KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS
The Martial Adventures of Henry and Me by William Allen White

CHAPTER VI



WHEREIN WE BECOME A TRIO AND JOURNEY
TO ITALY



AS the autumn deepened we found our Red Cross work ending. This work had taken Henry and me from our quiet country newspaper offices in Kansas and had suddenly plunged us into the turmoil of the big war. For days and days we had been riding in motor cars along the line in France from Rouen to Bacarat and often ambulances had hauled us--always more or less frightened--up near the trenches of the front line. We had tramped through miles of hospitals and had snuggled eagerly into the little dugouts and caves that made the first aid posts. We had learned many new and curious things--most of which were rather useless in publishing the Wichita Beacon or the Emporia Gazette; as, for instance, how to wear a gas mask, how to fire a trench mortar, how to look through a trench periscope, and how to duck when a shell comes
226




We Become a Trio and Journey to Italy--227

in. Also we had stood god-father to a serial love affair that began on the boat coming over and was for ever being "continued in our next." And it was all--riding along the line, huddling in abris, sneaking scared to death along trenches, and ducking from the shells--all vastly diverting. We had grown fat on it; not that we needed just that expression of felicity, having four hundred pounds between us. But it was almost finished and we were sadly turning our faces westward to our normal and reasonably honest lives at home, when Medill McCormick came to Paris and tempted us to go to Italy. It was a great temptation; "beyond the Alps lies Italy," as a copy book sentence has lure in it, and as a possible journey to a new phase of the war, it caught us; and we started.

So we three stood on the platform, at the station at Modane, in Savoy, a few hundred yards from the Italian border, one fair autumn day, and our heavy clothes--two Red Cross uniforms and a pea-green hunting suit, made us sweat copiously and unbecomingly. The two Red Cross uniforms belong to Henry and me; the pea-green hunting outfit belonged to Medill McCormick, congressman at large from Illinois, U. S. A. He was going into Italy to study the situation. As



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a congressman he felt that he should be really informed about the war as it was the most vital subject upon which he should have to vote. So there we stood, two Kansas editors, and an Illinois congressman, while the uniforms of the continent brushed by us, in uniforms ourselves, after a fashion, but looking conspicuously civilian, and incorrigibly middle western. Medill in his pea-green hunting outfit looked more soldierly than we. For although we wore Sam Browne belts, to indicate that we were commissioned officers--commissioned as Red Cross Colonels--and although we wore Parisian uniforms of correct cut, we knew in our hearts that they humped in the back and flopped in the front, and sagged at the shoulders. A fat man can't wear the modern American army uniform without looking like a sack of meal. Henry fell to calling the tunics our Mother Hubbards. We looked long and enviously at the slim-waisted boys in khaki; but we never could get their god-like effects. For alas, the American uniform is high-waisted, and a fat man never was designed for a Kate Greenaway! So we paced the platform at Modane trying to look unconcerned while the soldiers of France, Italy, Russia, Belgium, England and Rumania walked by us, clearly wondering what form of



A fat man can't wear...

A fat man can't wear the modern American Army
uniform without looking like a sack of meal




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military freak we were. For the American Red Cross uniform was not so familiar in those latitudes as it was to be a month later, when Major Murphy came swinging through Modane with forty-eight carloads of Red Cross supplies, a young army of Red Cross nurses and workers, and half a million dollars in ready cash to spend upon the stricken cities of Northern Italy choked with refugees fleeing before the German invasion! Today, the American flag floats from a hundred flag-poles in Italian cities, from Venice to Naples. Under that flag the American Red Cross has soup kitchens, food stations, aid bureaus for civilian relief all along the line of the invader in Italy, and the Red Cross uniform which made the soldiers' eyes bug out there at the border in the early autumn, now is familiar and welcome in Italy But we three unsoldierly looking civilians took that uniform into a strange country.

Our first evening in Italy was spent in Genoa. And coming direct from Paris, where men out of uniform were few, the thing that opened our mouths in wonder was the number of men we saw. There were worlds and worlds of men in Genoa: men in civilian clothes. The streets were black with men. Straw hats, two piece suits, gay neckties--things which were as remote from France



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as from Mars, figures that recalled the ancient days of one's youth, before the war; days in New York, for instance, where men in straw hats and white crash were common. These things we saw with amazement in Genoa! And then our eyes caught the flashy bands on their arms--bands that indicated that these men are in the industrial reserves, not drafted because they are doing industrial war work. But for all of these industrial reservists there was an overplus of men in Genoa. It is a seaport and there were "the market girls and fishermen, the shepherds and the sailors, too," a crowd gathered from the world's ends, and we sat under the deep arches before a gay cafe, listened to New York musical hits from the summer's roof gardens, and watched the show. In that day--only three weeks before the German invasion--the war was a long way from Genoa. At the next table to us an American sea-faring man was telling an English naval officer about the adventures of three sailing ships which had bested two submarines three days before in the Mediterranean; some Moroccan sailors were flirting across two tables with some pretty Piedmontese girls, and inside the cafe, the harp, the flute and the violin were doing what they could to make all our hearts beat young! A pic-



