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Title: My American Diary
Author: Sheridan, Clare
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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MY AMERICAN DIARY

CLARE SHERIDAN

[Illustration: CLARE SHERIDAN

  (Photograph by Francis Bruguiere)]



  MY
  AMERICAN
  DIARY

  BY
  CLARE SHERIDAN
  _Author of “MAYFAIR TO MOSCOW”_

  [Illustration]

  BONI AND LIVERIGHT
  PUBLISHERS      :      NEW YORK



  COPYRIGHT, 1922,
  BY BONI AND LIVERIGHT, INC.

  _All rights reserved_

  _Printed in the United States of America_



DEDICATION


To those I have met in this country who have not misunderstood me.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  Clare Sheridan                       _Frontispiece_

  George Gray Barnard, describing his cloisters
  to Clare Sheridan                                72

  Lady Randolph Churchill                         154

  Margaret, who is being brought up in England,
  like a conventionally proper little
  girl                                            226

  Dick sailing his battleship in the turbulent
  Mexican river                                   272

  The “Russian Castle” in the “Land of
  Make-Believe”                                   302

  “Charlie” in his dressing-gown on his Moorish
  sunbathed veranda                               340

  “Charlie” tells Dick the story of the
  wrecked ship on the beach                       348



INTRODUCTION


_The publication of an American diary requires neither apology nor
explanation, especially when it is more a record than a criticism.
Besides, the “best people” seem to do it. I have upon my desk an old
volume entitled: “Travels in the United States, etc., during 1849 and
1850,” by the Lady Emmeline Stuart Wortly. It is dedicated with some
pomp “to the Countess of Chesterfield by her most affectionate cousin
the authoress.” By a strange coincidence we seem to have trodden the
same paths, and ofttimes our impressions are the same. Her experiences
in 1850 traveling with her little girl are in many ways not dissimilar
to mine in 1921 traveling with my little son. She describes her visits
to New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, etc., and then she
goes to Vera Cruz, Mexico City, Puebla, and many other places. She has
the unconscious arrogance of a genteel aristocrat; she describes the
people she meets and writes of them as “Ladies and Gentlemen” instead
of as “men and women.” For her there is no Bohemianism and she has no
perplexities about world movements. Nevertheless she expresses a deep
interest in Russia and some of her comments are not without value even
in this day._

_I think I will allow Lady Emmeline to voice in her own mid-Victorian
language some of my own opinions. Her condescension, her lack of humor
and her naiveté have a charm that I cannot compete with._

_Beginning with New York, she says, “I like the Americans more and
more, either they have improved wonderfully lately or else the
criticisms on them have been cruelly exaggerated. They are particularly
courteous and obliging; and seem, I think, amiably anxious that
foreigners should carry away a favorable impression of them. As for
me--I am determined not to be prejudiced, but to judge of them exactly
as I find them; and I shall most pertinaciously continue to praise
them (if I see no good cause to alter my present humble opinion). I
have witnessed but very few isolated cases, as yet, of the wonderful
habits so usually ascribed to them--the superior classes here have
almost always excellent manners, and a great deal of real and natural,
as well as acquired, refinement, and are often besides (which perhaps
will not be believed in fastidious England) extremely distinguishing
looking.”_

_It is written in the spirit of her day and is meant to be extremely
complimentary. It pleases me to note that I have already unconsciously
corroborated her remark that: “The Americans, I think, are a very
musically inclined people--far more naturally so, it strikes me, than
we Britishers.”_

_She tells of meeting Mr. Prescott in Boston. “Prescott is one of the
most agreeable people I have ever met with--as delightful as his own
most delightful books.--He tells me he has never visited either Mexico
or Peru. I am surprised that the interest in his own matchless works
did not impel him to go to both.”_

_I agree with her, it does indeed seem strange._

_But what really interests me is a sidetrack in which she launches
out in opinions about Russia. She writes: “There are but few Russian
visitors here in New York, it seems; but I am very much struck by
the apparent entente-cordiale that exists between Russia and the
United States. There seems an inexplicable instinct of sympathy, some
mysterious magnetism at work, which is drawing by degrees these two
mighty nations into closer contact. Napoleon, we know, prophesied
that the world, ere long, would be either Cossack or Republican.... I
cannot resist dwelling a little on this interesting subject: Russia is
certainly the grand representative of despotic principles, as the U.
S. are the representatives of democratic ones. How is it that these
antagonistic principles, embodied in these two mighty governments,
allow them to be so friendly and cordial towards one another?...
Russia and the U. S. are the two young giant nations of the world....
The Leviathans of the lands!... These two grand young nations are
strong to the race, and fresh to the glorious contest. Far off in the
future, centuries and ages beyond this present hour, is the culminating
point. What to other Nations may be work and labor, to them is but,
as it were, healthful relaxation, the exercising of their mammoth
limbs, the quickening of the mighty current of their buoyant and
bounding life-blood, the conscious enjoyment of their own inexhaustible
vitality. There is much similarity, in short, in the position of these
two vast powers.... She (Russia) has plenty of time, too, before
her--she can watch and she can wait....”_

_If Lady Emmeline had had an American mother, to help her to be just a
little less English and a little less class-conscious, she might have
evolved into quite an emancipated thinker!_

_I cannot help wishing that she, too, had kept a diary, instead of
compiling her book from letters “after adding somewhat, to give them
the usual narrative form,” as she says in the preface. Consequently
one loses many of the little details often illustrative or human that
only a daily diary can remember to record. Following her travels, I see
that at Vera Cruz she probably stayed in the same hotel, “In the great
Plaza, almost close to the fine old Cathedral.” In comparison with our
experience at Vera Cruz hers was not so very unlike. They “ran into a
Norther” which relieved them of the expected heat, but “in spite of
all our precautions in the night, our balcony-doors blew open, and my
little girl and I were almost blown away, beds and all.”_

_Her journey to Mexico City is by stage coach; “not far from this spot
is the beginning of a railroad, which, say the Americans, may perhaps
be finished in 500 years. It is intended to be carried on to Mexico.”
No doubt it would have taken 500 years, but that an English company
“butted in” and so I have been privileged less than 100 years later to
travel to Mexico on that railway. It can only be said, in comparison,
that her discomforts were more prolonged._

_Arrived in Mexico, we have a similar experience when visiting
Chapultepec Castle: “The commandant came forward and very courteously
asked if we would like to see the views from the flat roof of the
castle.... What a Paradise world we saw..., etc.” and we have both
seen the same thing, and thought the same thing, only in different
words. Lady Emmeline has a more fragrant style. She makes an effort, on
occasions, to describe scenes that surpass mere words: “But it is not,
after all, so much the scene itself, as the great and boundless story
the imagination ever lends it; for the soul once awakened, and stirred
and thrilled by the sight of that magnificent scenery, makes it ten
thousand fold more glorious....” There is much more of this._

_On her way to Puebla she describes how “we soon came in sight of
the wonderful and huge pyramid of Cholula, built by the Aztecs; it
is supposed as a Teocali. A temple to Quetzalcoatl formerly stood
on it, but now it is crowned by a Christian Chapel dedicated to the
Madonna.... With regard to this extraordinary pyramid, I think the
people who could be bold enough to become mountain-builders within
sight of those stupendous volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl and
so many other mighty mountains, deserve much praise for their almost
sublime audacity....”_

_These were exactly my sentiments and I must thank Lady Emmeline for
having spared me the writing of my own introduction. I curtsey to her
very charming ghost and my great regret is that our paths divide. I
cannot follow her to Peru, whither she goes from Mexico; and she cannot
accompany me to Los Angeles, nor shake with me the hand of Charlie
Chaplin._



MY AMERICAN DIARY


FEBRUARY 2, 1921. _The Biltmore, New York._

What a funny life! I do not know myself, nor what I have become, and
yet when I look in the glass I am the same.

I seem to be a machine--I have no soul; rapidly I am losing all mind.

From morning till night newspaper reporters ask me questions, I am
told I have to submit--if I were impatient or cross they would write
something nasty. So I am amiable! I go on talking the same stuff about
Lenin and Trotzky! How they would laugh if they could hear me!

I’ve been photographed in this room, over and over; by flashlight,
by electric light, by day-light. In day dress, in evening dress, in
Russian head dress, in work dress, with child, with roses, and so on!

I go out to lunch with a reporter in the taxi--and what luncheons:
hen luncheons in Fifth Avenue! Lovely women with bare white chests,
pearls, and tulle sleeves--never saw such clothes--and apparently
all for themselves. There is never a man. They even pay one another
compliments. I wonder if they can be contented. Today I lunched with
Rose Post, who is a great kind dear. I had a very pleasant woman on
my right, but on my left was a Mrs. Butler, whose husband is president
of Columbia University. She wouldn’t speak to me--she couldn’t bear
even to look at me. I expect she thought I was a Bolshevik. I went from
there to see Mrs. Otto Kahn. She received me among Botticelli’s and
tapestries. It was a beautiful room, and one had a feeling of repose.
Money can buy beautiful things, but it cannot buy atmosphere, and that
was of her own creating. It felt very restful; just for a while I was
in Italy...!

She dropped me at the VANITY FAIR Office, and I went up to the
fifteenth floor and saw Mr. Crowninshield and Mr. Condé Nast, editors
respectively of VANITY FAIR and VOGUE. I knew them in
London.

Mr. Heywood Broun, dramatic critic, was there. He seemed to have that
rather Latin humor, which is “moqueur.”

They were all very humorous, and there is a good deal to be humorous
about at this moment, where I am concerned!

“Crownie” was an angel; he and Mr. Nast decided to give a dinner for
me. A “fun” dinner, all of people who “do” things, what he called
“tight rope dancers” and “high divers”--not social swells! He offers
me a peace room to write in--a lawyer to protect me, and advances of
money! Truly I have good friends!

At six when I got back to the Biltmore, Colin Agnew, whose firm gave me
an exhibition in London last year, rushed in--he goes to England on the
Aquitania tomorrow; he says I may have the firm’s flat on East 55th St.
till April! What a godsend: a private place in which to lay my weary
head, and a home for Dick. How happy I shall be! Colin says the only
trouble is that the heating apparatus occasionally breaks down. This is
good news, for central heating is asphyxiating. If I open the windows I
freeze, and if I shut them I suffocate. Dick drinks ice water all day
and says he likes America!

At ten thirty P.M. I was called to the telephone by a man who said he
was Russian, and member of an art club, and asked if he might come and
fetch me there and then, to take me down to the club, as the members
would so appreciate me, and he thought I should be interested...! I
told him I wasn’t going off in a taxi at that hour with any strange man!


FEBRUARY 4, 1921.

I dined with the Rosens, and McEvoy was there, also Mr. Louis Wiley,
Manager of the New York TIMES. I left hurriedly so as to be at
the Aeolian Hall in plenty of time. The lecture was at 8:30. I found
Mr. Heywood Broun there. He had consented to introduce me and did so
by a most charming and flattering speech which, as I am a stranger,
I appreciated very much. An American audience is very quick and full
of humor. They are on the idea before one has had time to get to it
oneself.

I began by pointing out the difficulties of the situation. First of
all, I said, my severest critic is in the house, he has heard me speak
before, and he has insisted on being present tonight,--his years are
five, and if he goes to sleep, I shall know my lecture has been dull!
(Everyone looked towards Dick!)

When I told of my arrival in Moscow and that Mrs. Kameneff met us and
upbraided him--they never gave me a chance to finish my sentence. The
whole house laughed, and went on laughing, and they laughed all the
more at my discomfiture! When the laughter subsided I then finished, I
said that she upbraided him for having brought an artist half across
Europe, to do portraits at such a critical period, and Kameneff replied
that he simply did not agree with her.

Of course there was a large Radical element, and so I got a good
reception; they were sympathetic. I didn’t realize they were radicals
and interpreted it as sympathy from the good New Yorkers. Whatever
element it was they were tolerant and encouraging. When I began about
Trotzky I forgot my audience, and got carried away, I seemed to have
touched the magnetic cord to Moscow, straight to Trotzky! I described
this man of wit, fire and genius--I talked of him as a Napoleon of
peace! And then, suddenly remembering, I pulled myself together,
hesitated and said I wouldn’t say any more about Trotzky! There were
shouts of “go on!” This _must_ have come from the radical element--but
I was too wrought up and fevered to think politically.

When it was over, Dick joined me on the stage amid applause--people
came to the footlights, and I went down on my knees to talk to my
friends who came to the edge. Afterwards, on the way out, scores
of people of all kinds surrounded me. One, a woman with a tragic
and strong face, said, “Let me thank you for being so fair and
unprejudiced. I am a Communist, I have not yet served my sentence ...”
Her face was convulsed with emotion and traces of suffering ... there
are martyr fanatics.

The more I look back on what I’ve done, the more it frightens me. I
wonder how I ever skated on thin ice as I did.


FEBRUARY 5, 1921.

Moved into the flat. It is uncomfortable but I shall get it right. We
are three people and two beds, Dick has to sleep on the sofa in my
room. The telephone is cut off, and the heat does not seem to work,
but for these two latter items one is thankful!

Griffin Barry, who used to be the Russian correspondent of the
LONDON DAILY HERALD, came to fetch me, and took me I don’t
know where, to a studio belonging to Miss Bessie Beatty who has
written a book on the Russian Revolution. There were a lot of people
but I only knew Mr. and Mrs. Bullitt; he has been to Russia and she
is very beautiful. I met Mr. Kenneth Durant, who is left in charge
of the Soviet office in the absence of Martens. He has an extremely
interesting, rather faun-like head. We all sat around the room with
plates on our laps and were fed. It was primitive but an extremely good
idea, and one I shall adopt if ever I want to give a bigger party in my
studio than I have table space for.

A certain amount of politics was talked afterwards, in which I dared
not join. In conservative circles I dare not talk politics for fear of
being called Bolshevik. In Bolshevik circles I keep silent for fear
they discover how ignorant I am! Durant left early, and I had no chance
of talking with him. He has rather an enigmatic smile, and says very
little.


SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 1921.

Dick and I spent most of the day out at Yonkers with our cousin,
Travers Jerome, Jr., and his wife, Joy, who is very good looking. The
boy child is of the type that mine and Shane Leslie’s are, so I suppose
it’s the Jerome blood! My American family seem to be very nice. Mama
often wanted to talk about them, but we never would let her!

I dined with Maxine Elliot, and had on one side of me Mr. George
Creel, and on the other Mr. Swope. The latter is the editor of THE
WORLD, but I did not know it at first or I might not have said
some of the things I did. There is a type of American! What force,
what energy (“dynamic,” I said of him to someone. “No--cyclonic!” they
corrected)! I asked him, when I was able to get a word in edgeways, how
he manages to revitalize, he seemed to me to expend so much energy. He
said he got it back from me, from everyone, that what he gives out he
gets back, it is a sort of circle. He was so vibrant that I found my
heart thumping with excitement as though I had drunk champagne, which I
hadn’t! He talks a lot but talks well, is never dull....

In England one hesitates to accept to dine out unless one is very sure
who is going to be there. Here one can go at random, it may be strange,
it may be incomprehensible, but never is it dull! I wonder if it is
simply the novelty of the first weeks in America, or is it the interest
of continually exploring new people--?


MONDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1921. _13 East 55th Street._

Mr. Wiley sent his secretary and his car to convey me to the
TIMES office. There in the building we lunched, and I was the
only woman with seven men, all of them interesting. (An improvement on
Fifth Avenue with seven women!) Mr. Miller, Mr. Ochs, Mr. Ogden, and
so on, it was rather alarming, but they gave me orchids. I was asked a
good many questions about Russia, some of them economic, which I longed
to be able to answer, and cursed my mind for not working on those
lines. I was told that Russia had nothing to trade with, a limited
supply of gold; furs that were motheaten, grain that was rotten,
aluminium that was full of alloy. I could not dispute these assertions,
knowing nothing about it, but I had to laugh, it seemed to end the
argument! After lunch I was shown the machinery which is too marvelous
and complicated for words. I don’t see how a newspaper ever gets
printed in a day. Upstairs in the illustrating part, I caught sight of
myself on a copper plate. I had not expected this. They printed one
for me, and it came out all folded and still hot at the other end. Too
marvelous!

I dined at a big dinner given for me at the Coffee House Club by
Mr. Crowninshield and Mr. Condé Nast. I sat next to Paul Manship,
whose work I have known for some time. Mr. Bullitt and Mrs. Whitney,
the sculptor, sat opposite. Maxine Eliott was at my table, and Mr.
Harrison Rhodes, the writer, who has been described to me as “precieux”
but I like him. He is more European than anyone I have met. We were
four big tables full, and there were speeches after. Mr. Crowninshield
in an even quiet voice was very funny.

Lopokova, the exquisite little Russian dancer whom London adores, spoke
in Russian. She said she believed in Russia and believed in me! After
dinner they played charades. Mr. Crowninshield and I did Trotzky. It
was to be in three acts. First, I was to be a trotting horse, and he
driving me. Second, we were to ski, and fall down. Third, he was to
harangue the Red Army and I was to throw my arms round his neck and
passionately embrace him, but Maxine guessed it at the second act, so
Mr. Crowninshield was done out of his Trotzky kiss.


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1921.

Paul Manship called for me and took me to his studio which is near
Washington Square in a side alley that used to contain stables. The
moment one turned into that side alley one had left New York! He has
a beautiful studio and house, and his work is modern and archaic and
has a great sense of design. It interested me to discover how he gets
his surfaces and the feeling of the thing being carved; this is done
by working on the plaster. He is going to have an exhibition in London
at the Leicester Galleries in the spring. I shall be very interested
to know the result. I am sorry for the artist who goes from here to
London, instead of from London here.

I dined with Mr. Archer Huntington in the most lovely house. A real
man’s house, no knickknacks. There were some Goya’s that arrested one’s
attention.

We were a small party, or else the house was so big, and we all seemed
rather English and talked low and there was a calm that was unlike
New York. I found my host treated me rather like Lenin did, smilingly
and lightly, as if I were not very serious. But he takes me seriously
evidently, for he is arranging an exhibition for me at the Museum of
the American Numesmatic Society.


WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 1921.

I spent a quiet day, as it was my lecture afternoon. I suffer so
beforehand that I am almost exhausted.

My audience, it being the afternoon, was of a different type. There
were more women and fewer Radicals. They were less light in hand
and more serious. I find I take my mood from my audience, and the
psychology of an audience seems to vary. Mr. Edwin Markham, the poet
who wrote “The Man With the Hoe,” introduced me and sat by my side on
the stage during the lecture. He has a head rather like Longfellow.

Afterwards some of the audience came down to the reception room,
Lopokova who was there told me I had done well, and embraced me quite
emotionally. I was glad to get that opinion from her. People came and
asked me all kinds of questions and one, a formidable looking woman in
a leather coat, asked if I was in favor of the same methods prevailing
here as in Moscow. I was very indignant and said she had no right to
ask me such a direct political question, that it was unjustifiable. She
apologized and melted away. Travers Jerome and his mother then rescued
me and took me somewhere quickly to tea.

It is a curious thing how people without imagination can waylay one
both on one’s way in and on one’s way out from lecturing, trying to fix
some social engagement. On the way in one is absorbed by the thought
of what one is going to say. On the way out one is too weary to exert
one’s mind in such a direction.

Yet people are very kind. I don’t know if they love me or are
interested in Russia. I should think neither.

Mr. Liveright, my publisher, fetched me and took me to the Ritz
where we dined with Mr. Pulitzer, Mr. and Mrs. Swope, and Mr. B. M.
Baruch. Mr. Pulitzer looks much too young to be the owner of THE
WORLD and has the face of a well bred Englishman. Mr. Baruch
(whose name I mistook for Brooke) has white hair, fine features and
stands 6 ft. 4. I gathered from the general conversation that I was
talking to someone whom I should have heard of, and as I could think of
no distinguished Brooke but Rupert Brooke the poet, I asked if he was
related. And then Mr. Baruch rather reprovingly spelt his name for me.
Instantly by a faint glimmer of memory “Wall Street” came to my mind,
and I seemed to have heard in London that he was a friend of Winston.
He was interesting and unprejudiced. Most of these brilliant men are
unprejudiced about Russia when one talks to them individually. It is
the same in England.

They took me to the first night of the Midnight Frolic. This seemed
to be in a theatre that never stops. It was with some difficulty
disgorging the people who had just witnessed the evening performance
and struggling to let in the people who were arriving for the midnight
show. It was a strange place, a sort of dancing supper restaurant,
where a stage rolled out and the artists walked about and danced and
sang “familiar”-like among the people. I suppose it appeals awfully to
the mankind. Such an arrangement would be a huge success in London. The
actresses were pretty, well dressed, and show after show succeeded
one another in rapid procession, leaving one bewildered and almost
breathless. We stayed far into the night, but it was still going
strong when we went away. I wonder if that is where the busy American
business man goes when his day’s work is done. If so, he reminds me of
Tchicherin’s proposed secretary, who “works during the day, so he is
free at night ...”


THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1921.

Lunched with Mr. and Mrs. Whigham. He is the editor of TOWN AND
COUNTRY and is a Scotchman. It was one of the nicest parties I’ve
been to, absolutely after my own heart. I sat next to Jo Davidson, whom
I’d wanted to meet, Mrs. Whitney was there, and McEvoy and Mr. Harrison
Rhodes and Guardiabassé, the singer and painter. All were people who do
things.

Mr. Davidson astonished me. I had expected someone very American,
but he looks like a black-bearded Bolshevik, speaks French like a
Frenchman, and speaks it preferably, and has lived for years in Moscow.
He is just a typical international. He has a keen sense of humor,
cosmopolitan manners, and the American quick grasp of things. I found
myself talking to him as if we had known each other all our lives. He
said laughingly that he had read my diary in the TIMES and
had hated me from that moment. Hated me for having done this thing! He
said of course he would have done it if the chance had come his way,
but we agreed that it was a woman’s chance. Trotzky never would have
been good with anyone but me! We think we’ll go back there together,
hand in hand.

I went away with McEvoy, and on the way down in the lift he said, “What
a nice party that was, quite like England!” I agreed, and the half
suppressed giggle of the lift boy roused me to add for his benefit that
we meant it as a compliment. I wonder if the lift boy by any chance was
Irish!


FEBRUARY 11, 1921.

I had a CHRISTIAN HERALD reporter at eleven, and two
AMERICAN HEBREW reporters at twelve. They were all of them
intelligent. Then Hugo K. turned up in the middle of it all, and I just
abandoned the Hebrews. I took H. to lunch with Mr. Liveright and two
gentlemen of the film industry. I believe they wanted to see my face.
I do not believe it lends itself to filming and I am much too big, but
still it was interesting to meet them and one got a new point of view.

I dined with the Misses Cooper Hewitt, daughters of Abram Hewitt, once
Mayor of New York, quite a different atmosphere from any other in New
York. Real old world, and most of the people I met talked to me about
my family, remembered my grandfather and seemed to have loved my aunts.


FEBRUARY 12, 1921.

Finished my introduction for “Mayfair to Moscow” at one o’clock while
Mr. Liveright’s messenger waited in the hall for it.

At eight I dined with Mr. Wiley, and found my own photograph
framed between Lenin’s and Trotzky’s. A delicate compliment which
I appreciated and no one else noticed! The party consisted of the
Gerards, Col. and Mrs. House, the Walter Rosens, Arthur Pollen, the
English naval expert, and some others. Pollen held the table for some
time on the subject of disarmament and the attitude of England, and
was rather dogmatic. It was impossible to argue as he raised his voice
and seemed to resent controversy. I sat next to Mr. Gerard and felt he
was still the distinguished conspicuous U. S. Ambassador to Berlin of
1916--but he is like a war book--one has lost interest. He told us,
however, that Mr. Harding _had told_ him that he means to invite the
European premiers to Washington to confer on peace. Everyone seemed
agreed that it was a grand idea; everyone seemed agreed also that it
was madness to have so utterly destroyed the Central Powers. There was
a general “down” on France.

Mr. Pollen was right about the crumbling Europe and the necessity for
peace and agreement all round.

After dinner I had a little talk with Col. House whom I found very
sane-minded about Russia.

He agreed with me that I was right not to be drawn into political
arguments, as he said it would do no good, and I would be misunderstood.


FEBRUARY 13, 1921.

I lunched with “The Kingfisher” as we call Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt
in London! I was rather disappointed with her Fifth Avenue Palazzo,
it does not compare with the Otto Kahns and has not the atmosphere.
There was a beautiful Turner in one of the drawing rooms, and a gallery
full of Corots and Millets, but they were not very interesting or
decorative, or else there were too many of them. I sat next to my host
whose trim beard and uncommunicative, rather unsmiling countenance
reminded me of a Bolshevik type that I used to see at the Kremlin table
d’hôte. He only needed shabby clothes and his beard a little less trim.
It made me think how good looking some of the Bolsheviks would be if
they were millionaires.

After lunch when the women left the dining room some one hazarded a
remark to the effect that the big rooms were pleasant with nobody in
them. Our hostess said that was not an idea with which she was in
sympathy, that she thought a big house should be full of people and as
many enjoy it as possible, “whatever I have I want to share,” she said,
and then turning to me, “Please tell that to the Bolsheviks--” I asked
her why I should convey any such message,--she evidently mistook me
for a messenger of the gods. Then suddenly, conversation drifted onto
me and my plans. I was asked if when I returned I was going to live in
Ireland, hadn’t my father got a place there? I answered that I lived
where there was work, and, therefore, I might remain where I was, or go
to Russia. Mrs. Vanderbilt looked rather surprised, and asked whether
Russia paid better than any other country. That I did not know, but
certain it is that any country pays more than England! This subject of
payment seemed suddenly to excite her--, in a tremulously querulous
voice, whilst the other women sat silently, I stood up in front of the
fireplace and was cross-questioned, and nagged as to that payment. Who
had paid me? Had Lenin and Trotzky paid me? What did I call government
money? Whose money was it and where did it come from? I said I did not
know, indeed I felt a great longing to be able to explain as she seemed
so keen--but how could I tell where the money came from for which I had
to give a receipt to the “All Russian Central Executive Committee of
Soviets ...” for a cheque signed Litvinoff, (whose bust I had _not_
done) for payment through at Stockholm bank?

Mrs. Vanderbilt thought it was dreadful, and said that I upset her
very much. She said that Mr. Wilson’s government did not and could not
do things like that! It occurred to me that probably there is very
little similarity between the methods of Mr. Wilson’s government and
those of the Russian Soviet, but who can prove that the Wilson form of
government is right anyway?

Altogether it was rather unpleasant, and I left as soon as I could, and
wondering, as I walked home, why she had asked me to her house.

I fear I must have irritated her from the start, because when she asked
me to lunch there was no address on her card, and no telephone number
in the book; so when I answered I addressed it as best I could to:
Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, New York, adding a little message: “Please,
postman, deliver this somewhere in Fifth Avenue.”


  FEBRUARY 14, 1921.      _William Penn Hotel,
  Pittsburgh_

Ruth Djirloff, my secretary, waked me up by telephoning to me that it
was twenty of seven. I do dislike that Americanism “of” especially when
I am not awake and I have to make a special effort to remember if “of”
means before or after. Having roused myself to the realization that it
was twenty to seven, I waked Louise, who got some breakfast for me.
I did not wake Dick and was rather glad that his sleeping gave me an
excuse not to say goodbye to him. It is easier so. I have left them
all alone in the flat, just those two. If Louise died in the night how
would anybody know, and how would Dick get out or make anyone hear?
These are not things to think of. Providence will, I know, take care of
me to the end.

We drove to a railway station that was like an opera house and heated.
What civilization--! I should think the poor would come in there to
get out of the cold. Perhaps they’re not allowed; or perhaps like me,
they prefer air. We caught the 8:05 train to Pittsburgh. A ten hour
journey. The train was very comfortable and I slept most of the way
and ate nothing, being thankful for the rest from food. I read most of
“Men and Steel” by Mary Heaton Vorse, published by my publisher. It is
very powerful, and conveys its force through its great simplicity and
crispness of style. It impressed me tremendously but I wished I had not
read it as it forms my judgment for me before I even arrive.

These are some of the facts: “72% of all steel workers are below the
level set by government experts as minimum of comfort level set for
families of five,” which means that three-quarters of the steel workers
cannot earn enough for an American standard of living. “In 1919 the
undivided surplus was $493,048,201.93, or $13,000,000 more than the
total wage and salary expenditures” of the U. S. Steel Corporation.
I cannot take in economics; if I discussed this with a capitalist I
should have refuting statistics thrown at my head and I wouldn’t take
it in. But I wonder why it is, that, crudely and ignorantly, I always
feel the workers’ point of view, rather than the employers.

At 6:50, on my arrival, I was received by Mr. and Mrs. Robinson and
their son, who are managers in the firm of Heinz Pickles, 57 varieties!
Emil Fuchs, who is doing a Heinz memorial, told them I was coming.
They had a car and drove me to the William Penn Hotel. I refused
their invitation to dinner as I felt rather tired. After dinner some
reporters came to see me in my room. Oh, I am so weary of the same
questions about Lenin and Trotzky! I wish I dared tell them what I
really think.


FEBRUARY 15, 1921.

Mrs. Robinson fetched me at ten A.M. and took me first for a drive
in the town and then to the Heinz factory. The town is built at the
junction of two rivers, so it can only spread up and not out. The sun
was struggling to break through the mist of grime caused by the factory
smokes. Mrs. Robinson apologized for the lack of beauty of the town.
She was wrong, it was terribly beautiful. Everything looked like a
Whistler picture, but of course there is no color, no nature, and one
longs for these things after a time.

When we drove to the Heinz factory we went in first to the
Administration Building; the hall of which is lined with marble, has
marble columns, a fountain in the middle, marble busts on pedestals all
around, and a frieze by an English artist, representing the various
Heinz processes. Mr. Robinson came and appointed a guide to show us all
over. It is the first factory I have ever seen that was interesting. It
really is wonderful to see the flat piece of tin go into the machine,
become round and soldered, move along to have its bottom put on, and
without stopping, go careering along overhead and down to the next
floor to be mechanically filled with baked beans, and have its lid put
on. From the moment the flat piece of tin gets into the machine to the
moment when it is sealed up full is four and a quarter minutes. The tin
manufacturing room was delightful, little bright, glistening, shining
tins, ran, rolled and leapt, as it seemed, overhead and all round,
dancing fairy-like to the music and hum of the machinery. The space
over one’s head was full of them, impelled in different directions at
different speeds on different levels, on little iron ways. The process
itself interested me, but when I had grasped the process, I just
stood in the middle of the hall and gave way to the impression of the
whole, and it had the effect of making me laugh outright, it was so
ridiculously joyous.

Mr. Robinson’s son, who is foreman in one of the departments, led me to
a window and pointed out a little one-storied house in which Trotzky
had lived and had a newspaper plant. Trotzky must have been a long time
over here to have inhabited all the houses that claim him!

It was now twenty of one o’clock A.M. I have just returned from a
marvelous evening at the Chalfont Steel Pipe works. I dined with
Miss Chalfont. She had asked me whether I’d like a big party or not.
I said I’d like to go to see the works, so she arranged that no one
should dress for dinner and we went, a party of seven, first to
the “residence” where the welfare workers live--a very nice house
indeed--(there were three reproductions of Gainsborough and Reynold’s
pictures of the “Beautiful Mrs. Sheridan”). Then to the cinema which is
for the workers, and then to see the mill.

I have come away with a feeling of bewilderment ... the noise, the
power, the heat, men who did not seem to count worked machinery that
seemed human.

It was terrible when a lever opened the furnace door and a giant red
hot tube like a gun barrel was gently but firmly impelled along by
iron fingers and pushed into the fire mouth upon which a door closed.
It was relentless--like the hand of Destiny. When the cylinder came out
at the other end and passed through a fountain of cold water, the cold
on the heat produced explosive noises like great guns in a battle and
we had to dodge the shower of sparks.

Strange looking men were the workers, mostly Slovaks, and Italians. The
Chalfonts are rather proud of the good feeling that exists between them
and their workers. I saw no faces of disaffection, but I minded being
looked upon by them as a curious idler--did they but know ...!


FEBRUARY 16, 1921. _Pittsburgh_.

Went to the Carnegie Museum where the curator, Mr. Douglas Stuart,
took me a quick rush through. It was terribly American of me to make
such a hustling tour, but un-American of me not to be more thorough.
Truth to tell, I had an appointment for three-fifteen with the Women’s
Press Club, where I was to be the guest of honor. The museum was very
interesting and I longed to stay longer. Chiefly I noticed a marble
vase carved with figures, by Barnard. This is the sculptor who did the
Lincoln there was so much controversy about in England. There were some
fine pictures. A Whistler (The Man with the Violin), an Orpen which
took a gold medal! The Duchess of Rutland, by Blanche, à propos of
which Mr. Stuart was rather amusing: He had been away on vacation and
knew nothing of the Society’s purchase of pictures abroad; imagine his
bewilderment when he received a cable, “Duchess of Rutland completely
covered--Lloyds.” I saw some magnificent casts of French cathedral
fronts, in the architecture room, but I _had_ to leave and go to my
Women’s Press Club. It was a terrifying moment when I walked into
McCreery’s restaurant and found what seemed to me to be about forty
women sitting in a solemn circle. I was introduced all round, and then
told that “a few words” were expected of me.

For nearly two hours after that I was questioned, and I answered to
the best of my ability. Sometimes the questions interested me,--almost
always they were intelligent.

I dined with Mr. Robinson who took me to see the Heinz glass factory
afterwards.


THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1921. _Pittsburgh._

Mr. Robinson fetched me at 1:30 and, with the foreman manager of
the Carnegie Steel Works, we drove out to Duquesne. It took about
three-quarters of an hour to get there--this district seemed to be even
more business-like, and to contain far more blast furnace towers even
than Pittsburgh.

For nearly three hours we went over these mills. Our cicerone was
intelligent and interesting, but I vainly tried to follow the
processes. I have carried away a nebulous idea.

First we saw the furnace where the iron soil is poured in and becomes
molten. It runs out in a great channel of liquid fire which pours
itself into an iron tank. The clinker, which is lighter and remains on
the surface, is stopped by a sieve and diverted into another channel;
thus the two separate. There are seven miles of cold clinker where it
has been thrown out, great banks of it on which a track line has been
built. While we were there the aperture of the furnace got choked up
so the stream of fire had stopped. We watched the men with huge long
pokers that required three men to move, trying to open up the aperture.
After a few minutes the poker that came out was so short that one man
could handle it. This happened several times. There were magnificent
Czecho-Slovaks and a colored man working together on this. Their
clinging, soaking shirts revealed their young, strong, conditioned
bodies. The sweat poured from them. They worked rhythmically and almost
leisurely, as though this thing went on forever and therefore there was
no hurry. They were like dramatic pantomime actors, they never spoke.
The sound of the hissing, spitting, shrieking furnace drowned all human
efforts of sound. Seldom had a furnace mouth remained choked as long
as this one. I wondered why we waited so long for nothing to happen,
but our guide, who knew what we were waiting for, did not attempt to
draw us away. Meanwhile the men probed with their iron instruments,
all in vain. To me it seemed like some gigantic creature shrieking
and protesting that something was wrong. Suddenly, as we stood there,
a great roar and hissing and vomiting, and the flow of orange liquid
fire burst forth with a great rush. As the stream proceeded along its
course fire-work stars rose up and danced in the air above it, stars
that burst, fairy-like, and illusive, and almost insolently flippant.
At night it must be very spectacular. But I had been refused admittance
at night, and even as a day visitor I was told I was the first woman
admitted in ten years----!

We proceeded to follow the liquid through its other processes--though
not all, for at the end of three hours we were not through. But my
head was swimming with sounds and sights, it was as though one had
spent half a day in Dante’s Inferno. Moreover my legs were as weary as
my head, and though I had meant to be back at five, it was six when I
walked through the William Penn Hotel! The attention I seemed to draw
made me wonder whether in those few hours fame had overtaken me in the
press, but when I reached my room and saw my black face in the glass, I
understood the stir I had created in the elevator!

The press resolutely seemed to have a parti-pris against me. In spite
of all my efforts to be agreeable and interesting to the reporters who
came to interview me, nothing of sufficient importance ever appeared
to attract the faintest notice of my existence or my lecture. Either
it was an anti-British feeling, or more likely, that industrial
capitalistic Pittsburgh had not the faintest desire to hear anything
whatever about Lenin or Trotzky that was not vituperative.

With great weariness, and great discouragement and some fear of my
audience, in fact in totally the wrong frame of mind I was driven in
the Robinson’s car, and escorted by the father and son to the Carnegie
Institute at eight o’clock.

The charming Professor of History, James, of Pittsburgh University,
introduced me to a half empty, cold and unresponsive hall!

I prefaced my lecture by asking my audience to allow me, for my own
satisfaction, to express a few words of appreciation of Pittsburgh
before I began my narrative of Moscow. I said:

“I have only been in this country two weeks, but I have had a wonderful
time. As for Pittsburgh, I have only been here three days, but I have
been so hospitably received that I have crammed a great deal into that
space.

“I have seen things in Pittsburgh that the usual Pittsburgher takes
for granted and does not see the beauty of. I have seen a town by day
and by night that looked like a Whistler picture. I have heard in the
night sounds like the sea breaking on the shore, and this was the sound
of never ceasing machinery. I have seen the furnaces and the red hot
steel; I have seen machines with hands and fingers that seemed to have
the reasoning power of humans.

“I worship force as an element, force and energy in humans, force and
power in machinery. You will think me emotional and stupid if I tell
you that I came away from the deafening sound of the steel mill, with
the same feeling I have after listening to Cathedral music. Have you
ever, when you have seen something very beautiful, felt that it was
almost too beautiful to take in? There are moments of happiness too,
when one feels not big enough to contain them.

“The Pittsburgh mills are like Bolshevism, something so tremendous that
my mind cannot grasp it. And this leads me back to my subject: after
all, you have come here not to hear my impressions of Pittsburgh, but
to form your own impressions of Moscow....”

I then proceeded to tell a cold small audience, in halting tones,
forgetting much by the way--the story of my trip to Moscow. And
because it was like talking to a reserved unresponsive person, I felt
paralyzed--I wanted to stop, I stumbled over my sentences and had
lapses of memory! There was no life in my lecture. Moreover, I was
tired, and my head was full of the sound of blast furnaces.... It was
an awful ordeal and I was glad when it was over.

With Ruth Djirloff, I caught the train, Mr. Robinson seeing us off at
the station. He has been so kind.

The train was awful. At last I have something to complain of! How the
luxurious, pampered American can stand his night travelling car is
a wonderment to me. Here at last is something they might copy from
Europe. In England, France, and Italy, it is far more comfortable. My
night is indescribable. The bed behind a curtain is all one gets, not
a square foot of privacy to stand up and undress in. I had to struggle
out of my clothes as I sat or lay on my bed. Then, whenever anyone
passed down the car (and they did pass), they brushed my curtains
which parted enough (in spite of being buttoned), to let in a streak
of electric light that waked me. Moreover, people passed down the car
whistling, and at an early hour in the morning, when the stars were
still in the heavens, passengers who were about to alight at the next
stop got together and talked loudly, ... not a wink of sleep could I
get while two men discussed business matters. Weary as I was, sleep
could not combat the conditions.


FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1921. _New York._

A weary wreck, I arrived at midday at New York, and to my surprise
and joy, Hugo Koehler had brought Dick to meet me at the station. I
then went up to the Numesmatic Society, where I found my exhibition
all arranged, and ready to open at two o’clock. Some press people were
already there.

Very little re-arranging had to be done. The “Numesmatic” staff must
have worked like super-men. Mr. Bertelli, the bronze founder, had
retouched the pattines and done wonders. I was delighted.

It is very thrilling to see one’s own exhibition--


SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1921.

Hugo and I went to lunch with Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney at her studio.
I sat next to Mr. Bob Chanler, whom I hadn’t met before. He has the
head of a great French savant, and a voice like the roar of a bull. He
was once married to Cavalieri! On my other side, Mr. Childe Hassam,
the painter; opposite Mr. ---- and Jo Davidson. There were lots of
people I didn’t know, and among them I met a Sheridan cousin called
Pittman. Good looking and nice, I was glad to claim him. Paul Manship
came in afterwards, he and I and Davidson and Bob Chanler, unable to
bear the noise or the absence of air, at the end of lunch went upstairs
to the studio and danced to the gramaphone. Mr. Chanler, rather mad,
and attractive accordingly, kissed me in a moment of expansion! That is
very American. They may kiss in public,----!

After lunch Ruth Draper did some imitations. It is pure genius.

It was difficult to drag oneself away from such an attractive party.
I like Mrs. Whitney and her breakaway from the conventions. She seems
to achieve the real Bohemian spirit. I remember John Noble telling me
about her years ago--she is the fairy godmother of struggling artists.

Jo Davidson and Paul Manship came down to my exhibition in Hugo’s car.
It was nice of them to come, sculptors are not as nice to each other in
England as those here have been to me. There seems to be a different
spirit here. I had a hectic time, wanting to talk to all my friends who
turned up.

I came home in time to dress and Jo Davidson called for me and took
me to the Manhattan Opera House. We had not time to dine. It was the
first time I had been to the opera since Moscow. The house was a full
one and very enthusiastic. The stalls seemed to consist mostly of alien
music-lovers, and for the most part not evening dressed. It was very
democratic and harmonious. I liked it.

Afterwards, Hugo fetched us and we went to Guardiabassé’s flat for
supper. He made the macaroni himself and I helped him. He sings and he
paints, and he seems to be a useful person to have about the house!

We were a noisy crew, and there were repeated requests from below that
we should make less noise! Which seemed to me curious for a studio
flat. An American party is always noisy. I can’t make out why one
should be unable to hear oneself speak. I think it is that they talk
in a key higher than we do. They have a great sense of camaraderie,
and when they get together to have a “good time” it is bewildering. I
wonder what they think of us? I should think they find us deadly.


SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1921. _New York._

It suddenly started to snow last night and this morning it was inches
deep. Dick was delighted. Hugo Koehler took us to lunch at the St.
Regis opposite, and on our way back Dick stopped to dig with an old
woman who was shovelling away the snow from in front of her house. I
watched them for a few minutes, and the old woman said to Dick, “My!
You’ll be a help to your Daddy some day.” Dick, in a perfectly matter
of fact voice said, “I haven’t got a daddy, he’s killed.” “O-h--,” said
the woman, “in that terrible war I suppose?” “Yes,” Dick answered, “in
that war--and we haven’t won anything by it either....” It sounded
uncanny in the mouth of a five-year-old. Finally I left him there
shovelling and his face was gloriously pink. Louise could survey him
from the window, and Hugo and I got down to the “Numesmatic” on the
subway. It was the first time I had travelled on it, and I was amused
to see that the “Do not Spit,” order was written in three languages.
One of course being Italian, and the other Yiddish!

To-night I have had my first evening at home. I resolutely refused to
go to the supper party I had accepted at Mrs. W.‘s. Hugo wanted me to
go, but I would not. I made him keep his dinner engagement and I dined
with Louise. We each had an egg and a cup of coffee. It was heaven, and
I went to bed early.


MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 1921.

Griffin Barry fetched me and took me to lunch in Washington Place at a
strange below-ground place where we had excellent Italian food. There
was Mary Heaton Vorse, author of “Men and Steel,” and Kenneth Durant.

I discussed “Men and Steel” and Pittsburgh with Mary Heaton Vorse, she
had seen the beauty and the grandeur of the mills as I had. I said that
I thought the basis of the labor trouble here was that Labor is alien
and can be not only exploited, but any attempt of alien Labor to rebel
is not tolerated. When I asked in Pittsburgh whether Labor had gained
anything by its Steel Strike in 1919, I was told emphatically “No”--to
which I replied that the English working man gains something every time
he strikes! The argument I was given was this: “They haven’t got to
work in the mills if they don’t want to----.” “No,” I said, “But can
you do without them?” “No----.”

Mary Vorse says, however, that I am wrong about its being alien Labor
that is exploited. She says that the American farmer in the west is not
treated any better.

They all admitted, however, that no such poverty or bad living
conditions existed in Pittsburgh, for example, as in London, Hull, New
Castle, etc. The English slums are probably the most tragic in the
world.

After lunch I went with Barry and Durant to his office. The feeling was
at once Moscow! I know so well the type of clerk in those offices. I
met all the staff, and saw some proofs which are publications in the
next number of the Magazine, SOVIET RUSSIA.

It is interesting that an old Philadelphia family belonging to
Rittenhouse Square should produce Kenneth: an ascetic Bolshevik with
an archaic face. A face that belongs to the woods, and a soul that
belongs to the world’s workers. It is not always working people and
worker’s conditions that produce revolutionaries and world reformers.
Reaction produces them. The intellectual free-thinker and free-observer
is driven out of his own sphere in spite of himself--human sympathy, a
sense of justice, added to a revulsion against the narrow prejudice,
the intense dullness of a social bourgeois class.

A society that’s purely social and not intellectual is dull all the
world over. In some countries its monotony is varied by its vice.
In this country it is less vicious (apparently) and more dull, less
intellectual, and more overwhelmingly conventional. No one with
imagination or spirit could help reacting from it. Kenneth and I are
reactionaries!

From a purposeless and equally conventional world, I went unexpectedly
to Russia. There I opened my eyes wide to a new, struggling, striving
humanity. Whatever I understood of it--and I admit I did not understand
much--it was obvious that this new world was pursuing an IDEA.
Right or wrong they were living selflessly, and were prepared for
every sacrifice. I never had known people before who would sacrifice
something for an ideal. I might have met them, without going to Russia,
but they didn’t exist in the circle by which I was hemmed in. In Russia
I became conscious that a great mass of oppressed people had risen to
struggle for light. I was impressed. I was appreciative, and after
awhile I was inspired. It was afterwards, when I came out of Russia
that my own world roused in me a reaction of rebellion. The intense
stupidity as well as the narrow-mindedness of my own class did their
work on me.

As for America! Since I landed I have been metaphorically slapped
and kissed alternately, until I’m so bewildered I have almost lost
judgment. Yet I claim nothing for myself but the right, as a citizen of
the world to be free, to think as I like, and to speak as I think. I
have the right that the man in the street has, to an opinion. Like the
man in the street, there is no reason why my opinion should carry more
weight or be treated with more consideration. But I claim the right to
be as sincere as that man.

Kenneth Durant, having finished the work he went to his office to do,
took me to tea with the Pinchots. Mr. Pinchot is a brother of Nettie
Johnstone,[1] and is supposed to be rather radical. I should have
said “poseur,” not radical. These people who have so much to lose (he
is reported rich) are not very seriously radical. There were some
reactionary women there and some undefinable men, so we all three sat
rather silent until at last in walked a large breezy person! It was
Charles Irvine, Editor of the Socialist paper, THE CALL. He
came and sat next to me, and was a great relief.

We talked a little of England and mutual friends. I told him my
difficulties about lecturing to capitalistic United States on a subject
as distasteful to them as Lenin and Trotzky! I told him about my empty
hall at Pittsburgh. He exclaimed that had he known me before I went
to Pittsburgh he would have filled my hall for me. If one kind of
people doesn’t want to hear you, get those that will.... He promises I
shall never have an empty hall again. On the way home in the bus were
two girls. One was discussing with the other her wedding dress; they
were diverted from their frivolous talk by headlines in an evening
paper of the person in front, “Soviet troops massing on the Georgian
frontier.” And one said, “I wonder what Soviet troops means--I know
what Bolsheviki means, but Soviet, what is that? I wish I could get
some one to explain.” The other said, “I don’t know what Soviet means,
but the Bolsheviks were named after a general called Bolsheviki.” “Yes,
of course,” said the other, “That was it, General Bolsheviki” ... and
they dismissed it and resumed their wedding dress talk. I suppose that
is pretty illustrative of general information concerning the Russian
subject....


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1921.

A long letter from the Crown Prince of Sweden, the first I have
received since I got back from Russia. The first four pages are full
of reproach for having published the fact that I saw him when I passed
through Stockholm with Kameneff. He says that it is embarrassing for
him to be mentioned even indirectly in connection with “those people”
with whom I was travelling.

This means, I suppose, that his relations have abused him soundly for
even knowing me! He is wrong to think I could do him any harm; on the
contrary, his broad-mindedness could only win over radicals, and not
harm him with conservatives.

