felt like a drop in
the ocean. And that's how I've changed. Things are so wrong in the
tenements that big reforms are needed. I don't know what they are and
I'm not sure anyone else does. But I'm sure that if any reforms worth
while are to be made, we've got to see just where we are. And that means
that quite a number of people--you for instance--have got to tell the
truth exactly as they see it. So I'd rather put our money in that and
let old Mrs. Bealey forget our address. That's another reason for
moving.

"There's nothing noble about it at all," she said as she threaded her
needle. "I mean to be perfectly comfortable. I saw this coming long ago,
and since the strike was over I've spent weeks picking out a nice place
where we can get the most for our money. About thirty thousand babies,
I'm told, are to be born in the city this summer--and their mothers
aren't going first to the mountains or even for a walk in the Park. I
don't see why I shouldn't be one. As a matter of fact I won't be one, my
baby won't be born until Fall, and I'll have a clean, comfortable flat
with one maid instead of a dirty tenement with all the cooking and
washing to do. You'll probably find magazines who'll pay enough
honorariums to make a hundred dollars a month, which is just about three
times as much as Mrs. Bealey lives on. So that's settled and we move
this week."

We moved that week.



CHAPTER V


One night about a month later, when we had ensconced ourselves for the
evening out on the roof of our new home, where the summer's night was
cooled by a slight breeze from the river, our maid came up and told me
there was a strange gentleman below. I went down and brought him up, I
was deeply pleased and excited. For he was the English novelist whom I
most admired these days. He had come to me during the strike and had
been deeply interested in the great crowd spirit I had found. He was
going back to England now.

"I'm curious," he told me, "to see how much your striker friends have
kept of what they got in the strike--what new ideas and points of view.
How much are they really changed? That, I should think, is by far the
most valuable part of it all."

"It's just what I've been trying to find out for myself," I replied.

"Really? Will you tell me?"

I told him how on docks, on tugs and barges, in barrooms and in
tenements, I was having talks with various types of men who had been
strikers, how I was finding some dull and hopeless, others bitter, but
more who simply felt that they had bungled this first attempt and were
already looking forward to more and greater struggles. The socialists
among them were already hard at work, urging them to carry their strike
on into the political field, vote together in one solid mass and build
up a government all their own. Through this ceaseless ferment I had gone
in search of significant characters, incidents, new points of view. I
was writing brief sketches of it all.

"How did you feel about all this," the Englishman asked, "before you
were drawn into the strike?" And turning from me to Eleanore, "And you?"
he added.

Gradually he got the stories of our lives. I told how all my life I had
been raising up gods to worship, and how the harbor had flowed silently
in beneath, undermining each one and bringing it down.

"It seems to have such a habit of changing," I ended, "that it won't let
a fellow stop."

"Lucky people," he answered, smiling, "to have found that out so
soon--to have had all this modern life condensed so cozily into your
harbor before your eyes--and to have discovered, while you are still
young, that life is growth and growth is change. I believe the age we
live in is changing so much faster than any age before it, that a man if
he's to be vital at all must give up the idea of any fixed creed--in his
office, his church or his home--that if he does not, he will only wear
himself out butting his indignant head against what is stronger and
probably better than he. But if he does, if he holds himself open to
change and knows that change is his very life, then he can get a
serenity which is as much better than that of the monk as living is
better than dying."

We talked of books being written in England and France, in Germany and
Russia, all dealing with deep changes in the views and beliefs and
desires of men.

"Any man," he said, "who thinks that modern Europe will go smoothly,
quietly on, needs a dose of your harbor to open his eyes."

He turned to me with a sudden thought.

"Why don't you write a book," he asked, "about this harbor you have
known!"

Eleanore made a quick move in her chair.

"That's just what you ought to do!" she exclaimed.

"I wonder if I could," I said. "It would be hard to see it now, as it
looked at all the different times."

"You'll hardly be able to do that," the Englishman answered quietly.
"Because to each one of us, I suppose, not only his present but his past
is constantly changing to his view. But I wouldn't let that bother you.
What would interest me as a reader would be your view of your life as
you look back upon it to-day--in this present stage of your growth.

