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Title: With Poor Immigrants in America
Author: Graham, Stephen
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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WITH POOR IMMIGRANTS TO AMERICA

[Illustration: Logo]

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO · DALLAS
ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
LONDON· BOMBAY · CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
TORONTO


[Illustration: THE EMIGRANTS IN SIGHT OF THE GREY-GREEN STATUE OF
LIBERTY IN NEW YORK HARBOUR.]



WITH POOR IMMIGRANTS TO AMERICA

BY

STEPHEN GRAHAM

AUTHOR OF

"WITH THE RUSSIAN PILGRIMS TO JERUSALEM"

_WITH 32 ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
BY THE AUTHOR_

New York
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1914

_All rights reserved_



COPYRIGHT, 1914,
BY HARPER AND BROTHERS.

COPYRIGHT, 1914,
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.


Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1914.


Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



NOTE


A translation of this book has appeared serially in Russia before
publication in Great Britain and America. The matter has accordingly
been copyrighted in Russia.

My acknowledgments are due to the Editor of _Harper's Magazine_ for
permission to republish the story of the journey.

I wish to express my thanks to Mrs. James Muirhead, Miss M. A. Best,
and to Mr. J. Cotton Dana, who, with unsparing energy and hospitality,
helped me to see America as she is.

STEPHEN GRAHAM.

VLADIKAVKAZ, RUSSIA.



CONTENTS

                                              PAGE
      PROLOGUE                                  xi

CHAPTER
   I. THE VOYAGE                                 1

  II. THE ARRIVAL OF THE IMMIGRANT              41

 III. THE PASSION OF AMERICA AND THE TRADITION
        OF BRITAIN                              54

  IV. INEFFACEABLE MEMORIES OF NEW YORK         73

   V. THE AMERICAN ROAD                         85

  VI. THE REFLECTION OF THE MACHINE            103

 VII. RUSSIANS AND SLAVS AT SCRANTON           123

VIII. AMERICAN HOSPITALITY                     141

  IX. OVER THE ALLEGHANIES                     161

   X. DECORATION DAY                           177

  XI. WAYFARERS OF ALL NATIONALITIES           188

 XII. CHARACTERISTICS                          209

XIII. ALONG ERIE SHORE                         225

 XIV. THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE                    245

  XV. THROUGH THE HEART OF THE COUNTRY         252

 XVI. THE CHOIR DANCE OF THE RACES             274

XVII. FAREWELL, AMERICA!                       294



ILLUSTRATIONS


 1. The emigrants in sight of the grey-green statue of
      Liberty in New York Harbour                         _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE
 2. Russian women on board--
     (_a_) The peasant                                                12
     (_b_) The intellectual and revolutionary type                    12

 3. The boisterous Flemings                                           14

 4. (_a_) The dreamy Norwegian with the concertina                    18
    (_b_) The endless dancing                                         18

 5. (_a_) A Russian Jew                                               26
    (_b_) "A patriarchal Jew, very tall and gaunt,
          hauled along a small fat woman of his race"                 26

 6. "One of the young ladies was being tossed up in a
       blanket with a young Irish lad" (p. 25)                        30

 7. (_a_) English                                                     36
    (_b_) Russians--Fedya, Satiron, Alexy, Yoosha, Karl,
          Maxim Holost                                                36

 8. Dainty Swedish girls and their partners looking over the sea      44

 9. Apple orchards in blossom on the spurs of the Catskills           84

10. On the way to school: my breakfast party                          92

11. The tramp's dressing-room                                        110

12. By the side of the highway to Michigan: the electric freight
      train                                                          120

13. An Indiana farm: the wind-well behind it, the wheatfield
      in front                                                       142

14. "The cream-vans come along and buy up all the cream" (p. 261)    152

15. "Ploughed upland all dotted over with white heaps of
      fertiliser" (p. 161)                                           158

16. "Slovaks working on the line with pick and shovel"               166

17. The Slav children of Snow-Shoe Creek                             174

18. Italians working with the "mixer" on the Meadville Pike          200

19. Ingenious photographs of American types                          212

20. The Lithuanian who sat behind the asphalt and coal-oil
      scatterer                                                      226

21. "Johnny Kishman, a German boy, got off his bicycle to
      find out what manner of man I was" (p. 233)                    234

22. Erie Shore. "Amidst old logs, under a stooping willow
      tree, I made my bed" (p. 235)                                  238

23. The sower                                                        252

24. The store on wheels                                              258

25. "I had an interesting talk with an ancient man by the side
      of the road"                                                   262

26. "Old Samuel Judie, lying on a bank, and philosophising on
      life"                                                          270

27. At the fountain in the park: a hot day in Chicago                276



PROLOGUE


From Russia to America; from the most backward to the most forward
country in the world; from the place where machinery is merely imported
or applied, to the place where it is invented; from the land of Tolstoy
to the land of Edison; from the most mystical to the most material;
from the religion of suffering to the religion of philanthropy.

Russia and America are the Eastern and Western poles of thought. Russia
is evolving as the greatest artistic philosophical and mystical nation
of the world, and Moscow may be said already to be the literary capital
of Europe. America is showing itself as the site of the New Jerusalem,
the place where a nation is really in earnest in its attempt to realise
the great dream of human progress. Russia is the living East; America
is the living West--as India is the dead East and Britain is the dying
West. Siberia will no doubt be the West of the future.

For one who knows Russia well America is full of a great revelation.
The contrast in national spirit is so sharp that each helps you to see
the other more clearly. The American people are now on the threshold
of a great progressive era; they feel themselves within sight of the
realisation of many of their ideals. They have been hampered badly by
the trusts and the "bosses" and the corrupt police, but they are now
proving that these obstacles are merely temporary anomalies, caused by
the overwhelmingly sudden growth of population and prosperity. A few
years ago it could with truth be said that material conditions were
worse in the United States than in the Old World. But it has been clear
all the time that the corruption existent in the country was truly
foreign to the country's temper.

The common citizen is becoming the watchdog of the police-service.
Tammany has fallen. Women are getting the suffrage, state by state.
The nation is unanimous in its cry for a pure state, a clean country,
and an uncorrupted people. All diseases are to be healed. Couples who
wish to be married must produce health-certificates. The mentally
deficient and hereditary criminals are to be segregated. Blue-books,
or rather what the Americans call White-books, are going to form the
Bible of a new nation. The day is going to be _rationally_ divided
into eight hours' work, eight hours' pleasure, eight hours' sleep--or
rather, eight hours' looking at machinery, eight hours' pleasure, eight
hours' sleep, for machinery is going to accomplish all the ugly toil.
Everybody is to be well dressed, well housed, comfortable. America
is raging against drink, against the exploitation of immigrants,
against the fate of the white slave, against any one who has done
anything immoral. It will nationally expel a Russian genius like
Gorky. It makes great difficulty of admitting to its shores any one
who has ever been in prison. It is so in earnest about the future of
America that it has set up what is almost an insult to Europe--the
examination of Ellis Island. Any one who has gone through the ordeal
of the poor emigrant, as I did, going into America with a party of
poor Russians in the steerage, and has been medically examined and
clerically cross-questioned about his life and ethics, knows that
America is a materialist and progressive country, and that she is no
longer a harbour of refuge for the weak, but a place where a nation is
determined to have health and strength and prosperity.

Now in Russia, when you arrive there, you find no such tyranny as that
of Ellis Island awaiting you. You have come to the land of charity. If
there is any question it is of whether you are a Russian Jew wanting to
be recognised as an American citizen. Their charity does not extend to
the Jews. But disease does not stand in your way, neither does crime;
ethics are not inquired into; Mylius or Mrs. Pankhurst or Miss Marie
Lloyd receive their passports without a frown. You have come to the
nation to whom are precious the sick, the mentally deficient, the
criminal, the waste-ends of humanity, the poor woman on the streets,
the drunkard. Her greatest novelist, Dostoievsky, was an epileptic;
her national poet, Nekrasof, was a drunkard; Vrubel, one of her
greatest painters, was an imbecile; Chekhof, her great tale-writer,
was a hopeless consumptive. She is not opposed to the good and the
sound, but the suffering are dearer to her, more comprehensible. She
loves the drunkard, and says "Yes, you are right to be drunk; you are
probably a good man. It is what you are likely to be in this world of
enigmas." She loves the white slave, but does not wish to shut her in
a home for such. The Russians, so far from segregating the diseased
and the fallen, frequently fall in love with them and marry them. They
are sorry for the crippled children, but do not wish they had never
been born. They see in them a reminder of the true lot of man upon the
world. They make such children holy, and set them at the church doors.
Russia does not execute the murderer except under martial law, but she
sends him to Siberia to understand life and be _resurrected_. Thus, in
_The Crime and Punishment_, Raskolnikof the murderer, goes to Siberia
with little Sonia, the white slave, who whispers to him all the way the
promises of St. John's Gospel.

In America the man who is tramping the road and will not work is an
object of enmity. He is almost a criminal. He is not wanted. He will
receive little hospitality, must chop wood for his breakfast or steal.
His life is a blasphemy breathed against the American ideal. But in
Russia none is looked upon more kindly than the man on the road, the
tramp or the pilgrim. There are a million or so of them on the road
in the summer. They are characteristic of Russia. In them the Russian
confesses that he is a stranger and a pilgrim upon the earth.

The Christianity of Russia is the Christianity of death, of
renunciation, of what is called the _podvig_, the turning away from the
empire of "the world" as proposed by Satan on the mountain, the wasting
of the ointment rather than the raising of the poor, the giving the lie
to Satan, the part of Mary rather than the part of Martha.

But the Christianity of America is the Christianity of Life, of
affirmation, of "making good," of accepting "the world" and preparing
for Christ's second coming, of obedience to the law, of almsgiving.
America is the great almsgiver, appealed to for money from the ends
of the earth, and for every object. If Russia can give faith, America
can give the rest. It is impossible for America to say with St. Peter,
"Silver and gold have I none, but _such as I have_ give I thee." The
Americans believe in money, and the pastor of a fashionable church is
able to say, "I preach to fifty million dollars every Sunday morning."
But as Mme. Novikof, in one of her brilliant conversations, once said,
"What is greater than the power of money? Why, contempt of money."
There are no people in the world who keep fewer account-books than the
Russians. They fling about their wealth or the pennies of their poverty
with the generous assurance that the bond of brotherhood is greater
than their fear of personal deprivation.

The Americans are great collectors. It may be said collecting is the
genius of the West; empty-handedness is the glory of the East.

The Russians are a sad and melancholy people. But they do not want to
lose their melancholy or to exchange it for Western self-satisfaction.
It is a divine melancholy. As their great contemporary poet Balmont
writes:


     I know what it is to moan endlessly--
     In the long cold Winter to wait in vain for Spring,
     But I know also that the nightingale's song is beautiful to us just
       because of its sadness,
     And that the silence of the snowy mountain peaks is more beautiful
       than the lisping of streams--


which is somewhat of a contrast to a conversation reported in one of
Professor Jacks' books:


     _Passenger, looking out of the train window at the snowy ranges of
     the Rockies_: "What mountains!"

     _American, puzzled for a moment_: "I guess I h'ant got any use for
     those, but ef you're thinking of buying real estate...."


The phrase, _real estate_!

Britain is seated in the mean. Compared with America she is
semi-Eastern. Despite the blood-relationship of the American and
British peoples they are more than an ocean apart. We receive without
much thanks American songs and dances, boxers, Carnegie libraries,
and plenty of money for all sorts of purposes. But our backs are to
America; we look towards Russia and are all agog about the next Russian
book or ballet or music. We are an old nation; as far as the little
island is concerned hope has died down. We have explored the island.
America will take a long time to explore _her_ territory. No vast
tracts and inexhaustible resources and terrific upheavals of Nature
reflect themselves in our national mood. The American working man has
a true passion for work, for his country, for everything; the British
working man does his duty. We have not the belief in life that the
American has--we have not yet the Russian's belief in death.

The American breathes full into his lungs the air of life. The American
is glad at the sight of the strong, the victorious, the healthful. How
often, in novels and in life, does the American woman, returning from
a sojourn in the far West, confess to her admiration of the cowboy!
She is thrilled by the sight of such strong wild "husky" fellows, each
of them equal to four New Yorkers. In England, however, the town girl
has no smiles for the strong peasant; he is a country bumpkin, no
more. She wants the ideal, the unearthly. In Russia weakness attracts
far more than strength; love is towards consumptives, cripples, the
half-deranged, the impossibles. The Americans do not want the weak
one; England backs the "little un" to win; Russia loves the weak one,
feeling he will be eternally beaten, and loves him because he will be
beaten. But America loves the strong, the healthy, the pure, because
she is tired of Europe and the weakness and disease and sorrow of
Europeans.



WITH POOR IMMIGRANTS TO AMERICA



I

THE VOYAGE


At Easter 1912 I was with seven thousand Russian peasants at the Holy
Sepulchre in Jerusalem. On Easter Day 1913 I arrived with Russian
emigrants at New York, and so accomplished in two consecutive years two
very different kinds of pilgrimage, following up two very significant
life-movements in the history of the world of to-day. One of these
belongs to the old life of Europe, showing the Middle Ages as it still
survives under the conservative regime of the Tsars; the other is
fraught with all the possibilities of the future in the making of the
New America.

It was in March that I decided to follow up the movements of the people
out of the depths of Europe into America, and with that purpose sought
out I---- K----, a well-known immigration agent in the East End of
London. He transhipped Russians coming _via_ Libau and London, and
could tell me just when he expected the next large detachment of them.

"Have you a letter of introduction?" asked the agent.

"I shouldn't have thought any was necessary," I answered. "A Russian
friend advised me to go to you. You don't stand to lose anything by
telling me what I want to know."

He would do nothing for me without an introduction, without knowing
exactly with whom he had to deal. I might be a political spy. The hand
of the Tsar was long, and could ruin men's lives even in America. At
least so he thought.

I mentioned the name of a revolutionary anarchist, a militant
suffragette. He said a letter from her would suffice. I went to
Hampstead and explained my predicament to the lady. She wrote me a note
to a mysterious revolutionary who was living above Israel's shop, and
this missive, when presented, was promptly taken as a full credential.
The mysterious revolutionary was on the point of death, and could not
see me, but Israel read the letter, and at once agreed that he was
ready to be of any service to me he could. There was a large party of
Russians coming soon, not Russian Jews, but real Russian peasants,
and he would let me know as soon as he could just when they might be
expected. I returned to my ordinary avocations, and every now and then
rang up "I. K." on the telephone, and asked, "Had the Russians come?"
"When were they coming?" At last the intelligence came, "They are just
arriving. Hurry down to Hayes wharf at once."

The news took me in the midst of other things, but I dropped all and
rushed to London Bridge. There, at Tooley Street, I witnessed one of
the happenings you'd never think was going on in London.

A long procession of Russian peasants was just filing out from the
miserable steamship _Perm_. They were in black, white, and brown
sheepskins and in astrakhan hats, some in blue blouses and peak-hats,
some in brightly embroidered linen shirts; none wore collars, but some
had new shiny bowlers, on which the litter and dust of the port was
continually falling,--bowlers which they had evidently purchased from
German hawkers who had come on board at some point in the journey. The
women wore sheepskins also, many of them, and their heads were covered
with shawls; they had their babies sewn up in little red quilts. Beside
them there were pretty town girls and Jewesses dressed in cottons and
serges and cheap hats. There were few old people and many young ones,
and they carried under their arms clumsy, red-painted wooden boxes
and baskets from which kettles and saucepans dangled. On their backs
they had sacks, and in their hands several of them had crusts of bread
picked up in their hurry as they were hustled from their berths and
through the mess-room. Some of the sacks on their backs, as I afterward
saw, contained nothing but crusts of white and black bread, on which,
perhaps, they trusted to live during the first weeks in America!

They were all rather bewildered for the moment, and a trifle anxious
about the Customs officers.

"What is this town?" they asked.

"For what are the Customs men looking?"

"Where is our agent--the man they said would be here?"

I entered into conversation with them, and over and over again answered
the question, "What is this town?" I told them it was London.

"Is it a beautiful town?" they asked.

"Is it a large town?"

"Do we have to go in a train?"

"How far is it?"

"Look at my ticket; what does it say?"

They made a miscellaneous crowd on the quay-side, and I talked to them
freely, answered their questions, and in turn put questions of my own.
They came from all parts of Russia, even from remote parts, and were
going to just as diverse places in America: to villages in Minnesota,
in Michigan, in Iowa; to Brooklyn, to Boston, to Chicago. I realised
the meaning of the phrase, "the magic word Chicago." I told them how
many people there were in London, how much dock labourers get a week,
pointed out the Tower Bridge, and calmed them about the non-appearance
of their agent. I knew him, and if he didn't turn up I would lead them
to him. They might be calm; he knew Russian, he would arrange all for
them.

At last a representative of my East End friend appeared--David the Jew.
He was known to all the dockers as David, but he had a gilt I. K. on
the collar of his coat, wore a collar, had his hair brushed, and was a
person of tremendous importance to the eager and humble emigrants. Not
a Jew, no! No Jew has authority in Russia. No Jew looked like David,
and so the patient Christians thought him an important official when
he rated them, and shouted to them, and cursed them like a herdsman
driving home a contrary lot of cows and sheep and pigs.

Another Jew appeared, in a green hat and fancy waistcoat, and he
produced a sheaf of papers having the names, ages, and destinations of
the emigrants all tabulated. He began a roll-call in one of the empty
warehouses of the dock. Each peasant as his name was called was ticked
off, and was allowed to gather up his belongings and bolt through the
warehouse as if to catch a train. I ran to the other side and found
a series of vans and brakes, such as take the East-enders to Happy
Hampstead on a Bank Holiday. Into these the emigrants were guided,
and they took their seats with great satisfaction. They clambered in
from all sides, showing a preference for getting up by the wheels, and
nearly pulling away the sides of the frail vehicles.

The vanmen jested after their knowledge of jests, and put their arms
round the pretty girls' waists. David rushed to and fro, fretting and
scolding. Loafers and clerks collected to look at the girls.

"Why does that old man look at us so? he ought to be ashamed of
himself," said a pretty Moscow girl to me. "He is dressed like twenty
or twenty-five, but he is quite old. How quizzically he looks at us."

"He is forty," said I.

"Sixty!"

"That's a pretty one," said a young man whose firm imported Koslof eggs.

"What does he say?"

"He says that you are pretty."

"Tell him I thank him for the compliment; but he is not interesting--he
has not a moustache."

All the vans filled, and there was a noise and a smell of Russia in the
grim and dreary dockyard, and such a chatter of young men and women,
all very excited. At last David got them all in order. I stepped up
myself, and one by one we went off through the East End of the city.

We went to St. Pancras station. On the way one of the peasants stepped
down from his brake and, entering a Jewish hat-shop, bought himself a
soft green felt and put his astrakhan hat away in his sack. He was the
subject of some mirth, and also of some envy in the crowd that sat down
to coffee and bread and butter at the Great Midland terminus. Under the
terms of their tickets the emigrants were fed all the way from Libau
to New York without extra charge.

They were all going from Liverpool, some by the Allan Line, some by the
White Star, and others by the Cunard. As by far the greatest number
were going on the Cunard boat, I went to I. K. and booked a passage on
that line. There was much to arrange and write, my sack to pack, and
many good-byes to utter--all in the briefest space of time.

At midnight I returned to the station and took my seat in the last
train for Liverpool. Till the moment before departure I had a
compartment to myself; but away down at the back of the train were
coach after coach of Russians, all stretched on their sheepskins on
the narrow seats and on the floor, with their children in the string
cradles of the parcel-racks. They were crowded with bundles and baskets
and kettles and saucepans, and yet they had disposed themselves to
sleep. As I walked along the corridor I heard the chorus of heavy
breathing and snoring. In one of the end carriages a woman was on her
knees praying--prostrating and crossing herself. As we moved out of St.
Pancras I felt as I did when upon the pilgrim boat going to Jerusalem,
and I said to myself with a thrill, "We have mysterious passengers on
board." The sleeping Russians gave an atmosphere to the English train.
It was like the peculiar feeling that comes to the other people in a
house when news is given downstairs that a new baby has arrived.

A man stepped into my compartment just as the train was moving--a
jovial Briton who asked me to have a cigar, and said, when I refused,
that he was glad, for he really wanted to give it to the guard. He
wanted the guard to stop the express for him at Wellingborough, and
reckoned that the cigar would put him on friendly terms. He inquired
whether I was a Mason, and when I said I was not, proceeded to reveal
Masonic secrets, unbuttoning his waistcoat to show me a little golden
sphere which opened to make a cross.

At St. Albans he gave the guard the cigar, and the charm worked, for he
was enabled to alight at Wellingborough. And I was left alone with my
dreams.


In a thunderstorm, with a high gale and showers of blinding hail
and snow, with occasional flashing forth of amazing sunshine, to be
followed by deepest gloom of threatening cloud, we collected on the
quay at Liverpool--English, Russians, Jews, Germans, Swedes, Finns--all
staring at one another curiously, and trying to understand languages
we had never heard before. Three hundred yards out in the harbour
stood the red-funnelled Cunarder which was to bear us to America; and
we waited impatiently for the boat which should take us alongside.
We carried baskets and portmanteaus in our strained hands; most of
us were wearing heavy cloaks, and some had sacks upon their backs,
so we were all very ready to rush aboard the ferry-boat and dump our
burdens on its damp decks. What a stampede there was--people pushing
into portmanteaus, baskets pushing into people! At last we had all
crossed the little gangway, and all that remained on shore were
the few relatives and friends who had come to see the English off.
This pathetic little crowd sang ragtime songs, waved their hats and
handkerchiefs, and shouted. There was a bandying of farewells:

"Ta-ta, ta-ta-ta!"

"Wish you luck!"

"Ta-ta-a, ole Lloyd George! No more stamp-licking!"

"Good luck, old boy!"

"The last of old England!"

The foreign people looked on and smiled non-comprehendingly; the
English and Americans huzzaed and grinned. Then away we went over the
water, and thoughts of England passed rapidly away in the interest
of coming nearer to civilisation's toy, the great liner. We felt the
romance of ocean travel, and also the tremulous fear which the ocean
inspires. Then as we lay in the lee of the vast, steep, blood- and
soot-coloured liner, each one of us thought of the _Titanic_ and the
third-class passengers who went down beneath her into the abyss.

The vastness of the liner made our ferry-boat look like a matchbox.
A door opened in the great red wall and a little gangway came out of
it like a tongue coming out of a mouth. We all picked up our bags and
baggage and pushed and squirmed along this narrow footway that led
into the mouth of the steamer and away down into its vast, cavernous,
hungry stomach: English, Russians, Jews, Germans, Poles, Swedes,
Finns, Flemings, Spaniards, Italians, Canadians, passed along and
disappeared--among them all, I myself.

There were fifteen hundred of us; each man and woman, still carrying
handbags and baskets, filed past a doctor and two assistants, and was
cursorily examined for diseases of the eye or skin.

"Hats and gloves off!" was our first greeting on the liner. We marched
slowly up to the medical trio, and each one as he passed had his eyelid
seized by the doctor and turned inside out with a little instrument.
It was a strange liberty to take with one's person; but doctors are
getting their own way nowadays, and they were looking for _trachoma_.
For the rest the passing of hands through our hair and examination of
our skin for signs of scabies was not so rough, and the cleaner-looking
people were not molested.

Still carrying our things we took our medical-inspection cards and
had them stamped by a young man on duty for that purpose. Then we were
shown our berths.

There was a spring bed for each person, a towel, a bar of soap, and
a life-preserver. The berths were arranged, two, four, and six in a
cabin. Married couples could have a room to themselves, but for the
rest men and women were kept in different sets of cabins. British were
put together, Scandinavians together, Russians and Jews together. It
was so arranged that the people in the cabins understood one another's
language. Notices on the walls warned that all emigrants would be
vaccinated on deck, whether they had been vaccinated before or not;
that all couples making love too warmly would be married compulsorily
at New York if the authorities deemed it fit, or should be fined or
imprisoned; that in case of fire or smoke being seen anywhere we were
to report to chief steward, but not to our fellow-passengers; that
smoking was not allowed except on the upper deck, and so on. The cabins
were a glittering, shining white; they were small and box-like; they
possessed wash-basins and water for the first day of the voyage, but
not to be replenished on succeeding days. There were general lavatories
where you might wash in hot or cold water, and there were bathrooms
which were locked and never used. Each cabin had a little mirror.
The cabins were steam-heated, and when the passengers were dirty
the air was foul. Fresh air was to be found on the fore and after
decks, except in time of storm, when we were barred down. In time of
storm the smell below was necessarily worse--atrocious, for most of
the people were very sick. We had, however, a great quantity of dark
space to ourselves, and could prowl into the most lonesome parts of
the vessel. The dark recesses were always occupied by spooning couples
who looked as if they had embarked on this journey only to make love
to one another. There were parts of the ship wholly given over to
dancing, other parts to horse-play and feats of strength. There was an
immense dining-room with ante-chambers and there, to the sound of the
jangling dinner-bell echoing and wandering far or near over the ship,
we assembled to meals.

[Illustration: RUSSIAN WOMEN ON BOARD.

The peasant woman.

The intellectual and revolutionary type.]


The emigrants flocked into the mess-room from the four doors to twenty
immense tables spread with knives and forks and toppling platters of
bread. Nearly all the men came in in their hats,--in black glistening
ringlety sheepskin hats, in fur caps, in bowlers, in sombreros, in
felt hats with high crowns, in Austrian cloth hats, in caps so green
that the wearer could only be Irish. Most of the young men were
curious to see what girls there were on board, and looked eagerly to
the daintily clad Swedish women, blonde and auburn-haired beauties
in tight-fitting, speckless jerseys. The British girls came in in
their poor cotton dresses, or old silk ones, things that had once
looked grand for Sunday wear but now bore miserable crippled hooks
and eyes, threadbare seams, gaping fastenings--cheerful daughters of
John Bull trapesing along in the shabbiest of floppy old boots. Then
there were the dark and somewhat forward Jewesses, talking animatedly
with little Jew men in queer-shaped trousers and skimpy coats; there
were slatternly looking Italian women with their children, intent on
being at home in whatever circumstances. There was a party of shapely
and attractive Austrian girls that attracted attention from the others
and a regular scramble to try to sit next to them or near them. No one
ever saw a greater miscellaneity and promiscuity of peoples brought
together by accident. I sat between a sheepskin-wrapped peasant wife
from the depths of Russia and a neat Danish engineer, who looked no
different from British or American. Opposite me were two cowboys going
back to the Far West, a dandified Spanish Jew sat next them on one hand
and two Norwegians in voluminous knitted jackets on the other. At the
next table was a row of boisterous Flemings, with huge caps and gaudy
scarfs. There were Americans, spruce and smart and polite; there were
Italians, swarthy and dirty, having their black felt hats on their
heads all through the meal and resting their elbows on the table as
if they'd just come into a public-house in their native land. There
were gentle youths in shirts which womenfolk had embroidered in Little
Russia; there were black-bearded Jewish patriarchs in their gaberdines,
tall and gaunt.

[Illustration: THE BOISTEROUS FLEMINGS.]

A strange gathering of seekers, despairers, wanderers, pioneers,
criminals, scapegoats. I thought of all the reasons that had brought
these various folk together to make a community, that had brought
them all together to form a Little America. From Great Britain it is
so often the drunkard who is sent. Some young fellow turns out to be
wilder than the rest of his family; he won't settle down to the sober,
righteous, and godly life that has been the destiny of the others; he
is likely to disgrace respectability, so parents or friends give him
his passage-money and a little capital and send him away across the
sea. Henceforth his name is mentioned at home with a 'ssh, or with a
tear--till the day that he makes his fortune. With the drunkard go
the young forger or embezzler whose shame has been covered up and
hidden, but who can get no "character" from his last employer. Then
there are the unemployed, and those discontented with their jobs, the
out-of-works, the men who have seen no prospect in the old land and
felt no freedom. There are the wanderers, the rovers, the wastrels, so
called, who have never been able to settle down; there are also the
prudent and thoughtful men who have read of better conditions and go
simply to take advantage of them. There are those who are there almost
against their will, persuaded by the agents of the shipping companies
and the various people interested to keep up the flow of people into
America. There are the women who are going out to their sweethearts to
be married, and the wives who are going to the husbands who have "made
good"; there are the girls who have got into trouble at home and have
slid away to America to hide their shame; there are girls going to be
domestic servants, and girls doomed to walk the streets,--all sitting
down together, equals, at a table where no grace is said but the
whisper of hope which rises from each heart.

But it is not only just these people whom I have so materially and
separately indicated. The cheerful lad who is beginning to flirt with
his first girl acquaintance on the boat has only a few hours since
dried the tears off his cheeks; they are nearly all young people on
the boat, and they mostly have loving mothers and fathers in the
background, and friends and sweethearts, some of them. And there are
some lonely ones who have none who care for them in all the world.
There are young men who are following a lucky star, and who will never
be so poor again in their lives, boys who have guardian angels who
will never let them injure their foot on the ground, boys who have in
their favour good fairies, boys and girls who have old folk praying
for them. And there is the prodigal son, as well as the too-prodigal
daughter. There are youngest brothers in plenty, going to win the
princess in a way their elder brothers never thought of; young Hans is
there, Aladdin, Norwegian Ashepattle, Ivan Durak--the Angel of Life is
there; there is also the Angel of Death.

We sat down together to our first meal,--the whole company of the
emigrant passengers broke bread together and became thereby one
body,--a little American nation in ourselves. I am sure that had the
rest of the world's people been lost we could have run a civilization
by ourselves. We had peasants to till the soil, colliers to give us
fuel, weavers and spinners to make cloth, tailors to sew it into
garments, comely girls of all nations to be our wives; we had clerks
and shop-keepers and Jews with which to make cities; musicians and
music-hall artists to divert us, and an author to write about it all.

Mugs half-full of celery soup were whisked along the tables; not a
chunk of bread on the platters was less than an inch thick; the hash of
gristly beef and warm potato was what would not have been tolerated in
the poorest restaurant, but we set ourselves to eat it, knowing that
trials in plenty awaited us and that the time might come when we should
have worse things than these to bear. The Swedes and the British were
finicky; the Russians and the Jews ate voraciously as if they'd never
seen anything so good in their lives.

The peasant woman next to me crossed herself before and after the meal;
her Russian compatriots removed their hats and some of them said grace
in a whisper to themselves. But most ate even with their hats on, and
most with their hands dirty. You would not say we ate as if in the
presence of God and with the memories, in the mind, of prayers for the
future and heart-break at parting with home; yet this meal was for the
seeing eye a wonderful religious ceremony, a very real first communion
service. The rough food so roughly dispensed was the bread and wine,
making them all of one body and of one spirit in America. Henceforth
all these people will come nearer and nearer to one another, and drift
farther and farther from the old nations to which they belonged. They
will marry one another, British and Jewish, Swedish and Irish, Russian
and German; they will be always eating at America's board; they will
be speaking the one language, their children will learn America's
ideals in America's school. Even from the most aboriginal, illiterate
peasant on board, there must come one day a little child, his grandson
or great-grandson, who will have forgotten the old country and the old
customs, whose heart will thrill to America's idea as if he had himself
begotten it.

On Sunday morning when we came upstairs from our stuffy little cabin
we were gliding past the green coast of Ireland, and shortly after
breakfast-time we entered the beautiful harbour of Queenstown,
blue-green, gleaming, and perfect under a bright spring sun. Hawkers
came aboard with apples, knotted sticks, and green favours--the day
following would be St. Patrick's. And we shipped a score of Irish
passengers.

Outside Queenstown a different weather raged over the Atlantic, and
as we steamed out of the lagoon it came forward to meet us. The
clouds came drifting toward us, and the wind rattled in the masts.
The ocean was full of glorious life and wash of wave and sea. A crowd
of emigrants stood in the aft and watched the surf thundering away
behind us; the great hillsides of green water rose into being and
then fell out of being in grand prodigality. Gulls hung over us as we
rushed forward and poised themselves with gentle feet outstretched,
or flew about us, skirling and crying, or went forward and overtook
us. Meanwhile Ireland and Britain passed out of view, and we were left
alone with the wide ocean. We knew that for a week we should not see
land again, and when we did see land that land would be America.

[Illustration: THE DREAMY NORWEGIAN WITH THE CONCERTINA.]

[Illustration: THE ENDLESS DANCING.]


Then we all began to know one another, to talk, to dance, to sing, to
play together. All the cabins were a-buzz with chatter, and along
the decks young couples began to find one another out and to walk
arm and arm. Two dreamy Norwegians produced concertinas, and without
persuasion sat down in dark corners and played dance music for hours,
for days. Rough men danced with one another, and the more fortunate
danced with the girls, dance after dance, endlessly. The buffets were
crowded with navvies clamouring for beer; the smoking-rooms were full
of excited gamblers thumbing filthy cards. The first deck was wholly
in electric light, you mounted to the second and it was all in shadow,
you went higher still and you came to daylight. You could spend your
waking hours on any of these levels, but the lower you went the warmer
it was. On the electric-light deck were to be found the cleaner and
more respectable passengers; they sat and talked in the mess-room,
played the piano, sang songs. Up above them all the hooligans rushed
about, and there also, in the shadow, in the many recesses and dark
empty corners young men and women were making love, looking moonily at
one another, kissing furtively and giving by suggestion an unwonted
atmosphere to the ship. It was also on this deck that the wild couples
danced and the card-players shuffled and dealt. Up on the open deck
were the sad people, and those who loved to pace to and fro to the
march music of the racing steamer and the breaking waves.

I wandered from deck to deck, everywhere; opened many doors, peered
into many faces, sat at the card-table, crushed my way into the bar,
entered into the mob of dancers, found a Russian girl and talked to
her. But I was soon much sought for. When the Russian-speaking people
found out I had their language they followed me everywhere, asking
elementary questions about life and work and wages in America. Even
after I had gone to bed and was fast asleep my cabin door would open
and some woolly-faced Little Russian would cry out, "Gospodin Graham,
forgive me, please, I have a little prayer to make you; write me also a
letter to a farmer."

I had written for several of them notes which they might present at
their journey's end.

All day long I was in converse with Russians, Poles, Jews, Georgians,
Lithuanians, Finns.

"Look at these Russian fatheads (_duraki_)," said a young Jew. "Why
do they go to America? Why do they leave their native land to go to a
country where they will be exploited by every one?"

"Why do _you_ leave it, then?" asked a Russian.

"Because I have no rights there," replied the Jew.

"Have we rights?" the Russian retorted.

"If I had your rights in Russia I'd never leave that country. I'd find
something to do that would make me richer than I could ever be in
America."

There were three or four peasants around, and another rejoined. "But
you could have our rights if you wished."

Whereupon I broke in:

"But only by renouncing the Jewish faith."

"That is exactly the truth," said the Jew.

"Yes," said a Russian called Alexy Mitrophanovitch, "he can have all
our rights if he renounces his faith."

"If I am baptized to get your rights what use is that to you? Why do
Christians ask for such an empty thing?"

"All the same," said another Russian, "in going to America you will
break your faith, and so will we. I have heard how it happens. They
don't keep the Saints' days there."

Alexy Mitrophanovitch was a fine, tall, healthy-looking peasant workman
in a black sheepskin. With him, and as an inseparable, walked a
broad-faced Gorky-like tramp in a dusty peak-hat. The latter was called
Yoosha.

"You see, all I've got," said Alexy to me, "is just what I stand up in.
Not a copeck of my own in my pocket, and not a basket of clothes. My
friend Yoosha is lending me eighty roubles so as to pass the officials
at New York, but of course I give it back to him when we pass the
barrier. We worked together at Astrakhan."

"Have you a bride in Russia?"

No, he was alone. He did not think to marry; but he had a father and a
mother. At Astrakhan he had been three thousand versts away from his
village home, so he wouldn't be so much farther away in America.

He was going to a village in Wisconsin. A mate of his had written that
work was good there, and he and Yoosha had decided to go. They would
seek the same farmer, a German, Mr. Joseph Stamb--would I perhaps write
a letter in English to Mr. Stamb?...

Both he and Yoosha took communion before leaving Astrakhan. I asked
Alexy whether he thought he was going to break his faith as the other
Russians had said to the Jew. How was he going to live without his Tsar
and his Church?

He struck his breast and said, "There, that is where my Church is!
However far away I go I am no farther from God!"

Would he go back to Russia?

He would like to go back to die there.

"Tell me," said he, "do they burn dead bodies in America? I would not
like my body to be burned. It was made of earth, and should return to
the earth."

The man who slept parallel with me in my cabin was an English collier
from the North Country. He had been a bad boy in the old country, and
his father had helped him off to America. Whenever he had a chance to
talk to me, it was of whippet-racing and ledgers and prizes and his pet
dog.

"As soon as a get tha monny a'll enter that dawg aht Sheffield. A took
er to Durby; they wawn't look at 'er there. There is no dawg's can
stan' agin her. At Durby they run the rabbits in the dusk, an' the
little dawg as 'ad the start could see 'em, but ourn moight a been at
Bradford fur all she could see. A'll bet yer that dawg's either dead
or run away. She fair lived fer me. Every night she slep in my bed.
Ef ah locked 'er aht, she kick up such a ra. Then I open the door an'
she'd come straight an' jump into bed an' snuggle 'erself up an' fall
asleep...."

The dirtiest cabins in the ship were allotted to the Russians and the
Jews, and down there at nine at night the Slavs were saying their
prayers whilst just above them we British were singing comic songs or
listening to them. Most of us, I reckon, also said our prayers later
on, quietly, under our sheets; for we were, below the surface, very
solitary, very apprehensive, very child-like, very much in need of the
comfort of an all-seeing Father.

The weather was stormy, and the boat lost thirty-six hours on the way
over. The skies were mostly grey, the wind swept the vessel, and the
sea deluged her. The storm on the third night considerably reduced the
gaiety of the ship; all night long we rolled to and fro, listening to
the crash of the waves and the chorus of the spring-mattresses creaking
in all the cabins. My boy who had left the "dawg" behind him got badly
"queered up." He said it was "mackerel as done it," a certain warm,
evil-looking mackerel that had been served him for tea on the Tuesday
evening. Indeed the food served us was not of a sort calculated to
prepare us for an Atlantic storm--roast corned beef, sausage and mash,
dubious eggs, tea that tasted strongly of soda, promiscuously poked
melting butter, ice cream. On tumultuous Tuesday the last thing we ate
was ice cream! We all felt pretty abject on Wednesday morning.

Our sickness was the stewards' opportunity. They interviewed us, sold
us bovril and hawked plates of decent ham and eggs, obtained from the
second-class table or their own mess. The British found the journey
hard to bear, though they didn't suffer so much as the Poles and the
Austrians and the Russians. I found the whole journey comparatively
comfortable, stormy weather having no effect on me, and this being
neither my first nor worst voyage. Any one who has travelled with
the Russian pilgrims from Constantinople to Jaffa in bad weather has
nothing to fear from any shipboard horror on a Cunarder on the Atlantic.

Only two of the Russians went through the storm happily, Alexy and
Yoosha. They had worked for nights and months on the Caspian Sea in a
little boat, almost capsizing each moment as they strained at their
draughts of salmon and sturgeon; one moment deep down among the seas,
the next plunging upward, shooting over the waves, stopping short,
slithering round--as they graphically described it to me.

When the storm subsided the pale and convalescent emigrants came
upstairs to get sea air and save themselves from further illness.
Corpse-like women lay on the park seats, on the coiled rope, on the
stairs, uttering not a word, scarcely interested to exist. Other women
were being walked up and down by their young men. A patriarchal Jew,
very tall and gaunt, hauled along a small, fat woman of his race, and
made her walk up and down with him for her health--a funny pair they
looked. On Wednesday afternoon, about the time the sun came out, one of
the boisterous Flemings tied a long string to a tape that was hanging
under a pretty French girl's skirts, and he pulled a little and watched
her face, pulled a little more and watched the trouble, pulled a little
more and was found out. Then several of the corpse-like ones smiled,
and interest in life was seen to be reviving.

Next morning when I was up forward with my kodak, one of the young
ladies who had been so ill was being tossed in a blanket with a young
Irish lad of whom she was fond, struggling and scratching and rolling
with a young fellow who was kissing her, whilst four companions were
dangerously hoisting them shoulder high, laughing and bandying Irish
remarks. Life only hides itself when these folk are ill; they will
survive more than sea-sickness.


The white dawn is haggard behind us over the black waves, and our great
strong boat goes thundering away ahead of the sun. It is mid-Atlantic,
and we stare into the same great circle of hungry emptiness, as did
Columbus and his mariners. Our gaze yearns for land, but finds none;
it rests sadly on the solitary places of the ocean, on the forlorn
waves lifting themselves far away, falling into nothingness, and then
wandering to rebirth.

Nothing is happening in the wide ocean. The minutes add themselves and
become hours. We know ourselves far from home, and we cannot say how
far from the goal, but still very far, and there is no turning back.
"Would there were," says the foolish heart. "Would I had never come
away from the warm home, the mother's love, the friends who care for
me, the woman who loves me, the girl who has such a lot of empty time
on her hands now that I have gone away, her lover." How lonely it is
on the steerage deck in the crowd of a thousand strangers, hearing a
score of unknown tongues about your ears, hearing your own language so
pronounced you scarce recognise it!

[Illustration: A RUSSIAN JEW.]

[Illustration: "A PATRIARCHAL JEW, VERY TALL AND GAUNT, HAULED ALONG A
SMALL FAT WOMAN OF HIS RACE."]

The mirth of others is almost unpardonable, the romping of Flemish
boys, pushing people right and left in a breakneck game of touch; the
excitement of a group of Russians doing feats of strength; the sweet
happiness of dainty Swedish girls dancing with their rough partners
to the strains of an accordion. How good to escape from it all and
trespass on the steward's promenade at the very extremity of the
after-deck, where the emigrants may not go, and where they are out of
sight and out of hearing.

The ocean is retreating behind us with storm-scud and smoke of foam
threshed out from our riven road. Vast theatres of waves are falling
away behind us and slipping out of our ken backward into the homeward
horizon. Above us the sky is grey, and the sea also is grey, waving now
and then a miserable flag of green.

What an empty ocean! There is nothing happening in it but our ship.
And for me, that ship is just part of my own purpose: there is nothing
happening but what I willed. The slanting red funnels are full of
purpose, and the volumes of smoke that fly backward are like our sighs,
regrets, hopes, despairs, the outward sign of the fire that is driving
us on.