I expect the “early Christians”[2] were terribly scandalized, and have
been writing and telling him what they thought of it.

After lunching with Emil Fuchs, who is doing a wonderful head of Mr.
Cartier, the jeweler, looking like Rameses ... I took Dick up to the
Numismatic museum with his sledge, and he toboganned outside. Two
hundred people came to my exhibition to-day. It is very amusing, all
kinds of cranks introduce themselves to me ... some to say they are
Bolsheviks, or Communists, and they hand me literature which gives me
news of Moscow! Others who tell me how they hate the Bolsheviks, or the
Sinn Feiners, or the Knights of Columbus, and so on.

I am always amused by people who want to kill off all Bolsheviks,
all Sinn Feiners, all Germans and all Jews.... It would make for a
wonderfully emptier world. Perhaps it would be more peaceful! Anyway,
it is very emblematic of the Christian spirit of to-day!

Rather an amusing record has been kept for me of some of the remarks,
made by people who come, concerning the Russian busts:

“How ugly.”

“How wicked they look.”

“What noble looking men.”

“Lenin is my hero, I love him.”

“Zinoviev looks like a musician.”

“This is Russian propaganda----”

“This is the most perfect anti-Bolshevik propaganda,----”

“These are fine advertisements for the Bolsheviks--I’m one.”

“Lenin is not for sale, she made him to decorate her London studio.”

“I believe they look worse than she made them.”

“How did she ever escape alive from such awful looking men?”

“We have seen some of the men. These busts look just like them.”

“That’s fine of Trotzky!”

“They don’t look like bomb-throwers.”

“Lenin has a benevolent expression----”

“Trotzky looks like the devil.”

“Lenin is positively awful to look at.”

“Who is Mrs. Sheridan? The name seems familiar.”

“Is she a Russian?”

“Is she Jewess?”

“She is a wonder----”

“How tall is she?”

“Is she pretty?”

“She is a Bolshevik.”

“Is she a Bolshevik?”

“I bet she hates the Russians, she made them so ugly.”

“Did she study with Rodin?”

“Is she light or dark?”

“_That_ can’t be HER!”

“Is she from Chicago?”

“I’m glad she’s English.”

“I’m proud she has American blood in her veins.”

“So glad a woman, and not a man, did this wonderful work.”

“That’s Winston Churchill----What a contrast to the Russians.”

“That is what I call a good face.”

“He is the author of ‘Inside the Cup.’”

“Lady Randolph Churchill is his wife.”

“Shane Leslie is Irish.”

“He is the great English actor.”

“He is the man who was stood up and shot.”

“He looks sad because he is thinking of poor Ireland.”

“Who is Mademoiselle X?”

“Is she a nun?”

“Is her face china?”

“Is her face wax?”

“How did she get the face inside the bronze?”

“It is beautiful.”

“It is horrid.”

“She was a Russian spy.”

“She was a French war nurse.”

“I have read the book about her.”

“There was a play about her, I saw it.”

“She is Mrs. Sheridan’s sister.”

“‘John’ is Mrs. Sheridan’s baby. She sat up and modelled it in bed.”

“He is Shane Leslies’ baby.”

“It is a Russian baby.”

“That is Asquith. It was through his influence that Mrs. Sheridan got
in and out of Russia with safety.”

“Where is the Exhibition?” (Question asked by a lady after looking at
the things for half an hour.)

“I suppose she sold the mask for less because it was broken--I mean
that its head is not all there.”

“They all have souls--that are almost living.”

“This Hall looks like a funeral parlor.”

“If I had the money I would buy them all, so they could not be taken
out of America.”

“I do work just like that.”

“It’s simply wonderful.”

“A High-school girl can do it.”


WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1921.

I lunched with Travers Jerome, Senior, it was the first time I had
met him. He talks well and every now and then he says things so like
Winston, and in the sort of way Winston says them, that I realize the
strength of the Jerome blood in us.

He told me a little about my family; there is, he says, a red-haired,
freckled strain that is very strong, and a black-haired strain that
was more delicate----. Winston is, of course, the red-haired strain,
and it has come out with great force in his children. Hugh’s[3] child,
too, has the red hair and freckles. Travers, referring to Shane
Leslie, said he did not recognize the Jerome in him. “We were never
dreamers----,” he said, “always practical and forceful.” He told me
rather a sweet story about Henry James, whom he apparently took down
to the East Side to show him around. To meet him, he invited Meyer
Shonfield, a Jewish sweatshop operator. He thought Meyer was the most
opposite pole to Henry, and that it would be interesting. To Meyer, he
said, “Study this man Henry James, he is a de-nationalized American,
and I want your opinion of him.” Henry, he says, was at his best that
night; he, so to speak, threw off his veil, and was, what so seldom
happened, the simple unmasked Henry. Afterwards, when they had parted,
Meyer turned to Travers, and with a glow of enthusiasm, said, “He’s a
real man! ain’t he----?” Surely as high a tribute as our beloved Henry
ever received.

Meanwhile I feel I am just beginning to get my bearings and to
understand the psychology of New York!

I am worn out going from one place to another that I am asked to, and
the odd spare moments are spent in writing little social notes of
refusal, or answering the telephone. It seems a terrible waste of time.
America has a genius for entertaining, but I came here for work, not
for food. At parties there are so many people, and they all talk so
loud that one cannot hear one’s neighbor speak. One comes out as one
went in, a stranger, knowing no names, and remembering few faces, and
having eaten too richly.

Everyone looks rather alike, the women have a curious expression of
amiability that makes it almost impossible for the submerged stranger
to remember any one as anything special. The face of the average
American woman has a curious serenity, the mother of a son of 18 may
look as if she were the mother of a son of 8--I suppose they live more
sheltered lives, and do not show the marks of battle as other women do.
I must say the American man is extremely good to them.

Any man in the world can be chivalrous towards the woman he is in love
with, but the American man is chivalrous to the woman he isn’t in love
with; and the woman takes it for granted!

At seven o’clock I dined at my first public dinner. It was the Society
of the Genesee at the Commodore Hotel, and I was the guest of Mr. Louis
Wiley. I had Judge Parker on one side of me, McEvoy was at our table
and Emil Fuchs, and Guardiabassé, otherwise no one I knew. It was a
huge affair.

To my amazement they began with a long grace! The Puritanism that still
survives in these people is remarkable.

All during dinner there were speeches. Admiral Huse discussed
armament, which he is in favor of. Of course, soldiers and sailors
are for armaments, otherwise where would they be? But armaments don’t
interest me much. I can’t see that it matters if the United States
wants to waste money in that way. She’s got plenty to spend. But what
is the armament for? The United States got on without it before, when
there was a strong England and a strong Germany. Now that Europe is “in
extremis” why suddenly is the United States on the defensive? Anyway,
none of the speeches were anti-British to my surprise, as I am looking
for that anti-British wave, and haven’t found it yet.

One speaker surprised me by telling a long submarine war story. We have
so completely finished with war stories in Europe, it was funny to find
it still going on here.

After dinner my neighbor on the left insisted on taking me to dance
at a restaurant called “Montmartre.” He assured me it was quite
respectable and that I should “have the time of my life.” I didn’t care
about the respectability, but it wasn’t amusing. A room thick with
smoke and filled with supper tables, and only the space of a plate to
dance in! A terrible crowd, and dancing a perfect impossibility.


FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1921.

Dick took me out to lunch. He insisted I should go alone with him.
He knew exactly where to take me. We crossed Fifth Avenue and went
along West 55th Street and down some steps to a restaurant called the
“Mayflower,” where he seemed to be known there. Dick ordered the food,
talked familiarly to the waitress and produced two dollars to pay the
bill. He then took me to a toy shop in Fifth Avenue; he knew the way
there, too, and I had to pay five dollars for a submarine----!

I dined with Mr. and Mrs. Barmby, who took me to Carnegie Hall to hear
Sir Philip Gibbs’ lecture on the Irish question. It was a subject that
seemed to demand great courage to tackle, and, of course, it asked
for trouble. Outside on the side walk, women went back and forth with
placards full of insults about England. It roused all my fighting
instincts. I said to one of them aggressively, “I’m proud I’m English!”
and she put her tongue out at me. Why was I proud to be English? I
never feel very English ordinarily, but these people affected me this
way.

The hall was packed. Gibbs prefaced his lecture by hoping it was going
to be a pleasant and a friendly meeting, which made the audience laugh.
It certainly remained friendly longer than I had expected, but when the
interruptions came they were ridiculously feeble and ill-organized. A
bunch of women in the dress circle, screamed in high-pitched voices
and waved the United States and the Sinn Fein flags. One man in the
gallery had to be evicted, amid applause of the house.

Sir Philip never was flustered, never did I see anyone so calm and so
self-possessed. Finally he told them they were very silly people, and
not patriots. He said they were not Irish, but he believed they were
Bolsheviks! (Applause from the house.) When the gallery got too noisy
and he had to stop, there was a dramatic moment when a tall, good
looking priest suddenly appeared upon the platform, shook hands with
Gibbs and then waited for a lull. He then announced himself as “Father
Duffy” (wild applause). Of course I, in my ignorance knew nothing of
Father Duffy, and learnt later he was chaplain of the 69th Regiment,
and went with them to France and distinguished himself on the field of
battle. He said that he was a Sinn-Feiner, but that he asked fair play
for Sir Philip Gibbs, whom he thought was a fair man, and he wanted to
hear what he had to say. Some other time, he said, “we will fill a hall
for ourselves and discuss our own subject, but to-day let us hear what
Sir Philip has to say.”

He did much towards restoring order. I liked his personality, he had
courage and dignity. Sir Philip certainly did speak fair, he was
fair to both sides. He did the almost impossible: he was sympathetic
about Ireland, yet loyal to England. Moreover, he remained calm,
patient, and unruffled throughout the interruptions. In the end he
advocated Dominion Home Rule for Ireland, which enraged the agitators.
He said they never would be a Republic, and the house applauded
enthusiastically, and on every occasion displayed strong pro-British
sympathy. I was amazed. Again I was looking for this anti-British
wave I hear so much about. Outside, afterwards, the Irish agitators
did everything in their power to start a riot. The police were very
good-humored and very competent. It must be pleasanter at this moment
to be an Irish policeman in New York than in Ireland!


TUESDAY, MARCH 1, 1921.

Mr. Liveright took me to lunch at the Dutch Treat Club. I knew nothing
about it, nor by whom I was invited--and when we got up to the room in
the elevator (we were late), it appeared that I was the only woman,
among what seemed to me about seventy men. Had it been seventy women
instead of men, I should have gone down in the elevator by which I came
up. But I can stand this sort of party every day in the week! They were
all very polite and the whole room rose to its feet as I came in.

I sat next to the president. Mr. Pollen was on his other side. I had
on my left Mr. Cosgrave, the Sunday Editor of THE WORLD. The
party, which sat at small tables, were editors, writers, cartoonists,
etc. I was called upon to make a speech which was unexpected,
paralysing and unfair. I spoke for about fifteen minutes. I don’t know
what I said, the thing was to say something, anything----. They were
wonderfully nice and sympathetic----.

Mr. Pollen spoke after me. He was amiable about America, and all went
off well!

Mr. Liveright told me afterwards that he admired my self-composure.
Thank heavens if I can appear so, and not betray the interior terror
that possesses me at the thought of public speaking!


FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 1921. (_Harding’s Inauguration._)

Mr. Galatly and Childe Hassam fetched me and motored me out to George
Gray Barnard’s studio. It is situated high up above the Hudson River.
I was keen to meet him because Epstein had talked to me so much and
so enthusiastically about him. As Epstein never has a good word for a
fellow sculptor his eulogy of Barnard made a great impression on me. It
was Epstein who showed me photographs of the Barnard Lincoln and the
St. Gaudens Lincoln at the time of the great controversy. I had not a
moment’s hesitation in my own mind as to which was the finer work of
art. But some one decided on the St. Gaudens for Westminster. A people
who could accept Sir George Frampton’s memorial to Nurse Cavell could
hardly be expected to select the greater of the two Lincolns!

The morning was bright, cold, and sunny. We knocked at the door of a
big building by the roadside, and Barnard himself came to the door.
Middle-aged, clean-shaven, with a mass of upstanding, gray hair, he
blinked at us in the sunlight (he has a slight cast in one eye), and
asked if I would like to see the cloister before I saw the studio.
It was too cold, he said, for him to come with us, but we would find
someone there to show us over. As we walked up the road towards a pile
of masonry with some ruins and some columns outside it, I asked about
the cloister. It was explained to me that this was built of stones and
fragments from France, Italy and Spain, which Barnard had collected. He
had designed the cloister, and built some of it with his own hands. It
represented, so they said, the soul of Barnard, and there some day he
would be buried.

In this case it seemed quite sensible that I should see the cloister
first and the builder afterwards, if the one explained the other.

We went to a door and rang an old bell, even outside in the porch there
was a smell of incense. An old man opened for us. He wore a black,
worn robe, a rope around his waist, and a skull cap. He looked like a
monk, and his face was tanned and wrinkled, but when he spoke, it was
American! Inside, the building was of old pink brick, with cloisters
all around, of beautifully matched pairs of columns of different
patterns. In the center was the stone tomb of a Crusader. Small carved
fragments were let into the walls here and there. There were side
chapels, and altars and Madonnas and Bambinos, and candle sticks and
golden gates, and everything that there ought to be. One really felt
oneself in some remote corner of Italy. Moreover, it was simple and
beautiful, in perfect taste, and built, so one felt, by loving hands.

I asked if it was meant to be Roman Catholic, but I was told “no.”...
It savored of Catholicism, it looked, smelt and felt Roman. There was
not a corner, not a viewpoint that was not a poem. And so this (I kept
saying to myself) is the soul of Barnard. I felt myself projected
forward many years.... I saw it as the burial place, the memorial of
Barnard. I felt that a proud and a grateful people would come there
some day piously and wonderingly: in the heart of America, Barnard’s
body would be in Italy.

I stood at the feet of the nameless Crusader, and wondered about the
soul of the man Barnard. It was evident that he was a dreamer and not a
commercial artist. It was evident that his soul was athirst for certain
things that his mother country lacked; for repose, mellowness of age,
and tradition. Why did he not go and live and work where these things
are? And I remembered that I, myself, love these things that Barnard
seemed to love. I too love Italy, but I know, and Barnard knows, that
Italy is a dreamland where everything is in the past and nothing is in
the future, a land in which there is no incentive to work. And Barnard,
doubtless, has energy. The man who can build a monument like this must
have great energy. A worker does not go from here to Italy, the worker
works here, where there is work to do, and so Barnard planted himself
on a still hillside within view, but out of sound, of New York, and
he collected stones, old worn stones from Italy and France and Spain,
stones that had built tradition, and he built a little bit of old world
at his gate, where his soul might some day be at rest.

It seemed to me a great whole explanation--and to contain such pathos
that I could not speak my thoughts.

Then, of a sudden, from somewhere in a loft, the sound of voices
singing. I looked around but saw no choir. Our presbyterian monk had
disappeared. It was a charming sound although it was gramaphone, and I
smiled to myself, at the jingling mixup of old world and new!

Before we left, the American monk told us to stand at the door and
have one last look, first from the left archway and then from the
right, to see it from every angle. I gave a good look round and then
inadvertently my eyes alighted on the black robed figure. He was
standing in exactly the right place, in a set attitude, motionless,
well trained. All part of the picture: “Hullo America!”

We had lingered so long, that there was not half enough time left for
the studio. Barnard showed us his colossal head of Lincoln, which he
proposes to carve out of the rock of a hillside. A magnificent idea.
We spent nearly all the rest of the time looking at his model and
listening to his explanation of a great war memorial. Here, on this
piece of land he dreams of building an American Acropolis. He showed
us the plans of the circular walls that would be decorated with bronze
reliefs, and the statues that would represent each nation and be
contributed by the artist which each nation would select to represent
them. “No war scenes,” he said emphatically--by which I gathered he
was a great pacifist. “We have had enough of war scenes, here in bold
relief would be the men and the occupations they left, and the families
and the homes they went away from. In the background, in low relief,
would be illustrated the idea and ideals for which they fought----”

He talked with his head towards us, but his eyes closed.
Introspectively, and with hand gestures, he helped to explain and
describe. His hands are strong and his fingers so short and thick that
I had the impression that they had all been cut off at the second
phalange.

His scheme was a gigantic one, here among other things was the garden
of the mothers. Seven mothers stood sentinel against a terrace wall.
They were half carved figures, showing their breasts from which the
milk had flowed that had fed the man-babes. From the waist down they
became one with the graves of their sons. The centre mother was to
represent the Mother of all the ages. She was to hold in one hand her
breast, and the other arm out-stretched as if it nursed the vanished
babe. Her abdomen was to be seared and scarred with the furrows of
child bearing. He was insistent and persistent about this. The idea
of the mother seemed to appeal to him very forcibly----He almost awed
us by his description of the warrior’s mother. He had dreamt of her,
he said. He had seen her in visions in the night. He showed us the
small sketch of his vision, and of her warrior son lying stretched
out at her feet. Even in this small wax sketch he had put his force,
his conviction, his deep feeling----It was almost frightening in its
severity.

He told us, too, of the tree of peace, all bronze and enamel, with
golden fruits, and this was to be transparent and illuminated. All
night, every night, always, it was to be lit up like a lighthouse
beacon, so that all who saw it by land or by sea would know that the
light that shined was from the tree of peace.

Even if he never carried out this part of the memorial, he had an
archway which in itself was sufficient and magnificent. The archway
was formed by a rainbow, of mosaics, and up to the feet of the rainbow
on one side came naked battalions of youths that had laid down their
lives, and on the other side, reaching up as it were to the rainbow of
hope, came the refugees, men, women and children.

There was much more that I cannot relate. Barnard told it to us for
an hour or more, and we stood and listened and watched, silently
enthralled. Every now and then Childe Hassam, putting aside his
own artist’s soul, would draw out his watch and look at the time
threateningly and suggestively. I pushed his watch aside and whispered
to him that time for this once did not exist, nor appointments, nor
meals----Could one interrupt a man’s vision by observing the time?

Lastly, he unveiled for us the marble head of Lincoln. It stood on a
pedestal facing a window of which the blind was drawn. As we stood
before it, the master slowly, very slowly, released the light, and as
he did so the shadow from beneath Lincoln’s brow was dispelled, and
his eyes seemed to have life, and to look up with all the pity and the
tenderness and the human sympathy of a superman. It was not Lincoln
the man of sorrows, it was not Lincoln the thinker, it was Lincoln the
great understanding idealist, and there was so much of love and sadness
in the marble face that I, a normal woman, had tears streaming down my
face, and I was ashamed.

Mr. Galatly has brought this Lincoln head to present to the Luxembourg
Gallery.

As for the soul of Barnard, and the vision, and the imagination, and
the energy, and the selflessness of him--it is immense.


SUNDAY, MARCH 6, 1921.

I lunched with Griffen Barry and Kenneth Durant at the Brevoort. Jo
Davidson came in with a party; he came and talked to us. Whenever I am
with Kenneth I meet Jo Davidson! He attacked me about it--he said I was
always with Bolsheviks! He knows I like them, and I know he likes them
too! It is a great joke.

After lunch I went up to the Numesmatic Society; as it was a beautiful
afternoon, five hundred people appeared!

I’d like a picture of rather stout middle-aged ladies, in high ostrich
plumed hats, scrutinizing closely and carefully through lorgnettes the
unflinching bronzes of the Soviet leaders.

One man came who looked exactly like Trotzky, though with a shaven
chin, but he had the same profile, the keen eye, the clear skin,
and the stand-up hair. I introduced myself to him and said, “Do you
know who you look like?” He smiled, “Yes, I have seen myself in the
glass--I know.” He told me he was Russian, and I saw he was a Jew. He
said he hoped to go back to his country some day and help. The man
was a dormant Trotzky, the sort of man who if roused, or in similar
conditions, might evolve into anything.

I dined with the Ralph Pulitzers,--they have some nice things,
including one or two good Rodins. He was a real appreciator of good
things. Laurette Taylor and her husband were there, and the Swopes.
Laurette Taylor has great charm, talks well, and seems to have more
vision and to be less self-centred than the usual people of the
stage--and I like her husky voice.

I sat next to Frank P. Adams, whose modern “Pepys’ Diary” I have read
from time to time. Goodness knows if he meant to be interesting or was
really indifferent. He told me he had been invited to meet me half a
dozen times, but had refused. Exactly why he had refused, I was unable
to make out. But short of saying, “You are the divinest woman I’ve ever
met, and I’ve been following you three-quarters of the way round the
world to make your acquaintance,” he could hardly have said anything
more arresting to a woman’s attention.


TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 1921.

I lunched with Mrs. Lorrilard Spencer, and met there an extremely
interesting woman. She had a hawk’s eye, but a kindly smile. It was the
face of a “femme savante.” She was Mrs. Eliot, and I never found out
till later that she was a daughter of Julia Ward Howe, the author of
the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Walking down Fifth Avenue in the afternoon, a woman caught me up and
asked if I was Mrs. Sheridan. She said she was the Communist woman
who came up and spoke to me after my lecture at the Aeolian Hall. I
remembered her emotional Russian face. Her name, she said, was Rose
Pastor Stokes. She had liked my sincerity and impartiality about the
Soviet leaders. She apologized for not being able to ask me to a meal
in her house (why should she apologize or ask me)? Her explanation was
that she had married a millionaire, and he had “reverted to type” with
the result that their meals were rather silent! I asked her to come and
see me, but she said that she was under police surveillance and she did
not wish to compromise me.

We walked some way together.


THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 1921.

Kenneth Durant arrived to take me out to dinner, and with him came
Mr. Humphries, whom I’d last seen in Moscow where he was working in
Tchicherin’s office. He left two days before I did, but went over the
Trans-Siberian to China and thence to Honolulu where his wife lives. We
meet in New York, having between us encircled the world!

I asked him laughingly, what he thought of my having become an
authority on Russia! He said that he had to take it rather seriously
when he read extracts from my Moscow diary in the Chinese papers!

After dinner we went to Crystal Eastman’s. She edits the
LIBERATOR and her husband, whose name is Fuller, is on the
FREEMAN. I liked them. I liked her particularly. She is good
looking, and extremely decorative. She sails into a room with her head
high and the face of a triumphant Victory. The atmosphere was such
as I recall in Moscow--hospitality that was simple and friendly, and
discussions that were interesting and humorous. I feel so proud that
this sort of people are nice to me. It is easy enough to be received
by what is vulgarly called the “upper ten.” They open their doors to
breeding or money, but among these others one can only get in through
accomplishment.


FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 1921.

Mr. Pulitzer called for me at midday in his car and we went out to
Barnard’s studio. Mr. Pulitzer had never been there. At first Mr.
Barnard thought my companion was an Englishman and talked as perhaps
he would not if he had known he was talking to the owner of THE
WORLD.

Mr. Pulitzer is so calm, so restrained, and Mr. Barnard is so
overflowing with enthusiasm! I led the way to the lovely cloister and
Barnard joined us there and gave us an archaeological discourse, much
to the edification of two American tourist ladies who pretended not to
listen, but were secretly enthralled.

The American verger was terribly in evidence, and at the end, when he
poses and demands one should view him from two different points, he
first of all firmly closed the door on Mr. Barnard who waited outside;
but who went out, I thought, a little too readily. It is a terribly
put-up job, and I’m afraid Barnard connives! It spoils everything and
makes the beautiful cloister laughable.

Mr. Pulitzer dropped me at the Pierpont Morgans for tea. Florrie
Grenfell and her husband are staying there, and have been yachting with
them in the Indies.

Mrs. Morgan and her daughter and son were there, the mother looked
like their sister. The atmosphere of restraint and politeness among
themselves gave one the impression of being with Austrian Royalties.

Florrie Grenfell took me over to the library. It is a wonderful
place, and inconceivable that it is a private possession. Everything
is arranged and labelled as though it were a public museum. Even the
bibelots have their labels, and the smallest thing on a shelf is a
priceless work of art. There was a little bronze Benvenuto Cellini, a
Michael Angelo baby head, a Botticelli on an easel--etc., etc. I asked
if the place were open certain days a week to the public, but was told
_no_.

[Illustration: GEORGE GRAY BARNARD DESCRIBING HIS CLOISTERS TO CLARE
SHERIDAN

  (Photograph by Ralph Pulitzer, Esq.)
]

When we came out, I saw two men leaning against the lamp post. Florrie
Grenfell said they were detectives. I asked her how she knew--she said
she had been there long enough to know them by sight! Round the angle
of the block, opposite the front door was another. I observed that
this was rather fantastic; but the answer is that the police say they
will not be responsible for Mr. Morgan’s life, and he has already been
shot at! It seems to me that if he metaphorically shook hands with the
world, he’d be as safe as, for instance, our Prince of Wales. The world
reacts to one’s own attitude.


SATURDAY, MARCH 12, 1921.

Kenneth and I dined together and then he took me among poets in
Greenwich Village. Genevieve Taggard, whose apartment we met in,
is a lovely and graceful being. An interesting Russian was there,
Vladimir Simkhovitch. He took us to his apartment afterwards, and
opening a cupboard, he unrolled and hung up on the wall series of
Chinese paintings. He is a great authority on Oriental Art. He loves
his things. He produced from his treasure store those that suited his
mood. Poems, in brown gauche, or else portraits full of character
and mystery. He values them far above Gainsboroughs! Each one of the
pictures was something that one longed to be alone with, and to think
over, and absorb. As I was leaving, he presented me with a terra cotta
Chinese “Tanagra” Ming period. ... A truly Oriental impulse--we are
going back again!


ST. PATRICK’S DAY, MARCH 17, 1921.

I took Dick and Louise and little Walter Rosen and his governess to
view the Sinn Fein procession. All down Fifth Avenue, even to where we
were, opposite the Metropolitan Museum, the crowd was dense. I never
realized so many Irish and such a Sinn Fein majority. After three
hours of it I found a taxi opposite the Plaza Hotel and jumped in. We
were blocked a long time, owing to traffic disorganization, and as the
window between us in front was open we talked. The taxi driver observed
that if some of these Irish really wanted to help Ireland, why didn’t
they go back--instead of carrying placards deploring the fact that
they have but one life to lose for their country. Why not go back and
lose it, or offer it? He said to me: “Some Irishmen were jeering at
me the other day, and calling me a Russian Jew--I said to them that at
least the Russian Jews had been consistent. Having been persecuted,
they suddenly one day got up and murdered their Czar--I said to these
Irishmen, instead of complaining so, why don’t you go and kill George?”

I was interested that he was Russian, and told him I had just come from
Russia, where I had seen a good deal of Lenin and Trotzky--the taxi
driver then asked me, “Are you the lady I’ve read of--?” I said my
name--he said he was proud to meet me. He then held forth about Lenin:
“I regard him as the Abraham Lincoln of his country....”


SATURDAY, MARCH 19, 1921.

Mrs. Junius Morgan fetched me at eleven A.M. in her car and took me to
the studio of Mr. G. B., the sculptor. He received us very ill, having
as he said a “sick headache” and having caught a chill at a dinner
party the previous evening he had vomited all night. He certainly
looked like a bear with a sore head. He didn’t know how to be civil to
us. Mrs. Junius, sweet and smiling, treated him as though he were the
most charming man in the world, and as though she took for granted that
we were welcome. It was probably the best way.

He too had done a Lincoln head, and it had been reduced to miniature,
so had Harding’s. His assistants were at work piecing together the
plaster sketch of a big memorial he is about to do, called “the wars of
America.” I could tell nothing from the fragmentary plastercast, but
the photographs of the thing complete looked fine.

He asked me who I’d studied with. I forgot to ask him. He abused
Epstein and showed Mrs. Junius all the worst things in the Epstein
book. Mrs. Junius, who is an amateur, and conventional, was not able
to appreciate the best of Epstein. B. asked me fiercely if I had come
to this country to live; I don’t know if I have or not, I told him, I
thought not!

As we were preparing to go, he pulled himself together. Either he
wanted to atone or the vision of our departure put new life into him.
He turned to me suddenly and said, “What do you think of Lenin?”

He then held forth to us on the three men of contemporary history,
Kaiser Wilhelm, President Wilson, and Lenin. The former who had
inherited his power, the second who had it offered to him, the third
who took it. We agreed that the greatest of the three is the one who
takes it. What had the other two done with their invested power? Let us
see what Lenin is still to do.

I dined with Mrs. Willard Straight, almost the nicest woman I’ve met
since I arrived here. She gives one a feeling of sincerity and absence
of pose. She is real. It was a delightful party, the Walter Lipmanns
and Bullitts and B. Berenson, all people I like, were there. Her house
has the right atmosphere.


MARCH 23, 1921.

I spent the afternoon at Knoedlers, who have very generously taken on
my exhibition from the Numesmatic Society for two weeks. My things
look well in their big room, and it is comic to see the Soviet leaders
daring to show their faces in Fifth Avenue! No one looks at Winston or
Asquith, they go straight to the Russians, as though fascinated with
horror!

Crystal Eastman and her husband took me to dinner at the Hill Club,
where I had to speak. I sat between Mr. Boardman Robinson and Dr.
Parker. Boardman Robinson is the author of the cartoon in the
LIBERATOR, “Capitalism Looks Itself Over,” a horrible and
terrible and wonderful conception. Mr. Robinson has red hair and beard.
He looks like the pictures of Judas Iscariot or maybe it’s St. Peter he
reminds me of. In which case small chance of Heaven for the rich! He’d
unlock the gates to all the radicals.

Dr. Parker is a psycho-analycist, bearded and bespectacled. Alarming at
first--one is inevitably ill at ease with a psycho-analycist. It is
not vanity to say that one instantly becomes self-conscious, as if the
deep-eyed man were already analysing one, and looking down into a heart
that perhaps does not bear looking into! Finally I discussed the thing
with him openly. I told him that I knew nothing of psycho-analysis
and didn’t want to--that I thought it encouraged people to become
even more concentrated upon themselves than they were already! Then,
the ice being broken, we talked openly and simply about anything and
everything. He took his glasses off and became quite unserious. It was
due partly to him that when I stood up to speak I was in a flippant
mood. Either the party took its mood from me, or I from it. I rather
incline to the latter. At all events, I said all I wanted to say,
uncompromisingly, about Russia. I put forth all the best that I had
seen. I risked the label of Bolshevik and propagandist. Indeed, as I
pointed out to them--Bolshevism is over ... the New York papers have
it in headlines--! England has signed the trade agreement, Lenin has
ceased to be Red and Bolshevism is over! Therefore I am free at last to
say what I like. And the people who listen have no longer the cause for
panic! I went on lightly and humorously and they laughed, laughed even
when I didn’t expect them to.


THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 1921.

At my exhibition at Knoedlers’, continue to meet new people and make
new friends. This afternoon I was introduced to Morris Korbel, the
Czecho-Slovak sculptor. He asked to know me and was complimentary about
my work which is much from a fellow sculptor. He is good looking in a
foreign way--wild haired, deep eyed, deep voiced, rather intense and
dramatic in his personality. He told me he was going to Europe in a
week as his wife was there. He said he was intellectually starved, and
must get back for a while to the old world. He said that I should find
I could only live here about nine months on end without going away.
He was, nevertheless appreciative of the generosity and hospitality
of America. “They take their pound of flesh,” he said, “but they are
generous and appreciative in turn. But one _must_ go, and come back,
and go again ...” he said.

He admitted that he went to Europe this time with some reluctance, as
he had planned to go to Mexico where he had a portrait order to do
President Obregon. I suddenly had a vision ... “Are you definitely
_not_ going to do that order?” I asked him. He said he thought not.
“Then will you hand it on to me...?” I saw my new road mapped out
before me. Korbel did not say a great deal, he probably thought I was
not serious or that it was not practicable. “The Mexicans are not
like the Bolsheviks--” he said warningly. (One up for my friends the
Bolsheviks!! Even reliability is only a matter of comparison--!)

He asked me to lunch with him tomorrow at the Ritz and then I will
pursue this thing further.


FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 1921.

Lunched with Morris Korbel at the Ritz, and had an orgy of discussion.
He is full of thoughts. He sees the world from the point of view of
a looker-on. His analysis of the United States and its inhabitants
was very illuminating. I am still watching, and undecided. He has
his views. He thinks it is a great country and (with the exception
of New York) more appreciative of Art and more encouraging than any
other country. Moreover, it has developed its own Art. We compiled
together a goodly list of American artists. He talked about the
extraordinary advance of America in architecture, for instance--over
any other country in the world today, and its efficiency in Science,
and Hygiene. He described to me “the west,” the agricultural districts,
the orchards--how they are planted, and drained. How the sluice gates
open once a day and acres are watered systematically. How these people
just “rape Nature,” as he expressed it, and get all there is to be had
out of it. We reviewed the miracle of the race. How all the foreign
peoples come into the melting pot and turn out an American type.
He said, and truly, that with the exception of England, no country
breeds women with such long legs and thin ankles and wrists. They are
beautiful. And as for the men--where else do they rise from working men
and become Kings? (“In Soviet Russia!” I murmured.)

Kenneth Durant fetched me at six-thirty and we took the
over-head-railway and went to East Side. Where, making our way through
a maze of playing children, we dined in the Roumanian restaurant.
It was as though in a few minutes one had suddenly gone abroad to a
foreign country. I have never had the sensation in New York that I was
a foreigner, perhaps that is because I am half American, or because we
all speak English.

In the East Side people talked Italian or else that other strange
language that newspapers are printed in, and which looks like a mixture
of Russian and Arabic! A newspaper boy brought in the evening papers to
the Roumanian restaurant while we were there, and when I asked him if
he couldn’t bring in something I could read, the other people laughed.
We ordered some steak for our dinner, and when the waiter brought
enough for a school treat I exclaimed, and he said, “In Broadway they
serve the dishes--here we serve the food!” They did indeed; even
sharing it with a starving cat I couldn’t get through with it. The
restaurant was rather a good one and very clean. I reproached Kenneth
for not having taken me somewhere with more local color. I hate being
treated as a Bourgeoise.

The evening was very warm, and the restaurant door was open. East Side
has its background of sound like any other place. In Pittsburgh it is
the sound of the mills, like the roar of the sea. In New York it is
the trams and the traffic and the overhead trains. In East Side (at
night) it is the voices of laughing playing children. What heaps of
children! The streets were full of them. One tumbled over them, one
bumped into them, one dodged them, as in the side streets of Naples.
Some of the smaller children, smaller than Dick, sat crumpled up in a
doorway or leaning against a lamp-post, weary and sleepy. It was nearly
ten o’clock at night, and they were not in bed. The streets were strewn
with papers as after a picnic. I said to Kenneth, “Why aren’t the
streets cleaned?” and he said because people were so busy cleaning the
streets where I live. I said, “Why don’t the children go to bed?” and
he said because there were twenty people to a room, and it was easier
to leave the children out in the street as long as possible.

We walked and walked, a long way, through ill-lit side streets where
women sat out on their door-steps, watching sleeping babies in
perambulators, or suckling them at the breast. The main streets were
brightly lit, and the stalls by the sidewalk were doing a busy trade in
tawdry goods as in the Zucharefski Market of Moscow. We bought roast
chestnuts and ate them as we walked along. I bought a pot of red tulips
growing--for Dick. They were cheaper here, but they were heavy and
Kenneth had to carry them, but he didn’t complain.


SATURDAY, MARCH 26, 1921.

We have been here nearly two months, and in those two months we have
learnt that American ideas are on the whole, good ideas. There is
usually reason in most things that Americans do, and good reasons,
as for instance, in prohibition. But there is another prohibition
quite different from the one that most people talk about, and it’s
unexplained. It concerns Dick. When I say that it concerns him I do not
mean that it affects him alone. He is merely voicing the great “why?”
of a million children, who may not walk on the grass in Central Park.
“Keep Off”--“Keep Off” is written everywhere. It takes a great many
men in, uniform to enforce this prohibition. Strong men, vigilant men,
diligent men, too. Just as the policemen seem to be picked for Fifth
Avenue traffic, policemen who seem to be entirely friendly towards
children, whose one idea is to help them across the street and to
laugh and joke with them as he does so (Dick has several friends on
the Avenue) just so the parkmen seem to be picked for their job. They
are hard men, cold men, they smile not neither do they joke. They are
like people who have been too long with children. I learnt my lesson a
few days ago when for a great treat Dick took me for a walk in Central
Park. With the perfect courage of an ignorant person, I tossed my head,
drank in deep breaths of fresh spring air, and strode out across the
open. It was the first day of spring, and how good it seemed. Suddenly
Dick seized my arm and pointing to a distant blot in the landscape
said to me, “That is for you--don’t you hear the whistle?” I confessed
I heard a whistle, but I thought someone was calling a dog. “That is
for you to get off the grass--.” But I was a long way on the grass. I
seemed to be in the middle of a sea of green. True, no one was on it
but myself, but that had not seemed to me peculiar. If I thought about
it at all I just thought Americans were too busy to loaf like me, in
the sun.

“Are you sure we mayn’t walk on the grass?” I asked Dick. He was quite
sure, and made some signal to the whistleman to the effect that we
would remove ourselves to the far distant path.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked him. And then I learnt what
prohibition means; that you do the thing that is prohibited just as
often as you can, until you are found out. What a game for one’s early
days--to dodge the law, and deliberately break it on every possible
occasion.

I asked a park-keeper whom I met later on what the regulations were and
learnt that towards May there are certain places in the park that may
be walked on, in turn. This will be indicated by a flag flying high
or a flag lying low, I couldn’t quite make out. The children had been
unlucky this year, the keeper said, because there had been so little
snow, which enables them to go anywhere.

Dick is unlucky, because he arrived in New York in February, and will
leave before May, so he has missed and will miss any chance of walking
on the grass!

This afternoon we were lent a car, so I drove him, with Louise, to a
part of Central Park that he has talked of for days. It was not the
grassy part (the view of that green space was enjoyed very much. It
was most gratifying and pleasing to the eye as we sped by luxuriously
in our limousine!). I dropped him at the wooded hillside which is like
the country. You can see no houses, just wooded slopes and streams and
waterfalls and ponds. He took his submarine and his steamer with him,
and I left him there. When he came home in the evening I asked him if
he had enjoyed it. He said, “The park men wouldn’t let me sail my
ships--but I did!” He went on to explain that whenever he put his ships
in the water a whistle was blown. Finally he and Louise got under a
bridge, and under cover succeeded in breaking the prohibition rule for
some time.

“Some day--,” and there was a gleam in Dick’s eye that was something
more than just the naughty look of a mischievous boy--“someday when
I am a man, I shall have a gun, and I shall shoot every man with
a whistle.” “Oh, Dick,” I protested. “Yes I shall--I shall be a
Revolutioner!”

And that is surely the effect on the young of a prohibition that cannot
be explained. Dick knows of no reason why he should not walk on the
grass, nor sail his ships in the streams; what is grass for? Why is
there a park at all? There is one pond in Central Park for children’s
ships, and there is a playground for children’s balls. But one small
pond and one dusty playground, what is that among so many children? In
such a big park?

On St. Patrick’s Day, Dick and I came back through the Park from the
Metropolitan Museum, and the procession was still passing by. People
might not even stand on a rocky eminence to look over the wall. A
parkman stood there, whistle in mouth, proudly, defiantly, king of
all he surveyed. Over the wall came the sound of the bands, and the
marching feet, but only the park-keeper could see the procession.
Big-eyed children stood there, open-mouthed, at the sound of the
“Wearing of the Green.” Truly he was not an Irishman, that park-keeper.
And now I feel sad, and rather anxious, as spring is coming. I have
work that keeps me a while longer in the city. Should I send Dick to
a boarding-school in the country, so that he may enjoy the spring? So
that he should not have daily to endure the sight of green grass viewed
from a narrow gravel path, a path in which he may not even dig, or
build sand castles. Must I send him away so that he shall not grow into
a law-breaker and a “Revolutioner”?

What we really want to know, is: Who does the green grass grow for, in
Central Park?


MONDAY MARCH 28, 1921.

Have spent the Easter week-end in bed. I slept almost on end for
sixty-eight hours, mentally and physically perfectly exhausted. It was
heaven being in bed, and I didn’t attempt to read nor write, or even
think.

Today I arose, slightly rested, and lunched with Emil Fuchs. Louis
Wiley was the only other presence. I like seeing him, I always
discover which way the wind is blowing. We talked about England’s
trade agreement with Russia, and I said--rather provokingly perhaps,
“I suppose America is waiting to see if Russia really has anything
to trade with. It would be a great joke if she has, and if England
gets it all.” Mr. Wiley answered rather maliciously, “England can have
it--she needs it, and it may help her to pay us back--.”

So! That’s the undercurrent, is it?


TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 1921.

I dined in Brooklyn and spoke afterwards at the Twentieth Century
Club. This had been arranged for me by Mr. Keedick. I asked what sort
of audience I should have to talk to, (meaning would it be radical,
reactionary, artistic, or semitic--) and was told they were “ladies and
gentlemen!” Thus illuminated I trimmed my sails accordingly. I dined
with some charming people first, and to my astonishment, there was a
most beautiful Sir Joshua in the drawing-room. It was a lovely nude
bacchante, and at her feet a little faun playing the flute. I asked
incredulously, “Is that a real Sir Joshua?” My hostess answered, “Yes,
and I confess I am very fond of it, though I never should have thought
I could have a nude in my drawing-room, especially with a daughter
growing up.”


FRIDAY, APRIL 1, 1921.

I have had rather a wonderful morning. I was taken to the apartment of
a man who collects Italian primitives. He is young, as yet only about
twenty-seven, and one of the amazing products of this country. His
mother, they say, was a washer-woman, (why not?) and he determined to
go through college. At Harvard he paid his own way by buying up the
trouser press industry and syndicating it, and putting himself at the
head. He made a fortune by pressing the undergraduates’ trousers. This
is the “on-dit,” probably it is quite inaccurate, and he would tell a
very different story. Anyway it’s a good story, and the fundamental
thing is that he arose, from nowhere, out of the blue, so to speak.
What his work is now I didn’t hear, but he is collecting Italian
primitives. We saw them all before he came in. There were Botticelli’s,
Fra Angelico’s, Filippo Lippi, Bellini, and countless others. Each
one was lovely, and one felt much loved. The rooms were simply but
beautifully furnished with Italian pieces. In the dining-room the table
was laid, and next to the owner’s place was a book from which he reads
out a little prayer, for grace, before each meal. It sounded affected,
but I was assured it came from a deeply fervent spirit. I marvelled
much over this young man before I saw him. His bedroom was chaste and
hung with Madonnas, he had tall candles and things that suggested
holiness! There was only one personal note in the whole place, the
photograph of a very modern lovely girl.

Later, the owner arrived, a perfectly simple, unaffected, enthusiastic
boy, who knew all about his treasures and could tell about them. He
had the face of a Mantegna picture, and the stiff white modern collar
made him of today. Otherwise he was quite in keeping. There certainly
was no pose about him, and no suggestion of nouveau-riche.

Every day that I am in this country I am more amazed. What has produced
this curious type, that earns millions and prefers to spend on
pre-Raphaelites rather than on race horses?

I lunched with Emil Fuchs, who had a nice party, among whom Frank
Munsey, a curious personality. Intellectual but so, so cold. I managed
once to make him half smile. He came afterwards to Knoedler’s, he
looked at everything, silently, and left hurriedly without any
expression of opinion.

I dined with the Rosens, and Benjy Guiness and McEvoy and Purcell Jones
were of the party. While they went on to the box that Laurette Taylor
had given me for “Peg of My Heart” I went to the Town Hall and made a
Pacifist speech at a Disarmament meeting.


SUNDAY, APRIL 3, 1921.

Dined with the Swopes, it being Mrs. Swope’s birthday party.

I had a long talk with Barney Baruch who came in afterwards. I had
not seen him since that bewildering night when I first arrived,
and thought he was Mr. Brooke! I’ve never forgotten him, he has a
dominating personality, and a nose and a brow that I keep modelling in
my mind while I am talking to him. But he is “the king with two faces,”
he can look hard and Satanic one minute, kind and gentle the next. He
has a great love of Winston, and a loyalty to Wilson. His ideas about
life and the world in general are fine. He has the dynamic force of a
Revolutionary, but his idealism is to get the world straight sanely,
calmly and constructively, not violently, bitterly and destructively.
He believes in an ideal League of Nations, and in reasoning rather than
arming. The answer to all that is, that nothing gets done at all except
by force, bitterness and violence, and so Russia is the only one among
us who has gotten something done! Perhaps if there were more Barney
Baruchs in the world something might evolve, who knows. I don’t really
know enough about him and his life, and to what purpose he puts his
activities.

He talked to me a good deal about his father and mother, especially his
mother. He has that Jewish love of family. I always like to hear a man
eulogise his mother, it makes me realize my own responsibility towards
Dick. If a man can remember the things his mother said to him in early
life, then my talking to Dick is not as vain as it would seem.

Jews are wonderful parents, and wonderful children. Moreover they are
the cultured people in the world. They chiefly are our Art patrons.
It always amuses me in this country when people ask me if Russia is
entirely run by Jews. I didn’t meet half as many there as I have met
here!


TUESDAY, APRIL 5, 1921.

Dined with Mr. Otto Kahn at his house, a small party, and went on
afterwards to Carnegie Hall to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra which
was heavenly.

At dinner we discussed the psychology of men and women here. He
has a fine analytical mind. We talked of the American woman being
starved emotionally. He said about the position of women in different
countries, “Here they are an ornament, in England they are an object,
in France they are a passion.” It is a good summing up.

We talked about Bolshevism. He had an amusing point of view, so
different from the usual “foaming-at-the-mouth” reactionary. He
said that the Russians are naturally an anarchistic and rebellious
people incapable of self-government. That Bolshevism was a form of
self-expression that would pass, as everything would pass--but why, he
said, take it so tragically? It was none of our business! The world had
lost its sense of humor. Our attitude towards the Russian experiment
should be that of interested spectators. But the idea of getting cross
about it, of exchanging furious notes, of sending soldiers to “walk up
the hill and down again.” It was ridiculous! He talked of Bolshevism
as a great play, and the Bolsheviks as being living actors, fulfilling
their part dramatically, but that play acted in French, or English, or
Italian, was another thing. What would succeed in Russia would fail in
translation....


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 1921.

A Heaven-sent day. As warm as the best summer day in England. I went
out without a coat. They tell me it is a cold day in comparison to what
we will get. Never yet have I found anything warm enough. Rome in June
was just satisfying. If I might only go down into Hell and sculp the
Devil, how happy I would be.

Ever since March 21st, I have spent almost every afternoon at
Knoedlers, but today, I jibbed, it was too good a day to stay in.
Besides, I feel as if I can’t bear compliments and praise another
moment. It was wonderful at first, one felt flattered, pleased, amused.
The various remarks were entertaining, but they are almost without
variety, and in the end one longs not to have to smile the smile of
appreciation that will not come off, there seems so little to say in
reply to “How wonderful! How clever you are, how living they are, how
brave you were, what brutes they look-- -- --” I just stand first on
one leg and then on the other and look silly and feel worse. If anyone
bought anything, or wanted to be done, it would be different, but I
feel that Knoedlers have generously taken a great deal of trouble and
been awfully kind, and gained nothing. People treat my exhibition as a
sort of free “Madame Tussaud’s,” and there the thing ends.

I’m told it has been a great success. If success is measured by the
quantities of people who visit it, then “Yes”--the critics have
certainly been splendid to me. For the rest, if I have any complaint
to make, it is due, I suppose, to the “slump” that I am told prevails.
A slump is prosperity compared to Europe, and I have not been here in
normal times, so can make no comparison.

I feel rather with the policeman in the Avenue, Dick’s friend, who said
to Louise, “Look at them! Look at them!” pointing at the motors, “all
day long they pass back and forth. Gee! How rich people must be, no
wonder the world comes and asks us for relief funds--!”

