The Martial Adventures of Henry and Me by William Allen White



BY rights Henry, being the hero of this story, should be introduced in the first line. But really there isn't so much to say about Henry-- Henry J. Allen for short, as we say in Kansas -- Henry J. Allen, editor and owner of the Wichita Beacon. And to make the dramatic personae complete, we may consider me as the editor of the Emporia Gazette, and the two of us as short, fat, bald, middle-aged, inland Americans, from fresh water colleges in our youth and arrived at New York by way of an often devious, yet altogether happy route, leading through politics where it was rough going and unprofitable for years; through business where we still find it easy to sign, possible to float and hard to pay a ninety-day note, and through two country towns; one

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somewhat less than one hundred thousand population, and Emporia slightly above ten thousand.

We are discovered in the prologue to the play in New York City wearing our new silk suits to give New York a treat on a hot August day. Not that we or any one else ever wears silk suits in any Wichita or Emporia; silk suits are bought by Wichita people and Emporians all over the earth to paralyse the natives of the various New Yorks.

In our pockets we hold commissions from the American Red Cross. These commissions are sending us to Europe as inspectors with a view to publicity later, one to speak for the Red Cross, the other to write for it in America. We have been told by the Red Cross authorities in Washington that we shall go immediately to the front in France and that it will be necessary to have the protective colouring of some kind of an army uniform. The curtain rises on a store in 43rd Street in New York--perhaps the "Palace" or the "Hub" or the "Model" or the "Army and Navy," where a young man is trying to sell us a khaki coat, and shirt and trousers for $17.48. And at that it seems a lot of money to pay for a rig which can be worn at most only two months. But we compromise by making him throw in an-

A lot of money...

And at that it seems a lot of money to pay for a rig
which can be worn at most only two months

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other shirt and a service hat and we take the lot for $17.93 and go away holding in low esteem the "pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war" as exemplified by these military duds. In our hearts as we go off at R. U. E. will be seen a hatred for uniforms as such, and particularly for phoney uniforms that mean nothing and cost $18.00 in particular.

And then, with a quick curtain, the good ship Espagne, a French liner, is discovered in New York harbour the next day with Henry and me aboard her, trying to distinguish as she crawfishes out of the dock, the faces of our waving friends from the group upon the pier.

The good ship Espagne is all steamed up and scooting through the night, with two or three hundred others of the cast of characters aboard; and there is Europe and the war in the cast of characters, and the Boche, and Fritzie and the Hun, that diabolic trinity of evil, and just back of the boat on the scenery of the first act, splattered like guinea freckles all over the American map for three thousand miles north, south, east and west, are a thousand replicas of Wichita and Emporia. So it really is not of arms and the man that this story is written, nor of Henry and me, and the war; but it is the eternal Wichita

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and Emporia in the American heart that we shall celebrate hereinafter as we unfold our tale. Of course, that makes it provincial. And people living in New York or Boston, or Philadelphia (but not Chicago, for half of the people there have just come to town and the other half is just ready to leave town) may not understand this story. For in some respects New York is larger than Wichita and Emporia; but not so much larger; for mere numbers of population amount to little. There is always an angle of the particular from which one can see it as a part of the universal; and seen properly the finite is always infinite. And that brings us back naturally to Henry and me, looking out at the scurrying stars in the ocean as we hurried through the black night on the good ship Espagne. We had just folded away a fine Sunday dinner, a French Sunday dinner, beginning with onion soup which was strange; and as ominous of our journey into the Latin world as a blast of trumpets opening a Wagnerian overture. Indeed that onion soup was threaded through our whole trip like a motif. Our dinner that night ended in cheese and everything. It was our first meal aboard the boat. During two or three courses. we had considered the value of food as a two-way commodity

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--going down and coming up--but later in the dinner we ordered our food on its merits as a one-way luxury, with small thought as to its other uses. So we leaned against the rail in the nightand thought large thoughts about Wichita and Emporia.