Up on the steward's promenade on Thursday morning I fell into
conversation with a young Englishman, and he poured out his heart to
me. He was very homesick, and had spoken to no one up till then. He was
in a long cloak, with the collar turned up, and a large cloth cap was
stuck tightly on his head to keep it from the wind. His face was red
with health, but his forehead was puckered, and his eyes seemed ready
to shed tears.

"Never been so far away from the old country before?" I hazarded.

"No."

"Would you like to go back?"

"No."

"Are you going to friends in America?"

He shook his head.

"I'm going on my own."

"You are the sort that America wants," I ventured. He did not reply,
and I was about to walk away, snubbed, when another thought occurred to
me.

"I once left the old country to seek my fortune elsewhere," said I. "I
felt as you do, I expect. But it was to go to Russia."

He looked up at me with an inquisitive grimace. I suggested that I
knew what it was to part with a girl I loved, and a mother and friends
and comforts, and to go to a strange country where I knew no one, and
thought I had no friends. At the mention of parting with the girl he
seemed to freeze, but curiosity tempted him and he let me tell him some
of my story.

"I reckon that England's pretty well played out," said he.

"Not whilst it sends its sons out into the world--you to America, and
me to Russia," said I with a smile. "It will only be played out when we
haven't the courage to go."

"Well," said he, "I reckon I _had_ to go, there wasn't anything else
for me to do. It wasn't courage on my part. I didn't want to go. I
reckon there ought to be room in England for the likes of me. It isn't
as if I had no guts. I'm as fit as they make them, only no good at
figures. I think I had the right to a place in England and a decent
screw, and England might be proud of me. I should always have been
ready to fight against the Germans for her. I joined the Territorials,
I learned to shoot, I can ride a horse."

"Why didn't you go into the army?"

"That's not the place for a decent fellow. Besides, my people wouldn't
allow it, and my girl's folks would be cut up. And I reckon there's
something better to do than be drilled and wait for a war. My people
wanted me to be something respectable, to go into the Civil Service,
or a bank, or an insurance office, or even into the wholesale fruit
business. I was put into Jacob's, the fruit firm, but I couldn't work
their rate. I've been hunting for work the last five months. That takes
it out of you, don't it? How mean I felt! Everybody looked at me in
such a way--you know, as much as to say 'You loafer, you lout, you
good-for-nothing,' so that I jolly well began to feel I was that, too,
especially when my clothes got shabby and I had nothing decent to put
on to see people."

As my acquaintance talked he rapidly became simpler, more child-like,
confiding, and tears stole down his cheek. The reserved and surly lad
became a boy. "What a life," said he, "to search work all day, beg a
shilling or so from my mother in the evening, meet my girl, tell her
all that's happened, then at night to finish the day lying in bed
trying to imagine what I'd do if I had a thousand a year!

"I reckon I could have earned a living with my hands, but my people
were too proud; yes, and I was too proud also, and my girl might not
have liked it. Still, I'd have done anything to earn a sovereign and
take her to the theatre, or go out with her to the country for a day,
or make her a nice present and prove I wasn't mean. I used to be
generous. When I had a job I gave plenty of presents; but you can't
give things away when you have to borrow each day. You even walk
instead of taking a car, and you are mean, mean, mean--mean all day.
Then in the evening you talk of marrying a girl, of having a little
home, and you dare to kiss her as much as you can or she will let, and
all the while you have in the wide world only a few coppers--and a
mother."

[Illustration: "ONE OF THE YOUNG LADIES WAS BEING TOSSED UP IN A
BLANKET WITH A YOUNG IRISH LAD."]

We went and leaned over the ship and stared down at the sea.

Tears! I suppose millions had come there before and made that great
salt ocean of them.

The boy now lisped his confidence to me hurriedly, happily, tenderly.

"But I reckon I've got a good mother, eh? She loved me more than I
dreamed. How she cried on Friday! how she cried! It was wild. Sometimes
I used to say I hated her. I used to shout out angrily at her that I'd
run away and never come back. That was when she said hasty things to
me, or when she wouldn't give me money. I used to think I'd go and be
a tramp, and pick up a living here and there in the country, and live
on fruit and birds' eggs, sleeping anywhere. It would be better than
feeling so mean at home. But then, my girl--every night I had to see
her. I felt I could not go away like that, never to come home with a
fortune--never, never to be able to marry her. Every night she put her
arms round my neck and kissed me, and called me her old soldier, her
dear one--all sorts of sweet things. I reckon we didn't miss one night
all this last year.

"Her father's all right. I had thought he would be different. I was a
bit afraid of what he'd say if he got to hear. But she told him on her
own, and one night she took me home. They had fixed it up themselves
without asking me, and he was very kind. I told him I wanted a job, and
I thought p'raps he was going to get me one. But no; he was a queer
sort, rather. 'I'm going to wipe out that story of yours,' he says.
Then he goes to his bureau and writes a note and puts it in an envelope
and addresses it to me. 'Here you are, young man,' says he. I opened
the envelope and read one word on a slip of paper--AMERICA.
'Millions have told your story before,' says he, 'and have had that
word given them in answer. You get ready to go to America; I'll find
you your passage-money and something to start you off in the new
country. You'll do well; you'll make good, my boy,' and he slapped me
on the back.

"You bet I felt excited. He saw my mother and told her his plan. She
said she couldn't stand in my way. I got the _Government Handbook on
the United States_, and the emigration circular. I read up America at
the public library. I wonder I hadn't thought of it before. America is
a great country, eh? They look at you differently, I bet, and a strong
young man's worth something there. My word, when I come back....

"I wonder if I shall come back or if she'll come out to me. I wonder if
her father would let her. I guess he would....

"She loves me. My word, how she loves me! I didn't dream of it before.
I used to think the harder you kissed, the more it meant; but she
kissed me in a new way, so softly, so differently. She said I was hers,
that I would be safe wherever I went in the wide world, and I was
never to feel afraid. I've got to do without her now. I reckon no other
girl is going to mean much to me."

He looked rather scornfully at a troop of pretty Swedes who had invaded
our sanctuary.

"It is queer how sure I feel of good luck because of her and what she
did. I feel as if everything must turn my way. Downstairs yesterday
they challenged me to play a game of cards, and I won fifty cents; but
I felt it was wrong to spend my luck that way. The chap wouldn't play
any more; he said I was in a lucky vein. He was quite right. Whatever I
turn my hand to, I'm bound to have unexpected good luck. I feel so sure
I'm going to get a job, and a real good one, too. I shan't play any
more cards this journey."

The sun had come out, and the bright light blazed through our smoke,
and I felt that the boy's faith was blazing just that way through his
regrets.

The sun crept on and overtook us on his own path, and then at last went
down in front of us, far away in the waste of waters.

My acquaintance and I went away to the last meal of the day, to the
strangely mixed crowd of prospective Americans at the table, where men
sat and ate with their hats on, and where no grace was said. "What
matter that they throw the food at us?" I asked. "We are men with
stout hearts in our bosoms; we are going to a great country, where a
great people will look at us with creative eyes, making the beautiful
out of the ugly, the big and generous out of the little and mean, the
headstone out of the rock that the builders rejected."

After supper I left my friend and went upstairs alone. The weather had
changed, and the electric lights of the ship were blazing through the
rain, the decks were wet and windswept, and the black smoke our funnels
were belching forth went hurrying back into the murky evening sky. The
vessel, however, went on.

Downstairs some were dancing, some singing, some writing home
laboriously, others gossiping, others lying down to sleep in the little
white cabins. There was a satisfaction in hearing the throbbing of the
engines and feeling the pulse of the ship. We were idle, we passed the
time, but we knew that the ship went on.

Going above once more at nine, I found the rain had passed, the sky was
clear and the night full of stars. In the sea rested dim reflections of
the stars, like the sad faces we see reflected in our memory several
days after we have gone from home. I stood at the vessel's edge and
looked far over the glimmering waves to the horizon where the stars
were walking on the sea. "What will it be like in America?" whispered
the foolish heart. "What will it be like for him?" Then sadness
came--the long, long thoughts of a boy. I whispered the Russian verse:


     "There is a road to happiness,
     But the way is afar."


And yet, next morning, I saw the Englishman dancing for hours with a
pretty Russian girl from a village near Kiev--Phrosia, the sister of
Maxim Holost, a fine boy of eighteen going out to North Dakota. I had
noticed the Englishman looking on at the dancing, and then suddenly, to
my surprise, at a break in the tinkling of the accordion, he offered
his arm to the Russian and took her down the middle as the music
resumed....

I was much in demand among the Russians on Friday and Saturday, for
they wanted to take the English language by storm at the week-end. I
taught Alexy by writing out words for him, and six or seven peasants
had copied from him and were busy conning "man," "woman," "farm,"
"work," "give me," "please," "bread," "meat," "is," "Mister," "show,"
"and," "how much," "like," "more," "half," "good," "bad," the numbers,
and so on. They pronounced these words with willing gusto, and made
phrases for themselves, calling out to me:

"Show me worrk, pleez."

"Wer is Meester Stamb?"

"Khao match eez bread?"

"Give mee haaf."

Alexy tried his English on one of the waiters at dinner time.

"Littel meet, _littel_, give mee more meet."

The steward grinned appreciatively, and told him to lie down and be
quiet.

Maxim and his sister were accompanied by a grizzled peasant of sixty or
so, wearing a high sugar-loaf hat sloping back from an aged, wrinkled
brow. This was Satiron Federovitch, the only old man on deck. His black
cloak, deep lined with wadding, was buttoned up to his throat, and the
simplicity of his attire and the elemental lines of his face gave him
a look of imperturbable calm. Asked why he was going to America, he
said that almost every one else in the village had gone before him. A
Russian village had as it were vanished from the Russian countryside
and from the Russian map and had transplanted itself to Dakota. Poor
old greybeard, he didn't want to go at all, but all his friends and
relatives had gone, and he felt he must follow.

Holost told every one how at Libau the officials doubted the
genuineness of his passport, and he had to telegraph to his village
police, at his own expense, to verify his age and appearance. The
authorities didn't relish the idea of such a fine young man being
lost by any chance to the army. If only they had as much care for the
villages as they have for their legions!

[Illustration: ENGLISH.]

[Illustration: RUSSIANS.

Fedya. Satiron. Alexy. Yoosha. Karl. Maxim Holost.]

I was up betimes on Saturday morning and watched the vessel glide
out of the darkness of night into the dusk of the dawn. The electric
light up in the mainmast, the eye of the mast, squinted lividly in
the half-light, and the great phantom-like ship seemed as if cut out
of shiny-white and blood-red cardboard as it moved forward toward
the west. The smoke from the funnels lay in two long streamers to
the horizon, and the rising sun made a sooty shadow under it on the
gleaming waves. As the night-cloud vanished a great wind sprang up,
blowing off America. Old Satiron was coming laboriously upstairs, and
he slipped out on to the deck incautiously.

"Gee whizz!" The mocking American wind caught his astrakhan hat and
gave it to the sea. Poor old Satiron, he'll turn up in Dakota with a
derby on, perhaps.

Saturday was a day of preparation. We packed our things, we wrote
letters to catch the mail, we were medically inspected--some of us
were vaccinated. All the girls had to take off their blouses and the
young men their coats, and we filed past a doctor and two assistants.
One man washed each bare arm with a brush and some acid. The doctor
looked and examined. The other assistant stood with lymph and lancet
and rapidly jabbed us. The operation was performed at an amazing pace,
and was only an unpleasant formality. Many of those who were thus
vaccinated got their neighbours to suck out the vaccine directly they
returned to their cabins. This was what the boy who had left the dog
behind him did. He didn't want blood-poisoning, he said. Nearly all the
Russians had been vaccinated five or six times already. In Russia there
is much disease and much faith in medicine. In England good drainage,
many people not vaccinated, little smallpox; in Russia, no drains, much
vaccination, and much of the dread disease.

On Saturday night there was a concert, at which all the steerage
were present, and in which any one who liked took part. But English
music-hall songs had all the platform--no foreign musicians
participated.

Sunday was Easter Day, and I was up in the dark hours of the morning
and saw the dawn. Sunrise showed the clouds in the east, but in north
and south and west the other clouds still lay asleep. Up on the
after-deck of the great tireless steamer little groups of cloaked and
muffled emigrants stood gazing over the now familiar ocean. We knew it
was our last day on the ship, and that before the dawn on the morrow we
should be at the American shore. How fittingly was it Easter, first day
of resurrection, festive day of spring, day of promise and hope, the
anniversary of happy days, of first communions!

In the wan east the shadowy wings of gulls were flickering. The
blood-red sun was just coming into view, streaked and segmented with
blackest cloud. He was striving with night, fighting, and at last
gaining the victory. High above the east and the wide circle of glory
stood hundreds of attendant cloudlets, arrayed by the sun in robes of
lovely tinting, and they fled before him with messages for us. Then,
astonishing thing, the sun disappeared entirely into shadow. Night
seemed to have gotten the victory. But we knew night could not win.

The sun reappeared almost at once, in resplendent silver, now a rim, in
a moment a perfect shield. The shield had for a sign a maiden, and from
her bosom a lovely light flooded forth upon the world. We felt that we
ourselves, looking at it, were growing in stature in the morning. The
light enveloped us--it was divine.

But the victory still waited. All the wavelets of the eastern sea were
living in the morning, dancing and mingling, bewildering, baffling,
delighting, but the west lay all unconquered, a great black ocean of
waves, each edged with signs of foam, as if docketed and numbered.
All seemed fixed and rigid in death. The sun disappeared again and
reappeared anew, and this time he threw into the world ochre and fire.
The wide half-circle of the east steamed an ochreous radiance to the
zenith. The sun was pallid against the beauty he had shed; the lenses
of the eye fainted upon the unearthly whiteness. It was hard to look
upon the splendid one, but only at that moment might he be seen with
the traces of his mystery upon him. Now he was in his grave-clothes,
all glistening white, but at noon he would be sitting on the right hand
of God.

Easter!


"Will there be any service in the steerage to-day?"

"No, there will only be service for first and second-class passengers."

"Is that because they need it more than we?"

There was no answer to that impolite remark. Still it was rather
amusing to find that the Church's office was part of the luxury of the
first and second class.

The third class played cards and danced and sang and flirted much as
usual. They had need of blessing.

So at night a Baptist preacher organised a prayer-meeting on his own
account, and the English-speaking people sang "Onward, Christian
soldiers," in a rather half-hearted way at eight o'clock, and "Jesus,
lover of my soul, let me to Thy Bosom fly," at nine; and there was a
prayer and a sermon.

A few hours after I had lain down to sleep Maxim Holost put his head in
at my cabin and cried out:

"America! Come up and see the lights of America."

And without waiting for me to follow, he rushed away to say the same
thing to others, "America! America!"



II

THE ARRIVAL OF THE IMMIGRANT


The day of the emigrants' arrival in New York was the nearest earthly
likeness to the final Day of Judgment, when we have to prove our
fitness to enter Heaven. Our trial might well have been prefaced by a
few edifying reminders from a priest.

It was the hardest day since leaving Europe and home. From 5
A.M., when we had breakfast, to three in the afternoon, when
we landed at the Battery, we were driven in herds from one place to
another, ranged into single files, passed in review before doctors,
poked in the eyes by the eye-inspectors, cross-questioned by the
pocket-inspectors, vice detectives, and blue-book compilers.

Nobody had slept the night before. Those who approached America for
the first time stood on the open deck and stared at the lights of
Long Island. Others packed their trunks. Lovers took long adieus and
promised to write one another letters. There was a hum of talking in
the cabins, a continual pattering of feet in the gangways, a splashing
of water in the lavatories where cleanly emigrants were trying to wash
their whole bodies at hand-basins. At last the bell rang for breakfast:
we made that meal before dawn. When it was finished we all went up on
the forward deck to see what America looked like by morning light. A
little after six we were all chased to the after-deck and made to file
past two detectives and an officer. The detectives eyed us; the officer
counted to see that no one was hiding.

At seven o'clock our boat lifted anchor and we glided up the still
waters of the harbour. The whole prow was a black mass of passengers
staring at the ferry-boats, the distant factories, and sky-scrapers.
Every point of vantage was seized, and some scores of emigrants were
clinging to the rigging. At length we came into sight of the green-grey
statue of Liberty, far away and diminutive at first, but later on, a
celestial figure in a blaze of sunlight. An American waved a starry
flag in greeting, and some emigrants were disposed to cheer, some shed
silent tears. Many, however, did not know what the statue was. I heard
one Russian telling another that it was the tombstone of Columbus.

We carried our luggage out at eight, and in a pushing crowd prepared
to disembark. At 8.30 we were quick-marched out of the ship to the
Customs Wharf and there ranged in six or seven long lines. All the
officials were running and hustling, shouting out, "Come on!" "Hurry!"
"Move along!" and clapping their hands. Our trunks were examined and
chalk-marked on the run--no delving for diamonds--and then we were
quick-marched further to a waiting ferry-boat. Here for the time being
hustle ended. We waited three-quarters of an hour in the seatless
ferry, and every one was anxiously speculating on the coming ordeal
of medical and pocket examination. At a quarter to ten we steamed for
Ellis Island. We were then marched to another ferry-boat, and expected
to be transported somewhere else, but this second vessel was simply
a floating waiting-room. We were crushed and almost suffocated upon
it. A hot sun beat upon its wooden roof; the windows in the sides
were fixed; we could not move an inch from the places where we were
awkwardly standing, for the boxes and baskets were so thick about our
feet; babies kept crying sadly, and irritated emigrants swore at the
sound of them. All were thinking--"Shall I get through?" "Have I enough
money?" "Shall I pass the doctor?" and for a whole hour, in the heat
and noise and discomfort, we were kept thinking thus. At a quarter-past
eleven we were released in detachments. Every twenty minutes each and
every passenger picked up his luggage and tried to stampede through
with the party, a lucky few would bolt past the officer in charge, and
the rest would flood back with heart-broken desperate looks on their
faces. Every time they failed to get included in the outgoing party
the emigrants seemed to feel that they had lost their chance of a job,
or that America was a failure, or their coming there a great mistake.
At last, at a quarter-past twelve, it was my turn to rush out and find
what Fate and America had in store for me.

Once more it was "Quick march!" and hurrying about with bags and
baskets in our hands, we were put into lines. Then we slowly filed up
to a doctor who turned our eyelids inside out with a metal instrument.
Another doctor scanned faces and hands for skin diseases, and then we
carried our ship-inspection cards to an official who stamped them. We
passed into the vast hall of judgment, and were classified and put into
lines again, this time according to our nationality. It was interesting
to observe at the very threshold of the United States the mechanical
obsession of the American people. This ranging and guiding and hurrying
and sifting was like nothing so much as the screening of coal in a
great breaker tower.

It is not good to be like a hurrying, bumping, wandering piece of coal
being mechanically guided to the sacks of its type and size, but such
is the lot of the immigrant at Ellis Island.

[Illustration: DAINTY SWEDISH GIRLS AND THEIR PARTNERS LOOKING OVER THE
SEA.]

But we had now reached a point in the examination when we could rest.
In our new lines we were marched into stalls, and were allowed to
sit and look about us, and in comparative ease await the pleasure of
officials. The hall of judgment was crowned by two immense American
flags. The centre, and indeed the great body of the hall, was
filled with immigrants in their stalls, a long series of classified
third-class men and women. The walls of the hall were booking-offices,
bank counters, inspectors' tables, stools of statisticians. Up above
was a visitors' gallery where journalists and the curious might
promenade and talk about the melting-pot, and America, "the refuge of
the oppressed." Down below, among the clerks' offices, were exits; one
gate led to Freedom and New York, another to quarantine, a third to the
railway ferry, a fourth to the hospital and dining-room, to the place
where unsuitable emigrants are imprisoned until there is a ship to take
them back to their native land.

Somewhere also there was a place where marriages were solemnised.
Engaged couples were there made man and wife before landing in New
York. I was helping a girl who struggled with a huge basket, and a
detective asked me if she were my sweetheart. If I could have said
"Yes," as like as not we'd have been married off before we landed.
America is extremely solicitous about the welfare of women, especially
of poor unmarried women who come to her shores. So many women fall
into the clutches of evil directly they land in the New World. The
authorities generally refuse to admit a poor friendless girl, though
there is a great demand for female labour all over the United States,
and it is easy to get a place and earn an honest living.

It was a pathetic sight to see the doubtful men and women pass into
the chamber where examination is prolonged, pathetic also to see the
Russians and Poles empty their purses, exhibiting to men with good
clothes and lasting "jobs" all the money they had in the world.

At half-past two I gave particulars of myself and showed the coin I
had, and was passed.

"Have you ever been arrested?" asked the inspector.

Well, yes, I had. I was not disposed to lie. I had been arrested four
or five times. In Russia you can't escape that.

"For a crime involving moral turpitude?" he went on.

"No, no."

"Have you got a job in America?" (This is a dangerous question; if you
say 'Yes' you probably get sent back home; it is against American law
to contract for foreign labour.)

I explained that I was a tramp.

This did not at all please the inspector. He would not accept that
definition of my occupation, so he put me down as author.

"Are you an anarchist?"

"No."

"Are you willing to live in subordination to the laws of the United
States?"

"Yes."

"Are you a polygamist?"

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"Do you believe a man may possess more than one wife at a time?"

"Certainly not."

"Have you any friends in New York?"

"Acquaintances, yes."

"Give me the address."

I gave him an address.

"How much money have you got?" ... "Show me, please!" ... And so on. I
was let go.

At three in the afternoon I stood in another ferry-boat, and with a
crowd of approved immigrants passed the City of New York. Success had
melted most of us, and though we were terribly hungry, we had words and
confidences for one another on that ferry-boat. We were ready to help
one another to any extent in our power. That is what it feels like to
have passed the Last Day and still believe in Heaven, to pass Ellis
Island and still believe in America.

Two or three of us hastened to a restaurant. I sat down at a little
table, and waited. So did the others, but we were making a mistake,
for there were no waiters. We had as yet to learn the mechanism of a
"Quick Lunch" shop; there was a certain procedure to be observed and
followed, we must learn it if we wanted a dinner. I watched the first
American citizen who came in, and did as he did. First I went to the
cashier and got a paper slip on which were printed many numbers 5, 10,
15, 25, and so on in intervals of fives. These represented cents, and
were so arranged for convenience in adding and for solid profit. At
this restaurant nothing cost less than five cents (twopence halfpenny),
and there were no intermediaries between five and ten, ten and fifteen,
and so forth. The unit then was five cents, and not as in England two
cents (one penny). Obviously this means enormous increase of takings in
the long run. That five-cent unit is part of the foundation of American
prosperity. I obtained my slip so numbered. Then I took a tray from a
stack of trays and a glass from an array of glasses, a fork and a knife
from the fork basket, and I went to the roast chicken counter and asked
for roast chicken. A plate of hot roast chicken was put on my tray, and
the white-hatted cook punched off twenty-five cents on my slip. I went
to another counter and received a plate of bread and butter, and to
yet another and sprinkled pepper and salt from the general sprinklers.
I went and drew iced water. Then, like the slave of the lamp working
for himself, I put the whole on my little table. When I had finished
my first course I put my plate aside and took my tray to the cook and
received a second, and when I had finished that I fetched my coffee.

"Well," thought I, looking round, "no waiters, that means no tips;
there is not even a superfluous mendicant boy in charge of the swinging
doors." So I began to learn that in America the working man pays no
tips.

My companions at the other tables were getting through with their
dinners and looking across at one another with congratulatory smiles.
We would have sat together, but in this shop one table accommodated one
customer only--an unsociable arrangement. I waited for them to finish,
so that we could go out together.

Whilst doing so a man came up to me from another table and said very
quietly:

"Just come over?"

"This morning," I replied.

He brightened up and asked:

"Looking for a job?"

"You don't mean to say I am being offered one already?" said I.

"That's about it, two dollars."

"Two dollars a day?"

"That's the idea."

"What's the work?"

"Brick-making."

It was brick-making up country for some Trust Company. I said I
was staying in New York, couldn't go just yet. He might try my
acquaintances. I pointed them out.

One of them, a Pole, said he would go. The contractor went out with us,
and we accompanied him to his office. We took a street car. The fare
was five cents, a "nickel," and it was necessary to put the coin in the
slot of the conductor's money-box before entering. The conductor stood
stiff, like an intelligent bit of machinery, and we were to him fares
not humans. The five cents would take me to the other end of the city
if I wished it, but there was no two-cent fare in case I wished to go a
mile. That five-cent unit again!

We sat in the car and looked out of the windows, interested in every
sight and sound. First we had glimpses of the East Side streets, all
push-carts and barrows, like Sukhareva at Moscow. Then we saw the dark
overhead railway and heard the first thunder of the Elevated train.
We went up the Bowery, unlike any other street in the world; we noted
that it was possible to get a room there for twenty cents a night. We
stared curiously at the life-sized carved and painted Indians outside
the cigar stores, and at the gay red-and-white stripe of the barbers'
revolving poles.

We alighted just by a barber's shop. The agent showed us his office
and told us to come in if we changed our minds and would like the job.
There we left the Pole, and indeed saw him no more.

There were two others beside myself--a Russian and a Russian Jew.
As the Jew and I both wanted a shave we all went into the barber's
shop. We were still carrying our bags, and were rather a strange
party to enter a shop together. But the barbers, a pleasant array of
close-shaven smiling Italians, were not put out in the least. They were
ready to shave any living thing. Their job was to shave and take the
cash, and not to be amused at the appearance of the customers.

In America the barber's shop has a notice outside stating the number of
barbers. If the number is high it is considerable recommendation. Then
the briskly revolving pole suggests that it's your turn next and no
waiting.

I was put into an immense, velvet-bottomed adjustable chair, my legs
were steadied on a three-foot stand, and the barber turning a handle
caused the back of the chair to collapse gently so that my head and
body pointed towards the doorway like the cannon mouth. Then the shave
commenced, and the barber twirled my head about and around as if it
were on a revolving hinge. And how laborious he was! In America, quick
lunch and slow shave; in England quick shave and slow lunch. And
fifteen cents for a shave, and thirty-five for a hair-cut.

"That's a high price," said I.

"Union rate," said he. "We are now protected against the public."

The Jew, however, paid five cents less; he had bargained beforehand.
He said it was the last cent he'd pay for a shave in that country;
he'd buy a safety razor. The Russian smiled; he hadn't shaved yet, and
didn't intend to, ever.

At this point the Jew parted company with us. He was going to find
a friend of his in Stanton Street. The Russian and I made for a
lodging-house in Third Avenue. At a place ticketed "Rooms by the day
or month," we rang the bell, rang the bell and waited, rang again. We
were to be initiated into another mystery of New York, the mechanical
door, the door which has almost an intelligence of its own. Down came a
German woman at last, and gave us a rare scolding. Why hadn't we turned
the handle and come in? Why had we brought her down so many flights of
stairs?

It appeared that by turning a handle in her room on the second floor
she liberated the catch in the lock, and all the visitor had to do was
to turn the handle and walk in.

"I heard a rattle in the lock," said I. "I wondered what it meant."

"How long've you been in America?" she asked.

"A few hours. We want rooms for a few days while we look about."

"Days? My lodgers take rooms for years. I haven't any one staying less
than six months."

This was just "boosting" her rooms, but I didn't know. I took it for
a good sign. If her tenants stayed long terms the place must be very
clean. But it was only "boosting." Still the rooms looked decent, and
we took them. They were the same price as similar rooms in the centre
of London, ten shillings a week, but dearer than in Moscow where
one would pay fifteen roubles (seven and a half dollars or thirty
shillings) a month for such accommodation. The floors were carpeted,
the sheets were white, there was a good bathroom for each four lodgers,
no children, and all was quiet. Laundry was collected, there was no
charge for the use of electric light, you received a latch-key on the
deposit of twenty-five cents, and could come in any hour of the day or
night. In signing the registration book I saw I was the only person of
Anglo-Saxon name, all were Germans, Swedes, Italians, Russians. With
British caution I hid a twenty-five dollar bill in the binding of one
of the most insignificant of my books, so that if I were robbed of
the contents of my pocket-book I should still have a stand-by. But my
suspicions were begotten only of ignorance. My fellow-lodgers were all
hard working, self-absorbed New Yorkers, who took no thought of their
neighbours, either for good or evil.



III

THE PASSION OF AMERICA AND THE TRADITION OF BRITAIN


I came to America to see men and women and not simply bricks and
mortar, to understand a national life rather than to moan over sooty
cities and industrial wildernesses. Hundreds of thousands of healthy
Europeans passed annually to America. I wanted to know what this asylum
or refuge of our wanderers actually was, what was the life and hope it
offered, what America was doing with her hands, what she was yearning
for with her heart. I wished to know also what was her despair.

On my second day in New York I was deploring the sky-scraper, when
a young American lifted her arms above her head in yearning and
aspiration saying, "Have you seen the Woolworth Building? It is a
bird's flight of stone right away up into the sky, it is higher
and newer than anything else in New York, its cream-coloured walls
are pure and undefiled. It is a commercial house, to be let to ten
thousand business tenants. But it is like a cathedral; its foundations
are on the earth, but its spire is up among the stars; if you go to
it at sundown and look upward you will see the angels ascending and
descending, and hear the murmur of Eternity about it."

I had always thought of the sky-scraper as a black grimy street-front
that went up to an unearthly height, a Noah's Ark of sodden and smoky
bricks. That is what a sky-scraper would tend to be in London. I had
forgotten the drier, cleaner atmosphere of New York.

I went to see the Woolworth Building, and I found it something new. It
was beautiful. It was even awe-inspiring.

In the evening I asked an American literary man whom I met at a club
what he thought was the _raison d'être_ of the Woolworth; was it not
simply the desire to build higher than all other houses--the wish to
make a distinct commercial hit?

He "put me wise."

"First of all," said he, "New York is built on the little island of
Manhattan. The island is all built over, and so, as we cannot expand
outward we've got to build upward. Ground rent, too, has become so high
that we must build high for economy's sake."

I remarked on the number of men who lost their lives in the building of
sky-scrapers. "For every minute of the day there was a man injured in
some town or other of the United States," so I had read in an evening
paper.

He said the Americans were playing large, and must expect to lose
a few men in the game. He expected the America of the future would
justify all sacrifices made just now, and he gave me in the course of a
long talk his view of the passion of America.

"The Woolworth Building is only an inadequate symbol of our faith,"
said he. "You British and the Germans and French are working on a
different principle, you are playing the small game, and playing it
well. You stake your efficiency on the perfection of details. In
the German life, for instance, nothing is too small to be thought
unmeriting of attention."

I told him the watchword of the old chess champion Steinitz, "I do not
vant to vin a pawn; it is enough if I only veakens a pawn."

"You play chess?" said he, laughing. "That's it exactly. He did not
care to sacrifice pieces; he was entirely on the defensive in his
chess, eh? And in life he would be the same, hoarding his pennies and
his dollars, and economising and saving. That's just how the American
is different. He doesn't mind taking great risks; he is playing
the large game, sacrificing small things, hurrying on, building,
destroying, building again, conquering, dreaming. We are always selling
out and re-investing. You are concentrating on yourselves as you are;
we want to leave our old bodies and conditions behind and jump to a new
humanity. If an American youth could inherit the whole world he would
not care to improve it if he saw a chance of selling it to some one
and getting something better."

"The spirit of business," I suggested.

"Call it what you will."

"But," said I, "does not this merely result in a town full of a
hustling, mannerless crowd; trolley-cars dashing along at life-careless
speed; a nation at work with loosely constructed machinery; callous
indifference on the part of the living towards those whom they kill in
their rush to the goal?"

My new acquaintance looked at me in a way that seemed to say
"You--Britisher." He was a great enthusiast for his country, and I had
been sent to him by friends in London who wanted me to get to the heart
of America, and not simply have my teeth set on edge by the bitter rind.

"You think the end will justify the proceedings?" I added.

"Oh yes," he said. "You know we've only been fifty years on this job;
there's nothing in modern America more than fifty years old. Think of
what we've done in the time--clearing, building, engineering; think of
the bridges we've built, the harbours, the canals, the great factories,
the schools. We've been taxed to the last limit of physical strength,
and only to put down the pavement and the gas-pipes so to speak, the
things you found ready made for you when you were born, but which we
had to lay on the prairie. We are only now beginning to look round and
survey the foundations of civilisation. Still most of us are hurrying
on, but the end will be worth the trials by the way; we


     "Are whirling from heaven to heaven
     And less will be lost than won."


"But is it not a miserable, heartless struggle for the individual?"
said I. "For instance, to judge by the story of _The Jungle_ I should
gather that the lot of a Russian family come fresh to Chicago was
terrible."

"Oh, you mustn't take Sinclair literally. He is a Socialist who wants
to show that society, as it is at present constituted, is so bad that
there is no hope except in revolution. There is heartbreak often,
but the struggle is not heartless. It is amazingly full of hope. If
you go into the worst of our slums you'll find the people hopeful,
even in extremity. I've been across to London, and I never saw such
hopeless-looking people as those who live in your East Ham and West Ham
and Poplar and the rest of them."

"There is hope with us too," I protested. "The people in our slums are
very rebellious, they look forward to the dictatorship of Will Thorne
or George Lansbury."

"Ah well," my friend assented, "that's your kind of
hope--rebelliousness, hatred of the splendid and safe machine. That's
just it. We haven't your rebelliousness and quarrelsomeness. The
new-come immigrant is always quarrelling with his neighbours. It is
only after a while that America softens him and enriches his heart. The
vastness of America, the abundance of its riches, is infectious; it
makes the heart larger. The immigrant feels he has room, life is born
in him."

"But," said I, "the great machine is here as in Europe. A man is known
by his job here just as much as with us, isn't he? He is labelled and
known, he fills a fixed place and has a definite rotation. Every man
says to him 'I see what you are, I know what you are; you are just what
I see and no more.' His neighbour takes him for granted thus. Out of
that horrible taking-for-granted springs rebelliousness and hate of the
great machine. You must be as rebellious as we are."

"No, no." My companion wouldn't have it. "We don't look at people that
way in America. But you're right about looks. It's looks that make
people hate. It's eyes that make them curse and swear and hate. Every
day hundreds and thousands of eyes look at one. I think eyes have power
to create. If thousands and thousands of people pass by a man and look
at him with their eyes they almost change him into what they see. If
in the course of years millions of eyes look at an individual and see
in him just some little bolt in a great machine, then his tender human
heart wants to turn into iron. The ego of that man has a forlorn and
terrible battle to fight. He thinks he is fighting himself; he is
really fighting the millions of creative eyes who by faith are changing
flesh and blood into soulless machinery."

"And here?" I queried.

He laughed a moment, and then said seriously, "Here it is different.
Here we are playing large. Oh, the dwarfing power, the power to make
you mean, that the millions of eyes possess in a country that is
playing the small game! They make you feel mean and little, and then
you become mean. They kill your heart. Your dead little heart withdraws
the human films and the tenderness and imaginativeness from your eyes,
and you also begin to look out narrowly, dwarfingly, compellingly. You
eye the people in the streets, in the cars, in the office, and they
can't help becoming what you are."

"But some escape," said I.

"Yes, some go and smash windows and get sent to gaol, some become
tramps, and some come to America. In Giant Despair's dungeon poor
Christian exclaims, 'What a fool I am to remain here when I have in my
heart a key which I am persuaded will unlock any of the doors of this
castle. Strange that it has only now occurred to me that all I need
to do is to lift my hand and open the door and go away.' Then poor
Christian books a passage to America or Australia. He starts for the
New World; and the moment he puts his foot on the vessel he begins to
outgrow. He was his very smallest and meanest under the pressure of
the Old World; when the pressure is removed he begins to expand. He is
free. He is on his own. He is sailing to God as himself. The exception
has beaten the rule. Now I hold as a personal belief that we are all
exceptions, that we take our stand before God as tender human creatures
of His, each unique in itself. The emigrant on the boat has the
delicious feelings of convalescence, of getting to be himself again. He
basks in the sun of freedom. The sun itself seems like the all-merciful
Father, the Good Shepherd who cares for each one and knows each by
name, leading him out to an earthly paradise."

"That paradise is America, eh?" said I rather mockingly, and then I
paused and added, "But America ought to be really a paradise; it is
pathetic to think of the difference between America as the Russian
thinks it to be and America as it is. It is a shame that your trusts
and tariffs and corrupt police should have made America a worse place
to live in than the Old World. I know it is the land of opportunity,
opportunity to become rich, to get on, to be famous; but for the poor
immigrant it is rather the land of opportunism, a land where he himself
is the opportunity, which not he but other people have the chance to
seize."

My friend was scandalised. "I think it gives every one an
opportunity," said he, "even the drunkard and the thief and the
embezzler whom you so incharitably hand over to us. You know the
saying, 'It takes an ocean to receive a muddy stream without
defilement.' The ocean of American life cleanses many a muddy stream of
the Old World."

"Still," said I, "not to abandon oneself utterly to ideas, is it not
true that Pittsburg actually destroys thousands of Slav immigrants
yearly? It utterly destroys them. They have no children who come
to anything--they are just wiped out. I gather so much from your
Government survey of Pittsburg."

"Well," said he, "that survey is just part of the New America, of
the new national conscience. Terrible things do happen, witness the
enormous white-slave traffic. You have just come to us at the right
moment to see the initiation of sweeping changes. President Wilson is
like your David Lloyd George, only he has more power, because he has
more people at his back. We are just beginning a great progressive era.
On the other hand, America is not the place of the weak. That's why we
send so many back home from Ellis Island. We've got something else to
do than try and put Humpty Dumpty up on the wall again. When the weaker
get past Ellis Island into our fierce national life they are bound to
go to the wall. We haven't time even to be sorry, and if questioned we
can only answer that we believe the sacrifice will be justified."

I recall to my mind the startling objection of Ivan Karamazof in the
greatest of Russian novels. "When God's providence is fulfilled we
shall understand all things; we shall see how the pain and death of,
for instance, a little child could be necessary. I understand of course
what an upheaval of the universe it will be when everything in heaven
and earth blends in one hymn of praise, and everything that lives
and has lived cries aloud, 'Thou art just, O Lord, for Thy ways are
revealed'; but to my mind the pain of one little child were too high a
price to pay." Ivan Karamazof would certainly have renounced the grand
future of America bought by the exploitation of thousands of weak and
helpless ones.

Still I suppose the past must take care of itself, and the America
which stands to-day on the threshold of a new era has more thought and
tenderness for the victims of its commercial progress. It is making up
its mind to save the foreign women and their little babies. For the
rest, America plays large, as my friend said. There is a spaciousness
with her, there is contrast, there is life and death, virtue and sin,
things to laugh over and things to cry over. The little baby buds are
taken away and branches are lopped, but the mustard grows a great tree.

There is a chance in America, a chance that you may be a victim, but
also a chance that you may be in at the mating of the King.

       *       *       *       *       *       *       *

Several months later, when I had tramped some six hundred American
miles, and talked to all manner of persons, I realised that America
was superlatively a place of hope. I had been continually asking
myself, "What _is_ America? What _is_ this new nation? How are they
different from us at home in England?" And one morning, sitting under
a bush in Indiana, the answer came to me and I wrote it down. They are
fundamentally people who have crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and we are
stay-at-homes. They are adventurous, hopeful people. They are people
who have thrown themselves on the mercy of God and Nature.

We live in a tradition; they live in an expectation. We are remedying
the old state; they are building the new. We are loyal to the ideas of
our predecessors, they are agape to divine the ideas of generations yet
to come.

It is possible to come to Britain and see what Britain is, but if you
go to America the utmost you can see is what America is becoming. And
when you see the Briton you see a man steadfast at some post of duty,
but the American is something to-day but God-knows-what to-morrow. Our
noblest epitaph is "He knew his job"; theirs, "He sacrificed himself to
a cause."

Observe, "that state of life unto which it shall please God to call
me," puts the Briton in a static order of things. He is in his little
shop, or at the forge, or in the coal yard. Within his sight is the
Norman tower of the village church. He is known to the priest by his
name and his job. He is part of the priests' cure of souls. His life
is functionised at the village altar and not at the far shrines of
ambition. He belongs to the peasant world. Even though he is English he
is as the Russian, "one of God's faithful slaves."

Thousands of English, Scotch, and Irish, simple souls, say their
prayers to God each night, not because they are pillars of a chapel
or have lately been "saved," but because they have been brought up in
that way of life and in that relation to God. They pray God sometimes
in anguish that they may be helped _to do their duty_. They say the
Lord's Prayer, not as a patter, but with the stark simplicity which you
associate with the grey wall of the old church.

These village folk of ours are like old trees. Close your eyes to the
visible and open them to the invisible world, and you see the young
man of to-day as the stem, his father as the branch, his grandfather
the greater branch. You see in the shadow rising out of the earth the
ancient trunk. You think of many people, and yet it is not father and
grandfather, and grandfather and great-grandfather, and so on, but
one tree, the name of which is the young man leafing in the world
of to-day. That man is no shoot, no seedling, he has behind him the
consciousness of the vast umbrageous oak. When he says "Our Father,
which art in heaven," the voice comes out of the depths of the earth,
and it comes from father and grandfather, and from greybeard after
greybeard standing behind one another's shoulders, innumerably.

The place to which it shall please God to call you is not a definite
locality in the United States of America; the dream of wealth is
dreamed inside each cottage door. Each man is intent on getting on, on
realising something new. He is revolving in his mind ways of doing more
business; of doing what he has more quickly, more economically; ways of
"boosting," ways of buying. Our customers _buy from_ us: his customers
_trade with_ him--they enter into harmony with him. Store-keepers and
customers sing together like gnats over the oak trees; they make things
hum. There is a feeling that whether buying or selling you are getting
forward.

The British, however, put a great question-mark in front of this
American life. Do those who are striving know what they want in the end
of ends? Do those toiling in the wood know what is on the other side?

The late Price Collier remarked that the German thinks he has done
something when he has an idea and the Frenchman when he has made an
epigram; it may be inferred that the American thinks he has done
something when he has made his pile. The ultimate earthly prize for
"boosting" and bargaining is a vulgar solatium,--a big house, an
abundant person, a few gold rings, an adorned wife, a high-power
touring car. Out in those wider spaces where lagging and outdistanced
competitors are not taken into your counsel you still handle business.
But now it is in "graft" that you deal. You are engineering trusts, and
cornering commodities, you develop political "pull," you own saloons,
and have ledgers full of the bought votes of Italians and Slavs.