I dined with Kenneth Durant and Ernestine Evans, Crystal Eastman and
a young Art critic from Boston. We went afterwards to see “Emperor
Jones.” This is practically a one man play, and its success is due
to the genius of Gilpin, the colored actor. It is a grim and powerful
representation, that the “grand Guignol” might well produce. The only
thing is that it deals so entirely with the psychology of the colored
race that no European would quite understand it. I would have lost a
lot of it if Kenneth hadn’t explained here and there. I see the negro
in a new light. He used to be rather repulsive to me, but obviously
he is human, has been very badly treated, and suffers probably a good
deal from the terrific race prejudice that prevails here. It must be
humiliating to an educated colored man, that he may not walk down the
street with a white woman, nor dine in a restaurant with her. I wonder
about the psychology of the colored man, like the poet, Mackaye, who
came to see me a few days ago and who is as delightful to talk to as
any man one could meet. In this play the civilized negro adventurer,
who has established himself Emperor of an island, has to fly to the
woods in the face of a rebellion. He grows weak from hunger, and
finally, overcome by superstitious fears, goes slowly mad, and scene
after scene in which he is practically alone on the stage, shows the
man going back further and further towards his origin. It is terribly
interesting, and at the end I felt the colored actor had scored a
triumph, and that the white audience could not be feeling very proud.


FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 1921.

Mr. Villard asked me to lunch down town with the staff of THE
NATION. We were nine people and conversation was general. I heard
a good deal of American politics which it interests me to absorb and
not have to take part in. They also discussed the English Labor Party,
and the strike that is going on at this moment. England is threatened
with a “Triple Alliance” strike, (miners, railwaymen and transport
workers). It has never happened yet though it has been attempted. We
all agreed in believing it will not be accomplished this time either.
Some day, perhaps--yes, and then look out! But the time has not come.
Meanwhile, as Mr. Villard prophesied, if the worst comes to the worst,
Lloyd George will call a general election and will be re-elected with
flying colors.

I heard a certain amount about the treatment by the United States
of the native Indians on the settlements. Apparently there is not a
country anywhere that has not its skeletons in its cupboards.

In the afternoon I went for the last time to Knoedlers. The exhibition
closes tomorrow. Mr. Purcell Jones, who has an exhibition of decorative
water-colors upstairs, was very amusing, relating to me some of the
remarks of people who came in yesterday when I was away.

Apparently two or three women came on after a lecture about Russia.
One of them, looking at Lenin, announced in a loud voice, “It’s not
the murdering that I resent, but it’s the destruction of the finest
collection of butterflies in the world.” Another, looking at the bust
of Krassin (whose pure Siberian features, so full, as I think, of
dignity and character) said that he reminded her of a Chinese Jew--it
was the first time I had heard of there being any in existence--as one
lives one learns.

Concerning the marble baby on a very low pedestal in the middle of the
room, he said, “All the women who come here just stand over it and
shower it with hairpins.” I laughed, and to prove his assertion he went
and looked on the carpet at the base of the pedestal. Sure, he picked
up several straight away!


THURSDAY, APRIL 14, 1921.

Lunched with Emil Fuchs, and walked home by Fifth Avenue. In front
of the Public Library a meeting was going on. A woman was speaking,
and it seemed to be an appeal for funds for “suffering Ireland.” I
mingled with the crowd in hopes of hearing something startling. But I
only heard a jumbled mix-up about Women’s Suffrage, and then Belgium,
and about the Queen of Belgium being a full-blooded German, “but that
didn’t stop you going to help Belgium,” the speaker said. I couldn’t
wait long enough to see the connection with Ireland. As I walked away
I revolved in my mind the letter I had from papa this morning in which
he told me that Stenning, our Scotch game-keeper, who had lived on our
Irish estate ever since I was a small child, has just been murdered in
his house.

My thoughts were suddenly broken into by the unusual action of a man
who skipped backwards in front of me, and before I realized it a huge
kodak was aimed at me. A few paces further on a man of rather humble
appearance addressed me as “Miss Sheridan.” He took his hat off and
held it in his hand while he told me that he had heard me lecture,
and had read everything I had written. “I am a Russian” he said--“and
I felt that you had the good of Russia at heart ... I just wanted to
thank you.” I thanked him, shook hands, and walked on. Queer place,
Fifth Avenue!


SATURDAY, APRIL 16, 1921.

Colonel William Boyce Thompson sent his car for me at twelve, and
I drove out to his place in Yonkers on the Hudson. There I found a
Russian gathering! Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Robbins, Colonel Thatcher and
the Wardwells. The house is beautiful, full of pictures. I wonder if
Botticelli could have had any premonition that he was painting to
decorate the stately homes of America. I keep wondering why there are
enough Botticelli’s to go round.

We lunched in a room that had six French Windows facing the garden that
slopes down to the Hudson River. At least, so I discovered afterwards,
but the windows were thickly and tightly and most carefully curtained
so that one could not at all see out. All during lunch I longed to
pierce the veil. Immediately afterwards we went out into the sun on the
terrace, and I begged that we might sit out, and not in. Conversation
on Russia was very stimulating, but as I was none too sure of my host’s
exact sentiments, I talked rather guardedly. He may be labelled “the
Bolshevik millionaire,” but it does not mean that he is Bolshevik.
Almost any unprejudiced person is labelled Bolshevik in this country!
Colonel Thompson told us that when he got back from Russia, the papers
published his photograph between Lenin’s and Trotzky’s! When Thatcher
got back, Col. Thompson told him there was might little difference
between hero and zero, as it is understood here; and having experienced
certain things, they went to meet Raymond Robbins on his arrival to
prepare him.

Never had I heard three more hearty laughters, than these three men
reminiscing over their reception in this country on their return from
Russia. I said to them, “It’s all very well to laugh, but knowing what
you do, mightn’t you go to the rescue of the floundering stranger,
landing in equal plight on your shores?” They laughed the more, “We
like to see it ... we like to watch, and then gather the sufferer to
our fold!”

Later they talked about Wilson, to which I listened in silence with
awe. It interested me to hear that Wilson is the author of a work
entitled “The New Freedom” which was discovered at the headquarters of
the I. W. W. and declared to be seditious literature! Lansing’s book
did not pass unmentioned--there seems to be but one opinion about it.
Someone in Washington described it as the “vituperations of an enraged
white mouse.” Raymond Robbins gave an imitation of Lansing leaning
forward in his chair, wiping his glasses, and with sly glances at the
clock, whilst he, Robbins described in fifteen minutes what happened
in Russia in one year. Col. Thatcher boasted that he had been given an
audience of twenty-five minutes! But in either case the result was the
same!

Raymond Robbins is a very ill man. He looked desperately tired, and he
was, as I understood, going off to a rest cure somewhere. I like him
and I liked very much Mrs. Robbins, she has a keen, searching, restless
face, almost hawk’s eyes. She is head of a Women’s Labor Organization.
She was awfully nice to me (everybody was), about my book, and about
my adventure. It is overwhelming, and I feel undeserved. The book is so
humble and unpretentious, the adventure so obviously worth doing.

I got home at six o’clock and an hour later dined with a compatriot,
Frank McDermott, and having nothing planned we drove to Broadway.
This is a marvelous place at night. The whole locality is illuminated
with electric advertisements. They baffle description. The American
advertiser, not content with lighting up his advertisement, must needs
have movement in those lights. All of them dance, twinkle, rain, run,
sparkle, circulate. It is metaphorically a shrieking competition. There
are even a pair of dogs pulling a sleigh, the man in the sleigh flicks
his electric whip in the air, and the dogs just gallop! Far fewer
lights on a Coronation or a Peace night in London, bring forth crowds
into the streets, walking arm in arm “to see the illuminations.” In
Broadway it seems to be a perpetual Coronation Night!

We went into the “Capitol” film palace. The first time I had been to
one. It is gigantic, and the house was packed. An opera sized orchestra
started off by playing Wagner to us. The house listened intently. The
American public is very musical, even if it has gone expecting to see
a film, it will listen to Wagner without whispering. I believe the
American people are as appreciative of music as the Russian people.

After that, the orchestra accompanied a choir that sang southern songs.
There is great character and a good deal of romance in these songs, one
never fails to be stirred. When “Dixie” was sung a large proportion of
the audience burst forth into spontaneous applause. I have never heard
“Dixie” played in this country without its arousing applause. Finally
we sat through a rather dull film play--they can be dull sometimes!


THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 1921. _Washington, D. C._

I arrived in Washington at six this morning. I don’t know what I’ve
come for, I didn’t really plan it. Soukine[4] it was who suggested
my coming, and clinched it by writing to Countess Gizycka to tell
her so. This elicited a telegram from Countess Gizycka asking me to
dine on Friday. Furthermore my letter to Sir Auckland Geddes produced
a telegram asking me to lunch at the British Embassy on Thursday.
Therefore, I came when I did. I have lunched and I have tea’d at the
Embassy, I have walked round the town instead of dining. It is very
warm and very lovely. The trees are in full leaf, there is a wind but
it is a warm wind--Washington is a pleasant contrast to New York, it
is large and airy and leisurely and dignified. It looks like a new
town that is incomplete. As one drives outside, one does not get into
slums and suburbs as with any other town, but suddenly one is in green
pastures, it is like the boundaries of a village.

I feel very lonely, Dick is in New Jersey.


FRIDAY APRIL 22, 1921.

Paul Hanna, a friend of Kenneth Durant’s, asked me to lunch, he and
Mrs Hanna (everyone is married in America--however young) came to
fetch me. We went to a restaurant near by where we found our party,
among whom, with his wife, was Sinclair Lewis, the author of the
much-discussed “Main Street.” The restaurant we lunched in was rather
cleverly decorated, so that one had the impression of having a tent
awning overhead, and being surrounded by Italian stone walls with
vases, and a peacock was silhouetted against a sapphire blue sky. The
proportions of the room, and the height of the roof lent themselves
to this treatment. I was informed that it had been recently converted
from a Baptist Chapel! How strange we Christians are! No oriental would
thus desecrate his temple. The party amused themselves at my expense,
telling American humor stories, which I couldn’t laugh at. I said I
didn’t think the American paper LIFE was funny, they admitted
they didn’t think so either, but that twenty out of a hundred jokes
in PUNCH compensated for the other eighty. It was a funny
party--I knew what train of thought Paul Hanna represented, but I
wonder if the others did.

After lunch most of us went off to the bookshop and I exchanged
“Mayfair to Moscow” for “Main Street,” duly autographed.

I went to tea with Mrs. William Hard where a great many people drifted
in and out. Among them Alice Longworth, with whom I made a date, and
Mrs. Brandeis and her daughter, who invited me to go to tea on the
morrow to meet Mr. Justice Brandeis. I have a great curiosity to see
him, I have heard his name over and over again. Everyone says to me,
“You should do a head of Brandeis.” I am told he looks like Lincoln.
Innumerable people tell me also that I should do a head of Mr. Baruch.
“The replete eagle with a kindly eye” as someone here described him to
me. If he were only poor, and nobody, he would probably consent to sit
to me, and be quite happy doing so. This lack of vanity in man is new
to me. I have never met it before, I do not understand it. There are
types in this country not only fine physically, and interesting, but
there is the brain, the force and the power of achievement behind it.

Soukine fetched me for dinner at Countess Gizycka’s. Senator Edge
took me in to dinner--I was sent in first as the guest of honor. On
my other side was Mr. Lowry, whom I had met at tea at Mrs. Hard’s. We
stumbled in the course of conversation on a mutual friendship with
Henry James. It happened by chance, but it was a happy chance. He
loved Henry as all Henry’s friends did. He nursed him through his last
illness. Mr. Lowry had not guessed that I was the Sheridan to whom the
best of Henry James’ letters are written in the last volume. That tag
of Soviet Russia which is tied tightly round my neck had obliterated
any idea of my being anyone else! We talked of Rye, and of my own
home, and the mention of Brede Place recalled to my vision spring in
England, the peace and the remoteness of Sussex; “so far away,” as Mr.
Lowry said. So far away, indeed, that it seems like another world, and
sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get back there.

I met “Mr. Baker of the Mint” as he was described to me when I asked
who he was. A man with a very fine, characteristically American face,
and a charming personality. Later, when everyone else went on to a
ball, Mr. Baker took me for a drive in his car before dropping me at
the Shoreham. I asked him what Mr. Baker he was, whether he was _the_
Mr. Baker of the Wilson Administration. He obviously was laughing at
my ignorance and explained that he was just plain Mr. Baker, although
he had been in the Wilson Administration, but that he had always been
simply Mr. Baker, and still was the same, and not a very important
person--not important enough, for instance, to have his head done! By
which, I suppose, he means that he is not Secretary for War Baker--?
Whoever he is, (and I suppose I shall learn in time about people in
Washington, just as I have in time learnt about people in New York!)
I like him, I like his face, and I like his talk, although he is “the
man of the mint” who refuses to buy Soviet gold. I asked him why, “Is
it because you are a very high principled man and you feel the gold
belongs to someone else?”

“I am a high principled man but it is not for any principle that I will
not buy Soviet gold--.”

“So much the better,” I said, “there will be more for England and we
want it--and it will come to you just the same I suppose in the end,
only it will come through us--!”

At that moment we passed by what seemed in the night to be columns
of a Greek temple standing out against the night blue. It was the
Lincoln Memorial. We drove along the river which looked mysterious and
beautiful with its bridges and reflected lights. As we flashed by the
lights of the lamps I saw azaleas of every color, banks of them. The
night was as warm as any in an English summer.


SATURDAY, APRIL 23, 1921.

Lunched with Sinclair Lewis at the Shoreham. He is full of imagination.
One of the few Americans I have met who is not submerged by
domesticity, although he is married.

He tells me he wrote four or five novels before he wrote “Main Street,”
but they were not successes. I asked him why that had not discouraged
him. He laughed, he said it was no use being discouraged, that writing
novels was all he could do, he might starve at it, but he was incapable
of any other form of work. (Truly an artist!) He had expected some
people would like “Main Street,” but he had not expected it to sell. It
was a great joke being famous, though sometimes a great bore. He was
extremely funny about it.

I went to tea with Mrs. McCormick, then on to see Mr. Justice Brandeis,
who expected me at his chambers. He was very nice, though rather shy.
He certainly is extremely like Lincoln, but a Lincoln who has not
suffered. Certainly a fine head to do. I am told he is one of the
big brains of the United States. He is a friend of F. E.‘s[5] and of
Lord Reading. He said things about England and the English that made
me proud--we talked for quite a while, but one does not talk at ease
when both are strangers confronting each other for the purpose of
conversation. The best thoughts and talks I elicit from people when I
am working on them, and when it is only necessary to speak if the idea
comes, and where a gap of silence is possible and restful rather than
embarrassing. Under these conditions I get people to give of their best.

I dined with X---- and we talked about the future. But I am like a
nun who, when tempted to run away from her vocation, reflected that
her lover would no longer love the nun with short hair and no veil.
My work is my veil--I must work and keep working, though it entail a
sacrifice. I remember years ago a man, (and he was an American) said to
me, “Choose your path; either the path of companionship and love, or
the path of a career with all it entails of purpose and of loneliness.”
And he is right--.


SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 1921.

Motored with Admiral and Mrs. Grayson to some place outside Washington
to see Barney Baruch’s race horses. The stable is by the side of the
race course, but the District of Columbia has legislated against
racing, so now the track is used for a training ground. Queer form
of government this! How strange it would be if the County of Surrey
suddenly decided by a local County Council to suppress racing, there
would be no more Ascot, or if Liverpool suddenly decided to have no
more Grand National. I wonder if the English would stand it or rebel.
Americans seem to me to be a strangely well-disciplined community;
there will never be a revolution in this country!

I lunched with Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and his daughter-in-law, Mrs.
Lodge, and a beautiful girl, his granddaughter. Although I hardly knew
the Senator I feel as if he were a relation. He was, until recently, a
trustee for the children under my mother-in-law’s[6] will. We talked
at great length about Mother Mary, whom I loved as he also loved her.
We discussed her sorrows, her courage, her sense of duty. Almost she
played the role in life of a great tragedienne, but with no appeal to
the gallery. Very silent, and very lovely and very reserved she was,
and her face was the face of Our Mother of Sorrows.

Few people know about my “Mother Mary.” But Senator Lodge knew and it
was like bringing her dear ghost-face back again to life. After lunch
Colonel Harvey fetched the Senator for a drive, the future ambassador
to Britain is not an imposing individuality. He has the American sense
of humor which is seldom lacking, and much there may be inside him that
is not evident on the surface. I felt no impression of him at all. It
seemed to me a pity that the United States should not be represented by
one of the types of America, with a square jaw, and clear bright eyes,
and forceful personality, such as I meet over and over again.

They dropped me at the Shoreham and from there I proceeded out into the
country in an open car with.... Such a lovely afternoon, hot enough to
motor without a coat. We drove for miles but it seemed impossible to
get away from other cars and other people however far we went. Finally
we stopped in front of a lane, left the car and went rambling through
someone’s private woods. There were three kinds of wild flowers I
had never seen before, and whole bushes of wild azalea in bloom. We
gathered armfuls. It seems too wonderful when I think of our tender
care in growing azaleas at home, that they should grow wild here. And
there was a big yellow “swallowtailed” butterfly. I have seen it in
Italy. In England it does not exist. I remember as a child buying one
for my butterfly collection, it cost half a crown. (I wonder if the
price has gone up since.) We passed by a pond, and the sound of frogs
was like the sound of birds, and quite as loud. In England frogs never
say a word. I suppose these are a different kind of frog, or else
we haven’t enough heat to rouse a protest from them. It was a very
heavenly afternoon, out into the stillness of the country, in the sun,
in the spring.

I dined at the Medill McCormick’s. A big party at small tables in
several rooms. I sat next to Mr. Richard Washburn Child on one side.
He is talked of as a possible United States Ambassador to Japan.[7] He
looks very young. He asked me why I was “here,” which I took to mean
America, not Washington, and I found myself telling him everything that
I haven’t told even some of my best friends. He seemed to understand my
feeling about the adventure of life. Some people never awaken, others
start with their eyes wide open. I began late, I feel as if I had only
waked up when I got to Russia. Perhaps I was slowly stirring ever since
I began to work five years ago. But those years were too laden with
overwork and anxiety as to the future, and the effort of attaining. I
was conscious then of belonging to _a_ world, but not to _the_ world.
But _now_ I know the world is all mine for the discovering. I belong to
every bit of it, and it all belongs to me. What care I where I live,
so long as I find work, and sunshine, and from out the crowd one hand
extended towards me in friendship?

When I got to Russia, I realized a great big new country that was
thinking and working in a way I had never dreamt of. It was a
tremendous awakening. And now, what hazard has led me back to my
mother’s country? I find it is another great big new world, working
and thinking in just as new and different a way, and as differently
as Russia. But the size of these countries is what appeals to me.
In Russia I could have (but I didn’t) taken a train for days, and
travelled to other parts and been still in Russia. Here I have not, but
I will--go west, go south, go north. For days and days I shall be able
to go. From a commercial provincial town out into the land of endless
flowers where there are no seasons, and the land gives out two crops a
year.

I have a great desire to see more, and more, and yet more. To see it
all, in fact. But I am tired (already) of civilization, of the luxury
of baths and telephones, and the overabundance of food. I am tired of
people, even of people who are kind, and people who are brilliant.
I want to take Dick and get away somewhere into the wilds. Whenever
I ask if there is some village in the hills; with an Inn, as for
instance, in Cornwall, or in Italy, I am recommended a primitive wood,
where there is “a colony.” I want to get away from the colony! Can’t
I live for a while, as at Lerici, seeing only peasant people? Even
outside Rome, within half an hour by rail, I found myself in Arcadian
groves, where it seemed that only Pan had lived. I am told that here
it is impossible, however remotely one travel to get away from the
telegraph, telephone and motor cars. From England I had visualized
this country, as consisting of New York, Washington and Chicago and
Boston, and for the rest, that one mounted a horse, and rode out over
prairies towards mountains. And I mean to find it is so. The land of
the Red Indian must still contain some primitive unreclaimed spots.
Anyway, there it all is, and mine if I choose to go and look for it.
The world is a great wonder-place with wonder-people in it. I am drunk
with love of it, love of the beauty and the capriciousness, and the
unexpectedness of it. I want to see it all--Mexico, China, Egypt,
Greece and back again to Russia, working all the way, hunting heads,
and reading people and never arriving at any understanding, but loving
it always as one loves the person who is big, generous, elusive, full
of moods, and never to be understood.

Sometimes, though, I wish I could learn something from it all. I wish
I could understand some of the problems, and have a few convictions.
As I sit here and ruminate in front of my open window I think of
many things, in a kaleidoscopic way. It is the first time I have had
leisure to think since I landed in America. I have heard so many varied
opinions over here, and I just begin to wish I knew for example:
whether the Soviet form of government is right, or even partly right,
or on the right trail, and whether the majority of the world which
condemns it, is wrong, or frightened, or sensible.

I wish I knew if human nature on the whole is very grand and fine, or
whether it is chiefly murky and ugly and very selfish.

I wish I knew if there is such a thing as love, apart from maternal
love, or whether it is all only passion.

I wish I could make up my mind as to whether civilization is a very
valuable evolution, or a very great curse.

I wish I could decide whether I want to live in America, France or
Russia, and whether I should like my immediate headquarters to be in
New York or Washington.

I wish I knew how much the people who are nice to me really like me, or
how much I am a curiosity.

I wish I knew whether I am happier than anyone else or happy at all.


TUESDAY, APRIL 26, 1921.

Alice Longworth fetched me a little after twelve (a piping hot day).
We drove to the Senate. For about half an hour before lunch we sat in
the gallery of the Senate Chamber. By strange chance a Senator called
LaFollette was holding forth upon Ireland, and demanding that the
government of the U. S. recognize the Irish Republic. It was strange
to come to the Senate to hear home politics. I listened to censorious
remarks on Great Britain and I felt that everyone was agreeing, both
on the floor of the Senate as well as in the galleries. Senator
LaFollette, with his gray hair standing on end, and his face pink with
passion, left his desk, strode up and down, around and about, the
while he shook a formidable finger at the empty seats around him. They
were not entirely empty, however, for Senator Reed was listening with
attention and approval. I had met Senator Reed at Mrs. McCormick’s
party on Sunday night, and the subject of Ireland had arisen between
us then. He told me he was contemplating a journey to Detroit to speak
at a meeting for “Funds for Ireland.” I said to him that night: “If
you are going to ask for funds for Ireland you must needs abuse Great
Britain.” He answered that the one did not absolutely necessitate
the other. But I surmised he only said it out of politeness to an
Englishwoman. I feel I have met the anti-British wave at last. It is
here--and it is in the Senate! But what can one say in self-defense
about Ireland? Senator LaFollette reiterated all the arguments that
were asserted in Moscow, and to which I could not answer a word.
Such as the war having been fought to protect the small nations,
self-determination by the people, freedom of Poland, of Jugo-Slavia,
of Czecho-Slovakia, of God knows what else.

In my own heart I think the small nationalities are the causes of war,
but having insisted and proclaimed their rights we certainly _must_ be
consistent. The only objection I have heard yet to the Irish Republic
is the notion that she would be a base for an enemy fleet in the next
war. To which the reply is obvious. She is further away from us than
France. Besides, she was a base for the enemy fleet in the last war.
Our problems would on the whole have been lessened if Ireland as an
independent nation had openly sided with the enemy. We could have
declared war on her, instead of being hand tied in the face of her
enmity, by pretending that she belonged to our cause. Other theories
are, that Ireland would not be our enemy if we gave her independence.
Of course Ireland should have her Republic. I say it not as an Irish
patriot, or even as an Irish sympathizer, but just as an onlooker, it
seems to me the only logical possibility. I suppose the British Empire
would lose some revenue over it, money is always at the bottom of all
these problems.

When LaFollette had finished, Senator Reed, who had once or twice
interrupted (to ask for information, not to criticize) crossed the
house and shook hands with Senator LaFollette. Senator Reed has a
handsome, regular, rugged face; he is an oldish man, gray haired,
but his individuality is full of fight and aggression. He surely must
be of Irish origin. Senator Borah was pointed out to me. He has a
curious, wide, crumpled-up, forceful face, and long hair. He has been
held out to me as one of the heads that would be interesting to do.
Henry Cabot Lodge was talking in a back row with the Mormon Senator
Smoot. I remember the latter when I was here ten years ago. I met him
one evening at a party, and papa introduced us. On that occasion the
conversation drifted upon forms of government, and I believe I said
(papa has often reminded me of the story) that I believed in feudalism,
my idea being a castle surrounded by small huts, which at sight of the
enemy eject their inhabitants into the castle for protection. Senator
Smoot said in answer to this: “And I gather from this that you, Miss
Frewen, would be living in the castle.” I have progressed since then!
I feel as if it were not I who had advocated feudalism ten years ago,
but some other person within me who is a stranger to me, who is neither
mother nor child to me.

Senator Lodge joined us at lunch in one of the private offices. I sat
next to Senator Curtis, who is one-eighth Indian, so he told me. The
only trace of it was in his fine hawk nose. I told him of my hope about
returning from Mexico through the National Parks and he told me a lot
about it, and much that was interesting about the Indians and promised
to help me in my scheme, if I will write and let him know, where and
when I want to go. We discussed the psychology of mixed races, and I
wondered whether the faint drop of Indian blood in my own veins could
possibly account for my dislike of civilization, and my longing to get
away into the wilds alone. He thought that even such a remote strain
might account for this.

After lunch we went downstairs to Senator Medill McCormick’s office.
I had not yet met him as he has been away. I dined at the McCormick’s
again in the evening. I liked the Senator. They are both wondrously
hospitable. I am overwhelmed by Washington and want to remain here
or come back. Every day I put forth a deeper root. New York has been
hospitable, but whereas in New York I feel I am asked because I am a
curiosity, here there is real warmth in the hospitality. I like all
the people I have met, and the women are intelligent and interested in
politics, not like the society women in New York, who seem to affect
the blasé aloofness about Washington and all concerned. As for Alice
Longworth, she is magnificent--“one of us,” as an Englishman said to
me, meaning it as the highest compliment he could pay! She is not
“someone” merely because she is her father’s daughter. She has her own
very forceful personality. I feel she is the woman who should have
gotten into the precincts of Lenin and Trotzky, not me! And they would
have appreciated her! She is the Madame Kolontai type.


MAY 7, 1921. _New York._

I have had a good week, quite one of the best since I arrived here. I
had an order from Mr. C. to do a bust of Miss Spence for the school.
Mrs. C., when she came to talk to me about it, told me that Miss Spence
had to be treated as Royalty. Royalty do not alarm me, and I expected
Miss Spence would! But she was far more interesting than that.

Every morning except one Miss Spence had sat to me from 10:15 until 1
o’clock--and we have hardly stopped talking the entire time. I have
enjoyed every moment of the sittings, and subconsciously our talks have
helped to mature certain plans in my mind, plans as to the future, and
the education of my children. Miss Spence is among the largest minded
people I have met over here. I like her points of view. I like her big
heart, her adoration of immature youth, her understanding, and her
quick grasp of situations. Moreover her head is extremely interesting,
although very difficult to do. Her mouth has a kindly sense of humor
without being weak. Her eyes, when she talks, light up with inward
vision and enthusiasm.

We have talked a great deal about America, and I find myself talking
to the Scotchwoman in her, not to the American born. It becomes a very
impartial discussion. The position of woman here as compared with
England is an unworn-out subject. The attitude of Englishmen toward the
marriage state, their sense of possession, their domination, the laws
of divorce, the laws of custody of children, we have reviewed it and
deplored it.

To-day there is an account in the NEW YORK HERALD of Lady
Astor in the House pleading for mothers, that they may have at least
an equal right to their children, and as Miss Spence pointed out, how
strange that a woman from _this_ country should have to do it for the
English women!

We discussed “Main Street,” which we are both in process of reading.
I have already said that its author is the Thackeray of the United
States, but Miss Spence said even more. She said: “It is Balsac-ian.”


MONDAY, MAY 16, 1921. _Philadelphia._

In New York they told me Philadelphia was “slow.” I came to
Philadelphia on Saturday. It has not been “slow.” It has been
breathless. I am staying with friends outside Philadelphia, in an area
which seems to be known as the “Chilten Hills.” Perhaps the Chilten
Hills are more energetic than Philadelphia, and that may explain the
breathless haste. I do not know. I have not been given time to analyze
it.

I came to Philadelphia because the “Arts Alliance” club offered me an
exhibition and asked me to open it (to-night) with a lecture.

Sunday was one uninterrupted twelve-hour rush in which one met over
and over again (at places miles apart!) the same friendly faces that I
had learned to know on Saturday night. This is the way the overworked
American rests on Sunday:

At 10 o’clock I was taken out riding. Only once before in my life--and
that a year ago--had I ever ridden astride. I was mounted on a
thoroughbred hunter, but mercifully it was as quiet as a lamb. We rode
in the sun for two hours. Going through peoples’ private grounds seems
to be no offense in this country. Some time ago--at Bernardsville,
New Jersey, I walked for miles unmolested through peoples’ woods and
gardens, enjoyed their fountains and their flowers and their lawns.
Yesterday was much the same. We rode peacefully, not “across country,”
but across property. Honorably sticking to the paths, of course.

People don’t surround their grounds with walls and hedges and ditches
here as in England. There appear to be no lodges and gates, and furious
people. A gateless entrance is a great temptation, it looks to me
like an invitation. No Communist could war against these conditions.
It really gives one a sense of fraternity. I need no garden of my own,
if I may walk in my neighbor’s. His azaleas look just the same as mine
would look, and his fountain sings the same song.

Returning from our ride late, we jumped into a 12-cylinder two-seater,
in our riding clothes, and drove at a speed of fifty to the house of
friends who had invited us for cocktails at midday! I felt rather as if
we were film playing! At the friend’s house I also got an order to do a
bust. Thus stimulated, we returned at a speed of sixty. Got home barely
in time to bathe and change and start off again for a luncheon party.

After luncheon the entire party motored over to Mr. Stotesbury’s
house. This incident deserves comment. Mr. Stotesbury’s house is just
completed. It is a sort of Versailles. In reply to comment I heard
someone say: “It was not really built so very quickly. It was begun
five years ago.” Five years in which to begin and complete an American
Versailles! Complete and perfect inside as well as the shell. Five
years ago the site on which it stands was a wild countryside which
harbored the fox. To-day it is levelled, terraced, planted and planned.
Fountains tumble and splash arrogantly. Neatly trimmed box hedging
pursues its Italian design, big trees brought from a distance thrive.
It seems that you can bribe quite aged trees to survive transplantation
that otherwise would die, and altogether one realizes that money can
remove mountains or create them. Only--I discovered one rebel. My
friend the orange tree, recognizing no King but the sun, had refused to
grow oranges to order, and had to submit to having these wired on, but
had produced no blossom!

The house was immense; faultless in architecture, and full of beautiful
pictures and furniture. Nothing seemed to have been omitted in the
planning. There was nothing to criticise. But like those people one
meets occasionally, whose souls are still very young, the house lacked
everything that time alone could bring. But Versailles was new once.

I suppose it gave lots of employment, and I wonder who earned the most,
the designer, the contractor or the worker.

To-night I did the really brave thing. I stood up to an audience in
Rittenhouse Square and talked about Lenin and Trotzky!

Everyone listened most politely, but of course I could not expect them
to be really sympathetic. They were cold, though attentive. I don’t
believe they were really interested about Russia at all. However, they
knew it was about Russia I was going to talk, and the room was crowded
to overflowing. In the dim remoteness I caught sight of Kenneth’s
keen archaic face. I met it while I was in the middle of my lecture.
It rather paralyzed me. I was not talking my best, I cannot, to an
unresponsive audience, and I felt ashamed that Kenneth should hear me
for the first time, and in such a way. He told me afterwards that I had
done all that was possible, but asked if I understood his reaction. He
was bred in Rittenhouse Square!

Later someone in the crowd asked me rather excitedly if I had heard
the news, that “the Soviet Representative was here among us this
evening....” My informant said it half incredulously, not knowing in
the least who the Soviet Representative could be, and wondering if I
would not be rather frightened at the idea of having been listened to
by an official!

Someone else said to me: “I know what your political views are, you’ve
entirely given yourself away....” “Explain,” I said. “Why of course you
are a Bolshevist, because at the end of your lecture when you offered
to answer questions you said they must not be economic questions,
because at the mere thought of economics your mind becomes a perfect
blank. That is exactly the case with all Bolshevists!”


TUESDAY, MAY 17, 1921. _New York._

I dined with the G.‘s to meet Mr. Hearst. I have heard almost more
about him than anyone in America, and I was curious to see him. Great
was my disappointment when I was told that Hearst was not there. He had
been called away suddenly to Boston.

Mrs. Hearst came, and I sat next to Mr. Brisbane. I did not feel he was
amiably disposed towards me at first, but I was careful not to discuss
Anglo-American relations or the Irish question, and when I told him I
was contemplating educating my children over here Mr. Brisbane melted
a little. We talked about the absent Hearst, whom I realize is a great
storm centre in this country. I must meet him before my curiosity
can be allayed. I want to get my own impression of him. Russia has
taught me that individuals are not as the world says they are. Mrs.
Hearst, who is very pretty, was treated like a queen. Men sat on the
floor at her feet, admiringly, and social reformers sat at her elbow
beseechingly, and she smiled and assented, and listened and promised,
and did all that a perfectly good queen should do, and like a perfectly
real queen, jewel crowned, she arose and left before anyone else. But
not without my telephone number and address. Mr. Brisbane eventually
dropped me home in his car, he too promised, in the name of the queen,
that I should meet Hearst, and maybe--who knows? Meanwhile the mystery
of Hearst is still unsolved for me, but I see that I shall now have to
add to my daily’s the NEW YORK AMERICAN because of Brisbane. Already
I read the HERALD on account of Frank Munsey, THE WORLD because of
Herbert Swope, and the TIMES because of--well, because it originally
god-fathered me! As well as the NATION, THE NEW REPUBLIC, the FREEMAN,
LIBERATOR, and SOVIET RUSSIA, most of whom have given me “Luncheons”;
also ARTS AND DECORATIONS, whose co-editor once told me in unmeasured
terms exactly what he thought of me for attaching undue importance to
the Soviet leaders by having the effrontery to go and portray them!

Thus, as my knowledge increases, my working time decreases!


SATURDAY, MAY 21, 1921.

Dick and I and Louise started off for the week-end, not knowing in the
least where we were going to. Someone fetched us, our tickets were
taken and we were put on a train for Philadelphia. At Philadelphia
we were removed to a private car. The day was steaming hot, and Dick
enjoyed standing out on the balcony at the end of the car. It reminded
me of my journey to Moscow, the private car that met Kameneff was just
like it, perhaps it was made in the U. S. At Harrisburg we had an hour
to wait and went motoring in the town. First we visited the Capitol
to see George Barnard’s sculpture groups. These are attached to the
building on either side of the entrance, and they do not seem rightly
to belong to the place. Perhaps Barnard is too individualistic to be
architectural. We then drove along the riverside to the Country Club,
which was opening that day. I must say, that if Harrisburg happened
to be one’s “home-town,” or if by accident of fate one’s father or
husband’s work attached one there, I can imagine living very happily
in one of those riverside residences, bathed in sunshine, and prefaced
with a lawn and trees--overlooking the great wide river with its
islands and rapids, and the mountains beyond. It was truly grandiose.

Having in one hour “done” Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania,
we then continued our journey until we fetched up in a place called
Chambersburg. This seemed to me remote, and detached from the world.

That evening a dance made of me a total wreck, but the next day was
heavenly, spent in sleeping on the grass in the shadow of a bush. Dick
tossed hay and said it smelt of home, and there was a rivulet which
engulfed his boat, but he did not cry, he climbed onto the sluice gate
and made believe the wheel was steering a real ship, and that comforted
him. It was real, wild, ragged country, and we were happy. But it was a
long way to go for one night and one day. On Sunday night we travelled
back on the private car, sleeping fitfully. Since then Dick’s toy
trains are all private cars, and I had hoped to make a good Socialist
of him. All my work and plans are ruined. He seems to have become so
very exclusive!


FRIDAY, MAY 27, 1921. _Philadelphia._

Having deposited Dick in New York, and having had a second inoculation
for typhoid (preparatory for Mexico) and feeling quite ill, I returned
to Philadelphia on Tuesday. The place is becoming almost familiar to
me. It is not unlike an English old-world town, there are parts of it
that recall Winchester, or even remote bits of London. I have come to
work. When I was here last someone commissioned me to do her husband.
“If you can get him to sit for you,” she said. I have got him. It is
true he made every effort to evade me, to escape me, to postpone me.
But I was determined not to be beat, and I gave him no loophole. Dr.
Tait McKenzie has lent me his studio, and my victim comes there every
morning from 11 to 1. He says he hates it, and he arrives protesting
and resentful. But I like him, and we talk quite pleasantly all the
time without stopping. I think he resents it less than he imagines. He
has a good head, typically American.

When I get back in the afternoon to my friends in the Chilten Hills,
where I am staying, I work in the loggia, on the portrait of their
little daughter. She is the same age as my Margaret, and makes me feel
rather homesick. To-morrow I return to New York, my work completed.


SUNDAY, MAY 29, 1921. _New York._

Dick and I with Kenneth, caught an 11:30 train for Croton. We lunched
with Crystal Eastman and her husband, Walter Fuller, in a roadside
cottage surrounded by roses. It was real country and, luxuriantly
green, with the fresh immaturity of impending summer. In the orchard on
the steep grassy hill behind the house the children climbed a cherry
tree, and Dick brought me greenleafed branches hanging with ripe sweet
cherries. After lunch we walked up the road to see the view from the
top of the hill. There is a sort of Colony at Croton, and every other
house is inhabited by someone one knows, or who knows the other. All
work-worn journalists, artists and Bohemians generally, who come there
with their children for a rest. The houses have no gardens, the grass
grows long and the rose bushes are weed tangled. Now and then a bunch
of peonies survives. The cottages have almost an abandoned look, for
the town toilers are too weary to work in their gardens when they get
there. Towards the hill summit I noticed a wooden veranda’d cottage,
looking rather neglected and lonely, the ground sloped down to a stream
where some yellow and some purple iris bloomed amid the waste. On the
post box at the gate were inscribed the two names: Reed, Bryant, and
sure enough it was the summer cottage of Jack Reed and his wife. My
thoughts shot straight across to Moscow, and to the grave under the
Kremlin wall. At the top of the hill we lay down in the long grass
under the shadow of a giant tree, and felt like insects, with the
butter-cups so much higher than ourselves, and the tall seed grasses
like slender trees above our heads. Dick, who was unrestful, and
looking for work, built a wall of loose stones between us, “to separate
us,” he said, and that accomplished he proceeded to pull down a post
and chain and dig up another. In my half somnolent state I was aware
of much hammering and cracking and splitting but took no notice. After
awhile Dick came running to me, and in some trepidation asked anxiously
if he were likely to be put in prison.

“What on earth for?” I asked.

“Because I’ve been destroying the man’s property,” he said.

“What man?” I asked.

“The man whom this place belongs to.”

“Be happy,” I advised him; “be happy and enjoy whatever the work is
you have undertaken even if it’s the destruction of the other fellow’s
property.” And so Dick went back, and the sounds of hammering were
mingled with a love song he’d learned from the gramaphone and no man
disturbed our peace.

Returning whence we came, after a time, we sauntered into the garden
of Mr. and Mrs. Boardman Robinson, there on a slope, overlooking the
tennis court and the wonderful distant view of the Hudson; a large
party eventually foregathered. Quite apart from the fact that it was
pleasant, conditions made it extremely attractive. It was as though
Greenwich Village in summer array had been dumped down with almost
deliberate pageantry upon the grass. There were men in open-necked
shirts, and there was one in a green sweater, another in a butcher
blouse shirt and corduroy trousers like a French _ouvrier_. Women
in yellow, and orange, children in royal blue, or bare-armed and
bare-legged in bathing suits; lovely splotches of color grouped among
the tree stems. Boardman Robinson, looking like a primitive man, with
his red unkempt beard, bushy eyebrows and hair standing on end, lay on
his stomach in the grass listening intently to Walter Fuller’s little
sister, who sang old English folk songs to us, and sang them gracefully
without any self-consciousness. Floyd Dell, the author of “Moon-Calf,”
was there, and a great many people I didn’t know. And all the children
were good (by a strange coincidence there was not a girl-child among
them...!) and all the people were happy. One or two mothers asked me
(and I looked at them twice to see if they were serious) when in my
opinion conditions in Russian would be sufficiently adjusted to enable
them to take their children there for education.

That evening, about 8:15, the train disgorged us in New York, and Dick,
looking truly proletarian, went triumphantly two hours late to bed.


MONDAY, MAY 30, 1921.

I spent all the afternoon sitting to Emil Fuchs. He painted me last 15
years ago. Since then much water has flowed under the bridge. He did
me then in a big Gainsborough hat and a fashionable black dress. I had
just emerged from the school-room and my ambition was to look like a
widow. To-day he did me in my yellow working smock.

I have known him since I was twelve years old, in the days
when he worked in London and Edward VII was his patron.
Success leaves no imprint on Fuchs. He is one of those modest
ever-dissatisfied-with-himself, over-sensitive beings. He has never
grown the extra skin which is one’s armor in dealing with the world.
Fuchs is almost too sensitive, too deep feeling to be able to live at
all. All his thoughts are beautiful thoughts, and if the world is not
as beautiful as he demands it should be he feels almost suicidal with
depression. He is the most generous-souled, pure-visioned person I
have ever known. He likes very few people, and makes few friends, but
those he does make are more devoted to him than other people’s friends
are to them!

The picture began awfully well, I have great hopes and he was wildly
enthusiastic. It was one of the few occasions on which I have seen him
happy.


JUNE 2, 1921. _New York._

Yesterday I went downtown to the Mexican Consulate. As soon as I
walked in, Tata-Nacho saw me, and this strange looking descendant of
Montezuma, in a musty office, showed me every possible attention. It
was not his fault that the acting consul sent me word that he was not
sure if he could give me a visé, or not, as Bolsheviks are not wanted
in Mexico! Think of Mexico becoming so respectable! I was asked to
return the next day for my answer. This morning, feeling disinclined
for a downtown journey on chance, I telephoned, demanding my visé by
post or my refusal by phone. “There are other places to go to for the
summer,” I explained, “and I don’t _have_ to go to Mexico!” The answer
was that everything was in order.

I dined on the Astor roof in Broadway with M., who sails for Europe in
the morning en route for Moscow. It is a delightfully planned place
such as I have never seen before, and mixed with our talk of Russia,
making a fitting background, “Macy’s” Scarlet Star, the communist
emblem, stood defiantly illuminated against the sky.


MONDAY, JUNE 13, 1921.      _New York._

We stayed with our cousins, the Jerome Lawrences, at Rye, for the week
end. It is on “the Sound.” We motored to the yacht club and lay on
rocks in the sun, getting more and more burned. Dick, after paddling
for some time, demanded to bathe. To my amazement, I was told that not
only must he put on a bathing suit, but he must undress in the bathing
house. Dick asked “why?” He is accustomed every year in England to be
sunkissed, either in the sea or in the woods--whenever there is a warm
enough sun. I have taken many photographs of him and Margaret naked
on the hillside and among the flowers. There is nothing on earth more
beautiful than the body of a child.

I recall my horror when a nun at Margaret’s Convent told her that she
must never look at herself because the human body is “disgusting” (she
used the term), and Margaret asked her, “Who made our bodies? and who
made our clothes?” Such an attitude of mind in a nun is perhaps not
unexpected, but one is surprised at the lack of simplicity in a great
primitive country. But in the United States the Puritan origin has
dominated over all other races with which it has eventually become
amalgamated; stronger than the Latin is the Puritan--stronger than the
German, the Dutch, the Irish, or the Jew. In this amazing country even
the mature foreign element is bent, broken, molded, forced into an
American! And in a very short space of time--it is this standardization
that suppresses individuality. In this particular instance I suppose
it is good that the masses should bathe in suits, it is good for the
masses that the bathers should undress under cover, and so it goes
on from little to larger things, from unimportant details to larger
issues. Some day perhaps, when there is time to stop to take a breath a
few individualities will be allowed to live among the standardized--at
present those few slip off abroad, and live there! But I am not
complaining, I am only wondering why with all its restrictions, I
like living in it better than I like living in the freest country on
earth--England!

On Sunday night I had one of the great surprises of my life. It will
be as memorable as any of the big events that have come to me. We were
sitting on the piazza at dusk, and I asked, pointing to the bushes:
“Am I mad? What is that?” “That is a firefly.” I had heard vaguely of
fire-flies, but no one had ever described to me what a June night in
America could be like. W. B. Yeats has written of Ireland that “the
night was full of the sound of linnets’ wings,” but I have not read
the poet who has sung about the fireflies. As the night became darker,
the world became full of small, twinkling, winking, dancing lights,
from the highest tree-tops down to the grass. I ran upstairs. Dick was
asleep. I hoisted him on to my back and carried him, still sleeping,
out into the wild orchard across the road. Presently Dick lifted a
sleepy head from my shoulder and looked around him. “It’s the Germans
shootin’,” he said. “No,” I corrected, “it’s fairies.” He gave a little
giggle of delight and exclaimed: “Fairies! To guard us?--” And as I
walked towards the dark trees in the distance he clung around my neck.
“Don’t let’s get lost in fairyland.” The crickets were making an unholy
and flippant noise. It was all very merry and happy. There were darting
lights all around us, in the long grass at our feet, in the bushes
overhead, against the darkness of the distance, exactly like the scene
of the treetops in Peter Pan. On our way home Dick said, “I don’t think
they’re fairies, I think it’s the stars have come down to play.”

I looked up at the sky. It was full of stars--stable, serious, solemn
stars. What star would not, if it could, drop down to earth and play
hide and seek with the moon shadows and mischievously rouse all the
crickets on a June night. Yes, I think I agree with Dick, they were
young baby stars, making merry. In two minutes from the time his head
touched the pillow Dick was fast asleep again. I went in search of Mary
Brennan, the Irish maid, who is Dick’s friend. “Mary!” I said, “when
you see Dick in the morning, remember he has been playing to-night with
stars.” “Not with firebugs?” Mary answered with perfect understanding.


FRIDAY, JUNE 17. _New York._

My last night before sailing, and I was taken to dine on a roof in
Brooklyn. It was the roof of a hotel, and it was very cleverly made
to look like the deck of a ship. From that deck one had a most superb
view of one bit of New York--a monumental group of buildings which
included the Woolworth Tower and seemed to rise up out of the sea. In
the distance was the Statue of Liberty holding up her torch for the
ships at sea. We watched the sun set behind the tall buildings, and
the lights and shadows seemed to produce a cubistic picture. But I
was silenced by so much beauty. Is it my artist eyes, I wonder, that
make me so appreciative of the world? How strange that the Earth is
always beautiful, and Man’s buildings sometimes are, especially with
surroundings and background of color and light and shade. It is only
in the human mind and the human body that God seems to have failed
sometimes.


SUNDAY, JUNE 19, 1921.

_S. S. Monterey. En route for Vera Cruz._

Dick and I are so happy. It is calm as a lake and gets better every
hour.

The first day the color of the sea was a deep Prussian blue. The next
day it was pure sapphire. To-day it has been the same color as the sky,
so you could not tell where they met on the horizon. and so transparent
that one could see the fishes deep down. There were flying fishes too.
They rose up at our ship’s prow and skimmed over the sea surface like
little silver aeroplanes!

The ship seems so small and the sea so large and we seem to be going
so slowly, so leisurely, as if all the time in the world were at our
disposal and we simply didn’t care where or when we fetched up.

Last night it was agreed that Dick should stay up late as a great
treat. He wanted to see how night comes on the ocean. Almost as if it
were for Dick’s appreciation, night played up in the most dramatic
fashion. From behind a cloud bank there appeared a tiny speck of
orange. It grew in as short a space as could be counted in seconds
into a big round moon, a cloud that drooped over it was lit up like a
human face by firelight. Dick asked: “Who is the figure in the sky?”
It looked like a giant Destiny gazing into an orange crystal. The
reflection made a golden rippling pathway straight across the sea to
us. Dick, who was sitting on the ship’s bow with his legs dangling
over and one arm tightly clinging round my neck, suddenly kissed me,
fervently, which was exactly what I felt about it! On the opposite side
there was a lightning display for our benefit. It came from one point,
always from behind the same cloud bank. It turned the sky into the most
perfect Valkyric background. When Dick asked me what the stars were
like to touch: “Are they soft, or do they burn?” I had to tell him they
were great big worlds like ours. Dick felt very small--we both did.