Here we were, two middle-aged men, nearing fifty years, going out to a ruthless war without our wives. We had packed our own valises at the hotel that very morning in fear and trembling. We realized that probably we were leaving half our things in closets and drawers and were taking the wrong things with us, and checking the right things in our trunks at our hotels in New York. We had some discussion about our evening clothes, and on a toss-up had decided to take our tails and leave our dinner coats in the trunks. But we didn't know why we had abandoned our dinner coats. We had no accurate social knowledge of those things. Henry boasted that his wife had taught him a formula that would work in the matter of white or black ties with evening clothes. But it was all complicated with white vests and black vests and sounded like a corn remedy; yet it was the only sartorial foundation we had. And there we were with land out of sight, without a light visible on the boat, standing

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in the black of night leaning over the rail, looking at the stars in the water, and wondering silently whether we had packed our best cuff buttons, "with which to harry our foes," or whether we might have to win the war in our $17.93 uniforms, and we both thought and admitted our shame, that our wives would think we had been extravagant in putting so much money into those uniforms. The admirable French dinner which we had just enveloped, seemed a thousand miles away. It was a sad moment and our thoughts turned naturally to home.

"Fried chicken, don't you suppose?" sighed Henry.

"And mashed potatoes, and lots of thick cream gravy!" came from the gloom beside him.

"And maybe lima beans," he speculated.

"And a lettuce salad with thousand island dressing, I presume!" came out of the darkness.

"And apple dumpling--green apple dumpling with hard sauce," welled up from Henry's heavy heart. It was a critical moment. If it had kept on that way we would have got off the boat, and trudged back home through a sloppy ocean, and let the war take care of itself. Then Henry's genius rose. Henry is the world's greatest kidder. Give him six days' immunity in Ger-

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many, and let him speak in Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Leipsic and Cologne and he would kid the divine right of kings out of Germany and the kaiser on to the Chautauqua circuit, reciting his wrongs and his reminiscences!

Henry, you may remember, delivered the Roosevelt valedictory at the Chicago Republican convention in 1912, when he kidded the standpat crowd out of every Republican state in the union but two at the election. Possibly you don't like that word kid. But it's in the dictionary, and there's no other word to describe Henry's talent. He is always jamming the allegro into the adagio. And that night in the encircling gloom on the boat as we started on our martial adventures he began kidding the ocean. His idea was that he would get Wichita to vote bonds for one that would bring tide water to Main Street. He didn't want a big ocean--just a kind of an oceanette with a seating capacity of five thousand square miles was his idea, and when he had done with his phantasie, the doleful dumps that rose at the psychical aroma of the hypothetical fried chicken and mashed potatoes of our dream, had vanished.

And so we fell to talking about our towns. It seems that we had each had the same experience. Henry declared that, from the day it was known

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he was going to Europe for the Red Cross, the town had set him apart; he was somewhat like the doomed man in a hanging and people were always treating him with distinguished consideration. He had a notion that Henry Lassen, the town boomer, had the memorial services all worked out--who would sing "How Sleep the Brave," who would play Chopin's funeral march on the pipe organ, who would deliver the enlogy and just what leading advertiser they would send around to the Eagle, his hated contemporary, to get the Murdocks to print the eulogy in full and on the first page! Henry employs an alliterative head writer on the Beacon, and we wondered whether he had decided to use "Wichita Weeps," or "State Stands Sorrowing." If he used the latter, it would make two lines and that would require a deck head. We could not decide, so we began talking of serious things.