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ture show across the street sprayed its gay crowd over the sidewalks and a vaudeville house down stairs gathered up rivulets of humanity from the spray. Somewhere near by was a dance, for we heard the rhythmic swish and lisp of young feet and the gay cry of the music. Here and there came a soldier; sometimes we saw a woman in mourning; but uniforms and mourners were uncommon. The war was a tale that is told.

But the next day in Rome the war moved into our vision again. But even if Rome was more visibly martial than Genoa, still it was not Paris. One could see gay colours upon women in Rome; one might see straw hats upon the men, and in the stores and shops the war did not fill every window as it filled the shop windows of Paris. Rome was taking the war seriously, of course, but the war was not the tragedy to Rome before the invasion that it was to France.

Yet there was to me a change in Rome--from the Rome one knew who had been there eight years before--a change stranger and deeper than the change one felt in coming from Rome to Paris. This new Rome was a cleaner Rome, a more prosperous Rome, a happier Rome. Something had been happening to the people. They wore better clothes, they seemed to live in cleaner



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tenements; they certainly had a different squint at life from the Romans of the first decade of this century. One heard two answers to the question that arose in one's heart. One group said: "It is prosperity. Italy never has seen such prosperity as she has seen during the past ten years. There has been work for everyone, and work at good wages. So you see the working people well-clad, well-housed, clean and contented." Another answered the question thus: "The Socialists have done it. We have had plenty of work in other years; but we have worked for small wages, and have lived in squalor. We still work as we always have worked, but we get better pay, and we get our better pay in many ways; first in relatively higher wages, next in safeguards thrown around labour, and restrictions on the predatory activities of capital. The Socialists in government have forced many reforms in housing, in labour conditions, in the distribution of the profits of labour and capital, and we are living in hope of better things rather than in fear of worse!" One may take his choice of answers; probably the truth lies between the two. Prosperity has done something; socialism in government has done something, and each has promoted the other!



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But the war has done one thing to Rome indisputably. It has paralysed the tourist business. Rome was the greatest tourist city in the world. But now her boarding houses and her ruins are deserted. Occasionally in the shops one sees that mother and daughter, wistful, eager, half-starved for every good thing in life, expatriated, living shabbily in the upper regions of some respectable pension, detached from the world about them, uprooted from the world at home, travel-jaded, ruin-sated, picture-wise and unbelievably stupid concerning life's real interests--the mother and daughter who in the old days lived so numerously amid the splendours of Europe, flitting from Rome to Florence, from Florence to Lucerne, from Lucerne to Berlin, and thence to Paris and London, following the seasons like the birds. But today war prices have sent that precious pair home, and let us hope to honest work. It is a comfort to see Rome without their bloodless faces! That much the war has done for democracy at any rate!

And the passing of this "relic of old dacincy," the shabby genteel of the earth from Rome--even if the passing is a temporary social phenomenon, has a curious symbolic timeliness, coming when the working class is rising. It leaves



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Rome almost as middle class as Kansas City and Los Angeles! For in Rome one feels that the upper class, the ruling class of other centuries, is weaker than it is elsewhere in the world. They tell you flippantly that the king is training his son to run for president. The high caste Romans have an Austrian pride, that "goeth before destruction." For politically their power is sadly on the wane. They are miserably moth-eaten compared to our own arrogant princes of Wall Street or even compared to the dazed dukes and earls of England, who are looking out at the wreck of matter and the crash of worlds about them. One feels vaguely that these Italian nobles are passing through a rather mean stage of decay. For a time during the latter part of the last century and during the first decade of this century, the Italian noblemen tried to edge into business. They lent their names to promotion schemes, and the schemes, upon the whole, turned out badly, and the people learned to distrust all financial schemes under noble patronage; so the nobility is going to work. A few strong families remain--the present royal house of Savoy is among the strong ones.