You are great ... sitting at the steering-wheel of this great
ramshackle political and commercial machine, your coat off and your
immaculate lawn sleeves tucked up above your elbows, you own to
wolfish-eyed reporters that you have an enormous appetite for work and
zest for life.

And yet....

What is the crown? You die in the midst of it. There is no goal, no
priceless treasure that even in the death-struggle your hands grasp
after.

Some of your children are going in for a life of pleasure. They go to
be the envy of waiters and hotel-porters and all people waiting about
for tips, but often to be the laughing-stock of the cultured. One of
your sweet but simple-souled daughters is going to marry a broken-down
English peer. He will not marry her for less than a million dollars.
In the old store where you began business, gossiping over bacon and
flour, you would have looked rather blank if some one had said that a
foreigner would consent to marry your daughter only on the payment of
an indemnity.

"Well," said my road-companion to me under a bush in Indiana, "the game
goes to pass the time. The world is a prison-house, and a good game
has been invented, commerce, and it saves us from ennui, that is the
philosophy of it all. Scores of years pass like an hour over cards.
Those who win are most interested and take least stock of the time--and
they have invented happiness."

But I cannot believe that the American destiny leads up a cul-de-sac.
We have been following out a cross-road. There is a high road somewhere
that leads onward.

There are two sorts of immigrant, one that makes his pile and returns
to Europe, the other who thinks America a desirable place to settle in.
The second class is vastly more numerous than the first, for faith in
American life is even greater than faith in America's wealth.

Quite apart from the opportunities for vulgar success America has
wonderful promise. It can offer to the newcomer colonist a share in a
great enterprise. It is quite clear to the sympathetic observer that
something is afoot in the land which in Great Britain seems to be
best known by police scandals, ugly dances, sentimental novels, and
boastful, purse-conscious travellers.

The dream of Progress by which Westerners live is going to be carried
forward to some realisation in America. There is a great band of
workers united in the idea of making America the most pleasant and
happy place to live in that the world has ever known. I refer to those
working with such Americans as J. Cotton Dana, the fervent librarian;
Mr. Fred Howe, who is visualising the cities of the future; the
President of the City College, who has such regard not only for the
cultural but for the physical well-being of young men; Jane Addams, who
with such precision is diagnosing social evils; President Wilson, who
promises to uproot the tree of corruption; to mention only the chief
of those with whom I was brought in contact in my first experience of
America.

The political struggles of America form truly a sad spectacle, but by a
thousand non-political signs one is aware that there is a real passion
in the breast of the individual.

Going through the public gardens at Newark I see written up: "Citizens,
this park is yours. It was planted for you, that the beauty of its
flowers and the tender greenery of tree and lawn might refresh you. You
will therefore take care of it...."

Going through Albany I find it placarded: "Dirt is the origin of sin;
get rid of dirt, and other evils will go with it," and the whole
city is having a clean-up week, all the school children formed into
anti-dirt regiments making big bonfires of rubbish and burying the
tomato-cans and rusty iron.

Every city in America has been stirring itself to get clean. Even in a
remote little place like Clarion, Pa., I read on every lamp-post: "Let
your slogan be 'Do it for Home, Sweet Home'--clean up!" and again in
another place, "Develop your social conscience; you've got one, make
the country beautiful." In New York I have handed me the following
prayer, which has seemed to me like the breath of the new passion:


     We pray for our sisters who are leaving the ancient shelter of
     the home to earn their wage in the store and shop amid the press
     of modern life. Grant them strength of body to bear the strain
     of unremitting toil, and may no present pressure unfit them for
     the holy duties of home and motherhood which the future may lay
     upon them. Give them grace to cherish under the new surroundings
     the old sweetness and gentleness of womanhood, and in the rough
     mingling of life to keep the purity of their hearts and lives
     untarnished. Save them from the terrors of utter want. Teach them
     to stand by their sisters loyally, that by united action they
     may better their common lot. And to us all grant wisdom and firm
     determination that we may not suffer the women of our nation to be
     drained of strength and hope for the enrichment of a few, lest our
     homes grow poor in the wifely sweetness and motherly love which
     have been the saving strength and glory of our country. If it must
     be so that our women toil like men, help us still to reverence in
     them the mothers of the future. If they yearn for love and the
     sovereign freedom of their own home, give them in due time the
     fulfilment of their sweet desires. By Mary the beloved, who bore
     the world's redemption in her bosom; by the memory of our own dear
     mothers who kissed our souls awake; by the little daughters who
     must soon go out into that world which we are now fashioning for
     others, we pray that we may deal aright by all women.


Men are praying for women, and women are working for themselves.
Commercial rapacity is tempered by women's tears, and the tender
stories of the shop-girl that O. Henry wrote are more read to-day than
they were in the author's lifetime. The newspapers are all agog with
the "vice-probes," scandals, questions of eugenics, the menace of
organised capital, the woman's movement. And they are not so because
vice is more prolific than in Europe, or the race more inclined to
fail, or the working men and working women more tyrannised over. They
are so because this generation wishes to realise something of the New
Jerusalem in its own lifetime. It may be only a foolish dream, but it
provides the present atmosphere of America. It discounts the despair
which on the one hand prudery and on the other rag-time dancing
invite. It discounts the commercial and mechanical obsession of the
people. It discounts the wearisome shouting of the cynic who has money
in his pocket, and makes America a place in which it is still possible
for the simple immigrant to put his trust. In the light of this
passion, and never forgetful of it, I view all that comes to my notice
in America of to-day.



IV

INEFFACEABLE MEMORIES OF NEW YORK


First, the flood of the homeward tide at six-thirty in the evening, the
thousands and tens of thousands of smartly dressed shop-girls hurrying
and flocking from the lighted West to the shadowy East--their bright,
hopeful, almost expectant features, their vivacity and energy even at
the end of the long day. I felt the contrast with the London crowd,
which is so much gloomier and wearier as it throngs into our Great
Eastern terminus of Liverpool Street. New York has a stronger class of
girl than London. Our shop-girls are London-bred, but your Sadie and
Dulcie are the children of foreigners; they have peasant blood in them
and immigrant hope. They have a zest for the life that New York can
offer them after shop-hours.

The average wage of the American shop-girl is stated to be seven
dollars (twenty-eight shillings) per week; the average wage in London
is about ten shillings, or two and a half dollars.[1] I suppose that
is another reason why our New York sisters are more cheerful. Despite
the high price of food in New York there must be a comparatively broad
margin left to the American girl to do what she likes with. The cult of
the poor little girl of the Department Store is perhaps only a cult.
For there are many women in New York more exploited than she. When the
shop-girl sells herself to rich men for marriage or otherwise she does
so because she has been infected by the craze for finery and wealth, is
energetic and vivacious, and is morally undermined. It is not because
she is worn out and ill-paid. If New York is evil it is not because
New York is a failure. The city is prosperous and evil as well. The
freshness and health and vigour of the rank and file of New York were
amazing to one familiar with the drab and dreary procession of workers
filing into the city of London at eight in the morning and away from it
at the same hour in the evening.


Then the Grand Central Station, with its vast high hall of marble,
surmounted by a blue-green ceiling which, aping heaven itself, is
fretted and perforated and painted to represent the clear night sky.
That starry roof astonished me. It reminded me of a story I heard of G.
K. Chesterton, that he lay in bed on a Sunday morning and with a crayon
mounted on a long handle drew pictures on the white ceiling. It was
like some dream of Chesterton's realised.

For a long time I looked at the painted roof and picked out my
beloved stars and constellations,--the planets under which I like to
sleep,--and then I thought, "Strange, that out in the glowing Broadway,
not far away, the real stars are hidden from the gaze of New York by
flashing and twinkling and changing sky-signs in manifold colour and
allurement. Every night the dancing-girl is dancing in the sky, and
the hand pours out the yellow beer into the foaming glass which, like
the vision of the Grail, appears but to vanish; every night the steeds
prance with the Greek chariot, the athletes box, the kitten plays with
the reel. These are the real stars and constellations of Broadway, for
Charles's Wain is never seen, neither Orion nor the chair of Cassiopeia
nor the Seven Sisters. To see them you must come in here, into the
Grand Central Station."

But apart from this paradox, what a station this is--a great silent
temple, a place wherein to come to meditate and to pray. It is more
beautiful than any of the churches of America. How much more beautiful
than the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, for instance. That cathedral
will be the largest church in the world when it is finished, and,
vanity of vanities, how much more secular it is than the station! It is
almost conceivable that after some revolution in the future, New York
might change its mind and go to worship at the Grand Central Station
and run its trains into the Cathedral of St. John.

Americans are proud of saying that the Woolworth Building, the Grand
Central Station, the Pennsylvania Railway Station, and the New York
Central Library show the New York of the future. Almost everything else
will be pulled down and built to match these. They are new buildings,
they are the soul of the New America finding expression. They are
temples of a new religion. Americans pray more and aspire more to God
in these than they do in their churches.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

There stands out in my memory the East Side, and the slums which I
walked night after night in quest of some idea, some redeeming feature,
something that would explain them to me. I walked almost at random,
taking ever the first turning to the left, the first to the right, and
the first to the left again, coming ever and anon to the river and the
harbour, and having to turn and change.

The East Side is more spectacular than the East End of London. The
houses are so high, and there is so much more crowding, that you get
into ten streets of New York what we get into a hundred streets. The
New York slums are slums at the intensest. The buildings, great frames
of rags and dirt, hang over the busy street below, and are wildly alive
from base to summit. All day long the bedding hangs out at the windows
or on the iron fire-escapes attached to the houses. Women are shouting
and children are crying on the extraordinary stairs which lead from
room to room and story to story in the vast honeycomb of dens. On the
side-walk is a rough crowd speaking all tongues. The toy doors of the
saloons swing to and fro, simple couples sit on high stools in the
soda-bars and suck various kinds of "dope." Lithuanian and Polish boys
are rushing after one another with toy pistols, the girls are going
round and round the barber's pole, singing and playing, with hands
joined. The stores are crowded, and notices tell the outsider that he
can buy two quarts of Grade B milk for eleven cents, or ten State eggs
for twenty-five cents. You come to streets where all the bakers' shops
are "panneterias," and you know you are among the Italians. One Hundred
and Thirteenth Street as it goes down from Second Avenue to First
Avenue is full of Greeks and Italians, and is extraordinarily dark and
wild; men of murderous aspect are prowling about, there is howling
across the street from tenement to tenement. Dark, plump women stand at
doorways and stare at you, and occasionally a negress in finery trapes
past.

You come to little Italian theatres where the price of admission is
only five cents, and find them crammed with families, so that you
cannot hear _Rigoletto_ for the squalling of the babies. There are mean
cinema houses where you see only worn-out and spoiled films giving
broken and incoherent stories. And all the while the lights and
shadows play, the Greek hawker of confectionery shouts:

"Soh-dah!"

"Can-dee!"

You continue your wanderings and you strike a nigger district.
Negresses and their beaux are flirting in corners and on doorsteps.
Darky boys and girls are skirling in the roadway. Smartly dressed young
men, carrying canes, come giggling and pushing one another on the
pavement, crying out music-hall catches--"Who was you with last night?"
and the like.

You know the habitat of the Jew by the abundance of junk-shops,
old-clothes shops, and offices of counsellors-at-law. It seems the
Jews are very litigious, and even the poorest families go to law for
their rights. You find windows full of boxing-gloves, for the Jews are
great boxers in America. You find stalls and push-carts without end.
And every now and then rubbish comes sailing down from a window up
above. That is one of the surest signs of the Jews being installed--the
pitching of cabbage-leaves and fish-bones and sausage-parings from
upper windows.

What a sight was Delancey Street, with its five lines of naphtha-lit
stalls, its array of tubs of fish and heaps of cranberries, its
pavements slippery with scales, the air heavy with the odour of fish!

On one of the first of my nights out in the New York streets I came on
a most wonderful sight. After prolonging a journey that started in
the centre of the city I found myself suddenly plunging downward among
dark and wretched streets. I was following out my zigzag plan, and came
at last to a cul-de-sac. This was at the end of East Ninth Street. It
was very dark and forbidding; there were no shops, only warehouses and
yards. There were no people. I expected to find a new turning to the
left, and was rather fearsome of taking it even should I find it. But
at length I saw I had come to the East River. At the end of the street
the water lapped against a wooden landing-stage, and there I saw a
picture of wonder and mystery.

High over the glimmering water stood Brooklyn Bridge, with its long
array of blazing electric torches and its procession of scores of
little car-lights trickling past. The bridge hung from the high heaven
by dark shadows. It was the brightest ornament of the night. I sat on
an overturned barrow and looked out. Up to me and past me came stalking
majestic ferry-boats, all lights and white or shadowy faces. Far away
on the river lay anchored boats with red and green lights, and beyond
all were the black silhouettes of the building and shipping on Long
Island Shore.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

It was interesting to me to participate in the Russian Easter in New
York, having lived in the Protestant and Roman Catholic Easters a whole
month before on the emigrant ship on the day we reached New York. I
came to the diminutive Russian cathedral in East Ninety-Fifth Street
on Easter Eve at midnight. I had been at a fancy-dress party in the
evening, and as fortune would have it, had gone in Russian attire; that
is, in a blue blouse like a Moscow workman. What was my astonishment to
find myself the only person so dressed in the great throng of Russians
surging in and out of the cathedral and the side street where the
overflow of them talked and chattered. They were all in bowler hats,
and wore collars and ties and American coats and waistcoats. They even
looked askance at me for coming in a blouse; they thought I might be a
Jew or a German, or a foolish spy trying to gain confidences.

I shall never forget the inside of the cathedral at one in the morning,
the vociferous singing, the beshawled peasant girls, the tear-stained
faces. Priest after priest came forward and praised the Orthodox Church
and the Russian people, and appealed to the worshippers to remember
that all over the Russian world the same service was being held, not
only in the great cathedrals and monasteries, but in the village
churches, in the far-away forest settlements, at the shrines in lonely
Arctic islands, in the Siberian wildernesses, on the Urals, in the
fastnesses of the Caucasus, on the Asian deserts, in Jerusalem itself.
It was pathetic to hear the priests exhort these young men and women
to remain Russians--they were all young, and they all or nearly all
looked to America as their new home. On all ordinary occasions they
longed to be Americans and to be called Americans; but this night a
flood of feeling engulfed them, and in the New York night they set sail
and looked hungrily to the East whence they came. They held tapers.
They had tenderly brought their cakes, their chickens and joints of
pork, to be sprinkled with holy water and blessed by the priest for
their Easter _breakfast_. It was sad to surmise how few had really
fasted through Lent, and yet to see how they clung to departing
tradition.

Coming out of the cathedral we each received a verbose revolutionary
circular printed in the Russian tongue: "Keep holy the First of May!
Hail to the war of the Classes! Hurrah for Socialism! Workmen of all
classes, combine!"--and so on. In Russia a person distributing such
circulars would be rushed off to gaol at once. In New York it is
different, and "influences" of all kinds are in full blast. I looked
over the shoulders of many groups outside the cathedral on Easter Day
and found them reading those New York rags, which are conceived in
ignorance and dedicated to anarchism. It seems the Russian who comes
to New York is at once grabbed by the existent Social-Democratic
organisations, and though he go to church still, he begins to be
more and more attached to revolutionism. It is strange that these
organisations are directed, not against the Tsar and the officialdom
of Russia, but against the Government of the United States and the
commercial machine. There is no question of America being a refuge for
the persecuted Russian. The latter is assured at once that America is
a place of even worse tyranny than the land he has come from. But if
he does not take other people's word he soon comes to that conclusion
on his own account. For he finds himself and his brothers working like
slaves and drinking themselves to death through sheer boredom, and he
finds his sisters in the "sweat-shops" of the garment-workers, or loses
them in houses of evil.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

I shall long remember the Night Court on Sixth Avenue, and several
occasions when I entered there after midnight and found the same
shrewd, tireless Irish judge nonchalantly fining and sentencing
negresses and white girls found in the streets under suspicious
circumstances. Many a poor Russian girl was brought forward, and called
upon to defend herself against the allegations of the soulless spies
and secret agents of the American Police. I listened to their sobs and
cries, their protests of innocence, their promises of repentance, till
I was ready to rise in Court and rave aloud and shriek, and be pounced
upon by the great fat pompous usher who represses even the expression
on your features. "Why," I wanted to cry aloud, "it is America that
ought to be tried, and not these innocent victims of America--they are
the evidence of America's guilt and not the committers of her crimes!"
But I was fixed in silence, like the reporters doing their jobs in the
front bench, and the unmoved, hard-faced attendants and police by whom
the order of the Court was kept.

Then, not far along the same road in which the Night Court stands,
I came one evening into a wax-work show of venereal disease. It was
quite by chance I went in, for there was nothing outside to indicate
what was within. Only the spirit of adventure, which prompted me to
go in and look round wherever I saw an open door, betrayed me to
this chamber of horrors. There I saw, in pink and white and red, the
human body in the loathsome inflammation and corruption of the city's
disease. Chief of all I remember the queen of the establishment, a
hypnotic-seeming corpse of wax, lying full-length in a shroud in a
glass case. Just enough of the linen was held aside to show or suggest
the terrible cause of her decease. The show was no more than a doctor's
advertisement, and it was open in the name of science, but it was an
unforgettable vision of death at the heart of this great city pulsating
with life.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

Then the splendour of Broadway, the great White Way, "calling moths
from leagues, from hundreds of leagues," as O. Henry wrote. What a city
of enchantment and wonder New York must seem to the traveller from some
dreary Russian or Siberian town, if seen aright. It is a thrilling
spectacle. Now that I have looked at it I say to myself, "Fancy any man
having lived and died in this era without having seen it!" Five hundred
years ago the island was dark and empty, with the serene stars shining
over it; but now the creatures of the earth have found it and built
this city on it, lit by a myriad lights. Thousands of years hence it
will be dark again belike, and empty, and uninhabited, and once more
the serene stars will shine over the island.

[Illustration: APPLE ORCHARDS IN BLOSSOM ON THE SPURS OF THE CATSKILLS.]

FOOTNOTE:

[1] In Russia the average wage of the shop-girl is 12 roubles a month
(_i.e._, 1½ dollars, or 6s. a week), but then she is a humble creature
and lives simply.



V

THE AMERICAN ROAD


Out in the country was a different America. The maples were all red,
the first blush of the dawn of summer. In the gardens the ficacia was
shooting her yellow arrows, in the woods the American dogwood tree was
covered with white blossoms like thousands of little dolls' nightcaps.
Down at Caldwell, New Jersey, I picked many violets and anemones--large
blue fragrant violets. The bride's veil was in lovely wisps and armfuls
of white. The unfolding oak turned all rose, like the peach tree in
bloom. Each morning when I awakened and went out into the woods I found
something new had happened overnight,--thus I discovered the sycamore
in leaf, fringing and fanning, and then the veils which the naked birch
trees were wearing. The birches began to look like maidens doing their
hair. The fern fronds and azalea buds opened their hands. The chestnut
tree lit up her many candles. The shaggy hickory, the tree giant whose
bark hangs in rags and clots, had looked quite dead, but with the
coming of May it was seen to be awaking tenderly. In the glades the
little columbines put on their pink bonnets. Only the pines and cedars
were dark and changeless, as if grown old in sin beside the tender
innocence of the birches.

It is very pleasant living in the half-country--living, that is,
in the outer suburbs of the great American city or in the ordinary
suburbs of the small city. New York has very little corresponding to
our Walthamstow, Enfield, Catford, Ilford, Camberwell, and all those
dreary congested parishes that lie eight to ten miles from the centre
of London. The American suburbs are garden cities without being called
so. Each house is detached from its neighbour, there is a stretch of
greenest lawn in front of it, there is a verandah on which are fixed
hammocks and porch-swings, there are flower-beds, blossoming shrubs,
the shade of maples and cherry trees. There are no railings or fences,
and the people on the verandah look down their lawn to the road and
take stock of all the people passing to and fro.

Working men and women live a long way out, and are content to spend an
hour or an hour and a half a day in trains and cars if only to be quite
free of the city when work is over.

Twelve miles of garden city is very wearisome to the pedestrian; but he
tramps them gaily when he remembers that the country is ahead, and that
he has not simply to retrace his footsteps to a town-dwelling which for
the time being he calls home.

I set off for Chicago in the beginning of May--not in a Pullman car,
but on my own feet; for in order to understand America it is necessary
to go to America, and the only way she can be graciously approached
is humbly, on one's feet. I travelled just in the same way as I have
done the last four years in Russia--viz. with a knapsack on my back, a
staff in my hand, and a stout pair of boots on my feet. I carried my
pot, I had matches, and I reckoned to buy my own provisions as I went
along, and to cook what was necessary over my own fire by the side of
the road. At night I proposed to sleep at farmhouses in cold weather,
and under the stars when it was warm. I was ready in mind and body for
whatever might happen to me. If the farmers proved to be inhospitable,
and would not take me in on cold or rainy nights, I would quite
cheerfully tramp on till I came to a hotel, or a barn, or a cave, or
a bridge, or any place where man, the wanderer, could reasonably find
shelter from the elements.

I took the road with great spirits. There is something unusually
invigorating in the American air. It is marvellously healthy and
strength-giving, this virginal land. Every tree and shrub seems to
have a full grasp of life, and outbreathes a robust joy. It is as if
the earth itself had greater supplies of unexhausted strength than
Europe has--as if, indeed, it were a newer world, and had spent less of
the primeval potencies and energies bequeathed to this planet at her
birth. How different from tranquil and melancholy Russia!

America is more spacious in New York State than in New York City. The
landscape is so broad that could Atlas have held it up, you feel he
must have had fine arms. Your eyes, but lately imprisoned so closely
by unscalable sky-scrapers, run wild in freedom to traverse the long
valleys and forested ridges, waking the imagination to realise the
country of the Indians. There is a vast sky over you. The men and women
on the road have time to talk to you, and the farmer ambling along in
his buggy is interested to give you a lift and ask after your life and
your fortunes; and when he puts you down, and you thank him, he answers
in an old-fashioned way:

"You're welcome; hand on my heart."

In the city no one has a word to say to you, but in the country every
one is curious. It is more neighbourly to be curious and to ask
questions. I rejoiced in every scrap of talk, even in such triviality
as my chat with Otto Friedrichs, a workman, who hailed me at East Berne.

"Are you an Amarikan?"

"No."

"Sprechen Sie deutsch, mein Herr?"

"No; I'm English."

"That bag on your back is made in Germany."

"Very likely," said I; "I bought it in London."

"You running avay in case dere should be ze war, eh?"

"Well, it would be safer here, even for you."

"What you think of our Kaiser?"

"Fine man," said I.

"Some say ze Kaiser is too English to make ze war. But do you know wat
I read in ze newspaper? Der Kaiser cut his hand by accident, zen he
hold up his finger--so, viz ze blood on it, and he say, 'Dat is my las'
blood of English tropp,' and he ... the blood away."

Not knowing the word for "flicked" Otto told me in dumb show with his
fingers.

"Last drop of English blood, eh?" said I.

"Yes."

"So he's quite German now, and ready to fight."

As I sat at the side of the road every passer-by was interested in my
fire and my pot. They pitied me when they saw me trudging along the
road, and when I told them I was tramping to Chicago they commonly
exclaimed:

"Gee! I wouldn't do that for ten thousand dollars."

But when they saw me cooking my meals they stopped and looked at
me wistfully--that was their weakness; a hankering, not after the
wilderness, but for the manna there. They addressed to me such
non-pertinent remarks as:

"So that's how you fix it."

"I say, you'll get burned up."

"Are yer making yer coffee?"

There was a great doubt as to my business, as the following
interlocutions will suggest. In Russia I should be asked:

"Where are you going?"

"To Kieff," I might answer.

"To pray," the Russian would conclude. But in America I was most
commonly taken to be a pedlar.

"Whar you going?"

"Chicago," I answered.

"Peddling?"

It astonished me to be taken for a pedlar. But I was almost as
commonly taken to be walking for a wager. I was walking under certain
conditions. I must not take a lift. I must keep up thirty miles a day.
I was walking to Chicago on a bet. Some one had betted some one else
I wouldn't do it in a certain time. I took only a dollar in my pocket
and was supporting myself by my work. I lectured in schoolhouses,
mended spades, would lend a hand in the hayfield. Or I was walking to
advertise a certain sort of boot. Or I was walking on a certain sort
of diet to advertise somebody's patent food. I was repairer of village
telephones. I was hawking toothpicks, which I very cunningly made in my
fire at the side of the road. I was a tramping juggler, and would give
a show in the town next night.

Every one thought I accomplished a prodigious number of miles a day. At
least a hundred times I was called upon to state what was my average
"hike" for the day. Some were sympathetic and explained that they would
like to do the same, to camp out, it was the only way to see America. A
girl in a baker's shop told me she had long wanted to tramp to Chicago
and sleep out every night, but could get no friend to accompany her.
Jews slapped me on the back and told me I was doing fine. Especially
I remember a young man who walked by my side through the streets of
Wilkes Barre. He told me his average per day had been forty-five miles.

"How long did you keep that up?" I asked.

"A week, we went to Washington."

"That's going some," said I.

"How far do you usually go?" asked he.

"Oh, five or six miles when the weather's fine," said I.

"Yer kiddin us!"

I was told that I wasn't the only person on the road. The great Weston
was behind me, patriarch of "hikers," aged seventy-five. He wore ice
under his hat and was walking from New York to St. Paul at twenty-five
miles a day, and was accompanied by an automobile full of liquid food.
Far ahead of me was a woman in high-heeled boots tramping from New
York to San Francisco. She carried only a small handbag, walked with
incredible rapidity, and was proving for newspaper that it was just as
easy to walk in Vienna boots as in any other. Several weeks before me a
cripple had passed, wheeling a wheelbarrow full of picture-post-cards
of himself, which he sold at a nickel each, thereby supporting himself.
He was going from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, but had five years to do
it in.

For all and sundry upon the road I had a ready smile and a greeting;
almost every one replied to me at least as heartily, and many were
ready to talk at length. Some, however, to whom I gave greeting either
took me for a disreputable tramp or felt themselves too important in
the sight of the Lord. When I said, "How d'ye do?" or "Good morning"
they simply stared at me as if I were a cow that had mooed. In my whole
journey I encountered no hostility whatever. Only once or twice I would
hear a woman in a car say truculently to her husband, "There goes Weary
Willie."

I had pleasant encounters innumerable, and many a talk with children.
I felt that as I was in search for the emerging American, the American
of to-morrow and the day after, I ought to take the children I met
rather seriously. It was surprising to me that the grown-ups upon the
road said to me always, "How-do?" but the children said, "Hullo." The
children always spoke as if they had met me before, or as if they were
dying for me to stop and talk to them and tell them all about the road,
and who I was and what I was doing.

[Illustration: ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL: MY BREAKFAST PARTY.]

At a little place called Clarkville I had a breakfast party. Perhaps I
had better begin at the beginning. It had been a hard frosty night, and
I slept in a barn on two planks beside an old rusty reaping-machine. At
five in the morning I made my first fire of the day, and I shared a pot
of hot tea with a disreputable tramp, who had come to warm himself at
the blaze. By seven o'clock I had walked into the next village, about
five miles on, and I was ready for a second breakfast. My first had
been for the purpose of getting warm; now I was hungry for something to
eat.

It was a beautiful morning; on each side of the road were orchards in
full bloom, the gnarled and angular apple trees were showing themselves
lovely in myriad outbreaking of blossom, and there were thousands of
dandelions in the rank green grass beneath them. The sides of the
roadway and the banks of the village stream were deep in grass and
clover, and every hollow of the world seemed brimming with sunshine.
The sun had been radiant, and he stood over a shoulder of the Catskills
and poured warmth on the whole Western world.

On the bank of the stream I spread out my things, emptying out of my
pack, pots, cups, provisions, books, paper, pen, and ink. I gathered
wisps of last year's weeds, and on a convenient spot started my little
fire. I had just put eggs in to boil when the first of my party
arrived. This was little Charles van Wie and his friend. Charles was
hired to come early to the school-house and light the fire, so that the
school would be warm by the time the teacher and the other boys and
girls arrived. I did not know that I had pitched my camp just between
the village and the school, on the way all the children would have to
come. In America the school-house is always some distance from the
village--this is so that mothers may not come running in and out every
minute, and it is a good arrangement for other reasons. It gives every
little boy and girl a walk, and the chance of having upon occasion
extraordinary adventures.

Charles and his friend set to work to gather sticks for me, and saved
me the trouble of rushing every now and then for fuel to keep up
the fire. Then they hurried away to the school-house, but promised,
excitedly, to come back as soon as they could.

Charles returned and asked me where I was going to, and what was my
name and where I'd come from. I told him, and he took out a pocket-book
and pencil and wrote all down.

Then other boys came and watched me make my coffee. The boys--they were
all under twelve--had bunches of white lilac fixed in their coats. I
sat and ate my food and chattered.

"Is the lilac for your teacher?" I asked of a boy.

"I guess _not_," he replied.

There was a look of disgust on his face.

"Is your teacher strict?"

"Some."

The boys all sat or sprawled on the grass and chaffed one another.

One of them was wearing a badge in his buttonhole, a white enamelled
button, on which was printed very distinctly:


      Every
      D A M
     Booster.


But the DAM, when you looked at it closely, turned out to be "Dayton's
Adding Machines."

"What does 'booster' mean?" I asked.

"A feller that makes a job go," it was explained to me.

After breakfast I took a photograph of them sitting in the grass. They
were much pleased.

"If Skinny Atlas had been here he'd have broke the camera," said one of
them.

An extremely fat boy came into view and approached our party. The
others all cried at him "Skinny Atlas," so I asked:

"Is that a nickname? Is his surname Atlas?"

"No," they replied, "his surname is Higgins. But he's so darned fat
that we call him Skinny Atlas. We have a saying, 'Put a nickel in the
slot and up comes Skinny Atlas.'"

Accordingly all the boys cried out, "Put a nickel in the slot and up
comes Skinny Atlas."

The fat boy, wearing a big straw sun-bonnet, came up and walloped
several little boys. There was some horseplay round the embers of my
fire, but Charles van Wie set an example by giving warning--

"Next person who pushes me I baste."

But it was getting late, and three little girls who had been hovering
shyly at a distance cried out that it was time for the boys to go in.

The school had only fifteen pupils, boys and girls together, and they
were all in one class, and they learned "the three R's," physiology,
and the geography of the county they lived in.

The making of an American citizen is a simple matter in the country.
And little Charles van Wie would make one of the best that are turned
out, I should think.

Later on in the morning I went along to the school-house and peeped in
at the window. There they all were, under the stern sway of a little
school-mistress. But they didn't see me.

How useful to the tramp is the custom of hanging in the school-room
a map of the county or of the state in which the children live.
Often when I have wanted to know where I was I have clambered to the
school-house window and consulted the map on the wall.

Once more to the road. The American high-road differs considerably
from any way in Europe. Every farm-house has a white letter-box on
a post outside its main entrance, and the farmer posts his letter
and hoists a metal flag as a signal to the peripatetic postman that
there are letters to collect. There are no thatched cottages; the
homesteads stand back from the road, they are always of wood, and
have shady verandahs and cosily furnished front rooms. The fields on
each side of the road are protected by six-inch mesh steel netting,
turned out by some great factory in Pittsburg I suppose. There are very
few country guide-posts, and in New York State those there are come
rather as a reward to you after you have guessed right. They are put
up at a distance from the cross-roads. The pointers of the guide-posts
are of tin. The telephone cones are of green glass, the poles are
mostly chestnut, are not straight, and rot quickly. There are many
advertisements by the way, and as you approach a town of importance
they are as thick as fungi. They are not written for tramps to jeer at,
but as hints to rich motorists. Still one necessarily smiles at:


     CLOTHE YOUR WHOLE FAMILY ON CREDIT
                $1 A WEEK.


or


     DUTCHESS TROUSERS. TEN CENTS A BUTTON.
               A DOLLAR A RIP.


A great portion of the State of Indiana seems to be devoted to Dutchess
trousers, and I often wonder whether the company had to pay many
indemnities to customers.

One sorry feature of country advertising was the number of notices
scrawled in black with charcoal or painted in tar. In Europe picnickers
write their names or the names of their sweethearts on the rocks and
the walls and palings, but in America they write their trade, the
thing they sell, and the price a pound, what O. Henry would call their
especial sort of "graft."

Then "rrrrrrr! rhrhrh--whaup--ssh!" the automobile appears on the
horizon, passes you, and is gone. I have no prejudice against
automobilists; they were very hospitable to me, and carried me many
miles. If I had accepted all the lifts offered me I should have been
in Chicago in a week, instead of taking two months on the journey.
But the farmers curse them. On one Sunday late in June I counted
everything that passed me. The farmer commonly tells you that hundreds
of automobiles whirl past his door every day. This day there were just
one hundred and ten, of which thirty-two were auto-cycles and the rest
cars. As a set-off against this there were only five buggies and three
ordinary cyclists. That was one of the last days of June, when I was
seventy miles from Chicago. I had two offers to take me into the city
that day!

Besides counting the vehicles that passed me I took stock of the
automobilists themselves. No one passed till 7 A.M., and then
came a loving couple, looking like a runaway match. He was clasping her
waist, and their trunks were roped on to the car behind. Then six young
men, all in their wind-blown shirts, came tearing along on auto-cycles.
Scarcely had the noise of these subsided when a smart picnic party
rolled past in a smooth-running car, flying purple flags on which was
printed the name of their home city--Michigan. This is a common custom
in America, to carry a flag with the name of your city. It boosts your
own town, and is thought to bring trade there.

Six townsmen came past me in a grand car. Their hats were all off; they
were all clean shaven and bald. Coats had been left at home, and the
six were in radiantly clean coloured shirts. They smiled at me; I was
one of the sights of the road.

Many picnic parties passed me, and men and women called out to me
facetiously. Six shop-girls on a joy ride came past, and one of them
kissed her hand to me--that is one of the things the girl in the car
can safely do when she is passing a pedestrian.

Family parties went by, and also placid husbands and wives having a
spin before lunch, and bashful happy pairs sitting behind the back of
the discreet chauffeurs. There came an auto-cycle with a frantic man
in front and a girl astride on his carrier behind. She was wiping the
sand out of her eyes as she passed, her skirt was blown by the wind,
and she showed a pair of dainty legs; the funny way in which she was
obliged to sit made her look like a stalk bending over among reeds.

One of the few cyclists I met came up after this, and he dismounted
to talk to me. He was a tender of gasoline engines "on vacation." I
learned from him about the single auto-cycle for two. It appears that
in America they manufacture special seats to screw on the back of a
motor-cycle; some use that. Many, however, just strap a cushion on.
Young men who have auto-cycles have a "pull" with the girls; they pick
them up and take them to business, or take them home from business, and
on holidays they take them for rides of joy. Several similar couples
passed me during the day.

All sorts of gear went by; rich gentlemen in stately pride, workmen
with their week-day grime scarcely cleared from their faces, gay girls
with parasols, honeymoon pairs, cars with men driving, cars with
women at the wheel. The automobile is far more of a general utility
in the United States than in England. Workmen, and, indeed, farmers
themselves--not those who curse--have their own cars. They mortgage
their property to get them, but they get them all the same. Even women
buy cars for themselves, and are to be seen driving them themselves. In
Great Britain it is very rare that you see a woman travelling alone in
a car, but in America it is a frequent sight. Of course in Russia, in
the country, an automobile is still a rarity. I passed last summer in a
populous part of the Urals and did not see a single car. I did not even
see an ordinary bicycle. The farther west you go the more you find the
inventions of the day taken advantage of. It is an important phenomenon
in America; it shows that there is a readiness to adopt and utilise any
new thing right off, directly it is discovered.

This readiness, however, results in a lack of seriousness.
Inexpert driving is no crime; accidents are nothing to weep over;
badly constructed cars are driven along loose springy roads with
blood-curdling speed and recklessness. The pedestrian is vexed to see a
car come towards him, leaping, bounding, dodging, dribbling, like some
tricky centre-forward in a game of football. The nervous pedestrian has
to climb trees or walls upon occasion to be sure he won't be killed.
And then the cars themselves go frequently into ditches, or overturn
and take fire. The car has become a toy, but it's dangerous for the
children to play with.

Then the dust! Carlyle said there was nothing but Justice in this
world, and he used the law of gravity as his metaphor, but he didn't
consider the wind--alas, that the dust does not fly in front of the car
and get into the motorist's eyes, but only drifts away over the poor
tramp who never did him any harm.

The only horse vehicle I remarked on the road was the buggy, a gig with
disproportionately large wheels, the direct descendant of the home-made
cart. The buggy is still popular.

"Where've you been?" asks one American of another.

"Oh, just buggying around," he replies.

But the buggy is staid and conventional. It belongs to the old
censorious religious America. It is supremely the vehicle of the
consciously virtuous. It is also a specially rural vehicle. I think
those who ride in buggies despise motorists from the bottom of their
hearts; they think them vulgar townspeople, and consider motoring a
form of trespass. But the automobilists are not prevented, and they
bear no rancour. They haven't time to consider the countryman. The man
in the buggy belongs to the past. In the future there will not be time
to be condemnatory, and the man who stands still to feel self-virtuous
will go to the wall.

The people who will continue to feel superior to the motorists will be
tramps sitting on palings, grinning at them as they pass by. They also
will remain the only people the motorists, rushing abreast of Time,
will ever envy. However much progress progresses there will always
remain those who sit on the palings and grin.



VI

THE REFLECTION OF THE MACHINE


As I tramped from village to village I was surprised to see
so much stained glass in the churches of the Methodists, the
Congregationalists, and other Puritans. Until quite modern times
stained glass belonged exclusively to the ritualistic denominations.
The Puritan, believing in simplicity of service, and in spirit rather
than in form, put stained glass in the same category as the burning of
incense, singing in a minor key, and praying in Latin. It partook of
the glamour of idolatry; it had a sensuous appeal; it blurred the pure
light of understanding. The true Puritan meeting-place is one of clear
glass windows, hard seats, and a big Bible. It seems a pity that a very
clear profession of faith should be blurred by picture windows--and,
let me add by way of parenthesis, cushioned seats and revivalist
preachers.

I examined in detail the coloured glass of a fine "Reform Church" that
I passed on the road. The windows were rather impressive. They were not
representations of scenes in Holy Writ, they contained no pictures of
saints or angels, of the Saviour, or of the Virgin. So they escaped the
imputation of idolatry. They were just pictures of symbolical objects
or of significant letters. Thus, one window was the bird and symbolised
Freedom, another was an anchor and symbolised Hope, another was a
crown and symbolised Eternal Life. In one window the letters C.E. were
illuminated--meaning Christian Endeavour, I presume; on another window
was the open Bible, symbolising the foundation of belief. In every case
the whole window was stained, and the little symbolical picture was set
against a brilliant background.

It was all in good taste, and was a pleasant ornament, which made the
church look very attractive exteriorly. But it was a compromise with
a spirit not its own. My explanation is, some one must have wanted
chapels to put in stained glass. Some one now has a great interest
in making them put in stained glass. He is the manufacturer of that
commodity. He has put stained glass on the market in such a way that
every church is bound to have it. And he has devised a way of not
offending the rigorous Puritans. "What is wrong in coloured light?"
said he. "Nothing. It is only what you use it for. We can use it to
show the things in which we believe." If incense could be manufactured
in such a way as to make millions of dollars it would find its way
somehow into the chapels. I was walking one day with an itinerant
preacher, a man who called himself "a creed smasher." He wanted to
weld all creeds into one and unify the Church of Christ. "Think of
commerce," said he, "already it has stopped the wars of the nations;
in time it will calm the wars of the sects. If only the churches were
corporations, and Methodists could hold shares in Roman Catholicism,
and Roman Catholics in Methodism!"

Commerce is exerting an influence that cannot be withstood. To take
another instance, it has provided America with rocking-chairs and
porch-swings. Although the Americans are an extremely active people,
much more so than the British, yet their houses are all full of
rocking-chairs, and on their verandahs they have porch-swings and
hammocks. The British have straight-backs.

The Americans did not all cry out with one voice for rocking-chairs and
swings. The Pilgrim Fathers did not bring them over. The reason they
have them lies in the fact that some manufacturer started making them
for the few. Then ambition took possession of him and he said, "There's
something in rocking-chairs. I'm going to turn them out on a large
scale."

"But there aren't the customers to buy them," some one objected.

"Never mind, we'll make the customers. We'll put them to the people in
such a way that they gotta buy. We'll make 'em feel there's going to
be such an opportunity for buyin' 'em as never was and never will be
again."

"You believe you'll succeed?"

"We'll make it so universal that if a man goes into a house and doesn't
see a rocking-chair and a porch-swing he'll think, 'My Lord, they've
had the brokers in!'"

So rocking-chairs and porch-swings came. So, many things have come to
humanity--many worse things.

I had just written this note, for I have written most of my book by the
road, when I heard the following interesting talk about the town of
Benton, Pennsylvania. I was walking from Wilkes Barre to Williamsport,
and Benton is on the way. It is a place that has had many fires lately.

"Ah reckon ah know wot cleared Benton out more'n fires."

"What's that?"

"Wy, otomobeeles; mortgaging their farms to get 'em. There's not much
in Benton. You couldn't raise a hundred dollars. It's the agents and
the boosters of the companies that are mos' to blame, no doubt, but
they're fools all the same who buy otomobeeles when they cahn pay their
bills at the stores."

"What agents?" I asked. "D'you mean commercial travellers?"

"No. The agents in the town. Every little town has a man, sometimes
two or three men, who are agents for the companies who manufacture the
cars; they are just like the insurance agents, and are always talking
about their business, comparing makes of car, praising this one and
that, and getting folks on to want them."

"I suppose the companies want to make the motor car a domestic
necessity, a thing no one can do without," I remarked.

"You're right; they do and they will. They'll fix that in time, you
betcher, we'll all be having them. Then when we cahn do without 'em
they'll raise the prices on us. Already they've started it with the
gasoline; there's plenty motor spirit in the world, but the company
gets possession of it and regulates the prices. An' you cahn make an
oto go without gasoline. They can put it on us every time."