Whatever Mexico may or may not have in store for us, the journey alone
is well worth while. The contrast after four bewildering months in New
York is extreme. The peace and the beauty are reviving and one gets
back one’s sense of judgment, which one is apt to lose in the crowd.

How unimportant it is, whether anyone thinks I am or am not Bolshevik,
how little it matters if someone has turned their back on me at dinner,
or unduly praised whatever work I’ve done. How completely nothing
matters except to be on speaking terms with oneself, and one cannot be
unless one is living one’s own life, and not playing a part. All of
which sounds very pedantic. I believe one is apt to get pedantic if one
is alone.

No one on board is the least interesting, but one young man has
insisted on attaching himself. He is a Mexican architect, who has just
graduated from the University at Philadelphia. He will be very useful
at Vera Cruz with the luggage. There is a middle-aged American who
inspires that unfailing American reliability. When I told him what I
had heard of Mexico and Mexicans: “Forget it!” he said; and so I am
facing my destination with a blank mind.

My feelings at leaving New York were conflicting. In a sort of way I
felt I was leaving home. The compliment (for it should be a compliment)
has two sides: Home of course is Home; but one is always rather pleased
to get away. The U. S. is so conventional and comfortable, so proper
and business-like, so well regulated, so absolutely just what it should
be, it is like married life! To leave it, to launch out into the blue
unknown is exciting and stimulating. It seems to me I belong to two
rather prosaic countries. I, who love color, song, romance! There is
no reason why one should have to choose between them, each supplies
something the other lacks, and I might as well own them both. But _Old
World_ and _tradition_ have become museum preserves. They are no longer
working concerns; and the word “Imperialism” gives me a pain in my
head. So much for my father’s land. In my mother’s country I find a
heap of things that irritate me, but it’s a “live-world,” efficient,
and infinitely large. There is space, without Imperialism, a new world,
without decadence, and without tradition. Although it is reactionary
and conservative on the surface, it is at heart young and progressive
and opens wide areas to new ideas.


THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 1921.

We arrived in Havana and went ashore about 10 A.M. Not having so far
made friends with anyone on board, Dick, I and Louise went off alone.
From the tugboat that brought us off our ship we stumbled on the quay
into the arms of a guide, who stood in wait. Unable to speak a word of
Spanish, we allowed him to attach himself to us. We were to have his
guideship and the services of a Ford car for three hours, $10 complete.
They were suffocating hours. The sun beat down on the canvas hood of
the little car which bumped and rattled through the uneven, narrow
streets. The guide, true to type (it recalled old days in Italy!)
was boring and garrulous. I wanted to get a general impression of
Havana, and my contemplation was rudely broken into when the Y. M. C.
A.‘s building was insistently pointed out to me, and similarly other
buildings of no interest.

The Cathedral where Columbus was buried alone stands out in my
memory as a thing of beauty, but we got no further than an inner
courtyard--the Cathedral itself was closed for repairs. The town
seemed to have innumerable, modern marble monuments, each one more in
ill taste than the other and each Cuban patriot thus commemorated had
to be described at length by our unshaven guide. As for the living
Havanians, they seemed to me to be a people asleep. Everywhere they
slept at full length on the ground in the squares; in the avenues or
leaning in doorways--even our chauffeur was asleep in the car when we
came out from stamping letters at the post office! People who walked
in the street looked at us wonderingly and sleepily, open-mouthed
and heavy-eyed. It may have been the siesta hour of the town. After
lunching at the Hotel Ingleterra we made for the quay, and there
chartering a motor boat explored the harbor before returning on board.
That was the part Dick liked best. He had been very bored with the
town, and was greatly relieved to hear that Havana was not Mexico, as
he has great expectations of our ultimate destination.

A few new passengers joined the ship in the evening, a few old ones
having left. Those that have been on board from New York, seem to have
done the usual ship trick, which is to break up into couples and walk
round the ship’s angles at dusk, arm round waist. One looks on almost
cynically, the thing is so inevitable. My cynicism and aloofness makes
me feel old. Dick, however, knows the whole ship--the youngest and the
oldest passengers are his devoted friends; the officers, the stewards
and the ship hands are his intimates. The captain, who teases him with
great earnestness, is taken very seriously and more respected by Dick
than loved. But the little girl passengers he treats with almost silent
contempt!

The only friend I have on board is the “reliable American,” and he
proves to be of the type that confirms all my views about American
men. He just _is_ reliable, and thoughtful and infinitely kind. Nor
is he a negligible personality. He is the president of an important
company--and was arrested and condemned to death by Villa during one
of the revolutions. Why he is alive to tell the tale is just a case
of luck. He has the simplicity and the national pride of the usual
American, but he can speak French, Spanish and Italian, and even read
them. It is he, and not the young Mexican architect, who promises to be
useful with the luggage at Vera Cruz!

We paused five miles out from Progresso, to unload some cargo and take
on some new passengers, all of which was done with infinite labor by
steam tug and barge. One of our fellow travelers is a Syrian Jew going
ashore at Progresso and invited me to go with him to see the town, but
the reliable American assured me the Syrian would delay me sightseeing
until after the departure of our ship, and he thought my adventures
need not begin quite so soon. Accordingly I remained on board.

I have learned something on the journey already, and that is, to
appreciate the sallow ivory complexions of the South Americans; both in
the men as in the women it seems to be infinitely more beautiful than
the best admired pink and white to which one is accustomed. I noticed
it particularly when a fresh fair complexioned man was talking with the
olive-skinned Syrian, the fair man looked so pink in comparison, that
one felt he had been skinned.

The journey has been perfect, only one night was it too hot, and I had
to carry Dick on deck to sleep. For the rest it has been cool and calm,
until about two hours from Vera Cruz when we ran into a storm. Then my
beautiful jeweled sea became angry and white capped and opaque, and
spat forth spray, but it had not long in which to do its worse, and at
four P.M. on Monday, June 27th, we landed.


TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 1921. _Vera Cruz._

I find I am always justified in not fussing beforehand as to the
ultimate unravelling of details. In Russia, wherever I needed help, the
necessity of the occasion created a friend, and so it is this time: The
reliable American, friend of a few days only, could not have done more
for me if I had been his sister. He helped me through the customs with
my baggage, was joined by his partner, another reliable American who,
having known me not more than twenty minutes, gave up his room at the
hotel to me, because there was not another to be had. If ever a poet
were required to sing praises the American man deserves his poet.

The hotel bedroom was high, floor tiled and almost empty of furniture
except for two double beds. Long windows opened on to a balcony
overlooking the square, full of green tropical trees and flowering
shrubs. A great gnarled fire-tree, with its scarlet blossom dominated
all other trees, and in the background was the old Spanish Cathedral,
its dome covered with buzzard birds, and its tower full of bells. I
could have spent hours at my window, feasting my eyes on this scene. I
had to share this one and only precious room with Louise and Dick. We
had planned to stay for two nights. I have come to Mexico in the same
frame of mind with which I went to Russia, prepared for every adventure
and discomfort. At bedtime I said to Louise: “I suppose we ought to
draw lots as to which sleeps with Dick, but I don’t mind telling you
that you can have him!” (I have vivid recollections of the terrible
kicks administered by Dick all through the only night I ever spent
with him!) Louise replied that she would bear it and we went to bed
congratulating ourselves that we had coincided with a storm at Vera
Cruz, which was less unpleasant than being baked alive. I had not been
long asleep, however, when the rain leaking through the roof over my
bed waked me, I pushed my bed into another part of the room. No escape,
however, before long the entire ceiling was dripping, and there was
only one small dry corner of the room. Into this corner I pushed Dick
and Louise. Then, barefooted, I paddled about on the streaming floor,
rescuing luggage and clothes. Finally I retired to my damp bed, wrapped
in my rug, and with an umbrella open over my head. It seemed but a few
minutes before the dawn broke and with it, awakened all the buzzards
and all the blackbirds in the square. They shrieked, they whistled,
they sang shrill tunes like noisy canaries. It was as if one had one’s
bed in the parrot house at the Zoo, and the parrot house leaked. Dick
thoroughly awakened, got the giggles and my irritation accentuated the
absurdity. What a night! No further sleep being possible, we dressed
and went down to breakfast on the sidewalk under the arcade. Here
native boys came hovering round with their shoe-shining paraphernalia,
which is quite a flourishing trade. Vendors with baskets full of
native wares, postcard sellers and newspaper boys; blind beggars and
deformities, all were part of our kaleidescopic “entourage,” besides
the sombrero’d Mexicans of every type, who walked by us in the street,
as spectacular as any passing show.

At the neighboring and opposite tables, men stared glad-eyed and even
signaled: one hardly dared to let one’s eyes rest anywhere except on
the birds in the trees!

When the rain cleared we engaged a Ford car and told the driver we
would start in a quarter of an hour; but when we were ready to start
our car was surrounded by a crowd and a policeman arrested the driver
and led him away. Another was substituted. My Spanish being nil, I
was unable to ascertain what had happened. Our drive was rather like
going across country, and for the first time in my life I realized the
value of a Ford car. No other car could or would have driven through
the ponds and streams, over the boulders and rocks and negotiated the
bumps and ruts that we did! This native drove his car as though it
were accustomed to go anywhere; in fact, there was no direction that
one pointed to, that he was not prepared to go to, road or no road!
No wonder we finally punctured a tire, but happily we were near home
and so walked. At tea time the two reliable Americans fetched us and
we went by tramway to the bathing beach. The waves were high and the
sea was warm and only the Americans knew how to swim. Dick got wildly
excited and almost panic-stricken as each big wave rose up and came
towards him. That night, my bed being soaking wet from the drips that
had fallen all day, I threw off the mattress and slept soundly wrapped
in my rug on the bare wire springs; also it was cooler.


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 1921. _Mexico City._

Those blighted birds in the square waked us again before 5 A.M., so I
got up immediately, and we were down on the sidewalk at 5:30 having
breakfast. Later we were joined by our Americans and together drove to
the station for the 6:20 A.M. Mexican train. On arrival we were refused
a ticket, being informed by the office that already more tickets had
been sold than they had accommodations for. We pushed by the barrier,
and boarded the train, it was obvious we must get there somehow.
Many of our fellow shipmates were on the train and kindly offered to
take turns, sharing their seats. Heaps of people were standing. The
compartment was like a tramcar, even with the luxury of a seat it
was not a 15-hour journey that promised any comfort. As the day grew
hotter, I found the best place was to sit on the platform of the last
coach and dangle my feet overboard. Dick and Louise joined me. Three
or four men stood up behind us and on the steps of the platform right
and left sat armed guards, rifle in hand. Rumor had it that the train
had been known to be attacked by bandits in lonely places. Most of
the time our armed guard slept, and one of them fell off, but run as
he would he could not catch up the train. We climbed and climbed up
through the mountains to a height of 10,000 feet until we were cloud
enveloped--the train couldn’t go very fast, and some of the youths of
the party did actually jump off and run behind.

During the first part of our journey we passed through a chaotic
riot of tropical vegetation. Everything grew everywhere, under giant
trees were dense bushes, and on the tree trunks and branches grew
countless other species of plant, as though a gardener had grafted
one onto another in profuse experiment. There were banana, cocoanut,
coffee, maize and so many new and bright-colored flowers that I was
bewildered. There is not a flower or a fruit of any color or shape that
any Futurist could invent, that does not grow in Mexico. We stopped at
wayside stations, where the villages were built of grass huts and the
natives in bright colors were like flowers among the green. Mexicans on
bucking ponies, over which they had perfect control, were all part of
what seemed almost a stage scene. As we climbed higher, however, the
luxuriant vegetation ceased, but the effects of sunlight and shadow
as we looked down from the damp clouds onto the sunlit valleys below,
really was grandiose. After that it became so cold we were forced
to return inside the coach. For hours we endured closed windows,
over-crowded seats, smoking and spitting, and eventually the smell of
primitive oil lamps. Outside one looked for miles and hours onto plains
covered with cactus. One’s back ached and one’s head was heavy, but no
sleep was possible, and there was nowhere to rest one’s head. Dick sat
on my knee, and was astonishingly good. I have, in fact, never known
him so before. He seemed to realize that our nerves were as tense as
possible. He stroked my cheek and said he could see by my eyes that I
was tired, he was caressing and gentle.... Oh! those miles and miles of
cactus, how one grew to hate them, and the Chinaman who would spit and
the Mexican who would stare, and the baby who would cry, and the man
who would smoke a cigar, and the woman who would close the last window!
At 8:30 P.M. the lights of Mexico City proclaimed our journey ended,
and just in time, for there comes at last a moment when one’s courage
and sense of adventure just crumple and one has to cry. I was terribly
near it, when our American friends came and joined us. I declare if
there had been more room I would have laid my head on the shoulder of
one. They were gallant to the end, and saw us safely installed in the
Imperial Hotel, before saying good-bye, and then: We slept, we slept,
we slept....


THURSDAY, JUNE 30, 1921. _Mexico City._

We awoke, very late, in a town that is wide avenued, full of motors,
and disappointingly civilized. The civilization may be only skin deep,
and may not extend beyond the town limits, who knows...? But for people
who looked for and hoped for something primitive, disordered and
tropical, to find order, dullness and coolness, is ridiculous. Louise
and I, comparing notes as to our expectations and realizations, simply
laugh. Vera Cruz wasn’t very civilized, and the journey yesterday
was as primitive as one could look for, but Mexico City appears to
be cosmopolitan and up to date. In the morning, on our way back from
shopping, we passed through a very pretty little garden, called
“Alameda,” and there a band was playing. “Who’d work?” said Louise,
as we seated ourselves on comfortable chairs under an awning, with
matting under our feet. Certainly the people could have worked, who
preferred, like us, to loaf and listen! Dick sailed an improvised boat
in a fountain pond. The man who sat opposite came and sat next to us,
otherwise all was harmony.

After lunch we drove to Chapultepec, a more beautiful or well-cared-for
park I have never seen. It positively outdoes the Bois de Boulogne. In
comparison with Central Park, where one is so aggressively over-guarded
by men with whistles, in spite of which the place is littered with
paper, this park is as neat as a private garden. Everyone seems
to behave with taste and decorum, and there seem to be no guards
to keep order. One or two mounted police in gray and red, wearing
large sombreros and riding gaily caparisoned ponies, added to the
picturesqueness. We hired a boat for an hour and rowed on the lake,
but the effort of rowing made one’s breath short, and one’s heart did
a variety of irregular movements. I had heard that the high altitude
effected one this way. On a hill close to us stood the castle of
Chapultepec, with its distant background of mountains. A beautiful
situation to live in, but the most unenviable of positions. I think
I would prefer almost any fate on earth except that of President of
Mexico. Like the Roman Rulers, one after another, doomed to destruction.


FRIDAY, JULY 1, 1921. _Mexico._

In the morning I delivered my letter of introduction from Mr. Fletcher
to Mr. Summerlin. In the afternoon I was asked to go and see him. He at
once handed me a cable which had arrived the day before, and addressed
to me under his care. It contained news that I read and re-read before
my numbed brain could take it,--the announcement of Aunt Jennie’s[8]
death. I tried to pull myself together and talk of things Mexican
with Mr. Summerlin, who was very charming to me, but the weight of my
news was overwhelming. I drove out to San Angel Inn, in the country
with Dick and we had tea in the patio, where blue plumbago and magenta
bougainvillia mingled together from the verandah to the roof. Dick
played in a fountain. It was wondrously peaceful, and good to look at.

I have left England to “make good” and of all the people I love, and
who love me, and whose eyes have followed me across the sea, Aunt
Jennie’s were among the keenest. I would have liked to do my best work
for her appreciation. Her praise, her approval, her advice, her love
was something that counted. The loss of her, and the contemplation of
years to face without ever seeing her again is difficult to grasp. I
cannot imagine returning to an England that does not contain her. My
second mother, my loyallest friend. She had the rarest qualities, and
the largest heart, which made her loveable. She was “worldly-wise,”
yet neither wise nor worldly. She loved passionately and generously as
her heart dictated, and always she gave out more than she received.
She married three times, and twice in a wayward and unworldly fashion.
Partly what I am today is the result of her early influence. I used
to admire and love her in a rather awe-struck way when I was a child,
and when I was 17 I believed she could do no wrong. Her judgment
seemed to me infallible. In those days we lived exactly opposite,
in great Cumberland Place, London, and I used to sit with her every
morning and while she dressed I was made to read the leading articles
in the TIMES. I was very shy, having ran wild for years in
Ireland. Aunt Jennie took the raw and untamed girl, taught her how
to do her hair; made her put on her clothes with care, and scolded
her into a civilized woman. She used to say to me: “While you are
dressing, put your mind to it, and do the best you can with yourself.
After that, never give your appearance another thought.” She would
scold me unmercifully if I did not make an effort to talk to whatever
man I sat next to at luncheon or dinner: “Remember you are asked, not
for your amusement, but to contribute something to the party....” The
letters of Lord Chesterfield to his son were as nothing compared to
the worldly advice of Jennie Churchill to her niece. She frightened
me, but I loved her, because I knew she was just, and I knew she was
right. For years she took me out into the world and did with me the
best she could. It became an accepted thing with me, that she had all
the attention, and her admirers were kind to me on her account. I used
to wonder whether I would have to wait to attain her age in order to
have my own success. I never resented it, my admiration for her was
too great, I just took for granted that things were so. In later years
my awesome fear ebbed away, and we became confidential friends on a
mature basis. I seemed after marriage to catch up to her, and in my
widowhood we had a perfect understanding. There was nothing then that
we would not tell one another and I bowed to her superior experience
and judgment. Her understanding, her tolerance and her love had made
her very precious. When I returned from Russia, she was my loyallest
friend, and championed me. My last evening before sailing for New York,
was a reunion _de famille_ at her house for dinner. After dinner she
took me aside and talked to me intimately, and advisedly. She made me
promise that if I did not like being in America I was to return at
once, “You have a loving, a loyal and a powerful family,” she said, and
hoped I was not going to be lonely or unhappy in a strange new world
which she had known and left. At eight the next morning she surprised
me by being at the station to wish me godspeed, I was deeply touched,
but saddened by a rather wistful look in her face. God bless her, she
was a splendid independent woman. She disregarded public opinion, and
her own was very strong. She was beautiful and brilliant; never banal,
never conventional, always a great personality.

[Illustration: LADY RANDOLPH CHURCHILL

  (Photograph by Hoppé)
]

She wrote, as Mrs. George Cornwallis West, the memories of “Lady
Randolph Churchill” ... no one had more material, or more right to
present it. Hurled into the midst of a political centre from the moment
of her first marriage, she continued to the end the friend of every
Prime Minister and every Cabinet Minister; a friend of kings, artists,
writers, musicians, a dominating influence and a leader of thought and
taste in a cosmopolitan as well as English society.

I prefer to think of her forever at rest, beautiful and brilliant and
wonderful to the end.


SATURDAY, JULY 2, 1921. _Mexico City._

This morning we went to see the Cathedral. It sounds banal enough but
one must see cathedrals! Outside it is very beautiful and imposing, and
forms a whole side of the square.

It was completed in 1525 and represented the Mother Church of
Spain. Almost on the same site stood the ancient Aztec Teocali of
Tlaloc-huitzilopochtli, the great pagan sanctuary, in fact, the
Cathedral was built to a great extent out of the same stones. Effacing
the Cathedral from my mind, I visualize the great pyramidal Teocali
with its five stories each receding above the other, and its flights
of steps leading from terrace to terrace, on the summit was the great
jasper sacrificial stone. Before the altar stood a colossal figure of
Huitzilopochtli, the war god and the deity. Here burned the undying
fires, which meant as much to the Aztecs as did the Vestal flame to
ancient Rome.

It is amazing to recall that as late as 1486 the dedication of the
Great Teocali was celebrated by human sacrifices to the extent of
20,000. One of the most dramatic episodes in the World’s History must
have been the battle between the soldiers led by Cortez and those of
Montezuma, a thousand combatants fought on this aerial summit in full
view of the whole city. The battle raged for three hours and many
of the combatants here were hurled from the height, Cortez himself
narrowly escaping this fate. The victorious Spaniards rushed at the
God Huitzil, and with shouts of triumph dragged him from his niche and
tumbled him over the edge to the horror of the onlooking Aztecs. Thus
ended Paganism and Christianity was established. In the place of the
great Teocali, the Spaniards built a Cathedral. As a substitute for
human sacrifices, they introduced the Inquisition. Instead of Huitzil,
Christ in crude plaster, gaudily painted, with imitation blood, and
a bevy of life-sized Saints and Angels, some of them kneeling on
billows of plaster clouds, surrounded by bleeding hearts (imitation)
and sham flowers, now reign supreme. This is the setting in which we
found ourselves on entering and by chance we happened upon a wedding
ceremony! The organ was abominable and the singing. All the poor women
with their babies had followed in after the bride to witness this ever
appealing ceremony! Most of the babies were dressed in a rather bright
crude pink, the worst possible color for a dark yellow baby! Dick,
who had never seen a wedding before, asked me in an awestruck whisper
as the bridal party stood in a row at the top of the aisle: “Is she
marrying the woman next to her?”

“No, the man....”

“Did you marry Daddy like that?”

“Yes--”

and then incredulously: “Dressed like that--?”

“Yes....”

He sidled up to me, and then asked shyly:

“Think you’ll ever marry again?”

“No--”

“I’d like to see you like that,--wish I’d seen you marry Daddy.”

If I’d told him a second marriage isn’t privileged to wear white, he
probably would realize it wasn’t worth doing!

At midday I received the visit of the sister and niece of Mr. N. to
whom I had delivered a letter of introduction. It is rather fun knowing
real Mexicans and getting their point of view. I didn’t tell them and
they didn’t seem to know that I had only met their kinsman once and I
wondered what they did think. In the afternoon they fetched me for
a drive, the car was owned and driven by the fiancé of the girl. We
drove out into the country and were caught in the fiercest rain-storm.
The car had only a hood and I had only a cape. One was frozen to the
marrow. They took me to tea at the Reforma Club at Chapultepec, a
tennis club organized chiefly by the English Colony. It looked truly
English, and the cold and the damp made one feel as though in England.
The English women whom I did not meet but looked at, seemed to be of
that type that is neither interesting nor decorative.--One or two
Mexican girls I was introduced to, as “my uncle’s friend....” It seems
to me I might be explained to strangers in various ways, but “my
uncle’s friend” is a fame that is new to me.


SUNDAY, JULY 3, 1921. _Mexico City._

The 4th of July was celebrated today. I suppose on account of its
being Sunday. There was a garden fête at a place called “Tivoli.”
The President was supposed to come; but of course he did not, nor
ever intended to, for as long as the U. S. will not recognize his
government, he will not recognize the U. S. national holiday. Mr.
Summerlin and Colonel Miller and all the high-hatted and uniformed
diplomats of various nations were waiting to receive him. Instead, the
press kodaks had to comfort themselves with the belated but smiling
Minister Pani of Foreign Affairs! With great ceremony they paraded
round the ground in procession and the band played every conceivable
Sousa March. I never realized how utterly unendurable civilized
American music is ... I mean, not to include the jazz and the coon
music, which has great character and charm. But there are things like
“Yankee-Doodle” that just make one curl up. With a fictitious attempt
at gaiety, I watched this celebration of the defeat of England. Dick
enjoyed it, he bought bags of confetti, and realized for the first time
the full joy of being able to throw handfulls of something straight in
a person’s face. It was a lovely game.


MONDAY, JULY 4, 1921. _Mexico City._

My Mexican acquaintances, mother and daughter, took me to tea with
some friends of theirs, who lived in a really lovely house, almost
palatial. The daughter of the house was intelligent and spoke perfect
English. I had a long talk with her and learnt something of the Mexican
aristocracy’s view point: She said that decent and honest people in
Mexico try to keep out of politics, and not to meet the politicians
or the Generals. Otherwise they are persecuted by whatever Government
follows for having even been friends with the Government that has
been overthrown. The politicians of whatever regime have always
been self-interested. Their object is to make as much as they can
while their Government lasts. Against this there is no remedy. If the
President tried to enforce rigorous measures against graft, etc., he
would be turned upon and rent asunder. Referring to General Obregon,
she said he was pretty well acknowledged by every one to be honest and
purposeful, the best out of 15,000,000 people, but “thieves” as she
expressed it helped him to become President, and he dare not get rid
of them for that reason, “I suppose he is in honor bound to stand by
them,” I said--“Not at all.” She contradicted, “but if he dismisses
them they would plot against him.... His only way is to kill them.” (I
felt I was probing this skin-deep civilization!!).

Everyone seems to live in great uncertainty. “In the Revolution” (I
did not understand which of the many!) people’s houses and farms and
motors, etc., were taken away from them. A few of them have been
inadequately paid for since, and some farms have been returned to their
owners, but in such a dilapidated condition as to make them almost
hopeless.

“If anything happened to General Obregon, things would be far worse ...
there would be chaos....” I was told. A Revolution is impossible unless
the Indians are with it. They are very easily led, and always side with
the richest General. I was told a good deal more, but it represented
the average bourgeois point of view,--so ready to criticize, so
inaccurate in its details.


TUESDAY, JULY 5, 1921. _Mexico City._

Today is Review day. It happens once a month. First the Firemen with a
band marched down the Passo de La Reforma, past our Hotel. Then some
soldiers and finally quantities of police. They were all smartened
up, clean and white-spatted for the occasion. I rushed forward to
photograph them, which seemed to amuse them, and one officer on
horseback purposely made his horse rear for my benefit. People in the
street seemed not to take the slightest interest, only a few loafers or
foreigners looked on, and the usual crowd of women fruit sellers, who
sold pulque (the national drink, made from the juice of cactus) to the
men when they halted. The streets are conspicuous at all times by their
absence of well dressed or prosperous looking people. Except for some
business men, the people look nearly as dilapidated as those in Moscow.
The shop windows contain the ugliest clothes. I wonder what the Mexican
woman does when she wants a new dress.

This afternoon, Dick not being well enough to walk, we drove to
Chapultepec Park. By lucky chance the driver spoke English. He told us
we could see parts of the Castle, and drove us up to the Hill summit.
We wandered around rather stupidly, there was no guide, and rumor has
it that one can only see the Castle if one has a special letter from
one’s consul. Presently two young men appeared, officials apparently,
and they watched us and seemed to take an interest. Of course, in the
end, although they could speak nothing but Spanish, we were carrying
on some kind of understanding. They took us from terrace to terrace,
higher and higher, until finally we were in a fountained flower garden
on the roof. They gathered bunches of roses and carnations, pansies and
violets for us, insisted on photographing us with our own kodaks and
finally took us up the spiral stairs to the topmost tower, where the
view of the town below and the plain and the mountains all round us was
staggering. They smiled with satisfaction at our delight. On the way
down we were shown some rooms and here our incoherent friends linked us
on to a guide, who was showing some Americans over the Castle. I hear
that Obregon prefers to live in a cottage adjoining, and small wonder:
The Castle inside is as ugly as it is possible to be. The Chinese room,
presented by the Chinese Emperor to President Diaz, is terrible. Only
one bed room, I think it was Maximilian’s Queen’s, had some quite nice
“Bulle” wardrobes. Pointed out as of special interest was a sitting
room, all done up in pink: “For Miss Root....” I am ashamed of my
ignorance in not knowing anything about this lady or her part in
Mexican History.

I really felt speechless over the ugliness of the interior. There is
nothing to recommend Chapultepec Castle except its position and its
view. The imitation Pompeian decoration on the terrace walls are as bad
as the “Mexican Work” which decorates the banquet room. The entrance
gates, with bronze soldiers on the pillars are enough to warn one of
what is in store, where decoration is concerned. However, it was well
worth the time to see the view and we spent a charming afternoon,
thanks to our unknown friends. In the evening I was discovered by the
Press! Interviewers and photographers recalled early days in New York.
But I mean to leave Mexico City--climate means more to me than anything
else in the World. I cannot feel lonely or ill if I am in a place of
flowers and sun. Such places exist quite near, we are wasting our
precious days in the cold grayness of Mexico City. We came with only
tropical clothes and it is the rainy season! I want to go away. I am
only waiting for Dick to get well.


WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 1921. _Mexico City._

At 10 A.M. we went to Guadalupe by tram car. It took about twenty
minutes. The Church, another of those magnificent edifices erected by
the Spaniards, dates back to the 16th Century, and was in fact built
about ten years after the Conquest of Mexico. This “Shrine of the
Virgin” is the “Mecca” of the Mexicans. It is the centre every year of
great festivals, and is supposed to be endowed with miraculous powers.
The superstitious Indian regards this divine Virgin as a manifestation
of the primitive “diosa” (Goddess) they once worshipped, and on
December 12th of every year they celebrate their “Fiesta” in their own
way, unhampered by priests. At the big entrance door, as I went in, a
beggar was sitting. He looked like a sculptured “Goya” carved in walnut
wood. Emaciated, old, expressionless, immovable with an out-stretched
wizened hand and a bandage round his brow, he looked the picture of
passive misery. I photographed him. Outside the Church was a whole
encampment of natives selling the usual cheap rosaries, medals and holy
cakes, called “Gondites of the Virgin” (Little fat ones of the Virgin).

We were the only tourists and the whole town seemed to be under canvas,
selling fruits, knick-knacks and pottery--There seemed to be a world of
sellers and nobody buying.

The Chapel of the Well is another building that can rival any in Latin
Europe. It is exquisite with its domes of blue and yellow tiles. But
we should have come here on a fiesta or a Sunday and seen the fervent
Indian crowds. On an ordinary day there is not much movement.


THURSDAY, JULY 7, 1921. _Mexico City._

A lovely sunshiny morning (one has learned to appreciate that!), and we
boarded a tram at the Zocolo and went to Zochimilco. It took an hour.
We went as fast as a train across long straight stretches of plain. A
big barefooted Indian insisted on talking to me, rapidly and at great
length, in spite of my repeated “non entiendo.” Perhaps he thought I
was only pretending not to understand, which is true, for I gathered he
belonged to Zochimilco, owned a boat on the “lago” and wished to be our
cicerone! As I knew nothing about him and dislike persistency, I turned
a cold shoulder upon him.

Our tram took us across the plain and close up to the mountain feet.
Arrived at the region of lakes and floating islands and with no one to
turn to for information, the only strangers among a world of Indians,
I humbly followed the persistent guide. He had an ugly but kindly
face, and such a clean white smock that it gave us confidence in
him. We followed him for some way along a narrow cobbled way, where
wide eyed Indian girls wrapped around in blue shawls, looked at us
curiously. After a while I stopped dead, and intimated that I wanted
to find the lakes. Our guide looked hurt, even uglier for a moment,
and I understood him to assure us he was “secure”--and that we need
have no anxiety. A blind man, young, bare-legged, his head held
high as all blind men do, came tapping after us with his stick. They
always give me the creeps. I want to run in a panic, when I hear the
tap-tap. He stopped when the church bell sounded and taking his hat
off, he recited rapid prayers. I wonder if he was very philosophical
about his blindness, or what his mental attitude could be towards his
God. At this juncture however, we arrived at a canal, and our guide
led us through a door-way into the courtyard of a house by the water
side. Around the fountain some women were cleaning meat. I prepared my
kodak, but everyone melted away, and an old grey-haired hag shrieked at
me! A big man loomed into the background. He looked half-bred, rather
negroid, and had a severe questioning expression. I made a bolt for the
boat! This was a species of punt, with poles garlanded, and an awning
overhead, made of a faded Mexican flag. It was crude and picturesque.
In a moment we were under way and being punted noiselessly, along
the canal which joins the lakes. The small poplar-like trees that
were reflected avenues in the water, reminded me of Holland. The
islands were all luxuriant with flowers, there seemed to be acres of
carnations, mixed with pansies and chrysanthemums. In the water grew a
lovely “aquatic lily,” as our guide called it. I have never seen one
like it. The flower was mauve and like a small rhododendron. There
were yellow water lilies as well, and arum lilies on the water’s edge.
As we passed under a weeping willow, an irridescent humming bird flew
out. I had never dreamed of seeing one outside of the Natural History
Museum. The vision of it crowned my day.

I lay lazily on the slanting prow of the punt, the sun burnt down on
my back, and I wondered whether one would be content to live all one’s
days in a boat drifting along somnolently in the sun. Dick more active,
with an improvised paddle, thought he was making the boat go. Narrow
canoes slipped past us, full to the brim with scarlet carnations. Our
guide proved to be efficient and friendly. He took us to a restaurant
on an island, where we had an unedible luncheon, which we shared with
about eight famished dogs. Our table was under an arbor on a bridge
at the junction of three streams. Nearby we landed, and were shown
an electric plant which never interests me, and a garden that was
enchanting but more Dutch than ever. Trees were clipped into bird
shapes, and some climbing monkeys. The place was dense with strange
sad looking Indians, who were digging out a canal. We lingered on the
lakes until nearly four o’clock, and then our guide, devoted to the
end, insisted we should visit the village church. The doors were wide
open, but from the brilliant sun outside ones eyes had to accustom
themselves to the dimness within. There were a few Indian women
kneeling on the wooden floor, and some sort of chant was going on.
One woman was intoning in a shrill flat metallic voice. The crudest
painted figures of the Christ dressed in white muslin “shorts” edged
with lace; face and body covered with blood; hair black and matted:
legs emaciated and contorted, stared out at us from every corner. Dick
suddenly exclaimed in a terrified whisper “I _must_ go--I’ve got to
go--” and made for the sunlight at full speed with resonant steps. I
followed him, and out in the court yard was a rickety Crucifix with
human legbones tied crossways on it. Louise commented, and Dick quick
to overhear, asked: “Are they real bones...? What is a Crucifix? What
is it for...? Why...? Tell me about Christ, please tell me, tell me
about Christ,” and as we waited on a seat in the Public Garden, for the
tramway, Dick insisted upon hearing the whole story of Christ. He says
his prayers to God, and the two have no connection in his mind. And now
I realize what Dick’s first and earliest impression of Christ will be,
it is indelible,...


SUNDAY, JULY 10, 1921.--_Mexico City._

I have at last found a friend. She is an English woman, married to a
Mexican. I met her in England, but never realized she lived in Mexico.
Great was my surprise and pleasure, when she made a sign of life to me.
Through her I have come in touch with the English and American Colony.
They are very nice to me, and anxious to help me to see all there is to
see. My Anglo-Mexican friends had a picnic lunch for me today, at their
place in Tocubaya just outside the City. It is called “The Molino” and
is the oldest mill in America, North or South. They hold the titles of
the estate from the first Viceroy.

Now they no longer live there. The house is deserted and unfurnished,
the chapel bereft of its old carved pews. The granaries are empty, one
is a hollow shell, the result of a fire. Only in the garden are there
signs of renaissance. This is the result of Revolution. Two thousand
men and 1500 horses were billeted there for five months, at the time
when Obregon came into power. From all descriptions, they destroyed
everything and took what they did not destroy. The trees were cut
down. Even the Church pews were stacked onto a cart and left when the
soldiers left. “The best Obusson Chair” in which the Colonel used to
sit, and to which he had become attached was piled onto the top of
the coke cart! Listening to all this, I felt I might be hearing the
complaint of people against the Bolsheviks! It is a point of view that
I do not often hear, and it interests me as all points of view do. For
awhile my sympathy was with these landowners. Their suffering sounded
so futile and this form of destruction helps none. The working man
does not gain by it. Nothing is arrived at except an unrest, a lack
of confidence, an apprehension for the future, and a resignation of
despair on the part of property owners. Some one gains: Presumably the
individual who loots.--I asked, “What was your ambition and your aim,
before all this happened...?” and the answer was: “The ambition of
every decent Mexican, to make a lot of money and go and live abroad.”
Precisely what the Russian bourgeois did. And how, I asked, does Mexico
expect to put her house in order, if the ambition of every decent
Mexican is to live outside his country...?

The Conways were among those invited to this rather sumptuous picnic,
which was served elaborately under the pergola in the garden. The
Conways are English and he is at the head of the electric light and
tramway company. The workshops have been on strike for sometime, and
now the tramway personnel threaten to come out in sympathy, on Thursday
next. Yesterday there was a demonstration of tramway workers, and they
deposited a red flag on Mr. Conway’s doorstep! The situation is an
anxious one, and keeps him overworked. He arrived late for lunch from a
Government conference, and had to leave again almost immediately after.

While the rest of the party played poker, I rocked in a perfectly good
hammock, and Dick sailed his boat in a 23 ft. deep swimming tank. The
sun came out fitfully, and the day was cold.

The weather I am assured is “unusual”.... On the way home we passed a
trolley car full of men. It was at a standstill and there seemed to be
a good-humored dispute going on, between one of the men in the trolley
and another who was attempting to board it. The man in the trolley
threatened the other by brandishing an iron bar. The other disregarding
him continued his efforts to climb. With a resounding blow, which we
could hear above the sound of our motor, the iron bar smote the man on
the temple, so that he dropped, stunned to the ground. A woman screamed
and ran to pick him up. But he picked himself up, and two small rocks
at the same time. Our car turned a corner, and the sequel was lost to
view.

“They hold life very lightly,” Mrs. Conway said with indifference. She
has lived here for some years.


WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 1921.

Mrs. Conway fetched me in the morning and we went to the National
Museum. I was in search of the War God Huitzil, the one that Cortez
threw down from the height of the Teocali after the great fight.
Mr. Terry’s guide book says it is in the Museum, but I could find it
nowhere. Upon inquiry one person said it was in a Convent, another that
it was built into the walls of the Cathedral, a third that it was among
the foundations of the National Palace! But if I failed in discovering
my god, the accumulation of Gods and of sculptured stone contained in
that small gallery in the National Museum was a revelation. The moment
I walked in I was amazed. This is work that rivets one’s attention.
The people who created these things have the right to a very important
place in art. The Aztec calendar stone one knows well, it has been
so often reproduced, but the reliefs on the sacrificial stones, are
equally wonderful,--almost pure Assyrian in feeling.

The great flat screenlike stone, representing the goddess of the Moon,
is full of design, beauty and terror. They demanded much, these Gods,
and I imagine they were served more out of fear than of love. Theirs
was a jealous god, and a god of vengeance. There was Chauticalli, the
crouching tiger, demanding the votive offering of human hearts, for
which he carries a cup sunk in his own back.

Of all the gods, Chac-Mosl, the Lord of Life, brought from Yucatan, is
the one that is least barbaric. Almost it might be the work of a modern
archaic sculptor. But through everything there runs a note of deep
tragedy, of awful distress. The people who worshipped Soxhipili, the
Goddess of Spring and Flowers, who lifts up a pained and tearstained
face to heaven,--are the same people who today worship the bloodstained
painted plaster figure of Christ. They are still idolaters, but they
call it Christ today, and their souls react to all the pain, and all
the blood, and all the horror, that centuries ago was carved in stone,
and stained with the blood of human hearts. Going to that Museum,
seeing, even without understanding, has opened up to me a whole new
interest in the Mexican people. Not lightly can the world dismiss as
brigands descendants of a civilization that produced such sculpture.
What was this civilization? The America of the United States has no
such ancestry, no such relics.

And who are these people of today, called Mexican Indians, whose great
dignity and impassivity and melancholy remind one of the Russian
peasant? Is it explained in either case by centuries of oppression?
Perhaps I will understand a little later on, but at present I am lost
in the mysticism of it.

At six o’clock, Madame Malbran, the wife of the Argentine Minister
and Madame de Bonilla, took me to a reception given by the Pani’s. He
is the Minister for Foreign Affairs. After my morning spent with the
gods, and the atmosphere of Aztec culture, it was a strange contrast
to go to this centre of political modernism. The party might have been
in Paris or Rome. It was a perfectly cosmopolitan gathering, and one
heard every language around one. To the accompaniment of a jazz-band
we danced in two big empty rooms, the walls of which were covered with
pictures. I had already heard a good deal of discussion and comment
about Alberto Pani’s collection of Old Masters, but whatever people may
say, and whatever they may be, they are extremely attractive pictures
collected by some one with a cultured eye. Here I met a very charming
cosmopolitan Mexican called the Marquis de Guadalupe. He had other
names, but they were beyond my intelligence. Guadalupe, I can remember
because I’ve been to the Cathedral of...! He talked like an Englishman
and said he had been educated at Stonyhurst. He asked me if I had seen
any Mexican sports,--one of which is called “Haripego” ... he told me
he did it himself and described it to me: As far as I could make out
wild Mexicans on wild horses pursue a wild bull, catch it by the tail,
and throw it! My informant with sleek grey hair, and immaculately
civilized clothes, looked like anything but a wild Mexican. He assured
me he was one, however, in everything but appearance. He then went
up to Pani and asked if they could get up a show for me. There was
some discussion in Spanish, there was nothing to do, I understood,
but to buy “a few wild horses and some bulls” ... that’s all ...! and
Pani, turning to me, said I had “but to command!” So I commanded with
all possible entreaty and was promised that it should be arranged as
soon as possible for next week. I also expressed a wish to climb up
Popocatapetl, and Pani invited me to lunch on Saturday to meet someone
who will make it possible for me. Thus encouraged I rushed back to
the Hotel to find Mrs. Conway with an American from Monterey, waiting
to take me out to dinner. Afterwards we went and watched a game of
Peloto--. This is the Spanish name for “ball”--It was a wonderful
game, a species of squash rackets. The players wear long narrow basket
sheafs in which they miraculously catch the ball, hardly ever missing
it. A miss counts a score for the opponent. The curious scoop shape
of the basket (I thought for the first moment that they were hollowed
elephant tusks!) enables them to hurl the ball from a great distance
and with great force. It is extremely beautiful to watch and is the
fastest ball game in the world. All the while a tremendous lot of
betting goes on, and the bookies in their red caps make a maddening din
shouting the odds. The onlookers, who are more gamblers than sportsmen,
are full of denunciatory exclamations over bad play and seldom, if
ever, appreciative of any particular good stroke. Played without any
professional betting it would be a very sporting game, as well as a
very highly scientific one.


FRIDAY, JULY 15, 1921. _Mexico City._

Mr. Conway having last night at midnight settled his tramway strike to
his satisfaction, we started off at 9 A.M. in his car, with a friend
of his and made for the Pyramids of San Juan Teotihuacan. It was very
cold at the start and by the time we got to San Cristobal the sun was
out and we stopped to photograph the monument to Morelos, the Mexican
revolutionary patriot. He is buried here, opposite his house. The
monument, which is thoroughly modern, simple and forceful, resembles
some of the new Russian revolutionary sculpture. Further on we
stopped again and looked at a church. It stands alone in a wind-swept
plain which had once been flooded. The floods had raised the earth
about twelve feet above the original surface, so the carvings of the
beautiful archway were low down on the ground instead of being high
up. It had been an old Monastery, and the cloisters had just recently
been excavated. It is amazing the way one comes upon a perfect gem
of Spanish Renaissance architecture, in the wilds among fields of
cactus. Sometimes there is not even a village in the vicinity. The
inside of the church, with its rather Moorish vaulted roof and its
Italian frescoed walls would have been very lovely, but for the usual
additions that characterize either the Spanish or the Mexican Romanism,
of which I have already complained. The one illumination to this gloom
was the quantities of song birds inside the church that flew about
the roof and among the altars, fanning the noses of the melancholy
Saints, whilst their songs reverberated through the echoing building.
Outside the door, an iridescent humming-bird was sucking honey from
a wild flower. Among the loose stones of the old cemetery wall, we
picked up a small terra-cotta Aztec head of an ape. Beyond this place
we got hopelessly lost for some time and wandered through villages of
which the roads seemed all alike. These villages are built of adobe
or mud bricks, and the houses are square, flat roofed and windowless.
They probably have been this way ever since Aztec times. The people we
saw were pure Indian, without any drop of Spanish blood. There seems
to be a great deal of lameness and blindness, especially the latter,
owing to the prevalence of disease among the parents. Infant mortality
in Mexico, is, I am told on reliable authority, higher than that of
any other country in the world. But to continue ... our lost way was
extremely interesting. Sometimes our road lay hemmed in on either side
by high impenetrable hedges, formed by the organ cactus, which the
Indians plant to wall in their gardens or farm yards. Hardly any of
the road was road at all, it was either rock or stream, on a tract
among the plantations of the pulque cactus. The car was an 8-cylinder
Cadillac. It seemed to take anything competently and uncomplainingly.
Never have I seen an owner so fatalistic, or a driver so calm under
adversity. I felt we _must_ turn over sometimes, but we did not, nor
did we stick in the mud, nor did the streams drown the machine, nor
did the springs break, nor did we puncture! When Mr. Conway pointed
in a direction and said to the chauffeur: “That is where we want to
go ...” we went quite regardless of whether there was a road or not.
“Is that a road?” I asked once or twice, and was told it was! When
nearly at our destination, and having taken three hours instead of
two, we had a final delay: In a lane we met three galloping soldiers,
who signalled to us to stop. We were made to draw up onto the grassy
roadside and there we stood for half an hour, while at least eighteen,
if not twenty, guns went by, drawn by their mule teams of six each. It
was very picturesque, the men riding the teams shouted and urged and
beat their mules, trumpeters galloped by, officers stood escort by our
car while they passed. The soldiers were dressed in coarse white linen
uniforms, and white leggings and hats, with red cord and tassels on
their shoulders. They looked rather dilapidated individually, but very
picturesque collectively. I did not dare photograph them, as it might
have been a troop movement. The papers this morning are full of the
insurrection of the troops under Gen. Herrera near Tampico in the state
of Vera Cruz, Huasteca District, and there seems to be something in the
air ... who knows, trouble again perhaps? But no one troubles.

At last we arrived in the wonderful valley. It seemed completely
deserted except for the workmen who are digging the excavations, and
some big eyed barefooted silent children who watched us. Instantly on
arrival we climbed up to the top of the pyramid of the Sun. Its base
measurement is said to be that of the Pyramids of Egypt, but it is not
so high, nor so pointed. It has been flattened out on the top, for the
sacrifices. The human bodies, after their hearts were cut out, were
simply thrown over the edge, and there are supposed to have been men
stationed on each platform below, to pitchfork them on and over down to
the next until finally at the bottom, they were collected by those to
whom they proudly belonged, and taken away, ... it having been a great
honor to be sacrificed.

The view from the summit was awesome. Great mountain peaks dwarfed
us, and a little way beyond stood the pyramid of the Moon, and the
“Road of the Dead” with its small sentinel Teocalis all along the way,
leading from the “Moon” past us, to the distant so-called Citadel.
We lunched nearby in a great natural cave, which had long zigzagging
steps that led down into it, and made one feel rather theatrical and
Ali-Babaish! After luncheon we went to this “Citadel,” where the new
excavations and restorations are taking place. No one is allowed to go
near it, and little is known about it as yet. The discoveries are going
on apace, and promise to be among the most dramatically interesting in
the American Continent. I suppose some day the world will awaken to the
wonders here, and will give it their attention instead of constantly
re-treading the well worn paths of archaeological Europe and Egypt.

Sheltered, hidden, protected behind an Aztec Teocali, there has just
been revealed another of infinitely earlier date of which little, if
anything, is as yet surmised. To date, four tiers of sculptured walls
have been unearthed and in between these terraces straight up from
the base to the as yet uncovered summit, are wide steep stone steps,
the side slopes of which are punctuated by enormous dragon heads.
These same heads, slightly varied, stood out from the wall of the four
terraces, one above the other, from a low relief background. The eyes
of the great stone dragon-heads are set with obsidian, a black volcanic
glass which the district produces. There are signs of color on these
sculptures. The whole thing is barbaric, and overwhelmingly effective.
It suggested to my mind something very definitely Chinese. It was a
great privilege to be able to see this new discovery and to be allowed
to take photographs. We were told by an official to whom Mr. Conway
gave his name, that we might climb anywhere, and take what photographs
we pleased. This, after our first reception by an officious but dutiful
underling, who forbade us to do anything we wanted to do, was a heaven
sent relief!