"I was raised in the Alps myself," he went on. "So _my_ picture of life
is the mountain path. As I climb and turn now and then to look back, the
twisting little path below appears quite different each time. But still
I keep on writing--my changing view of the slope behind and of the
rising peaks ahead. And now and then by working my hardest I've felt the
great joy of writing the truth. As you know, it isn't easy. But year by
year I've felt my readers grow in number. I believe they are going to
grow and grow, not mine nor yours but the readers of all the chaps like
ourselves, the readers who pick up each new book with the hope that one
more fellow has done his best--not to please them but to please
himself--by telling of life as he has seen it--his changing life through
his changing eyes."

       *       *       *       *       *

After he left us there was a long silence. Both of us were thinking
hard. And as Eleanore looked up to the stars I saw their brightness in
her eyes.

"Yes," she said at last, "I'm sure. I'm sure you'd better take his
advice--and write as truthfully as you can the whole story as you see it
now--of this strange harbor you have known."

We talked long and eagerly that night.



CHAPTER VI


I began my story of the harbor. Every hour that I could spare from the
stories and sketches of tenement life by which I made a scant living
those days, I spent in gathering memories of my long struggle with this
place, arranging and selecting and setting them in order for this record
of the great life I had seen.

       *       *       *       *       *

But this wide world has many such lives, many heaving forces. And ever
since I had been born, while I had been building for myself one after
the other these gods of civilization and peace--all unheeded by my eyes
a black shadow had been silently creeping over the whole ocean world.
Now from across the water there came the first low grumble of war.
Within one short portentous week that grumble had become a roar, and
before all the startled peoples had time to realize what was here, vast
armies were being rushed over the lands, all Europe was in chaos--and
the world was on the eve of the most prodigious change of all.

And like the mirror of the world that it had always been to me, the
harbor at once reflected this change. Only a little time before, I had
seen it almost empty, except for that crude boat of the crowd; the
_Internationale_, with its songs of brotherhood and of a world where
wars should cease. Now I saw it jammed with ships from whose masts flew
every flag on the seas, and from the men who came ashore I heard of how
they had been chased, some fired upon, by battleships--I heard of war
upon the seas. I felt my father's world reborn, an ocean world where
there was nothing without fighting, and where every nation fought.
Ours had already entered the lists, with a loud clamor for ships of our
own in which to seize this sudden chance for our share of the trade of
the world. The great canal was open at last, and Europe in her turmoil
had had not even a moment to look. The East and South lay open to
us--rush in and get our share at last! Make our nation strong at sea!

And while in blind confusion I groped for some new footing here, strove
to see what it was going to mean to that fair world of brotherhood which
I had seen struggling to be born--suddenly as though in reply there came
a sharp voice out of the crowd.

Joe Kramer came to trial for his life. Before his case went to the jury,
Joe rose up and addressed them. And he spoke of war and violence. He
spoke of how in times of peace this present system murders men--on ships
and docks and railroads, in the mills and down in the mines. And as
though these lives were not enough, the powers above in this scramble
for theirs for all the profits in the world, all the sweated labor they
could wring out of humankind, had now flown at each others' throats. And
the blood of the common people was pouring out upon the earth.

"My comrades over the water," he said, "saw this coming years ago. They
worked day and night to gather the workers of Europe together against
this war that will blacken the world. For that they were called
anti-patriots, fiends, men without a country. And some were imprisoned
and others were shot. And over here--where in times of peace the number
of killed and wounded is over five hundred thousand a year--for
rebelling against this murder they have called me murderer--and have
placed me here on trial for my life.

"And what I want to ask you now is that you take no halfway course.
Either send me out of this dock a free man or up the river to the chair.
For this is no year for compromise. Am I a murderer? Yes or no. Decide
with your eyes wide open. If you set me free I shall still rebel. I
shall join my comrades over the sea who already are going about in the
camps and saying to the rank and file--'You can stop this slaughter! You
can save this world gone mad! You can end this murder--both in time of
war and peace!'"

       *       *       *       *       *

And the jury set Joe free.