How quickly time has rolled the film since those early autumn days when the man who went to France was a hero in his town's eyes. Processions and parades and pageants interminable have passed down America's main streets, all headed for France. And what proud pageants they were! Walking at the head of the line were the little limping handful of veterans of the Civil

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War. After them came the middle-aged huskies of the Spanish War, and then, so very young, so boyish and so very solemn, came the soldiers for the great war--the volunteers, the National Guard, the soldiers of the new army; half accoutred, clad in nondescript uniforms, but proud and incorrigibly young. There had been banquets the week before, and speeches and flag rituals in public, but the night before, there had been tears and good-byes across the land. And all this in a few weeks; indeed it began during the long days in which we two sailed through the gulf stream, we two whose departure from our towns had seemed such a bold and hazardous adventure. When one man leaves a town upon an unusual enterprise, it may look foolhardy; but when a hundred leave upon the same adventure, it seems commonplace. The danger in some way seems to be divided by the numbers. Yet in truth, numbers often multiply the danger. There was little danger for Henry and me on the good ship Espagne with Red Cross stenographers and nurses and ambulance drivers and Y.M.C.A. workers. No particular advantage would come to the German arms by torpedoing us. But as the Espagne, carrying her peaceful passengers, all hurrying to Europe on merciful errands, passed down the river

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and into the harbour that afternoon, we had seen a great grey German monster passenger boat, an interned leviathan of the sea in her dock. We had been told of how cunningly the Germans had scuttled her; how they had carefully relaid electric wires so that every strand had to be retraced to and from its source, how they had turned the course of water pipes, all over the ship, how they had drawn bolts and with blow-pipes had rotted nuts and rods far in the dark places of the ship's interior, how they had scientifically disarranged her boilers so that they would not make steam, and as we saw the German boat looming up, deck upon deck, a floating citadel, with her bristling guns, we thought what a prize she would be when she put out to sea loaded to the guards with those handsome boys whom we had been seeing hustling about the country as they went to their training camps. Even to consider these things gave us a feeling of panic, and the recollection of the big boat in the dock began to bring the war to us, more vividly than it had come before. And then our first real martial adventure happened, thus:

As we leaned over the rail that first night talking of many things, in the blackness, without a glimmer from any porthole, with the decks as dark as Egypt, the ship shot ahead at twenty knots

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an hour. In peace times it would be regarded as a crazy man's deed, to go whizzing along at full speed without lights. Henry had taken two long puffs on his cigar when out from the murk behind us came a hand that tapped his shoulder, and then a voice spoke:

"You'll have to put out that cigar, sir. A submarine could see that five miles on a night like this!"

So Henry doused his light, and the war came right home to us.

The next day was uniform day on the boat, and the war came a bit nearer to us than ever. Scores of good people who had come on the boat in civilian clothes, donned their uniforms that second day; mostly Red Cross or Y.M.C.A. or American ambulance or Field Service uniforms. We did not don our uniforms, though Henry believed that we should at least have a dress rehearsal. The only regular uniforms on board were worn by a little handful of French soldiers, straggling home from a French political mission to America, and these French soldiers were the only passengers on the boat who had errands to France connected with the destructive side of the war. So not until the uniforms blazed out gorgeously did we realize what an elaborate and

14--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

important business had sprung up in the reconstructive side of war. Here we saw a whole ship's company--hundreds of busy and successful men and women, one of scores and scores of ship's companies like it, that had been hurrying across the ocean every few days for three years, devoted not to trading upon the war, not to exploiting the war, not even to expediting the business of "the gentle art of murdering," but devoted to saving the waste of war!

As the days passed, and "we sailed and we sailed," a sort of denatured pirate craft armed to the teeth with healing lotions to massage the wrinkled front of war, Henry kept picking at the ocean. It was his first transatlantic voyage; for like most American men, he kept his European experiences in his wife's name. So the ocean bothered him. He understood a desert or a drouth, but here was a tremendous amount of unnecessary and unaccountable water. It was a calm, smooth, painted ocean, and as he looked at it for a long time one day, Henry remarked wearily: "The town boosters who secured this ocean for this part of the country rather overdid the job!"

One evening, looking back at the level floor of the ocean stretching illimitably into the golden

You'll have to put out that cigar...

"You'll have to put out that cigar, sir"

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sunset, he mused: "They have a fine country here. You kind of like the lay of it, and there is plenty of nice sightly real estate about--it's a gently rolling country, uneven and something like College Hill in Wichita, but there's got to be a lot of money spent draining it; you can tell that at a glance, if the fellow gets anywhere with his proposition!"