I should say society at Benton was suffering very badly from the
influence of depraved commercialism. Some years ago Miss Ida Tarbell
exposed what has been called "The Arson Trust," a company formed for
setting fire to insured establishments on a basis of 10 per cent profit
on the spoil. Benton might have furnished her with some interesting
examples. There have been so many fires in the little town of late that
tramps are refused the shelter even of barns, as if their match-ends
were responsible. On the Fourth of July three years ago half the town
was burnt down. Last year in a gale the shirt factory was gutted; the
workmen had banked the fire up for the night, and about twenty minutes
after the last man had left the works there was an explosion, and the
red coals were scattered over the wooden building. Two months ago a
large house took fire, and just a week before I reached the settlement
the large Presbyterian church was consumed. Indeed, as I came into the
town I remarked with some surprise the charred walls and beams of the
church, and read the pathetic printing on the stone of foundation,
"This stone was laid in 1903."

I had an interesting account of the church from the wife of a farmer at
whose house I stayed a night. The church had been insured for seventeen
thousand dollars, and it was twelve thousand dollars in debt. The money
borrowed was not secured on the church building, but on the personal
estates of many people in the town. Consequently, several people were
liable to be sold up if the money were not forthcoming. Two days before
settling day the fire took place, and there was doubtless rejoicing in
some hearts. The villagers had tried hard to make the place pay, they
had even let a portion of the church building to be used as a bank!
Bazaars had failed. The debt-raiser had tried "to put a revival over
on to them," but had failed. The minister, not receiving his salary,
had abandoned them, and at last the bare fact remained of the big white
church and the big unpaid debt. Then occurred the providential fire.

But the insurance company would not pay the seventeen thousand dollars.
The fire had taken place under suspicious circumstances, and it was
said there would be a legal fight over it. The conflagration had
occurred on the night of a school-opening meeting. Choice flowers
had been sent from many houses in the town, and it was beautifully
decorated. There was, however, nothing obviously inflammable in the
church; it was built largely of brick and stone. But about an hour
after the people had gone home the fire broke out. Next day it was
found that the big Bible had been soaked in coal oil. Oiled newspaper
was found, and it was alleged that the fire brigade would have saved
the church, but that as fast as they put it out in front somebody else
was lighting it up behind. Anyhow, the insurance company refused to pay
the seventeen thousand dollars. But it cannot refuse absolutely; the
advertisement of failure to pay would be too damaging--it will put up a
new church instead! The Presbyterian church will be resurrected.

"I put Benton up against the world for fires," said my hostess. "For a
small place, only a thousand people, I reckon there isn't its like."

For my part I felt sorry for the Bentonians, even for those who set the
fire alight, supposing it was deliberately lighted. When commercial
interest is the greatest thing in the world there are opportunities
for a few men to feel themselves great and powerful, but that glory
of mankind is far overbalanced by the occasions on which it causes
man to be mean. Commercial tricks bring the holy spirit of man
into disrepute. To find oneself mixed up in certain machinations is
poignantly humiliating. We have all of us been wounded in that way ere
now. The just pride of the soul has been offended, and we have thought
how shameful a thing it was to have become mixed up in it at all, by
_it_ meaning the world, the whole shady business, call it what you will.

As I went along from village to village in New York and Pennsylvania
I was struck by the uniformity of the architecture. Every church
and school and store and farmstead seemed standard size and "as
supplied." There seemed to be a passion for having known units. Not
only in architecture was this evident, but in every utensil, machine,
carriage, dress of the people. It was evident in the people themselves.
Americans have the name of being extremely conventional. I think that
is because, under the present domination of the _commercial machine_,
American boys and girls and men and women are all turned into standard
sizes. If Americans have rigid principles of ethics it is because
they believe all the parts of the great machine are standardised, and
that when any one part wears out there must always be an accurately
fitting other part ready to be fixed where the old one has fallen out.
Personality itself is standardised; thus the tailor-priest advertises
his wear, "Preserve your Personality in Clothes. Occasionally you
have observed some article of wear that has led you to the mental
conclusion--'That's my style--that's me.'"

[Illustration: THE TRAMP'S DRESSING-ROOM.]

It was strange to me to find that even tramps and outcasts, who fulfil
little function in the machine, were expected to conform to type. I
was stared at, questioned; my rough tweeds, so suitable to me, were an
object of mirth; my action of washing my face and my teeth by the side
of the road was a portentous aberration. I remember how astonished a
motorist and his wife appeared when they came upon me in the act of
drawing a pail of water for a thirsty calf one morning in Indiana. The
temperature stood at ninety-five in the shade--all nature was parched,
and as I came along the highway a calf, fastened by a chain to the
steel netting of a field, came up and rubbed his nose on my knees. As
calves don't usually take the initiative in this way, I concluded he
expected me to do something for him. There was an empty pail beside
him. I took it to the farmhouse pump and drew water. As I did so, the
farmer and his wife drew up at the farm in their motor, and they looked
at me curiously. The calf came bounding towards me and almost upset the
pail in his eagerness to drink. Then he gulped down all the water, and
whilst I went to draw another pailful he executed a sort of war-dance
or joy-dance, throwing out his hind legs and bounding about in a way
that testified his happiness. The farmer's wife broke silence:

"Wha' yer doing?"

"I'm giving the calf some water."

"Nao," said she, and looked at her husband, "giving the calf some
water, can--you--beat--that?"

I gave the calf his second bucketful and then started off down the way
again, and the farmer and his wife looked after me in blank surprise.
In America no tramp has any compassion for thirsty calves, he is not
expected to look after the thirst of any one but himself. The farmer
and his wife looked at one another, and their eyes seemed to say, "But
tramps don't do these things!"

Thence it may be surmised that America is no place for individuals
as such. Originality is a sin. Americans hate to give an individual
special attention, special notice. Even personal salvation is merged
in mass salvation. The revivalist, his press agents, and stewards are
a means of wholesale salvation. A revival meeting is a machine for
saving souls on a large scale. It might be thought that the revivalist
himself took his stand as an exceptional individual. Not at all: he is
only a type. American public opinion does not allow a man to stand out
as superior. It is surprising the dearth of noble men in the popular
estimate of to-day. Mockery follows on the heels of noble action or
individual action, and reduces it to type. That is a great function of
the American Press of to-day, the defaming of men of originality and
the explaining away of noble action. I remember a conversation I heard
at Cleveland. Roosevelt had just cleared himself of the press libel of
drunkenness.

"Wasn't it a good thing to clear the air, so," said one man, "and get
clear of the charge once for all?"

"I don't think he got clear of it," said the other. "It's all very
well to bring an action against the editor of a provincial paper, but
why didn't he take up the cudgels against one of the powerful New
York journals, who said the same thing? They had money and could have
defended their case."

"I don't think money was needed--except to buy evidence."

"If you ask me," said the other, "it was all a very shrewd
electioneering dodge. Roosevelt is an expert politician. He knows
the value of being in the limelight, and he knows that nothing will
fetch more votes in the United States just now than a reputation for
sobriety. He was just boosting himself and the home products."

That is a fair example of the way people think of striking
personalities and original views.

Then every man is considered a booster. Boosting is accepted as a
national and individual function. Towns are placarded: "Boost for your
own city and its own industries. Make a habit of it." In Oil City, for
instance, I found in every shop a ticket announcing "Booster Week June
9-16." In that week Oil City was going to do all it could to call
attention to itself. Citizens would pledge themselves to speak of Oil
City to strangers in the train and when on visits to other towns. The
city of Newark, New Jersey, is always recommending its own people and
visitors to "Think of Newark." Whenever you enter into conversation
with an American you find him suddenly drifting towards telling you
the name of a hotel to stay at, or of an establishment where they sell
"dandy cream," or he is praising the bricks turned out by the local
brick works, or the conditions of the employment of labour in some silk
works on which his native town is dependent for prosperity. In a widely
distributed "Creed of the American" I read, "I remember always that I
am a booster." Even fathers refer to their new-born babies as "little
boosters." It should be remembered when Americans are boasting of their
native land and its institutions that they were cradled in boosting.
It is a habit that in many ways has profited America. It has attracted
the emigrant more than all that has ever been printed about it. It is a
great commercial habit. But it is in the end degrading.

What is the name of the fairy who has muttered an incantation over the
Pilgrim Father and changed him into a booster? And is a booster only a
Pilgrim Father who brags about the stuff he manufactures?

It seemed to me that by substituting the idea _booster_ for the idea
_man_ you get rid of so many of the weaknesses of flesh and blood. A
man who is boosting day in and day out, using his tongue as a sort of
living stores' catalogue, is necessarily loyal to the great machine.
But loyalty to the machine has its dangers. On my journey to Chicago I
made some interesting observations in Natural History. I got into the
train at Franklin to go to Oil City, some five or six urban miles. What
was my astonishment to see that each of the eight or nine passengers in
my car had fixed their railway tickets in the ribbons of their hats,
and they themselves were deep in their newspapers. The conductor came
along and took the tickets from their hats and examined them, collected
those that were due to be given up and punched those that were not, and
stuck them back in the ribbons of the hats, the wearers reading their
newspapers all the time and making not the slightest sign that they
noticed what the conductor was doing. The only sign of consciousness I
observed was a sort of subtle pleasure in acting so--the sort of mild
pleasure which suffuses the faces of lunatics when they are humoured by
visitors to the asylum. They were shamming that they were machinery,
and in almost the same style as the man who is under the delusion that
he is a teapot, one arm being his spout and the other his handle.

Thus the elevator man in the Department Store also thinks himself a bit
of machinery. He seems to be trained to act mechanically, and never to
alter the staccato patter that comes from his mouth at each floor. He
speaks like a human phonograph.

Then all waiters, shop-attendants, barbers, and the like try to behave
like manikins. Most of all, in the language of Americans is the
mechanical obsession apparent. A man who is confined in a hospital
writes: "I'm _holding down a bed_ in the hospital over here." The
man who meets another and brings him along, simply "collects" him in
America. The baseball team that beats another 6-0 "slips a six-nothing
defeat" on them. Especially in baseball reports, commercialism and
rhythms heard in great "works" abound.

The influence of great machinery gets to the heart of the people. A
man when he joins a gang of workmen is taught to co-operate; he has to
trim off any original or personal way of doing things, and fit in with
the rest of the gang. When the gang is going mechanically and easily, a
man quicker than the rest is taken as leader, and the speed of the work
is raised. The mechanical action in each individual is intensified, is
perfected. Cinematograph films are even taken of gangs at work; the
pictures are shown before experts, who indicate weak points, recommend
discharges or alterations and show how the gangs can be reconstituted
to work more smoothly. Each man is drilled to act like a machine, and
the drilling enters into the fibre of his being to such an extent that
when work is over his muscles move habitually in certain directions,
and the rhythm of his day's labour controls his language and his
thought.

In the factory it is the same. In a vast mechanical contrivance there
is just one thing that machinery cannot do; so between two immense
complicated engines it is necessary to place a human link. A man goes
there, and flesh and blood is grafted into steel and oil. The man
performs his function all day, but he also senses the great machine in
his mind and his soul; and when he goes out to vote for his President,
or talk to men and women about the world in which he lives, he does so
more as a standardised bit of mechanism, than as a tender human being.

Alas, for the men and women who wear out and cease to be serviceable!
They are the old iron, and their place is the scrap-heap. "White trash"
is the name by which they go.

Bernard Shaw, and indeed many others, look forward to the diminution of
toil by machinery. The minimising of toil is to them a great blessing.
Because machinery lessens toil they are on the side of machinery.
Meanwhile life shows a paradox. The Russian peasant who works without
machines toils less than the American who takes advantage of every
invention. The Russian emigrant who comes to America simply does not
know what work is, and he stares in amazement at the angry foreman who
tells him, when he is at it at his hardest, to "get a move on yer."

In America the Americans slave; they slave for dollars, for more
business, for advancement, but in the end for dollars only, I suppose.
They will fill up any odd moment with some work that will bring in
money. They will make others work, and take the last ounce of energy
out of their employees. The machine itself is the size of America, and
only in little nooks and corners can anything spring up that is not
of the machine. Even millionaires know nothing more to do than to go
on making millions. Yet there is not a feverish anxiety to get money.
Losses are borne with equanimity. It's just a matter of "the apple
tree's loaded with fruit. I'm going up to get another apple."

Present experience shows that machinery increases the toil of mankind.
It need not increase it, but it does. It might diminish it, but there
are many reasons why it does not. For one thing, it increases the
standard of living. It makes rocking-chairs, porch-swings, automobiles,
and the like indispensable things. First, machinery makes the things,
then the things make the machinery duplicate themselves. So it raises
the standard of living and increases the toil of mankind. It is going
on increasing the standard of living for the rich, for the middle-class
aping the rich, and for the working men aping the middle-class.

Is it good, then, that the standard of living is being raised? Well,
no; because the standard of living now means the standard of luxury. I
should have used that phrase from the beginning.

I said this to a man on the road, and he asked me what I thought a
man should live for, but I could not answer him. Each man has his
individual destiny to fulfil. Destiny is not a matter of the clothes
you wear or of the cushions you sit upon. The beggar pilgrim going
in rags to Jerusalem may be more happy than a Pierpont Morgan, who
writes pathetically at the head of the bequest of his millions that he
believes in the blood of Jesus.

One thing I noted in America, that the blossom of religion seems to
have been pressed between Bible leaves, withered and dried long ago.
What is called religion is a sort of ethical rampage. The descendants
of the Puritans are "probing sin" and "whipping vice." The rich are
signing cheques, the hospitals are receiving cheques. The women of
the upper classes are visiting the poor and adopting the waifs. But
seldom did I come in contact with a man or a woman who stood in humble
relation to God or the mystery of life. Even the great passion to put
things right, lift the masses, stop corruption, and build beautiful
cities and states is begotten in the sureness of science rather than
in the fear of the Lord. Far from fearing God, preachers announce from
their pulpits that they are "working with Him," or "co-operating with
the inevitable tendencies of the world," or "hastening on the work
of evolution." For my part I believe that it is my sacred due to my
brother that he be given an opportunity of facing this world, the
mystery of its beauty and of his life upon it, that he find out God
for himself and learn to pray to Him. But that is at once Eastern and
personal.

The Y.M.C.A. informs me as I sit in a car that "The great asset of this
town is the young men of this town." Must it be put that way? Is that
the only way in which the people of the town can be got to understand
how wonderful is the life and promise of any young man, how tender and
gentle and lovable he is personally, how unformed, how fresh from his
mother and his Creator?

As I go along the road I pick up tracts, sown by the devil, I suppose.
Here is one of them:


     Verily I say unto you that each and every one of you may be a
     Count of Monte Christo, and some day exclaim, "The World is mine!"

     The world was made for you, that I know. That you were made for
     the world goes without saying.

     Therefore hear me and believe me. If you desire wealth it _can_ be
     yours. If you desire _fame_ it can be yours.

     But you cannot get something for nothing. You must pay for
     everything worth having. You must pay the price set upon it, and
     in the coin of the realm.

     The coin of the realm is industry--just that. Industry and only
     industry. Nothing but industry.


[Illustration: BY THE SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY TO MICHIGAN: THE ELECTRIC
FREIGHT TRAIN.]

Poor immigrant, who thinks it would be grand to be a Count of Monte
Christo, or, to bring it nearer home, a John D. Rockefeller or an
Andrew Carnegie, and who thinks that honest labour will take him there!
Even were American success a thing worth striving for it is not won
by that means. It is a game of halma. It's not the man who moves all
his pieces out one square at a time who wins, but the sagacious player
who knows both to plan in advance and to hop over others when the
opportunity arises.

But the good American young man, "the greatest asset of the town,"
believes this gospel, and he gives his body and mind to the great
machine, and fills the gap between two otherwise disconnected
mechanisms. If he has been brought up "well," he just fits the
gap and is standard size. He feels in his soul every throb of the
engines, and registers in his integuments every rhythm and rhyme of
the great, accurate, definite, circulating, oscillating machine. He
behaves like a machine in his leisure hours. He even dances like a
mechanical contrivance. On none of the occasions when the Fatherland
requires his sober human judgment can he stand as a man. He seems
spoilt for the true citizenship. What he does understand is the
improvement, adjustment, and significance of machinery, and he can
look intelligently at America the Great Machine. Perhaps this is his
function whilst America is realising the dream of materialism and
progress. But America would take care of itself if the American were
all right. I could not but have that opinion as I left the cities and
walked through the rich country, the new world, as yet scarcely visibly
shopsoiled by commercialism.



VII

RUSSIANS AND SLAVS AT SCRANTON


I came into Forest City along a road made of coal-dust. A black by-path
led off to the right down a long gradual slope, and was lost among
the culm-heaps of a devastated country side. Miners with sooty faces
and heavy coal-dusty moustaches came up in ones and twos and threes,
wearing old peak-hats, from the centre of the front of which rose
their black nine-inch lamps looking like cockades. They carried large
tarnished "grub-cans," they wore old cotton blouses, and showed by
unbuttoned buttons their packed, muscular bodies. Shuffling forward up
the hill they looked like a different race of men--these divers of the
earth. And they were nearly all Russians or Lithuanians or Slavs of one
kind or another.

"Mostly foreigners here," said I to an American whom I overtook.

"You can go into that saloon among the crowd and not hear a word of
white the whole night," he replied.

I addressed a collier in English.

"Are you an American?"

"No speak English," he replied, and frowned.

"From Russia?" I inquired, in his own tongue.

"And you from where?" he asked with a smile. "Are you looking for a
job?"

But before I could answer he sped away to meet a trolly that was
just whizzing along to a stopping-place. Presently I myself got into
a car and watched in rapid procession the suburbs of Carbondale
and Scranton. Black-faced miners waited in knots at the stations
all along the road. I read on many rocks and railings the scrawled
advertisement, "Buy diamonds from Scurry." Girls crowded into the car
from the emptying silk-mills, and they were in slashed skirts, some
of them, and all in loud colours, and over-decorated with frills,
ribbons, and shoddy jewellery. We came to dreary Iceville, all little
grey houses in the shadow of an immense slack mountain. We came into
the fumes of Carbondale, where the mines have been on fire ten years;
we got glimpses of the far, beautiful hills and the tender green of
spring woods set against the soft darkness of abundant mountains. We
dived into wretched purlieus where the frame-buildings seemed like
flotsam that had drifted together into ridges on the bending earth.
We saw dainty little wooden churches with green and yellow domes, the
worshipping places of Orthodox Greeks, Hungarians, Ruthenians, and at
every turn of the road saw the broad-faced, cavernous-eyed men and the
bright-eyed, full-bosomed women of the Slavish nations. I realised that
I had reached the barracks of a portion of America's great army of
industrial mercenaries.

I stayed three days at Casey's Hotel in Scranton, and slept nights
under a roof once more, after many under the stars. I suppose there was
a journalist in the foyer of the hotel, for next morning, when I opened
one of the local papers, I read the following impression of my arrival:


     With an Alpine rucksack strapped to his back, his shoes thick with
     coal-dust, and a slouch hat pulled down on all sides to shut out
     the sun, a tall, raw-boned stranger walked up Lackawanna Avenue
     yesterday afternoon, walked into the rotunda of the Hotel Casey
     and actually obtained a room.


Every paper told that I was an Englishman specially interested in
Russians and the America of the immigrant. So I needed no further
introduction to the people of the town.

Just as I was going into the breakfast-room a bright boy came up to me
and asked me in Russian if I were Stephen Graham. "My name is Kuzma,"
said he. "I am a Little Russian. I read you wanted to know about the
Russians here, so I came along to see you."

"Come and have breakfast," said I.

We sat down at a table for two, and considered each a delicately
printed sheet entitled, "Some suggestions for your breakfast." Kuzma
was thrilled to sit in such a place; he had never been inside the hotel
before. It was pretty daring of him to come and seek me there. But
Russians are like that, and America is a free country.

As we had our grape-fruit and our coffee and banana cream and various
other "suggestions," Kuzma told me his story. He was a Little Russian,
or rather a Red Russian or Ruthenian, and came from Galicia. Three
years previously he had arrived in New York and found a job as
dish-washer at a restaurant, after three months of that he progressed
to being bottle-washer at a druggist's, then he became ice-carrier at
a hotel. Then another friendly Ruthenian introduced him to a Polish
estate agent, who was doing a large business in selling farms to Polish
immigrants. As Kuzma knew half a dozen Slavonic dialects the Pole took
him away from New York, and sat him in his office at Scranton, putting
him into smart American attire, and making a citizen out of a "Kike." I
should say for the benefit of English readers that illiterate Russians
and Russian Jews are called Kikes, illiterate Italians are "Wops,"
Hungarians are "Hunkies." These are rather terms of contempt, and the
immigrant is happy when he can speak and understand and answer in
English, and so can take his stand as an American. After six months'
clerking and interpreting Kuzma began to do a little business on his
own account, and actually learned how to deal in real estate and sell
to his brother Slavs at a profit.

Kuzma, as he sat before me at breakfast, was a bright, well-dressed
business American. You'd never guess that but three years before he had
entered the New World and taken a job as dish-washer. He had seized the
opportunity.

"You're a rich man now?" said I.

"So-so. Richer than I could ever be in Galicia. I'm learning English at
the High School here, and when I pass my examination I shall begin to
do well."

"You are studying?"

"I do a composition every day, on any subject, sometimes I write a
little story. I try to write my life for the teacher, but he says I am
too ambitious."

"Do you love your Ruthenian brothers and sisters here?"

"No; I prefer the Great Russians."

"You're a very handsome young man. I expect you've got a young lady in
your mind now. Is she an American, or one of your own people? Does she
live here, or did you leave her away over there, in Europe?"

"I don't think of them. I shall, however, marry a Russian girl."

"Have you many friends here?"

"Very many."

"You will take me to them?"

"Oh yes, with pleasure."

"And where shall we go first? It is Sunday morning. Shall we go to
church?"

We left the hotel and went to a large Baptist chapel. When we arrived
there we found the whole congregation engaged in Bible study. The
people were divided into three sections,--Russians, Ruthenians, Poles.
Russians sat together, Ruthenians and Little Russians together, and
Poles together. I was most heartily welcomed, and took a place among
the circle of Russians, Kuzma being admitted there also, though by
rights he should have gone to the other Ruthenians. He was evidently a
favourite.

We took the forty-second chapter of Genesis, reading aloud the first
verse in Russian, the second in Ruthenian, and the third in Polish.
When that was accomplished we prayed in Ruthenian, then we listened to
an evangelical sermon in Russian, and then sang, "Nearer, my God, to
Thee!" in the same manner as we had read the chapter of Genesis--first
verse in Russian, second in Ruthenian, third in Polish. It was strange
to find myself singing with Kuzma:


     Do Ciebie Boze moj!
     Przyblizam sie.


I have never seen Poles and Ruthenians and Russians so happy together
as in this chapel, and indeed in America generally. In Russia they more
or less detest one another. They are certainly of different faiths, and
they do not care about one another's language. But here there is a real
Pan-Slavism. It will hold the Slavic peoples together a long time, and
separate them from other Americans. Still there are not many cities in
the United States resembling Scranton ethnologically. The wandering
Slav when he moves to another city is generally obliged to go to a
chapel where only English is spoken, and he strains his mind and his
emotions to comprehend the American spirit.

After the hymn the congregation divided into classes, and talked about
the Sermon on the Mount, and to me they were like very earnest children
at a Sunday School. I was able to look round. There were few women in
the place; nearly all of us were working men, miners whose wan faces
peered out from the grime that showed the limit of their washing.
At least half the men were suffering from blood-poisoning caused
by coal bruises, and their foreheads and temples showed dents and
discolorations. They had been "up against it." They would not have been
marked that way in Russia, but I don't think they grudged anything to
America. They had smiles on their lips and warmth in their eyes; they
were very much alive. "Tough fellows, these Russians," wrote Gorky.
"Pound them to bits and they'll come up smiling."

They were nearly all peasants who had been Orthodox, but had been
"converted"; they were strictly abstinent; they sighed for Russia,
but they were proud to feel themselves part of the great Baptist
community, and knit to America by religious ties. None of them entirely
approved of Scranton. They felt that a mining town was worse than
anything they had come from in Russia, but they were glad of the high
wages they obtained, and were saving up either to go back to Russia and
buy land or to buy land in America. They craved to settle on the land
again.

It seemed to me Kuzma's business of agent for real estate among the
Slavs was likely to prove a very profitable one. I shall come back
to Scranton one day and find him a millionaire. He evidently had the
business instinct--an example of the Slav who does not want the land
again. The fact that he sought me out showed that he was on the _qui
vive_ in life.

When the service was concluded we went over the church with a young
Russian who had fled to America to escape conscription, and who averred
that he would never go back to his own country. His nose was broken,
and of a peculiar blue hue, owing to blood-poisoning. His finger-nails
were cut short to the quick, but even so, the coal-dust was deep
between the flesh and the nail. He was most cordial, his handshake was
something to remember, even to rue a little. He had been one of those
who took the collection, and he emptied the money on to a table--a
clatter of cents and nickels. He showed us with much edification the
big bath behind the pulpit where the converted miners upon occasion
walked the plank to the songs of fellow-worshippers. They were no
doubt attracted by the holiness of water, considering the dirt in which
they lived.

"He is a Socialist," said Kuzma, as we went away to have lunch. "A
Socialist and a Baptist as well. He has a Socialist gathering in the
afternoon and Russian tea and speeches, and he wants me to go. But they
hold there should be no private property. I want private property. I
want to travel and to have books of my own, so I can't call myself a
Socialist."

In the afternoon Kuzma took me to the Public Library and showed me its
resources. In the evening we went to supper at the house of a dear old
Slovak lady, who had come from Hungary on a visit thirty years ago, and
had never returned to her native land. She had been courted and won and
married within three weeks of her arrival--her husband a rich Galician
Slav. Now she was a widow, and had three or four daughters, who were so
American you'd never suspect their foreign parentage.

She told me of the many Austrian and Hungarian Slavs in Pennsylvania,
and gave it as her opinion that whenever a political party was badly
worsted in south-eastern Europe the beaten wanted to emigrate _en bloc_
to the land of freedom. When they came over they held to the national
traditions and discussed national happenings for a while, but they
gradually forgot, and seldom went back to the European imbroglio.

A touching thing about this lady's house was a ruined chapel I found on
the lawn--a broken-down wooden hut with a cross above it, built when
the Slav tradition had been strong, and used then to pray in before
the Ikon, but now only accommodating the spade and the rake and a
garden-roller.

We had a long talk, partly in Russian, partly in English--the old
lady had forgotten the one and only knew the other badly. So it was a
strange conversation, but very informing and pleasant.

Slavs always talk of human, interesting things.

Kuzma was very happy, having spent a long day with an Englishman whose
name had been in the newspaper. We walked back to the hotel, and for a
memory he took away with him a newspaper-cutting of a review of one of
my books and a portrait of the tramp himself.

Next day, through the kindness of a young American whom I had met the
week before entirely by chance, I was enabled to go down one of the
coal-mines of Scranton, and see the place where the men work. The whole
of the city is undermined, and during the daytime there are more men
under Scranton than above it.

I was put into the charge of a very intelligent Welshman, who was a
foreman, and we stepped into the cage and shot down the black shaft
through a blizzard of coal-dust, crouching because the cage was so
small, and holding on to a grimy steel bar to steady ourselves in the
swift descent. In a few seconds we reached the foot--a place where
there was ceaseless drip of water on glistening coal--and we walked out
into the gloom.

Black men were moving about with flaming lamps at their heads, electric
cars came whizzing out of the darkness, drawing trucks of coal. Whole
trucks were elevated in the opposite shaft from that in which we had
descended, elevated to the pit-mouth with a roar and a rush and a
scattering of lumps of coal. I gained a lively realisation of one way
in which it is possible to get a coal-bruise.

My guide showed me a map of the mine, and we went along dark tunnels
to the telephone cavern, and were enabled to give greeting to miners
as far as three miles away underground. Every man working in the mine
was in telephonic communication with the pit-mouth. I saw the men at
work, watched small trucks of coal being drawn by asses to the main
line where the train was made up. I talked with Poles, Ruthenians,
Russians--actually meeting underground several of those whom I had seen
the day before in the Baptist Chapel. They were all very cheerful,
and smiled as they worked with their picks. Some were miners, some
labourers. The miner directs the blasting and drilling, puts in the
powder and blows out the coal; the labourer works with pick and shovel.
A man has to serve two years in a mine as a labourer before he can be
a miner. Even a British immigrant, who has worked in South Wales or
Northumberland or elsewhere, has to serve his term as a labourer. This
discourages British men. Scranton used to be almost entirely Welsh;
but it goes against the grain in an English-speaking man to fetch and
carry for a Slovak or a Pole. On the other hand, this rule safeguards
American strikers against imported miners.

After I had wandered about the mine a while I went up to the
"Breaker's" tower, to the top of which each truck of coal was hoisted
by the elevator; and I watched the fanning and screening and guiding
and sifting of this wonderful machine, which in collaboration with
the force of gravity can sort a ton of coal a second. I talked with
Polish boys sitting in the stream of the rolling, hurrying coal; their
task was to pick out bits of slate and ore; and I watched the platemen
splitting lumps of coal with their long-handled hammers, and casting
out the impurities. I saw the wee washhouse where the collier may bathe
if he wish.

"Well, America or Russia, which is it?" I asked of almost every Russian
I met. "Which do you prefer? Are you Americans now or Russians?"

And nearly all replied, "America; we will be Americans. What does one
get in Russia?--fifty cents a day."[2] Only a few said that America was
bad, that the mining was dangerous and degrading. Strange to say, the
astonishment at America's wealth and the wages they get from her had
not died away. They admired America for the wages she gave; not for
the things for which the people of culture in the great cities admire
her. America gave them money, the power to buy land, the power to buy
low pleasures, the power to get back to Russia, or to journey onward to
some other country--to the Argentine or to Canada.

I then spent a day visiting people at random. I went into Police
Station No. 4, and found Sergeant Goerlitz sitting at a desk reading
his morning paper, and he was very ready to talk to me. From him I
gathered that the Slavs were the best citizens--quiet, industrious, and
law-abiding. By Slavs he meant Huns, Bulgarians, Galicians, Ruthenians.
The Russians were vulgar and pushing. He probably meant Russian Jews
and Russians. The Italians were the most dangerous people; they
committed most crimes, and never gave one another away to the police.
The Poles and Jews were the most successful people.

I went to the house of a communicative, broad-nosed, broad-lipped
little Ruthenian priest--an Austrian subject--and he told me that
Russia could take India whenever she wanted to, America could take
Canada, and that Germany would break our naval power. But the English
would still be the greatest people in the world. In the near future
the whole of North America would be one empire, and the whole of South
America another--one Anglo-Saxon, the other Latin. He was evidently
a student of contemporary possibilities. Despite his belief in
America he was proud of his own nationality, and jealous of the loss
of any of his flock. To his church there came three hundred Little
Russians and about thirty Great Russians. He reckoned there were fifty
families in Scranton purely Nihilist--by that he meant atheistic and
pleasure-seeking. At his church the service was in Slavonic and the
sermon in Ruthenian. He was sorry to say there were comparatively few
marriages. People came to the town to make money rather than to live.

Then I went to the official Russian priest, away on Division Street. He
shepherded one hundred and thirty-seven families, and four hundred and
sixty-two unmarried people. His church had been burned down the year
before, but had sprung up again immediately. Some of the congregation
had succeeded in business, and having come as poor colonists were now
rich and respected citizens, professional men, large storekeepers,
responsible clerks. Scranton was more like a Russian city than an
American, and it was possible to flourish as a lawyer or a doctor or
an estate agent although you knew very little of the English language.
And out in the country round about were many Russian farms with
real Russian peasants on them; and he spent many weeks in the year
travelling about in the rural districts giving the consolation of
Orthodoxy to the faithful.

A pathetic thing happened whilst I was taking leave of the priest; a
young workman came in to ask advice, and in salutation he took the
priest's hand to kiss it, but the latter was ashamed to receive that
homage before me, and so tried to pull his hand away. Despite the
churchman's enthusiastic account of his work I felt that little action
was symbolical of the ebb-tide. It was to me as if I had looked at the
sea of faith, and said, "The tide is just turning."

I visited the Y.M.C.A., so important an institution in America, giving
a good room for fifty cents a day, and having its club-rooms, its
swimming-baths, its classes for learning English. It wanted to raise
seventeen thousand dollars in the forthcoming week, and many posters
reminded passers-by that Scranton's greatest asset was not its coal or
its factories or its shops, its buildings, its business, but its young
men.

I walked the many streets at evening time when the wild crowd was
surging in and out of the cinema houses and the saloons, and heard
the American chaff and music-hall catch-words mixed with half a dozen
Slavonic dialects. A young American engineer took me to several
resorts, and initiated me in the mysteries of bull-dogs and fizzes,
and as we went along the street he gave a running comment on the
gaudily attired girls of the town, which he classified as "pick-ups,"
"chickens," and the like. At ten o'clock at night the streets were full
of mirth, and all given over to sweethearting and flirting. Scranton's
safety lies in the interest which the people have in one another, their
sociability and general disposition to talk and hope. What it would
be like if all these foreign mercenaries were mirthless and brutal
it would be loathsome to picture. But I was surprised to find such
lightness, such Southern frivolity in the people. It is strange that
a people, most of whom are working all day in darkness, should take
life so gaily. Even when they come up to the air of the outside world
it is a bad air that is theirs, vitiated by the fumes of the burning
mines; for at Scranton also the coal has been on fire ten years, and
the smoke rolls from the slag-coloured wastes in volumes, and diffuses
itself into the general atmosphere. One would think that the wretched
frame-dwellings, ruined by the subsidence of the ground on which they
were built, and begrimed with the smoke which factories belch all day,
would disgust humanity. But it seems the man who works in dirt and ruin
accepts dirt and disorder as something not wrong in themselves, quite
tolerable, something even to be desired, a condition of freedom.

One day I met a young reporter, who was also a poet, and he took me to
a point where there was a view of the city which he specially admired.
It was a grey day--surely all days there are grey. We looked to the
ridge of the West Mountain, a long dark wall built up to the sky, and
many-roofed Scranton lay below it; the thin spires of many conventicles
pointed upward, and from numberless chimneys and spouts proceeded
hardly moving white steams and smokes, all in strange curls and twists.
Here and there were black chutes and shafts and mountains of slag, and
the slates of the roofs of the houses glimmered appallingly under the
wanness and darkening dusty grey of the sky.

"This sight does my heart good," said the poet. "It's good to live in a
place like this where we're doing something."

"It would be a beautiful place if there were no Scranton here at all,"
I ventured.

"That's the glory of it," said he. "We have the faith to smash up the
beauty of Nature in the hope of getting something better. It would be a
beautiful world entirely if there were no such thing as man. Nature's
beauty has no need of us. But we happen to be here. We have something
in us that Nature could never think of. Scranton expresses man's
passion more truly than the virginal beauty of the Alleghany mountains
or the valley of the young Susquehanna."

"A revolt against Eden," said I, "a fixed sullenness, man's
determination to live in grime if he wants to--the children's
infatuation for playing with the dirt."

"Oh, more than that," said the reporter poet. "Much more."

Perhaps.

That was perhaps a glimpse of the religion of America.

FOOTNOTE:

[2] Fifty cents a day is very good pay for a miner in Russia, thirty
cents is quite a common wage.



VIII

AMERICAN HOSPITALITY


It is possible to distinguish two sorts of hospitality, one which is
given to a person because of his introductions, and the other which
is given to the person who has no introductions, the one given on the
strength of a man's importance, the other on the strength of the common
love of mankind. America is rich in the one species, she is not so rich
in the other.

There is no country in the world where an introduction helps you more
than in the United States. In this respect how vastly more hospitable
the Americans are than the British! It is wonderful the extent to which
an American will put himself to trouble in order to help a properly
introduced visitor to see America. It is a real hospitality, and it
springs from a great belief in America and in the American people,
and a realisation of the fact that if nation and individuals are to
co-operate to do things in the world, they must unbend and think of
others beside themselves.

To me, in the literary and artistic clubs of New York, in the city
institutions and schools, in the houses of the rich and cultured, and
in the homes of the poor, America breathed kindness. New York seemed
to me more friendly and hospitable than any other great city I had
lived in. There also, as in Russia, one person came out and took me by
the hand, and was America to me.

But when I shed respectability and the cheap fame of having one's
portrait and pages of "write-up" in the papers and put pack on back,
and sallied forth merely as a man I found that the other and more
precious kind of hospitality was not easily come by. Little is given
anonymously in the United States.

Not that the country people despise the tramp, or hate him or set the
dogs on him or even refuse him a breakfast now and then, but that they
simply won't have him in their houses for the night, and are otherwise
indifferent to his hardships. They do not look on the stranger as a
fellow-man but as a loose wheel, a utility lying rusting in a field;
or at best they look upon him as a man who will "make good," who
will get a job later on and _earn_ his living. No one is good enough
for the American till he has "made good." But this is the same in
all commercialised countries, commercialism kills the old Christian
charity, the hospitality of house and mind and heart.

[Illustration: AN INDIANA FARM: THE WIND-WELL BEHIND IT, THE WHEATFIELD
IN FRONT.]

In the old colonial days there was extraordinary hospitality in
America, and this still survives in the West and North and South in
places out of touch with the great industrial beehive of the East
and Centre. The feeling still survives in the spirit that prevents
Americans printing prohibitions. You never see the notice "Trespassers
will be Prosecuted," though I do not know what one is to make of the
uncharitable poster that frequently met my gaze in Indiana and Illinois:


        KEEP OUT!
     THAT MEANS YOU.


That is brutal.

Tramping up to Williamsport from Scranton I encountered forty-eight
hours' rain, and only with difficulty on the second night did I obtain
shelter. After being refused three times the first rainy evening, I
found an old covered well beside an empty, padlocked shed. In this I
spent twenty hours, sleeping the night and waking to a day of down-pour.

It was an interesting little hermitage, the three walls were of
stone but the roof and floor of wood. One side of the building was
completely open to wind and weather. In a corner was a dark square of
clear water--the well. Half-way up the stone wall was a narrow ledge,
and there I slept. I covered the ledge with two sacks, for pillow I
had a book, a duplicate pair of boots, and a silken scarf. I slept
with my feet in a sack and a thick tweed coat spread over the rest of
me,--slept well. By day I sat on a box and looked out at a deserted
garden, and the rain pouring on the trees and rank grass. There were
young pines and hemlocks and maples, and a shaggy hickory tree. Beyond
them an apple orchard climbed over a very green hill, and the branches
were all crooked and gnarled and pointing. The blossoms had shed their
petals, and there was much young fruit.

I gathered dry wood and made a fire on the threshold, and dried wet
wood and boiled a kettle, the smoke blowing in to me all the while, and
the raindrops hissing and dying as they fell into the embers.

About mid-day a Dutch farmer came and stood in front of the little
house, and stared for some minutes and said nought.

I hailed him: "Good-day!"

He did not reply to this but inquired:

"Hev you not seen that notice on the wall--'Any one meddling with this
house will be treated as he deserves'?"

I had not.

"Waal," said he, "it's there. So you'll put that fire out."

I complied.

"It's a wet day," said I.

"Yes, it's wet."

"I'd like to get put up for the night somewhere, and get a good meal.
Do you know of any one who would do it?"

He was silent for some while, and stared at me as if irritated, and
then he said:

"Guess about no one in this hollow'd take any one in. But you might try
at the store at the top of the hill."

"Couldn't you take me in?"

"No; couldn't do it."

"Then, could you put me up a meal?"

"We have been out of food and are living on buckwheat cakes."

"I wouldn't mind some of them and some milk."

"No, no. No use. Wife wouldn't have any one in."

After some converse he learned that I was British, and he said, "There
was one of yours here two-three years back."

"What did he think of this country?"

"He said it was the darndest country he ever saw."

There was no help for it. I had to abandon the well and go out through
the never-ceasing down-pour and seek shelter and a decent meal. On my
way to the store I met another farmer, and we had this interchange of
talk:

"Can you put me up for the night?"

"No."

"Can you make me up a meal?"

"No."

"I'll pay you for it. You can have a quarter or so for a hot meal."

"We've just had our supper, and the women are doing other things now.
There is a place on top of the hill."

A mile farther on I came to a General Store. It was locked up, and as I
stared into the window the owner eyed me from a house over the way.

He came out, looking at me apprehensively.

"Can you put me up for the night?" I asked.

"No; not to-night."

"Why not?"

"We don't take only our own people. There's a place two miles on."

"Two miles through the wet."

"You're right."

"I can pay you what you get from your own people, and a little extra
perhaps."

The storekeeper shook his head and answered:

"My wife is a little unwell and does not want the trouble."

"I can tell you you wouldn't get turned away like this in my country,"
said I.

"Where are you from?"

"From England."

"Oh, wouldn't they?"

"There are plenty of places where they'd take you in without charging
for it. There are places in Europe where they'd come out and ask you
into their houses on such a night."

"I dessay, I dessay."

"Well, I think the people about here are very inhospitable."

"I reckon you're right."

"I think you are inhospitable."

"Um!"

"Well, you're a storekeeper, I want some bread and some butter, and
anything else you've got that doesn't need to be cooked."

"Are you hungry?"

I told him I was, and he determined to be more charitable than I had
given him the name for.

"Well," said he, "I can let you have a slice of bread and butter and a
cup of cawfee I dessay."

"Thanks. I should like to buy a loaf of bread and a quarter pound of
butter all the same," said I.

"We haven't any bread in the store. The baker leaves it three times a
week, and we've only enough for ourselves; but I can let you have a
slice, and that'll keep you going till you get to Unityville. It's only
about two miles away. There's a hotel there. The folks have taken away
the keeper's licence, and you won't be able to get anything to drink.
But he'll take you in for a dollar. You'll get all you want. In half
an hour you'll be there. There are two more big hills, and then you're
there."

He brought the bread, and as I was ravenous I was tamed thereby, and I
thanked him. The bread and butter and coffee were gratis. He was really
a kindly man. I shouldn't wonder if his wife had an acid temperament.
The night's lodging, no doubt, depended more on her than on him.

I sat on rolls of wire-netting outside the store and finished the
little meal. Then I went away. Over the hills in the dusk! It was real
colonial weather; the light of kerosene lamps streamed through the
downpour of rain, the dark woods on each side of the strange high road
grew more mysterious and lonesome, silent except for the throbbing
of the rain on the leaves and on the ground. I stopped at a house to
ask the way, but when I knocked no one answered. I looked through the
kitchen window at the glow of the fire and at the family round the
well-spread table, and the farmer's wife directed me through the glass.

At last--in a flow of liquid mud, as if arrested in floating
down-hill--a miserable town and a hotel.