Early in the following week I went down to his room by the docks for a
last evening with him there. Joe was sailing that same night. Under a
name not his own he had taken passage in the steerage of the big fast
liner which was to sail at one o'clock. Into his room all evening poured
his revolutionist friends, and the chance of revolution abroad was
talked of in cool practical terms. Nothing could be done, they said, in
the first few months to stop this war. Years ago the man in France, who
had led the anti-war movement, had predicted that if war broke out every
government rushing in would force on its people the belief that this was
no war of aggression but one of defense of the fatherland from a fierce
onrushing foe. And so in truth it had come about, and against that
appeal to fight for their homes no voice of reason could stem the tide.

The socialists had been swept on with the rest. By tens and hundreds of
thousands they had already gone to the front. But it was upon this very
fact that Joe and his friends now rested their hopes. For just so soon
as in the camps the first burst of enthusiasm had begun to die away, as
the millions in the armies began to grow sick of the sight of blood, the
groans and the shrieks of the wounded and dying, the stench of the
dead--and themselves weary of fighting, worn by privation and disease,
began to think of their distant homes, their wives and children starving
there--then these socialists in their midst, one at every bivouack fire,
would begin to ask them:

"Why is it that we are at war? What good is all this blood to us? Is it
to make our toil any lighter, life any brighter in our homes--or were we
sent out by our rulers to die only in order that they in their scramble
might take more of the earth for themselves? And if this is true why not
rise like men and end this fearful carnage?"

Already these thousands were in the camps. Into Joe's room that evening
came men to give him the names and regiments of those comrades he could
trust. Joe with a few hundred others was to make his dangerous way into
the camps and the barracks, wherever that was possible, of French and
Russians and Germans alike, to carry news from one to the other, to make
ready and to plan.

Now and then, in the talk that night, I felt the thrilling presence of
that rising god, that giant spirit of the crowd, not dead but only
sleeping now to gain new strength for what it must do. And again in
gleams and flashes I saw the vision of the end--the world for all the
workers. For in this crowded tenement room, forgotten now by
governments, this rough earnest group of men seemed so sure of this
world of theirs, so sure that it was now soon to be born.

One by one they went away, and Joe and I were left alone. Slowly he
refilled his pipe. I thought of the talks we had had in ten years.

"Well Bill," he inquired at last, "what are you going to do with
yourself?"

"Write what I see in the crowd," I said, "from my new point of
view--this year's point of view," I added. I went on to tell him what
the English writer had said. And I told of my book on the harbor.

"Well," said Joe when I was through, "I guess it's about the best you
can do. You've got a wife to think of."

"You don't know her," I rejoined, and I told him how she had changed our
home in order not to stop my work.

"But don't you see what she's up to?" said Joe.

"What the devil do you mean?" I asked indignantly. Joe blew a pitying
puff of smoke.

"You poor blind dub of a husband," he said with his old affectionate
smile, "she's making you love her all the more. You're anchored worse
than ever. _You_ can't go over to Europe and take a chance at being
shot. Don't you see the hole you're in? You've got to care what happens
to you."

"I'm not so sure of that, Joe," I said. "Things in this world are
changing so fast that it's hard for any man in it to tell where he'll be
in a year from now--or even a few short months from now. It's the year
that no man can see beyond."

"You mean you're coming over?" he asked.

"I'm not sure. Just now I'm going to finish this book. I'm going to see
Eleanore through till the baby is born. But after that--if over in
Europe the people rise against this war--I don't just see how I can keep
out."

Joe looked at me queerly. And with a curious gruffness,

"I hope you will keep out," he said. "There aren't many women like your
wife."

He pulled an old grip from under his bed and began throwing in a few
books and clothes. From a drawer he swept a few colored shirts, some
underclothes and a small revolver.

"J. K.," I said, "I've been thinking about us. And I think our youth is
gone."

"What's youth?" asked Joe indifferently.

"Youth," I replied, "is the time when you can think anything, feel
anything and go anywhere."

"I'm still going anywhere," he remarked.

"But you can't think anything," I rejoined. "You say I'm tied to a wife
and home. All right, I'm glad I am. But you're tied, too. You're tied to
a creed, Mister Syndicalist--a creed so stiff that you can't think of
anything else."

"All right, I'm glad I am," he echoed. "I'm sorry youth lasted as long
as it did."

He closed his grip and strapped it. Then he took up his hat and coat and
threw a last look about the room where he had lived for a year or more.