A time always comes in a voyage, when men and women begin to step out as individuals from the mass. With us it was the Red Cross stenographers and the American Ambulance boys who first ceased being ladyships and lordships and took their proper places in the cosmos. They were a gay lot--and young. And human nature is human nature. So the decks began to clutter up with boys and girls intensely interested in exploring each other's lives. It is after all the most wonderful game in the world. And while the chaperon fluttered about more or less, trying to shoo the girls off the dark decks at night, and while public opinion on the boat made eminently proper rules against young women in the smoking room, still young blood did have its way, which really is a good way; better than we think, perhaps, who look back in cold blood and old blood. And by the token of our years it was

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brought to us that war is the game of youth. We were two middle-aged old coots--though still in our forties and not altogether blind to a pretty face--and yet the oldest people on the boat. Even the altruistic side of war is the game of youth.

Perhaps it is the other way around, and maybe youth is the only game in the world worth playing and that the gains of youth, service and success and follies and failures, are only the chips and counters. We were brought to these conclusions more or less by a young person, a certain Miss Ingersoll, or perhaps her name only sounded like that, for we called her the Eager Soul. And she was a pretty girl, too--American pretty: Red hair--lots of blowy, crinkly red hair that was always threatening to souse her face and ears; blue eyes of the serious kind and a colour that gave us the impression that she did exercises and could jab a punching bag. Indeed before we met her, we began betting on the number of hours it would take her to tell us that she took a cold plunge every morning. Henry expected the statement on the second day; as a matter of fact it came late on the first day! She was that kind. But there was no foolishness about her. She was a nurse--a Red Cross nurse, and she made it

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clear that she had no illusions about men; we suspected that she had seen them cut up and knew their innermost secrets! Nevertheless she was tremendously interesting, and because she, too, was from the middle west, and possibly because she realized that we accepted her for what she was, she often paced the rounds of the deck between us. We teased her more or less about a young doctor of the Johns Hopkins unit who sometimes hovered over her deck chair and a certain Gilded Youth--every boat-load has its Gilded Youth--whose father was president of so many industrial concerns, and the vice-president of so many banks and trust companies that it was hard to look at the boy without blinking at his gilding. Henry was betting on the Gilded Youth; so the young doctor fell to me. For the first three or four days during which we kept fairly close tab on their time, the Doctor had the Gilded Youth beaten two hours to one. Henry bought enough lemonade for me and smoking room swill of one sort and another to start his little old Wichita ocean. But it was plain that the Gilded Youth interested her. And in a confidential moment filled with laughter and chaff and chatter she told us why: "He's patronizing me. I mean he doesn't know it, and he thinks I don't

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know it; but that's what he's doing. I interest him as a social specimen. I mean--I'm a bug and he likes to take me up and examine me. I think I'm the first 'Co-ed' he ever has seen; the first girl who voted and didn't let her skirts sag and still loved good candy! I mean that when he found in one half hour that I knew he wore nine dollar neckties and that I was for Roosevelt, the man nearly expired; he was that puzzled! I'm not quite the type of working girl whom Heaven protects and he chases, but--I mean I think he is wondering just how far Heaven really will protect my kind! When he decides," she confided in a final burst of laughter, and tucking away her overflowing red hair, "I may have to slap him--I mean don't you know--"

And we did know. And being in his late forties Henry began tantalizing me with odds on the Gilded Youth. He certainly was a beautiful boy--tall, chestnut haired, clean cut, and altogether charming. He played Brahms and Irving Berlin with equal grace on the piano in the women's lounge on the ship and an amazing game of stud poker with the San Francisco boys in the smoking room. And it was clear that he regarded the Eager Soul as a social adventure somewhat higher than his mother's social secretary--but of the

She often paced...