When I asked the host to put me up he said his wife had gone to bed
with a headache, and if I had not rated him soundly I should have been
turned into the rain once again.

"Well," said he, "I cahnt give you any hot supper, you'll have to take
what's on hand."

So saying, he opened a tin of Boston beans, emptied them on to a plate,
and put before me a saucerful of those little salt biscuits called
oysterettes. My supper!

In the bar, deprived of ale, sat half a dozen youths eating chocolate
and birch beer, and talking excitedly of a baseball match that was
to be played on the morrow. Mine host was a portly American of the
white-nigger type. The villagers, exercising their local option, had
taken away his right to sell intoxicating liquor, and now on the wall
he had an oleographic picture of an angel guiding a little girl over a
footbridge, and saving her _from the water_. Somehow I think this was
unintentional humour on the part of mine host. He was an obtuse fellow,
who mixed the name Jesus Christ inextricably with his talk, and swore
b'God. But he gave me a warm bed. And he had his dollar.

Another evening, about a month later, I sought a lodging in a town
on Erie Shore. The weather was very hot, and I was tramping beside
marshes over which clouds of mosquitoes were swarming. There was no
good resting-place in the bosom of Nature, so I imagined in my heart,
vainly, that I might find refuge with man.

I came to a town and went into the store and asked where I would be
likely to find a night's lodging. The storekeeper mentioned a house
in one of the bye-streets. But when I applied there the landlady said
her husband was away, and she would be afraid to have a stranger in
his absence. I went to another house: they hadn't any room. I went to
a third: they told me a man there was on the point of death and must
not be disturbed. I returned to the store, and the storekeeper said it
would be impossible to be put up for the night anywhere in the village.
I told him I considered the harbouring of travellers a Christian duty.

"They don't feel it so about here," said he politely.

There was an empty park-seat at the end of the main street, I went and
sat on it and made my supper. Whilst I sat there several folk came and
gazed at me, and thought I might be plotting revenge. In America they
are very much afraid of the refused tramp--he may set houses on fire.

But I was quite cheerful and patient. I had been sleeping out regularly
for weeks, and shelter refused did not stir a spirit of revenge in
me. In any case, I was out to see America as she is, not simply to be
entertained. I was having my little lesson--"and very cheap at the
price."

But I found hospitality that night. As I sat on the park-seat a tall
labourer with two water-pails came across some fields to me, passed me,
and went to the town pump and drew water. "Surely," said I to myself,
"that is a Russian."

I hailed him as he came back.

"_Zdrastvitye! Roosky?_"

I had guessed aright; he replied in Russian.

"Are you working in a gang?" I inquired.

"No, only on the section of the railway; there are six of us. We have
charge of this section. Where are you going to? To Chicago? Looking
for a job? Going to friends there? Where are you going to sleep? This
village is not a good one. _Ne dobry._ If you sleep there, on the seat,
up comes the politzman, and he locks you up. So you be three weeks late
in getting to Chicago perhaps. Why do you walk? You get on freight
train and you be there to-morrow or the day after. You come with me
now. I sleep in a closed truck with five mates, four are Magyars, one
is a Serb. It's very full up, and I don't know how the Magyars would
take it if I brought you in. But I know a good place. A freight train
is waiting here all night. There are plenty of places to sleep, and you
go on in it to-morrow morning to Toledo."

He showed me an empty truck. I was very much touched, and I thanked him
warmly.

"How do you believe," he asked in parting, "are you a Pole or are you
Orthodox?"

"Oh," said I, "I'm not Russian, I've only lived some years there. I'm a
British subject."

This somewhat perplexed him. But he smiled. "Ah well," said he,
"good-bye, _Sbogom_--be with God," and we parted.

A little later he returned and said that if I were lonely and didn't
mind a crush, the Magyars would not object to my presence. But by that
time I had swept the sawdusty floor of the truck, made a bed, and was
nearly asleep. "Thanks, brother," said I, "but I'm quite comfortable
now."

The Russians are a peculiarly hospitable people. Their attitude of mind
is charitable, and even in commercial America they retain much of the
spirit that distinguishes them in Europe. I met a queer old Russian
tramp in Eastern Pennsylvania; he exemplified what I mean. He was,
however, rather an original.

In a district inhospitable to tramps I obtained my dinner by paying for
it. In this way and by these words:

"Can you give me a meal for a quarter?"

"Well, if you've got the coin I reckon we can do that."

I was sitting at a meal of canned beef, beans, and red-currant jelly,
sipping from a mug of coffee, in which might possibly be discerned the
influence of a spoonful of milk. The farmer was cross-examining me on
my business--where had I come from? Was I looking for a job? Was I
walking for wager?--when a strange figure appeared at the window, a
broad-faced, long-haired, long-bearded tramp in a tattered cloak.

He approached the house, and about ten feet from the window where we
were sitting he stood stock-still, leaning on his staff and staring at
us.

"A hobo--looks a bit fierce," said the farmer, opening the window. "How
do? Wha--yer--want?"

[Illustration: "THE CREAM-VANS COME TO BUY UP ALL THE CREAM."]

"Give me a piece and a cup o' milk," said the foreigner.

"A Polander," said the farmer. "I guess I turn him over to the missus.
Sue, here's a man wants a crust and some sour milk."

"Ee caant 'ave it," cried the farmer's wife.

"No go," said the farmer, and shook his head at the tramp.

The latter did not utter a word of reproach, but what was my
astonishment to see him cross himself delicately, and whisper a
benediction. A Russian, I surmised.

"It is not over-safe refusing them fellers," said the farmer. "They
may burn your barn next night. I reckon Sue might have put him up
something. Hear him curse as he went."

The old Russian was going eastward, I westward; but I resolved to turn
back, carry him some bread, make some coffee, and exchange those tokens
of the heart which are due from one wanderer to another upon the road.
I hurried back and overtook him.

The old man was nothing loth to sit on a bank of grass whilst I bought
a quart of milk at a farm. "Coffee, uncle," said I. "Russian coffee.
Varshaffsky, such as you get at home in Russia, eh?" Uncle smiled
incredulously.

"Twigs, uncle, sticks, dry grasses; we must make a fire," said I. Uncle
got up and collected a heap of wood. My coffee-pot soon reposed on a
cheerful blaze. The creamy milk soon began to effervesce and boil. In
went six lumps of sugar and eight spoonfuls of coffee. Uncle recognised
he was going to have a good drink when he saw that no water was to be
added. It was a pleasure to see him with a mug of it in one hand and a
hunk of good white bread in the other.

I learned that my friend was tramping his way to New York. At that city
he would buy a ticket to Libau, and from Libau would walk home to his
native village, or he would get under a seat in a train. He had come
250 miles of his journey from Minnesota in an empty truck of a freight
train; perhaps he would get another good lift before long.

"Why are you going home? Can't you find work?"

"Going to pray," said he. "I am going to my village to see my father's
grave, and then to a monastery. I would finish my years in Russia and
be buried in Russian ground."

"I suppose you didn't take root here; American life doesn't suit you?
Didn't you like Americans?"

"Well, I lived with other fellows from our village, and we succeeded
sufficiently well. Some seasons we gained a lot of money. But I never
felt quite at home. We reckoned we would build a church after a
while--a high wooden one that one could see from the wheat-fields when
we were at work. But my friend turned evangelical; he became a sort of
molokan, and one by one all the other fellows joined him and they went
to meetings. I was the only one who remained orthodox. They reckoned I
got drunk because I was orthodox; but I reckon I got drunk because they
were evangelicals--because they had all deserted me, and I was lonely.
It's hard on a man to be all alone."

"And why did you leave, uncle? What determined you to go?"

"I'll tell you. I had a strange dream. I saw my father, who is, as
you know, dead long since and in his grave, and I saw a figure of
St. Serge--St. Serge was his angel--and both lifted their arms and
pointed to the East. I knew it was the East because there was a great
red sunset behind them, and they pointed right away from it, in the
other direction. When I wakened up I remembered this, and it made
a great impression on me. I told Basil, my friend, who worked with
me lumbering, and he laughed. 'But,' I said, 'that's not the thing
to laugh at.' At last I decided to start for home. The idea that I
might die in America and be buried there was always pricking me. I am
not American. The American God won't take me when I die. Some of the
fellows are going to take out their papers, because a Jew came round
pestering them with books to learn English and prepare for examination,
saying they ought to make themselves citizens; but that is not for me.
I am Russian. Mother Russia! she is mine. They may keep you down and
oppress you there, but the land is holy, and men are brothers.

"When I started home I was surprised that so many farmers said 'No,'
when I wanted to sleep in their barns. I even got angry and shouted
at them. But as I went further I got patient, and came to pray to God
every day and often, to give me my bread and bring me safely to Russia.
Then I got peace, and never was afraid or angry, reckoning that even
if I did die in America I should be dying on the way home, and my face
would be turned towards Russia. I reckon that if I die my soul will get
there just the same."

"It's not often that in Russia, when a man is refused bread, he says,
'Glory be to God!'" said I, recalling how the tramp had crossed himself
after the farmer's refusal.

"No; not often. I thought out that for myself. At first I was silent
when people turned me away. I gave thanks only when they took me in.
But after a while my silence seemed a sort of impatience and angriness.
So I recollected God even then, and crossed myself. A tramp has no
ikons, so he needs all sorts of things to remind him."

The poor exile had told his story, and looked at me with dim,
affectionate eyes. He held my hand tightly in his as we said,
"Good-bye"; he going eastward, I westward.

That was a way of living in the fear of God. That old man had real
hospitality in his soul.

But in depicting the American farmer and storekeeper it would be unfair
to characterise him as an inhospitable person. He is a great deal more
hospitable than his actions would suggest. He is a kindly being. He
has love towards his neighbour, and is more inclined to say "Yes" to
the wanderer than "No." But he has often been victimised. He has been
robbed, assaulted, insulted, his property has been damaged, barns set
on fire, his crops in part destroyed by wilfully malicious vagabonds.
The behaviour of the tramp is often a sort of petty anarchism; he has
suffered in the heartless commercial machine, has got out of it only
by luck, and his hand is against every man. He has cast over honour,
principle, and conscience, and is able to gloat secretly over every
little cynical act or meanness perpetrated at the expense of the
good-natured but established farmer.

America has more tramps than any other country except Russia, and it
would have more than Russia but for the fact that there are often
about a million pilgrim-tramps on the Russian roads. The Russian tramp
is, moreover, a gentle creature; the American is often a foul-mouthed
hooligan.

In several little districts that I passed through I was questioned by
the farmers as to whether I belonged to a gang of tramps who had been
lurking in the neighbourhood for weeks. A tramp was evidently regarded
as an enemy of society. Whenever I remarked on the inhospitality of the
people a rueful expression came over the farmer's face, and he would
begin to tell me that the old days were gone, money was tighter, the
cost of living was higher, taxes were double, the land did not yield
what it did of old, there were many demands on them here; but out in
the West it was different. There, as in former times, every farm-house
had open doors and free table to the tramp and wanderer. No one was
more welcome than the tramp, he brought news and stories of personal
adventure; he might even be persuaded to do work in the fields.

I believe the Americans would be a truly charitable and hospitable
people if the evils of over-commercialism were remedied, and if
business were made kinder and more human, and taxes were evenly
distributed. There is an immense good-will towards man in America:
it is only rendered abortive by mammon. I for my part have to thank
numberless farmers, east and west, for kindly interest and good talks,
loaves of bread, cups of coffee, and pleasant meals. Several times when
I have been cooking by the side of a road a farm wife has come running
out to me with something hot from her kitchen, with an "Eat this, poor
man, and God bless you, you must be hungry."

[Illustration: "PLOUGHED UPLAND ALL DOTTED OVER WITH WHITE HEAPS OF
FERTILISER."]

Then the farmer's wife is often mollified when you are able to buy her
milk and eggs. She is the person who counts in the farm. She must be
approached; the husband has very little say in what shall be given to
the wanderer. As a fantastic old tramp said to me:

"Whilst you are yet afar off the farmer's wife standing on her
threshold, espies you and takes you to be a hungry lion pawing the
road and seeking whom you may devour. She calls to her husband and he
peereth at you. Perchance she fetcheth down the ancient blunderbuss
from the wall; but when you come closer and hail her in English she
says to herself with relief, even with pleasure, 'It is a man,' one of
the attractive male species. You ask for bread and milk,--oh yes she
has it, and with a scared look still on her face, though transfigured
with a mild gladness, she fetcheth you bread and milk and eggs;
and then if you can pay her market price the scared look goes away
entirely; and out of the goodness of her heart and the abundance of
her pantry she addeth cookies and apple butter, and for these you pay
nought--they are her favour. Don't ask her, however, to put you up for
the night."

The tramp always has a hard time to get a night's lodging. A poor,
weak, bedraggled Jew, whom I met shortly after the forty-eight hours'
rain, told me that he had been all one night in the wet--his pedlar's
pack had got ruined, he was suffering from pneumonia, and had thought
that such weather meant sure death to him. He had tried every house in
five towns and had been refused at every one. It was a sad comment on
modern life.

In the Middle Ages, and in the days when Christianity meant more
than it does now, the refusal of shelter was almost unheard of.
And in peasant Russia to-day it would be considered a sin. An old
pilgrim-tramp once said to me, "When we leave this world to get to
Heaven we all have to go on tramp, and those find shelter there who
sheltered wanderers here." But Americans will not be judged by that
standard. The early Christians received strangers and often entertained
angels unawares, but the modern American is afraid that in taking in a
strange tramp he may be sheltering an outcast spirit. Once tramps were
angels; now they are rebel-angels.



IX

OVER THE ALLEGHANIES


Both the weather and the country improved before I reached
Williamsport. On the height of the road to Hughesville I had a grand
view of the mountains and of the sky above them, saw displayed green
hills and forested mountains, and great stretches of ploughed upland
all dotted over with white heaps of fertiliser. And the sky above was
a battle-scene, the sun and his angels having given battle and the
clouds taking ranks like an army. Glad was I to see to eastward whole
battalions in retreat.

I passed through fine forested land with great hemlocks, maples, and
hickories. A brawling stream poured along through the dark wood, and
as I walked beside it a sudden gleam of sunshine pierced the gloom of
foliage, and lit up boles and wet banks and wet rocks and the crystal
freshets of the stream. Of all weathers I like best convalescent
weather, the getting sunny after much rain. On the Sunday on which I
reached the city the open road was swept by fresh winds, all the birds
were singing, every blade of grass was conscious of rain taken in and
of the sun bringing out.

Williamsport I found to be a peaceful, provincial town, well kept in
itself and surrounded by beautiful scenery. It was looking its best in
the freshness and radiance of a May morning. On its many hundred bright
green lawns that run down so graciously from pleasant urban villas to
the roadway there was much white linen airing. Williamsport is an old
lumbering town on a branch of the Susquehanna, and though that business
has gone away, prosperity and happiness seem to have remained behind.
There was a feeling of calmness that I had not experienced in other
American cities, and I felt it would be pleasant to live there for a
season.

I tramped down to Jersey Shore, and the night after my halcyon day at
Williamsport a thunderstorm overtook me, shaking the old barn in which
I slept and tearing away rafters and doors. I witnessed Lockhaven under
depressing circumstances, but in any weather it must be an inferior
town to Williamsport, though it is also an old point for lumbering on
the Susquehanna.

The weather remained very rainy, and I was obliged to forsake the
atrociously clayey high-road for the cinder track of the railway. In
doing this I passed up into a fine hilly country along the valley of
the Beech Creek. I came to Mapes (to rhyme with Shapes), but found it
a name and no more. A shooting and fishing resort with one house in
it. The Beech Creek was a fine sight, running along the base of the
embankment of the railway, carrying pine logs on its flood and racing
the trains with them, roaring and rushing, the logs pointing, racing,
turning, rolling, toppling, colliding, but always going forward,
willy-nilly getting clear of every obstacle and galloping out of sight.

With one wet match I lighted a grand fire by the side of the line, and
boiled my kettle and dried myself and chuckled. It might be going to
rain more. I might be going to have a queer night, but for the time
being I was having a splendid tea. It was a matter for consolation in
the future that on the wettest possible day it was not difficult to
light a fire with one match. The secret lies in having plenty of dry
paper in your wallet; and I had a copy of a New York Sunday paper,
which lasted me to light my fire all the way to Elkhart, Indiana, at
least five hundred miles' tramping.

The district of Mapes is one of the most beauteous in the Alleghanies,
or it was so this quiet evening. The summits of the mountains were
obscured by mists, but up from the profound valleys the woods climbed,
and the lovely tops of trees seemed like so many stepping-stones from
the land up to cloudy heaven.

By the time I came to Monument it was dark. But a great glowing
brick-kiln looked out into the night, and there were houses with many
lighted windows. I was directed to a workmen's boarding-house, and
spent a night among miners, railway men, and brick-workers. The keeper
of the establishment was doubtful whether he would have me, but thought
there was "one feller on the third floor gone."

"What will be your charge?" I asked.

"Well," said he, "a won't charge ye anything for the bed, but the
breakfast to-morrow morning will be twenty-five cents."

"My!" I thought, "here's something choice coming along in the shape of
a bed."

It turned out to be four in a room and two in a bed, all sleeping in
their clothes. There was even some doubt as to whether there was not a
fifth coming.

One man was in bed already; I chose the unoccupied bed, and laid myself
upon it in full tramping attire. You can imagine the state of sheets
and quilts in a bed that brickmakers and soft-coal miners sleep in
their clothes.

The man in bed was an Anglo-Saxon American. When I said I was from
England he asked me if I had walked it all.

"I came by steamer of course to New York."

"How many days?"

"Eight."

"Weren't you afraid?" said he. "Quite out of sight of land no doubt?
You wouldn't get me to go, not for many thousand dollars. That
_Titanic_ was an affair, wasn't it. Fifteen hundred--straight to the
bottom! I'd have shot myself had I been there."

"What do you work at here?"

"Brick-making."

"Lot of men?"

"Plenty of work. Two truck-loads of extra men coming to-morrow."

"Foreigners?"

"Italians."

I told him the story of a storm at sea with the exaggeration to which
one is too prone when addressing simple souls. I rather harrowed him
with an account of cook's enamel ware and kitchen things rolling about
and jangling when every one was saying his prayers.

Presently I remarked irrelevantly, "My goodness! What a noise the frogs
make here!"

"That's no noise," said he; "I'm going to sleep."

After a while his bedfellow came in and he, before turning in, got
down on his knees in the narrow passage between the beds and prayed--I
should say, a whole half-hour, talking half to himself, half-aloud.
Whilst he was doing so my bedfellow came in, a tall, heavy, tired Pole,
who looked neither to right nor left, but just clambered over me and
lay down with his face to the wall and slept and snored.

It rained heavily all night, and next morning it still poured.
After a disreputably bad breakfast I sat on a chair at the door of
the establishment and watched the thresh of the rain on two great
pools beside a road of coal-dust, looked out at the lank grass, the
tomato-can dump, the sodden refuse of the boarding-house, and away to
the square red chimney of the brick factory belching forth black smoke.

"Say, stranger," said mine host, "I'm going to wade into that cave and
hand out potatoes; will you take them from me?" This was the first time
I had been called stranger in America, and it sounded pleasant in my
ears.

About eleven o'clock in the morning the rain ceased, and I went on to
the next point on the railway. The track climbed higher and higher, and
I learned that on the morrow I should reach the top of the Alleghany
Mountains--Snow Shoe Creek.

It was a fine walk to Orviston under the heavily clouded sky. The
mountain sides were all a-leak with springs and trickling streams and
cascades. There was an accompanying music of the racing Beech Creek
on the one hand, and of the gushing rivulets on the other; but this
would be swallowed up and lost every now and then in the uproar of the
oncoming and passing freight train of coal; the appalling, hammering,
affrighting freight train passing within two feet of me, taking my
breath away with the thought of its power. How pleasant it was, though,
to listen to the rebirth of the music of the waters coming to the ear
in the wind of the last trucks as they passed.

[Illustration: "SLOVAKS WORKING ON THE LINE WITH PICK AND SHOVEL."]

Orviston prides itself on its fire-bricks. The whole village is made of
them, and the pavement as well, and every brick is stamped "Orviston,"
and is both a commodity and an advertisement.

After I had visited the village store for provisions I re-entered the
railway enclosure, and read as I did so the following notice typical of
America: "Cultivate the safety habit--if you see anything wrong report
it to the man with the button."

I met the man with the button after I had walked a mile along the
way; he was a Slovak, working on the line with pick and shovel, a
tall, brawny Slav, and with him a rather tubby little chap of the same
nationality.

"You haf no räit on these läins," said the Slovak. "You go off. You are
no railway man. What are you? Slavish?"

I replied in English, but on second thoughts went on in Russian. He
understood, and was mollified at once. He was in America for the second
time, they neither of them liked the old country. I photographed them
as they stood--John Kresica and Paul Cipriela. They were unmarried men,
and lived in a "boarding-house" in Orviston. They worked in a gang.
Would I please send them a copy of the photograph? I agreed to do so;
then, when I moved to go off the lines, the man with the button cried
out, smiling:

"Hi! All-right, go ahead!"

I went on blithely. There was a change of weather in the afternoon. At
one o'clock the sun lifted his arms and pulled apart the mist curtains
at the zenith and disclosed himself--a miraculous apparition. The whole
sky was cloudy, but the sun was shining. An apparition, the ghost of
a sun, and then a reality--hot, light-pouring, cloud-dispersing. By
two it was a hot summer day, at three there was not a cloud in the
sky. What a change! It was clear that summer had progressed during
the rain; insects of bright hues were on the wing, huge yellow-winged
butterflies, crimson-thighed grasshoppers, green sun-beetles. A
new-born butterfly settled three times on my sleeve; the fourth time I
just caught him. I held him delicately between two fingers and let him
go.

During a most exhilarating evening I tramped past houseless Panther and
got to Cato at nightfall. Cato was a railway station of no pretensions;
a broken-down shed with no door, no ticket offices, no porter.
Passengers who wished to take a train had to wave a flag and trust to
the eyesight of the engine-driver. For village, all that I could make
out was a coal-bank, a shaft, and some heaps of old iron.

It was an extremely cold night, so I slept in the railway shed on a
plank form that ran along the three sides of the building. I lay and
looked out at the bright night shining over the mountains, dozed,
waked, dozed again. Shortly after midnight I had a strange visitor. I
was lying half-asleep, looking at a misshapen star which was resting on
the mountains opposite me, which became a silver thumb pointing upward,
which became at last the young crescent moon just rising. I was in that
somnolent state when you ask, as you see the moon rising behind dark
branches of the forest, Is it the moon in eclipse? is it a comet?--when
a portly man with shovel hat came out of the night, stood in front of
the shed, leaned on a thick cudgel, and looked in.

"Hallo!" said I.

"Haffing sum sleep?" queried the visitor.

"Yes, trying to; but it's a cold night."

"Ah, you haf bed pretty goot!"

"Who are you,--the night watchman?"

"Naw. You don't see a näit wawtchman without 'is lantern."

The old chap came close up to me, bent down, and whispered, "I'm in the
same box as yourself."

"Walking all night?" I asked.

"The only vay to keep varm," said the old man ruefully. He took out a
shining watch from his waistcoat.

"Three o'clock," said he. "In an hour it will be daylight. Oh, I think
I'll try and sleep here an hour. Say, is there to eat along the road?"

I wasn't quite sure what he meant.

"Not much," I hazarded.

"Wot are you--you don't speak the langwage very goot," said the tramp.

"English."

"I am a Cherman."

The old man lay down on the plank form, resting his head on my feet,
and using them for a pillow.

"How old are ye?" he went on.... "Hoh, I can give you forty years. If I
were in Germany now I should be getting an army pension."

"Are you going back?" said I.

"Naw, naw. I could never give up this country."

We composed ourselves to sleep, but with his head resting on my feet I
was too uncomfortable. "Presently I'll make a fire," said I, "and we'll
have hot tea and some bread and butter." And after about twenty minutes
I got up, put my boots on, and wandered out to find wood to make a
fire. It was about half an hour before dawn. There was a hoar frost,
and everything was cold and rimy to the touch. But I made up a bundle
of last year's weeds, now sodden straws, and laid them on a half-sheet
of my Sunday newspaper. That made a fine blaze, and with twigs and
sticks and bits of old plank, I soon had a fine bonfire going. The old
German came out and watched me incredulously. He didn't think it was
possible to make a fire on such a morning. But he was soon convinced,
and went about picking up chunks of wood desultorily, alleging the
while that he couldn't have lit such a fire in three hours; evidently I
knew how to do it.

"Shall I make tea or coffee?" I asked.

"Cawfee," said the old chap, his mouth watering. The word tea did not
represent to him anything good.

"After a cup of hot cawfee I can go a long way. Hot cawfee, mind yer.
Varm cawfee 'salright for lunch, but in the morning it must be hot. The
only thing better than a cup of cawfee is a pint of whisky.... Say,
you've enough fire here now to roast a chicken."

"Wish I had one, we'd roast it."

I emptied the last of my sugar into the pot, and seven or eight
spoonfuls of coffee. It was to be "Turkish." The old tramp sat down on
the stump of a tree, took out a curly German pipe, and then put a red
coal on it. He had matches, but was economical in the matter of lights.
"Say," he said to me later, pointing to the ground, "you've dropped a
good match." I picked it up.

The coffee was "real good." The old fellow drank it through his thick
moustache, and dipping his bread into his cup, munched great mouthfuls.
I had offered him butter with his bread, but he refused. "Booter" was
nothing to him. He liked apple-"booter."

"Say, you've got on a powerful pair of boots!"

"I need them, tramping to Chicago."

"Chicago's not a bad town if you know where to go. Say, presently
you'll come to Snow Shoe. Don't go past it. You'll get something there."

The old man stopped a minute in his talk, and stared at me knowingly,
didactically.

"Rich miners," he went on. "You need only ask. See this packet of
tobacco, they gave it to me at the Company store. That's the thing I
can't get on without, must have it. If a man asks me for a smoke and I
haf it to give I must give him also. Where've you come from yesterday,
Orviston?"

"No. Monument."

"Is there anything there?" he whispered mysteriously.

"Not much to be had," said I. "But there's a good deal of work, and
they're bringing in a big gang of Italians. You can't get much of
anything at the farms."

"Where Guineas are, I don't go. I don't like the Eyetaylians."

"D'you like the Jews?"

"They're a good people," said he. "Don't say anything against the Jews.
I know a Jew who gives free boots to tramps. Last year I went into his
store, and one of the shopmen came up to me and said, 'I know what you
want, you'll get it. I'll tell the boss when he comes out.' And he
gave me a powerful pair of boots, and sent me across the road to the
Quick-lunch with a letter to the boss there, to give me a good dinner.
So I never say anything against the Jews."

"Do you know Cleveland?" said I.

"You bet. Lived there ten years ago, had a job on a Lake steamer. I
worked one summer on a boat."

The old tramp stared at me as if he had confessed a sin. "Worked like a
mule," he added sententiously, and stared again. "I had a home there,
and lived just like a married man. But when I wanted to move on to
Pittsburg my girl wouldn't go."

"I expect you're the sort of man who has run away from a wife in
Germany," said I.

"Naw, naw. Never married."

Then he began to talk of his loves and conquests. At his age you'd have
thought his mind would not have been filled with such vanities. He
evidently earned money now and then, and went on "sprees." He averred
that he had not a dime now, and was altogether "on the nail." I had
an idea, however, that he had hidden on him, somewhere, passage-money
to take him to Germany, to get that army pension. The Germans are a
cautious people. They are cautious and cogitative, yet I wonder what
the old man thought of me as he stumped away, leaning on his heavy
walking-stick. He had been twenty-seven years on the road, and was very
shrewd and experienced in many ways. Perhaps for a moment he took me
for a gentleman burglar. He was immensely curious to see what was in
my sack, but he probably reflected--"Here is good hot, coffee, a fire,
and a pleasant young man; make the most of it, and ask no inconvenient
questions."

I put the fire out, shouldered my pack, and resumed the journey to Snow
Shoe. The sun had risen, but his warmth was as yet shut away behind the
wall of the mountains. The hoar-frost of night had not melted yet, and
it was necessary to walk briskly to keep warm. It was so cold that I
got to Snow Shoe before ten o'clock.

A feature of this tramping along the rails was the danger in crossing
bridges. It was a single line, and as there were some twenty bridges
over the flood of the river, there were twenty ordeals of trusting that
no train would suddenly appear from a corner of the winding track and
run me down. If a train had come whilst I was half-way across a bridge
there was no refuge but the river, and I was always prepared to jump.
For several nights after this bit of tramping I dreamed of crossing
bridges, running on the sleepers and just passing the last beams as
engines swept down on me. But it was pleasant climbing up so high, and
feeling that within an hour or so Snow Shoe would be achieved. I had
lived in the rumour of Snow Shoe for two days, and the name had come
to correspond to something very beautiful in my mind. The sound of the
name is pleasant to the ear, and every now and then, as I hurried
along, I asked, "Snow Shoe, Snow Shoe, what shall I find there?" I
imagined the pioneers who first came up this beautiful valley and
gave to an Indian settlement the dainty name--through what virginal
loveliness they had passed! Then I thought of the reporter-poet
of Scranton who objected to the beauty of Nature because it was
independent of man.

[Illustration: THE SLAV CHILDREN OF SNOW-SHOE CREEK.]

Then, man came along, the engine-man with his endless, empty freight
train and his bellowing, steaming engine howling through the valley.
One after another eight freight trains, each about a quarter of a mile
long, came grinding past me, going up to the collieries to take their
daily loads of carbon. Somehow I did not object; it was new America,
the America of to-day careering over the America of 1492, and had to be
accepted.

But Snow Shoe gave me pause. When I arrived at the little slate-roofed
mining settlement I found there was considerable excitement among the
children there. A cow had just been cut to pieces by the last freight
train. The driver had driven his train over the beast and on without a
word of remark or a hesitation, and a farmer was complaining bitterly,
but the children--young Americans, Russians, Ruthenians, Slovaks, the
ones who have in their keeping the America of to-morrow--were sitting
round the remains, helling and God-damning and asking me facetious
questions. And that was the answer to what I had asked myself--What
shall I see at Snow Shoe? What am I walking so far and so high for to
see?

Snow Shoe was the dreariest possible mining settlement, and its
inhabitants slouched about its coaly ways and in and out of the
saloons. Scarcely any one could speak English, and the mines were
worked almost exclusively by Poles and Slovaks. The highest point in
the Alleghanies, a hand of earth stretched up to heaven, perhaps a
maledictory hand.



X

DECORATION DAY


America celebrates no "Whit-Monday," but has Decoration Day instead;
a great national festival, when medals are pinned on to veterans, the
soldiers of the War of North against South are remembered, and the
graves of heroes are decorated with flags and flowers. On Decoration
Day, and again later, on Independence Day, the whole populace ceases
work in the name of America, and flocks the streets, sings national
songs and hymns, goes on procession, fires salutes, listens to
speeches. We British are just wildly glad to get free from toil when
Whit-Monday and August Bank Holiday come round. We have no national
or religious fervour on these days. We have even been known to flock
happily to Hampstead and Epping Forest to the strains of "England's
going down the Hill." Upon occasion the British can be clamorously
patriotic, but only upon occasion. But the American citizen is, to use
his own phrase, "crazy about America" all the while. The "days-off"
that we get are not only off work, but off everything serious. The
American still nurses the hope with which he came across the ocean,
and he is enthusiastically attached to the republic he has made and the
principles of that republic.

I spent Decoration Day at Clearfield, a little mining and agricultural
town on the other side of the Alleghanies. I put up at a hotel for two
or three days, and just gave myself to the town for the time. Early on
the festival day I was out to see how the workaday world was taking
things. All the shops were closed except the ice-cream soda bars and
the fruiterers. There were flags on the banks and loungers on the
streets. Young men were walking about with flags in their hat ribbons.
The cycles and automobiles on the roadway had their wheels swathed
with the stars and stripes. There were negroes and negresses standing
_endimanche's_ at street corners. Now and then a girl in white dress
and white boots would trip from a house to a shop and back again. There
was an air best expressed by the words of the song:


     Go along and get yer ready,
     Get yer glad rags on,
     For there's going to be a meeting
     In the good old town.


Every town in America is a good old town, and on such occasions as
Decoration Day you may always hear the worthies of the place giving
their reminiscences in the lounge of a hotel. I sat and listened to
many.

We had a very quiet morning, and it seemed to me there was considerable
boredom in the town. There was a fire in the Opera House about eleven,
and I ran behind the scenes with a crowd of others and stared at the
smoking walls. There was a sort of disappointment that the firemen put
it out so promptly.

But after dinner the real holiday commenced, and the houses began to
empty and the streets began to fill. About four o'clock the "Parade"
commenced, what we should in England call a procession. Every one who
owned a car had it out, carrying roses and ferns and flags. There was
a continual hooting and coughing of motor-horns, and an increasing
buzz of talk. The "Eighth Regimental Band" appeared, and stood with
their instruments in the roadway, chatting to passers-by and being
admired. The firemen came with new hats on--their work at the Opera
House happily concluded. They now bore on their shoulders wreaths,
which were to be carried to the graves of the heroes in the cemetery
outside the town. The High School band formed up. A tall man brought
a new-bought banner of the Stars and Stripes, which hung from a
bird-headed pole. Boy Scouts came in costume--as it were in the rags of
the war. The marching order was formed, and then came up what I thought
to be the Town Militia, but which turned out to be the representatives
of the Mechanics Union, with special decorations and medals on their
breasts. The bands began to play; the automobiles, full of flowers
and flags, began to cough and shoot forward; the flocks of promenaders
on the side-walk and in the roadway set themselves to march in step
to the festal music. I watched the whole procession, from the Eighth
Regimental Band that went first to the eight veterans of the Spanish
War, who, with muskets on their shoulders, took up the rear. I stopped
several people in the procession and asked them who they were, what
exactly was their rôle, for what reason were they decorated with
medals,--and every one was glad to satisfy my curiosity. I found that
the eight veterans considered themselves technically a squad, and their
function was to fire a salute over the graves of the "heroes."

The procession marched round the town to the strains of "Onward,
Christian soldiers" and "O come, all ye faithful." All the people of
Clearfield accompanied--Americans, Poles, Ruthenians, Slovaks--for
Clearfield has its foreign mining population as well as its Anglo-Saxon
urban Americans. As I was going alongside, a young boy ran up and put
his hand on my shoulder and addressed me in Polish.

"What's that you say?" I asked.

"Vairy good!" said he, and pointed to the procession. "I like it."

"What are you,--Ruthenian, Polish?" I asked.

"Slavish."

I spoke to him in Russian.

"Oh-ho, he-he, da-da, I thought you were a Polak."

And now he thought I was a Russian! It touched me rather tenderly. I
was dressed like an American, and my attire was not like that of a
Russian at all. How enthusiastic this boy was! It was a real holiday
for him. The Slav peoples are emotional; they need every now and then a
means of publicly expressing their feelings. This procession from the
town to the graveyard was a link with the customs of their native land,
where at least twice a year the living have a feast among the crosses
and mounds of the cemetery, and share their joys and interests with the
dear dead, whose bodies have been given back to earth.

Among those accompanying the procession were Austrian Slavs, in
soot-coloured, broad-brimmed, broken-crowned hats, not yet cast away;
and I noted solemn-faced, placid Russian peasants in overalls staring
with half-awakened comprehension. I saw a negro attired in faultless
black cloth, having a bunchy umbrella in his hand, a heavy gold chain
across his waistcoat, a cigar in his mouth, a soft smoky hat on his
head. He tried to get to the front, and I heard one white man say to
another, "Make way for him, it's not _your_ funeral." The negro is a
pretty important person--considering that the war was really fought for
him. Perhaps not many actively remember that now; it is not soothing
to do so. It is the American hero who matters more than the cause
for which he fell; though of course America, the idea of America,
matters more than either the heroes or the cause. It is a pity that
on Decoration Day there is a tendency to decorate the graves of those
who fell in the Spanish War and to pin medals on the survivors of that
conflict rather than to perpetuate the memory of the struggle for the
emancipation of the negro. America's great problem is the negro whom
she has released; but the Spanish War meant no more than that America's
arm proved strong enough to defeat a European power inclined to meddle
with her civilisation.

It was, however, at the oldest grave in the cemetery that the
procession stopped and the people gathered. All the men were uncovered,
and there was a feeling of unusual respect and emotion in the crowd.
The wreaths were put down and the flags lowered as the little memorial
service commenced. We sang an old hymn, slowly, sweetly, and very
sadly, so that one's very soul melted. A hymn of the war, I suppose:


     _Let him sleep,_
           _Calmly sleep,_
     _While the days and the years roll by._
     _Let him sleep,_
           _Sweetly sleep,_
     _Till the call of the roll on high._


In the time of the war, in the dark hours of danger and distress, in
the times of loss and appalling personal sorrow the Americans were
very near and dear to God and to one another--nearer than they are
to-day in their peace and prosperity.

When the hymn had been sung, an old grey-headed man came to the foot of
the grave and read a portion of the speech made by Abraham Lincoln at
the great cemetery at Gettysburg:


     _Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
     continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
     proposition that all men are created equal. We are now engaged in
     a great Civil War, testing whether that nation so conceived and so
     dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield ...
     to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for
     those who have given their lives that the nation might live. It is
     altogether fitting and proper that we should do this._

     _But in a larger sense we cannot consecrate this ground. The dead
     themselves have consecrated it. It is rather for us, the living,
     to consecrate ourselves to the work they died for, that we resolve
     that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation
     shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the
     people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the
     earth._


The reading of these words was most impressive. I realised in it the
Gospel of America--something more national than even the starry flag.

When the reading was accomplished the eight veterans fired their
salute, not up at heaven, but across and over the people's heads, as at
an unseen enemy. Then the old grey-headed man who had read the words of
Lincoln pronounced the blessing:


     _The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your
     hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God...._


And we dispersed to wander among the graves and see the decorations,
and add decorations of our own if we willed. Wherever I went, the
haunting air was in my ears:


     Let him sleep,
         Sweetly sleep,
     Till the call of the roll on high.


Americans believe very really in the roll-call. They believe that
they will answer to their names on a great last day--"When the roll
is called up yonder, I'll be there," says a popular hymn. It is all
important to the American that he feels he lives and dies for the
Right, for the moral virtues. The glory of the wars which the Americans
have fought in their history is not only that they, the Americans, were
victorious, but that they were morally right before ever they started
out to fight.

Well, civilisation has approved the abolition of slavery. The great
mass of people nowadays consider slavery as something wrong in itself.
The North took up its weapons and convinced the South, and the negro
was freed. The peculiar horrors of slavery no longer exist--no one
man has power of life and death over the African. That much the war
has achieved. But it is strange that for the rest the negro seems
to have become worse off, and that America feels that she cannot
extend the personal privileges of democracy to the blacks. America has
brutalised the nigger; has made of a very gentle, loving and lovable
if very simple creature, an outcast, a beast, who may not sit beside
an ordinary man. It has in its own nervous imagination accused him of
hideous crimes which he did not commit, did not even imagine; it has
deprived him of the law, tortured him, flayed him, burned him at the
stake. It has made a black man a bogey; so that a fluttering white
woman, finding herself alone in the presence of a negro, will rush
away in terror, crying "murder," "rape," "fire," just because she has
seen the whites of his eyes. Then the hot-blooded southern crowd comes
out....

The war was a healthy war. It did much good, it strengthened the roots
of many American families; it gave the nation a criterion for future
development; it brought many individuals nearer to reality, brought
them to the mystery of life, caused them to say each day their prayers
to God. But if a war must be judged by its political effect, then as
regards the happiness of the negro the war has not yet proved to be a
success. The service by the graveside, and the apt words of Abraham
Lincoln were a reminder to the American people that though they realise
to themselves the maximum of prosperity the New World affords, and yet
lose their souls, it profits them nothing. America by her unwritten
but infallible charter is consecrated to freedom. If America is going
to be true to itself it must work for freedom, it must carry out the
idea of freedom. The emigrant from Europe expects to realise in America
the idea of freedom, the opportunity for personal and individual
development. He does not expect to find repeated there the caste system
and relative industrial slavery of the East.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

Clearfield was much touched by the graveside service. The whole evening
after it the men in the hotel lounge talked American sentiment. The
lads and lasses crowded into the cinema houses, and watched with
much edification the specially instructive set of films which, on
the recommendation of the town council, had been specially installed
for the occasion,--the perils of life for a young girl going to
dance-halls, the Soudanese at work, Japanese children at play, the
ferocious habits of the hundred-legs, a review of troops at Tiflis,
a portrait of the Governor of Mississippi wearing a high silk hat,
pottery-making in North Borneo, the Pathé news. It was good to see
so many pictures of foreign and dark-skinned people presented in an
interesting and sympathetic manner. The Americans need to care more
for the national life of other races. For they are often strangely
contemptuous of the people they conceive to be wasting their time.

I had a pleasant talk with a doctor who was extremely keen on
"temperance." He struck up acquaintance with me by complimenting me
on my complexion, and betting I didn't touch spirituous liquors. "The
war's still going on," said he. "I wage my part against drink and
disease. I'd like to make the medical profession a poor one to enter,
yes, sirr. I'd like to uproot disease, and if I could stop the drinking
in America I'd do it. Never touch liquor and you'll never have gout,
live to a good age, and be happy. I am glad to meet you, sir, glad
to meet a Briton. America will stand shoulder and shoulder with the
British in war or peace. They are of the same blood. The only two
civilised nations in the world."

All the same, Clearfield regarded me with some suspicion, and as I sat
at my bedroom window at night a young man called up:

"English Gawd: Lord Salisbury."



XI

WAYFARERS OF ALL NATIONALITIES


The men whom you meet during the day are like a hand of cards dealt out
to you by Providence. But they are more than that, for you feel that
luck does not enter into it. You feel there is no such thing as luck,
and that the wayfarer is in his way a messenger sent to you by the
hospitable spirit of man. He brings a sacred opportunity.

I sit tending my fire, and watching and balancing the kettle upon it;
or I sit beside the cheerful blaze on which I have cooked my breakfast
or my dinner, and I hold my mug of coffee in my hand and my piece
of bread; I chip my just-boiled eggs, or I am digging into a pot of
apple-jelly or cutting up a pine-apple, and I feel very tender towards
the man who comes along the road and stops to pass a greeting and give
and take the news of the day and the intelligence of the district.