"Breaking up home ties," he said with a grin. "Don't come to the boat,"
he added downstairs. "She don't sail for an hour or two and I'll be
asleep in my bunk long before."

"All right. Good-by, J. K.--remember we may meet over there----"

Again that gruffness came into his voice:

"If you do, you'll be taking a mighty big chance," he said. "Good-by,
Bill--it's just possible we may never meet again. Glad to have made your
acquaintance, Kid. Here's wishing you luck."

He turned and went off down the Farm with that long swinging walk of
his, his big heavy shoulders bent rather more than before. And as I
stood looking after him I thought of the lonely winding road that he was
to travel day and night, into slums of cities and in and out among the
camps.

       *       *       *       *       *

I walked slowly back through the tenements toward the new home among
them that Eleanore had made.

In the summer's night the city streets were still alive with people. I
passed brightly lighted thoroughfares where I saw them in crowds, and I
knew that this tide of people flowed endlessly through the hundreds of
miles of streets that made up the port of New York. Hurrying, idling,
talking and laughing, quarreling, fighting, here stopping to look at
displays in shop windows, there pouring into "Movies"--and walking,
walking, walking on. Going up into their tenement homes to eat and
drink, love, breed and sleep, to wake up and come down to another day.

So the crowd moved on and on, while the great harbor surrounding their
lives and shaping their lives, went on with its changes unheeded.

I tried to think of this harbor as being run by this common crowd--of
the railroads, mines and factories, of the colleges, hospitals and all
institutions of research, and the theaters and concert halls, the
picture galleries, all the books--all in the power of the crowd.

"It will be a long time," I thought. "Before it comes the crowd must
change. But they will change--and fast or slow, I belong with them while
they're changing."

Something Joe had once said came into my mind:

"They're the ones who get shot down in wars and worked like dogs in time
of peace."

And I thought of the crowds across the sea--of men being rushed over
Europe on trains, or marching along starlit roads, or tramping across
meadows. And I thought of long lines of fire at dawn spurting from the
mouths of guns--from mountainsides, from out of woods, from trenches in
fast blackening fields--and of men in endless multitudes pitching on
their faces as the fire mowed them down.

And with those men, it seemed to me, went all the great gods I had
known--gods of civilization and peace--the kind god in my mother's
church and the smiling goddess in Paris, the clear-eyed god of
efficiency and the awakening god of the crowd--all plunging into this
furnace of war with the men in whose spirits all gods dwell--to shrivel
and melt in seething flame and emerge at last in strange new forms. What
would come out of the furnace?

I thought of Joe and his comrades going about in towns and camps,
speaking low and watching, waiting, hoping to bring a new dawn, a new
order, out of this chaotic night.

And I heard them say to these governments:

"Your civilization is crashing down. For a hundred years, in all our
strikes and risings, you preached against our violence--you talked of
your law and order, your clear deliberate thinking. In you lay the hope
of the world, you said. You were Civilization. You were Mind and
Science, in you was all Efficiency, in you was Art, Religion, and you
kept the Public Peace. But now you have broken all your vows. The
world's treasures of Art are as safe with you as they were in the Dark
Ages. Your Prince of Peace you have trampled down. And all your Science
you have turned to the efficient slaughter of men. In a week of your
boasted calmness you have plunged the world into a violence beside which
all the bloodshed in our strikes and revolutions seems like a pool
beside the sea. And so you have failed, you powers above, blindly and
stupidly you have failed. For you have let loose a violence where you
are weak and we are strong. We are these armies that you have called
out. And before we go back to our homes we shall make sure that these
homes of ours shall no more become ashes at your will. For we shall stop
this war of yours and in our minds we shall put away all hatred of our
brother men. For us they will be workers all. With them we shall rise
and rise again--until at last the world is free!"

The voice had ceased--and again I was walking by myself along a crowded
tenement street. Immigrants from Europe, brothers, sons and fathers of
the men now in the camps, kept passing me along the way. As I looked
into their faces I saw no hope for Europe there. Such men could take and
hold no world. But then I remembered how in the strike, out of just such
men as these, I had seen a giant slowly born. Would that crowd spirit
rise again? Could it be that the time was near when this last and
mightiest of the gods would rise and take the world in his hands?