She often paced the rounds of the deck between us

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same class. He was returning from a furlough, to drive his ambulance in France, and the Doctor was going out to join his unit somewhere inFrance down near the Joan of Arc country. He told us shyly one day, as we watched the wake of the ship together, that he was to be stationed at an old chateau upon whose front is carved in stone, "I serve because I am served!" When he did not repeat the motto we knew that it had caught him. He had been at home working on a germ problem connected with army life, hardly to be mentioned in the presence of Mrs. Boffin, and he was forever casually discussing his difficulties with the Eager Soul; and a stenographer, who came upon the two at their tête-à-tête one day, ran to the girls in the lounge and gasped, "My Lord, Net, if you'd a heard it, you'd a jumped off the boat!"

As the passenger list began to resolve itself into familiar faces and figures and friends we became gradually aware of a pair of eyes--a pair of snappy black, female, French eyes. Speaking broadly and allowing for certain Emporia and Wichita exceptions, eyes were no treat to us. Yet we fell to talking blithely of those eyes. Henry said if he had to douse his cigar on deck at night, the captain should make the

24--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

Princess wear dimmers at night or stay indoors. We were not always sure she was a Princess. At times she seemed more like a Duchess or a Countess, according to her clothes. We never had seen such clothes! And millinery! We were used to Broadway; Michigan Avenue did not make us shy, and Henry had been in the South. But these clothes and the hats and the eyes--all full dress--were too many for us. And we fell to speculating upon exactly what would happen on Main Street and Commercial Street in Wichita and Emporia if the Duchess could sail down there in full regalia. Henry's place at table was where he got the full voltage of the eyes every time the princess switched them on. And whenever he reached for the water and gulped it down, one could know he had been jolted behind his ordinary resisting power. And he drank enough to float a ship! As we wended our weary way over the decks during the long lonely hours of the voyage, we fell to theorizing about those eyes and we concluded that they were Latin--Latin chiefly engaged in the business of being female eyes. It was a new show to us. Our wives and mothers had voted at city elections for over thirty years and had been engaged for a generation in the business of taming their hus-

We Begin Our Sentimental Journey--25

bands; saving the meat from dinner for the hash for breakfast, and betimes for diversion, working in their clubs for the good of their towns; and their eyes had visions in them, not sex. So these female eyes showed us a mystery! And each of us in his heart decided to investigate the phenomena. And on the seventh day we laid off from our work and called it good. We had met the Princess. Our closer view persuaded us that she might be thirty-five but probably was forty, though one early morning in a passage way we met her when she looked fifty, wan and sad and weary, but still flashing her eyes. And then one fair day, she turned her eyes from us for ever. This is what happened to me. But Henry himself may have been the hero of the episode. Anyway, one of us was walking the deck with the Countess investigating the kilowat power of the eyes. He was talking of trivial things, possibly telling the lady fair of the new ten-story Beacon Building or of Henry Ganse's golf score on the Emporia Country Club links--anyway something of broad, universal human interest. But those things seemed to pall on her. So he tried her on the narrow interests that engage the women at home--the suffrage question; the matter of the eight-hour day and the minimum wage for

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women; and national prohibition. These things left her with no temperature. She was cold; she even shivered, slightly, but gracefully withal, as she went swinging along on her toes, her silk sweater clinging like an outer skin to her slim lithe body, walking like a girl of sixteen. And constantly she was at target practice with her eyes with all her might and main. She managed to steer the conversation to a place where she could bemoan the cruel war; and ask what the poor women would do. Her Kansas partner suggested that life would be broader and better for women after the war, because they would have so much more important a part to do than before in the useful work of the world. "Ah, yes," she said, "perhaps so. But with the men all gone what shall we do when we want to be petted?" She made two sweet unaccented syllables of pet-ted in her ingénue French accent and added: "For you know women were made to be pet-ted." There was a bewildered second under the machine gun fire of the eyes when her companion considered seriously her theory. He had never cherished such a theory before. But he was seeing a new world, and this seemed to be one of the pleasant new things in it--this theory of the woman requiring to be pet-ted!