There is a sort of hermit's charity. It is to have a spirit that is
quietly joyful, to be in that state towards man that a gentle woodsman
is towards the shy birds who are not afraid of him as he lies on a
forest bank and watches them tripping to and from their little nests.
Your fellow-man instinctively knows you and trusts you, and he puts
aside the mask in which he takes refuge from other fellow-travellers
who are alert and busy. I cherish as very precious all the little talks
I had with this man and that man who came up to me in America.

As I sat one day by the side of my pleasant Susquehanna road, an
oil-carrier met me, a gentle-voiced man in charge of four tons of
kerosene and petrol, which his horses were dragging over the mountains
from village to village and store to store. I was an opportunity to
rest the horses, and the driver pulled up, relaxed his reins and
entered into converse with me. Was I going far? Why was I tramping?
What nationality was I? I told him what I was doing, and he said he
would like to give up his job and do the same; he also was of British
origin, though his mother was a German. He was a descendant of Sir
Robert Downing. "There used to be many English about here," said he,
"but they wore off." He went on to tell me what a wild district it
had once been. His grandfather had shot a panther on the mountains.
But there were no panthers now. The railways and the automobiles
had frightened the wild things away. The change had come about very
suddenly. He remembered when there were no telephone-poles along the
road, but only road-poles. It used to be a posting-road, and a good
one too; but now the automobiles had torn up all the surface, and no
one would take any trouble about the needs of horse vehicles.

One hot noontide, on the road to Shippenville and Oil City, I was
having luncheon when a very pleasant Swede came down the road carrying
a bucket in his hand,--Mr. G. B. Olson, bossing a gang of workers on
the highway. He was going down the hill to a special spring to draw
water for his thirsty men, but he could hardly resist the smoke of my
wayside fire, and he told me, as it seemed, his whole story. He had
come to America in 1873, and had worked on a farm in Illinois before
the great Chicago fire. He was twenty-four then, and was sixty-five now.

When he heard I was British he told me how he had come from Europe
_via_ Leith and Glasgow, and had been fifteen and a half days crossing
the Atlantic.

"Have you ever been back to Sweden?" I asked.

"No, sirr, never."

"Are you content with America?"

"Yes, sirr; it's the finest country under the sun. It gives the working
man a show."

"The Americans speak very kindly of your countrymen. They like them."

"Yes. We gave the Americans a good lift, we Swedes, Norwegians, Danes,
and Germans, by settling the land when the rest of the colonists were
running to the towns. We came in and did the rough pioneer work that
had to be done if America was going to be more than a mushroom growth.
Where would America be to-day if it were not for us in Minnesota,
Wisconsin, Iowa? You can't keep up big cities unless you've got plenty
of men working in the background on the land."

The Swede went on to compliment me on my English. I spoke pretty clear
for one who had been only three months in the country. He had met many
British who spoke "very broken," especially Scotch. "I shouldn't have
been able to understand them," said he, "but that I am a foreigner
myself, and know what it is not to speak good."

"Well, I must be off," he added, and pointed to the bucket.

"You've got a gang of men working up above?"

"Yes. I'm bossing them for the State. A good job it is too, good money,
and I don't have to work much."

"I should say you'd make a kind boss!"

"Yes. I never do anything against them. I get a good day's work out of
the men, but I never put myself above them. I've got authority, that's
all--it doesn't make me better'n they. I've got to boss them, they've
got to work. That's how it's turned out.... Well, I must be off to
water my hands!"

And he hastened away down the hill, whilst I put my things together and
shouldered my pack.

The strange thing about this American journey was the diversity of
nationality I encountered, and the friendly terms in which it was
possible for me as a man on the road to converse with them.

On leaving Clearfield I fell in with Peter Deemeff, a clever little
Bulgarian immigrant, and spent two days in his company. He was
an unpractical, rebellious boy, a student by inclination, but a
labourer by necessity, nervous in temperament, and alternately gay
and despondent. He was thin-bodied, broad-browed, clean-shaven, but
blue-black with the multitude of his hair-roots; he had two rows of
faultless, little, milk-white teeth; an angelic Bulgarian smile, and an
occasional ugly American grimace.

We tramped along the most beautiful Susquehanna road to Curwenville,
and then through magnificent gorges to the height of Luthersburg.

"Ho! Where you going?" said one of a group of Italian labourers at
Curwenville.

"Oil City," I answered.

"You'll be sore," the Italian rejoined, and slapped his thigh. "Why not
stop here and get good job?"

But Peter and I were not looking for a job just then, and we went on. I
was glad the Bulgarian was not tempted, for I relished his company, and
he was pleasantly loquacious.

"Do you like the Americans?" I asked him.

He raised his eyebrows. Evidently he did not like them very much.

"Half-civilise," said he. "When I say my boss, 'I go,' he want me
fight. He offens me. I say, 'You Americans--bulldogs, no more,
half-civilise.' And I go all the same and no fight great big fat
American."

"You think Bulgaria a better country?"

"'S a poor country, that's all. There's more life in Europe. Americans
don't know what they live for."

I looked with some astonishment on this day-labourer in shabby attire
talking thus intelligently, and withal so frankly.

He told me he hated the English. They had said, anent the Balkan War,
"The fruits must not be taken from the victors"; but when Montenegro
took Scutari they were the first to say to King Nicholas "Go back, go
back." He thought I was a Slav immigrant like himself, or he would not
have struck up acquaintance with me. But he seemed relieved when I told
him my sympathies were entirely with the Slavs.

We talked of Russian literature, and of Tolstoy in particular.

"Tolstoy understood about God," said he. "He said God is within you,
not far away or everywhere, but in yourself. By that I understand life.
All life springs from inside. What comes from outside is nahthing. That
is how Americans live--in outside things, going to shows, baseball
matches.... I know Shakespeare was the mirror of life, that's not
what I mean.... To be educated mentally is light and life; to be
developed only physically is death and.... That's why I say bulldogs,
not civilise. When I was in Philadelphia I hear a Socialist in the Park
and he asked, 'How d'ye fellows live?--eat--work, eat--work--drink,
eat--work--sleep, eat--work--sleep. Machines, that's what y'are.'"

The most astonishing evidence of thought and culture that Peter Deemeff
gave me was contained in a reflection he made half-aloud, in a pause in
the conversation--"A great writer once said, 'If God had not existed,
man would have invented his God'--that is a good idea, eh?" Fancy that
from the lips of an unskilled labourer! These foreign working-men are
bringing something new to America. If they only settle down to be
American citizens and look after their children's education!

"Do many Bulgarians think?" I asked him.

"Yes, many--they think more than I do."

We spent the night under great rocks; he under one, I under another.
My bed, which I made soft with last year's bracken, was under three
immense boulders, a natural shelter, a deep dark cavern with an opening
that looked across the river-gorge to the forested cliff on the other
side. The Bulgarian, less careful about his comfort, lay in a ferny
hollow, just sheltered by an overhanging stone. Before lying down he
commended himself to God, and crossed himself very delicately and
trustfully. With all his philosophy he had not cast off the habits of
the homeland. And almost directly he laid himself down he fell asleep.

It was a wonderful night. As I lay in my cave and the first star was
looking down at me from over the great wooded cliff, what was my
astonishment to see a living spark go past the entrance of the cave,
a flame on wings--the firefly. I lay and watched the forest lose its
trees, and the cliff become one great black wall, ragged all along the
crest. Mists crept up and hid the wall for a while, and then passed.
An hour and a half after I had lain down, and the Bulgarian had fallen
asleep, I opened my eyes and looked out at the black wall--little lamps
were momentarily appearing and disappearing far away in the mysterious
dark depths of the cliff. It seemed to me that if when we die we perish
utterly, then that living flame moving past my door was something
like the passing of man's life. It was strange to lie on the plucked
rustling bracken, and have the consciousness of the cold sepulchre-like
roof of the cave, and look out at the figure of man's life. But the
river chorus lulled me to sleep. Whenever I reawakened and looked out I
saw the little lights once more, appearing and vanishing, like minutest
sprites searching the forest with lanterns.

Peter and I woke almost at the same time in the morning in a dense
mist. I sent him for water, and I collected wood for a fire. We made
tea, took in warmth, and then set off once more.

"Let us go to a farmhouse and get some breakfast," said I.

"We get it most likely for nothing, because it's Sunday," said Peter
with a smile.

The Americans are much more hospitable on Sundays than on week days.
They do not, however, like to see you tramping the road on the day of
rest; it is thought to be an infraction of the Sabbath--though it is
difficult to see what tramps can do but tramp on a Sunday.

We had a splendid breakfast for ten cents apiece at a stock-breeding
farm below Luthersburg,--pork and beans, bread and butter and cookies,
strawberry jam and home-canned plums, pear-jelly. I thanked the lady of
the establishment when we had finished, and remarked that I thought it
very cheap at the price. She answered that she didn't serve out lunches
for a profit, but wouldn't let decent men pass hungry.

"Are you hiking to the next burg?" she asked.

"Chicago," said I.

"Gee!"

We came to Luthersburg, high up on the crest of the hills, a large
village, with two severe-looking churches.

"When I see these narrow spires I'm afraid," said the Bulgarian. "I
should have to wither my soul and make it small to get into one of
these churches. I like a church with walls of praise and a spire of
yearning,--Tolstoy, eh? That spire says to me 'I feared Thee, O God,
because Thou art an austere man.'"

I, for my part, thought it strange that Americans, taking so many risks
in business, and daring and imagining so large-heartedly in the secular
world, should be satisfied with so cramped an expression of their
religion.

Peter and I went down on the other side of the hills to Helvetia, the
first town in a wild coaling district, a place of many Austrians,
Poles, and Huns. It was the Sunday evening promenade, and every one
was out of doors, hundreds of miners and labourers in straight-creased
trousers (how soon obtained) and cheap felt hats, a similar number
of dark, interesting-looking Polish girls in their gaudy Sunday
best. We passed a hundred yards of grey coke-ovens glowing at all
their doors and emitting hundreds of fires and flames. Peter seemed
unusually attracted by the coke-ovens or by the Slav population, and
he decided to remain at Helvetia and seek for a job on the morrow. So
I accompanied him into a "boarding-house," and was ready to spend the
night with him. But when I saw the accommodation of coaly beds I cried
off. So the Bulgarian and I parted. I went on to Sykesville and the
Hotel Sykes. Obviously I was in America,--fancy calling a hotel in
England "Hotel Sykes." But I did not stay there, preferring to hasten
up country and get a long step beyond black breaker-towers, the sooty
inclines up which trucks ran from the mines, the coke-ovens, the fields
full of black stumps and rotting grass, the seemingly poverty-stricken
frame-buildings, and more dirt and misery than you would see even in
a bad district in Russia. It surprised me to see the Sunday clothes
of Sykesville, the white collars, the bright red ties, the blue serge
trousers with creases, the bowler hats, and American smiles. Despite
all the dirt, these new-come immigrants say _Yes_ to American life
and American hopes. But to my eyes it was a terrible place in which
to live. It was an astonishing change, moreover, to pass from the
magnificent loveliness of the Susquehanna gorges to this inferno of a
colliery. But I managed to pass out of this region almost as quickly
as I came into it, and next day was in the lovely country about
Reynoldsville; and I tramped through beautiful agricultural or forested
country to the bright towns of Brookville, Clarion, and Shippenville,
clean, new, handsome settlements, with green lawns, shady avenues, fine
houses, and well-stocked shops. In such places I saw America at its
best, just as at Helvetia and Sykesville I saw it at about its worst. I
suppose Sykesville will never be made as beautiful as Brookville; the
one is the coal-cellar, the other is the drawing-room in the house of
modern America.

But I had definitely left the coal region behind, now I was striking
north, for oil. In three days I came into Oil City, so wonderfully
situated on the wide and stately Alleghany river--the river having
brown rings here and there, glimmering with wandering oil. The city
is built up five or six hills, and is only a unity by virtue of its
fine bridges. It is a clean town compared with Scranton, as oil is
cleaner to deal with than coal. But the houses are more ramshackle.
The poor people's dwellings suggest to the eye that they were made in
a great hurry many years ago, and are now falling to bits; they are
set one behind another up the hills, and you climb to them by wooden
stairways. Some seem veritably tumbling down the hill. There were a
fair number of foreign immigrants there, mostly Italians; but the
oil business seems to be worked by Americans, the foreigners being
too stupid to understand. Oil City is a cheap town to live in. I was
boarded at a hotel for a dollar a day; and when I bought provisions for
my next tramp to Erie Shore I found everything cheaper than in Eastern
Pennsylvania. There appeared to be little cultured life, however, no
theatre but the cinema, and little offered for sale in the shape of
books.

I set out for Meadville on the "Meadville Pike." A feature of the new
landscape and of the road and fields was the oil-pump, working all by
itself, the long cables, connecting the pump with the engine, often
coming across the roadway, the _jig, jig, jig_ of the pumping movement,
the _clump, clump, clump, stump_ of the engine--the pulse of the
industrial countryside.

I met a Dutchman. He asked:

"What's on? What is it for?"

I told him I was studying the emerging American, and he told me what a
menace the fecund Slavs were to the barren Americans. According to him
the extinction of the American was a matter of mathematics.

I came upon an enormous gang of Americans, Russians, Slavs, Italians at
work on the highroad, digging it out, laying a bed of mortar, putting
down bricks; some hundreds of workmen, extending over a mile and a half
of closed road. Many of the American workmen were dressed as smartly as
stockbrokers' clerks and city men, and they kept themselves neat and
clean--a new phenomenon in labouring. Americans, however, were working
together, Italians together, and Russians together. A fine-looking
American workman said to me knowingly, "You can photograph me if you
like, but the Guineas won't want to be photographed--most of them shot
some one sometime or other, you bet!"

[Illustration: ITALIANS WORKING WITH THE "MIXER" ON THE MEADVILLE PIKE.]

Near Cochranton I made the acquaintance of four little girls--Julia,
Margaret, Elinor, Cora, and Georgiana--scampering about in bare legs
and week-day frocks, whilst father and mother, with gauze bags on
their heads, were "boxing the bees." It was the first swarm of summer;
two lots of bees had been boxed, but the third was giving much trouble.
Julia, aged twelve, was a very pretty girl, and when at her mother's
recommendation she went indoors, washed her face and put on a Sunday
frock, she looked a very smart young lady. She was conscious of that
fact, and informed me in course of conversation that she was going
to travel when she was grown up. She was dying to see Paris, and she
wanted to visit all the European towns!

Some miles north, near Frenchville, I met one of the French colonists
of Northern Pennsylvania,--a tall, well-built stripling,--and he told
me how the Breton peasants had settled at Boussot and Frenchville,
bringing all their French ways of farming and economy, and becoming
the admiration of the district round--a little Brittany. The young
man's father-in-law had been the first Frenchman to come and settle
in the district. After him had come, straight from France, relatives
and friends, and relatives of friends and friends of friends in
widening circles. They were beginning to speak English well now, but
the newcomers were still without the new language. It was interesting
for me to realise what a great gain such people were to America--to
the American nation in the making. It is good to think of such
agricultural settlements lying in the background of industrial
America--the whole villages of Swedes, of Russians, of Danes, Finns,
Germans, French. They are ethnic reserves; they mature and improve
in the background. They are Capital. If urban America can subsist on
the interest, the surplus of the ambitious, how much richer she will
be than if the population of whole country-sides is tempted to rush
_pêle-mêle_ to the places of fortune-making and body-wasting.

Coming into Meadville, a town of twelve thousand inhabitants, most
of the labourers of whom are Italians employed at the great railway
works, I was attracted to Nicola Hiagg, a Syrian, sitting outside his
ice-cream shop, reading the Syrian paper. Whilst I had a "pine-apple
soda," I drew him into talk. It was a matter of pleasing interest to
him that I had myself tramped in Syria, and knew the conditions in his
native land. Nicola had first left Syria twelve years ago, had come
to Philadelphia, and started making his living selling "soft drinks"
in the street. After five years he had saved enough to take a holiday
and go back to the old land. He and his brother had been merchants in
Jerusalem before he set out for America; the brother had had charge of
the store, and Nicola had convoyed the merchandise and the train of
thirty asses to and from the country. He had many friends in Syria, but
it was a poor country. The Turks were bloodsuckers, and drained it of
every drop of vital energy.

"I lived in a poor little town between Beyrout and Damascus, not with
my brother in Jerusalem. So poor! You cannot start anything new in
Syria--the Turk interferes. No bizness! What you think of the war? The
Turk is beaten, hey? Now is the time for the Syrians to unite and throw
off the Turk. There are Syrians all over the world; they are prosperous
everywhere but in Syria.... America is a fine country; but if Syria
became independent I'd go back...."

Nicola, when he had his holiday, found a Syrian girl and brought her
back to America as his wife. She was not visible now, however; for the
Syrian kept her in the background, and he told me he didn't believe in
women's rights to public life. A bit of a Turk himself!

He was very proud of his little girl, who is being brought up as an
American in the town school. "Already she can write, and when you say
to her, 'Write something,' she does not look up at you and say, 'How
d'you spell it?' She just writes it."

"She's sharp."

"You bet."

The Turks, the Greeks, and the Syrians, and to some extent the
Italians, are engaged in the sweet-stuff and ice-cream business.
Turkish Delight, the most characteristic thing of the Levant, seems to
be their bond of union. It is a great business in America, for the
Americans are, beyond all comparison, fonder of sweet things than we
are. I stopped one day at a great candy shop in South Bend, Indiana. It
was kept by a Mr. Poledor, who was so pleased that I had been in Greece
and knew the habits of the Greek Orthodox, that he gave me the freedom
of the shop and bade me order anything I liked--he would "stand treat."
There were over a hundred ways of having ice-cream, twenty sorts of
ice-cream soda, thirteen sorts of lemonade, twelve frappes, and the
menu card was something like a band programme. Mr. Poledor was a man of
inventiveness, and the names of some of the dishes were as delicious as
the dishes themselves. I transcribe a few:


     Merry Widow.
     Don't Care.
     John D. (is very rich).
     Yankee Doodle.
     Upside down.
     New Moon.
     Sweet Smile.
     Twin Beauties.
     Nôtre Dame.
     Lover's Delight.
     Black-eyed Susan.


A young man could take his girl there and give her anything she asked
for, were it the moon itself. The Greek was a magician.

But to return. As I was going out of Meadville, two young men swung out
of a saloon and addressed me thus strangely:

"Have you had a benevolent? We're giving them away."

One of them showed me a stylographic pen.

"Wha're you doing?" said the other.

"Oh, I'm travelling," I replied.

"How d'ye get your living?"

"I write in the magazines now and then."

A look of disappointment crept over the faces of the young men. The
stylographic pen was replaced in waistcoat pocket.

"Did you say you were working for a magazine? So are we--_The
Homestead_. I was about to ask you to become a subscriber."

"And the benevolent?" I asked.

"Oh, these are given away to subscribers."

I explained that I wasn't a commercial traveller, but one of those who
wrote sometimes in magazines.

"You'd be a sort of reporter?"

"Well, not quite."

"A poet?"

"No. I earn my living by writing."

"Better than a poet, I suppose. Well, good-day, wish you luck!"

So I won free of my last big town in mighty Pennsylvania, and set out
for the State of Ohio.

I had a "still-creation-day" in quiet country, and towards evening came
through the woods to the store and house of Padan-Aram. And just on
the border of Ohio an elf-like person skipped out of a large farm and
conducted me across, a boy of about twenty years, who cried out to me
shrilly as he caught me up:

"I say, you're still in Pennsylvania."

"Yes," said I.

"Yes, but that house over there is in Ohio. Say! Would you like some
candy?"

"I thought you were fumbling in your pocket for tobacco," said I.

"No use for it," said the boy. "I've found God. I used to chew it, but
I've stopped it."

"That is good. You've a strong will," said I.

"I reckon God can break any will," said the boy. "Once I ran away from
home with five hundred dollars. You're walking? I can walk. I walked a
hundred miles in five days and five nights. Feet were sore for a week.
Five times I ran away. The sixth time I stayed away four years and
worked on the steel works."

"Were your parents unkind?" I asked. "Or did you run away to see life?"

"Ran to show them I could," said the boy.

"They lay in to me I can tell you. There were Chinamen and
niggers--all sorts. Hit a fellow over the head with an ice-cream
refrigerator--killed him dead."

"Where was this?"

"Poke. At the institution. I showed them I could fight."

"What are you, American?"

"Pennsylvanian Dutch."

"I suppose there is a church about here that you go to?"

"Yes; a Methodist. But I don't go. Family service. We get many
blessings."

"Is there a hotel at Padan-Aram?"

"No; but at Leon. If you go there, you'll get a Christian woman. You'll
find God. She'll lighten your load. She's a saint. I know her well."

"What's your name? I'll mention you to her."

"Dull."

"I'll tell her I met you."

"Tell her you met Ralph Dillie--she'll know."

"All right," said I.

"Now you're in Ohio," said the boy. "Are you going into the store at
Padan-Aram?"

"No."

"Don't you want to buy some candy?"

"No. I don't eat it along the road."

"Buy some for me."

"All right; yes."

"Buy a nickel's worth."

"Yes."

Ralph Dillie rejoiced. We went into the store and ordered a nickel's
worth of candy. And directly the boy got it he started back for home
on the run. And I watched him re-cross the border once more--into
Pennsylvania.



XII

CHARACTERISTICS


The chief characteristic of America is an immense patriotism, and out
of that patriotism spring a thousand minor characteristics, which,
taken by themselves, may be considered blemishes by the critical
foreigner,--such troublesome little characteristics as national
pride and thin-skinnedness, national bluster and cocksureness. But
personal annoyance should not blind the critic or appreciator to the
fundamental fact of the American's belief in America. This belief is
not a narrow partizanship, though it may seem unpleasantly like that
to those who listen to the clamour of excited Americans at the Olympic
games and other competitions of an international interest. It is not
merely the commercial instinct ever on the watch for opportunities for
self-advertisement. It is a real, hearty patriotic fervour, the deepest
thing in an American. It is something that cannot be shaken.

"_It is a sacrament to walk the streets as an American citizen_," says
a Presbyterian circular. "_Being an American is a sacred mission._ Our
whole life must be enthralled by a holy passion."

You could never hear it said, except in an imperial way, that being a
Briton, or being a German, or being a Russian was a sacred mission.
In Britain it would be bad form, in Germany absurd, in Russia quite
untrue. It is part of the greatness of America that she can come
forward unashamed and call herself the handmaiden of the Lord.

Now there is a fine healthy spirit abroad in the land counteracting
the more sentimental and sanctimonious self-honour of the Americans.
Something more in deeds than in words, a pulse that beats for America,
a greater purpose that breathes through myriads of personal acts, done
for personal ends. Outside, beyond the degrading commercialism of the
nation, there is a feeling that building for a man is building also for
America; that buying and selling in the store is buying and selling
for the great nation; that writing or singing or painting, though done
in self-conceited cities and before limited numbers, is really all
consecrated to the idea of the new America.

In several schools of America the children take the following pledge:


     I am a citizen of America and an heir to all her greatness and
     renown. The health and happiness of my own body depend upon each
     muscle and nerve and drop of blood doing its work in its place. So
     the health and happiness of my country depend upon each citizen
     doing his work in his place.

     I will not fill any post or pursue any business where I can
     live upon my fellow-citizens without doing them useful service
     in return; for I plainly see that this must bring suffering and
     want to some of them. I will do nothing to desecrate the soil of
     America, or pollute her air or degrade her children, my brothers
     and sisters.

     I will try to make her cities beautiful, and her citizens healthy
     and happy, so that she may be a desired home for myself now, and
     for her children in days to come.


Teachers are recommended to explain to children that patriotism means
love of your own country and not hate of other countries; and that
the best mode of patriotism is love and care for the ideals of the
fatherland.


     The most obvious fields of activity are the school, the building,
     the yard or playgrounds, and the surrounding streets. Whatsoever
     is offensive and unsightly, detrimental to health, or in violation
     of law, is a proper field for action. The litter of papers and
     refuse; marks on side walks, buildings, and fences; mutilation,
     vandalism, and damage of any kind to property; cleanliness of
     the school building and the surrounding streets, door-yards,
     and pavements; observance of the ordinances for the disposal of
     garbage by the scavenger and people in the community; protection
     and care of shade trees; improper advertisements, illegal signs
     and bill-boards; unnecessary noises in the streets around the
     school, including cries of street-vendors and barking of dogs
     and blowing of horns; the display of objectionable pictures and
     postcards in the windows of stores--all supply opportunities to
     the teachers to train pupils for good citizenship.

Circulars like the following are scattered broadcast to citizens, and
they breathe the patriotism of the American:


                    _Do you approve of your Home City?_

     I mean, do you like her looks, her streets, her schools, her
     public buildings, her stores, factories, parks, railways, trolleys
     and all that makes her what she is? Do you approve of these things
     as they are? Do you think they could be better? Do you think you
     know how they can be made better?

     If you do you are unusual. Few take the trouble to approve or
     disapprove. Many may think they care about the city; but few, very
     few, act as if they did!

     When you see something you think can be improved you go straight
     and find out who is the man who has that something in charge;
     whatever it is, factories, smoke, stores, saloons, parks, paving,
     playgrounds, lawns, back-yards, ash-cans, overhead signs,
     newspapers, bill-boards, side-walks, street cars, street lighting,
     motor traffic, freight yards, or what not, you find out who is the
     man who has in charge that thing you dislike; then you talk to
     him, or write to him, and tell him what you disapprove of, and ask
     him if he can and will make it better, or tell you why he can't.
     He wants to make it better. He will if he can. Almost invariably
     he wants to do his work of looking after that thing better than
     it was ever done before. He will welcome your complaint; he will
     explain his handicaps; he will ask your help. Then you give the
     help.

     J. C. D.


[Illustration: INGENIOUS PHOTOGRAPHS OF AMERICAN TYPES.]

Making the city beautiful and fostering a love for the home-city,
however dingy and dreary that city may at present be, is one of the
most potent and attractive expressions of American patriotism, and
it is well to note the characteristic. It has great promise for the
America of the future, the America which the sons and daughters of the
immigrants will inherit. The America of the future is to be one of
artistically imagined cities and proud, responsible citizens. Even now,
despite the unlovely state of New York and Chicago and the reputation
for devastating ugliness which America has in Europe, there are clear
signs of the commencement of an era of grace and order. Already the
parks of the American cities are the finest in the world, and are worth
much study in themselves. American townsmen have loved Nature enough
to plant trees so that every decent town on the western continent has
become a cluster of shady avenues. Some cities favour limes, some
maples; New Haven is known as "The City of Elms"; in Washington alone
it is said that there are 78,000 street trees; Cleveland has been
called "The City of the Forest." Wherever I tramped in America I found
the most delicious shade in the town streets--excepting, of course, the
streets of the coaling infernos of Pennsylvania. No idea of the expense
of land deters the American from getting space and greenery into the
midst of his wilderness of brick and mortar. It is said that the value
of the parks in such a city as Newark, for instance, is over two and a
quarter millions of pounds (nine million dollars). "Our aim," says a
Newark circular, "is the city beautiful, and it requires the aid of
everyday patriots to make it so. Pericles said, 'Make Athens beautiful,
for beauty is now the most victorious power in the world.'"

America has become the place of continuous crusades--against dirt,
against municipal corruption, immorality, noise. It would surprise
many Europeans to know the fight which is being made against
bell-advertisement, steam whistles, organ-grinders' music, shouts of
street hawkers, and the exuberance of holiday-makers.

"Don't be ashamed to fight for your city to get it clean and beautiful,
to rid it of its sweat-shops and hells," I read in a Chicago paper.
"Some folk call our disease Chicagoitis, but that is a thousand times
better than Chicagophobia. Those suffering from Chicagophobia are as
dangerous to society as those who have hydrophobia."

Then, most potent expression of all in American patriotism is the
American's belief in the future of its democracy, the faith which is
not shattered by the seeming bad habits of the common people, the
flocking to music halls and cinema shows, the reading of the yellow
press.

It has been noted in the last few years that there is a distinct
falling off in the acceleration of reading at the public libraries.
This is attributed to the extraordinary amount of time spent by men
and women at the "movies," when they would otherwise be reading.
Such a fact would breed pessimism in Great Britain or Europe were it
established. But America has such trust in the hearts and hopes of the
common people that it approves of the picture show. "If readers of
books go back to the cinema, let them go," says the American; "it is
like a child in the third class voluntarily going back to the first
class, because the work being done there is more suited to his state of
mind." The cinema show is doing the absolutely elementary work among
the vast number of immigrants, who are almost illiterate. It is not
a be-all and an end-all, but stimulates the mind and sets it moving,
thinking, striving. The picture show will bring good readers to the
libraries in time. It is the first step in the cultural ladder of the
democracy.

Then people of good taste in Europe decry the reading of newspapers;
a leader of thought and politics like A. J. Balfour can boast that
he never reads the papers. But America says, "You have the newspaper
habit. This habit is one of the most beneficial and entertaining
habits you have. Few people read too many newspapers. Most people do
not read enough." This, of American papers of all papers in the world.
But let me go on quoting the most significant words of America's great
librarian, J. Cotton Dana:


     Readers of newspapers are the best critics of them. The more they
     are read the wiser the readers; the wiser the readers the more
     criticisms, and the more the newspapers are criticised the better
     they become.

     Do you say this does not apply to the yellow journal? I would
     reply that it does. The yellow journal caters all the time to the
     beginners in reading, who are also the beginners in newspaper
     reading. A new crop of these beginners in reading is born every
     year. This new crop likes its reading simply printed, in large
     letters, and with plenty of pictures. The more of this new crop
     of readers there are the more the yellow journals flourish; and
     the more the yellow journals flourish the sooner this new crop is
     educated by the yellow journals, by the mere process of reading
     them, and the sooner they get into the habit of reading journals
     that are not yellow and contain a larger quantity of more reliable
     information, until at last the yellow journals are overpassed by
     the readers they have themselves trained.


The yellow press is the second rung on the cultural ladder of
democracy. America is glad of it, glad also of the princess novelette,
the pirate story, glad of Hall Caine and Marie Corelli; all these are,
as it were, divining-rods for better things. The American says "Yes" to
the novels of Florence Barclay, as indeed most sensible Britons would
also. _The Rosary_ was a most helpful book--so much more helpful to the
unformed intellect and young intelligence of the mass of the people
than, for instance, Tolstoy's dangerously overpraised _Resurrection_
or Wells's _New Machiavelli_. America recognises the truth that the
ugly has power to make those who look at it ugly like itself; but that
the crude and elementary stuff, however poor it may be artistically,
is nevertheless most useful to democracy if it speaks in language
and sentiment which is common knowledge to the reader. How useful to
America is such a book as Churchill's _Inside of the Cup_.

It is a very true dictum that "reading makes more reading"; and in
a young, hopeful nation, striving to divine its own destiny and to
visualise its future, "more reading" always means _better reading_.

Perhaps the cultured ladder of democracy may be seen allegorically as
the ladder of Jacob's dream. Religion, which may be thought to have
flown from the churches, is in evidence at the libraries. It is a
librarian who is able to say in _The Inside of the Cup_ that we are on
the threshold of a greater religious era than the world has ever seen.


In America to-day we are confronted with two parties,--one the great
multifarious, unformed mass of the people, and the other the strong,
emancipated, cultured American nation, which is at work shaping the
democracy. The aspect of the "rabble," the commercial heathen, and
horde of unknowing, unknown immigrants, gives you the first but not the
final impression of America. You remark first of all the slouching,
blank-eyed, broad-browed immigrant, who indulges still his European
vices and craves his European pleasures, flocking into saloons,
debauching his body, or at best looking dirty and out of hand, a
reproach to the American flag. You see the Jews leaping over one
another's backs in the orgy of mean trade. You see the fat American,
clever enough to bluff even the Jew--the strange emerging bourgeois
type of what I call the "white nigger," low-browed, heavy-cheeked,
thick-lipped, huge-bodied, but _white_; men who seem made of rubber
so elastic they are; men who seem to get their thoughts from below
upward. I've often watched one of these "white negroes" reflecting; he
seems to sense his thoughts in his body first of all--you can watch his
idea rise up to him from the earth, pass along his body and flicker at
last in a true American smile across his lips--a transition type of
man I should say. One wonders where these men, who are originally Jews
or Anglo-Saxons or Dutch or Germans, got their negro souls. It would
almost tempt one to think that there were negro souls floating about,
and that they found homes in white babies.

Beside the fat American is the more familiar lean, hatchet-faced type,
which is thought to correspond to the Red Indian in physiognomy.
Perhaps too much importance is attached to the Darwinian idea that
the climate of America is breeding a race of men with physique and
types similar to the aborigines. The American is still a long way
from the red-skin. Meanwhile, however, one may note with a smile
the extraordinary passion of Americans for collecting autographs,
curios, snippets of the clothes of famous men, Italian art, British
castles,--which seems to be scalp-hunting in disguise. The Americans
are great scalp-hunters.

On the whole, the dry, lean Americans are the most trustworthy and
honourable among the masses of the people. In England we trust fat men,
men "who sleep o' nights," but in America one prefers the lean man.
Shakespeare would not have written of Cassius as he did if he had been
an American of to-day. Of course too much stress might easily be laid
on the unpleasantness of the "white-nigger" type. There are plenty of
them who are true gentlemen.

The American populace has also its bad habits. There are those who
chew "honest scrap," and those who chew "spearmint." It is astonishing
to witness the service of the cuspidor in a hotel, the seven or
eight obese, cow-like American men, all sitting round a cuspidor and
chewing tobacco; almost equally astonishing to sit in a tramcar full
of American girls, and see that every jaw is moving up and down in the
mastication of sweet gum.

America suffers terribly from its own success, its vastness, its great
resources, its commercial scoops, its wealth, vested _en masse_ and
so vulgarly in the person of lucky or astute business men. This has
bred a tendency to chronic exaggeration in the language of the common
people, it has brought on the jaunty airs and tall talk of the man
who, however ignorant he may be, thinks that he knows all. But success
has also brought kindness and an easy-going temperament. There are
no people in the world less disposed to personal ill-temper than the
Americans. They are very generous, and in friendship rampageously
exuberant. They are not mean, and are disinclined to incur or to
collect small debts. They would rather toss who pays for the drinks of
a party than pay each his own score. They have even invented little
gambling machines in cigar stores and saloons where you can put a
nickel over a wheel and run a chance between having five cigars for
five cents, or paying twenty-five cents for no cigars at all.

So stands on the one hand the "many-headed," sprung from every
country in Europe, an uncouth nation doing what they ought not to
do, and leaving undone what they ought to do, but at least having
in their hearts, every one of them, the idea that America is a fine
thing, a large thing, a wonderful promise. Opposite them stands what
may be called the American _intelligence_, ministering as best it
can to the wants of young America, and helping to fashion the great
desideratum,--a homogeneous nation for the new world.

It seems perhaps a shame to question the significance of any of the
phenomena of American life of to-day, to tie what may be likened to
a tin can to the end of this chapter; but I feel that this is the
most fitting place to put a few notes which I have made of tendencies
which are apt to give trouble to the mind of Europeans otherwise very
sympathetic to America and America's ideal. They are quite explicable
phenomena, and in realising and understanding them for himself the
reader will be enabled to get a truer idea of the atmosphere of America.

On my way into Cleveland I read in the _Pittsburg Post_ the following
statistics of life at Princeton College, of the students at the College:


     184 men smoke.

     76 began after entering College, but 51 students have stopped
     smoking since entering College.

     91 students wear glasses, and 57 began to wear them since entering.

     15 students chew tobacco.

     19 students consider dancing immoral.

     16 students consider card-playing immoral.

     206 students correspond with a total of 579 girls.

     203 students claim to have kissed girls in their time.

     24 students have proposed and been rejected.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another day I read in the _New York American_ the story of the
adventures of Watts's "Love and Life" in America:


     The peripatetic painting, "Love and Life," the beautiful
     allegorical work, by George Frederick Watts, once more reposes in
     an honoured niche in the White House. The varied career of this
     painting in regard to White House residence extends over seventeen
     years.

     This picture, painted in 1884, was presented to the national
     Government by Watts as a tribute of his esteem and respect for
     the United States, and was accepted by virtue of a special act of
     Congress. This was during the second administration of President
     Cleveland, and he ordered it hung in his study on the second
     floor of the White House. Two replicas were made by Watts of the
     painting, and one was placed by the National Art Gallery, London,
     and the other in the Louvre, Paris.

     The two figures of "Love and Life" are entirely nude, and the
     publication of reproductions awoke the protests of purists who
     circulated petitions to which they secured hundreds of names to
     have it removed to an art gallery. Finally, the Clevelands yielded
     to the force of public opinion, and sent the offending masterpiece
     to the Corcoran Art Gallery.

     When Theodore Roosevelt became President he brought the art exile
     back to the White House. The hue and cry arose again, and he sent
     it back to the Gallery, only to bring it back again toward the
     close of his administration to hang in the White House once more.

     The Tafts, failing to see the artistic side of the painting, had
     it carried back to the Gallery.

     There it seemed destined to stay. The other day Mrs. Woodrow
     Wilson, accompanied by her daughter Eleanor, both artists of
     merit, toured the Corcoran Art Gallery. They were shown "Love and
     Life," and told the tragic story of its wanderings.

     Mrs. Wilson thereupon requested the painting to be returned to
     the White House. There once more it hangs and tells its immortal
     lesson of how love can help life up the steepest hills.


       *       *       *       *       *

Whilst in New York I visited the charming Fabians, who were the hosts
of Maxim Gorky before the American Press took upon itself the rôle
of doing the honours of the house to a guest of genius. The story of
Gorky need not be repeated. But it is in itself a question-mark raised
against the American civilisation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tramping through Sandusky I came upon a suburban house all scrawled
over with chalk inscriptions:


     "Hurrah for the newly-weds."

     "Oh, you beautiful doll!"

     "Well! _Then_ what?"

     "We should worry."

     "Home, sweet Home."

     "May your troubles be little ones! Ha, He!"

     "You thought we wouldn't guess, but we caught you."


As the house seemed to be empty, I inquired at the nearest store what
was the reason for this outburst. The storekeeper told me it was done
by the neighbours as a welcome to a newly-married couple coming home
from their honeymoon on the morrow. It was a custom to do it, but this
was nothing to the way they "tied them up" sometimes.

"Won't they be distressed?"

"Oh no, they'll like it."

"Are the neighbours envious, or what is it?" I asked. The storekeeper
began to sing, "Snookeyookums."


     "All night long the neighbours shout


(to the newly-married couple whose kisses they hear)


     "'Cut it out, cut it out, cut it out.'"


On Independence Day I saw a crowd of roughs assailing a Russian girl
who had gone into the water to bathe, dressed in what we in Britain
would call "full regulation costume." The crowd cried shame on her
because she was not wearing stockings and a skirt in addition to
knickers and vest.

       *       *       *       *       *

In many districts men bathing naked have been arrested as a sort of
breach of the peace. Naked statues in public have been clothed or
locked away. In several towns women wearing the slashed skirt have had
to conform to municipal regulations concerning underwear.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have noted everywhere mockery on the heels of seriousness.

No doubt these question-marks will be followed by satisfactory answers
in the minds of most readers, especially in the light of the statement
that "it is a sacrament to walk the streets as an American citizen.
Being an American is a sacred mission."



XIII

ALONG ERIE SHORE


Cleveland exemplifies the characteristics of contemporary America, and
points to the future. It has its horde of foreign mercenaries living
by alien ethics, and committing every now and then atrocious crimes
which shock the American community. But it is a "cleaned-up" town. All
the dens of the city have been raided; there is no gambling, little
drunkenness and immorality. On my first night in the town I had my
supper in a saloon, and as I sat among the beer-drinking couples I
listened to an old man who was haranguing us all on the temptations of
women and drink. The saloon-keeper had no power to turn him out, and
possibly had not even the wish to do so. The passion for cleaning up
America overtakes upon occasion even those whose living depends upon
America remaining "unclean."

Cleveland is well built, and has fine avenues and broad streets. It
is well kept, and in the drawing-room of the town you'd never suspect
what was going on in the back kitchen and the yard. But take a turn
about and you see that the city is not merely one of good clothes,
white buildings, and upholstery; there are vistas of smoke and sun,
bridges and cranes, endless railway tracks and steaming engines. They
are working in the background, the Slavs and the Italians and the
Hungarians, the Kikes and the Wops and the Hunkies. There is a rumour
of Chicago in the air; you can feel the pulse of the hustling West.

Perhaps nothing is more promising than the twelve miles of garden
suburb that go westward from the city along Erie Shore. Tchekof,
working in his rose-garden in the Crimea, used to say, "I believe
that in quite a short time the whole world will be a garden." This
growth of Cleveland gives just that promise to the casual observer.
How well these middle-class Americans live? Without the advertisement
of the fact they have finer arrangements of streets and houses than
we have at Golders Green and Letchworth. Nature is kind. There is a
grand freshness and a steeping radiance. The people know how to live
out-of-doors, and the women are public all day. No railings, fences,
bushes, just sweet lawn approaches, verandahs, on the lawns sprinklers
and automatic fountains scattering water to the sparrows' delight. The
iris is out and the honeysuckle is in bloom.

[Illustration: THE LITHUANIAN WHO SAT BEHIND THE ASPHALT AND COAL-OIL
SCATTERER.]

I prefer, however, to walk in the sight of wooded hills or great
waters, and as soon as I could find a way to the back of the long
series of suburban villas I went to the sandbanks of the shore and into
the company of the great lake. It was just sunset time, and the sun of
fire was changing to a sun of blood and sinking into the waters. There
was a great suffusion of crimson in the western sky and a reflection of
it in the green and placid lake. But the water in the foreground was
grey, and it rippled past silver reeds. I stood and listened; the great
silence of the vast lake on the one hand and the whizz of automobiles
on the other, the _paup-paup_ of electric-tram signals, the great whoop
of the oncoming freight trains on the Lake-Shore railway. Far out on
the water there were black dashes on the lit surface and little smokes
proceeding from them--steamers. The lake became lucent yellow with
blackness in the West and mystery in the East. A steamer in the East
seemed fixed as if caught in a spell. Then the blackness of the West
came like an intense dye and poured itself into the rest of the sky.
The East became still--indigo, very precious and holy, the colour of
incense smoke.