       *       *       *       *       *

At home I found Eleanore asleep. For a time I sat at my desk and made
some notes for my writing. I read and smoked for a little, then
undressed and went to bed. But still I lay there wide awake--thinking of
this home of mine and of where I might be in a few months more, in this
year that no man can see beyond. For all the changes in the world seemed
gathering in a cyclone now.

I was nearly asleep when I was roused by a thick voice from the harbor.
Low in the distance, deep but now rising blast on blast, its waves of
sound beat into the city--into millions of ears of sleepers and
watchers, the well, the sick and the dying, the dead, the lovers, the
schemers, the dreamers, the toilers, the spenders and wasters. I shut my
eyes and saw the huge liner on which Joe was sailing moving slowly out
of its slip. Down at its bottom men shoveling coal to the clang of its
gong. On the decks above them, hundreds of cabins and suites de
luxe--most of them dark and empty now. Bellowing impatiently as it swept
out into the stream, it seemed to be saying:

"Make way for me. Make way, all you little men. Make way, all you habits
and all you institutions, all you little creeds and gods. For I am the
start of the voyage--over the ocean to heathen lands! And I am always
starting out and always bearing you along! For I am your molder, I am
strong--I am a surprise, I am a shock--I am a dazzling passion of
hope--I am a grim executioner! I am reality--I am life! I am the book
that has no end."

       *       *       *       *       *



JOHN FOX, JR'S.

STORIES OF THE KENTUCKY MOUNTAINS

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset and Dunlap's list.


THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE.

Illustrated by F. C. Yohn.

The "lonesome pine" from which the story takes its name was a tall tree
that stood in solitary splendor on a mountain top. The fame of the pine
lured a young engineer through Kentucky to catch the trail, and when he
finally climbed to its shelter he found not only the pine but the
_foot-prints of a girl_. And the girl proved to be lovely, piquant, and
the trail of these girlish foot-prints led the young engineer a madder
chase than "the trail of the lonesome pine."


THE LITTLE SHEPHERD OF KINGDOM COME

Illustrated by F. C. Yohn.

This is a story of Kentucky, in a settlement known as "Kingdom Come." It
is a life rude, semi-barbarous; but natural and honest, from which often
springs the flower of civilization.

"Chad," the "little shepherd" did not know who he was nor whence he
came--he had just wandered from door to door since early childhood,
seeking shelter with kindly mountaineers who gladly fathered and
mothered this waif about whom there was such a mystery--a charming waif,
by the way, who could play the banjo better that anyone else in the
mountains.


A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND.

Illustrated by F. C. Yohn.

The scenes are laid along the waters of the Cumberland, the lair of
moonshiner and feudsman. The knight is a moonshiner's son, and the
heroine a beautiful girl perversely christened "The Blight." Two
impetuous young Southerners fall under the spell of "The Blight's"
charms and she learns what a large part jealousy and pistols have in the
love making of the mountaineers.

Included in this volume is "Hell fer-Sartain" and other stories, some of
Mr. Fox's most entertaining Cumberland valley narratives.

       *       *       *       *       *



STORIES OF RARE CHARM BY GENE STRATTON-PORTER

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset and Dunlap's list


LADDIE.

Illustrated by Herman Pfeifer.

This is a bright, cheery tale with the scenes laid in Indiana. The story
is told by Little Sister, the youngest member of a large family, but it
is concerned not so much with childish doings as with the love affairs
of older members of the family. Chief among them is that of Laddie, the
older brother whom Little Sister adores, and the Princess, an English
girl who has come to live in the neighborhood and about whose family
there hangs a mystery. There is a wedding midway in the book and a
double wedding at the close.


THE HARVESTER. Illustrated by W. L. Jacobs.

"The Harvester," David Langston, is a man of the woods and fields, who
draws his living from the prodigal hand of Mother Nature herself. If the
book had nothing in it but the splendid figure of this man it would be
notable. But when the Girl comes to his "Medicine Woods," and the
Harvester's whole being realizes that this is the highest point of life
which has come to him--there begins a romance of the rarest idyllic
quality.


FRECKLES, Decorations by E. Stetson Crawford.

Freckles is a nameless waif when the tale opens, but the way in which he
takes hold of life; the nature friendships he forms in the great
Limberlost Swamp; the manner in which everyone who meets him succumbs to
the charm of his engaging personality; and his love-story with "The
Angel" are full of real sentiment.


A GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST. Illustrated by Wladyslaw T. Brenda.

The story of a girl of the Michigan woods; a buoyant, lovable type of
the self-reliant American. Her philosophy is one of love and kindness
towards all things; her hope is never dimmed. And by the sheer beauty of
her soul, and the purity of her vision, she wins from barren and
unpromising surroundings those rewards of high courage.


AT THE FOOT OF THE RAINBOW. Illustrations in colors by Oliver Kemp.

The scene of this charming love story is laid in Central Indiana. The
story is one of devoted friendship, and tender self-sacrificing love.
The novel is brimful of the most beautiful word painting of nature, and
its pathos and tender sentiment will endear it to all.



MYRTLE REED'S NOVELS

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap's list


LAVENDER AND OLD LACE.

A charming story of a quaint corner of New England where bygone romance
finds a modern parallel. The story centers round the coming of love to
the young people on the staff of a newspaper--and it is one of the
prettiest, sweetest and quaintest of old fashioned love stories, * * * a
rare book, exquisite in spirit and conception, full of delicate fancy,
of tenderness, of delightful humor and spontaneity.


A SPINNER IN THE SUN.

Miss Myrtle Reed may always be depended upon to write a story in which
poetry, charm, tenderness and humor are combined into a clever and
entertaining book. Her characters are delightful and she always displays
a quaint humor of expression and a quiet feeling of pathos which give a
touch of active realism to all her writings. In "A Spinner in the Sun"
she tells an old-fashioned love story, of a veiled lady who lives in
solitude and whose features her neighbors have never seen. There is a
mystery at the heart of the book that throws over it the glamour of
romance.


THE MASTER'S VIOLIN.

A love story in a musical atmosphere. A picturesque, old German virtuoso
is the reverent possessor of a genuine "Cremona." He consents to take
for his pupil a handsome youth who proves to have an aptitude for
technique, but not the soul of an artist. The youth has led the happy,
careless life of a modern, well-to-do young American and he cannot, with
his meagre past, express the love, the passion and the tragedies of life
and all its happy phases as can the master who has lived life in all its
fulness. But a girl comes into his life--a beautiful bit of human
driftwood that his aunt had taken into her heart and home, and through
his passionate love for her, he learns the lessons that life has to
give--and his soul awakes.

Founded on a fact that all artists realize.



GROSSET & DUNLAP'S DRAMATIZED NOVELS

THE KIND THAT ARE MAKING THEATRICAL HISTORY

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap's list


WITHIN THE LAW. By Bayard Veiller & Marvin Dana. Illustrated by Wm.
Charles Cooke.

This is a novelization of the immensely successful play which ran for
two years in New York and Chicago.

The plot of this powerful novel is of a young woman's revenge directed
against her employer who allowed her to be sent to prison for three
years on a charge of theft, of which she was innocent.


WHAT HAPPENED TO MARY. By Robert Carlton Brown. Illustrated with scenes
from the play.

This is a narrative of a young and innocent country girl who is suddenly
thrown into the very heart of New York, "the land of her dreams," where
she is exposed to all sorts of temptations and dangers.

The story of Mary is being told in moving pictures and played in
theatres all over the world.


THE RETURN OF PETER GRIMM. By David Belasco. Illustrated by John Rae.

This is a novelization of the popular play in which David Warfield, as
Old Peter Grimm, scored such a remarkable success.

The story is spectacular and extremely pathetic but withal, powerful,
both as a book and as a play.


THE GARDEN OF ALLAH. By Robert Hichens.

This novel is an intense, glowing epic of the great desert, sunlit
barbaric, with its marvelous atmosphere of vastness and loneliness.

It is a book of rapturous beauty, vivid in word painting. The play has
been staged with magnificent cast and gorgeous properties.


BEN HUR. A Tale of the Christ. By General Lew Wallace.

The whole world has placed this famous Religious-Historical Romance on a
height of pre-eminence which no other novel of its time has reached. The
clashing of rivalry and the deepest human passions, the perfect
reproduction of brilliant Roman life, and the tense, fierce atmosphere
of the arena have kept their deep fascination. A tremendous dramatic
success.