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Then the French Colonel hove in sight and she said: "Oh, yes-come on, Col-o-nel" --making three unaccented syllables of the word--"and we shall have une femme sandweech." She gave the Colonel her arm. The miserable Kansan had not thought to take it, being busy with the Beacon Building or the water hazard at the Emporia Country Club, and then, as the Col-o-nel took her arm she lifted the Eyes to the stupid clod of a Kansan and switched on all the joyous incandescence of her lamps as she said, addressing the Frenchman but gazing sweetly at the American, " Col-o-nel, will you please carry my books?" They must have weighed six or eight ounces! And she shifted them to the Col-o-nel as though they weighed a ton!

So the Kansan walked wearily to the smoking room to find his mate. They two then and there discussed the women proposition in detail and drew up strong resolutions of respect for the Wichita and Emporia type, the American type that carries its own books and burdens and does not require of its men a silly and superficial chivalry and does not stimulate it by the everlasting lure of sex! Men may die for the Princess and her kind and enjoy death. We were willing that they should. We evinced no desire

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to impose our kultur on others. But after that day on the deck the Princess lost her lure for Henry and me! So we went to the front stoop of the boat and watched the Armenians drill. A great company of them was crowded in the steerage and all day long, with a sergeant major, they went through the drill. They were returning to Europe to fight with the French army and avenge the wrongs of their people. When they tired of drilling, they danced, and when they tired of dancing, they sang. It was queer music for civilized ears, the Armenian songs they sang. It was written on a barbaric scale with savage cadences and broken time; but it was none the less sweet for being weird. It had the charm and freedom of the desert in it, and was as foreign as the strange brown faces that lifted toward us as they sang.

"What is that music?" asked the Kansans of a New England boy in khaki who had been playing Greig that day for them on the piano. "That," nodded the youth toward the Armenians. "Oh, that--why that's the 'Old Oaken Bucket!'" His face did not relax and he went away whistling! So there we were. The Col-o-nel and the lady with their idea on the woman question, the Armenians with their bizarré

Col-o-nel, will you please...

"Col-o-nel, will you please carry my books?"

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music, the Yankee with his freaky humour, and the sedentary gold dust twins from Kansas, and a great boat-load of others like them in their striking differences of ideals and notions, all hurrying across the world to help in the great fight for democracy which, in its essence, is only the right to live in the world, each man, each cult, each race, each blood and each nation after its own kind. And about all the war involves is the right to live, and to love one's own kind of women, one's own kind of music, one's own kind of humour, one's own kind of philosophy; knowing that they are not perfect and understanding their limitations; trusting to time and circumstance to bring out the fast colours of life in the eternal wash. Thinking thoughts like these that night, Henry's bunk-mate could not sleep. So he slipped on a grey overcoat over his pajamas and put on a grey hat and grey rubber-soled shoes, and went out on deck into the hot night that falls in the gulf stream in summer. It was the murky hour before dawn and around and around the deck he paced noiselessly, a grey, but hardly gaunt spectre in the night. The deck chairs were filled with sleepers from the berths below decks. At last, wearying of his rounds, the spectre stopped to gaze over the rail at the water and the stars

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when he heard this from a deck chair behind him, "Wake up, Net--for God's sake wake up!" whispered a frightened woman's voice. "There's that awful thing again that scared me so awhile ago!"

Even at the latter end of the journey the ocean interested us. An ocean always seems so unreasonable to inlanders. And that morning when there was "a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking," Henry came alongside and looked at the seascape, all twisting and writhing and tossing and billowing, up and down and sideways. He also looked at his partner who was gradually growing pale and wan and weary. And Henry heard this: "She's on a bender; she's riz about ten feet during the night. I guess there's been rain somewhere up near the headwaters or else the fellow took his finger out of the hole in the dyke. Anyway, she'll be out of her banks before breakfast. I don't want any breakfast; I'm going to bed for the day." And he went.