I tramped by Clifton through the deep dust of a motor-beaten road
towards Lorain. It was night before I found a suitable place for
sleeping, for most of the ground was private, and there were many
people about. At last I found a deserted plot, where building
operations had evidently been taking place during the day, but from
which the workmen had gone. There were, however, many tools and
covetable properties lying about, and I had hardly settled down before
I heard the baying of dogs on a chain. About half-past eleven Fedka the
watchman came along, singing a Russian song to himself, and he lighted
a large lantern, unloosed two dogs, then went into a shed, lay down and
went to sleep--a nice watchman! My only consideration was the dogs,
a bull-dog and a collie, but they didn't know of my presence. They
had expeditions after tramps on the road, after waggons, automobiles,
tramcars, trains, but never once sniffed at the stranger sleeping
under their noses. However, at about three in the morning the bull-dog
spotted me, and no doubt had rather a queer turn. He actually tripped
on me as he was prowling about, and my heart stood still. He eyed me,
growled low, sniffed at my knees, snorted. "He will spring at my throat
in a moment," I thought; "I'll defend myself with that big saw lying
so handy beside me!" But no, wonder of wonders! the dog did not attack
me, but just lay calmly down beside me and was my gaoler. He dozed and
breathed heavily, but every now and then opened one eye and snarled;
evidently he took his duties seriously. I forgot him and slept. But I
had the consciousness that in the morning I had to get away somehow.

But about half an hour before dawn some one drove a score of cows
down the road, causing the collie to go mad--so mad that the bull-dog
bestirred himself and followed superciliously, not sure whether
he were needed or not. Then I swiftly put my things together and
decamped--and got away.

I watched the dawn come up out of a rosy mist over Erie. The lake was
vast and placid and mud-coloured, but there were vague purple shadows
in it. I learned that mud was the real colour at this point, and there
was no clear sparkling water to bathe in, but only a sea stirred up.

Down by the shore, just after my dip, I caught a young aureole with
red breast and mouth so yellow, and I tried to feed him with sugar and
butter; but he was very angry, and from many trees and low bushes round
about came the scolding and calling of the parents, who had been rashly
giving their progeny his first run.

I tramped to the long settlement of Lorain with its store-factory and
many Polish workers, but continued to the place called Vermilion,
walking along the grey-black sands of the shore. I came to Crystal
Beach. It was a perfect day, the zenith too radiant to look at, the
western sky ahead of the road a rising smoke of sapphire, but filled
with ineffable sunshine. It was difficult to look otherways but
downward, and I needed all the brim of my hat to protect my neck and
my eyes. The lake was now blue-grey as the sea, but still not very
tempting, though Crystal Beach is a great holiday resort. It seemed
to me more than a lake and yet less than a sea--the water had no
other shore and yet suggested no infinity. The visitor, however,
considered it beautiful. That was clear from the enthusiastic naming
of the villas and resorts on the shore. Again, it was strange to pass
from the workshop of America to the parlour,--from industrial Lorain
to ease-loving Vermilion, and to exchange the vision of unwashed
immigrants in slouch hats for dainty girls all in white and smart young
men in delicate linen.

I went into the general store and bought butter and sugar and tea, and
then to the baker for a loaf of bread and a peach pie. What a delicacy
is an eight-penny peach pie when you know you are going to sit on a
bank and munch it, drink coffee, and watch your own wood-blaze.

On my way to Sandusky I got several offers of jobs. A road surveyor and
his man, trundling and springing along the road in their car, nearly
ran me down, and as a compensation for my experience of danger stopped
and gave me a lift, offering also to give me work if I wanted it. All
the highway from Cleveland to Toledo was to be macadamised by next
summer; thousands of men were wanted all along the line, and I could
get to work that very afternoon "farming ditches on each side of the
road" if I wished.

I jigged along three miles in the automobile and then stepped down to
make my dinner. Whilst I was lighting my fire a Bohemian came and had a
little chat with me.

"How far ye going?"

"Chicago."

"You should get on a freight train. I come up from New York myself on
a freighter and dropped off here two days ago. It's too far to walk;
you carry heavy things. Besides, there's a good job here mending the
road. I've just been taken on. A mile up the road you'll see a waggon;
ask there, they're making up a gang. The work's a bit rough but the pay
good."

Then I came on a gang of Wops and Huns loading bridge-props and ribbons
and guard-rails on to an electric trolley, and the boss again applied
to me.

"No, thanks!"

A man with an asphalt and coal-oil scatterer came past. His was a
dirty job. He sat behind a boiler-shaped cistern, which another
man was dragging along with a petrol engine. It had a rose like a
watering-cart, but instead of water there flowed this dark mixture of
asphalt and oil. The man, a Lithuanian, was sitting on the rose, his
legs were dangling under it, and it was his task to keep his finger on
the tap and regulate the flow of the fast-trickling mixture. Though a
Lithuanian by birth he spoke a fair English, and explained that the
asphalt and oil laid the dust for the whole summer, and solidified the
surface of the road, so that automobiles could go pleasantly along.
There was another machine waiting behind, and they had not men to work
it. If I liked to report myself at the depot I could get a job, it was
quite simple, not hard work, and the pay was good. He got two dollars a
day.

Then, as I was going through a little town, a Norwegian came running
out of a shop and pulled me in, saying, "You're a professional, no
doubt, stay here and take photographs"; and he showed me his screens
and classical backgrounds. It was interesting to consider the many
occasions on which I might have given up Europe and started as a young
man in America, entering life afresh, and starting a new series of
connections and acquaintances. But I had only come as a make-believe
colonist.

As the weather was very hot I took a wayside seat erected by a firm
of clothiers to advertise their wares, and it somewhat amused me to
think that as I sat in my somewhat ragged and dust-stained attire the
seat seemed to say I bought my suit at Clayton's. As I sat there six
Boy Scouts came tramping past, walking home from their camping-ground,
boys of twelve or thirteen, all carrying saucepans and kettles, one
of them a bag of medical appliances and medicines, all with heavy
blankets--sun-browned, happy little bodies.

There is all manner of interest on the road. The gleaming, red-headed
woodpecker that I watch alights on the side of the telegraph-pole,
looks at the wood as at a mirror, and then, to my mild surprise, goes
right into the pole. There must be a hole there and a nest. I hear the
guzzling of the little woodpeckers within. Upon reflection, I remember
that the mother's beak was disparted, and there was something between.
Rather amusing, a woodpecker living in a telegraph-pole--Nature taking
advantage of civilisation!

Then there are many squirrels in the woods by the road, and they wag
their tails when they squeak.

At tea-time, by the lake shore, a beautiful white-breasted but speckled
snipe tripped around the sand, showing me his round head, plump body,
and dainty legs. He had his worms and water, I my bread and tea; we
were equals in a way.

Then after tea I caught a little blind mouse, no bigger than my thumb,
held him in my hand, and put him in his probable hole.

As I rested by a railway arch Johnny Kishman, a fat German boy, got off
his bicycle to find out what manner of man I was. His chief interest
was to find out how much money I made by walking. And I flabbergasted
him.

I came into Huron by a road of coal-dust, and left the beautiful
countryside once more for another industrial inferno. Here were many
cranes, black iron bridges, evil smells, an odorous, green river. There
was a continuous noise as of three rolls of thunder in one from the
machinery of the port. I stopped a party of Slavs, who were strolling
out of the town to the strains of an accordion, and asked them by what
the noise was made. I was informed it was the lading of Pennsylvanian
coal and the unlading of Wisconsin and Canadian ore, the tipping of
five to ten tons at a time into the holds of coal boats or into trucks
of freight trains.

I went into a restaurant in the dreary town, and there, over an
ice-cream, chatted with an American, who hoped I would lick Jack London
and Gibson and the rest of them "to a frazzle." A girl, who came into
the shop, told me that last year she wanted to walk to Chicago and
sleep out, but could not get a companion--a chance for me to step in.
Mine host was one of these waggish commercial men in whom America
abounds, and he had posted above his bar:


     ELEVEN MEN WHO ASKED
            CREDIT
     LIE DEAD IN MY CELLAR


But he made good ice-cream.

Every one combined to boost the town and advise me to see this and
that. The port machinery and lading operations were the wonder of Erie
Shore, and provided work for a great number of Hungarians, Italians,
and Slavs. Not so many years back there was no such machinery here, and
the work was done with buckets and derricks.

[Illustration: "JOHNNY KISHMAN, A GERMAN BOY, GOT OFF HIS BICYCLE TO
FIND OUT WHAT MANNER OF MAN I WAS."]

I forebore to have supper at the creditless inn, but as I walked out of
the dark town I spied a fire burning on a bit of waste land, and there
I boiled my kettle and made coffee. It was an eerie proceeding, and as
I sat in the dusk I saw several children come peering at me, _hsh_ing
the younger ones, and inferring horrible suspicions as to my identity.
When I had finished my supper I went down to the beach, and there, on
the sand amidst old logs, under a stooping willow tree, I made my bed.

It was a wonderful, placid night after a long, hot day. The
smoke-coloured lake was weakly plashing. There was no sign of the past
sunset in the west, and smoke seemed to be rising from the darkness of
the horizon. The one light on the city pier had its stab of reflection
in the water below. Near me, still trees leant over the water. The
branches and leaves of the willow under which I slept were delicately
figured against the sky as I looked upward, and far away over the
lake the faint stars glimmered. The moon stood high in the south, and
illumined the surface of the waters and the long coast line of the bay.

When I awoke next morning what a sight! The blue-grey lake so placid,
just breathing, that's all, and crimson ripples stealing over it from
the illuminated smoky east. It was clear that the smokiness of the
horizon came from real smoke--from all the chimneys and stacks of
Huron. I saw massed volumes of it hurrying away from the docks and the
works, and standing out on the lake like a great wall. As I lay on my
spread on the sand, looking out idly with my cheek on my hand, I saw
the sun come sailing through the smoke like a red balloon. No celestial
sunrise this, but Nature beautifully thwarted.

I made a fire and cooked my breakfast, and sat on a log enjoying it;
and all the while the sun strove to be himself and shine in splendour
over the new world, whose beauties he himself had called into being.
For a whole hour, though there was not a cloud in the sky or a mist on
the lake, he made no more progress than on a foggy January morning in
London. He gave no warmth to speak of; he was an immaterial, luminous
moon.

But at last he got free, and began to rise indeed, exchanging the
ragged crimson reflection in the water for a broad-bladed flashing
silver dagger. A great glory grew about him; all the wavelets of the
far lake knew him and looked up to him with their tiny faces. His
messengers searched the horizon for the shadows of night, for all
lingering wraiths and mists, and banished them. The smoky door by which
the sun had come out of the east was shut after him. But he shed so
much light that you could not see the door any longer.

I went in for a swim, and as I was playing about in the sunlit water
the first human messenger of the morning came past me--a fisherman in
a tooting, panting motor-boat, dragging fishing-nets after him. He gave
me greeting in the water.

Fishing is good here--as a trade. Every day many tons of carp are
unloaded. The fish are caught in gill-nets--nets with a mesh from which
the fishes are unable to extricate themselves, their gills getting
caught. The nets are framed on stakes, floated by corks and steadied by
leads. The fishermen leave them standing two or three days, and when
the fish are wearied out or dead they haul them in.

This very hot day I marched to an accompaniment of the thunder of the
dock-works, and reached Sandusky,--a very large industrial port, the
junction of three railways, not a place of much wealth, its population
at least half foreign.

I had a shave at a negro barber's, and chatted with the darkie as he
brandished the razor.

After the war he and his folks had come north and settled in Michigan.
He sent all his children to college. One was earning a hundred and
twenty-five dollars a month as music-mistress in Washington.

"They treat you better up here than in the south?" said I.

"Why, yes!"

"And in London better still."

"Oh, I know. My father went to London. He stayed at a big hotel, and
there turned up three Southerners. They went up to the hotel-keeper
and said, 'Look hyar, that coloured feller 'll have to go; we cahn stay
here with him!' And the hotel-keeper said, 'If he don't please you,
_you_ go; we won't keep you back.'"

"Very affecting," said I.

"There was a fellah came hyar to play the organ for the Episcopal
Church," the negro went on. "He was called Street. The other fellah was
only fit to turn the music for him. He had the goods, b'God he had.
Tha's what I told them."

With that I got away. Outside the shop a hawker cried out to me:

"Kahm'ere!"

"What d'you want?" said I.

"I've a good safety razor."

"Don't use them."

"A fountain pen to write home to your wife...."

The hawker had many wares.

I spent the night in a saloon at Venice, and watched the rate at which
German fishermen can drink beer.

Next morning I walked across Sandusky Bay by the Lake Shore
railway-bridge, a mile and a half long--an unpleasant business,
watching for the express trains and avoiding being run over. At last I
got to Danbury, and could escape from the rails to the cinder-path at
the side. The engine-drivers and firemen of the freight trains greeted
me as they passed me, and now and then I was able to offer "Casey
Jones" a cup of coffee and exchange gossip.

[Illustration: ERIE SHORE.

"Amidst old logs, under a stooping willow tree, I made my bed."]

The enormous freight trains told their tale of the internal trade of
America; on no other lines of railway in the world could you witness
such processions of produce. All sorts of things flew past on these
lumberous trains--cars full of hogs with hundreds of motionless black
snouts poking between the bars; refrigerator cars full of ham--dead
hogs, dripping and slopping water as they went along in the heat, and
the sun melted the ice; cars of coal; open cars of bright glistening
tin-scraps going to be molten a second time; cars of agricultural
machinery; cars laden with gangs of immigrant men being taken to work
on a big job by labour contractors; closed cars full of all manner of
unrevealed merchandise and machinery. On the cars, the names of the
railways of America--Illinois Central, Wabash, Big Four, Lake Shore....

At Gypsum I returned to the highroad, and there once more had an offer
of a job from a gang. I was surprised to see boys of thirteen or
fourteen hard at work with spade and shovel.

"I see you're working for your living," said I.

"What's the matter with you?"

"I said 'You're working for your living.'"

"Wahn a jahb?"

"No; I'm not looking for one. I'm walking to Chicago."

A contractor came forward, a short Frenchman in waistcoat and
shirt-sleeves. His bowler hat was pushed to the back of his head, and
his hair poked out from under it over his scarred, perspiring brow. He
was not working--only directing.

"What would _you_ be? A sort of tramp?" said he. "I used to have a
hobo-station at Toledo. I've seen the shiner[3] line up sixty or
seventy of them and send them to work with car fare paid. They'd work
half a day and then disappear mysteriously. We have pay-day once in two
weeks; but these tramps, many of them educated fellers too, would never
work the time through or wait for their pay. Thousands of dollars have
been lost by hoboes who gave up their jobs before pay-day."

There was an Englishman from Northampton in the gang, and he testified
that America had "England licked ten times over."

There were fat Germans in blouses, moustachioed Italians with black
felt hats pulled down over sunburnt, furrowed brows. All the men and
the boys were suffering from a sort of "tar blaze" in the face. They
were glad to ease up a little to talk to me; but they had a watchful
eye on the face of the boss, who besides being contractor was a sort of
timekeeper.

The contractor was vexed that I wouldn't take a job. Labour was scarce.
He averred that before I reached Chicago the farmers would come on to
the road and compel me to work on their fields. Trains had been held up
before now.

"I thought slavery was abolished?" said I.

The next town on my route was Port Clinton, a bright little city, and
in the eyes of at least one of its citizens a very important one.
I had a long talk with a chance-met journalist and the keeper of a
fruit-shop. The journalist, by way of interviewing me, told me all I
wanted to know about the district. Fruit-growing was far in advance
here. Perry Camp, the greatest shooting-butts in the world, was near
by. The Lake Shore railway was going to spend a million dollars in
order to shorten the track a quarter of a mile. The greengrocer told
me I had the face of a Scotsman, but spoke English like a Swede--which
just shows how badly Americans speak our tongue, and hear it as a rule.

In the course of my interview I confessed that for roadside literature
I read the Gospel of St. John and the Book of Revelation, a chapter a
day, and when I came to the end of either book I started again. The
greengrocer interrupted the journalist, and said:

"When you're tired, you just take out the Bible and read a little,
eh, and you get strength and go on? I knew you were that sort when I
saw you first coming up the other side of the road, and I said to my
friend, 'He reads his Bible.'"

The greengrocer was much edified, and told me that he was the agent
for the district of Billy Sunday, the revivalist. Wouldn't I stay and
address a mass meeting?

I fought shy of this offer. The journalist looked somewhat sourly at
the greengrocer for breaking into his interrogatory. But then a third
interrupter appeared, a little boy, who had come to purchase bananas,
and he addressed me thus:

"On which side did your family fight in the year 1745? On the side of
Prince Charlie? That's the side I'm on."

No descendant of the Pilgrim Fathers he.

On the way out to Lacarne two old fishermen in a cart offered me a
ride, and I stepped up.

"What are you, German?" I asked, always on the look-out for the
immigrant.

"We are Yankees."

"Your father or grandfather came from Germany?"

"No; we're both Yankees, I tell yer."

"I suppose your ancestors came from England then."

"No; we've always bin 'ere."

They had been out three nights seine-fishing on the lake, were very
tired, and rewarded themselves with swigs of rum every now and then,
passing the bottle from one to the other and then to me with real but
suspicious hospitality. Their families had always been in America. The
fact that they came originally from England meant no more to them than
Hengist and Horsa does to some of us.

By the way, Hengist and Horsa were a couple of savages, were they not?

The fishermen put me down beside a plantation, which they said was
just the place in which to sleep the night. I wasn't sorry to get on
to my feet again, and I watched them out of sight,--fat, old, sleepy,
hospitable ruffians.

The plantation was a mosquito-infested swamp, and I did not take the
fishermen's advice. Myriads of "husky" mosquitoes were in the air, the
unpleasanter sort, with feathered antennæ, and whenever I stood still
on the road scores of "Canadian soldiers" settled on me, a loathsome
but innocuous species of diptera.

I sought shelter of man that night, and through the hospitality of a
Slav workman found a place in a freight train--a strange bed that not
only allows you to sleep, but takes you a dozen miles farther on in the
morning. The engine-driver told me that there was a "whole bunch of
tramps" on the train, but that no one ever turned tramps off an empty
freight train,--not on the Lake Shore railway at any rate.

When I "dropped" from the freighter I found myself at Elliston, and
commenced there a day of delicious tramping. The opal dawn gave birth
to a great white horse of cloud, and out of the cloud came a strong
fresh breeze, having health and happiness on its wings. A quiet Sunday.
I reached Toledo this day--and parted company with Erie Shore--great,
busy, happy, prosperous Toledo. It was strange to exchange the country
for the town; to come out of the green, fresh, silent landscape into
the close, stifling, bustling town, full of promenaders talking and
laughing among themselves vociferously.

As I came into the city the day-excursion boat was just about to start
on the return journey to Detroit. Excursionists were flocking together
to the quay, a great spectacle to a Briton. All the men were carrying
their coats in their arms, many had their collars off and the neckbands
of their shirts turned down, bunches of carnations on their naked
chests; many were without waistcoats, and had tickets with the name of
their town pinned to their fancy-coloured shirts; the red, perspiring,
glistening faces of many of them suggested an over-confidence in beer
as a quencher of thirst. The women carried parasols of coloured paper.
They were all in white, and were so thinly clad that you asked yourself
why they were so thin. But despite all precautions the sun had marked
everybody, but marked them kindly.

Suddenly a bell was rung on the steamer, and a little man came forward
and announced in broken English:

"Somebody wan' to come on the boat; the time is supp."

FOOTNOTE:

[3] Policemen.



XIV

THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE


Even Americans of the highest culture and of Boston families speak
English differently from any people in the old country. The difference
may not be obvious to all, but it is there, and it is a thing to
rejoice in, not to be sorry for. The American nation is different
from the British, has different history and a different hope; it has
a different soul, therefore its expression should be different. The
American face as a type is different; it would be folly to correct the
words of the mouth by Oxford, or Eton, or Granville Barker's theatre,
or the cultured Aberdonian, or any other criterion. The use of American
expressions of quite moderate tone amounts to a breach of good taste in
many British drawing-rooms; and if you tell a story in which American
conversation is repeated with the accent imitated, you can feel the
temperature going down as you proceed; that is, if you are not merely
making fun of the Americans. Making fun of any foreign people is always
tolerable to the British; a truly national and insular trait. The
literary world and the working men and women of Britain can enter into
the American spirit, and even imitate it upon occasion; but that is
only the misfortune of our populace, who ought to be finding national
expression in journalism and music-hall songs and dancing, and who are
merely going off the lines by imitating a foreign country. It is loss
to Britain that the Americans speak a comprehensible dialect of our
tongue, and that the journalist of Fleet Street, when he is hard-up for
wit, should take scissors and paste and snip out stories from American
papers; or that commercial _entrepreneurs_ should bring to the British
public things thought to be sure of success because they have succeeded
in America--"Within the Law," "I Should Worry," "Hullo Ragtime!" and
the rest. The people who are surest in instinct, though they are
sympathetic to a brother-people, hate the importation of foreign
uglinesses, and the substitution of foreign for local talent.

The American language is chiefly distinguished from the British by
its emphatic expressive character. Britain, as I have said, lives
in a tradition; America in a passion. We are laconic, accidental,
inarticulate; our duty is plain, and we do it without words. But the
American is affirmative, emphatic, striving; he has to find out what
he's going to do next, and he has got to use strong words. Britain also
is the place of an acknowledged Caste system; but America is the place
of equal citizens, and many American expressions are watchdogs of
freedom and instruments of mockery, which reduce to a common dimension
any people who may give themselves airs.

The subtler difference is that of rhythm. American blood flows in a
different _tempo_, and her hopes keep different measure.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

Americans commonly tell us that theirs is the language of Shakespeare
and Shakespearian England, and that they have in America the "well
of English undefiled." But if they have any purely European English
in that country it must be a curiosity. Shakespeare was a lingual
junction, but we've both gone on a long way since then, and in our
triangle the line subtending the Shakespearian angle gets longer
and longer. O. Henry makes a character in one of his stories write
a telegram in American phraseology, so that it shall be quite
unintelligible to people who only know English:


     His nibs skedaddled yesterday per jack-rabbit line with all the
     coin in the kitty and the bundle of muslin he's spoony about. The
     boodle is six figures short. Our crowd in good shape, but we need
     the spondulicks. You collar it. The main guy and the dry goods are
     headed for the briny. You know what to do.--BOB.


This is not Shakespearian English, but of course it is not
Shakespearian American. The worst of the contemporary language of
America is that it is in the act of changing its skin. It is difficult
to say what is permanent and what is merely eruptive and dropping. Such
expressions as those italicised in the following examples are hardly
permanent:


     "One, two, three, _cut it out_ and work for Socialism."

     "_I should worry_ and get thin as a lamp-post so that tramps
     should come and lean against me."

     "_Him with the polished dome._"

     "She hadn't been here two days before I saw her kissing the boss.
     Well, said I, _that's going some_."

     "This is Number Nine of the Ibsen, _highbrow_ series."

     "_Do you get me?_"

     "I'll _put you wise_."

     "And how is your _yoke-mate_?"

     "He thinks too much of himself: _too much breathed on by girls_."

     "A low lot of _wops and hunkies_: _white trash_."

     "Poor negroes; _coloured trash_."

     "She is _one good-looker_."

     "She is _one sweetie_."

     "My! You have _a flossy hat_."

     But I suppose "He is a white man" is permanent, and "Buy a
     postcard, it'll _only set you back a nickel_."

     "She began to lay down the law: _thus and so_."

     "Now _beat it_!"

     "Roosevelt went ranching, that's how he got so _husky_."

     "Is it far? It is only _a little ways_."

     "Did they _feed that to you_?"

     "When he started he was in a poor way, and carried in his hay in
     his arms, but now he is quite _healed_."


But the difference in speech is too widespread and too subtle to be
truly indicated by this collection of examples, and the real vital
growth of the language is independent of the flaming reds and yellows
of falling leaves. In the course of conversation with Americans you
hear plenty of turns of expression that are unfamiliar, and that are
not merely the originality of the person talking. Thus in:


     "How do they get on now they are married?"

     "Oh, she has him feeding out of her hand,"


though the answer is clear it owes its form to the American atmosphere.

Or, again in:


     "I suppose she's sad now he's gone?"

     "Oh! He wasn't a pile of beans to her, believe me,"


you feel the manner of speech belongs to the new American language.
The following parody of President Wilson's way of speaking is also an
example of the atmosphere of the American language:


     So far as the prognosticationary and symptomatic problemaciousness
     of your inquiry is concerned it appears to me that while the
     trusts should be regulated with the most unrelentful and
     absquatulatory rigorosity, yet on the other hand their feelings
     should not be lacerated by rambunktions and obfusticationary
     harshness. Do you bite that off?


_Punch_ would have no stomach for such Rabelaisian vigour.

But wherever you go, not only in the cities, but in the little towns,
you hear things never heard in Britain. I go into a country bakery, and
whilst I ask for bread at one counter I hear behind me at the other:

"Kendy, ma-ma, kendy!"

"Cut it out, Kenneth."

"Kendy, kendy, kendy!"

"Oh, Kenneth, cut it out!" Or, as I sit on a bank, a girl of twelve and
her little baby sister come toddling up the road. The little one loses
her slipper, and the elder cries out:

"Slipper off again! Ethel, perish!"

America must necessarily develop away from us at an ever-increasing
rate. Influenced as she is by Jews, Negroes, Germans, Slavs, more and
more foreign constructions will creep into the language,--such things
as "I should worry," derived from Russian-Jewish girl strikers. "She
ast me for a nickel," said a Jew-girl to me of a passing beggar. "_I
should give her a nickel_, let her work for it same as other people!"
The _I shoulds_ of the Jew can pass into the language of the Americans,
and be understood from New York to San Francisco; but such expressions
make no progress in Great Britain, though brought over there, just
because we have not the big Jewish factor that the Americans have.

To-day the influence that has come to most fruition is that of the
negro. The negro's way of speaking has become the way of most ordinary
Americans, but that influence is passing, and in ten or twenty years
the Americans will be speaking very differently from what they are
now. The foreigner will have modified much of the language and many
of the rhythms of speech. America will have less self-consciousness
then. She will not be exploiting the immigrant, but will be subject to
a very powerful influence from the immigrants. No one will then be so
cheap as the poor immigrant is to-day. Much mean nomenclature will have
disappeared from the language, many cheap expressions, much mockery; on
the other hand, there will be a great gain in dignity, in richness, in
tenderness.



XV

THROUGH THE HEART OF THE COUNTRY


I have come to that portion of my journeying and of my story where all
day, every evening, and all night long I was conscious of the odour of
mown clover, of fields of ambrosia.

I was tramping along the border of Northern Ohio and Southern Michigan,
from Toledo to Angola, Indiana. I was entering the rich West. The
fields were vast and square, the road was long and flat, and straight
and quiet, the June haze hung over luxuriant meadows, and there was a
wonderful silence and ripening peace over the country.

One evening, as the red sun sank into night-darkened mist, I talked
with an old farmer, who was smoking his pipe at his gate.

"I came along this same road like you, with a bundle on my back, forty
years ago," said he, "and I took work on a farm; then I rented a farm.
Many's the lad I've seen go past of an evening. And one or two have
stopped here and worked some days, for the matter of that."

[Illustration: THE SOWER.]

The farmer had left England when he was a stripling, and I tried to
talk to him of the old country, but he was not really interested. He
did not want to go back.

That is the Colonial feeling.

Strange to plough all day, or sow or reap, and in the evening to return
to the quiet, solitary house of wood beside the great red-painted barn
and not want England or Europe, not be interested in it, not want
anything more than you've got; to have the sun go down red and whisper
nought, and the stars come up and the moon, and yet not yearn; to work,
to eat, to market; to have children growing about you ripening in so
many years, and corn springing up in the fields ripening in so many
weeks; births, marriages, deaths, sowings, harvests....

There is all the pathos of man's life in it.

I slept that night in the dry wayside hay, under the broad sky and the
misty golden moon. It was a quiet night, warm and gentle. Earth held
the wanderer in her cradle and rocked him to sleep.

They are kind people about here. Next morning as I sat by my fire a
woman sent her son out to me with a quart of milk and a bag of cookies.
And milk is a much commercialised business on this western road,--the
electric freight train carries nearly all the milk away in churns to
Toledo. It was a very welcome talkative boy who brought out the milk.
His father rented one-third of a section (213 acres), but was now laid
up with pneumonia. As a consequence of the father's illness the young
children had to work very hard in the fields. And there was a sick cow
on the farm--sick through eating rank clover. And the boy himself had
had scarlet fever in the spring. The serving-girl had had to go away
"to have her little baby," and the one that came in her place brought
the fever.

"What's your name?" said I.

"Charles."

Cheerful little Charles. He had much responsibility on his shoulders.

There were some big farms along the road, and near Metamora I had the
privilege of seeing a dozen cows milked simultaneously by a petrol
engine, rubber tubes being fixed to their teats and the milk pumped
out. It was astonishing, the matter-of-fact way in which the latest
invention was applied to farm life.

"It's rather ugly," said I.

"Well, what are you to do when labour is so scarce?" was the reply.

Land is rich here, but labour is scarce. I fell in with a garrulous
farmer who told me that land now sold at 150 dollars (£30) the acre,
and that in a few years it would rise to 250 dollars. The days of large
farmers were over. All the big ranches were being sold up, and the
farmers were taking holdings that they could farm themselves without
help. Labour was expensive, owing to the high wages paid in the towns
for industrial work; even at two and a half dollars (ten shillings) a
day it was difficult to get a decent gang to do the work in the harvest
season. You could do better with a small piece of land. Fields here
were forty and fifty acres, and the steam plough was not used. In the
old days land was dirt cheap, and you could buy vast tracts of it;
there were no taxes, no extra expenses, and you just went in to raise
tremendous crops and make a big scoop. To-day things were different.
To work on a large scale a horde of labourers was necessary. But now
the Socialists were stopping the flow of immigrants into the country.
Socialists said that it was too difficult to organise newcomers. The
newcomers behaved like blacklegs, strike-breakers, all the first year
of their stay in America. They didn't know the language, were very
poor, suspected their brother workmen of jealousy, and just took any
wage offered them. The Socialists wanted to keep the price of labour
up, and my farmer friend bore them a grudge because it was difficult to
develop the land unless the price was reduced.

A little later, outside Fred M'Gurer's farm, the jovial farmer himself
came and squatted beside the fire and chatted of affairs. He had
insured his house for 1000 dollars, but it would take 1800 dollars to
rebuild it. "I think it's only fair to take some of the risk myself,"
said he; "and if the place burns down the company will know I didn't
set it alight o' purpose."

Fifty-eight years old is Fred M'Gurer, and his son is now coming to
live and work with him altogether, after seven years spent wintering
in the city and summering in the country. Irish once, and of an Irish
family--but they go to no church. The old man feels that he is a
Christian all the same, and will get to heaven at last, because he
"deals square with his fellow-men."

Fred and his son work the farm all by themselves, outside labour is
so expensive. The beet-fields take all the immigrants. Did I see the
red waggons as I came along, full of Flemish and Russians living by
beet-picking on the beetroot farms near by?

I saw them.

"America is a high hill for them that don't speak the language,"
said Fred. But he said that because he likes talking himself, and
can't imagine himself in a land where he could not hold converse. The
immigrants manage very well without the language, and scale the hill,
and rake in the dollars easily. Perhaps they do not glean much of the
American ideal, and the hope of the American nation. But I suppose Fred
did not mean that.

I had a pleasant talk with a successful German farmer, who took me in
a cart from Pioneer to Grizier, through comparatively poor country. He
had possessed a farm of five acres in Germany, but there each acre had
been worth between 450 and 500 dollars. When he came to Grizier land
was selling at 25 dollars an acre, and he was able to buy fifty acres
of it and to bring up his family in health and plenty. His farm was now
worth more than 5000 dollars.

I slept on an old waggon in a wheat-field near Grizier; but about
midnight it began to rain, and I was obliged to seek shelter in a
crazy, doorless, windowless cottage, and there I sat all next day and
slept all the next night whilst the elements raged. In the cottage were
two chairs, a home-made table, and a broken bedstead. I cooked my meals
on the rainy threshold. The refuge was shared by a great big bumble
bee, two red-admirals, a brown squirrel, and two robins.

The second morning was Sunday, radiant, fresh, and green. The road
was soft but clean, with yielding cakes of mud; the grass was fresh,
for every blade had been washed on Saturday; the wild strawberry was
a brighter ruby; on spread bushes the wild rose was in bloom; there
were sun-browned country girls upon the road, who were shy but might
be spoken to; the odour of clover was purer, the hay-fields had round
shoulders after the storm, and you'd think cows had been lying down
where the wind had laid the tussocks low. The sun shone as if it had
forgotten it had shone before, and was doing it for the first time.
To-day it became evident that the grain was ripening; the apple trees
in fantastic shapes were knee-deep in yellowing corn. The little oak
trees by the side of the road presented foliage, every leaf of which
looked as if it had been carefully polished.

In America wild strawberries are three on a stalk, which causes a
pleasant profusion....

I got a whole loaf of home-made bread given me at Cooney ..., and a
quart of milk at "Fertile Valley Farm." ...

Only at sunset did I strike the main Angola Road, and off that road
I made my bed in a wheat-field and fell asleep, watching the bearded
ears disproportionately magnified and black in the flame of the crimson
sky. Next day, when I awoke, life was just creeping into the blue-green
night, a soft radiance as of rose petals was in the East, and a breeze
was wandering like a rat among the stalks of the wheat. I fell asleep
again, and when I reopened my eyes it was bright morning.

The Sunday gave way to the week-day. There is nothing happening on the
roads on the Sunday; the tramp is left with Nature, but directly Monday
comes the work and life of the people reveal themselves, and adventures
are more frequent.

[Illustration: THE STORE ON WHEELS.]

My first visitor this Monday was a man of business. As I was making my
tea he came up towards me driving two lean horses and a great black
oblong box on wheels. At the farm where I had drawn water for my kettle
he pulled up and dismounted. A girl who had seen him from a window of
the farmhouse came tripping to meet him. He exchanged some words with
her, and then from the far side of his hearse-like cart he produced a
black chest, out of which he pulled a pair of boots. The young lady
then hopped back to the house to try them on. Satisfied as to her
purchase she took in addition a pound of tea and a packet of sugar. The
cart was a moving store: here were all manner of things for sale. But
the storekeeper received no money; all his debts were paid in eggs. One
side of the hearse was full of merchandise, the other contained nested
boxes and crates for the accommodation of hundreds of dozens of eggs.

The storeman gave me a lift and explained to me his business. He
possessed a cold-storage establishment in the city; he credited the
farm people with sixteen cents (eightpence) for every dozen eggs they
gave him, then he stored them in his freezing-house till autumn, when
they could be thrown on the market at twenty-five to thirty cents the
dozen.

He was a great believer in cold storage. "Meat," said he, "is tenderer
when it has been frozen some weeks."

Business in eggs used to be better. Now the State set a limit on the
time you could keep them in cold storage. Sometimes he had to sell out
at a loss. The hope was to keep all the farm produce till there was a
real scarcity and prices went high. Then it would be possible to make a
small fortune.

"But I'm tired of this business," said the storeman, "I'd like to give
it up and buy land."

We lumbered along the road and stopped at each farmhouse. Sometimes we
sold articles, but whether we sold anything or not we always took a few
dozen eggs; every farmer was in business with my man and used him as a
sort of egg-bank. Even if they were not in debt to him they were glad
to hand over their eggs and be credited with the corresponding amount
of money. We took four or five dozen eggs at least at every farm, and
sometimes as many as twenty and thirty dozen. The storeman left behind
an empty crate at each farm, so that it might be filled for him next
time he came along, and he took aboard the crate already filled. In
exchange he sold kerchiefs, boots, corsets, cloth, brooms, brushes,
coffee, corn-flake, wire-gauze to keep out mosquitoes, etc. At the
end of his round he would have got rid of almost all his merchandise
and have filled both sides of the hearse with eggs. He took home upon
occasion as many as five hundred dozen eggs!

A cheerful American with a word of news, a titbit of gossip, and the
top of the morning for all the country women. He was eagerly awaited,
and children at farm-gates descried him a long way off and ran in to
tell their mothers. Even the babies were excited at his approach, for
they knew he carried a supply of candy. At each farm where there was
a baby the storeman left a little bag of candy. He knew the value of
good-will.

"It's a good business," said he; "no expense of keeping a shop, double
profit,--profit on the goods and profit on the eggs; it pays all right.
But I'm tired of it, and I think I shall give it up and buy land." To
several of his customers who asked after his business he replied in
the same terms. He was getting tired of it, and was thinking of buying
land. When I took a photograph of his cart and himself he said he would
be very glad to have a copy, just to remind him of old days--for he was
thinking of giving it up, etc.

It is interesting to observe the commercialisation that goes on in the
country in America. Not only does the egg-bank and travelling store
come round, but the cream-vans come also and buy up all the cream,
and the baker comes from the bread factory and dumps, twice or three
times a week, huge baskets of damp, tasteless loaves, all wrapped in
grease-paper. Not many people bake their own bread--they save time
and take this astonishing substitute. Then travellers in coffee have
exploited special brands--"Euclid Coffee," "Primus Coffee," "Old
Reliable," and the like, done up in pound packets. Rural Americans do
not realise that good coffee is coffee and no more.

No one had a quart of milk to spare on the road to Angola, so I hit on
a plan which I recommend to others in like circumstances. I went to a
farmhouse and asked for a cupful of milk to have with my coffee; I got
it easily and freely. The farmer was rather touched. But as you cannot
make decent coffee with one cupful of milk I went to another farm and
begged another cupful, and then to another. I was able to make a good
pot of coffee, despite the scarcity of milk.

Whilst I was having lunch, I had an interesting talk with an ancient
man who was mowing grass at the side of the road.

"You look like Father Time," said I.

"Well, I've mown a good many days," he replied. "I shall soon die now.
There's no strength in me; my day is over."

"Have you enjoyed life?" I asked.

"Yes, I have," he replied, his face lighting up.

"Do you work your farm yourself?"

"No! My son works it; he is twenty-two. Yes, I married late. Thirty-two
years I wandered as you are doing. I've been in thirty states. I was
ten years on the Lakes, a sailor."

"Ever across the Atlantic?"

"Never on the big waters."

"And how do you think America is going on?"

[Illustration: "I HAD AN INTERESTING TALK WITH AN ANCIENT MAN BY THE
SIDE OF THE ROAD."]

"I think she is going bad. The new generation is weak. There'll soon be
no old farmer stock. The old folk work, but the children go to school.
My father was an old Connecticut Yankee--a republican--so am I; but the
party has broken up, the country's going wild."

The old man had a dog "Colonel," named after Colonel Somebody, who was
his father's Squire in Connecticut.

"A fine dog," said I.

"More helpful than a boy," said the old farmer. "He can drive the hog
home straight, and he always helps me up when I tumble down. I'm weak
now--have had two strokes, and after the last I was just like a baby.
I can't mow properly--no strength to move anything. Often I fall of a
heap, and Colonel runs in and gets under my stomach with his head and
raises me. A 'cute dog...."

A pleasant vision of not unhappy age!

I passed through Angola--a neat little city round about a shoppy
square; a quiet market-place functionising the agricultural country
round about. I had dinner at one of several restaurants, and had three
quick-lunch courses brought to me at once--an array of nine or ten
plates on a little grey stone table--not very appetising.

There were three or four country loungers at the ice-cream bar of
the establishment, and a negro was sitting at another table with a
tall glass and a straw and a "soda." At my side was what I took to be
a piano--very dusty, and with the keyboard out of sight. Suddenly,
without any warning, it jumped into music, and thumped out a cake-walk
in its interior. It was as if a lot of niggers were doing the dance in
an empty room.

I paid no attention, facially. Alas! we are quite familiar with such
marvels, with all that can be shown. We raise no eyebrow. But bring in
an aboriginal Chinee and sit him there where I was, and start this box
a-going, and he'd jump out of his wits. How was it started? Some one
went softly across the room and put a cent in a slot--that's all. Is
it not maddening to be uninterested, unthrilled? None of us paid any
attention. The loungers gossiped with the ice-cream girl, the nigger
drew up his soda, I strove with my hard roast beef.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

St. John's Eve! Unusual things might be expected to happen this night.
I had lived with the growing summer, had caught in my hands one evening
not long since a large dusky lovely emperor-moth, and had received an
invitation from fairyland. The strange thing was that as I tramped out
of Angola on the Lagrange Road, it did not occur to me what day it
was. Only in the middle of the night did I reflect--there is something
unusual astir, something is happening all about me, this is no ordinary
night. And only in the morning did I realise it had been St. John's
Eve.

I slept by an orchard on a hill. Below me was a little lake, on the
right a straw stack, on the left an apple tree, over me a plum tree
with wee plums. All night long little apples fell from their weak
stalks, the frogs sang--now solos, now choruses, the mosquitoes hummed
in the plum tree. On the surface of the little lake little lights
appeared and disappeared as the wandering fireflies carried messages
from reed to reed. Processions of clouds stole over the starry sky, and
I thought of rain, but the whole night was hot and odorous and full of
dreams.

I did not awake next morning till it was bright day. Between me and the
straw stack there was a fluttering and squawking of young birds being
taught to fly by their mother. Every time a young bird alighted after
a little flutter, it always fell on its nose. My attention was divided
between the birds and a big bee, who thought I had made my bed over his
nest. What a distressing way the bumble-bee has of losing himself and
thinking you are to blame!

I tramped to the reedy lake of Whip-poor-Will. The wind blew now hot
from the sun's mouth, now cold from a cloud's shoulder. The question
was, Would the Midsummer day turn to heat or come to rain? It turned
to heat. What a day of happiness I spent on the sandy ups and downs of
country roads! After weeks among plains, I was glad of a countryside
that had corners again. I was among "dear little lakes," the children
of the great lakes--in the nursery.

I came to Flint, and met the "pike road" from Detroit to Chicago. Flint
has a large general store and a barber's shop. I bought three oranges
out of the refrigerator of the store, and, to make them last longer,
half a pound of honey-cakes.

At noon I made my mid-day fire in the bed of a dried-up rivulet. The
weather was almost too hot for tending a fire; tawny spots appeared
on my wrists, and, viewing my face in the metal back of my soapbox, I
was startled to see the fire in my eyebrows and cheeks. But with the
heat there was a wind, and in the afternoon great cumuli grew up in the
sky, and it was possible to think the earth was a ship and the clouds
the billows which we were rolling over. Up hill and down dale, round
corners, by snug farms with green and crimson cherry orchards, over
hills where miles of corn were blanching and waving! I came to Brushy
Prairie and camped for the night in an angle of the road beside the
village cemetery.