Around us in a gigantic square, walls, and steps and Teocalis were
being restored. The centre may prove to have been a gigantic arena,
that was what the space and its shape suggested to me, but all
conjecture in this place is futile. No one knows ... it is no good
asking or seeking or imagining. It is the great mystery of the World’s
History. Perhaps if the fanatical first Spanish Viceroy had not burnt
all the Indian records something might be known. As it is, unless
something is revealed, we shall continue in ignorance. A little feeling
of pride came over me, as I viewed these monuments from the top of the
Teocali, and realized that sculpture had survived where painting, and
life, and race, and history and tradition even had faded away. Almost
one might dare to say that sculpture that is monumental is immortal.


SATURDAY, JULY 16, 1921. _Mexico City._

Alberto Pani gave a luncheon for me, which proved unexpectedly
pleasant. We were three women and seven men, among whom was José
Vasconselos, the Rector of the University, a very brilliant man for
whom the Government has created a portfolio; Enciso, the Guardian of
Ancient Buildings; Martinez, the head of the Academia of Belles Artes,
Mantenegro, a painter of great distinction. I sat between my host, whom
I find understanding and easy to talk to and on my other side a man
called Dr. Atl. His name isn’t really Atl at all, but as he is called
that and was introduced to me under that name he may as well remain
Atl. He is the man who was especially asked to meet me, to tell me
about Popocatapetl. He has been up to the crater a great many times.
In fact the love and the obsession of his life is said to be the great
White Mountain! He was explained to me as being a painter, a poet, a
Bolshevik, a Bohemian.... He certainly has individuality, and was not a
bit surprised when I told him he was a Russian type, and that in fact
he talks French as the Russians I have known talked it. He knew it, but
denied any Russian blood.... Anyway to my great delight, he says it is
perfectly possible to do the ascent at this, the rainy season. So many
people have been telling me that it was an impossibility! He promises
to take me next week.[9] With my host I had an interesting talk, about
things here, as well as in Russia. He asked me what my impression was
of Lenin, and I told him.... We discussed opinions very openly, and at
the end of it I asked him, laughingly: “Am I a Bolshevik ...?” and he
said “No,--you are _une femme intelligente_, with good judgment!” Above
all we talked about Mexico and I think he was pleased by my enthusiasm
and my interest. I amused them all, by telling them (to illustrate the
prevailing ignorance of Mexico) that my “in-laws” had had a conference
on the matter of my having dared to risk Dick’s life by bringing him
to Mexico, as a result of which they had decided that on my return to
England, Dick should be removed from my custody. An excellent reason,
as they pointed out, for not returning to England, but remaining in
Mexico! “All the same,” Pani admitted, “we have had terrible times
here, when really one only went out at the risk of one’s life, and the
outside world hears only of our upheavals.” He said laughingly that
Popocatapetl was very emblematical of Mexico.... “We are a volcanic
country, ready at any moment to erupt.” I like their sense of humor
about themselves. When I said I wanted to meet General Villa, they all
laughed, and said “Well, if you want to meet Mexican Generals, your
time will be well taken up, there are about six thousand of them!”


SUNDAY, JULY 17, 1921. _Mexico City._

Spent the day with Mr. Niven at Atcapazalco about half an hour out by
tram, and a couple of miles from the tramway. It was real “wilds” with
here and there an Indian village. Mr. Niven works indefatigably. All
during the week his workmen prepare the ground for him and dig the
trenches, and on Sundays he comes out himself, with a small pickaxe
and goes over the ground. He has done this for twenty-seven years,
and a great many things in the National Museum are of his discovery
and presentation. There are three civilizations buried in layers, and
because nothing is known of them, they are called the Aztec (three feet
below the ground), the pre-Aztec and the primitives. The principal and
most valuable of the layers is the middle one. Unfortunately, ours
was not as productive a Sunday as it should have been, for Mr. Niven
allowed a Mrs. Gould to turn Saturday into Sunday and she had all
the benefit of the week’s digging, and unearthed a little Xochipili
(The Goddess of Spring and Flowers). Nevertheless the soil yielded up
innumerable little terra-cotta heads of Egyptian design, and incense
burners, and obsidian knives. At the last, he came upon the wall of a
building, it was an outer wall, and he had great hopes of what it might
contain, but the hour was then late, and a thunder storm threatening
and we had to abandon the pursuit. One learns patience at this job.


TUESDAY, JULY 19, 1921. _Mexico City._

The National Museum is only open in the morning, but Mr. Niven and
Professor (of Archaeology) Mena, opened it for me, and spent the
afternoon explaining things to me. It is a place in which one might
spend to advantage every day for two months. It contains a wealth
of revelation. Even the countries that contain Mexican collections
can have no idea of Mexican primitive culture. One _must_ see the
collection in this Museum.

I had just been given a small jade god, which I recognized at once as
being infinitely old and beautiful. Professor Mena knew all about it at
once. It is a “stone of virtue” (Piedra Divertua) and belongs to the
Mixteca civilization, two thousand years ago. It is beautifully carved
and I love it dearly. (Had it a small pointed beard, it would look like
Trotzky!) I did not exaggerate the impression of my former superficial
visit to the Museum. If I was struck by it then, I was overwhelmed
by it today. The more one looks the more one discovers of beauty.
The best things are masterpieces, and two or three of the reliefs are
as beautiful and as well carved and drawn, as any of the most famous
works of art in the world. I say this with perfect confidence. Egyptian
and Assyrian influence with classic Greek designs and a tremendous
suggestion of Chinese, makes one perfectly bewildered as to origin
and tradition. Upstairs among the smaller things there were objects
of such finished beauty that I was silenced even as to expression of
appreciation. I wonder if I am an unusually ignorant person, or whether
I have made a great discovery. I am under the impression that the world
in general does not know much about things Mexican.

Sometimes, I am afraid to trust my own judgment, ... since I discovered
Shakespeare. It was long after my maturity, and I happened to chance
upon “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I could not put it down until I had
finished it, and then, so thrilled was I, that I rushed to my family
and told them all about it. Perhaps my discovery of Mexico is another
of the world’s Shakespeares, which everyone already knows about
except me. But so enthused am I, and delighted, that I would like to
take Mexico to England, or else bring England to Mexico.... When I
find something interesting I want to share it.... Russia was a thing
to live, this is a thing to see. Not many of my friends would have
cared to live as I loved living, in Russia. But heaps of people would
appreciate the things that are beautiful to see here in Mexico.

No news from Dr. Atl about Popocatapetl but rumor says it is in
eruption. Message through Mr. Malbran, the Argentine Minister, from
President Obregon, inviting me to Chapultepec Castle Sunday night at
9:00 P.M. Message from Mr. de la Huerta, the Minister of Finance,
saying that he has heard and read of the mondaine society by whom I am
being entertained, and that he suggests that in three days, if I am
tired of these people, I go to see him and he will show me “the other
side of Mexico” ... invitation definite for Monday afternoon next.


SUNDAY, JULY 24, 1921. _Mexico City._

Mr. Conway fetched me and Dick in his car at 9:00 A.M. and we drove out
to Tipositlan. It is about 40 kilometers away. It had been raining all
night and the roads were desperately slippery. We had to climb up a
small mountain and the road was not really a road, but a muddy torrent.
The car stuck. Dick delighted, he got out and climbed the mountain side
and picked wild flowers. To my surprise it did in time get out of the
mire and we climbed to the top, closely followed by a huge motor-lorry.
When we had descended the hill on the other side onto the flat road,
the lorry tried to race us, with the result that the driver was very
nearly jolted off the seat and the man next to the driver did actually
fall off! Such is the condition of the roads just outside the city area.

Arrived finally at Tepositlan we rambled all over the church, the
convent and the patios. It used to be a Jesuit Monastery; they were
planted there in order to educate and influence the Indian children.
They have within the last few years been expelled, leaving behind them
a really beautiful monument of church art. I have not seen anything
more beautiful in Italy. The façade of the church, the carvings, the
towers and domes, the surrounding wall, the avenue of cypress, the
gnarled olive trees, complete an exquisite exterior. Within there is a
church that is gold! Gold! Gold! but the gold is on carved wood and the
gold is old gold, so that what must have once been dazzling and vulgar,
is now mellow and beautiful. Then there are little inner chapels that
are gems of beauty, and a patio, sun-bathed, and full of orange trees
in fruit, cloister surrounded. The whole thing was an endless labyrinth
of real beauty.

We retired to the garden of Don Trinidad, a picturesque farmer, who
set a table for us to lunch under the largest fig tree I have ever
seen, our dessert being overhead, reachable by standing on a chair!
Always wherever one looks, whether in town or in country, there is
the background of mountain ranges that meets the eye. After lunch we
climbed to the topmost belfry.

I got home just in time to have a short rest, and then Mr. Malbran
fetched me in his car and took me to Chapultepec Castle, which, by the
way, is much prettier at night, lit up. We drove straight up to the
front door,--no sentries attempted to stop us. It was like a deserted
country house, and even with the front door wide open, there was no
one about, and Mr. Malbran had to walk outside, to a guard or someone,
and request that our arrival be announced. We waited for about ten
minutes in a small Council Chamber on the right of the entrance, and
then voices were heard. Mr. Malbran said “Here he is”--and I recognized
at once, coming towards us, the one-armed General, whose face the
newspapers have made familiar. He invited us to go upstairs to one of
the reception rooms, and he led the way to a room where the chairs
were covered with overalls, and stood all in a solemn row, except a
tapestry sofa and centrepiece presented by Napoleon III, I suppose to
Maximilian, and set in light yellow wood, and perfectly hideous.

We three sat in this formal unlived-in room, and Mr. Malbran proceeded
to be our interpreter for about an hour. Whenever I was being
interpreted to the President, I had the chance of watching his face.
His hair is thick and black, his rather flowing moustache tinged
with grey. His face is round and fresh complexioned, he is powerfully
built, but too stout. His right arm is cut off above the elbow, and
every now and then he moves the stump, which gives the impression of
a bird trying to use a broken wing. We had a fine battle of wits,
which through an interpreter became so clear and acute that we all of
us had finally to laugh over it. Talking through an interpreter is as
bad as talking to a deaf person through an ear trumpet. I said I had
come with the hopes of doing his portrait, that I regarded myself as
an historian, and it was my idea to try and represent the people of
my own day,--whatever country they belong to, so long as they have
accomplished something.

The President replied that he had not yet accomplished the things for
which he represented the Mexican people, and that he felt too modest
at present to allow himself to be done. There was only one thing he
minded, and that was ridicule. “My people will think I am competing
with the Venus of Milo!” he said, shaking his stump. He would not
refuse me, however, and suggested merely a postponement of three years,
to enable him in that space of time to “make good.”...

I said that success was not necessary to a man’s greatness. That I had
done Asquith, who had not brought England through the war, and Winston
Churchill, who is not yet Prime Minister, and Lenin, who has not yet
brought the Russian experiment to a triumph, and Marconi who admitted
to me himself that he had not yet completed the invention that was to
make him most famous! But that these are all nevertheless historical
men. I explained that Mexico ought to be represented in my world
collection, and that I understood he, General Obregon, was the best
and the most representative man of the 15,000,000 people of Mexico!
The President laughed, he said “If I am the best, what must you think
of the others?” He said that if I were less famous and therefore his
sitting to me less conspicuous, he might consent, but that he was not a
worthy subject _yet_ for so distinguished an artist, but that he would
work during the three years to come with a new zeal. Knowing the prize
in view!

I swept his compliments aside by asking him to help me to be a more
distinguished artist by having the honor to do him!

He laughed, and said that he had had many dangerous moments in his
life, but never had he felt nearer to defeat than at this moment, and
defeat by a woman...! To which I repeated that I had been told the
President was a man of force, but I had no idea he had such force.

When this was translated, he seemed slightly embarrassed, and I went
on, revelling in his discomfiture: “Lenin said it was extremely
tiresome of me to want to do him, but that after all, I had come _such_
a long way to do it! Now Mexico is just as far as Moscow, and are you
going to allow it to be said that the Bolsheviks are more chivalrous
and more cultured? Of course, he knew, and I knew, and he knew that I
knew that there is no comparison between himself and Lenin. The one is
bound to live in the world’s history....” He said desperately “I will
be delighted to see you whenever you care to see me. I play cards and
billiards and ride horse back, and will do any of these things with
you if you wish....” He then went on to explain that Mexico had had so
many Presidents in the last few years, some of them, men of ability,
but others, men of no consequence.... He did not wish to be classified
in this latter category, so that when I had done his bust, it should
turn out to be of some one of no importance.... He had certain definite
work he wished to accomplish, work for which the Mexican people had
elected him their representative, and he must try and accomplish
that work before he had a right to assume any attitude that might be
mistaken by his people as being a satisfaction with himself. I said
that I understood his point of view but deplored it! We then went on
to talk about Mexico, and my appreciation of all there was to see, and
he said that I was not to be allowed to go away before the Centenary
celebration (September 15th) and that I should represent “Modern
Europe” at the Centenary! “Modern” indeed! but I do not see myself
living until September without work!

He left the room for a moment to give an order, explaining he had sent
for a reproduction of himself that Madame Obregon had presented to him,
and that he would like to show me. Presently two small children came
in: “These are the reproductions of me!” he said, laughingly ... the
boy about 4 years old was certainly like him. The little girl, rather
frail and white, less so. I wondered at those small children not being
in bed, it must have been nearly ten o’clock. No wonder they looked
pale!

The President then took us upstairs to another large uninhabited
reception room, to show us a picture done from photographs by a Spanish
artist! The picture had its face to the wall, and when turned round
by two attendants, for our inspection, it was obviously just what a
picture would be like done from photographs! I felt it had better go
back with its face to the wall. I also thought of Colonel Miller, the
U. S. Military Attaché, who informed me sometime ago, that visiting
a pottery he found that a workman had modelled from photographs an
“excellent and most clever likeness of Obregon.”... He paid the workman
two pesos for it and intended to “present it” to the President. Done
from photographs, for two pesos. How can one compete? I cannot help
smiling as I recall the three distinguished portrait painters, who, on
hearing I was coming to Mexico, bade me cable to them if there was any
work to do, so that they might come immediately. To switch off from
this train of thought I asked, if I were not indiscreet in doing so,
what the President’s impression was of the condition of Russia from
the reports of his representatives whom he had sent there three months
ago. He explained that the representatives had not yet returned, but
one was to arrive in about sixty days. Meanwhile they have orders not
to send communications by mail. His own private opinion was that every
movement has something good as well as bad in it. He thought the result
of the Russians having been so long oppressed, was that they were now
like birds let out of a cage, and not knowing quite what to do with
their freedom.... I thought to myself, this is the most non-committal
opinion I have ever heard expressed! and I marvelled at the
unhesitating readiness of the man, who is really a soldier, yet talks
like a diplomat! My impression was of a man of no culture and little
education. His face shows no trace of thought or even anxiety, he is
quick, cautious and strong-minded. I asked him before I left, whether
his disinclination to be modelled by me was influenced by the fact that
I had done Lenin and Trotzky. He said most emphatically that this was
not the case, and that he was far too independent a man to entertain
such small ideas. He seemed really rather worried lest I should think
him discourteous, and he begged me to tell him what he could do for
me, as he would like to be my best friend in Mexico,--would I come and
see him whenever I liked without any pretext being necessary and if I
could not produce an interpreter, he would. “But in three years ...” he
said, “I shall speak French!” “and ... I Spanish,” I said. He picked
me flowers from the roof garden, took my arm and helped me upstairs
and expressed in every outward way his desire to be friendly. He said
to me, as I was leaving: “You must know in your heart that I am right
...” and of course I do know it. I have already said it. Obregon has
not yet done anything to immortalize his name in History ... he may
‘go’ tomorrow, and another take his place ... I said to him, “Well, do
something _quickly_ to justify my doing your bust!”

Meanwhile let us “wait and see” what he is going to do!


MONDAY, JULY 25, 1921. _Mexico City._

I see in the newspaper that Einstein has returned to Germany. His
criticism of the United States is quoted in the MEXICAN POST.
He abuses them after all their hospitality, he laughs at their
adulation. He says the men are the lapdogs of the women.... I suppose
the American man’s attitude towards woman is about as extreme in one
direction as the German’s attitude is extreme in another. As a woman
I can only say, “Thank God for the American man.” I suppose the word
‘Hausfrau’ is almost an international word. It describes a certain
type of woman, and it is a German type. The German man has made her
so. Einstein may well scoff at the position of woman in the States.
To him the chivalry of the American man is not easily understood. As
for American people’s enthusiasm over the Einstein theory, “which they
did not understand,” that is probably why they enthused, which they
otherwise might not.

This evening at five,--Mr. Malbran called for me, and drove me to the
Ministry of Finance, to keep our appointment with de la Huerta. The
familiar view of a busy Government office recalled Moscow. We passed
through two rooms in which people were waiting, and I waited only about
three minutes in a third room full of men. The realization that all
these people were waiting to see him made me rather anxious, but we
were shown in almost immediately to the Minister’s great big reposeful
room. We were joined by a young man, his English interpreter, and
all four of us sitting round in a circle, conversation began, rather
formally. The feeling was: “Well now you’re here, say something,”
and through an interpreter I am shy to begin. Mr. Malbran also makes
me nervous! This feeling of restraint, however, only lasted for a
few minutes. When we had acquitted ourselves of mutual compliments,
telling each other that we had heard so much about the other, and how
interested we were in meeting one another, I said that I had so many
things that I wanted to talk to him about, and so many questions I
wanted to ask. He replied in a most gracious manner, that I had but to
ask anything I liked, without reserve. So I broke the ice by asking
rather flippantly, why the Government didn’t make use of all the young
men who were selling bananas and mangoes in the streets, and put them
to work on making roads. I said there were such beautiful places to see
and so hard to get to. He took my question more seriously than I had
anticipated. He said that the economic position of the country had to
be straightened out first, and that meanwhile all the important things
were held up. “If only,” he said, “England would recognize us and help
to stabilize us, instead of creating this wall around us, we might get
out onto our feet.” I told him that his words sounded like an echo of
Moscow, and he said, “Russia is more fortunate than we, for she has her
recognition now and we have not.”

The subject of Russia just broke down any remaining formalities or
restraint. We were, as one might say, “off.” He asked me pointblank did
I think the majority in Russia were better off since the new system. I
looked at Mr. Malbran, the polished diplomat, who was following this
discussion with attention. “At the risk of Mr. Malbran thinking me a
Bolshevik, (and we all laughed) I confess that in my humble opinion,
the majority are better off, that is to say, the working people have
more. They certainly have no less.”

“If those are your views,” de la Huerta said,“can you explain an
alleged interview with you, in a Mexican paper, in which you are quoted
as saying that, ‘Communism in Russia has completely broken down.’”
I denied having made any such statement, and not being able to read
Spanish, that was the first I had heard of it. He asked if I had heard
in Russia any opinions expressed about Mexico. I was sorry to have to
admit that I had not. No one at that time associated me in the least
with anything but England, and as I did not understand Russian, I lost
much that I might have learned from overhearing.

“And what do you think of Mexico, and of the present Government?” he
asked. I said rather humbly, that it was perfectly bewildering, and
that I did not understand it. But I knew some of the details of their
labor laws which were extremely liberal, and I admired very much. “And
what do you think of the contrast between our palaces and our poor--?”
he asked me. I said I hadn’t seen many palaces....

“But you have anyway seen Pani’s, and Malbran’s!” he said laughing.

“Yes, but your climate is kind, and your poor do not look so wretched,
as for instance in England.”

“Come with me some day ... I will show you,” he offered.

I said that anything he could show me would be greatly appreciated. He
promised to snatch an hour or two next Thursday at three. “And when you
have seen some of the misery of these people, you will wonder why some
of us have not given our lives to ameliorate their lot.”

I said, “the first thing that should be done here--is Hygiene”.

The Minister agreed, “And next is education.” He agreed again but
added: “All that depends on the economic position of the country.”

I said, “You have your soil full of richness, your country is richer
than almost any other country, why do not you Mexicans get up and
possess it, instead of allowing the foreigner to come in and exploit
it?”

“Understand ...” he answered, “that after years of oppression, when we
were, as it were, a nation of slaves, we gained our liberty, and before
we knew what use to make of it, the experienced foreigner came to show
us and he took things into his own hands. Today it complicates our
machinery beyond words.”

Conversation began to be a mix-up of Spanish, French and English. When
the Minister’s interpreter failed in his English, Malbran came to the
rescue in French. The Minister understood enough English to prompt in
the translations, and I understood enough Spanish to get the spirit of
his meaning.

“It must be a wonderful thing,” I said, “to be in a position of power,
and to be able to help in the uplift of the workers.”

He said he had devoted twenty years of his life to this task, at the
risk of being abused and misunderstood. He told us of his organization
of a labor representation within the Government as early as 1916,
before Russia ever began her revolution. He said it had been hard
work, and things had not gone as they should go, they had been wrongly
organized. The revolutions that had occurred one after another in
Mexico had not helped the masses.

“Revolution,” he said, “is composed of three factors. The first is
propaganda,--the second is armed force and the third is evolution; and
we began unfortunately with armed force, the propaganda followed and
the evolution was only partial.”

We discussed the difference between proletariat and democracy, he
quoted Lenin, who believes in the one, but he believes in the other.
He rather deplored the fact that the Third Internationale had broken
away from democracy. I cannot quote the discussion, it was too long
and too intricate, and I would risk to misquote. But he spoke with an
earnestness and a keenness that even interpretation did not spoil. He
said that he did all he could, and all he dared to do, to further the
cause of the laboring masses, but he was handicapped, out of loyalty to
his President and a desire not to compromise his country, by going too
far in the world movement. But he insisted several times upon the fact
that there would be no real amelioration of suffering in the world,
until people had generally realized their duty towards their fellows,
of helping and sharing. I said I did not know why I interested myself
in the destiny of the “proletaire” but that I could not help it, and
that it was a subject that always roused me.

The Minister, with visionary eyes, said almost passionately, “Sometimes
I feel like a woman with a great love in her heart, that she longs to
tell but has to suppress because of the conventions of the world that
surround her, and which force her, almost nun-like, to preserve in
silence,” and it sounded beautiful in Spanish.

Malbran, whom he had referred to as “our conservative friend!” had
become interested, and towards the end he ceased to be interpreter and
joined in the discussion.

I thought of all the people in all the rooms who were patiently and
impatiently waiting to see their Minister of Finance, who was engaged
in Socialist arguments with this strange party! At the end, I said I
felt I had drunk deep of clear pure water! and he said chivalrously
that it had been a great pleasure to him to have opportunity of once in
awhile “letting himself go....”

He repeated his promise about fetching me Thursday, to see.... He did
not precisely define _what_.

We got down into the street, and found the car, and drove away with a
strange sense of excitement and stimulation, at least I did, and as for
Malbran, who had been rather silent on our way there, he was now quite
expansive. We talked animatedly all the way back to the Geneva Hotel,
where he dropped me. We discussed the psychology of de la Huerta, I
said I would hate to be disillusioned, but that my instinct told me the
man had all the passion and the sincerity of the Russians I had known
in Moscow. We agreed that if de la Huerta had been imprisoned for years
by a Czarist regime, he would be as fanatical and as ready to give his
life for the cause, as volcanic and ruthless as any of the Russian
Revolutionaries. Of the few people I have met so far in Mexico, de la
Huerta is by far the most interesting.


WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 1921. _Mexico City._

When I returned from riding at midday, it was to find Pani’s car
waiting for me, and the information that four times people had called
to take me to the “Haripeyo” that was taking place at the bull ring
since 11 o’clock. I hurriedly changed my clothes, cursing fate, that
I had not been told of this in time. Arrived there I was welcomed by
Pani, and Malbran. There were quite a lot of people, but I didn’t
know who they were. I regretted not having had the chance of asking
my friends. In the ring there were about a dozen men on horseback,
and one of them I recognized as my friend Guadalupe. He looked
extremely picturesque in his leather clothes and huge brimmed white
hat embroidered in gold. The game seemed to be to chase a wild horse
and lassoo it. Dick was wildly excited. He shouted: “That’s good!” at
the top of his voice when the pony was violently thrown to the ground.
It may have been a wild horse, but a tame horse fed on oats is wilder.
This animal looked unkempt, moth-eaten, and dazed, I suppose from
fright. It must be a rotten game for the horse, to be tripped up when
he’s galloping full speed. They would lassoo his front legs together
and then his back legs so that the animal lay on the ground helpless,
then a man would straddle it, and the horse would rise to his feet with
the man on his back. They did the same with a bull, having previously
pursued it, caught it by the tail, given the tail a twist round the
man’s leg, which just threw the galloping bull with a thud to the
ground. Almost the best feat was performed by a rider who pursued the
wild horse, caught it by the mane and jumped from his own horse on the
back of the wild one, as they galloped side by side. They are wonderful
riders these Mexicans. They can sit anything and cannot be shaken off!
But I would like to see them on a powerful big horse with an English
saddle.

Dick and I spent the afternoon in the garden of the American Embassy.
There is a little round clear blue-tiled pond full of goldfish, and
Dick paddled and played and was completely happy. I asked Mr. Summerlin
for news, as I get nothing to read but the MEXICAN POST.
But he was full of mystery and told me nothing about anything. When
people get a suspicion that one may be writing, they became terribly
secretive. I remember a time when I used to hear state secrets, and
people used to talk about things in front of me as if I were perfectly
idiotic and negligible.

Today I asked Mr. Summerlin: “Is recognition any nearer...?” He
shrugged his shoulders in true diplomatic fashion--it told me nothing.
That he was very busy and finally called away on urgent matters, was
all I learnt. We might be on the eve of war for all I know! The people
one meets are supremely indifferent to everything. The newspapers
record certain rebellions in various parts, no one even reads them.
Even the Tampico Oil ‘hold up’ is now a thing of the past, the papers
hardly mention it at all, nor the oil wells that are on fire; it is as
if the Mexican nation was so blasé with excitements that nothing any
longer can stir their interest.


THURSDAY, JULY 28, 1921. _Mexico City._

Punctually at 3 o’clock, and true to his word, de la Huerta fetched me
in his car. Mr. Malbran was of the party, and as also Mr. Rubio, the
good-looking young man who interprets for him. To my great joy he told
the chauffeur to drive to El Disirto. It is one of the places I want to
see. If the expedition was meant to show me the poverty of Mexico, one
did not have to go far, the outskirts of the town are as sordid, dirty,
and miserable as can be. But out in the open road, (and a beautiful
road it was) we met almost a procession of Indians, one behind the
other, walking into the town with their loads. These loads consist
chiefly of terra-cotta pots and cooking utensils, piled up, in and
around a wooden case, the whole weight of which is carried by a strap
round the forehead. Thus, barefooted and bent double, heads straining
forward against the weight, muscles of their necks swollen, lips
sometimes blue, and bulging eyes focussed on the ground immediately in
front, the Indian man, woman and boy will walk twelve kilometres. De
la Huerta, pointing to some Indians on burros, said: “Those are the
privileged classes.”

“How are you going to better the conditions of these people?” I
asked....

“Caramba!” he exclaimed with a gesture of perplexity, and this needed
no interpretation.

“What is your motive in showing me ‘La misere’ of Mexico...?”

He said: “Your bourgeois friends have shown you what they had to show,”
and he referred laughingly to yesterday’s Haripeyo and the description
in the newspapers of the smart people present. “Each of us shows you
his own side...”. He went on to tell me that in olden days, the poverty
and distress was hidden from visitors as much as possible, but that
times had changed, and to-day everything was open for anyone who wished
to investigate. “It is good that foreigners should see what we made our
Revolution for.” I was a little bit perplexed, and remarked: “But how
has it helped, if the people are still in this condition?”

He explained that things were slowly progressing, that the development
was from the coast towards the centre, he said proudly, that the State
of Sonora, of which he is Governor (elected by a tremendous majority)
has no such conditions, and he expressed the desire that I might
see his State--“But these people” and he waved towards the patient
procession, remarking as he did so upon the expression of suffering in
their faces--“these people are better off even than they were. In the
days of Porfirio Diaz they worked as they are worked today, but they
worked for an employer. They were whipped to work. They were slaves.
They had even to marry according to their employers’ selection. Today
they are doing the work for themselves, they do it of free choice, and
whatever small gain they make, it is theirs.”

I quoted what a friend had told me, that the Indians would rather sell
bananas in the gutter, than own a bit of land and have to cultivate
it. De la Huerta’s face took a savage expression: “Try and take away a
piece of land from the Indian who owns it and see what happens ...” he
said.

Under the thirty years peaceful reign of Porfirio Diaz, a handful of
people prospered, a propertied class and a rich leisured class sprang
up, “But the working people were as you see them here on the road. Are
you surprised they rose in revolt?”

I told him that Russia seemed to be concentrating all her propaganda
on the next generation, and that the obsession of the moment was
education. De la Huerta said in reply, that after he became Governor
of Sonora, he increased the schools from eighty to four hundred and
twenty-seven in one year. The man is evidently full of ideas and
ideals, but he has not a free hand. He referred to the criticism of
the world, and said it was necessary to show what effort and what aims
there were. I told him that what was far more convincing than seeing
conditions was meeting people. Of himself, for instance, I had heard
great criticism, from a certain class. But it was only necessary to
meet him to see that he was a sincere idealist, and not in the least
as the world described him. De la Huerta turned to the mobile-faced
Malbran, and said: “There! Let your diplomatic mind take in all
this....” I said laughingly, that I thought the Argentine Minister
would make a very excellent Ambassador to Russia, when his time was up
in Mexico, but the others said his initiation had only just begun, and
he would not be ready for quite a while!

El Desirto is round a corner, at the top of a mountain. The mountain
is covered with trees, and profuse vegetation. Our car climbed and
zig-zagged and encircled. On our left was a precipice. On our right a
steep straight bank. We were within half a mile of Desirto, when it
suddenly began to pour rain, thunder and lightning and hail, as it
only can in the mountains. De la Huerta ordered that the car should
turn round and go back. He said it would be dangerous to attempt the
remainder of that half mile in the rain. I was terribly disappointed at
not getting there and thought him unnecessarily fussy, and alarmist,
but ... trust these people to know their own country! In less than five
minutes, what had been a perfectly smooth, good, dusty road, suddenly
became greasy and sticky, so that our car skidded crabwise down the
hill. Seeing a precipice on one side, and a car not under control
was alarming in the extreme. Behind us came a Ford, and it also slid
drunkenly down the road, and I felt that no brakes would be able to
stop it bumping us. Mercifully for us it went sideways into the ditch,
and mercifully for them it was not the precipice side! We stopped
and put chains on round our wheels,--it took time. De la Huerta was
perfectly calm and philosophical but apologetic, he said this addition
from above was _not_ part of his programme!

Even with chains our car too went into the ditch, and as by this time
the rain had slackened, I was delighted to get out and walk, but the
road was so slippery that even arm in arm, the Minister and I could
hardly stand up. I picked a variety of wild flowers, and watched de
la Huerta surrounded by clamoring Indians who wanted pesos for having
helped the car out of the ditch--it was rather an attractive scene, and
he really does love his Indians! I say “his” Indians, because he has
Indian blood in his veins, but he told me also that his grandfather
was a Spaniard from Granada and his mother was the daughter of a Polish
Jew, born in France. It is a glorious mix-up.

I asked him if it would be possible for me to stop and see Villa on my
way to California, and if so would he give me a letter of introduction.
De la Huerta laughed, he said it would be quite possible and that with
a letter from him I would be quite safe.... (Safe--from what?) I told
him I mean to leave in about ten days. “Yes,” he said, “if the Mexican
government allows you to go!” I told him about the Mexican Consul in
New York hesitating to visé my passport, because Mexico did not want
any Bolsheviks, and I said how surprised I had felt at Mexico suddenly
becoming so respectable.

“Do you consider a conservative attitude respectable?” he asked,
adding: “I call respectability having a sincere and independent
opinion, and having the courage to acknowledge it....” Then with a
sudden impulse he plucked at a scarlet flower in my hand, one that
I had gathered among the rocks, and half audibly, more to himself
than to me, he said: “That represents the life blood of these toiling
people....”

Later, when we neared home, he remarked: “Ah! if we could only work at
ease, without the shadow of that spectre in the North....”

We agreed that no country could independently work out its salvation,
except Russia, who was not overshadowed. We had got back to Mexico
City, and I was nearing my ‘home’ when suddenly he asked: “What is your
impression of Trotzky...? I told him I had compromised myself on two
continents shouting his praises!

“And Lenin...?”

I told him. Then came this astonishing final question:

“Is Trotzky a good man?”

“From what point of view good?”

“Morally....”

I could not embark at this last moment upon a discussion of what are
morals through an interpreter. I thought. I hesitated. I wondered, as I
never had wondered before, about Trotzky, and then I admitted that so
far as I knew, Trotzky was a moral man!


FRIDAY, JULY 29, 1921. _Mexico City._

This evening José Vasconselos came to see me and we talked for nearly
two hours. He is head of the Department of Education. I am told he is
one of the most brilliant and most promising men of Mexico. I felt that
a talk with him would do much to help me to understand what the present
Government is aiming at, and what effort is being made for the future
of Mexico. I tackled him at once very frankly about his education
system. I said to him: “The bourgeois tell me that you have caused
to be printed 20,000 copies of Shakespeare and Homer for illiterate
Indians, who can neither read nor write.”

This criticism was no news to him, he proceeded to explain to me that
these classics were for the town libraries, and there were 10,000
towns. “What would you put in the libraries?” he asked--“What would
you have the people read as soon as they can read?” He said that he
was basing his system on the Carnegie System, and that during one of
the former Revolutions when he was an exile, he lived at San Antonio,
Texas. There he went into the Public Library and borrowed an edition of
Plato. Every book that is loaned is inscribed with the name and date of
the person to whom it is loaned. “In one year, that volume of Plato had
been loaned to thirty people, and that was San Antonio, a community of
cowboys.”

He explained to me his great difficulty in getting enough books for
the 10,000 libraries. He said that if he wrote to Madrid for 10,000
volumes of Don Quixote, they could only supply him with 500. So he
must get them printed himself. He promised me a complete set of the
standard library works. This had nothing to do with the elementary
books distributed to the schools. He said he would like me to see, in
some of the little towns how keen the Indian parents are on education
for their children.

“When the next generation are educated--then will evolve the real
Socialist State!” he said.

He referred to the reign of Porfirio Diaz as having accomplished
nothing for the education of the masses. His ideas about social reform
are Spartacist, he quoted Liebknecht and said that he favored the plan
of limited fortunes, rather than communism, as the one seemed to him to
kill initiative, and he did not like the idea of being a slave to the
State. The only class he really despised was the bourgeois, “people who
eat three meals a day, how can their brains work--?” People who assume
an attitude of culture, but who never open a book, certainly not a
classic. How dared they attempt to criticize! “The only thing in their
favor in this country is that at least they don’t have any part in the
affairs of the government!”

Vasconselos is a queer personality, mixture of Spanish and Mexican,
yet he said he cared nothing for the civilization of the Occident, he
understood better the Orient, and followed in the train of Tagore, whom
he talked of with great admiration. I asked him whether on the whole
he was satisfied with the way things were shaping for Mexico, and he
said he was certainly satisfied. That in his opinion revolutions were
a thing of the past, there were a stirring and an awakening all through
the land.

We discussed literature, art, social reforms, education of children,
Russian evolution, the compromises of Lenin, the activities of Trotzky,
the prejudices, the ignorances, the indifferences of the bourgeois, the
national spirit of Mexico, the planet we live in and the ineptitude
of humans to adapt themselves to it. He said he felt it was almost a
crime to put children into the world: “If they are stupid, indifferent
and incapable of thought they are little better than the brutes, if
they are intellectuals and have any ideas and ideals at all, then they
suffer unendurably--No, this world, even with its mountains and its
lakes and its vegetation, it is no place for humans...!”


SATURDAY, JULY 30, 1921. _Puebla._

We left Mexico City by the 5 P.M. train for Puebla. The train was full
and the first class compartment resembled a dirty tramcar. (I qualify
the tram car, because there are tramcars that are clean, but this
was not.) A wedding party came to see off a honeymoon couple. They
were a quiet and completely self-absorbed pair. I watched them rather
unmercifully. It took us five hours to get to Puebla. Long before that
time, the bride-groom, so smartly attired in frock coat, varnished
button boots, and cloth cap, wearied of his collar and deposited it
like a crown on his bride’s knees. He seemed happier so, and looked
much more himself with a handkerchief round his neck. Towards the
end of the journey, he seemed very impatient. Behind Dick and me sat
a large cigar smoking man, who in a foreign accent asked if we were
English. He was from Manchester, and had lived in Mexico 26 years! He
told us what hotel to go at Puebla, (we had reserved no rooms). He
insisted on buying lemonade and chicken for us at the wayside station.
Finally he took possession of our luggage and said he would himself
take us to our hotel in his car.

He was met on the platform by his son, and in his car sat his wife and
his daughter. I tried to back out discreetly and take a taxi, but they
were all very insistent, and kind. Finally, one hotel being full, he
found us rooms in the second. I asked him his name. He was the British
Vice Consul.


JULY 31, 1921.

Dick, who was sleeping with me, had an attack of croup so that I was
awake most of the night. At dawn I was awakened by bugles of a regiment
riding into town, besides the clanging of church bells, and the crowing
of cocks! Shortly after that we got up.

Dick insisted on looking up some of his “ship friends” who live in the
town. We found them, and left him in their back garden playing in their
water tank. It was a great chance to see some of the churches, and
drive round the town, and do the things that bore Dick.

The town is overburdened with churches, but their exteriors are so
decorative that one is glad they exist. The domes are tiled, either
with blue and white or yellow. They glisten in the sun like enamel. I
went into one called “Of the Company” and happened upon a service with
a cardinal. At least, I suppose he was a cardinal. He was dressed in
the color of that name. This crimson melodramatic figure seemed to me
emblematical of the inquisitorial Church of Spain. Sitting all over the
floor were Indian women with their babies, and when the organ subsided,
there was a real baby chorus.

The church entrances are the congregating places (as in Italy) of
the most wretched beggars. I could not help wondering why a man with
no legs submits to living his remaining life on a plank with four
wheels; why old age with its skin wizened like a walnut can bear the
degradation of extreme filth, and of asking charity on bended knee; and
why a blind individual can roll sightless grey orbs and fix them on
me while so doing. Why don’t they end life? Why is it endurable? But
almost worse in my estimation, was the woman who passed me by, bent
double by an enormous load on her back, and dragged down by a baby tied
in a bundle to her breast. Must she bear both those burdens?

At midday, there was supposed to be a “battle of flowers.” I have
seen the real thing on the Riviera, where the national temperament is
joyous. But can people here have a real spontaneous out-burst, when the
big sad-eyed Indian stands at the street corner, gaping and incapable
of throwing off the melancholy of generations? A few dressed-up cars
appeared, but there was no profuse flower throwing. Perhaps, like me,
the Pueblans were economizing. Anyway, it was so dull and half-hearted
that we took a train to San Francisco.

This is a church and garden on the outskirts of the city. Soon we
rambled on, up and up, to a hill summit, from which one viewed the city
in the plain, and Popocatapetl with its snow peak, emerging through
a bank of cloud. It was beautiful on our hilltop, wild, deserted,
peaceful, and the persistent Church bells came to us distantly. We
had been told by Dick’s “ship friends,” that it was not possible to
go outside the town without a man, and so we had Dick. He found a dew
pond, and was perfectly happy.

Puebla is an old town built by the Spaniards. It is more Mexican than
Mexico City. There are more sombrero’d people and more flocks of laden
burros, and more houses with little “patios,” than in Mexico. The shops
are more attractive because they contain Mexican things, instead of, as
in Mexico City, inferior foreign goods, in a desire to be cosmopolitan.
There are more old tiled houses in Puebla. Fewer people speak English.
No one in the hotel understands anything. This evening Louise tried to
explain to a group of five that we wanted mineral water. They did not
understand until she made a noise of a bottle exploding.


MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 1921. _Puebla._

We caught a 10 o’clock train to Cholula. It was terribly crowded, but
we managed to get a front seat in the second car.

Halfway along the line, the front car ran off the track. It took at
least an hour and a half hard work on the part of a crowd of Indians,
to get it back again. They all looked so clean in their white linen
pajama suits (they look like this) tied round the waist with a faded
and fringed blue or red sash, and the absurdly big sombrero hat, and
bare feet. One wonders how a working man can wear white, it seems so
impractical, and yet these men looked cleaner than Dick when he is in
white, at the end of a day! How can they dig as they do, with naked
feet on the iron spade?

We sat down on the grass in a broiling sun and watched their efforts
to reinstate the car. Presently, on his private trolley, arrived the
“traffic superintendent,” a young stalwart American, who threw off
his coat, displaying a khaki shirt and a large revolver in his belt.
There was no mistaking him for anything but an American. He was the
rather brutal, square-jaw’ed type. He contained in his face everything
that the Latin and the Indian lacked: force, determination, power to
command. Moreover, he was broad-shouldered and a head taller than
anyone else. When he lifted a crowbar and attempted to do any work
himself, the Indians fell back and watched him openmouthed! I said
things to myself about the Anglo-Saxon race.

He heard me call Dick, and asked me instantly if I were English. He
seemed glad to have someone to talk to. I asked him if he had been in
the war, and of course he had, been at Chateau Thierry, and in every
other fray. He said he was working for an English company (which the
tramcar system is), and that nearly all the superintendents and heads
of the English lines were Americans. I was surprised at this, for we
had good colonizers, and if we can get on with natives in India, South
Africa, Australia, Nigeria, etc., why not with Mexicans. I told him so.
He explained that the Mexican is quite different to work with and very
difficult; that he is very sensitive and touchy, and that he will only
work with good will, “as a matter of fact” he said, “I have _not_ their
good will as you can see by my hip,” and he patted his revolver. “Why
not?” I asked. “They’re Bolsheviks!” he explained, and unfortunately
for me, at that moment, the car went back onto the rails and there was
a rush for the seats. We secured our same front row, but another man
came and sat next to us, who had not hitherto been there. I disliked
the look of him, and before we had gone very far, it was evident he was
drunk. He was not an Indian, but the world-wide white type that can be
revolting and repulsive. The look on his face made me feel quite sick.
I felt if I had a revolver it would have been an awfully good thing to
shoot him, because nobody could have minded, and it so obviously would
have been a helpful thing to do. When he bent across Louise and bought
a couple of bananas off the Indian on my left, and offered them to
Dick, I said firmly “_no_.” So he looked at me, a terrible look, and
threw the two bananas out of the window, and the change he got back
from paying for them followed the bananas. He then turned round and
entertained the whole car behind us, at our expense. Though, what he
said we could not understand.

Arrived finally, two hours late, at Cholula, he was walked off by four
seemingly very devoted friends. I doubt not they purposed to rid him
of the rest of his money instead of letting him fling it into the
grass.

In the middle of the village street we stood still and looked up and
down. It was one o’clock. We had brought no food with us and we knew
not where to go, nor whom to ask. A fellow traveller, respectably
dressed, a Mexican farmer probably and who could speak about five words
of English came to our rescue: “What you want...?” he asked.

A restaurant? He shook his head! A Hotel? He came from Cholula but had
never heard of such a thing. Tourists brought their food with them, he
made us understand. “But I will ask” and he went into the chemist shop.
Surely, there was a restaurant, down the road. We tracked it down, he
came with us. The street was formed by perfectly straight barefronted
houses. It might have been an Irish village, but looking through
doorways there seemed to be contained in it a whole world of gardens
and patios. We entered one of these, as directed, and found ourselves
in a clean bare yard. We went to the first door on the yard, but it
was a bedroom. The second door was the restaurant, the third combined
kitchen and chicken house. An old wizened, bent woman came forward to
greet us, and two pretty young Indian girls. Could she give us food?
She could.

Soon?

Immediately.

What could she give us?

Some _huevos_ (eggs) and some _carne_ (meat) with _potata_. Our kind
cicerone then left us, excusing himself, he had business. We seated
ourselves in the primitive room, which was clean and whitewashed, and
floor tiled. They laid a cloth for us which was clean and still wet. We
waited hardly any time at all before they served us a hot and excellent
meal, the best I have had in Mexico, and for two pesos, the three of
us. But the wizened old woman was much concerned that she could not
talk with us. She longed, I could see, to know where we came from, and
she kept asking why our Signore had gone away, and not returned! When
her two habitual customers came in for their meals, she began great
discussion with them about us. We were a great diversion. The men who
came in were not Indians, they were sullen Mexicans. One of them talked
to the little Indian serving girl as if she were a dog, ordered his
food gruffly and never said thank you.

Women have no position in Mexico--they are supposed to exist solely for
the satisfaction of men.

We said good day, and “Mucho gracias” and sallied forth into the street
once more. Not knowing where to go, nor where to find the famous
pyramid, and Dick being far from well, I decided to go to the nearest
place in reach. This happened to be a steep hill with a white church
on the summit. It had been a beacon to us for miles in the plain as we
travelled steadily towards it. Slowly we ascended by wide low stone
steps, that went winding up among the vegetation and wild flowers.
About halfway we suddenly heard a band of music, and it came nearer and
nearer. Soon there came into view a procession of white clad sombrero’d
Indians playing their instruments as they came down the winding hill
steps. The pageant did not come our way, but passed in front of us,
and cut down into a steep and narrow path, and were lost to view among
the shrub. Taking our time (for Dick seemed weak, and our hearts were
thumping somewhat, as they always do with the slightest exertion at
this altitude--) we eventually reached the summit. It seemed utterly
deserted. The stillness was uncanny. The church, which may be old but
had a renovated and very newly whitewashed appearance, had tiled domes
that were quite beautiful. Tall cypresses, as in Italy, grew on the
terrace in front. There was a rampart with seats all round the terrace
edge. The climb had satisfied my desire, which is always to get onto
a height, when arriving in a new place, in order to survey the land
and ‘place oneself’. From this church height one certainly surveyed
the country for miles. Louise and I walked round and round, looking
everywhere for anything that might be interpreted as a pyramid. But we
never satisfied ourselves on that. It was not until we got back in the
evening and read up the guide book, that I learnt that was a pyramid we
were on. The pagan pyramid, dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl, on the
summit of which the Christians had built their church.

While thus absorbed, in the distant view, Dick disappeared. When I
looked round for him he was nowhere to be seen. I went down the steep
flight of steps to the half way terrace below, and called. Presently
the little figure appeared from above, and followed me down. He came
to me with a pious and mysterious look. “Some day” he said, “I’ll tell
you what I’ve been doing.” I said, “I must know, now, at once--do tell
me....” He looked shy, and then explained that he had gone _inside_
the church. “It was quite a nice church inside--there were none of
those awful figures like we’ve seen,--you know--and I said a prayer
... knelt down ... right up by the steps in front of the railing. Oh!
just prayed for Teta-tee[10] that she might come back to us...!” It
was so unexpected. I did not know that Dick believed in God. I did not
know he wanted Margaret back with us ... but there in the stillness of
the great Mexican plain, high up on the hill of a little town called
Cholula, Margaret had not been forgotten. It seemed almost like a
wireless from her.

It must be explained that Margaret is living in England with her
father’s family. She is being educated with a little cousin her same
age. They share a French governess, have a villa at Cannes in the
winter, riding, swimming, gymnasium and special dancing classes. A
house with a garden in London, dogs, rabbits, horses and birds, Rolls
Royce cars, servants to wait, party frocks, lessons in deportment, and
all the things that are necessary, I am told, to the perfect bringing
up of a proper little girl. Not good for her, they assure me, wild
trips to Mexico, wild talk about Russia, Americanization in New York,
studio environment of her mother. These things are possible (though not
desirable) for a boy, but for a girl.... Well, I would be selfish if
I refused for her all the things that I cannot give her. Sometimes my
soul rebels, and I say to myself “Two rooms, anywhere, however humble,
but both children to share my standard of life....” Since last February
when she saw us off on the Aquitania we have not seen our Margaret. The
trip to Russia and the work it offered, enabled me to have one child
to live with me, and that was Dick, who had lived with my parents ever
since he was born and I had to work.

Perhaps there existed in the bottom of my heart a vague hope that
Mexico might give me back Margaret, as Russia had given me back Dick.
However and wherever this is eventually achieved, there is no doubt
in my mind that the only crown to my work can be the reunion of us
all three. Until I can build up a home and an environment worthy of
Margaret, I have achieved no success. It is an incentive to work, and
in the meanwhile one must not lose heart. One must not count, at night,
the months that have passed since January. One must not think of the
growth, in body, mind and soul, of the child who is out of sight. One
must not expect her to be just as one left her. One must not think too
much about her at all, for fear it gets too hard--and above all one
must never allow oneself to think on lines that critics would describe
as “sob-stuff.”