During the day Henry brought the cheerful information that the Doctor was down and that the Eager Soul and the Gilded Youth were wearing out the deck. Henry also added that her slapping was scheduled for that night.

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"Has her hair slopped over yet?" This from me.

"No," answered Henry, "but it's getting crinklier and crinklier and she looks pinker and pinker, and prettier and prettier, and you ought to see her in her new purple sweater. She sprang that on the boat this afternoon! It's laying 'em out in swaths!" Henry's affinity was afraid to turn off his back. But he turned a pale face toward his side-kick and whispered: "Henry, you tell her," he gulped before going on, "that if she can't find anyone else to slap, there's a man down here who can't fight back!"

A sense of security comes to one who churns along seven days on a calm sea on an eventless voyage. And the French, by easy-going ways, stimulate that sense of security; we had heard weird stories of boat-drills at daybreak, of midnight alarms and of passengers sleeping on deck in their life preservers, and we were prepared for the thrills which Wichita and Emporia expected us to have. They never came. One afternoon, seven or eight days out, we had notice at noon that we would try on our life preservers that afternoon. The life preservers were thrown on our beds by the stewards and at three o'clock each passenger appeared beside the life-boat assigned

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to him, donned his life-belt which gave him a ridiculously stuffed appearance, answered to a roll-call, guyed those about him after the manner of old friends, and waited for something else. It never came. The ship's officers gradually faded from the decks and the passengers, after standing around foolishly for a time, disappeared one by one into their cabins and bloomed out again with their life-belts moulted! That was the last we heard of the boat-drill or the life-belts. The French are just that casual.

But one evening at late twilight the ship went a-flutter over a grisly incident that brought us close up to the war. We were gathered in the dusk looking at a sailing ship far over to the south--a mere speck on the horizon's edge. Signals began to twinkle from her and we felt our ship give a lurch and turn north zigzagging at full speed. The signals of the sailing ship were distress signals, but we sped away from her as fast as our engines would take us, for, though her signals may have been genuine, also they may have been a U-boat lure. Often the Germans have used the lure of distress signals on a sailing ship and when a rescuer has appeared, the U-boat has sent to death the Good Samaritan of

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the sea! It is awful. But the German has put mercy off the sea!

Some way the average man goes back to his home environment for his moral standards, and that night as we walked the deck, Henry broke out with this: "I've been thinking about this U-boat business; how it would be if we had the German's job. I have been trying to think if there is any one in Wichita who could go out and run a U-boat the way these Germans run U-boats, and I've been trying to imagine him sitting on the front porch of the Country Club or down at the Elks Club talking about it; telling how he lured the captain of a ship by his distress signal to come to the rescue of a sinking ship and then destroyed the rescuer, and I've been trying to figure out how the fellows sitting around him would take it. They'd get up and leave. He would be outcast as unspeakable and no brag or bluff or blare of victory would gloss over his act. We simply don't think the German way. We have a loyalty to humanity deeper than our patriotism. There are certain things self-respecting men can't do and live in Wichita. But there seem to be no restrictions in Germany. The U-boat captain using the distress signal as a lure

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probably holds about such a place in his home town as Charley Carey, our banker, or Walter Innes, our dry goods man. He is doubtless a leading citizen of some German town; doubtless a kind father, a good husband and maybe a pillar of the church. And I suppose town and home and church will applaud him when he goes back to Germany to brag about his treachery. In Wichita, town and home and church would be ashamed of Charley Carey and Walter Innes if they came back to brag about killing men who were lured to death by responding to the call of distress."