I read and wrote, mended my clothes, cleaned my pack of waste dust,
collected hay to make a bed. Many carts came past, and the people in
them hailed me with facetious remarks. After I had lain down one old
village wife came to see if I were sick and wanted medicine. It was
strange to lie by the cemetery and hear a party of girls go by in a
buggy, singing, "When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there."

I lay and watched the sky, scanning the clouds for a certitude of a dry
night. A great war was going on between the forces of the clear sky
and of the clouds. There was a party of skirmishers advancing from the
south-west. There was a long array of clouds in the north and in the
south, and the main army lay heavy and invincible in the north-west.
But the clear sky scattered the enemy wherever it encountered them, and
even forced the main army to take up a new position. The camp of the
clouds was made far away, and lights came out in their leaguer.

The night became silent and brilliant and perfect, and I lay with my
eyes open, and did not look, but just saw....

I slept. Whilst my eyes were closed there was a great night attack,
and when I woke again I found the armies of the clear sky completely
routed. There was a shower of rain, and I jumped up and tripped along
to the church. The door was open. I struck a match and saw all the pews
and prayer-books and hymn-sheets, and away in the shadows the platform
and the pulpit.

But the shower ceased. I reflected that if heavy rain came on I could
easily come into shelter, so I returned to my hay-spread, and lay down
again and watched the renewed battle in the sky.

A desperate rally! One star, two stars were shining, and round about
them a great stand was being made. They fought lustily. They seemed
to be gaining ground. Yes. Three, four, five stars showed, six.... I
fell asleep again, knowing that the side I favoured would win. When I
wakened next it was to greet the great General coming from the east in
all his war-paint, and hung all over with silver medals. A glorious day
followed.

I spent a morning by the clear St. Joseph River. On the road to
Middlebury wild raspberries abounded. I could have picked a pound or so
of berries along the road. Raspberry bushes occur in many places, but
I've seen few raspberries hitherto. That is because the great friends
of the raspberries live so near--human boys and girls--and they are
always taking the raspberries to school, to church, to the corn-field.
If they are going home they insist on taking the little raspberries
home too, to the distress of fathers and mothers sometimes, for the
raspberries know how to disagree with the children upon occasion,
especially the young ones.

There were not many farm-houses about here, but at one of them I was
given a pot full of ripe cherries, and made a "smash" of them, and ate
them with milk and sugar.

A motorist took me along a dozen miles in a bouncing, petrol-spurting
runabout car, a Dutchman, who paid me the compliment of saying I spoke
very grammatically for a foreigner.

There was a thundershower in the afternoon. In the evening I obtained
permission to sleep in a barn, and the farmer talked to me as I lay
in the straw. There had been a runaway team the day before, and his
neighbour's bay mare had twenty-four stitches in her now, and he didn't
reckon she'd be much more good.

A waggoner taking fowls and dairy produce to sell at restaurants and
quick-lunch shops took me into Elkhart next morning. Elkhart is a large
city, with many car factories and buggy factories, and by comparison
with the country round is very foreign, full of Italians, Poles, and
Jews. It is a well-built, handsome city, with much promise for the
future.

As I stepped out on the Shipshewaka Road I saw by a notice that a prize
was being offered for the most popular woman and the homeliest man.
What a contrast this implies to the life of the East. Here is a land
where women are public, and where nobility in a man is best expressed
by being handy about the house.

I tramped along the north side of St. Joseph's River, through beautiful
country under delightful conditions. The cornfields had turned
red-gold, the grass was all in flower, and little brown fluffy bees
considered it the best time of summer. What a sun there was, what a
breeze! I found the "Bachelor's Retreat" on the St. Joseph's River, two
boat-houses, a stairway through the forest banks, and a little wooden
pier stretching out into the pleasant water--a good place for a swim!

Just before Mishewaka I met old Samuel Judie, seventy-six years of age,
lying on a bank with a stick in his hand, tending the cows of his own
farm and philosophising on life.

"It's a marvellous thing that the sun stands still and the earth goes
round it," said he. "A marvellous thing that there are stars. They find
out how to make automobiles, and they find out lots of things about the
stars, but the human race won't ever know out the facts."

To most of the remarks I made Mr. Judie answered "Shah."

"England has fifty million people."

"Oh, shah!"

"London is twenty miles broad and twenty miles long."

"Oh, shah!"

"There are plenty of farms of only ten acres."

"Oh, shah!"

He grumbled a great deal at the automobiles.

[Illustration: "OLD SAMUEL JUDIE, LYING ON A BANK, AND PHILOSOPHISING
ON LIFE."]

"Last Sunday," said he, "a man and his wife were knocked down just
here. They had been saving and pinching for years, and had at last
cleared the mortgage off their farm, and were reckoning to live
decently. The automobile cut the woman's head right off, and the man is
lying in the hospital. There ought to be a law against the automobiles
rushing through from Elkhart to South Bend on Sundays."

"I suppose South Bend is a rich place?"

"Shah!"

"What do they make there?"

"Boots, waggons, ploughs, the wooden parts of Singer's
sewing-machines.... They are terribly hard up for hands.... You'd get
a job easy.... There is a great lot of girls working in the factories,
many foreign. They soon marry and go on to a farm. Factory folks make
a pile of money; get tired, and then buy a few acres of land and live
on it. Farms about here are split up into small portions and sold to
poor folk. Some want me to divide up my farm and sell part of it, but I
won't do it."

Mr. Judie had had to work all his life, and to work hard a good deal of
it, and he felt entitled to have his own mind on any subject, and to
act accordingly.

A wealthy American took me along in his car through Mishewaka to South
Bend, and showed me the great factory of wind-mill sails, Dodge's
factory of "transmission power" of pulleys and connections and all
things that join up engines and plant; then the famous Studebaker's
factory of plough-handles, shafts, waggons, etc., the rubber-boot
factory, Singer's frame factory, and several other establishments
which indicated how busy these Indiana cities are.

I tramped out to New Carlisle, spending a night there under a deep
dark maple tree, which after sunset looked like a great overlapping
thatch--not a poke of light came through. As I lay beside the highroad,
and as the American holidays had just commenced, scores of cars came
by, and as each one appeared on the road horizon it lit up my leafy
ceiling with its great flashlights. How hot the night was.... I slept
without covering. It was hot even at dawn.

It was next day on the road to Michigan City that I gave water to a
thirsty calf, who actually ran to me and butted into me to persuade me
to fill his bucket. It was on this road that having thrown a potful of
water at some sheep they followed me down the dusty road, crying to me
to do it again.

Michigan City was sweltering. I took refuge from the heat in the
waiting-room of the large railway station, and watched the crowds in
the New York and Chicago trains, and the rush of the restaurant boys
with hundreds of cones of ice-cream.

A pretty negress came and sat next me and began talking.

"Ah come over heer two manths ago to the carnaval, and have been
playing _vaudy-ville_, but the home folks said ah mus' come back. Mai,
how I cried when I heard. I did take on...."

She was under police supervision, and a big Irish policeman came
and took her away when he saw her talking with me. She stood on the
platform until the train came in, and then she was put in charge of a
guard. She had, no doubt, been arrested under suspicious circumstances
in the streets of Michigan, and had been brought before a kind
magistrate, who had forborne to punish her on condition that she went
back to her mother.

The road from Michigan undulated over a weedy wilderness and
gnat-swarming marshes. I had a bad time as to the heat and the
mosquitoes, and, despite use of strong disinfectants, I got badly
stung, and was consequently feverish for some days. I was also very
idle, very much inclined to sit on palings and consider how hot it was.
On the Sunday, just to see whether the plaints of the farmers were
justified, I made a census of all the vehicles that passed me. On the
Monday I got to Hammond, and on Tuesday came in by car to Chicago. That
day was the hottest of the year. Fifty-three people died from the heat
in the city that day. I could have understood a few tramps dying even
on the road.



XVI

THE CHOIR DANCE OF THE RACES


The road into Chicago was one of increasing noise and smoke and
desolation, of heat and gloom, and the rumour of a sordid defeat of
life. I remember Calumet City by the factory stacks, the chimneys whose
blackness seemed fainting out of sight in the haze of the heat. Dark
smokes and white steams curled above many workshops; along the roadside
black rivulets flowed from the factories. There were heaps of ashes
and tin cans lying in odorous ponds. The leaves of the trees and the
grasses of the fields were wilted and yellowed by the airs and fumes
of Chicago. At Hammond a drunken, one-armed man followed me for about
a mile, attracting a crowd of street Arabs by his foul language. East
Chicago looked to me like parts of suburban London, and I was reminded
in turns of Peckham, Hackney Marshes, Commercial Road, Whitechapel.
There was, however, much that was unlike anything in London--the
ominous squads of factory chimneys; clouds of heavy-rolling, ochreous
fumes and smoke; palings with such advertisements as "Read no scab
newspapers" or "You'll Holler"; wooden houses; dilapidated, ramshackle
frame-buildings of grey wood; broken-down verandahs; black stairways;
grey washing hanging on strings from stairway to stairway; half-naked
children; piles of old cans and rusty iron.

The vehicles increased on the highway, the lumber of much traffic
commenced, the red and yellow tramcars multiplied, railway lines
crossed the road, and by the rush of trains one felt that all the
traffic of Eastern and Central America was converging to one point. The
open country disappeared. The air of the roadway became full of dust.
The heat increased ten degrees, and to move a limb was to perspire.
Foreigners jostled one another on the sidewalks, negroes and negresses
sat in doorways. The odour of carcases came to the nostrils from
Packing-town, and at last the great central roar of traffic--Chicago.

I can give no account of the great city here--it would be only to
recount and add together the uglinesses and the promises of other
cities. It was at once worse and better than I had expected. The
hopelessness of the picture given by Upton Sinclair in _The Jungle_ I
felt to be exaggerated. I was told at Hull House that the novelist had
got all his stories at the stockyards, but that the massed calamities
that are so appalling in the story never occurred to one family in
real life. The effect of accumulated horrible detail in _The Jungle_
deprives you at the time of any love towards America; it made me, a
Briton, feel hatred towards America, and when first I read the book I
felt that no Russian who read it carefully would entertain willingly
the idea of going to America. If he had entertained the idea, having
read _The Jungle_ he would abandon it. It is an astonishing tract on
the fate of a Russian peasant family leaving the land of so-called
tyranny for a land of so-called freedom; and its obvious moral is
that Russia is a better country for the individual than America--that
America takes the fine peasant stock of Europe and shatters it to bits.

It is true that Chicago makes a convenience of men, and that there man
exists that commerce may thrive rather than that commerce exists that
man may thrive. It is a place where the physical and psychical savings
of Europeans are wasted like water, and where no one understands what
the waste means. Spending is always joyful, and Chicago is a gay city.
It is full of a light-hearted people, pushing, bantering, laughing,
blindfolded over their spiritual eyes. In such places as Chicago the
immigrant finds a market for things he could never sell at home--his
body, his nerve, his vital energy; a ready market, and he sells
them and has money in his pocket and beer in plenty. Listen to the
loud-voiced, God-invoking crowd in the saloons! They have the proceeds
that come of selling the savings of Europe. They have come out of the
quiet villages and forests where, from generation to generation and
age to age, the peasantry live quiet lives, and grow richer and richer
in spirit and nerve. But these in the Chicago streets and saloons have
found their mysterious destiny, to lavish in a life, and for seemingly
worthless ends, what hundreds of quiet-living ancestors have saved. The
tree of a hundred years falls in a day and becomes timber, supporting a
part of the fabric of civilisation for a while.

[Illustration: AT THE FOUNTAIN IN THE PARK: A HOT DAY IN CHICAGO.]

The strangest thing is the clamour of the Chicago crowd--it is
dead-sure about everything in the world, ignorant, cocksure, mocking.
It does not know it is losing, does not know that it is blind-folded,
because it is the victim of destiny.

Part of the spiritual blindness of the great city is the belief it
holds that there is no other place of importance but itself. And
many outsiders take the city at its own estimate. But Chicago is not
America, neither is New York or any other great city. If going to
America meant going only to the great cities, then few but the Jews
would emigrate from Europe.

The ideals of America cannot be worked out merely in the great cities.
The cities are places of death, of the destruction of national tissue,
and of human combustion, necessary, no doubt, as such, certainly not
places where one need worry about national health. The national health
is on the farms of Pennsylvania and Indiana and Minnesota, Michigan,
Iowa, the Dakotas, the Far West. The men range big out there; the
stand-by of the people will always be found in these places and not in
the cities.

And New York and Chicago, though necessary, are abnormal. They are
not so much America as unassimilated Europe. The population of a city
should be the natural sacrifice of the population of the country. It
is often deplored that the country people are forsaking the land and
flocking to the towns; but the proper people to replenish the failing
stock of the cities is just those whom instinct and destiny prompt to
leave the country. It is most bewildering to the student of America
that her city-populations are replenished by the foreign immigrants,
by people nursing, it is true, American sentiments, but not yet born
into the American ideal, not made America's own. The natural place for
the first generation of immigrants is on the land. If Chicago seems
too large, too sudden a growth, disorderly, unanticipated, altogether
out of hand, it is because of the hordes of foreigners who are there,
who have not the impulse to co-operate, and who do not readily respond
to the efforts of the idealist and politician. And they do not readily
respond because they have not lived long enough in the true American
atmosphere, have not served a quiet apprenticeship in the country, but
have been dumped into an industrial wilderness served with the yellow
press and "sped up."

America will have to guide the flow of the immigrants, and learn to
irrigate with it and make fertile the Middle and the Far West. It is
over-commercialisation and near-sightedness that clamours for more
labour in the great cities. The size of a city is never too small. In
the normal state of a nation the city functionises the country, and
according to the strength of the people in the background the state of
the great town will be busy or slack. It is good news that negotiations
are being made with the trans-Atlantic shipping companies to ship
immigrants to the Far Western coast _via_ the Panama Canal, at rates
not very much heavier than at present exist for shipment to Boston and
Philadelphia and New York. A man and his wife planted on the land in
the East are worth ten given to the greedy cities of the West.

In the matter of the colonisation of her own country America might
learn a great deal from Russia, especially in the matter of railway
transit. It is all to the advantage of a country that means of transit
are cheap, and that there be a brisk circulation of the blood of the
body-politic. As a newspaper realises that the cheaper its price the
greater its success, the greater its circulation, so America might
realise that the cheaper were its railway fares the more facility
would there be for the mingling of the peoples, the assimilation of
foreigners, and the development of the country.

In America it costs 39 dollars 60 cents to go as far as Denver,
Colorado, which is about 2000 miles, and $76.20 to go to San Francisco.
A comparison with the Russian rates will give an idea how much more
cheaply it is possible to carry people:


+-----------+------------------+---------------------------------------+
|           |                  |            Russian Rates.             |
| Distance. | American Rates.  +------------+------------+-------------|
|           |                  | 3rd Class. | 4th Class. | Immigrants' |
|           |                  |            |            |    Rate.    |
+-----------+------------------+------------+------------+-------------+
|2000 miles | 39.60 dollars    |9 dollars   |4.20 dollars| 1 dollar    |
|           |                  |            |            |             |
|3230   "   | 76.20    "       |12.50 "     | 6     "    | 1.60 dollars|
+-----------+------------------+------------+------------+-------------+


Of course, the cost of working is more in America than in Russia, and
the trains are twice as fast; but that is not enough to set off against
the enormous differences in fares. A great profit is made out of the
railway business, and the profit is at the expense of America as a
whole. It is absurd to compare the prices of fares in America with the
prices of fares in Great Britain. It is bad enough with us, but ours
is a small territory; it does not cost much to go from end to end.
But America is a vast country. It costs almost a year's wages to pay
the fare of a family across it. You think twice before determining to
travel even a thousand miles. The consequence is that the circulation
of people is sluggish in the extreme. The East begins to get congested,
and the cities are packed with people who would gladly have gone
straight to the West if facilities had been granted them.

In the development of democracy it is circulation that is important,
the circulation of opinion, of sentiment, of ideals. The large
circulation of interest and affection caused by the reduction of
postage rates down to a penny in Britain and two cents in America
has given an immense impetus to democratic development; the larger
circulation of ideas and opinions caused by the reduction of the price
of newspapers to a cent has also been advantageous. But how much more
important than the circulation of opinions, ideas, and sentiments is
the circulation of the people themselves, controlled by the price of
fares on railways! How much more swiftly would the American democracy
become homogeneous if it were possible to travel a thousand miles for
five dollars. That would entail either nationalisation of railways
or subsidisation by the Government. But it would be worth it to the
American people.

Because of the heavy expense of railway travelling America is only
dimly conscious of itself, geographically and ethnologically. Americans
even boast of the distances between their towns and between different
points of the country. Chicago, only one-third of the way across the
continent, is called "The West." Indiana and Illinois and Minnesota are
"out West." It is as if we referred to Berkshire or Warwickshire as the
West of England.

In due course, it may be imagined, the United States Government will
assume state-control of many of the railways, and ten dollars will pay
your fare from New York right across. Immigrants will not be allowed
to settle in great cities till they have spent ten years on the land.
Such a provision would make it easier to admit all sorts and conditions
of Europeans at Ellis Island; and at the corresponding Immigration
stations at other ports a great deal of the White Slave trouble would
be averted, and the shelter of immigrants would not absorb so much of
the urban attention so urgently needed elsewhere.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

Railways have as much power to make the new American as the newspaper
has. Perhaps they have more power; for the railways can afford great
opportunities for social mingling. The railway can take any immigrant
to a place where he will be not merely a hireling, but a living
organism grafted into the vast body of America. At present the high
fares deter the immigrant, and he is cooped up in districts which he
would like to leave, but cannot; in districts where he must remain
foreign and not American.

For there is an impulse to move and to mingle. If railway facilities
were granted there would be a great deal more social and commercial
intercourse over the surface of America. Each new immigrant who comes
into the United States is particularly wanted somewhere; his landing
is not an accident. Some village or countryside has called him, and
will still call him, though he be frustrated at first, doing the wrong
sort of work among the wrong group of people.

The great heterogeneous mass of peoples wants to become one nation.
There is a power which works through the peoples for that end. The
people are ready to mingle; they are already mingling; they are going
to and fro and in twos and threes, and every step and every transaction
is something essential in the making of the coming homogeneous nation.

It is a choir dance, a dance of molecules or atoms, if you will, but a
dance of human atoms, and one that yields a mystic music that can be
heard by the poet's ear. Leading the peoples in the involutions and
evolutions of the choir dance is a masked figure, not itself one of the
people. What is that figure? Not trade, I think, though it helps; not
common interest, though it is perhaps a rule of the dance; not even
the American idea. The masked figure that leads is a fate; it is an
instinct of Destiny.

The dance is being played out on a vast stage with much scenery--the
three-thousand-mile stretch of America, East to West: the Industrial
East, with its hills; the corn plains and forests of the middle West;
the wild West; the luxuriant and wonderful South.

There are waiting throngs cooped up in cities and at temporary
standing-places.

The welter of negroes and Spaniards and half-castes in the South, in
the black pale; the Swedes and Norwegians and Finns in the Middle
West; the million Jews in New York; the millions of them elsewhere,
saying, as Mary Antin, that America and not Judea is the Promised
Land, the place where the tribes will be gathered together again and
form a nation; the great Anglo-Saxon stock of America, who would feel
themselves to be the leaven, the ruling principle in the choir dance;
the Dutch-Americans of Pennsylvania; the Irish, of whom there tend
to be more in America than in Ireland; the Slovaks and Ruthenians on
the Pennsylvanian collieries; the Italian gangs on the road and the
Italian quarters of a thousand towns; the Poles, of whom in New York
alone there are more than in any city in Poland; the enormous number of
Germans living on the land; the hundred thousand Russian working men in
Pennsylvania alone; the Molokan Russians in California, and the Russian
gold-washers; the Red Indians on the Reservations; the composite gangs
of all nations in the world going up and down the country doing jobs.

The Jews bring music, mathematical instinct, a sense of justice,
industry, commercial organisation, and commercial tyranny, national
wealth, material prosperity, restlessness.

The English bring ignorance, pluck, and honour; the Scottish bring
their brains and their morals; the Irish bring generosity, cleverness,
laziness, hatred of Jews and of meanness.

The Germans bring the idea of growth and development, evolution, and
with it their own music. They also bring an instinct for efficiency and
shining armour.

The negro brings sensual music and dancing, a taste for barbaric
splendour, the gentleness of little children, and the wildness of
the beasts of the forest at night; and he brings imitativeness,
subserviency, a taste for slavery.

The Red Indians bring the remembrance of the Virgin
Continent--litheness of limb, subtler ear and nose and eyes for the
things of the earth.

The Italians bring their emotionalism and excitability, their songs,
their passion, their fighting spirit.

The Little Russians, Slovaks, Poles, Great Russians bring patience
to endure suffering, but withal a spirit of anarchism which prompts
them to do astonishing things without apparent cause, mystical piety,
charity, much sin, much intemperance, much love and human tenderness.
They bring also the Tartar commercial spirit, and a zest for haggling
over prices and for making deals.

The French bring economy, vivacity, journalistic genius.

But what do they not bring, all these peoples? There are marvellous
gifts closed in all of them, mysterious potentialities that it were
folly to attempt to name.

Each race has its special function, its organic suitability and psychic
value. There are male races like the Jews; female races like the
Germans. There are races that bring spirit, races that bring body.

German goes down the middle with English; Swedish with Irish; Russian
with Pole; Jew with each and all. It is not always with the negro
that the negro dances, not always with the Italian that the Italian
is partnered, nor Hungarian with Hungarian, nor Lithuanian with
Lithuanian. Secretively, unexpectedly, on unanticipated impulses,
strangers obey the magic wand and rhythmical gestures of the Great
Conductor of the dance, and become one with another in the evolution of
America. The dance has been open some time, but it is only now becoming
general. The waiting throngs on all sides are just beginning to break
up and go mingling up and down and in and out, carrying messages,
making sacrifices, performing rites. The victims are blindfolded; the
conquerors have the light of destiny on their brows.

A spectacle for the Gods! In the Old World the heavenly powers have
looked down more or less on the antagonism of the races, war and enmity
and all that results from great battles, the rout of armies, the
sacking of cities, the sinking of ships--


                        Looking over wasted lands.
     Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery
       sands,
     Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and praying
       hands.


But in the New World the peoples are joined in co-operation and
friendship, working out in peace and trade the synthesis of a new race.
The gods look down on factory-chimneys belching smoke, on kingdoms
covered with red-gold corn uncoveted by men of arms, on hurrying
trains and the dancing peoples going hither and thither, with smiles
and little enchantments and allurements. They look upon the Protestant
pulpits where the Puritans preach, on the Roman Catholic Church and the
confessionals, on the Orthodox Church, on the Baptists, on the Mormons;
and on the way the varying peoples flock around temples, and in and
out of church doors, carrying messages, receiving messages. They look
upon many developments that we have so aptly called movements, the
mysterious "woman's movement", the Romanising movement, the Socialistic
movement. They look upon a million schools where the children, the
second generation of the dancers, are polished and tested and clothed
before they in their turn join the throng at the side and go down the
middle with their partners.

It is like a kaleidoscope, and at each successive revolution the
peoples change their aspects and their pattern; but there is no
reverting to the original pattern, as in the kaleidoscope. The
constituents of the pattern are divining what the next pattern will be,
and it is always a new pattern, something nearer to the great coming
unity, the new American nation. In no one particular bosom is the
destiny of America; one man by himself means nothing there. It is a
whole people that is living or will live. Once the foreigner parts from
the waiting throngs at the side and enters the mystic dance, his own
little consciousness and purpose become but a part of the much greater
consciousness and purpose of the whole. It is not the development of
one sort of person, but the combination of a million sorts to make one.
It is not the development of a race, as is our own British progress in
Great Britain, but something which seems rather novel in the history
of mankind, the making of a new democracy. It is not a Gladstone or a
Bismarck or an Alexander the Liberator, who is leading this development
that I have called a Choir Dance, not a Lincoln or a Roosevelt or a
Wilson. Men have only their parts to play in the making of a democracy;
if they could make it all by themselves, or originate the making, or
achieve the making, it would not be a democracy that they were making.
As I said, it is a masked figure that leads the mystic movement--a
fate. In one sense there are many fates also among the dancers and
mingled with them,--a mysterious and wonderful ballet, perfect in idea
and in fulfilment.

And as it is with men so it is with the rites they perform. There are
myriads of rites in the movement of the dance, but not one of them is
charged with absolute significance. Thus in the mazes of evolution
there stands impregnable, as it would seem, the historic open Bible of
America. Around it, marking time, is a massed host of Americans, now
reinforced by newcomers, now diminished by secessions, swayed to this
way and to that by streams of Catholics, streams of Hebrews, streams of
pleasure-lovers, but as yet holding its own, and claiming in sonorous
choruses that the Bible shall be the leaven of the New America.

At another point of vantage on the stage you may see the Jews
proclaiming by vote that America is no longer a Christian country,
and calling the intellectuals and pleasure-wanters to support, if not
Judaism, at least rationalism and "intelligent" materialism.

At another point you see the menace of the half-civilised negro, the
spectacle of the rapid multiplication of a people over whom there is
no control, and in whose nature lies, apparently, an enormous physical
power to degrade the type of the whites.

There is the phenomenon of the wholesale slaughter and sacrifice of
blindfolded foreigners exploited in industrial cities; forests of men
used up as the forests of wood are worn away into daily newspapers and
rubbish.

You see the booths where dancers make voluntary abdication of European
nationality and take the oaths of American citizenship.

You see the prizes for which, in the dance, whole crowds seem to be
straining and yearning and even struggling, the prize of wealth, of
even a little wealth, of a name printed in a newspaper, of a name
printed in all newspapers, the prize of fame, of political position, of
premiership. You see the wild political campaigns.

You see the places where the ambitious laze by the way, the baseball
races where men are shouting themselves and others mad for an empty
game, the halls of rag-time and trotting. You see in thousands of
instances actions which seem to disgrace the name of America and to
augur ill for her future,--women sold into evil, negroes burned at the
stake, heinous crimes committed against children. But the destiny of
the great choric dance cannot be thwarted by any of these things. Death
is useful to life, darkness to brightness, sin to virtue--useful in a
way which it is not necessary for the individual to penetrate. Each
man fulfils his destiny, guides others according to his light, acts
according to his inclination, temptation, and conscience. The whole
nation takes care of itself.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

Wherever I went in the States I was asked by journalists to say what I
thought the resultant type of American was going to be. America seemed
feverishly anxious to get an answer to that question. No one can answer
it, but it is exciting to speculate.

"Are you aware that in a few years we shall come to such a pass that it
will be a stand-up fight, Americans _versus_ Jews?" said one man to me.
"The influence of the other races goes for nothing beside the influence
of the Jews. The Jews are buying up all the real estate, they make any
sacrifice for education, they get the better of Christians nine times
out of ten. A Jewish pedlar comes past this door one day, and I think,
'Poor wretch!' Next year he comes past in a buggy; next year I find he
owns a big general store in the town; next year he owns a department
store and employs a thousand hands. He is too much for us."

What is to be the emerging American? At New York I was inclined to
answer, "A sort of English-speaking Russian Jew who believes in dollars
and sensual pleasures before all else, who, however, reads advanced
literature, and whilst he is poor is an anarchist, and when he is rich
is more tyrannous than the Tsar--more tyrannous, but never illegally
so." But when I escaped into the country I found that New York was not
America, but only a great hostelry on the threshold of that country. I
learned the great control power of the Anglo-Saxon and Dutch Americans,
the subtle influence of the Russian people, who after all not only
dominate the Jews in Russia, but give them many traits of the Russian
national character, making out of a materialist something which is
almost a sentimentalist. There are many Jews in Russia who have become
de-judaised by the Russians, and indeed the Christian Jew has become
part of the very fabric of that bureaucracy which the poor persecuted
mob of Hebrews hate and fear. The Russians are a strong influence in
the development of the American. And the Germans and Norwegians and
Swedes and Danes, who swiftly change to a species of American hardly
distinguishable from the old Anglo-Saxon and Dutch type? They cannot
go for nothing, they are not simply raw material, but are moulders and
fashioners as well. The coming American will be a very recognisable
relation of the Teutonic peoples. But he will nevertheless be clearly
and decidedly different from any one race on the Continent.

Even to-day an American is distinctly recognisable as such on the
pavements of London, Berlin, or Paris. You know him by his face; he
does not need to speak to reveal his nationality. You can even tell a
man who has spent five years in the country; something new has been
moulded into his face and has crept into his eyes. I have even noticed
it in the face of Russian peasants returning from America after two
years away from Russia, travelling in a Russian train to their little
village home.

"You are American?" I asked of them.

"Yes, boss, you are rait," they replied, and smiled knowingly.

They then began to enlarge on what a wonderful place America was--just
like American tourists in Switzerland.

But the American of to-day is not the American of to-morrow. The
Tsar's subjects coming into America at the rate of a quarter of a
million a year ensure that, the flocking of almost whole nations from
South-Eastern Europe ensure it. As I said, none can tell what the new
American nation will be. We can only watch the wonderful patterns and
colours that form in the great ballet and choir dance, the mingling
in the labyrinths of destiny, the disappearances and the emergences,
the involution and the evolution. It is something enacted within the
mystery of the human race itself.



XVII

FAREWELL, AMERICA!


I observed many interesting things in Chicago, the following circular
for instance:


     Balsok aut John J. Casey.
     Hlasujte na John J. Casey.
     Glosujgie na John J. Casey.
     Votate per John J. Casey.
     Vote for John J. Casey,
     Labour candidate for Congress.


Ten years hence that farrago will have changed to simply "Vote for
Casey."

My neighbours in the hotel spelt their name in two ways, one way for
Polish friends and the other for American understanding:


     Nawrozke.
     Navrozky.


It is the latter name that will endure; or perhaps that also will be
shed for some cognomen that sounds more familiar and reliable,--to
Harris or Jones or Brown.

I had a talk in a slum with a family of Roumanian Jews who had come to
Chicago twenty years ago. Chicago was a good place, they intended never
to leave it, the family had come there for ever.

I met an Alsatian who told me how he had fled from home when he was
twelve years old. He crossed the Swiss frontier, and got into Basle
at midnight, and had travelled to America _via_ Paris and Havre, and
had never gone back. He did not want to serve in the German Army. His
father had been a great French soldier in the Franco-German war.

"If you went back now would the German authorities bring you to trial?"
I asked.

"No. I have the Emperor's pardon in black and white."

"Do many of those who run away get pardon?"

"Only when there is good cause. I used to send money home regularly to
keep my sister. The mayor of the town heard of my generosity, reported
it to Berlin, and a pardon was written out for me."

"They thought it a pity to keep a good citizen out of his own country,
even though he had cheated the army. A wise action, eh?" said I.

"The Germans are 'cute," he replied.

I met a Russian revolutionary who complained that his compatriots in
the towns spent all their spare time getting drunk, fighting, and
praying. The Russian who made his pile went and opened a beer-shop.
He thought the priests of the Orthodox Church kept the immigrants
down; they got more money from drunkards than from the virtuous, and
therefore they made no efforts to encourage sobriety. He would like to
see the Orthodox Greek and Russian Churches demolished, and the priests
and deacons packed back to Europe. America was a new country, and
needed a new church.

At Chicago also I received a letter from Andray Dubovoy, a young
Russian farmer, whose acquaintance I made by chance in the Russian
quarter of New York. He was rich enough to come travelling from North
Dakota to New York to see the sights of America, a wonderfully keen
and happy Russian, full of ideas about the future and stories of the
settlement where he lived. He gave me a most interesting account of the
Russian pioneers in North Dakota. In the towns where he lived every one
spoke Russian, and few spoke English. If you went into a shop and asked
for something in English the shopkeeper would shrug her shoulders and
send for a little child to interpret. The children went to school and
knew English, but the old folks could not master it, and had long given
up attempts to learn the language. The town was called Kief, and was
named after the province of Russia from which they originally came.

He told me the history of two villages in Kiefsky Government in
Russia. They had heard of America, but thought it was a place in a
fairy-tale--not a real place at all. They were even incredulous when
the Jews began to depart for America in numbers. But they were destined
to understand.

The villagers were people who asked themselves serious questions and
searched their hearts. They ceased going to monasteries and making
pilgrimages and kissing relics, and instead gathered together and read
the Gospel.

Many were arrested for going to illegal meetings. Those who were sent
to prison or to Siberia went gladly, as on the Lord's business, to be
missionaries to those who sat in darkness.

But there was so much persecution that a great number of the villagers
thought of following the example of the Jews and emigrating to America.
It was in 1894 that they resolved to go; but at that time a large party
of Stundists, who had gone out to Virginia the year before, came back
with tidings of bad life and poor wages, and damped the enthusiasm. Ten
families, however, were tempted by what the Stundists said, and they
took tickets to go to the very district of Virginia that the Stundists
had abandoned.

On their way out they fell in with a party of German colonists going
back, after a holiday, to North Dakota. Such tales they told that five
of the families changed their minds and determined to throw in their
lot with the Germans.

The five families received land free, homesteads, they were given
credit to purchase horses and cattle and carts and agricultural
implements, and they liked the new country and wrote glowingly to the
others in Virginia and in the two villages of Kiefsky Government. As a
result, twenty-five new families came at once, and in a few years there
were 200 families installed.

Each man brought 20 to 30 dollars but no more, and each became indebted
to companies for 1000 to 1500 dollars, a debt which they hoped to pay,
but which hung on their necks like the instalments their ancestors had
to pay to the Land Banks of Russia for the land they had been granted.

However, they ploughed and sowed and hoped for harvests, built log
cabins and even American houses. They had hard times, and were on the
verge of starvation--famine and death staring at them from the barren
fields. They were forced to make an appeal through the newspapers of
Eastern America, and as a result truck-loads of provisions were sent to
them, and "clothes to last five years."

Succeeding years made up for their sufferings. There was a plentiful
flax harvest; and though in 1909 hail destroyed the wheat and in 1910
and 1911 there was drought, the Russians bore up. And 1912 was a most
fruitful year, some farmers garnering as many as 25,000 bushels of
wheat.

Each year they were able to add to their stock, to build a little more,
and to do various things. As a result of good harvests Andray Dubovoy
himself was able to go a-travelling, and to meet me and tell me his
story. He had himself come to America when a little child, and did not
know of his native land except by repute. He had not, however, had the
advantage of education in an American school as a child, and so was as
yet more Russian than American; but he was unlike the Russian type, he
was clean of limb, clear of eye and of skin, calm--almost a Quaker in
faith and morals. No one drank spirits or smoked tobacco in Kief, North
Dakota, he told me with pride. The Russians there were living in a new
way.

"Are the people as religious now as they were in Russia?" I asked.

"Not quite," said he, "they feel they don't need religion so much in
America. At first the struggle for life was so hard, we had little
thought for religion. It was only as we gained a footing on the land
that we began to think of our religion seriously, and we built a
chapel. We have a chapel of our own now."

"I suppose when you were no longer persecuted you did not need to
affirm your way of religion so emphatically," I hazarded.

Andray did not know.

"Have you any bosses in Kief?" I asked.

Andray smiled.

"Our sheriff is a cabman."

"You feel no tyranny at all now?"

He was glad to say they never had need of a policeman; there were
no robberies, every one lived in mutual love and kindness. Only, of
course, they were heavily in debt to the companies, and felt they were
never solvent.

"Perhaps, when you have improved your land and made it really valuable
you will be sold up by the companies and you will lose your property,"
said I.

He did not think that possible.

"And what is the cost of living with you?"

"Cheap," said my friend; "beef is 2½ cents a pound, eggs 10 cents the
dozen, butter 12 cents the pound, potatoes 35 cents the bushel; but the
things we import, such as boots, clothes, fruits, are very dear, much
too dear for our pockets."

"Food is cheaper than in the country in Russia, then?"

"Meat and butter and milk are cheaper, but other things are more
than twice as dear. Still we do not complain. It is a good life out
there; our children are growing up stalwart, happy, earnest. God's own
blessing is upon our enterprise."

"Are you ever going back to Russia with its persecutions, its sins, its
crimes, its pilgrimages, the secret police, the hermits who live in
forest huts, its moujiks and babas, who think that America is a place
in a fairy-tale, at the other side of endless forests?"

The farmer smiled in a peculiar way. He would like to go to see it.

Was he quite sure he was going to be an American and not a Russian?

"We have Russian classes in the summer," said he. "We must never forget
Russia, evil as she is."

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

It must not be forgotten that this little settlement of which I write
here is only one of many in North Dakota. There are already thirty
thousand Russians living in that state, and there are many people of
other nationalities living in the same way--Swedes, Germans, Danes. The
story of the young colonies is marvellously touching; when you read one
of the excellent novels of to-day, such as Miss Cather's _O Pioneers_,
which tells of the growth of a Swedish colony in the Middle West, you
are obliged to admit that it is no wonder the Americans find their own
such an exclusively interesting country.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

I returned to New York by train, and on the way saw the Niagara Falls,
one morning at dawn; the procession of white-headed rapids, the vapour
and mist rising in volumes veiling the sun, darkening it. A sight of
holiness and wonder that left me breathless. I was glad to be alone,
and just close the picture into the heart, in silence!

Late one Saturday night I arrived in New York and stepped out of the
Grand Central Station, pack on back, and searched for a hotel. The
grand "Knickerbocker," with sky-sign the length of the Great Bear,
was not for me. I wandered into a queer-looking little palace, all
mirrors, deep carpets, white paint, and niggers. My room faced the
street, and opposite me was a pleasure-resort, a cabaret, a dancehall,
a pool-house, with three stories of billiard-rooms, through whose open
windows I saw many white-sleeved billiard-players leaning over green
tables.

The weather was so hot that all the windows in the city were wide open.
I heard the throbbing of music and dancing, even in my dreams.

Some days later I booked my passage back to England. But I was in
America till the last moment. The American who was so kind to me,
and who was in herself a little America, "fed to me" daily the facts
of American life, and the hope of all those who were working with
her. We visited Patterson, where half a dozen "Jim Larkins" had been
fighting for fighting's sake, and leading the well-paid silk-workers to
strike for the sun and moon, and accept no compromise. We visited the
President of the City College and saw the wonderful modern equipment
of that institution. We called on J. Cotton Dana, the librarian of
Newark. I was enabled to visit a maternity hospital, heavily endowed by
Pierpont Morgan, and to see all the provision made for the happy birth
of the emerging Americans. One vision remains in my memory of a dozen
babies on a tray, each baby having its mother's name written on a piece
of paper pinned to its swaddling-bands.

We visited five or six settlements, and invitations were given me to
visit several thousand establishments in the United States, and miss
nothing. I would have liked to go farther afield and have a thousand
more conversations, but perhaps, since brevity is the soul of wit,
I have done enough. As it is, I have only made a small selection of
instances and adventures and thoughts from the immense amount of
material which I carried back to England and to Russia. I think America
has been brought to the touch-stone of my own intelligence, experience,
and personality.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

My friend took me to the charming play, _Peg-o'-my-Heart_.

"Isn't it delicious?"

"The thrilling thing is that the fifth act is not played out here, but
on the _Campania_, and I have to play that part myself," said I.

We got out of the theatre at eleven. I saw her home. As midnight
was striking I claimed my luggage at the cloak-room at Christopher
Street Ferry. At 12.15 I entered the Cunard Dock and saw the great,
washed-over, shadowy, twenty-year-old Atlantic Liner. Crowds of
drunkards were gesticulating and waving flags--Stars and Stripes and
Union Jacks--singing songs, embracing one another. Heavily laden
dock-porters, carrying sacks, moved in procession along the gangways.
Portly Chief Steward Macrady, with mutton-chop whiskers, weather-beaten
face, and wordless lips, sat in his little kiosk and motioned to me to
pass on when I showed my ticket. I got aboard.

I returned with the home-going tide of immigrants; with flocks of Irish
who were going boisterously back to the Green Isle to spend small
fortunes; with Russians returning to Russia because their time was up
and they were due to serve in the army; with British rolling-stones,
grumbling at all countries; with people going home because they were
ill; with men and women returning to see aged fathers or mothers;
with a whole American family going from Butte, Montana, to settle in
Newcastle, England.

It was a placid six-day voyage; six days of merriment, relaxation, and
happiness. The atmosphere was entirely a holiday one--not one of hope
and anxiety and faith, as that of going out had been. Every one had
money, almost every one was a person who had succeeded, who had tall
tales to tell when he got home to his native village in his native
hollow.

Thousands of opinions were expressed about America. I heard few of
disillusion. Most people who go to America are disillusioned sooner
or later, but they re-catch their dreams and illusions, and gild their
memories when they set sail upon the Atlantic once more. They have
become Americans, and have a stake in America, and are ready to back
the New World against anything in the Old.

"Do you like the Yankees?"

"They're all right--on the level," answers an Irish boy.

"Do you like America? Would you like to live there and settle down
there?" asks a friend of me, the wanderer.

A smile answers that question.

We stood, my friend and I, looking over the placid ocean as the moon
just pierced the clouds and glimmered on the waters.

Evening splendours were upon the surface of the sea, the delicate light
of the moon just showing the waves, most beautiful and alluring.

"It is like first acquaintance with one's beloved," said I; "like the
first smile that life gives you, bidding you follow her and woo her.
Later on, in the rich splendour, when the golden road is clear and
certain and ours, we do not care for the quest. We look back to those
first enchanting glances, those promising reconnaissances. The promise
of love is more precious than love itself, for it promises more than
itself; it promises the unearthly; it touches a note of a song that
we heard once, and have been all our lives aching to remember and sing
again."

America is too happy and certain and prosperous a place for some. It
is a place where the soul falls into a happy sleep. The more America
improves, the more will it prove a place of success, of material
well-being, of physical health, and sound, eugenically established men
and women. But to me, personally, success is a reproach; and failure,
danger, calamity, incertitude is a glory. For this world is not a
satisfying home, and there are those who confess themselves strangers
and pilgrims upon the earth.

       *       *       *       *       *      *       *

Back to Russia! From the most forward country to the most backward
country in the world; from the place where "time is money" to where the
trains run at eighteen miles an hour; from the land of Edison to the
land of Tolstoy; from the religion of philanthropy to the religion of
suffering--home once more.



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operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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