BOUGHT AND PAID FOR. By George Broadhurst and Arthur Hornblow.
Illustrated with scenes from the play.

A stupendous arraignment of modern marriage which has created an
interest on the stage that is almost unparalleled. The scenes are laid
in New York, and deal with conditions among both the rich and poor.

The interest of the story turns on the day-by-day developments which
show the young wife the price she has paid.



GROSSET & DUNLAP'S DRAMATIZED NOVELS

Original, sincere and courageous--often amusing--the kind that are
making theatrical history.


MADAME X. By Alexandre Bisson and J. W. McConaughy. Illustrated with
scenes from the play.

A beautiful Parisienne became an outcast because her husband would not
forgive an error of her youth. Her love for her son is the great final
influence in her career. A tremendous dramatic success.


THE GARDEN OF ALLAH. By Robert Hichens.

An unconventional English woman and an inscrutable stranger meet and
love in an oasis of the Sahara. Staged this season with magnificent cast
and gorgeous properties.


THE PRINCE OF INDIA. By Lew. Wallace.

A glowing romance of the Byzantine Empire, presenting with extraordinary
power the siege of Constantinople, and lighting its tragedy with the
warm underglow of an Oriental romance. As a play it is a great dramatic
spectacle.


TESS OF THE STORM COUNTRY. By Grace Miller White. Illust. by Howard
Chandler Christy.

A girl from the dregs of society, loves a young Cornell University
student, and it works startling changes in her life and the lives of
those about her. The dramatic version is one of the sensations of the
season.


YOUNG WALLINGFORD. By George Randolph Chester. Illust. by F. R. Gruger
and Henry Raleigh.

A series of clever swindles conducted by a cheerful young man, each of
which is just on the safe side of a State's prison offence. As
"Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford," it is probably the most amusing exposé of
money manipulation ever seen on the stage.


THE INTRUSION OF JIMMY. By P. G. Wodehouse. Illustrations by Will Grefe.

Social and club life in London and New York, an amateur burglary
adventure and a love story. Dramatized under the title of "A Gentleman
of Leisure," it furnishes hours of laughter to the play-goers.



ZANE GREY'S NOVELS

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap's list


THE LIGHT OF WESTERN STARS

Colored frontispiece by W. Herbert Dunton.

Most of the action of this story takes place near the turbulent Mexican
border of the present day. A New York society girl buys a ranch which
becomes the center of frontier warfare. Her loyal cowboys defend her
property from bandits, and her superintendent rescues her when she is
captured by them. A surprising climax brings the story to a delightful
close.


DESERT GOLD

Illustrated by Douglas Duer.

Another fascinating story of the Mexican border. Two men, lost in the
desert, discover gold when, overcome by weakness, they can go no
farther. The rest of the story describes the recent uprising along the
border, and ends with the finding of the gold which the two prospectors
had willed to the girl who is the story's heroine.


RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE

Illustrated by Douglas Duer.

A picturesque romance of Utah of some forty years ago when Mormon
authority ruled. In the persecution of Jane Withersteen, a rich ranch
owner, we are permitted to see the methods employed by the invisible
hand of the Mormon Church to break her will.


THE LAST OF THE PLAINSMEN

Illustrated with photograph reproductions.

This is the record of a trip which the author took with Buffalo Jones,
known as the preserver of the American bison, across the Arizona desert
and of a hunt in "that wonderful country of yellow crags, deep canons
and giant pines." It is a fascinating story.


THE HERITAGE OF THE DESERT

Jacket in color. Frontispiece.

This big human drama is played in the Painted Desert. A lovely girl, who
has been reared among Mormons, learns to love a young New Englander. The
Mormon religion, however, demands that the girl shall become the second
wife of one of the Mormons--

Well, that's the problem of this sensational, big selling story.


BETTY ZANE

Illustrated by Louis F. Grant.

This story tells of the bravery and heroism of Betty, the beautiful
young sister of old Colonel Zane, one of the bravest pioneers, life
along the frontier, attacks by Indians, Betty's heroic defense of the
beleaguered garrison at Wheeling, the burning of the Fort, and Betty's
final race for life, make up this never-to-be-forgotten story.


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset and Dunlap's list.As

_Ask for complete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction_

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK





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