And so, having disposed of the psychology of the enemy, we turned in for the night. We were entering the danger zone and the night was hot. A few passengers slept on deck; but most of the ship's company went to their cabins. We didn't seem to be afraid. We presumed that our convoy would appear in the morning. But when it failed to appear we assumed that there was no danger. No large French passenger boat had been sunk by the Germans; this fact we heard a dozen times that day. It soothed us. The day passed without bringing our convoy. Again we went to bed, realizing rather clearly that the French do take things casually; and believing

We Begin Our Sentimental Journey--37

firmly that the convoys would come with the dawn. But dawn came and brought no convoy. We seemed to be nearing land. The horizon was rarely without a boat. The day grew bright. We were almost through the danger zone. We went to lunch a gay lot, all of us; but we hurried back to the deck; not uneasily, not in fear, understand, but just to be on deck, looking landward. And then at two o'clock it appeared. Far off in the northeast was a small black dot in the sky. It looked like a seabird; but it grew. In ten minutes the whole deck was excited. Every glass was focused on the growing black spot. And then it loomed up the size of a baseball; it showed colour, a dull yellow in the distance and then it swelled and took form and glowed brighter and came rushing toward us, as large as a moon, as large as a barrel, and then we saw its outlines, and it came swooping over us, a great beautiful golden thing and the whole deck burst into cheers. It was our convoy, a dirigible balloon-vivid golden yellow, trimmed with blue! How fair it seemed. How graceful and how surely and how powerfully it circled about the ship like a great hovering bird, and how safe we felt; and as we cheered and cheered the swirling, glowing, beautiful thing, we knew how badly frightened

38--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

we really had been. With danger gone, the tension lifted and we read the fear in our hearts. A torpedo boat destroyer came lumbering across the sky line. It also was to convoy us, but it had a most undramatic entrance; and besides we had sighted land. The deck cheered easily, so we cheered the land. And everyone ran about exclaiming to everyone else about the wonder and splendour of the balloon, and everyone took pictures of everyone else and promised to send prints, and the land waxed fat and loomed large and hospitable while Henry paced the deck with his hands clasped reflectively behind him. He was deeply moved and language didn't satisfy him much. Finally he took his fellow Kansan by the arm and pointed to the magnificence of the hovering spectre in yellow and blue that circled about the ship:

"Bill," he said, solemnly, "isn't she a peach!" He paused, then from his heart he burst out: "'How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of them that bring glad tidings!' I wish the fellows in Wichita could get this thing for the wheat show!"

And thus we came to the shores of sunny France, a land that was to remind us over and over again of our own sunny land of Kansas.

We Begin Our Sentimental Journey--39

We landed after dark. Every one was going about vowing deathless friendship to every one else, and so far as the stenographers and the ambulance boys were concerned, it came to Henry and me that we meant it; for they were a fine lot, just joyous, honest, brave young Americans going out to do their little part in a big enterprise. While we were bidding good-bye to our boys and girls, we kept a weather eye on the Eager Soul. She had hooked the Gilded Youth fairly deeply. He saw that her trunk came up from the hold, but we noticed that while he was gone, the Doctor showed up and went with her to sort out her hand-baggage from the pile on the deck. The gang plank w as let down under a pair of smoky torches. And the Gilded Youth had paid a fine tip some place to be permitted to be the first passenger off the boat that he might get one of the two taxis in sight for the Eager Soul. She followed him, but she made him let the Doctor come along. And so the drinks--lemon squash and buttermilk--were equally on Henry and me. We hurried down the gang plank after the happy trio. They were young--so infinitely and ineffably young, it seemed to us. And the girl's face was flushed and joyous, and her hair--why it didn't shake out and drown her

40--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

we never knew; certainly it surged out from under her hat like ripples of youth incarnate. We saw them stacking their valises in the taxi and over the taxi and around the taxi and the last we saw of her was when she bent out of the cab window and waved and smiled at us, two sedate old parties alone there in the crowd, with the French language rising to our ears as we teetered unsteadily into it.

What an adventure they were going into-what a new adventure, the new and beautiful adventure of youth, the old and inexplicable adventure of life! So we waved back at them so long as they were in sight, and the white handkerchief of the Eager Soul fluttered back from the disappearing cab. When it was gone, Henry turned to a sad-looking cabman with a sway-backed carriage and explained with much eloquence that we wanted him to haul us a la hotel France-toot sweet!

So we waved back at them...

So we waved back at them so long as they were in

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