[Illustration: MARGARET, WHO IS BEING BROUGHT UP IN ENGLAND, LIKE A
CONVENTIONALLY PROPER LITTLE GIRL!

  (Photograph by Marceau)
]

We lay on our hillside which was really a pyramid side, and the sun
burnt as I tried to count how many churches there were in the plain,
but gave it up as too long a job. Beautiful old toned bells kept
ringing around and below us from every direction. One big church
would have been ample for the size of the little town, and money and
labor better spent on drainage and sanitation. While thus ruminating
a cassocked priest came down the winding way, saying his prayers out
loud, out of a book. By him walked an attendant who held a linen
umbrella over his head to shade him. So absorbed was he in his prayers
that he never noticed the Indian man and woman who got up from their
seat under the tree and came towards him. He had to stop on his way
when they threw themselves down on their knees before him. He blessed
them with the sign of the Cross, and they remained kneeling and
crossing themselves until he was out of sight and sound.

When we got back to Puebla at 5 o’clock, Dick threw himself on my bed
all of a heap. I took his temperature--it was 102--I undressed him and
in a few minutes he was in a heavy feverish sleep.

Twice that night he waked me suddenly by loud cries. He screamed in
terror. When I put the light on he looked at me with glassy eyes
and did not know me. He was momentarily delirious. Never had I any
experience of such a thing. I realized in a flash all that my family
thought of my bringing Dick to Mexico. I thought of Margaret and of the
contrast of her proper environment. I got into a panic and resolved
that if it were humanly possible for him to travel, Dick should return
to Mexico by the 6:30 train next morning.

At five, when we had to get up, he was tired and weak, but his fever
had subsided.


AUGUST 3, 1921. _Mexico City._

I went to see Mr. Rameo Martinez, the head of the Academia, and asked
him kindly to send a plaster moulder to my hotel to cast the little
sketch for a possible Russian Monument. I brought it from New York
to finish here. I had a perfectly excellent Mexican “boxer” model,
broadshouldered and full of muscles, that Mr. Martinez produced for me,
thus enabling me to finish it. I also asked him if I could visit his
open air school out in the country, at Cherubosco, which he accordingly
invited me to do.

Edith Bonilla motored me out there. The students work in a patio.
Martinez’ idea is the open air, no false lights. He has talked to
me too of his ambition that his students shall be _Mexican_, not
cosmopolitan, nor French in their art. The idea is right. But when one
has looked around: what _is_ Mexican Art? There is Toltec, Maya, Aztec
art. There is Spanish (colonial) evidenced in architecture. But one
looks in vain for evidences of modern Mexican Art. At the school some
perfectly mediocre studies were being done by students who, by their
years, should have been far beyond what they were doing. There were
mature men painting the eternal still life groups of pots and oranges.
There was the eternal model, an old woman sitting holding a bowl. Only
the model in this instance was brown instead of white. I realized with
overwhelming weariness the futility of schools.... I went to a school
once. A night school. I was paralysed. I achieved nothing, I was the
most unpromising pupil there. Moreover I hated it and dreaded it, and
only went out of sheer self-discipline. This is at a time when I had
quite a lot of commissions to work at in my own studio. I benefited in
no way from the school, and I don’t believe anyone else does. At best
it succeeds in turning out a mould, a type, a “school.” Only once in a
million times does _one_ arise, who would have arisen anyway, anyhow,
anywhere. Mr. Martinez, who has worked in Paris (why?) who has no more
“the soul of Mexico,” or the depth to realise it, will work in vain,
open air or indoor, unless he instils some spirit into those students!
Always these masters point to a student’s work and with pride call it
“du Gauguin”; easy enough to make a bad Gauguin. I wonder on whom it
reflects most discredit: Gauguin or the student. If only the teacher
would say, “My God! All this is _awful_, let’s have something new....”

There was one sculptor at the Country School. His Christian name was
Phidias, not his fault, and no one _could_ have foreseen. He looked
white and on the verge of suicide. He said he had been working in Paris
... but that he had done nothing since. He had been back six months.
He said there were no sculptors and no art appreciation in Mexico. He
certainly could not, even if he would, have worked in the room into
which he took me. It would be a perfectly fit room in which to hang
oneself. He looked very depressed,--I fear he will starve.

I came back, and went to the reception of the Pani’s. Like last time
full of cosmopolitans, diplomats, from South America, such as Uruguay,
Guatemala and the like, and also Mr. Malbran and Mr. Summerlin. There
were heaps of women and girls, sitting in rows, and men grouped in
doorways. That is the only unconventional part of the Pani parties,
that the sexes do not engage one another in conversation. Maybe it is
the habit of the country.

Today they had for diversion (besides the jazz band, which did bring
the sexes together for short intervals) the Indian girl who has won the
beauty prize, and 10,000 pesos with it. She was in her pretty Indian
dress and certainly looked very attractive, though more Roumanian
than Indian. Everyone was making a fuss of her, and she was being
photographed by flashlight with Madame Pani, and the highest of the
land. This little peasant girl was perfectly smiling and composed, not
a bit shy or awkward. Her naked feet reposed on the velvet cushions on
the parquet floor, and she seemed to gain a great distinction from her
surroundings. Behind her she has generations of noble Indian race. Her
dignity and calm had the effect of making the other women appear rather
banal. She looked as though a young Cortes should fling his fame and
fortune at her feet!


FRIDAY, AUGUST 5, 1921. _Mexico City._

I went to see Pani in his office at what they call “Relationes.” I
wanted to say good-bye to him and ask his help in getting over the
frontier. His office building inside looked like a converted Palace.
I had to go through a large gilt room that contained beautiful tables
with a life sized bust on each, presumably of former Presidents (so
they do have their busts done sometimes!)

I asked him if the place were a Palace, and he said that it was not,
but merely his office. I suppose the busts, the gilt and the good
furniture, etc., are the proofs of Pani’s culture. I like Pani, he is
not interesting, but is shrewd, and kind, and has a sense of humor.
He smiles always, even on official occasions. Other Ministers smile
when his name is mentioned. This because he likes old Masters, and
Bourgeoisie, and is not a general, and is an opportunist; at least he
might be considered so because he was in the Carranza Ministry, and
has now attached himself to the Obregon, which is a rare occurrence
in this country. Howbeit, Pani fits his post very well, he is a suave
diplomat, and can talk a few languages. I confided to him that I am not
going off to Los Angeles on Monday, having just been offered a trip to
the Tampico oil fields. He agreed it was well worth doing. De la Huerta
offered to facilitate my visit to Villa, but I have not time to do both
so I have chosen oil.

Pani was charming to me, said that whatever I wanted of Mexico he would
have done for me, and he hoped to see me in New York when “things are
settled.”

When I got back to the Hotel, a man walked into the patio, with a bunch
of flowers. It was a bunch that could hardly get in at the door, and
the flowers were of every color and variety. There were exclamations
of admiration from the people sitting around, as from me also, and
then I was told it was for me, the sender was Don Adolfo de la Huerta.
It was so big and so beautiful, I laid it on a table in the middle of
my sitting room, and felt that I was at my own funeral, but at least
enjoying it. A Mexican bunch is a wonderful thing, a great work of art.
The flowers are wired and tied. Some on long sticks according to the
design--It produces a wonderful effect, but they cannot be kept alive
unless the whole construction is picked to pieces, and then oftentimes
it is discovered the stems are too short to put in water. My flowers
were roses, dahlias, choisias, magnolia, tuberose and violets, the two
latter rescued and put in water. Then I sat down and wrote to de la
Huerta, and told him exactly what I thought of him, straight from my
heart.


SATURDAY, AUGUST 6, 1921. _Mexico City._

I was lent a car, which called at the Hotel at 6:00 A.M. We did not
start till seven, and it was cold, ever so cold, but the road was
beautiful. I repeated the expedition to El Desirto and having started
early got there before the rains. El Desirto is the ruin of a Carmelite
Convent. It is a huge rambling place “in the desert” quite isolated on
the mountainside amid the woods. It is very beautiful, but I thought
dismal and damp. A Mexican man and boy, armed us with candles, led us
down through underground passages and cells that were very extensive
and dripping from the vaulted roofs ... Dick loved it, but I was glad
to be back in the sunlight. It must be a curious sensation to be a nun
or a monk, to live secluded from the world, in peace and calm, and to
have no further anxiety (unless it be about one’s soul--) and to be
content with the daily round, the menial work. I suppose it requires
great belief and no imagination. We came back down the mountain,
stopping to pick wild flowers, and at a village we found a house that
gave us hot milk, for which we were thankful. Then we pursued our way
along a road whence came the endless procession of men, women and boys,
carrying their abnormal loads into town for sale. It led us through
a valley some miles further in among the hills, and we paused on a
hillside in the sun, to eat our combined breakfast and lunch. From our
selected spot we viewed about a mile of road, and it made a curious
impression upon one (as de la Huerta would have wished). This never
ceasing steady stream of human beasts of burden! It suggested the
evacuation of a town by refugees, carrying all they could take away.

Dick, gathering bunches of wild penstimon was joined by two little
Indian girls. One could not have been more than three years old. She
wore a single garment of coarse linen. It reached nearly to her little
barefeet, was sleeveless and cut in a big square decolleté. She had the
loveliest little face, huge eyes and regular features ... and as she
crushed a big bunch of long stemmed penstimon in her arms, as if it
might have been a baby, she made a picture that one longed to preserve.
But a sadness overwhelmed me at the thought that these little young
things on the flowery hillside were surveying their destiny, as it
passed along the road below them. They had been born into a world where
early in life, they would be bent double, by the burden back and front,
of merchandise and baby, and there would seem to be no escape. “Why do
they submit?” was the question that kept rising in my heart. Why does
man, woman or child submit; and then I imagined myself in their place,
and I got the answer: If my father had always done it, and my mother
whilst she bore me, and my father’s father and mother, and my mother’s,
and my brother already accompanied them, and the neighbors went too,
and they talked pantingly as they started off together, or rested at
the wayside places, then I who was young enough to be left behind, (and
not so young as to be a burden that must be carried with them), I would
know that my life would not always be one of watching, or of gathering
flowers. When everyone is doing it, and it is in your tradition and in
your environment, there is a submission to conditions that no one would
dream of breaking.

We went for a walk along a stream, out of view of the saddening road,
and our path was a mosaic of flowers, and the shrubs and trees grew
in such a way that it might have been a carefully planted and tended
English rock garden.

At seven o’clock Mr. Rubio came to see me. Sent by de la Huerta. He
was accompanied by a well known writer called Velazquez, who is also a
poet. Rubio delivered into my hands a photograph from the Minister; it
was inscribed in a way that only the Spanish language lends itself to.
Apparently he was pleased by my letter. I had said that I appreciated
his personality and his aims, that a few more people of his calibre in
the world, and there would be less of suffering for the masses. Rubio
says that everything was arranged for General Calles to come and see
me last Thursday at seven, but that at five, they telephoned he had
been taken suddenly ill, in his office. He has been ill ever since.
I had already heard the rumor that he had been poisoned. Rubio asked
why I was leaving so quickly. I explained Dick was not well. I did not
explain that I had finished my work. To all appearance I have not had
any!

A letter has just come from the President’s Secretary, inviting Dick
and me to Chapultepec at five on Monday.


MONDAY, AUGUST 8, 1921. _Mexico City._

Our last day in Mexico City, we ended up our riding school lessons
(which we have had nearly every day since we’ve been here) by starting
out across country at 10 o’clock A.M. I never enjoyed anything so
much. We went through Chapultepec Park then out across the fields
and galloped. Jumping a ditch Dick came off, but he was not a bit
frightened and with good presence of mind clung to the reins and landed
on his feet. Had he fallen, he might have been kicked by the horses
scrambling up the bank. I was very pleased with him. Most of the rest
of the day was spent packing, writing little notes of thanks and
farewell and dropping them.

At five o’clock, Dick and I drove to Chapultepec Castle in the face of
a blinding rain and thunder storm, which followed after a dust storm.
And oh! it was cold.

When we got to the Castle it was very difficult to make anyone
understand that I wasn’t a tourist, and that I had an appointment to
see the President. One of them argued with me that what was the use,
the President couldn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak Spanish.
I wrote my name on a piece of paper and gestured to him to “take
it”--which he finally did, without further protest. We were then asked
to follow upstairs, and were shown into the reception room that is
entered from the roof garden. We waited and waited, and meanwhile Dick,
who had heard about the President having lost an arm plied me with
questions about war. Was war a thing that we had always with us, and
would he go to it when he grew up? I found it extremely difficult to
tell.

Finally Obregon came in, very pleasantly and smilingly, but we couldn’t
talk, only a few words such as concerned Dick’s age. I said he was
five, because I didn’t know what six was in Spanish. I understood he
was expecting an interpreter, but no interpreter came, although we
wasted three quarters of an hour, during which time he was in and out
of the room, restless and expectant. The children came in, Alvaro and
Alvarada, aged two and four, and when the President left the room,
Dick and the boy, who had eyed each other silently, began to turn
summersaults. Alvaro did it first, and then the damask sofa cushions
went on to the floor, and when the President returned the children
were standing on their heads, and coming down onto the parquet
floor with a thud of heels. He laughed heartily. I then went out
onto the freezingly cold roof terrace to see if that interpreter was
coming--instead, I beheld Pani, smiling as usual. I was glad to see him
... I told him our plight and how difficult it was ... Pani however had
come on business, and he and the President were closeted for some time.
When he came out, we all went down stairs to the front door, piled
into a car, were driven a few paces through the pouring rain across
the courtyard, to another door. Here he went down a spiral stair, it
was very mysterious and quaint--it led to the living apartments of the
Obregons. The rooms were smaller and it certainly was more habitable.
Madame Obregon met us at the foot of the stairs. She is one of those
simple pretty young Mexican women, grown fat prematurely (though in
this case, as an infant is due in October, there is some excuse ...) a
woman devoted to her husband and her children and her home. She told
me she had three children already, two, three and four years old.
She asked about mine, and I told her and we discussed Dick--food and
internal ailments. She talks American-English very well. We sat in a
small room. It had a table in the middle and chairs all around. In the
middle of the table was a silver flute-shaped vase of flowers on a
Mexican flag “doyley”.... On the floor, in between the chairs, were
large spittoons, quite useful for cigarette ends. Dick dropped his cake
into one and roared with laughter. The little two year old girl sat
down in her little baby arm chair and was given milk out of a baby’s
bottle. I asked Mrs. Obregon if she wanted a boy or a girl. She wanted
a girl, but her husband she said wanted another boy. He did not like
girls, they had such a hard time in the world he said.

I thought of Mexican girls, and agreed--yet if the girl is born across
the border of American citizenship, how different. How near and yet how
far is emancipation for the Mexican girl.

I was at the castle an hour and a half altogether. The President had
the use of Pani, or of his wife as interpreters if he wished. But he
said nothing interesting, and asked nothing. I have an explanation for
this in my own mind: In Mexico it is not easy for a woman to be taken
seriously. In England, in the States and especially in Russia (where
among the Intellectuals woman is on a perfect equality with men) it
is natural that clever men should think it worth while to talk to a
woman on subjects of mutual interest. But in Mexico woman is on such
a different plane. I am told for instance that a “feminist movement”
exists, but consists barely of 50 women! For the rest, they are the
very carefully guarded mothers of families, and utterly submissive in
spirit. I shall never forget the way Madame Pani asked me, the day I
lunched there: “Are you here in our country all alone...?” Who in the
world did she think I would be with...?


TUESDAY, AUGUST 9, 1921.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 1921.

Two days, one night and a half night getting from Mexico to Tampico.
We had a “salon” and so were not too uncomfortable. Personally I
rather enjoy the incident of travel and in Mexico one usually does
not travel without adventure. Usually one derails. On this occasion
we just stopped (with a great jerk) for a couple of hours because our
engine’s piston-rod broke. It was a bleak and dusty place where maize
grew and not much fun. We next stopped because an oil box was on fire,
but that did not delay us greatly, finally we stopped two more hours
because the train in front had derailed. We walked up the line to see
what had happened, the engine was back on the rails, and a good many
Indians were at work mending the track. I looked at the lines with an
ignorant unprofessional eye, and then I asked questions ...: Should
the wooden sleepers be rotten and splitting? Should the screws be
entirely missing where two lines were riveted together? Should “pins”
stick up half an inch? and then I watched the efforts of four men at
the “points” trying to close the lines. They pulled at levers, and
finally hammered the line into place! This Railway is owned by American
shareholders, and the Mexican Government has not given it back yet,
because it cannot pay the damages for the deterioration it has suffered
at their hands. Meanwhile it deteriorates more every day, and I suppose
each train that passes renders the track more dangerous than the last.
During this interval, Dick, who found a pool in a ditch went into
bathe. It was a muddy pool where cattle drink. Dick took off all his
clothes and swam in it. Afterwards the sun quickly dried him and on
our way back to the train we called on an Indian lady who stood at her
home door. She was old. Her home was made transparently of irregular
bamboo sticks, oddments of dried palmleaf and some sacking. The roof
was thatched, the floor was mud. Two planks, raised each on four wooden
poles with a piece of matting on the top were the beds for herself and
her husband. A primitive cooker, some terra-cotta cooking utensils,
and “Our Lady of Guadalupe” in one corner, were the entire contents.
Whatever money they earned they spent neither on clothes nor house.
Perhaps it went entirely on food. I have seen worse in Ireland. But in
a country where the climate is kind (we were some considerable distance
from Mexico City) a thatched roof is almost all one needs. Life under
those conditions offers little, but demands less. From this place the
train went rapidly down hill, winding back and forth round the mountain
sides. We were in the rear coach and could see our engine going round
hairpin curves, and disappearing into tunnels! The views, which were a
mix up of Switzerland and Italy, excelled both. The most beautiful I’ve
ever seen. Too beautiful to take in. One felt humbled and awed. At one
place, as the train came round the bend of a mountain, we came in sight
of a river that cascaded for about half a mile into the valley below.
I exclaimed: “Why can’t one live in the beautiful spots of the Earth,
instead of seeing them as one passes by?” And I decided that I would
not, if I could help it, leave Mexico until I had managed somehow to
return to this place to live for a month, however primitively, if it
were possible to arrange it.

At all the stations where we stopped there was the ever present crowd
of vendors offering excellent cold chicken, hard boiled eggs, hot
fried potatoes, cakes and breads of every description, of all kinds
of fruits, for almost nothing,--coffee, pulque, lemonade and beer to
drink. At some of the mining stations one could buy small polished
opals for a peso each (if one bargained) carved and colored walking
sticks, Indian made toys and doll’s furniture. Baskets of good shape
woven with colors that were a real temptation! Blind beggars played
music and sang songs. At one station, a blind boy with a harp was led
around by his mother (a grey-haired Indian woman of great dignity of
countenance) he played and sang about 500 verses of the Peons ballad to
Villa! Towards the end we all knew the chorus well enough to join in,
and the train finally unable to wait any longer steamed away, leaving
him still monotonously singing the ballad to Villa!

When the train stopped out in the wild country side, the track was
alive with myriad butterflies of every size and color, especially
brimstone ones. It looked like an allegorical picture of Spring.

We arrived in Tampico about two A.M. on the second night.


THURSDAY, AUGUST 11, 1921. _Tampico._

When I came down to breakfast in the morning, I did not recognize the
quiet empty Hotel that I had entered in the small hours of the night.
The hall was thronged with white suited, sombrero’d men, gun on hip.
They were every type and age. There was not a single woman in the
crowd. I thought I had dropped into a film play. Looking out into the
sunlit streets small buildings met my gaze, an open fronted restaurant
opposite, and barber shops full of men reclining in dental chairs at
the mercy seemingly of someone engaged in cutting their throats. Dick
asked me nervously, “What are they doing to that poor man...?” and
I explained they would do it to him some day. Everything seemed open
to the street. It was hot, divinely hot. Sitting still in the shade
with no exertion, one had to mop one’s forehead. For the first time
in my life I am comfortably warm, and Dick half clad, and protesting
against the condition of his body has nevertheless recovered his color,
his appetite, and his mischievous eye. In the evening we took a tram
(overcrowded with a motley collection of workers) to a place half an
hour away, called “Miramar.” Here Dick and Louise bathed in the surf.
I felt I had been very superior (instead of lazy) for looking on, when
they came out black with the oil which floats on the water. They had to
take gasoline shower at the bath house to get clean! The sunset sky was
very lovely, but the little wavelets that break on the beach, instead
of being ripples of foam, were heavy dark and sluggish.

I have said that everything is open to the street: I include at night
a quarter of the town where ladies sit outside their open lit up
doorways, displaying a big bedded small room inside. These houses are
almost standardised, varying only in the manner of their lights. Some
preferring pink, to the cruder unshaded electric globe. From within the
dancing saloons came the sound of music. Ladies fanned themselves at
the door. Some had black hair and faces powdered ashen white. But the
prevalent taste seemed for auburn hair, some color, and a bright pink
dress. One or two in night attire were completely and transparently
silhouetted in their doorways. The streets in this district being
thronged, there is perfect traffic superintendence, and the tramcar has
its terminus in this very midst. Everything in this respect being made
easy for the tourist.

From the first moment I felt Tampico is a town for men.


FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 1921. _Tampico._

We started off in the morning in our riding clothes for a two days’
trip across the oil fields. There is no railway, and one might almost
say there are no roads to take one over the 80 kilometers to the little
“boom oil town” of Zacamixtle where the oil wells are.

Happily it was dry and hot when we started off, passing first of all
through the camps and tanks of the Huesteca Oil Company, which is
Doheny’s. Wherever the Huasteca has oil stations the roads in that
vicinity are good, and the houses of the engineers and employees are
well built and nicely situated, lawned and planted, in strong contrast
to the surrounding jungle, and the Indian grass huts and their squalor.

Every twenty kilometers along the way, there is a camp, most of these
are built by the Foundation Company, a firm that builds railways, that
lays pipelines, or restores Cathedrals. There seems to be in fact no
building job in the world that the Foundation Company does not take on!

At these camps there are steam heated coils to heat the oil and thin
it so that it passes more readily through the pipe line and gigantic
pumps to urge it along its course. All of which was a great surprise to
me, as I thought the oil flowed by gravity from the wells to the tank
ships! Our road displayed at intervals rows of pipes of various sizes,
mostly belonging to separate companies, and the spirit of competition
was in the atmosphere even of the jungle. Here and there where a pipe
had leaked, a black oil pool had oozed through to the surface. In
places, such a leakage had rotted the road and made it impassable, so
that one had to drive in a detour through the shrub. We went through
every kind of scenery, but the woods, of which there were miles and
miles, were luxuriantly tropical. I never saw such a variety of
flowers, and bush. There were gnarled tall trees on the stems of which
scarlet orchids had seeded themselves, and from the branches of which
dry grey moss hung down in long festoons. This moss is a particular
industry for the peasants, who use it to stuff their mattresses. We
lunched at Camp 80, in a wooden mosquito-protected building, where the
primitive, hardworking Americans gave of their hospitality. The roads
having been indescribable, and the car ill sprung, the day sweltering
hot, we were tired and hungry. Dick humiliated me by complaining loudly
that the omelette was only “skin” and had no inside. It certainly was
not the omelette of a French chef, and I was surprised that Dick knew
what an omelette should be like. He is shaping into the proverbial
Englishman, who cares what he eats. After lunch I gave him a lecture on
manners, and on the art of accepting hospitality, threatening as I did
so not to take him with me on my next trip to Russia!

At 4:30 we dined, washed and rested before pushing onto Zacamixtle.
This bit of the trip in the dark was the roughest of all. The roads
were worse and wet. We got stuck in a village street, the mud being
above the axle, and up hill. We had to be pulled out by another car.

For miles one could see the flaring sky and one expected to come upon
the wells at the crest of each hill, yet ever there seemed to be
another hill between us and the lighted sky. Finally, at a bend in the
road, we came upon the full glory of it. Great flares 10 or 12 feet
high rising from standards, where they have burned day and night for
years. This being the method of disposing of the superfluous gases,
which might so easily be put to a useful purpose. But with the wild
scramble to make money out of the liquid “black gold” no one has time
to think of utility or waste, or even of organization. There is no
fraternity in “the fields,” no sense of comradeship, no co-operation,
no idea of spending anything on the bit of land that has given so much.
There prevails one idea, and that of making as much gold as possible in
the shortest space of time, and getting away with it.

These hillsides in the dusk with their silhouettes of drilling towers,
of palm trees and grass thatched bamboo huts, added to which the sickly
smell of oil, have furnished palaces to men who once had nothing and
diamond crowns to women, and given them the power of kings and queens.
The mud and chaos, the breathless energy and human striving, have
enriched men and women beyond all dream.

But today, the world being saturated in the blood of bankrupting war,
the demand for oil has enormously subsided, nor can the price be paid.
The golden liquid has sunk temporarily to an eighth of its value of
eight months ago. Nevertheless there is no respite in the oil fields.
The oil can be stored, the oil producers can afford to wait. So new
towers grow up, new holes are bored. Down into the bowels of the earth
1800 feet below sea level the great metal shaft is drilled with the
full force of its 4,000 pounds weight until it bores through into the
illusive river of oil that flows way down. Albeit in the harbor a
few ships only await its flow to carry it to the four corners of the
earth, the oil is being caught and caged, forced, heated, pumped and
rushed along as before. In fact, more pipe lines and more giant tanks
are being hurriedly built, so that the oil can wait in store until the
markets of the world have recovered. So they hurry, hurry, bore and
build and store, for the “day” of oil will come again as surely as the
sun rises over the mountains. Has not Lloyd George said what he will
do to the British coal miners now on strike, when he has accumulated
and organized oil for fuel as a coal substitute? The world needs oil,
will always need oil, will need more and more oil, oil crude and oil
refined. So get it, keep it, hold it,--hurry....

But how do the pipes, the boilers, the tanks and the camps, the
provisions and the materials get to the fields? What is this
super-human effort to achieve the seemingly impossible? Why is there
not a pause for breath, a respite from the rush, why is there no
co-operation among the companies? There is so much fraternity among
workers, why not among employers? A very few months and just a little
of this quickly made gold would suffice to achieve a common road for
the common welfare, or to build a railway, and obviate this struggle
of hired humans to extricate machinery from a bog. Here for instance,
is a small stretch of road, called “private.” It can close its gates
to a dozen cars that have struggled and bumped and sweated through
miles of morass. It is called the Aguila, because that company built
it, and when it rains they close the gate to preserve the roads’
condition. What then--? Aguila’s cars can get through, but the Corona,
Dutch Shell, Mexican and others can well go back and struggle through
a longer hellish way. It was ten o’clock of the night when we made
Zacamixtle, and a room was given to us in the staff house. A little
clean bare wooden room, with a thin screen partition between us and
the noisy card playing party on the other side. Two beds, for Dick,
Louise and myself. I left them and went out to see the town. I went in
a car, escorted and protected. The town looked like the Chinese towns
I have seen in pictures. Some wooden sheds, some open stores, thatched
bamboo huts and in one street there was life,--the rest was dark. We
looked into saloons whence came the sound of music. In one there was
a gambling table and a crowd, we passed on. The other was more full
of sound and movement. We went in, took the table that was offered
us, and ordered drinks. In breeches and boots I was conspicuous, the
other women being half naked half-castes. The men were tall, strong,
clear-featured American boys, in big sombrero’s, blue shirts open at
the throat, breeches, mud and oil bespattered, and revolver in belt.
They danced a perfect fox trot, to music by four men on an instrument
that looked like a spinet, but sounded like a xylophone. A man came up
to our table and asked me if I was from Minneapolis. I was about to
explain that I came from London, and had never seen Minneapolis when my
protector intervened sharply with a rebuke that made the Minneapolis
man apologize and retreat. I was rather resentful at his being so
summarily snubbed, for after all he had, as he said, thought he had met
me in Minneapolis. Another man at the next table, drinking his beer out
of the bottle, tipped it up for the last dregs, and as he did so turned
round to me and when the bottle was drained said “Hullo!” He wasn’t
very sober and I disregarded him. Suddenly my protector went up to him
threateningly and there were words. As the evening advanced the scene
became indescribable. There were Mexicans and there were Chinese in the
saloon, and fragments of the conversation are unrepeatable. The two
best dressed women in the room became conspicuous. The one in scarlet
chiffon, who leaning against the wall had slept, heavily drugged, woke
up bad tempered, and took off her white slipper to beat the man on the
head who spoke to her. The one in pink chiffon sang noisily as she
sat on a man’s knee. There was a white cotton stocking kept up by a
mauve garter, and a hiatus of brown skin between the stocking and the
chiffon dress. All the women with white shoes were mud covered and
trodden on. Our chauffeur sat at our table, and attached to himself a
highly painted, cynical faced broad-bosomed dancer. She joined us and
her conversation with him was translated to me in an undertone. At one
o’clock there being scarce any one sober in the room, and the chiffon
gowns having caught their prey and left, we left too.

My impression as I look back, in spite of all the dirt and drunkenness,
is of young Americans of fine material, hard working and full of grit
and infinitely superior to their conditions of life. These are the men
and such are their surroundings, who give their best years for the
benefit of the oil shareholders.


SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 1921. _Zacamixtle._

We were awakened at 6:00 A.M. by the sound of men whistling as they
dressed, and finally the gramaphone on the other side of the partition
played “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and I got up, looked around for
water to wash in. Outside on the verandah (where the men have their
wash-stand!) I found it in gasoline tins. We had breakfast at the
“dining room” to which we motored across an open muddy space. The
breakfast, fried eggs, dried bacon, tinned butter, and canned milk was
excellent, after which we started homeward, with a feeling of great
appreciation for the simple hospitality of these splendid, hardworking
men. They had not much to offer, and it is rare indeed that a woman
intrudes upon their lives (I believe only about five have done so) but
they offer ungrudgingly all they have and make one welcome. I felt
badly that two people had been obliged to give up their room to me for
the night, and never learnt who they were to thank them.

Passing by daylight the hills with their drilling towers that we had
only seen dimly the night before made of the journey a new one.

As we passed through Amatlan we stopped, and got out into the mud to
photograph lot 162. This is the hillside with the twelve drilling
towers, “derricks” as they are called. 162 is the most prolific lot.
It was at this point that the field was threatened by the recent
fire, and it is estimated that from 500,000 to a million barrels of
oil were lost. I was interested to hear how an oil well on fire can
be extinguished, but in order to understand, we first stopped at the
Huasteca well, known as Amatlan No. 6, in lot 228, and watched it being
drilled. They had reached a depth of 1700 feet and expected to strike
oil at about 2,000 feet. A well is drilled by means of a bit. As the
hole is bored in, it is filled up by steel casing pounds up and down,
worked by a wooden wheel. When a depth of 1800 feet below sea level is
reached in a proven territory, the gas is encountered and the drillers
know they will soon strike the oil. After drilling through the final
strata, the oil dome is reached at about 2,000 feet below sea level.
When the well “comes in” the drillers first let her “clean herself
out.” This means that the gas is allowed to flow freely out of the
well. With the roar and rush of gas come pebbles and stones, in many
cases with sufficient force to throw the drilling tools out of the
hole, and wreck the derrick. The gas is very inflammable and not even
an automobile is allowed to pass within a radius of 300 metres during
an in-coming of a well. After the tools are thrown out, a great black
spray of oil comes up, and then the well is “in.”

The difficult part is closing in the well. A valve is set on the casing
with a stem about 30 feet running at right angles to the casing, and
usually the wheel that turns the valve steam is covered by a small hut.
A pressure gauge indicates the pressure of the oil, and from this the
engineers calculate the estimated daily flow.

When the big fire was raging in Amatlan, the only method of closing the
well was to tunnel to the casing, cut the casing and insert a valve so
as to shut off the supply of oil that was feeding the flame. This was
accomplished by one man, who, by means of an asbestos suit, and tunnel,
successfully accomplished the greater part of the work himself. It is
claimed that the Oil Companies had about 5,000 men at work, throwing up
earthen dykes to prevent a spread.

Craving for information, with the earnest desire of the ignorant person
to become knowledgable, I asked if the oil from these wells reached
its base through common pipe carriers, as in the United States. But
this is not the case here. Each individual company runs its pipe lines
at enormous expense, a procedure which is well afforded by the big
companies, but which is paralyzingly detrimental to the smaller ones.
Only the very rich can afford the luxury of enriching themselves.

From Amatlan we proceeded some miles, to the great crater known as Las
Bocas, which took fire and burnt for nine years. In those days the
means of extinguishing a burning oil well had not been evolved. The
narrow neck had burnt and burnt until it had converted itself into a
crater the size of a lake. From the surface of the sluggish waters,
gas was still rising and the water bubbling and hissing in eddies.
All round the crater the trees stood grey and lifeless, as in some
districts of the battlefields in France. This, as in France, being
caused by poisonous gas which has killed all vegetation, and left a
wood standing like a bare skeleton.

Near this place we met a native, with a gun dragging along a baby
coyote. He had wounded it in the hind legs, and the animal unable to
walk, was being towed along the ground by means of a willow branch
tied round its neck. We asked the man why he did not kill it. He
answered that he wanted to bring it “alive to the village, to show to
the people.” We argued that it was dying. The native was smiling and
unmoved. We offered him a peso to shoot it immediately. He continued to
smile. We offered him five pesos, he remained unmoved. “It will be dead
in an hour, and you will be without your five pesos.” But he smilingly
went on his way, dragging the bulging eyed, panting, dying baby coyote
with its limp broken legs. It wasn’t that he was cruel, he was merely a
brute with no understanding.

We pushed on to the camp known as Kilometer 40, for lunch, and here,
one of the first things they showed me in the Superintendent’s
quarters, was a Hearst magazine of July 12th, with a review and long
quotation of Clare Sheridan’s Russian diary with photographs of self,
with right and lefts of Lenin and Trotzky! I was sure well known by the
staff at this point.

During our trip from Kilometer 40 to Kilometer 80, we passed the worst
of the road, and I counted six cars bogged! The same fate did not
befall us, because we had an extremely brilliant driver, but we had
to halt for some time owing to the stoppage congestion. The car in
front of us contained a Mexican family moving--on the back of their
car, uncaged, sat a little green parrot. It looked so wise and talked
so much and laughed heartily. It sat on my shoulder for some time
and stroked my cheek with its yellow head, and said things to me in
Spanish. And when I answered it in English, it put its head on one side
and with the most entrancing Latin accent said “Right-o!” I made up my
mind that I must have a parrot, a green one with a yellow head. They
grow wild here.

The trip was without further incident until we reached Kilometer 80,
where we had a bucket full of lemonade and some thick cheese sandwiches
and from there in the dark we made for the Huasteca Terminal, crossed
the river in a motor and got back to Tampico about 9:30 P.M.

During these two days, I passed through the oil wells of the following
companies, operating in the Southern fields:

    Huasteca Petroleum Company (Doheny Company).

    Mexican Eagle, /or what is known in Mexico as “Cid Mexicana de
    Petroleo, El Aguola” (English interests).

    La Corona, or what is known in Mexico as “N. V. Petroleum
    Maatschappij La Corona” (Royal Dutch Shell--Dutch Interest).

    Mexican Gulf Oil Co. (Mellon Bros., Pittsburgh).

    Island Oil Company (Leach & Co.).

    International Petroleum Company (John Hays Hammond).

    The Texas Company.

    Transcontinental Petroleum Company (owned by the Standard Oil
    Company--J. D. Rockefeller).


SUNDAY, AUGUST 14, 1921. _Tampico._

Spent ten hours on a small cabin launch going up the Panuco River and
the Tamesi with which it junctions. At the ranch on Don Juan del Rio we
stopped to bathe. It was very hot and very beautiful. We passed miles
and miles of banana plantations and Indians in their frail overloaded
“dugouts” who signalled to us to slow up for fear our “wash” would
swamp them. Arm chairs and awnings were prepared for us, but with
colored glasses to protect my eyes, I preferred sitting up in the
ship’s bow all day in full glare of the sun. It beat down upon me, it
burnt me, mercilessly, splendidly. I felt as if all the cold and fogs
of England’s winters that had seemed so long, all the spring-times of
England that had failed, all the summers of England that had been a
disappointment, and all the autumns that had eaten damp into the marrow
of my bones, were being burnt and branded and cauterized.


MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 1921. _Tampico._

We left Tampico by automobile for the Panuco oil field, and when we
reached a point about 20 kilometers east of Panuco we had to abandon
our auto in a bog and walk. Our luggage consisted of a gun, two kodaks,
three coats and a heavy money bag which we have never dared to leave
out of sight. The chauffeur when we abandoned him to his car, had
assured us that Panuco was four miles away, “Just over the hill.” We
started trustingly and full of energy, two kilometers rough walking
over the sunbeaten shadeless plain was a bad start. We were overcome
with thirst and Dick had to be carried on our backs in turn. The heat
of the sun seemed to increase, the Kodaks became a curse, the coats a
mockery. We sweated and limped and panted over the plain, and up the
hill in the merciful shade of trees to the crest. No human habitation
however was visible; down the hill we went and up the next. Still no
sign, yet another hill. Dick became peevish and complaining, everyone
too tired to carry him, and the springs in the hollows all dried up.
At the foot of the third hill there was a junction of four primitive
roads. Our guide left us in a heap, at the crossroads, gun loaded
and full cock and with orders not to shoot at sight, but only on
provocation, and he went in search of water. I took from my trouser
pocket my little jade god, the one that looks like Trotzky and is 2000
years old. He is supposed to be the god who protects one from thirst.
I stood him up in the sand and I begged him to send water. “Are you a
curse or a blessing?” I asked him. “Never before have I carried you on
me, never have I suffered from such thirst--be kind and send us, send
us water!”

Half an hour later, when the sun was setting, we heard a distant sound
of steps and voices and there our guide came running towards us, and a
native boy with a bucket at his side. We all three got up and ran to
meet him, ran stumblingly and speechlessly.

“Shut your eyes while you drink it ...” we were told. Womanlike, I
looked, it was brown muddy opaque rainwater washed down from the hills
... we drank--and drank, one of us coughed up a small live fish, spat
it out and drank again. Never ever had any drink tasted so good! And
where was Panuco? Where the Corona Camp? 15 minutes away, said the
native boy.

“Come and show us ...”

He would not.

“Five--ten pesos if you will lead us....”

“No I must milk the cows.”

“The cows won’t hurt for thirty minutes....”

“It is getting night....”

“You can find your way in the dark.”

“My father is out....”

We followed the direction he pointed out--we passed the Salvasuchi,
Tampuche, Temante and Isleta fields. We passed them, I did not see
them, my eyes were glued to the track, picking my way, and my mind
concentrated on the effort of “getting along.” A little brandy, and
even Dick shouted “no” when asked if we were downhearted. In the face
of a lemon and sunset sky we were ferried in a dugout across the
Panuco River from the Tamaulipas to the Vera Cruz side. An Indian at
this juncture consented to escort us and carried our possessions. He
said it was only two kilometers more, but we seemed to walk for two
more hours along the river bank, in single silent file, through maize
or cotton up to our waists, or banana plantations over our heads. At
least we were not thirsty, and the sun was no more. The fire-flies
danced around and before us, and the moon rose up in all her glory,
making shadows among the banana leaves.

We started walking at 3:30, it was 9:30 when we tottered into the
Corona camp and the Superintendent gave us his house for the night.
The wife of one of the staff took us to her house to give us supper.
I remember vaguely the mental effort of trying to display normal
appreciation of her kindness in egg frying. But before the eggs were on
the table my head was in my plate and I was fast asleep.


TUESDAY, AUGUST 16, 1921. _Corona Camp._

My bed facing the open window on the river, where the sun was rising,
waked me at five. I got up stiffly and dressed at once. Found my host
on the verandah and had a little conversation with him. He was a Swiss,
and we talked French. Round his neck was a great scar. I learned
afterwards that he had been hung by order of Carranza and was cut
down just in time before he could die. We breakfasted at six and our
host drove us to the railway station, three kilometres away, where we
caught the 6:30 train full of workingmen; among whom in appearance we
seemed quite in keeping. Dick was rather sleepy and said he felt sick,
but otherwise showed no signs of the strain of the night before. He may
have been carried at most two kilometers, for the rest of 18 he had
walked it gallantly, and (after the sun had gone down) uncomplainingly.
His powers of endurance before his sixth birthday made me extremely
proud, and very hopeful of him.


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 1921.

Got up at 5:30 A. M. Waked Louise and Dick, breakfasted at 6:15
and then proceeded in a car to catch the seven o’clock train. We
started a little late and half way the car stopped in a perfectly
deserted street. The panic and agitation in which I finally arrived
at the station, to catch the only Mexico City express of the day
is indescribable. My destination was not Mexico, but Micos, about
ten hours away where I had contrived (as I planned) to camp by the
falls. All the camp gear had gone on ahead, but waiting for me at
the seven o’clock train were my four friends. Each of them director,
superintendent, or some occupation of the sort in a Tampico firm. One
an Irishman, one a Scotchman, one a Canadian and the other a Mexican.
They were arranging for me, and organizing my camp, and joining it for
a holiday. They greeted me at the station by the calming assurance
that although it was seven o’clock, the train would not leave for an
hour. As a matter of fact it did not start for two hours and a half.
I had gotten up at five to catch a train that left at 9:30. Meanwhile
we were turned out of our compartment while it was hermetically sealed
and fumigated--the enforced legislation for every train from a bubonic
plague district. Dick walked around in the pouring rain with a friend
and bought a baby parrot without a cage. The flies were such as Tampico
alone can boast. When we did start, the engine broke down six miles
out. It was nightfall when we reached Micos, a primitive little country
station, in the middle of a village street. Here we were met by one who
had gone ahead to select our camp. He said he had not had time to get
things fixed, and that meanwhile he was renting for us a house in the
village. Leaving the others to go to the house I walked back along the
railway line with the Irishman to view the falls, and select a site. It
was not easy, as the bank goes sheer down from the railway to the falls
and sheer up from the falls to the mountain top, both sides densely
covered with virgin vegetation. In this place there are no roads,
peasants load their donkeys and mules and drive them along the single
file tracks. There are no churches. The Spaniards never penetrated into
this wilderness, the blood of the people is pure undiluted Indian.
The railway has brought to them whatever they know of civilization.
At the top of a stony track leading down to the valley, two natives,
man and wife, bade us “Buenos Noches.” We asked them where they lived.
They pointed way down below to a thatched roof and in gallant native
fashion “There is _your_ house” they said to us, assuring us that if
we pitched our camp there, we could get eggs, fresh milk, a child for
Dick to play with, and moreover a boat to ferry the river. We took some
cigarettes from them and walked back, reaching our village house after
nightfall. It stood on a bank above the railway. It was, of course,
unfurnished. Three beds had been put in one room for Dick, Louise and
myself. The walls were of dried mud, whitewashed. The floor was of wet
mud into which the legs of the bed sank unevenly. Our mosquito nets
hung from a transparent ceiling of bamboo through which one could see
the thatch. The next room was full of beds for our friends and across
a patio, that was like the yard of a pig pen, we walked on duck boards
to the kitchen and dining room. I slept with my front door wide open,
the moon streaming in, the largest cockroach I have ever seen on the
wall, and an upturned cube box next to me with my clock and Margaret’s
photograph. The conditions were so novel and interesting that one
forgot the discomfort. Every man in the next room (there was an open
doorway over which I hung a sheet for privacy) snored like two men
each. The village dogs held concert in the night and woke up all the
cocks. Two trains came in to the station whistling and the mountains
re-echoed. The insects made an unceasing sound, as of machinery, and at
five the next morning I got up.


THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 1921. _Micos._

The village consists of a main street, mud houses, thatched roofs
and three ‘open’ stores, a ‘cake shop’ and a drinking house. At the
store I bought leather sandals, straw hats, scarlet neckerchief, red
fringed sash, loosely woven scarlet wool material by the yard and a six
shooter. While thus absorbed an Indian fell through the doorway onto
the floor, drunk. His face was pathetically imbecile. He pawed the air
and emitted noises and grunts like a frightened animal. The Storekeeper
picked him up and led him gently out just so far as the cake store, and
he tumbled headlong into that doorway.

In the mire of the street stood two immovable oxen, a burro, dogs,
chickens, pigs and tied up a door was a black shiney nosed big eyed
gazelle, it had been lassoed and captured in the woods.

It was a great day. The villagers were at their doors watching the
packing of our stuff onto 16 mules; beds, matresses, stove, suit cases,
stores. One mule gave a tremendous heave with his back and started off
at full gallop down the street, scattering his pack on his way. He was
caught and a red handkerchief tied over his eyes, a noose tied round
his upper lip, and pulled tight, and he was repacked.

Dick rode a thin burro with a Mexican saddle and stirrups that looked
like tin cans, two Indian boys accompanied him: one to pull the
burro and the other to push it. With the baby parrot under my arm I
walked ahead of the cavalcade for two miles along the railway track.
We expected a good deal of trouble, but only one mule fell over the
embankment with a bed on his back, and had to be dragged up on the end
of a rope by another. How they ever did the journey down the rocky
footpath through the wood into the valley without mishap is a miracle.
But they fetched up at the riverside in perfect order and were there
unloaded, while a bridge was being built to enable the men to carry
the stuff across the rapids. This took time, but two palm tree trunks
eventually spanned the rapids to a small island, and from there a
dugout ferried us across to the big island, which is our camp.

At eight o’clock I went to bed dead tired, my bed was next to the tent
flap, tied back so that the moon could shine in upon me, and I could
look out and see the fire-flies. I fell asleep to the sound of water
falls that roar like a great mill wheel on either side of the island.


SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 1921. _At Camp._

What is the use of describing it?

I am never going to forget. It is mirror’d deep down into my soul,
forever. And who else cares?

I am so happy and so completely at peace. It is less than a year since
I went to Russia, and it has been the fullest year of my life. During
that year I have hardly at all been alone, and I am very very tired.

Peace, (the most beautiful word in the English language) “the Peace
that passeth all understanding” is mine at last.

When I die my Heaven will be like this. It will be warm and sunny, full
of butterflies, flowers and water falling, water rushing and water
pools that trickle. How I love water and the sound of it! I have found
a little secluded place that I come to all alone. When I left the camp,
crossing the river and the rapids, I walked half a mile and then I
came to a wide shallow rivulet. Amidstream there is a tree and a big
shady rock. I reach it by stepping stones. It is my castle. The stream
tumbles from one pool into a lower one. The water is clear as crystal.
I can see the shoal of big trout as they swim together against the
current. There seems to be a myriad butterflies of every description.
They hover quite near me, as though they had never seen a human, and so
were unafraid. There is an irridescent one of sapphire blue as big as a
bat. It is luminous in the sunlight, it dances around me tantalizingly
like some great living jewel that I may not touch. I have heard of
golden butterflies, but I thought it was an exaggeration of speech, but
I have found one here. It settled on my foot and opened wide its wings,
they seemed to have been cut out of gold tinsel and sewn together
with an orange thread. On the branches of the tree over my head there
are clumps of white orchids, and a pair of wild green parrots shriek
noisily in their flight. I have loved spring days in England, with
their mist of bluebells in the woods, and brimstone butterflies the
color of the primroses, but this seasonless country, that has never
known frost, this Heaven of eternal Sunshine and riot of beauty, is
almost too wonderful to enjoy. It is as if one had picked all the best
things from every corner of the Earth and put them here, and made a
composition picture.

Last night I came back by moonlight across the island among the sugar
cane. In the distance the lights glimmered from our thatched roof
beneath which, at the foot of the mountain, our tents are pitched. On
one side of me were bamboo, palm trees and tall feathery reeds and
the moon caught the flat of the leaves and turned them to silver. I
threw my arms out wide as though to embrace it all. I seemed not to be
a mere stranger, a passerby. I, who have no sense of “home” suddenly
felt that I “belonged.” My father had a ranch in Wyoming before I was
born, and perhaps something hitherto untouched had awakened in me.
I have no sense of possession. I do not desire to own. I know that
these mountains are as completely mine as some man’s garden for which
he has paid. I may climb the mountain, shoot, live, cut fuel, build a
house, just as I may fish in the stream, build bridges over it, dam
it, treat it in fact as though I had a title deed, but I do not feel
that I own them so much as they own me. I belong here ... I do not
belong to London, New York, Paris or Mexico City. I do not belong to
people or to any social community. I belong to this garden that God has
planted. This is not Mexico, it is just Arcady. It is not anywhere in
particular, it is just a place “somewhere on God’s Earth.” I may live
here all my life if I please. I can afford to live here without ever
doing another day’s work. I need make no further effort so long as I
live. I need never worry about food, fuel, roof nor raiment. I need
never again see the misery of civilization, the poverty, the crime,
the sordidness, the ugliness. I need never hear of wars, and the
sufferings of humanity. I have strayed into a garden of Peace.

But Vasconselos said the truth: if humans are content, they are no
better than the brutes, if they have imagination, they suffer always.
And I know, that although I have found beauty and my dreams have been
outdreamed, and although I have free choice, my decision will not keep
me here. I know this may only be a rest by the wayside; that some day I
must arise, strengthened, rested, and get back into the fray. I have an
ambition, the task is set, I may not give up. This is self-indulgence.
No one has a right to continue to live and leave no foot print. One may
do some good, or one may do some harm, but one _must_ do something in
the world, or forfeit the right to live.

My children, what would they become, brought up “in Heaven?” It may not
be. They have to pass through the maelstrom to become worthwhile.

But this is good, surpassing good, and my heart is full of a deep
gratitude. Perhaps some day when the work is done, my soul may rest in
“Peace.”


IN CAMP--_Date unknown._

Our days pass, and our nights, and some nights are darker than others,
otherwise they are all the same and no one of our days is less good
than another. They vary only in the variety of our expeditions and
every new place reveals a beauty equal to the first. This morning I
allowed Dick to visit the secret place amidstream where I come to
write. He took off his garment to bathe, and standing naked in the
sun, on a rock above the waterfall, his body burnt brown, and, with
his pet ant-eater round his neck, he looked the embodiment of Mowglie
in Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book,” the boy who was suckled by the
she-wolf, and grew up in the woods, and could speak the language of the
animals.

Mowglie could look into the eyes of the Black Panther and make him
blink and turn his head away. Mowglie defeated the Tiger, he led the
wolves. Mowglie, the Man-cub, learned great wisdom and philosophy from
the jungle. This new primæval life seems to have revealed something
even to me.

At this moment lying full length in the sun on my rock, I am out of
sight, and well out of sound of any human (Oh! No I am not! Here comes
an Indian--he is going to cross the stream--he has not seen me--he
stops to sharpen his knife on a stone--he has cut a hazel switch--he
has crossed the stream--he is gone--)....

I lie here contemplatively, and find myself saying: “If I were a
man!....” It is revealed to me that to be a man must be a wonderful
accident of birth. To be the right kind of man is to be a king. Now
to be a queen, one need not necessarily be the best kind of woman, and
being a queen is not worth while anyway. Whereas to be a king means
Power. “King by Divine Right.” That defines the finest type of man.

[Illustration: DICK SAILING HIS BATTLESHIP IN THE TURBULENT MEXICAN
RIVER

  (Photograph by Clare Sheridan)
]

If I were a man: I mean young, sound of mind and limb, body well
conditioned and muscled--indefatigable. Equipped mentally with a moral
code and a sense of honor, and fearless. I would feel that I could
hold my own with anyone in the world. That I would not be unfairly
matched with any other physical force. That in the fight, in play, in
competition, I had but to exert my capacity to the utmost to be sure of
the issue. Though I were unendowed I would own the world.

If I were a man, I would awake in the morning, stretch my limbs and
say: “Thank God!” When I was a girl, I wished I were a boy, and a man
(I have never forgotten, though I was very young) said to me: “As
wishing won’t change you, you had better try to become the best kind of
woman,” but at best, what is to be a woman?

My short hair and man’s garb have temporarily added an aggressive
personality to my six foot stature and my strength. But, at a turn
in the road I am likely to meet a physical strength greater than my
own, which in conflict would utterly defeat me. The world is not
mine, it is another’s to whom I am obliged to entrust myself. I am a
childbearer, and of what worth are my physical powers of endurance?

I am a woman; I am vain, jealous, changeable, dependant, and ever must
remain so.

Oh God! I pray, in my next incarnation, make me the best kind of man,
and meanwhile as a compensation give me the consolation of having made
one.


MEXICO. _In Camp._

I have lost all track of days and dates. I get no papers, I receive no
letters, no one knows where I am, I hardly can locate myself.

It is a rough primitive life, and the situation necessitating a long
walk on a hilly stony track with rivers to cross has tested the
material of my four friends.

The Scotchman never came at all, we left him in the village when we
came to camp. He was invaluable in organizing our needs and dispatching
the mule train, but there was no cold beer in these regions and he went
back to Tampico.

The Mexican started with us, but turned back half way.

The Irishman is a man of affairs, he comes and goes--comes whenever he
can snatch a spare few days.

The Canadian has been able to remain.

Dick calls it “home”--and I suppose for him it is the nearest thing
approaching a “home” that he has had since we left England, or anyway
New York. For me also it has somewhat of a home feeling. It is so
primitive, so simple, so poetic. One comes to it with an appreciation
that is very nearly love.

How little one needs, if the climate is kind, a house with walls is no
longer a necessity, nor is fuel. All one needs is a roof to shade one
from sun and rain, and for furniture just books, heaps and heaps of
books. One wants all the books one has longed for time to read, and all
the books one loves that one dreams of re-reading.

Our kind hosts, the man and wife Mexican peons, are allowing us to
share their roof. It is a high thatch of palm leaves, it might be an
open barn or hayrick. And under this roof, we have pitched our tent. At
one end there is a room walled off transparently with battens like a
birdcage, this is lent to us for a storeroom and the Japanese cook and
his wife sleep in it.

Behind a screen of wattles, on a plank, sleep the owners of the roof.
I wonder if they will live all their lives in this place to die some
day on the plank bed behind the wattle screen. They are a charming
couple, so happy and devoted. He makes money by growing some sugar cane
on the island, and a few feet away from our thatched barn is another,
under it a primitive press in which they squeeze the juice out of
the cane. Under that roof another tent is pitched, and there the men
sleep. I don’t know who they all are, but they come and go, and some
remain--they are all workers in the Tampico firm.

Our island camp is like a miniature United States, composed of a
variety of nationalities, but all submerged into a family unionism.

The Irishman is the real Commandant, but he is obliged to be away most
of the time. He sends in his absence members of his firm, those who
need a rest or a holiday, and are a protective force.

These men are of varying types, most of them simple hardworking people
whose literary tastes run no further than detective stories and who do
not deeply think nor discuss the world’s problems! They have a certain
kind of humor which usually consists of teasing the cook, or telling
stories about getting drunk. The only cultured one among them is the
Irishman, who reads Schopenhauer and Ibsen.

He has just arrived for two days. This morning we walked down to the
foot of the island, crossed two rivers, by means of felled trees, and
walked back along the mainland, expecting to be able to recross the
river opposite the camp without going back the way we came. We had a
pleasant and varied walk, half in the water to our knees--so that my
top boots became like water bottles--and then to our waists, all to no
purpose, the river was unfordable. Eventually being hot and weary we
plunged in up to our necks.

It is a lovely climate that enables one to do these things, which
in England would produce pneumonia. Finally in desperation at not
accomplishing our purpose, we resolutely stepped out, into the
shallowest of the rapids to effect our crossing. I watched the man
walking rather insecurely, trying the riverbed ahead of me; at each
footmove one’s leg with great difficulty withstood the current. We
seemed to be nearly over the worst, when I had a sensation of wavering,
I put out my hand, he grabbed it, and together we were carried off our
feet and rushed like tumbling logs down-stream. Everything seemed dark
and chaotic. I was not conscious of my head being under water. The only
thing that impressed me was our utter helplessness and the futility of
his strong grasp. Very clearly I said to myself “This is the end.” It
must come some day, somehow, and this was the day and this was the way.
I wondered how long it would take and if it would hurt.

Then in the muddle when one seemed to be turning over and round, any
sort of way, a mere bundle of rubbish, I came on top, and saw the river
bank quite close--I snatched at grass, at roots, all failed, and then
something held--“I’ve got it, I’ve got it,” I shouted in triumph, and
when we regained our feet, and stood waist deep, spluttering we looked
at one another, without a word, in great surprise, and laughed, but my
laughter was very nearly tears.

We triumphed in the end, I would not return the way we came, so from
the mainland opposite our camp, the Irishman got across hand over hand,
on a wire hawser that spanned the river. It used to serve the ferry
which now lies wrecked and derelict half a mile down-stream; once
across he improvised a boat, out of a big wooden box and came across to
fetch me.

We were rather silent at supper; there seemed some food for thought.

It is a beautiful but awesome thing, this river. Higher up just around
the bend of the mountain it cascades for half a mile: thunderous and
forceful. It approaches our island, almost like a flood, diverting into
varying streams, creating islands, engulfing trees, there is not a
sight of it that does not contain a waterfall and a fast current that
pours over rapids. Everywhere there are waterfalls, usually six at a
time from every direction. Dick says all the rivers in the world have
joined us here. It is an hypnotic, wondrous, fearful thing. Sometimes
I hate it, always I fear it, several times it has tried to snatch Dick
from me. Always I think it wants to take Dick, and he loves it so,
is always in it, fearlessly going out of his depth, by hanging on the
swiftly floating logs.

The river has the spirit of a passionate irresponsible creature that
knows no laws.

It thunders and foams, roars and rages, laughs, is uncontrollable and
wild one minute, the next, gentle as a little child, a thing of moods,
untameable. There are people with the spirit of the river. They are
genius’s or revolutionaries. Some of them are mad.... I hate, I love, I
admire, I fear the river.


SEPTEMBER, 1921. _In Camp._

He left today (the Irishman I mean); I walked with him to Micos
station. The train was due at 7 a.m. by starting at 9:30 a.m. he only
had 3 hours to wait. (Such are the Mexican trains). It was a hot long
climb, I had not been back to the village since I left it. When we got
there we found that it was Sunday.

Instead of the little peaceful half asleep village I had known, it
was thronged with people, the stores were doing a roaring trade. The
meat-sellers had it hanging in streamers from a pole, the fruit-sellers
had them on a handkerchief in the mud. Everyone from the neighboring
country had come to town. The women looked at me pityingly, their men
gave them dresses and shoes and shawls but I, poor thing, my man gave
me only his old clothes and boots to wear.

The most successful seller was the fellow who had a lump of ice
and sold colored drinks. I drank and drank, my man gave me that
unstintingly! he gave me colored drinks, a penknife, twelve
handkerchiefs, and a straw hat--it was not ungenerous!

While thus engaged a cadaverous unshaved grey-haired man in a blue
shirt, split shoes, and one large iron spur, introduced himself. “It
isn’t often one finds Americans here, let me shake your hand.” He said
he was American, had lived here many years, on a ranch, and that he
was a Doctor. Three finger nails were missing from the right hand. He
wore spectacles but had a distant look as if he saw not what he saw. A
living Rip van Winkle. “Going to Tampico? a three days trip”--he said.
“Three days? you mean ten hours.” “Three days” he repeated--“on a good
horse”--so!--the train was not for him.

“The train breaks down” he said contemptuously, as though anyone would
entrust themselves to a train who had a good horse. He limped away
without another word. We crossed the street to another store and a
young man with an American accent waylaid us “Pardon me is your party
complete? a white man’s body lies drowned a short way up the river”--he
said it in a tone of perfect detachment and indifference. The body was
there and must be identified. We hesitated a moment, looked round at
our party, there were three or four odd members of our camp--we were
complete.

Further down the village street a horse was lying with its four feet
tied together and two men operating on its mouth with a big carving
knife. The horse groaned and sniffed and sighed and blood flowed.

Approaching us on all fours was a child of five or six. Like a
quadruped it walked, a cursed thing, doomed from birth. It looked at us
cross-eyed, and its face was the face of a little wild animal.

We did not go to see the corpse, the others went laughing and
whistling, cracking grim jokes,--the law in Mexico is that no body may
be removed from the water until identified.

They told us on their return, that it had been in the water two weeks,
it was floating on its stomach, fishes had eaten the face, vultures
were hovering about the back. “Someone drowned”--and that’s all that
mattered, but on a Sunday morning how diverting for the village!


SEPTEMBER, 1921. _In Camp--Mexico._

Last week we were joined by an Anglo-French-Dutch-American born in
Chicago--a man with a close cropped head looking like a convict; he
was reputed an anarchist and a dynamiter. He did not fit in with the
spirit of our camp. He said of me that I was a poor Socialist, too
imperious in tone. I said of him that he was a poor Anarchist, too
autocratic. He talked to the servants like dogs, and to his equals as
subordinates. Within 15 minutes of his arrival, the camp was simmering
with indignation.

Pedro, the lad of the village, who offered his services and was taken
as waiter, and who always smiles when asked for anything, opened wide
his black eyes, and looked wonderingly at this strange new personality.

The Jap cook--who shoots wild parrots with a revolver, and whose
Mexican girl wife spends her time feeding the small wild birds that her
husband has caged--were both on the verge of a general strike. As a
result of which the A. F. D. American said he would “chuck the Jap into
the river” and looked as if he meant it.

We have permanently attached to us two half-Mexican Texas boys--they
wear sloppy clothes, red knotted handkerchiefs round their necks,
and loud blue check shirts. One of them with black hair standing up
on end and a three days’ growth on his chin, looks like the most
dangerous type of Apache. I overheard these two by the light of a
lanthorne discussing the newly arisen situation. They were not going
to accept any orders from one their equal. “He may have been in the
firm 20 years, and he trades on it but that does not make us his
subordinates”--they argued what should be done: not fight him with
fists they agreed, as he had done some quite shining light boxing
in his day--“we will get him into the river!”--Here I interfered, I
assured them they were here to take care of me, and there must be no
tragedies and no rows. I left them when they had sworn to keep the
peace.

The worst thing the A. F. D. American had against me was that I offered
him the eggs after General Barragan had tasted them. General Barragan
is my parrot. So beautiful, so spoiled. He has a passion for poached
eggs, and always comes onto the table at breakfast. Who could mind
eating out of the dish after General Barragan? But whatever I did was
wrong, in the unrelenting eyes of the A. F. D. American. So I got the
Canadian, who is senior to him, to send him back as soon as possible to
Tampico on some pretext of an errand. We breathed more freely when he
was gone.

The Swede who took his place was sent, I think, as a practical joke,
for the poor man could be of no value to us and he was miserable in a
life that was perfectly alien to him. A rather thin, chetif man; he
hated the effort of the long rough walk to get here. Hated the tent,
the bugs, the heat, washing in the river, the absence of movies and
restaurants.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” I asked him--Oh yes, he agreed it was beautiful.
“Peaceful?” Oh yes, it was peaceful. “Restful?” Yes, it was restful,
but he was not in search of beauty, peace or rest, and he left us at
his earliest opportunity.

One night, however, we broke the spell. There was neither rest nor
peace. We gave a dance!

In a way it was unpremeditated, and grew by itself, as those things
sometimes do. It began by engaging two musicians, a violinist and a
mandolin player and by inviting the milkman’s daughter and two nieces.

The news spread like wildfire, and we who imagined we were far from
human habitations, suddenly found ourselves with about 50 men on our
hands! They appeared at dusk from every direction. They hailed the
ferry on both sides of the mainland, they arrived all smartened up, and
by the light of our lanterns and our few colored paper lights, we saw
rows of white bloused Indians in their best hats. Our dance floor had
been especially arranged for the occasion--all the weeds and creeping
water melon and small palms had been grubbed; the earth levelled and
quite a big space in between the two barns was rolled and ready. Four
felled tree trunks were the seats that outlined it--and on these, the
Indians sat in rows, like birds contemplatively.

The arrival on the dance ground of the four specially invited women was
full of formal ceremony. They were preceded by the wife of our landlord
and by the cook’s wife--one behind the other, in silence they walked.
At sight of them the row of men on the nearest tree rose and fled as
one man, and distributed themselves elsewhere like magic, leaving the
seat to the women, who sat on it all in a solemn row.

When the music tuned up, the bravest men walked across the ground,
selected their partners with a bow and a fine sweep of Mexican
sombrero, and before dancing they paraded round and round the ground
two by two. They never smiled. The women kept their heads bowed
and their eyes glued to the ground. When spoken to they did not
answer,--their whole attitude was maddeningly submissive and full of
humility.

When they danced it was a very fast two step, and the man held his
girl at a very respectful distance. She did not appear to lean on him
or touch him. They also danced a little country dance, monotonous and
dull, of little shifting steps in lines opposite one another. I danced
once with my landlord, and the rest of the time with the Texas “Apache”
boy. I am told the evening was a success. It looked to me dull and sad
in the extreme. One hoped up to the last moment that the party would
cheer up and get merry, but even rum served all round did not stimulate
them. I am told the Indians are like that. Stoically melancholy. Such
an evening compares curiously with the same as it would be in Italy,
Spain or Russia--there is hardly a country one can think where the
native is not stirred by national dances and music. The men as well
as the women looked rather apathetic and passive and stupid--out of
the lot I noticed only one man who had individuality, stature and fine
features. He had the appearance of a stage bandit and assurance of
manner that set him conspicuously apart from the others. He wore high
boots and immaculate white linen coat and a large revolver in a holster
on his belt. I asked about him--he kept a store some way down the river.

The great mystery was: where did these people all come from? Not from
Micos, the village afar off--but just from plain thatched huts “not
half as fine as ours!” among the woods and hillside.

The supper we provided in haste from our tinned store was greatly
appreciated. Hands dived into the apricot or sardine tin as their
choice selected--and when they left hours later, volleys were fired
from the mainland, which, as I had gone to bed and was fast asleep,
woke me up with a bewildering start.


SEPTEMBER, 1921. _In Camp. Mexico._

The strange Anglo-French-Dutch-American anarchist whom we sent, sullen
and protesting from our camp, must have cursed us, as he went. He is
the seventh child of a seventh child, and what he knows--he knows.

I think he cursed the Canadian, who sent him back. Cursed me for
getting him sent. Cursed Dick for being mine. The very next day after
his departure the Canadian had fever, and a temperature of 104. Dick
had a suppurating bloodshot eye and could not see, and I went to bed
with some mysterious poisoning which may be of an insect or of a weed,
but cannot be identified.

That was seven days ago. I am still in bed, suffering as if I had been
scalded. A cradle over me, of reeds, protects me from the unbearable
touch even of the sheet.

The Canadian for whose life we feared at one moment, wanders about,
still with a high temperature, lies restlessly on the river bank,
gasping for air and praying for ice.

Dick is able to go out today, but with a bandage. It is a dreadful
anti-climax, this last week of our camping days. For a month everything
has been so perfect. One had not reckoned on the snake in Paradise.

A doctor came 20 kilometers on mule-back. He stayed the night and
doctored us all, but without any apparent result.

I feel as though I were on fire, and I am nearly mad. At first I could
drag myself to the river and plunge in and get temporary relief, but
for two days now the river has been in flood; muddy, opaque, and
raging; two nights of thunder-storms achieved this result. Storms,
which relieved for me the endless monotony of a sleepless night.

I have my bed close up to the open tent flap, and I could see the land
lit up by lightning flashes that lasted sometimes a minute at a time.
The thunder was stupendous; if it could have been linked to music it
would have been super-Wagnerian; it rethundered from mountain-side to
mountain-side, followed by a death-like lull.

One imagined all was over. Then with dramatic suddenness--an
earth-shaking crash, as if God in a temper had slammed His door. This
drama took about three hours from the night, and the river has risen
yet another foot.


SEPTEMBER 9, 1921. _In Camp. Mexico._

The cycle has come round. Again it is my birthday, just a year ago I
bought my ticket for Russia.

Dick managed somehow to get a bunch of gigantic mauve convolvulous
flowers that were growing up a palmtree. He brought them to me with
great sentiment, so my birthday was, after all, a birthday!

Tonight is the third night of thunder storms (I am writing by torch
light in the midst of it).

After nights of pain and sleeplessness one begins to think stupid
things: I feel as if this beautiful valley were a valley of death; I
have thought for sometime that the valley meant to keep me. Even the
way I came to it was strange and uncanny--almost called to it from the
train window. It cast a spell on me then, a spell strong enough to
enforce my return.

Ever since I came it has been suggested to me that I stay forever, why
go away?

The suggestion first came from man. Then the beauty of the place set
itself to lure me. Then the river tried to catch me. It has tried
to catch Dick too. Having slipped through that, I am now poisoned
unmercifully. I shall get over that but then there’s still the river,
and every storm makes the water rise, and the strong current grows
swifter. In the end I can only leave the island by ferry, and the river
is getting more and more impassable. After a month of Paradise weather
suddenly these storms, on purpose to stop me going. I must go in four
days. I will be well enough to go in four days. I will go in four days
whether I am well enough or not ... but, in the end there’s the river
to cross.

I might have known it was uncanny, this beauty. This enticing
stillness, this holiness of peace--it is a trap. It is a valley of
death. It is full of spirits and mysteries. I must get out--I am mad.
No, I am not mad, I am sick.


SEPTEMBER 11. _In Camp. Mexico._

The Irishman returned this evening for the week-end, his errand being
to help us start on our way on Tuesday next. His train was late--he
arrived just before daylight faded. I heard them say, “He has some one
with him, who can it be...?” It was the Swede again, poor man having
been prevailed upon to return.

Our Mexican “Apache” went across to fetch them. Suddenly I heard
screams and shouts, “They’re in--they’re in!” I leaped out of my sick
bed, flung on a dressing gown and went outside the tent and saw two
men in the water making for the bank. It was the Irishman saving the
terrified Swede.

The current had been too strong and the Texas boy was frantically
trying to hold the swamping boat to the wire hawser that spanned the
river, to save it from being lost. But he could not hold, and in
another moment he and it were floating rapidly amid-stream, heading for
the rapids.

It was not until afterwards that I learned he could not swim. No one
has yet understood why he was not drowned. He went over the falls and
was engulfed underneath the capsized boat. The river divides here into
two currents. By mercy of Providence the boat was swept along by the
current that runs into shore instead of by the other, which would have
carried him straight on down.

He came ashore having displayed great calm and courage. When his safety
was realized the next problem was how to get the other two across the
river, the terrified Swede could not swim, the Irishman had gone back
to the mainland for him. They could come across without much difficulty
and risk, half in, half out of the water hand over hand on the wire
hawser. The Swede stood shivering on the bank, he would not contemplate
it. The Irishman accomplished it, went back and forth three times to
fetch him--two men from our side went across with ropes to help him. He
was immovable. Rather would he return all the long hard weary way to
Micos in the dark and take his chance of village hospitality, and catch
a train for Tampico in the morning.

I think if I were a man I would rather drown, than admit before so many
people that I was afraid to attempt what the others proved could be
done with safety. After such a journey, to be so near home, to see the
goal just across the way--to be so tired--so hungry and so wet, and not
to make the final effort to get there. Well--he went back.

The evening seemed to me a strange corroboration of my last night’s
musings. The river rises, and it rises--and in four days time, I have
to cross it by the ferry.


SEPTEMBER 12. _Mexico._

My fears were unwarranted: In the end, the river was kind and calm and
let me pass--I said goodbye regretfully, lingeringly, even I have to
admit tearfully.

I am quite sure I shall never return to the island that has been my
world for a month.

It is a closed chapter, but a very definite chapter, and I have learnt
many things. I have learnt that nature, with her camouflage garb of
beauty, is merciless, cruel, pitiless and hostile. The unpolluted
virgin forest contains poison and disease. Civilization which I have
always scorned is fighting Nature all the time. The wonder is that
anyone survives Nature. Cruelty is primitive, not decadent, as I used
to believe.

Nevertheless, long after I have forgotten the hurt of Nature, I will
remember a thousand beautiful things that are indelible.

I have been happy--on the whole tremendously happy. A happiness that is
pure and abstract and did not depend on a human being.

But if I lived in this country I should weary of the seasonless
sameness. There are things that the blood of my race would cry aloud
for.

I should miss:--

    --The turn of the leaf in Autumn.
      The frosty crispness of an early dawn.
      Twilight.
      My footprints in the dew.
      Pheasants fluttering to roost.
      Green beechbuds in the Spring.
      Mist of bluebells in a leafless wood.
      The robin’s song.
      A wood fire crackling.

And the pleasant sight of children in clean white pinafores on their
way to school.


SEPTEMBER 15, 1921. _Nuevo Laredo, Mexico._

Such an anti-climax--the Immigration people have refused us entrance
to the U. S., because Dick had fever and sore eyes, which they say is
“trachoma” described officially as “a dangerous, contagious disease.”

It nearly broke my heart to see my San Antonio train steam away, and
us left in Mexico. We so counted on getting to a good hotel and a good
doctor at San Antonio. Goodness knows when we will get out of this
country. The Doctor says it will take time.

The Mexican Laredo Hotels are indescribable: no water, no food, no
drains, floor covered with ants. We leave tonight for Monterey to await
Dick’s recuperation.

We are so dirty, so worn out, so poisoned, so sore and wretched, such a
Job’s company. That is what camping in Mexico means.

From this window, I see across the river the U. S. flag floating from
dignified buildings. So near, so longed for. Heaven’s door closed.

It is a blow.

I feel lost, very homeless, very unloved, very unwanted.


SEPTEMBER 17, 1921. _Monterey, Mexico._

Of course Dick has not got trachoma--the doctor who has lived in Mexico
20 years recognized it at once as the most ordinary Mexican eye disease
prevalent among children. I shall probably get it too. Meanwhile here
we are, recuperating. The Hotel has at least got baths and hot and cold
water. One is so reduced in spirits, so humbled, so unspoiled, one
hardly dreams of higher bliss than this!

I had not even the energy to get into the Plaza and see the Centenary
procession. Dick and I got up on to the deserted and neglected roof
garden.

There one views the jagged mountain ranges by which the town is
surrounded. It is really rather beautiful, but my spirit is across the
border, I am existing here under protest; sullen, bored, inactive. I
have an affection for the United States. I want to get back there.

Though they treat me like a steerage emigrant it makes no difference,
and after all, what am I but an emigrant? A first class, specially
reserved saloon, emigrant--but none the less a simple homeless
emigrant, asking humbly for admittance.

The American industrial magnates here have been ever so kind and
helpful. The American Smelting and Refining Works especially have done
more for me than I can ever repay. Their practical and volunteered
help and great thoughtfulness cannot be described nor appreciated in
mere words. I rather suspect the channel through which this help was
contrived, although his name has not been mentioned to me.

To while away our waiting moments, Dick and I, in company with a
representative of the Baldwin Locomotive works, went to an amateur
bull-fight in celebration of the Centenario. A feeble amateur affair
it was. Nothing illustrative of Mexico bull-fighting. A bedraggled
show, neither decorative, spectacular nor well fought. Mercifully the
bull’s horns were sawn off at the tips so we were spared the sight of
horses ripped up and trailing entrails. But I saw enough of blood and
brutality. The audience cheered, laughed, sang, shouted. Almost it
sounded like a baseball game. The more blood flowed, the more they
shouted with joy. The bulls were young ones, too young to be very
fierce. They would not face the horses at all, and to enliven them, the
bandolaria were charged with a time fuse and exploded like a firework
with loud detonations, and burnt interiorly. For some time after the
explosion, smoke emanated from the burnt, black, bleeding wound in the
bull’s back. One animal in terror jumped the paling. The killing with
the sword at the end was bungled every time. The sword missed the vital
spot and was plunged up to the hilt in the brute’s shoulder, to be
withdrawn, on the first opportunity, dripping with blood, and restruck
again, and again. The mob cheering the while. When the last bull was
killed the crowd flooded the ring, and the dead bull was mutilated by
people who carried away bits of it as souvenirs. When the carcass had
been finally dragged away on a rope by two mules and a pool of blood
marked the spot, boys besieged it, dipped naked feet in it, seemed
hypnotized and enthralled by the sight and touch of blood.

The horrible thing is that after the sixth bull had been tormented to
death, one’s own feelings as regards the sight of blood were almost
blunted. Frankly I longed to see a man killed for a change, instead of
the bull. There was something ridiculous about these swaggering men
with their long lances, astride horses that could hardly stand up,
and that had to be urged towards the bull by men who lashed them from
behind. Chiefly the bull seemed to be pursued more than pursuing.


SEPTEMBER 27, 1921. _San Antonio, Texas._

My appeal to Washington met with a response that has been a revelation
to me of American chivalry. We passed the border yesterday at dawn. I
faced it with some trepidation, but we received the greatest courtesy
and consideration. After reexamination of Dick (who is much better)
they retracted the verdict of trachoma.

Six weeks accumulation of mail has met me here. My head is buzzing with
taking it all in. The reading did not cheer me. From England, on all
sides gloomy accounts politically and privately. They ask me to return
to their gloom. Of course one has occasional moments of homesickness
when the desire to see one’s own world is overwhelming. But one is
happier away here. There is daylight instead of darkness. There is
air to breath. There’s life. Everything and everyone is young, vital,
active, hopeful.

We are resting for three or four days. The town has been badly
dilapidated by the recent floods. One goes in to a shop to ask for
something--and ever the same reply: “Our stock was washed away by the
flood--we cannot supply you.” We drove out to the Breckenridge Park and
beheld with amazement the impudent little stream that caused the havoc.

There is nothing to do in this semi-American, semi-Mexican town. But
the hotel is pure American, full of standardized American luxury. It
seems wonderful. I ring the bell of my bedroom and ask the room service
to send me a jug--(no a pitcher I have to call it, else they don’t
understand)--a pitcher of lemonade. I don’t always want the lemonade
but I love to see it when it comes. The glass jug is a real object of
beauty--a work of art. It is full of sliced oranges, carmine cherries,
ice and green leaved herb. It is a riot of color, a delight to the eye.
I might be drinking in a dream the sap of irridescent precious stones!

I am making use of those quiet days to try and tame Dick. At present he
is a savage. He keeps on hitching his trousers up as one unaccustomed
to wearing clothes. He exclaims: “Jesus!” when unduly stirred. He
learnt it from the Texas boys in camp. He is not sure what he may or
may not eat in his fingers and is very clumsy with his fork.

To counter-balance this he has acquired a useful knowledge of things.
For instance one of his games it to lay pipe lines--oil of course.
He knows something about locomotives, and what the very newest type
is like inside as compared with the old (the Baldwin locomotive
representative took a fancy to him). He has a smattering of knowledge
about gods and things you find in the earth. But he isn’t (at present)
fit to tea out at five o’clock in a drawing room with any of my
friends’ children.


OCTOBER 3, 1921. _Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles_.

I asked how long it would take me to get to Los Angeles. They said
three days. I had expected it to take ten hours. I cannot get used to
distances in this country.

So this is Los Angeles!

For two months, at breakfast, lunch and dinner, Mr. Washington B.
Vanderlip used to tell me, at Moscow, about Los Angeles. He would
not listen to anything about Russia. The Russians would have been
interested to hear about America, but he did not tell us about America,
he always talked about Los Angeles. No matter how remotely conversation
drifted onto other subjects, he always brought it back to Los Angeles.
Finally, one day at breakfast, about the end of the 5th week, I
suddenly realized I hated Los Angeles, and when he began again I put my
hand on his: “stop--” I said, “and let me say something about London.”
He could not bear it, and left the room. And now here I am, as I never
expected to be, actually in Los Angeles.

Mr. Goldwyn, whom I met in New York, has telegraphed to his studio
president, Mr. Lehr, and asked him to take care of me. Mr. Lehr has
placed a car at my disposal all day and every day. He has introduced me
to Gouverneur Morris and Rupert Hughes, but above all he has shown me a
new world of which I was totally ignorant.

My initiation into the realm of film production has been a revelation
to me. Possibly the great big world that pays its 25 cents to see a
“movie” show, understands all about it, knows what it costs to produce,
appreciates the toil and the thought and the plan involved. But I did
not know. Truth to tell I have seen very few films besides “The Birth
of a Nation” which taught me all I know of American History. I have
seen bits of plays being photographed out in the open “on location” in
film language, and I had gathered an idea that to be a film actress
meant that one had rather a lovely time, doing spectacular things in
beautiful and interesting surroundings. I saw their lovely photographs
in magazines. I knew that some of them became millionaires, and that
internationally known ones were mobbed through admiration if they
walked abroad. An easy path to fame, I thought, if one had the right
kind of face.

I really came to Los Angeles for no other reason than to have a glimpse
of its amusing play-land, and it has been a revelation to me.

My surprise grew as I followed Mr. Lehr from building to building.
There were departments of dress-making and store-rooms full of lovely
frocks and materials, some of the finest cloth of gold and brocades of
Italian weaving. There were cassones containing real sables and other
furs, tailors, hair-dressers, manicurists, carpenters and barbers were
all part of the organization, and a canteen that recalled to my mind
the Communist restaurants of Moscow, but where, unlike Moscow, I was
able to get an ice cream soda at almost any time of the day! There were
a bewilderment of storehouses, a sort of dreamland full of everything
and anything that anyone could want in a hurry. Tin tacks and paste,
Florentine shrines and Henry II chairs (so efficiently home-made as
to perplex an antiquary!), canary birds in cages, Buddhas, invalid
crutches and Persian carpets. Stores and stores full of what they
called “props” which I would gladly have looted. As for the “Studios”
there were three or more and they looked like the familiar “orangerie”
of some old country estate, amid trim lawns, such as I thought only
England could boast.

I was surprised that in the midst of this great industry there should
have been found time and thought to spend on abstract decoration and
beauty. The garden was full of flowers, and stone urns cast long
shadows on the grass. Strange figures passed me by; a pirate, and then
some Russian refugees and Russian children turned joyful somersaults
upon the grass. And then--the village! So quaint and old world, so
exactly like our village at home. It enchanted me, I thought it would
be a lovely place to live. I asked questions and they told me it was a
sham. I could not believe this until I had walked all round it. Such a
splendid solid sham it was, with such an unflinching front.

Then I began to wonder what was real and what was mere illusion. I
seemed to go to Russia and then to China. I looked for my Romeo in
Venice, and then felt sadly transplanted to an East Side slum. I looked
at the ground to be sure I was walking on real grass, and up at the sky
to see if I was still in the world, and then I pinched myself and it
was still me.

But in this bewildering land of make-believe I found realities. I
lingered and looked at some plays being staged in opposite parts of the
studios. I marvelled at the patience and the effort that each small
scene demanded. Patience and good temper on the part of the director,
the camera men, the electricians, the carpenters--endless, endless
patience, amazing good humor. I watched one small and--as it seemed to
me--insignificant scene being repeated three or four times, and each
time seemed to me exactly like the last, and each time, when it was
over, the director said to the actress: “That’s good, dear, that’s very
good!” But he explained to me that whereas the first “shot” was 45
feet long, the last one was reduced to 25 feet and the important thing
was condensation. I realized the necessity of co-operation between
the workers, beginning with the author’s effort, and the “continuity
writers,” right through the details to the end. What immense individual
effort, and thought and work each film scene necessitates! Here too,
as everywhere, are the heartbreaks, the dreams and ambitions, the
triumphs, the disappointments, the never ending dramas and tragedies of
human endeavor.

[Illustration: THE “RUSSIAN CASTLE” IN THE “LAND OF MAKE-BELIEVE”

  (Photograph by Goldwyn Pictures Corporation)
]

It is a new world to me, and I have to admit a great admiration and a
great respect for it.

I dined, a small party, at the house of Gouverneur Morris. We had a
Chinese dinner, especially prepared by his Chinese cook. All through
dinner the conversation was of Charlie Chaplin, his looks, his
individuality, incidents in their friendship, and what I had missed.
Never a word of criticism did I hear, everyone talked of him with
appreciation and affection, almost with pride. He had talked of me,
they said. He had distributed “Mayfair to Moscow” among his friends,
and most people thought we knew one another intimately. Finally I found
myself too calling him “Charlie.” From all accounts he is cultured,
thoughtful and attractive, and I wonder to myself whether I am never
to know but the mirror’d reflection. I feel like one who does not
personally know the great, but know someone who does and writes
home about it! After dinner we left the men, and went on a voyage
of exploration round the house, which is bungalow in type, and very
attractive and then in the bathroom we paused to powder our noses. In
the bathroom we remained, three of us, perched on the baths’ edge,
forgot the men, and drifted into conversation which was all absorbing.

One girl was a film actress with bobbed straight glossy henna hair.
Her face was much made up, her mouth might have been of any other
design than the painted one. She was decorative and futuristic and I
liked looking at her. She intrigued me. The other girl was a vivacious
and restless continuity-writer. Both were very young. They talked
unreservedly about their love affairs, and I listened enraptured, as to
a story of de Maupassant. In the end we were agreed that marriage would
spoil everything and then the men, impatient of our absence, came and
banged upon the bathroom door.


OCTOBER, 1921. _Los Angeles._

Upton Sinclair fetched me for dinner. I was surprised when I saw
the author of “The Jungle,” whom I expected to be aggressive and
strong-faced. Instead I found a gentle creature, rather vague, and
rather shy and with a rather weak chin. We decided that our sort of
background was not the Ambassador Hotel, and I asked him to take me
anywhere else. We motored into the heart of the town, and went to a
cafeteria. This was new to me. Never before had I been to a cafeteria.
I had never even heard what they were like. I followed him and did
what he did, and tried to look as if I knew what to do; he first took
a metal tray from a column of trays, and passed along a row or buffet
of hot dishes, selecting what he liked, and the serving woman behind
the buffet placed a ration of his selection on his tray. Carrying our
own trayfuls we retired to a little table. We talked until everyone
else had left, until men on step ladders re-arranged the flowers on
their columns, until finally the cafeteria closed and we were expelled.
Most of that time we talked about “The Jungle.” I asked him a hundred
questions. How did he _know_ about the lives of the foreign immigrants?
How did he get into their souls? Had he imagined it, or did he know
it? How had he learnt so much about the details of work at the packing
houses?

I learnt all I wanted to know. He had imagined nothing. The Russian
family was a real family. The wedding feast was real--he was present.
He had lived in Packingtown. Every story was a real story, a proven
story. Everything was true ... and that was fifteen years ago, and
conditions, he said, were much the same today. They had not much
improved. He is a most sincere Socialist. Unrelenting, uncompromising,
he is at war with all the powers that be. Don Quixote tilting at a
windmill isn’t in it. Sinclair tilts at industrial kings in armor, at
the octopus tendons of the newspaper kingdom--at all the mailed fists
in the world in general and the United States in particular. He is in
quest of truth and light. He wishes to undress the veiled spectres,
and show us the naked truth beneath, the truth with all its maladies
and sores, its hideousness, its terrible deformities, so ably hidden.
This mild-faced man will stop at nothing. He has great courage and
never fears destruction. He is unwavering in his determination. He goes
crashing in where angels fear to tread.

Driven from the cafeteria into the night, we motored fast and aimless,
talking as we drove, talking, never ceasing, until we could drive
no more. Our road led down a hill, straight like the road of the
Nazarene swine, into the sea, and so we stopped; a great long white
line of breakers confronted us, we left the car, and stood for a
moment undecidedly. Then a long seaside bench came crawling past me.
I thought for a moment that I was in madland. I remembered in a flash
the sham village, the illusions of filmland, still so near me. Really
one should not be surprised by anything any more. In the dim light I
again looked at the walking seat and yet again, and then I realized
the man who was sitting on it was really driving it. The seat was a
motor seat. We jumped upon it and were carried miles, as it seemed to
me, along the sea walk. In the distance were bright lights, we stopped
when we reached them, and this was “Venice.” I have always longed
to go to Venice, but I never knew it looked like this. Over-head a
network of colored lights, and from no visible location, the music of a
gramaphone. Before us a square stone stately building, called a “Bath
house” and in large letters over a door “check babies here.” “Check”
(I have learnt) is an American word which described what people do
with their hats and umbrellas when they go into a restaurant. Further
on, dazzled by the lights and laughter of Venice, we stopped for an
ice-cream soda, and then took shots at sham rabbits and moving ducks
with a rifle. Here too I was introduced for the first time to chewing
gum, pleasant to chew, but unfortunately unpleasant to taste.


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 1921.

The Goldwyn Studio Co., having arranged my reservations for me, sent a
car to take me to the 8 P.M. train for San Francisco.

When the hotel porter shouted down the line of parked cars: “Goldwyn
Studio Car” the crowd of dinner arrivals simply stood still and stared.
I had my parrot “General Baragan” on my shoulder and I stepped into
the car with the self-consciousness of a recognized prominent film star!

On the train I did as directed by my hosts-to-be: I sought out the
director of the train and told him “the Lark” would stop in the
morning at Burlingame. I hadn’t a notion where or what Burlingame was,
except that my friends lived there, and the train was to be stopped.
The director looked at me, in a curious way, as though I were a poor
lunatic suffering from hallucination. He had been, he said, on the
train for 25 years and it never yet had stopped at Burlingame. However,
the train did stop there in the morning and deposited me and Dick and
Louise and the parrot with all our luggage in the middle of the track
and hurriedly sped away. Then Constance Tobin, whom I had not seen
for 15 years and who had been a school-mate of mine at the convent in
Paris, appeared with her husband to greet me.


SIX DAYS LATER. _Burlingame._

In a very short time it became evident to me that Constance had
remained true to tradition and the environment from which we both had
sprung. A social environment which is much the same in all countries.
Meanwhile she realized that I had played truant. We had an amusing time
renewing ourselves to each other. We began cautiously, but in the end,
admitting totally different tastes and opinions, we have linked up a
friendship that is now confirmed.

Meanwhile the social strenuousness of Burlingame cannot kill me
physically, because I am a very strong woman, but it has killed me
mentally. There is a pain at the back of my forehead and a void where
thoughts should be. Burlingame has, collectively, the psychology of
a great big girls’ school. The stranger arrives and is looked at, is
accepted or ignored, as the case may be. Burlingame is independent
of spirit and likes as it pleases. Like children, they seem to be
care-free, happy and contented. Yes, surely these are happy people,
they represent exclusively the prosperous,--they have no anxieties of
life. Contentment is their most conspicuous quality--they would not be
here, else.

It is a self-indulgent, happy-go-lucky community, not over-critical,
the spirit of “live-and-let-live” which is rather rare in the East,
thrives here. They lead an easy life in a kindly climate, they can
afford to be generous. They all know each other very well, and they see
one another every day. Sometimes three times and sometimes four. Their
houses are close together. There are no big properties as in England
to rouse one’s sense of inequality. They motor to each other’s houses
and to the country club, although they are only a stone’s throw in
distance, and every time they meet they are pleased to see each other.

I wonder they have anything left to say, yet they talk all the time. It
is true they do not listen much, they all talk at the same time.

On Saturdays and Sundays, and at night, there are men. These love their
golf, their tennis and their bridge, and they dress like Englishmen.

In their midst is one strange man who does not belong. I met him, of
course, the moment I arrived. My name being somehow associated in
people’s minds with Russia, I must surely meet this Russian no matter
what kind of Russian he might be.

“They” said he is the Russian consul, representing the Russian
government. No one seemed to know that the Russian government is not
represented in this country and no one cared.

True to type, I recognized at once that he belonged to the regime
that’s gone. With all the charm and arrogance, the old world manners
and impenetrable smile, this blasé cosmopolitan, appreciative, yet
consciously superior, stood out--a stranger in their midst. No party
seemed complete without him. But I too was a stranger and watched him
and I watched them, and I saw that he too watched. Sometimes I thought
I knew what he was thinking and ofttimes I gave it up.


FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1921. _San Francisco._

I got into San Francisco early, and took Dick to Dr. Abrams where
George Sterling was waiting for me. George Sterling, as I understand,
is the Swinburne of California. He has an exquisitely refined head, a
nose that one sees on a Greek cameo, but a voice that labels him of his
country.

Dr. Abrams is a doctor whom a great many doctors call a quack, and
some superficial people laugh over. He is the man of whom Upton
Sinclair raved to me, declaring that he had made the discovery that
was to revolutionize the world. I am far too ignorant and unscientific
to attempt an explanation of this theory. Suffice to say that it is
entirely based on vibration. Each disease, he claims, has its own
vibratory reaction, and it is only necessary to take a blood test to
discover what the disease is, and then cure it.

I sat in his laboratory among a dozen doctors and watched and listened
for two hours or more. I should have listened and watched for two weeks
and then I might have begun to understand.

I have no right to an opinion, but I have a right to an open mind.
Those two hours were among the most interesting I have ever spent.

He took a drop of Dick’s blood and tested it. “This is the blood of
Richard Brinsley Sheridan,” Dr. Abrams announced to the laboratory! It
reacted to the malaria vibration, this he explained, might be due to
the amount of quinine Dick was taking. The cure he said, had the same
vibratory rate as the disease. He recommended me to stop all further
quinine and bring him back in a few days. He tested him for every other
kind of disease but Dick had practically a clean slate. This is very
rare, for most of us have something congenital, even if we don’t know
it.

I came away with one conviction at least, that Dr. Abrams is a type
of genius, is perfectly sincere, and is working himself to death. The
people who know more than I do can say what they like, but those facts
remain. He is undoubtedly living 50 years before his time. As for
sceptics, I do not see how anyone dare to be sceptical in these days
of wireless telegraphy and wireless telephone, which after all are
entirely based on vibratory foundations. I saw Dr. Abrams discover a
cancer in one person, tuberculosis with syphilis and malaria in another
and a decayed back tooth in a third. These were done from a drop of
blood, the patients were not even in the room. They came in afterwards.
Nebulously, in my head, I understand the process, but one has to be
there to see.

My own experience with the medical profession has made me very open
minded. I have received the results I looked for from the one doctor in
London that the medical profession declared to be a quack, when they,
the so-called best doctors in the profession, had failed to help me.

I sometimes think the medical profession is, of all professions, the
slowest to accept new ideas, the most conventional. Their sense of
professional etiquette seems to count before all else.

Later in the day we went to the house of a friend of George Sterling’s,
a composer, who sets his songs to music. There in a half dark room,
full of flowers, and baskets filled to the brim with rose petals, we
drank red wine. Curled up on a sofa I listened to the playing and
singing of his songs. Now and then George would read out loud some new
poem not yet published.

That night we went and sipped absinthe in some low haunt. It is no use,
Mr. Prohibition Agent, to come after me and ask me where that was,
because I don’t know, and I’m quite sure George doesn’t remember.


MONDAY, OCTOBER 17, 1921.

San Francisco is rather proud of being built like Rome, on seven
hills, and it certainly is effective. One street was so steep that a
ladder was built onto the side walk to help one up. The cable cars go
slipping perilously down, or crawling terrifyingly up. But the towns
in this country that I have seen vary little in the way of buildings
and streets. Their atmosphere varies.--San Francisco for instance,
has that foreign cosmopolitan feeling that characterises New York.
But whereas New York gets its atmosphere in ships from Europe, San
Francisco brings it in from the Orient, and with it some of the mystery
which New York has not.

The temptation to me to board a ship and go to China is heart-breaking,
and it seems so easy, so obvious. Only I can’t, because after five
months of wandering the funds are low. I must return to New York, and
work and work through the winter before me, to store up for the next
adventure!


MONDAY, OCTOBER 17, 1921. _Burlingame._

ONE DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO.

Today Constance motored me into town, and we fetched up at 12:30 at
the Dolores Mission. It was closed, and a formidable woman who opened
the priest’s house door, refused to let us see a priest. Constance,
undefeated and indignant, retreated to the grocer shop across the
way and telephoned to a Bishop. It was equivalent to “Open, Sesame!”
On second application the female watchdog melted away, and a priest
appeared in her stead. He had an Irish name, and an Irish face, and
he kindly showed us over the mission. This was founded in about 1770
by the Franciscan friars, hence the subsequent name of the town, San
Francisco. The Church was built long after Spain had ceased to erect
those glories of architecture that are conspicuous in Mexico. In the
16th Century labor was cheap, and the Church was rich. In the 18th
Century the glory of God was chanted in a building of adobe (dried
mud-bricks) white-washed. This simple building still stands, with its
little whitewashed columns outside, like the entrance to a simple
Colonial house. Around the Mission sprang up the native grass huts.
Then with the gold-rush evolved the rough mining town, and that was the
beginning of San Francisco. Before the earthquake the town was only 70
years old. But I am not writing a guide book!

From the church we wandered out into the sun bathed cemetery, old
world, deserted and neglected. The first grave that caught my eye
was engraved with the name of Arguello, governor of the County. He
was the brother or the father of the girl Concha whom Bret Harte has
immortalised in his poem called: “Concepcion de Arguello.” Further on,
another grave known as that of “Yankee Sullivan” a prize fighter who
had died at the hands of the Vigilante Society--“a native of Bandon
Co., Cork, Ireland,” so the inscription ran. I repeated to myself
“Bandon ... Bandon” my own little Irish village town--and my childhood
up to seventeen welled up in my heart and memory. The Irish valley,
and the river, woods, and hills ... my friends the poachers, and
the village drunks who used to frighten me so on the lonely road on
Saturday afternoons!

I remember now--that our gardener, and our keeper, and the coachman
whom we children loved, had left us one by one. I used to wonder what
it meant “to emigrate”--I vaguely understood they were leaving for “the
States,” but what sort of state that was I did not know, but I remember
how they said goodbye; big, strong men, with tears in their eyes
impress a child. I stood there before the grave of this inhabitant of
Bandon, and felt absurdly sentimental. It is a long way from Bandon to
San Francisco. We lingered over-long, and had to hurry away, arriving
at the St. Francis Hotel extremely late for lunch. Afterwards Mr. de
Young took me to his museum which he has presented to the town. It has
the most perfect setting, in the middle of the Park. We did a lightning
rush through it for we had less than an hour. Sculptures, paintings,
prints, enamels, ivories, textures, furnitures and minerals, he showed
me a motley collection arranged with care and taste.

From here we rushed back to the Hotel, being arrested on the way for
“speeding,” and Mr. de Young left me in the hands of a detective to see
the town!

We started off first to the city gaol; I suppose a great many people
have seen the inside of a gaol, but I had not. It hit me with the full
force of a first impression. We arrived there in a jocular mood, but
that mood was dispersed the moment we stepped out of the elevator onto
the prison floor.

There they were, humans behind bars. Pacing back and forth in the
narrow caged-in alley-way. Each had his cell, more like a cage it
looked, and their door opened onto this “run.” The warder showed us
how the cell doors worked. One iron lever closed the entire row with
one movement. The sound was exactly like the closing of doors in the
lion house at the Zoo. I did not like to look too hard, I felt a great
embarrassment. Whenever, at the Zoo, I have stared at lions I have
always been conscious of the indignity towards them, and to stare into
the eyes of caged humans is almost more than one dare. In one cell
lying on the bare wood floor, in a contorted position, almost standing
on his head, one man lay half dazed, and seemingly in great distress.
The warder said he was a drug-fiend. “How long have you been taking
the stuff?” the warder asked him--“Twenty-one years ...” the fellow
answered in a strange strained voice, moistening dry lips, and opening
and closing his eyes. Then with a sudden outbreak, and without shifting
his position: “No prison ever stopped a man from taking dope.”

In another section, a nice looking Spanish boy was sitting writing in
his cell. It looked like a cabin on board a ship. He had ornamented
the wall with pictures from the illustrated papers of film-stars and
English peeresses. He looked so young, so cheerful, so frank and
honest. “Why are you here?” I asked. He smiled, and hesitated, and then
looked shyly down: “A girl--eighteen--a minor--”

“American?” I asked.

“No--Italian.”

“In Spain or Italy that wouldn’t put you in prison!” I said, thinking
of the mature Latin girls of fourteen.

“It’s like a home!” he said humorously.

We went to the woman’s section. In one big cage sat three or four, one
was greyhaired, her age was 74. “Smuggling drink” was her trouble. I
began to feel that it is only a crime to be found out. In the next a
woman sat alone. Big, thick, middle aged, with a face grown hard from
suffering--she arose and came to the iron bars to talk with us. She
had at last--she told the warder--slept one hour, and felt a little
better. Her indictment was that she had shot her husband. “I adored
him--” she said, “my daughter didn’t want me to marry him, because of
the way he drank--we married just two years ago. Yes I am American
born--my husband was a Swede. He was a cement-worker. His only fault
was drink.--Last Saturday he bought some moonshine, mixed it up with
beer,--firewater it was, it drove him crazy. He threatened to shoot me
first and then himself. I got the gun off the Captain(?) who was in the
house. I thought it was unloaded, and so I handed it to him as a joke,
and it went off--”

“Lucky it went off on him instead of on you--“I said. She looked at me
wearily through half closed eyes: “It might as well have been me--”

We left the prison.

In the basement of the building the Coroner had his office, and he
invited us to see “the Morgue.” In a big room, a big table with a
lamp and books gave the illusion of a salon. The four corners were
partitioned off, and handsomely draped with velvet curtains. In these
the bodies lie, the first few days, awaiting recognition. There were
but two this day, one was completely covered over; the other partially.
From beneath a sheet two stumps protruded, and a bucket hung to catch
the blood. An Italian boy fishing from a raft, had drowned. His body
had been rescued from man eating sharks. “We have two more in cold
storage, down below,” said the Coroner. We followed him. The place was
built like an aquarium. On either side were great show cases, lit up
with electric light. In each a body was beautifully set, wrapped around
in a sheet so that only the face could show. They can be preserved
here for several months.

One’s first impression was “how life-like”--they seemed to be some
waxen image, in the “Chamber of Horrors” at Madame Tussaud’s.

One, an old man, greyhaired, open mouthed, head thrown back and
dilating nostrils, had committed suicide by gas asphyxiation. The
other a little blood stained smiling boy, red haired looking at us
with such wide open wondering eyes. He had been run over by a train.
The announcement of a red haired boy, had brought about 50 people,
but none so far had claimed him. From fifty families a red-haired boy
had disappeared, it seemed incredible. But, it is midnight--I cannot
go on writing and thinking of this place, with its dead below, and
its dead-alive above. I will recall how I got out into God’s air, and
drank the cool fresh evening in deep breaths. And so, across the square
to Chinatown. Here at a street corner my detective guide hailed two
strange, illdressed, square built stalwart men. These were detectives
in disguise, who mingle with the Chinese crowd, and know the Chinese
haunts. They seemed well-known in Chinatown, disguise is not much use!
One of them joined us and we followed him. He took us into shops and
eating houses, where blank faced Chinamen played their games of cards
and dominos and hardly troubled to look up at us as we passed through.
Into back premises we went, and down black stairs, through secret doors
and passages, where by the light of an electric torch one saw the
hatchet marks where doors and walls had been hacked down when the place
was raided by the police.

However anyone ever discovered the latchless secret doors that seemed
so perfectly a part of the panelled wall or dared to penetrate into the
labyrinths of double walls, trapdoors and secret stairways, Heaven only
knows.

Our stalwart guide, who looked more like an Irish prize fighter than
a shrewd detective, seemed to glory in the game. Every day and every
night must seem to him a great adventure. He led us down a black
unlighted alley, a cul-de-sac between some tenements, where murders are
not infrequent. Suddenly he turned round, on a silent footed follower
whom I had not noticed: “What are you sneaking around here for--get
out!” he said and flashed his torch in the grimly smiling Chinese face.
Just for a second I felt the atmosphere rather tense--the Chinaman
hesitated, and then retreated.

We pushed open a door ajar. A Chinese prostitute stood smoking her
pipe. Soberly dressed, in black silk jacket and trousers, her hair so
neat and shiny, her face almost unpainted, she shyly grinned at us. I
made a comparison in my mind, between this and the half breed Mexicans
at Tampico. In comparison the Chinese was a noblewoman.

The police have their hands full in Chinatown, to prevent gambling,
doping and prostitution. Though why it should be any concern of the
law’s whether a Chinaman, in Chinatown, is solicited by a Chinese
prostitute is more than I can understand. This country moves in a
mysterious way, its wonder to perform, and one can hope that it knows
best.

I motored back to Burlingame and hurriedly dressed and arrived
extremely late at a dinner party. Wine flowed, and restored my jaded
spirits. I looked round the table at the brilliant, cheerful, noisy
company and a new thought came to me. I found myself pondering on the
high moral standard imposed by the United States. Continually I ask
myself this question: “_Is_ the United States more moral than any other
country? Are the men and women human, or has legislation and public
opinion extinguished the devil that lives in human frames?” I find no
answer.


WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1921. _Monterey._

There is a man in Burlingame who is quite different to anyone else. He
is a recluse. It is very strange to be a recluse in Burlingame. He has
read more books than anyone I have ever met. Not especially modern
books, but he will suddenly tell you what Petrarch said to Laura, or
recall Dante, and sometimes be as modern as Stevenson. He is difficult
to meet, for he will not go out socially.

Yesterday morning he fetched me in his car and motored me to Monterey.
I don’t know how far away it is, but we started at 10 A.M. and reached
Monterey at sunset. A wonderful road, through miles of orchards and
then winding through mountains and forests to the sea.

We lunched at Santa Cruz, and when we left the city, a placard on the
boundary said that Santa Cruz bade us farewell, hoped we had had a good
time, and that we would some day return.

All along the motor road even in what looked like primitive wilds, one
was distracted all the time by placards on the road which hampered
one’s conversation. Mostly they were directions for the motor driver
who it was taken for granted must be a complete idiot. It left him
no choice, no doubt whatever as to the right thing to do. “Blow your
horn”--“Dangerous curve ahead” accompanied by a diagram illustrating
the kind of curve to expect,--further directions as to what to do with
the throttle, etc., etc., and wherever there was a flat wood fence
there was inscribed a reminder that Christ loved me, and the option of
deciding whether I would sin, or choose the other path. Occasionally we
were informed “Picture ahead, Kodak as you go.” Apparently a man may
be blind, the state will see for him.

As the day advanced we speeded, so as to catch the sun before it set
into the sea. We fetched up eventually at his sister’s house which is
above the rocks on the wild seashore, known as Pebble Beach. The house,
which has arcades and is Italian in design, reminded me of Shelley’s
house at Lerici, the house to which Shelley was sailing back from
Sorrento, when the storm overtook him and he was drowned. The peace,
the loneliness, and the sea sounds that pervaded this house on the
Pacific shore were balm to my socially weary soul. I walked in the dusk
among the gnarled and tortuous storm beaten cedars of Lebanon that have
their roots among the rocks. These are the only trees that grow, and
the only place where they grow. No one can explain how the seeds were
brought, whether by hand of human, or by a bird, or with the wind.
But here on this coast, with the grip of centuries that no storm can
dislodge, and with their heads as bright young green as their stems are
old and warped, the cedars of Lebanon reign supreme.

I was sorry that I had only one night to spend, it seemed too beautiful
to leave so soon.

I know that some day, when I have seen all I want to see of people,
when I have travelled more and allayed some of my curiosity, when I
have worked some more and am more tired, then I will go away into
a silent and lonely and beautiful place and never more be seen, and
my children will say: “We have a funny old mother, who lives way off
somewhere, and whom we go and visit now and then.”


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21. _Monterey._

Next morning we motored along the coast, visited the old mission of
San Juan, which is interesting. The guide showing us over the church
announced impressively that it was 170 years old. “Is _that_ all?” I
exclaimed, looking round at the primitive walls that might have been
archaic and pre-historic. My companion in reply commented on “the
_arrogance_ of foreigners” and completely shut me up.

We then went and called at the house of Francis McComus, the painter.
He and his wife were in. Mrs. McComus is the first human being I have
ever seen who looks like a Gauguin, and attractive, which I never
thought a Gauguin!

I had never seen the work of McComus before, and I was spellbound. One
after another he showed us his Arizona landscapes, with their pure
almost irridescent colors. I am aware that I am given to enthusiasm,
but here is something to be enthusiastic about. Men who produce work at
this level lend to the country they belong to a reflected glory that
should arouse much national pride.

Here is a man that Paris or London would acclaim, and who should not be
allowed his life of indolent contentment on the wild Pacific Coast. How
strange a country this is, how full of surprises and unexpectedness!
That one should drop into a house by the wayside, and find so great an
artist!


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1921. _San Francisco._

Dick Tobin telephoned me to come in early to San Francisco as he had
something he thought interesting for me to do. I picked him up at the
Hibernian Bank and he took me down to the ferry, gave me a ticket, a
bunch of violets and typewritten directions, and sent me off to St.
Quentin prison across the bay.

At the prison, which stands up like a great fortress on a promontory,
I introduced myself to Warden Johnston. He and Mrs. Johnston gave me
lunch at their house above the flowered terraces, sunbathed, with
its wonderful view of the bay. On their verandah two grey-flannelled
prisoners were tying up the Bouganvillia creeper. Inside we were waited
on at table by a Chinaman who has a life sentence. I asked his crime
... he was just a “Tongman.” After lunch the Warden handed me over
to Miss Jackson who is in charge of the Women’s Section, and for an
hour I sat and talked in their little sitting room, with a group of
women prisoners. Their bedrooms were like cubicles in a girl’s school,
small, simply furnished, full of personal knickknacks, and not at all
suggestive of a prison cell. Their clothes were blue and white narrow
striped linen, made pretty well as they liked. Miss Jackson, I found
a most interesting character. Full of insight and clairvoyance, full
of deep human sympathy, understanding and kindness. One realized how
tremendously these caged souls were hers to help or hurt, and how much
more terrible their fate would be if the Wardress were hard and without
understanding. But Miss Jackson talked to me of some of them (before I
met them) with real interest and even affection.

I asked her whether a life sentence case was as easy to manage as one
who had done a lesser crime. Her reply was illuminating. She said that
whereas a life sentence was pronounced on an individual who might be
clean of character but for the one desperate deed, prompted by God
knows what passionate provocation, the lesser criminal on the other
hand might be an habitual petty malefactor who had merely chanced to be
caught on the hundredth act!

Out of over 2,000 prisoners only about 25 or 27 were women, and of
these about 10 came and talked to me in the sitting room, showed me
their needle work and conversed animatedly about the world outside.
They seemed in their hearts, almost unbeknown to themselves to be
tremendous feminists, and we had quite a heated debate on the subject
of whether men were intellectually superior to women, as a man asserted
to me the day before at lunch. We all granted the physical superiority,
but as to the rest ... well, happily we were all women and no man heard
us!

We discussed the impending disarmament convention, and we agreed that
it would most likely end, as the Versailles conference ended. We
conjured up the picture of all the best brains in the world, gathered
together for months and months, with all their retinue of secretaries,
and their secretaries’ secretaries, and we were of unanimous opinion
that women thus collectively could not have talked more, with less
results. Indeed the result of Versailles is completely nil. Some
of us dared to believe that women _might_ have done better! I like
to think of even the women behind gaol bars, women of varying ages
and nationalities, women with hardened or breaking hearts, putting
aside now and then their personal griefs to watch, humorously, this
conference of men who assemble for the second time, all seriously, to
settle the problems of a perplexing and rebellious world.

At last I asked what I could do for them outside and the request
was for books. New books, the latest publications, “something well
written--and modern!” Classics they had in plenty. The Russian prisoner
wanted “Confessions” by Tolstoi. The Italians, however, said they would
read nothing, not even if I secured Italian editions! To the charming
English girl, with a life sentence, I promised Margot Asquith’s diary,
Strachey’s Queen Victoria and the Mirrors of Downing Street. Then
Warden Johnston came and fetched me and showed me all he could of the
rest of the prison.

I saw the library, the workshops, the chapel and the hospital, but he
would not take me among the male prisoners. The sex problem is not
without interest. One forgets, that to a man with a life sentence it
is not very fair to parade women visitors. I sat up in the balcony
with the guard and watched the men assemble in the yard for lockup.
They were of such varied types and mostly so young. In front of them,
like a giant patio, surrounded by the prison buildings was a huge
parterre of brilliant dahlias all bathed in the setting sunlight.
These flowers have gone forth into the outside world, and won prizes
at the local flower shows. Hanging from the verandah roof in front
of the upper story cells, baskets of growing flowers were suspended
by wires, a curious contrast. There were a few negroes among the
crowd. Some Chinese and one or two prisoners conspicuous by their wide
striped uniforms. These were the men who had broken parole. One man
I noticed who did clerk work in one of the prison offices, he walked
across the patio at lockup time and he held his head high and walked
with an almost insolent assurance. His hands were the hands of a man
of breeding and he smoked a cigarette through a long amber holder--I
pointed him out to the guard--“a forger--” he said, indifferently. I
asked about the negroes--“I suppose they have done desperate things--?”
The guard shook his head, “they’re not half such bad chaps, most of
them, as some of the white men--”

I stayed till the big bell sounded and the motley humans were locked up
for the night. Then I went back and talked to Warden Johnston. He is
severe and looks hard, but his theory is to accomplish the regeneration
of men’s souls through kindness and trust, and not the brutalization of
a man into a stone. He hopes that most of these men when they come out
may have a new chance in life and make a success. When I got home late
for dinner, I told where I had been. Constance looked surprised and
even perplexed. “Did you _want_ to see another prison--?” “Well, _such_
a prison, yes,” “How did you get from San Raffaele to the prison?” “In
a taxi--” ... Exclamations--how did I dare trust myself to an unknown
taxi, how did I know when I told the driver to go to St. Quentin prison
three miles off that he was taking me there? I didn’t quite know what
to say. But it seemed to me that if I wasn’t safe to go in a taxi from
San Rafaele to St. Quentin this must be a far more dangerous country
than Russia or Mexico and then she asked me this strange question in
reply to my account!

“Did you _want_ to talk with the women prisoners for an hour--?”
I thought of all the hours we had spent talking with women in the
sheltered verandahs of Burlingame, and I did not dare to tell her that
the women of St. Quentin had roused in me a desire to go to prison, so
as to gain some human understanding.


OCTOBER 29, 1921. _Los Angeles._

I got back to Los Angeles yesterday morning. Instead of starting, as
planned, for New York, my change of plans being due to a telegram from
Mr. Lehr of the Goldwyn Company asking me if I would dine on Monday
night next to meet Charlie Chaplin, who is due to arrive that day. And
so of course I succumbed to another delay in my schedule. A month ago
I should have been back in New York but time, they say, was made for
slaves--.

This evening, at sunset, Dick and I drove past the flying field and
watched the planes set out against the evening sky. Dick begged to be
allowed to go up, but I was frankly afraid. This morning I was ashamed
of my fear. I know that I was wrong. One should always trust people,
things, Destiny. So Louise and Dick and I crushed into a small front
seat and took a flight out over the sea. It was cool and it was steady.
The green fields and the plough patches looked like little mats laid
out to dry. The motors on the roads like small crawling beetles. We
could see the mountains behind the mountains, and way down below us, on
the earth, our little shadow followed us. Dick loved it--he wanted to
fly on and on. It is a great privilege to be born in an age when one
can get up and leave the earth the moment one is bored with it.


OCTOBER 31, 1921. _Los Angeles._

Charlie Chaplin arrived in Los Angeles today at noon, on his return
from Europe. I met him at dinner. We were just a party of four at the
Lehrs. It has been a wonderful evening--I seem to have been talking
heart to heart with one who understands, who is full of deep thought
and deep feeling. He is full of ideals and has a passion for all that
is beautiful. A real artist. He talked a great deal about his trip to
England. It had been, I gathered, one of the big emotions of his life.
He left, as he said, “poor and unknown” to return 10 years later
famous....

What made a great impression on him was the psychology of the English
crowd, which seemed to him to contain such a spirit of real affection.

Of course Charlie is English--and England was welcoming her own.
Besides, who has more right to public adulation than this man who has
brought laughter and happiness to millions? But it was sad, he said,
in England--something had happened, or was happening. He was not sure
if it was a decay that had set in, or whether it was a reconstruction.
But everyone looked as if they had suffered, and it saddened him to be
there. A good country to belong to, we agreed, but not a country “for
a creative artist,” he advised me to remain where I am. And then, in
spite of his emotional, enthusiastic temperament, with a soundness of
judgment that surprised me, he said: “Don’t get lost on the path of
propaganda. Live your life of an artist ... the other goes on--always.”

One can see, in the sadness of the eyes--which the humor of his smile
cannot dispel--that the man has suffered--has known things we do not
dream. Has striven, hoped and aimed. Has reached his goal, yet he is
not content. He feels there is more to do, and see, and know, more to
attain. He believes in work and in producing always the best of one’s
effort. He is not Bolshevik nor Communist, nor Revolutionary, as I had
heard rumoured. He is an individualist with the artist’s intolerance
of stupidity, insincerity, and narrow prejudice. He is sincere and
absolutely without affectation. He has no illusions as to what the
bourgeois world thinks of “movie actors--” and he has no intention
of being patronized by the condescending. He has an almost feminine
intuition about people, he knows at once if they are sincere or not.
Before the evening was over we had discussed Lenin, Lloyd George,
Carpentier, J. M. Barrie, and H. G. Wells. I found that he had each
person pretty well summed up, and his opinions of them were not biased
by the world’s opinion of them, nor clouded by their fame; and just
what he thought (of those I knew) was right. In fact Charlie was a
great deal more interesting to talk to than most of the people who are
expected to be.

When he asked me about my work in this country, I explained that the
United States had made of me a writer instead of a sculptor, and I told
him my view of the American man who is so modest that he thinks it is a
vanity to have his bust done.

“He does not mind having his portrait _painted_” I said, “he has
grown accustomed to the idea. But he exaggerates the importance of a
portrait bust. In fact he is quite un-simple, in his point of view,
almost self-conscious--” and Charlie, looking at me half shyly, half
humorously, as he sat tucked away in the sofa corner, under the light
of the lamp: “I’m vain!” he said--“Thank goodness!” I said. And so we
fixed it right away--that I will linger here until his bust is done.

On the way back to Hollywood Hotel where he dropped me in his car, we
had a discussion on marriage. He has the chivalry, and the instinct to
protect, I maintained my fanaticism of freedom.

He is a strange little man with a great big soul. He made me think of
Francis Thompson’s essay on Shelley, in which he said that Shelley
tired not so much of a woman’s arms, as of her soul. It seemed to me
it was more a spiritual than a physical companionship that Charlie is
subconsciously searching for, in his heart.


NOVEMBER 2, 1921. _Hollywood._

I have been with Charlie from midday to midnight. He has just left me.
First we went to his studio, and Dick came along with us to see “The
Kid” which I had never seen. He had it put on for me in his studio
theatre, and now I realize the whole world of possibilities in films.
Just as a “movie” can be stupid, boring, badly done, and irritating,
as any bad bit of work must be, so too it can be very fine and very
beautiful. Charlie has produced an exquisite story. It might so easily
have been “soppy” and full of false sentiments--but it is not. It is
simple, human and full of pathos.

Dick reacted to it in the most stirring way. When the moment came that
the Kid was to be taken from Charlie and put in an orphan asylum, Dick
clung round my neck and cried and sobbed. He said “I can’t bear it, I
can’t look till the end.” He got so hysterical that Charlie was quite
alarmed and had to reassure him by saying that it wasn’t true. “It’s
only a play Dick! It will all come right in the end!” Charlie too was
quite affected by Dick’s emotion.

Whenever we came to the pathos parts, Charlie tiptoed to the harmonium
and played an accompaniment and when the lights went on Dick and I were
shamefacedly mopping our eyes!

When we went up to his house and lunched, it was half past three!
The house which is not his, but is rented, is Moorish and fantastic
in design, the tortuous unsimplicity of which disturbs Charlie. But
he loves the quiet of it and the isolation on a hill top with the
panorama of the town extending for miles below to the sea. At night, as
he says, it is just a fairy twinkling world when the town lights up.
Later we went for a walk round the hilltop, and the air was hot and
full of evening insect sounds. Dick scrambled wildly up the sloping
banks, while Charlie and I more sedately walked round and round by the
winding climbing path. He was trying to tell me what he thought was
the ultimate aim of all our effort. He maintained that no artist would
do great work until all petty ambition was obliterated.

“There must be no dreams of posterity, of immortality, no desire for
admiration, for after all what are these worth ... at best 1,000 years
hence people might walk round your immortal stone and say--it certainly
is beautiful; yes, it is wonderful--(and Charlie acted the part)--Who
did you say did it? Clare Sheridan 950 years ago”--“and then,” said
Charlie, “in 5 minutes they will be saying ‘Where is that motor, I told
him to be back in 35 minutes’”--There is nothing, he said, so beautiful
that will make people forget their eggs and bacon for breakfast--as for
admiration of the world--it’s not worth anything--there is in the end
but oneself to please:--“You make something because it means something
to you. You work, because you have a superabundance of vital energy,
you find that not only you can make children but you can express
yourself in other ways--in the end it is you--all you--your work, your
thought, your conception of the beautiful, yours the happiness--yours
the satisfaction; be brave enough to face the veil, and lift it, and
see and know the void it hides, and stand before that void and know
that within yourself is your world--”

I said rather feebly that I wanted my children someday to be proud
of me--he made a repudiating gesture. “You should want them to love
you--to love you in a perfectly primitive animal way. To love you
because you are you--to love you whatever you are--to love you if you
are wrong.”

I said that if he left me nothing to work for, no aim, no end, only my
own satisfaction, I thought one might feel suicidal.

He was horrified at this. We stopped in our walk. Charlie looked at me:
“How could anyone like you with so much vitality talk of suicide? Oh
the glory of life, the glory of the world (he threw his arms wide to
the horizon) it’s all so beautiful, and it’s all mine ...” and then we
had to laugh at ourselves for becoming so desperately serious.

I had not meant to stay so long but he asked Dick if he would like to
stay for tea, and Dick said yes, and that he’d like to stay the night
as well. Dick likes Charlie. He says to him: “Charlie, you’re the
funniest man there is ...” and in the car going home after tea, Dick
said that as I had talked to Charlie all the afternoon it was only fair
that he should have him all to himself until we arrived home. Finally
Charlie and I went and dined together, and danced at the Ambassador
Hotel. Everyone knew him, and seemed glad to see him back. The whole
world is Charlie’s friend, no wonder Charlie loves the world!

Then, such a strange thing happened, there in that gay room full of
jazz music we got to talking of our childhoods. Goodness knows how it
came about, but I told him mine, and then he told me his. He told it
with his wonderful simplicity, told it with detachment as if he were
telling of some one else, not of him. It was a terrible bit of realism,
and I though I rather love realism, I felt almost a desire to stop him
from going on. It was more than one could bear to visualise.

It was a curious place in which to tell such things, but we were
oblivious of everyone in the room. And now, stranger to me than ever
is the psychology of this man, once a little child of sorrows, who has
taught a whole world to laugh.


THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1921. _Los Angeles._

I have worked the whole day on Charlie’s head, worked at his house.
Today is Thursday and it has to be finished on Saturday because he
wants to go to Catalina and fish.

It was a very peaceful day, and though the lovely Claire Windsor was
there when I arrived, no one disturbed us during the remainder of the
day. His moods varied with the hours. He started the morning in a brown
silk dressing gown, and was serious. After having sat pretty quiet
for some time, he jumped off the revolving stand and walked round the
room playing the violin. Having thus dispelled his sober mood he went
upstairs, changed his dressing-gown and reappeared in an orange and
primrose one, and we went on with the work. He is perfectly right,
one’s desire for color depends entirely on one’s mood.

Now and then we stopped for a cup of tea, for a tune on the piano, for
a breath of air, on the sunbathed balcony and Charlie with his wild
hair standing on end, and his orange gown dazzling against the white
wall of his moorish house, would either philosophise or impersonate.
He told me that when he was a young man in London, he longed to know
people, but that now he knew so many and he felt lonelier than ever,
and it is no use, he said, for artists to hope to be anything else. He
then put on a gramaphone record and conducted an imaginary band. It was
a very entertaining day, and the work got on awfully well.


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1921. _Hollywood._

Three whole days I have worked on that bust, with a concentration of
effort that is exhausting. It is finished--I feel tonight the elation
of a girl out of school. Moreover I can sleep without the anxiety due
to an unfinished work. Charlie is pleased, and I--well I am never
satisfied, but I am conscious of having accomplished my best. His
friends who know his restless and capricious nature are surprised
that he gave me those three whole days. I was fortunate of course
in meeting him immediately in his return, before he was re-engulfed
in work. Moreover, with some perception, I planted myself with my
materials in his house, and as I wanted him bare throated I begged him
not to dress. A man in pajamas and dressing-gown does not suddenly
get a notion to order his motor and go off to some place. I had him
fairly anchored. Nevertheless he has been difficult to do. There is
so much subtlety in the face, and sensitiveness, and all his varying
personalities arrayed themselves before me, and had to be embodied into
one interpretation.

[Illustration: “CHARLIE” IN HIS DRESSING-GOWN ON HIS MOORISH SUNBATHED
VERANDA

  (Photograph by Clare Sheridan)
]

Charlie would get down from the model stand and observe the progress
through half closed eyes. Once he said: “I wish this was not me, so
that I could admire it as I please. I find him very interesting, this
fellow you have made!” and then, after a close examination from all
angles he added:

“It might be the head of a criminal, mightn’t it--?” and proceeded
to elaborate a sudden born theory that criminals and artists were
psychologically akin. On reflection we all have a flame. A burning
flame of impulse, a vision, a side tracked mind, a deep sense of
unlawfulness.

Later, as I was finishing, the Comte de Limur arrived. He is a young
Frenchman who is studying the moving picture work, for France. He
looked at the bust, and then at Charlie, and then slyly at me: “I see,
it is Pan ...” and added with a chuckle: “one can never deceive a
woman!”

As I needed to work until quite late, it was fortunate that Charlie had
changed his mind about Catalina. He heard yesterday that the fishing
season closed there on November 1st.

On receipt of this news he flashed a new idea: summoning by shouts
“To-om!” his secretary, he asked: “Can you get some tents? Can you get
some tinned foods? Can you find a location suitable for camping--can we
start on Sunday morning?”

The reply was in the affirmative, unhesitatingly. “Shall we take a
chef, or do our own cooking?” Charlie looked at me, I informed him
that I couldn’t boil an egg. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
We’ll take a chef--” he said. And so my return to New York planned for
Wednesday is again delayed.


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1921.

We had planned to start in the morning at half past ten, but it was
nearer half past twelve when we found ourselves en route, and Charlie
had changed his mind. He said: “They found two locations for camp, one
in the mountains, and one in the woods, but I have decided I want to go
to the sea shore--we will go and look for a place ...”

“Then is no camp ready for us?” I asked in dismay. (Knowing something
of the business of camping.) “Our tents are following us in a van,”
he said and they surely followed.--What a “follow the leader game”
for anything as cumbersome as a van! And a Ford followed us as well,
containing the chef!

We stopped by the wayside for an ice-cream cone, and we lunched
in a little town, where the proprietor addressed Charlie as
“brother”--Charlie said it was quite habitual among the real Americans
of that class. I said I thought it was very attractive as that one
hardly needed a revolution to bring about comradeship, in a country
where the waiter calls you “brother.” Charlie was rather scornful about
the sentimentalism of my revolutionary ideals.

When we left the cafe, children had assembled in the streets and
shouted “Goodbye Charlie” as we drove away. It was only his fondness
for children that made him wave to them. Otherwise (I have observed) he
has no desire to be recognized or lionized.

Who has ever seen an American country road on a Sunday, and not
deplored the prosperity of the nation, especially within radius of Los
Angeles? The road is like a smooth winding ribbon on which they race,
they pursue, they overtake, the atmosphere is gas and dust, the surface
is thick and oily. Any road that is a road at all is humming with the
throb of machines. The only road that has no traffic in America is what
is called a “dirt-road.” It isn’t “dirt” at all as we understand the
word dirt in England. It is just Mother Earth, but these roads lead
to nowhere, they end in a field on a farmhouse, as we discovered, and
lost much time exploring and re-tracing. The macadam roads led down to
the sea shore in places where crowds had gathered together to camp or
picnic. That is peculiar about Americans, they love being together.
I questioned Charlie: “Surely there must be lovely peaceful places
unmarred by civilization?” and he said: “No--if there is a lovely place
that is accessible, everyone will have found it....”

“Then,” I said, “we must content ourselves with a horrid place that
nobody wants!”

The sun sank lower and Charlie’s spirit with it. He mopped his brow
and shouted: “On--on--hurry!” to the chauffeur. It was a race with
daylight. Would anyone have believed it was so difficult to get away
from the world!

“You should do like the Mexican motors,” Dick said, “and go across
country--”

In the distance we saw a clump of trees that stood out from afar in a
flat colorless country, and they were by the sea. Once again we plunged
off the macadam road and pursued a sandy track for more miles. Little
by little the world and the sounds of the world were left behind and we
were alone. The road ended as usual, and we found a farm house and a
notice:

“Private property.--No trespassing--no camping--no hunting--” and then
the sun set.

Our feelings just for a moment were indescribable.

The place was perfect. It was everything we had dreamed, and more. The
wood was of eucalyptus trees, and the smell of them mingled with the
smell of the sea, and the evening air was still and fragrant. We sent
a messenger to the land proprietor, asking permission to remain, and
impending the answer we walked over the sand dunes to the sea shore.
The sun had left a crimson and indigo reflection in the sky which
colored the foam waves as they broke one upon another. Charlie was
in ecstasies, he was breathlessly inarticulate in his appreciation,
and we both followed his example, doubled ourselves up, and looked at
the horizon upside down because as he said, one got a far stronger
impression of it. When we got back to the wood we found that all was
well. Charlie of course is Charlie and permission was granted to
remain. In the dark five tents were pitched on the outskirts of the
wood.

Late into the night I sat with him over the campfire. A half-moon rose
and little veils of sea swept like gossamer over the dunes, and the
naked shiny eucalyptus stems cast black shadows. Mingling with the
night bird cries, the rhythmical sound of the sea on the shore.

One by one the lanterns in the camp flickered and went out. Charlie sat
huddled up before the flame, an elfin, elemental creature with gleaming
eyes and towsled hair. His little nervous hands raking the embers
with a stick. His voice was very deep, the voice of a much bigger
man. He ruminated moodily. He said it was “too much--too great--too
beautiful--there are no words--”


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1921.

_By the Sea--California._

We seem to have been divinely led to this most beautiful and secluded
place. One can hardly believe it was mere chance. So near civilization
we are, and yet no one passes this way. As far as the eye can see the
curving beach belongs to the sea-birds. There is a fresh water lake
full of preserved wild duck, and word has been sent by the proprietor
that we may shoot, hunt, cut wood, and do whatever we like! We surely
picked a good spot, and then the sand dunes! We discovered such a high
one yesterday, and Dick took a header down it, as if he were diving. So
we got no further on our walk, but lingered there and spent the entire
afternoon scrambling up and sliding down head first. Charlie brought
it to a fine art, he came down slowly with a rhythmical movement as if
swimming; even sand sliding he does beautifully. Once we rolled down,
and fetched up dazed and giddy at the bottom.

When the sunset sky became streaked pink and purple, Charlie kicked
off his shoes, and danced with his beautiful small feet naked on the
sand. He did imitations of Nijinsky and Pavlowa--he does it so well and
with so much grace that one doesn’t know whether to laugh or silently
appreciate.

The more I see of Charlie, and the more I know him, the more I
appreciate him. He never does, says, or thinks an ugly thing. I have
never met anyone like him. I find myself dominated by his intensity,
and metaphorically sitting at his feet, accepting his judgment. He
is so immensely bigger than the work he is engaged on. I believe
that if he survives, he may in a few years take a very big place in
international public life. We have discussed half jokingly the project
of his standing for Parliament. I assured him no one would dare to
contest him and that he would have a “walk-over.” I have heard him make
impassioned speeches to imaginary crowds. He has harangued the sand
dunes. Not only did he talk well but he talked sense, and his magnetism
and vision recalled to my memory that leader of men: Trotzky. The only
pity is that he is too emotional, he is almost consumed by the flame
within him. This is, I suppose, inevitable in so great an artist.
His intensity is terrific. Whatever he does he does it intensely. He
is intensely funny, but he is intensely tragic too, he shoots with
such intensity that when he lost a duck it nearly broke his heart.
He puts the same spirit into the tunneling of sand bridges for Dick,
or the story he invents about the wrecked ship on the beach. He is
as intensely materialist as he is idealist. As intensely sincere and
honest, and now because he wants to be sound on some new philosophical
doctrine, he is studying mathematics with equal intensity. I can
imagine that at night he must sleep with clenched fists and eyelids
tight shut, and all the intensity of unconsciousness.

In moments of intense depression he exclaims: “I must get back to
work--but I don’t feel like it. I don’t feel funny. Think--think of it:
if I never could be funny again!”

It is his visit to England that has shattered him emotionally.


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1921. _Los Angeles._

Yesterday evening when we started out on a walk, at dusk, a party
appeared and waylaid us on our path, they had with them some children,
to whom they wished,--they said--to show Charlie Chaplin.

It was a painful moment, he was shy and unprepared, the children gaped,
conversation was halting.

[Illustration: “CHARLIE” TELLS DICK THE STORY OF THE WRECKED SHIP ON
THE BEACH

  (Photograph by Clare Sheridan)
]

This morning five motors full of children arrived, being the entire
family, nephews and nieces of the landowner. The camp was disarrayed,
we had planned our departure. Later two reporters appeared and
undaunted by the fact that Charlie was not in camp they set out over
the dunes in search of him.

I watched them walking back together, Charlie, head bowed the picture
of dejection. His last morning had been spoiled, the beauty and peace,
so hard to attain, seemed to have been a little tarnished. We left
hurriedly, leaving the reporters in possession of the cherished spot
that we had not time to look at lingeringly.

“It was time we left--” he said, and I visualised to myself, Charlie
hunted, flying from pursuers, lost to view for perhaps 4 days, maybe 5,
then discovered, and fleeing again “ad infinitem.” For him no peace.
When at the end of a 70 mile drive we reached his house he ordered
tea. We sat in chairs by an electric lamp, and tried to talk. We found
ourselves making conversation to one another with difficulty. He looked
at me as strangely as I looked at him, and then he said:

“You know what’s the matter--We don’t know each other.”

And it was true. I was talking not with the elemental wild-haired
Charlie of the campfire, nor yet with Charlie Chaplin of the films, but
with a neatly dressed, smooth-haired sophisticated young man I didn’t
even know by sight. Civilization and its trappings have changed us
both. The past seemed tinged with unreality.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day (Nov. 12, 1921) we said goodbye to the sunshine, the
orange trees, the avenues of date palms and took the “sunset route” for
New York. Charlie came to see us off, and was allowed past the barrier
onto the departure platform, a privilege which made him conspicuous.
Later, the conductor took Dick aside and asked him if he was Jackie
Coogan’s brother! Four whole days and nights we travelled over this
endless and tremendous country. Dick said he wished the train were a
Mexican train, and I knew what he meant. In Mexico the monotony would
have been relieved by an occasional good breakdown, which would have
enabled us to bathe in wayside ponds and rivers, or explore woods.
But the “Sunset Express” went on and on, day after day, hardly ever
stopping. Little by little the dust of the desert and the sunshine of
California gave way to greyness and cold, until suddenly one morning we
found ourselves in Chicago.

There was no temptation to linger in Chicago. We went to a store and
bought some warm clothes, and caught the very next train out.

We got back to New York just in time for Louise and Dick to sail for
England on the _Baltic_. I had made up my mind some time before that
I must have Margaret. The ache caused by our separation grew worse,
not better. So I risked the possibility of Dick being kidnapped by the
family in England and sent him to fetch her.

During the ten days he was there I received about three cables a day
from various relations, containing every variety of excuse for the
children remaining over there. I was denying them “their British
birthright” was the grandiose statement. I felt none too happy and
secure until a few days before Xmas a wireless from the _Celtic_
announced their triumphant return. It was a triumph indeed, after
six years work, the realisation of this dream, that we should have a
home together. As the ship came gliding alongside the quay I saw the
pink radiant face, the luminously bright eyes of the little daughter
I had not seen for a year. L. and she shouted to me across the narrow
water space: “Mummie! Am I ever to leave you again?” I was struck
by the strangeness of her English accent. “It will soon go!” she
said when I commented on it (and it surely is fading fast!). Dick
meanwhile, according to the letters that accompanied him, scandalised
the already overstrained English relations by saying that “God save
the King” was quite “dreadfully awful,” and preferring America to
England when asked his opinion. They do not understand that we do not
love England less, nor America more; we regard the world as ours and
our right is to take the best wherever we find it. Why should one be
confined to one country? Italy is my garden, Russia is my church,
England is my sleeping-chamber, the United States my work-shop. In
my mother’s country there is an atmosphere of hope, a vitality and a
work incentive that does not exist any more in the old world. This is
called “the land of promise” and people come as to no other country--in
thousand and thousands, of all races, creeds and classes. There is
no disloyalty implied to the land of one’s birth in seeking fortune
beyond its shores. The blood in the veins of some of us may belong to
varying countries and conflicting races, and as the only hope for the
future peace of the world is in internationalism this spirit should be
encouraged--not deplored.


JANUARY 9, 1922.

I had settled down in my studio, with the desire that overcomes one
after awhile to atone for infidelity. I had firmly resolved never
more to write nor speak, and to cleave only to the one art that is
in my heart. My mind was full of new creative work, dancing figures,
fantasies and portraits, when suddenly I was asked to go to Boston and
address a meeting for Russian relief.

I accepted the offer, not because I presumed that any effort of mine
could help much towards the starving Russian babies, but I wanted to
see Boston.

I had heard of Boston almost more than of any town in the United
States. Henry James whom I’d loved from childhood, had come from there,
and my mother-in-law who used to say to me: “I am not American, I am
Bostonian.” Henry Adams I had known, and Cabot Lodge, the friend of my
father, they too came from there. I had heard of the child who recited
the Lord’s prayer saying: “... Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as
it is in Boston,” and so I started off with curiosity, and expectations.

I got there on Friday night just in time to speak at Ford Hall, which
was fitted with a motley crowd (and some Motleys among the crowd, who
had come out of curiosity to see their unknown in-law, and who would
never otherwise have dreamt of going to such a meeting!)

The audience were responsive and sympathetic, but I knew they had to
be cajoled, entertained, amused. I made them laugh. So they stayed and
listened. I made an appeal, and brought in a few hundred dollars.
But I despise the methods that have to be used to induce sympathy
for starving babies. People have to be bribed to give, bribed by the
possibility of amusement--endless vitality is exhausted in organising
balls, theatre performances, concerts, or entertaining lectures that
will draw the otherwise apathetic. I have seen in a little fifth story
room on the East Side, the voluntary efforts of skilled workers, who
are giving up their Saturday afternoons and holidays and giving their
labor free and making garments for the children of Russia from the
lengths of woolen material donated by various mills. There I saw some
of the garment workers who have been so long out on strike, not only
contributing their work, but a dollar a month besides towards the rent
of their premises. These were the “Tailors’ Technical Aid Society” for
Russian children. These were the people whose services brought a lump
to my throat as I watched the zeal and earnestness with which they
worked. Theirs was the real blessedness of giving.

To the people of leisure and means I hate to appeal, telling them my
personal narrative lightly for their entertainment. Even as I did it,
I vowed it should be the last time. On Saturday I was invited to lunch
and speak at the Harvard Liberal Club. I went, thinking it would be
pleasant and liking immature youth, and having thoughts full of the
remote future possibilities of Dick’s education.

As it turned out they were not liberal at all but rather prejudiced,
and I was assailed with economic questions and problems. Very erudite
indeed were these young men. But they seemed to believe in human nature
working only for gain, ignoring completely the existence of enthusiasms
and beliefs, and sacrifices for ideals, which made those skilled
workers, just referred to, work for no gain at all, as they never would
have worked for an employer. I put up the best fight I could, but in
the end, feeling exhausted and battered, I thanked God that I had no
education but at least an open heart.

After lunch Harry Dana rescued me and took me to his aunt’s house
where he lives, and which is called “Longfellow House.” It is of
historic interest as having been the residence of Washington and also
of Longfellow whose grandson Harry Dana is. The house was quaintly
and attractively Georgian and full of dead memories, marble busts and
musty laurel wreaths. We retired to his book lined sanctum and with us
was an Indian, a follower of Gandhi, who was lecturing at Harvard. We
lit a fire and sat before it on the floor while the follower of Gandhi
talked to us of Eastern philosophy and oriental serenity. He was not
calm in spite of all he said about it, but his restlessness was not the
impatient unrest of the West, it had the dignity of the tiger. As he
paced back and forth, talking the while, his talk was full of poetry
and imagery. I realised what had been lacking in the composition of
one’s days: Here there is no poetry (with apologies to Johnny Weaver!).
There is not time, they say, and dreams are not for practical people.
But the follower of Gandhi combined all the practicability and all the
activity, restlessness and humor of the West with the force of Eastern
imagery. They are great artists, the descendants of a great culture.
They, not we, know how to live, and how to love life.

Incidentally I gathered that a hot place to be in, next December, is
India! This Indian revolution interests me very much. I believe that
before long all eyes will be turned on India.

If Gandhi’s methods of passive resistance are successful, and India
is liberated by a comparatively bloodless revolution, it may mark the
epoch of a new era and a new religion.

To-day, the majority of people one meets are expressing the desire
that Jews and Bolsheviks, and Germans, too, should be wiped out.
The Christian peoples whose religion is based on forgiveness, love
and tolerance, have been killing each other mercilessly. It is just
possible that Christianity is over, that it “went out” in blood and
war. Maybe the renaissance of the world will come in the Orient.

Spirit is unquenchable and inextinguishable. When crushed in one
part of the world it will reappear elsewhere. I make no pretense of
prophecy. I only say: Watch India!

I spent the week-end in the family circle and was overwhelmed with
kindness and hospitality. I, who have grown socialistic and Bohemian,
suddenly went back to being a perfect lady, and as a novelty enjoyed
it. What beautiful manners they had, the Bostonians I met, just
naturally beautiful old world manners. They seemed like those well bred
people one knows in Europe who are so absolutely “placés,” so deep
rootedly aristocratic, that they can afford to be tolerant without fear
of losing caste.

I have wondered a good deal about America and Americans during the
year I have spent here. They have amused, surprised and bewildered
me, but it was not until I came to Boston that I felt I was at home.
Even the town is English. There was Beacon Street with its long row of
individual small houses just as in London, and every one had a street
door. I never went into an apartment. Peoples’ rooms seemed to be full
of books instead of American beauty roses. It was in one of these
houses, after luncheon one day, that the women left alone together
discussed the immortality of the soul without any semblance of effort
or affectation.

On Sunday afternoon my host took me to the Public Library as I wanted
to see the Sargent mural paintings. Crowds were pouring in. The reading
rooms were packed full of silent studious figures. People came,
apparently not to look at the Sargent’s and few of them lingered over
the Puvis de Chevannes that lined the staircase walls. They came, as
people long accustomed to their own, and went straight for the reading
rooms. This interested me more even than the paintings I went to see. I
felt that all my expectations of Boston were being fulfilled, as if it
had been staged for me. Boston could not have been more magnificently
Bostonian. Here resplendent in the winter sunlight stood the imposing
Library Building, and people kept pouring into it from every direction.
It seemed emblematical of all that Boston stands for.

I am glad I have been to Boston, it seems to complete one’s great
perplexity concerning the United States. Here is a country that is
composed of such widely different towns as Washington, Philadelphia,
San Francisco, Los Angeles, all as different from one another as they
are different from New York, and as different as New York is from
Boston.

I wonder there is any co-ordination of movement or feeling at all in
such a country. I wonder there is any political unity, any fraternity,
and yet there is more than all that; there exists a national patriotic
spirit.

Well--I have finished wondering, it brings one nowhere, it solves
nothing. I will return where I belong, to the world of line and form,
a world of one’s own imaginings where there are fewer perplexities and
more harmonies.


THE END



FOOTNOTES:

[1] Wife of Sir Alan Johnstone, British diplomatic service.

[2] Prince and Princess Christian of England.

[3] Hugh Frewen, brother of C. S.

[4] Who was Minister for foreign affairs under Kolchak.

[5] F. E. Smith, now Lord Birkenhead, Lord Chancellor of England.

[6] Daughter of John Lothrop Motley, author of “The Rise of the Dutch
Republic,” etc.

[7] Since writing he has been appointed U. S. Ambassador to Rome.

[8] Lady Randolph Churchill--Mother of Winston Churchill.

[9] Popocatapetl, simultaneously with my plans, went into eruption so I
never achieved the ascent.

[10] Margaret, his sister.

[Transcriber’s Note:

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]





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