Our business led us to a call on the Duke of Genoa, uncle to the King, who in the King's ab-



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sence at the front with his soldiers, was a sort of acting king on the job in Rome. The automobile took us into the first court of the Royal Palace. Now the Royal Palace--save for a few executive offices--has been turned into an army hospital and we saw doctors and nurses dodging in and out of the innumerable corridors, and smelled iodoform everywhere. A major domo, in scarlet, who seemed in the modern disinfected smell of the place like the last guard of mediaevalism, greeted us as we alighted from our car; a great, powerful soldier he was, with white and gold on his scarlet broadcloth. He showed us into a passage where the minister waited who was to take us to the Duke. The minister led us down a long stately gallery, out of the twentieth century into the fifteenth where at the end of the gallery a most remarkably caparisoned servant stood at attention. He wore a scarlet coat of unimaginable vividness, a cut-away coat of glaring scarlet broadcloth. But we could have passed that easily enough. The thing that held us was his blue plush knee breeches. It didn't seem fitting that a man in this age of work and wisdom should wear shimmering blue plush knee breeches for everyday. He was a big fellow and puffy. And the scarlet coat and blue breeches certainly gave



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the place an olden golden air. But alas! The twentieth century burst in. For he bowed us to an elevator--a modern Chicago elevator inspected by an accident company, guaranteeing the passengers against injuries! From the elevator we were emptied into a nineteenth century corridor, guarded by a twentieth century soldier and then we were turned by him into a waiting room. It was floored with marquetry, ceiled with brown and gold decoration--but modern enough--and walled in old tapestry. The room expressed the ornate impotent gorgeousness of a useless leisure class. Four or five tables, cases and stands, backed standoffishly against the tapestry on the walls, and the legs and bases of this furniture were great--unbelievably great, rococo gilded legs--legs that writhed and twisted themselves in a sheering agony of impossible forms, before they resigned themselves to dropping to the floor in distress.

Henry nudged me as our Kansas eyes bugged out at the Byzantine splendour and whispered: "Bill, what this place needs is a boss buster movement. How the Kansas legislature would wallop this splendour in the appropriation bill! How the Sixth District outfit would strip the blue plush off our upholstered friend by the elevator and



He wore a scarlet coat...

He wore a scarlet coat of unimaginable vividness, a
cutaway coat of glaring scarlet broadcloth




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send him shinning home in a barrel. Topeka," sighed Henry, deeply impressed, "never will equal this!"

In this room we met a soldierly young prince, in a dark blue dress uniform, with a light blue sash across his shoulder. He shook hands with us. And he wore gloves and didn't say, "Excuse my glove," as we do in Kansas! But he was polite enough for the Grand Duke himself; indeed we thought he was the Grand Duke until we saw Medill and the minister stalking through another door, saw the minister formally bowing and then we found that we had been moved into another room--a rather plainly furnished office room, such as one might find in New York or Chicago when one called on the head of a bank or of an industrial corporation. We had left the "days of old when knights were bold," and had come bang! into the latest moment of the twentieth century. We were shaking hands rather cordially with a kindly-eyed, bald-headed little man in a grey VanDyke beard, who wore a black frock coat, rather a low-cut white vest, a black four-in-hand rather wider than the Fifth Avenue mode, striped dark grey trousers, and no jewelry except a light double-breasted gold watch-chain. He was the Duke of Genoa, who to all intents



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and purposes is the civilian ruler of Italy while the King is with the army. We found four chairs grouped around a sofa, and we sat while the duke, with a diffidence that amounted to shyness, talked with us about most unimportant things. The interview was purely ceremonial. It had no relation to the passports we were asking from his government to visit the Italian front, though this request had made the visit necessary. Several times there were pauses in the conversation--dead stops in the talk, which court etiquette required the Duke to repair. We didn't worry about them, for always he began to repair these gaps in the talk rather bashfully but kindly, and always the subject was impersonal and of indifferent interest. He made no sign that the interview was over, but we knew, as well as though a gong had struck, when to go. So we went, and it seemed to me that the Duke put more real enthusiasm into his good-bye than into his welcome. It was half-past five. He had been at work since eight. And perhaps it was fancy, but there seemed to be rising into his bland Italian eye a determination to knock off and take a half holiday.

We noticed that his desk was clean, as clean as General Pershing's or Major Murphy's in



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Paris, or President Wilson's in Washington. Then it came to us that the king's job, after all, is a desk job. The king who used to go around ruling with a sceptre has given place to a gentleman in a business suit who probably rings for his stenographer and dictates in part as follows: "Yours of even date received and contents noted; in reply will say!" We carried away an impression that the lot of royalty, like the policeman's lot, "is not a happy one." Talking it all over, we decided that in the modern world there is really any amount more fun running a newspaper than being a king, and for the size of the town, much more chance of getting things done.

It did not fall to me because of an illness, but a few days later it fell to Henry and Medill to see a real king at Udine. He was living in a cottage a few miles out of town in a quiet little grove that protected him from airplanes. Now Henry's nearest brush to royalty was two years ago when in the New York suffrage campaign his oratory had brought him the homage of some of the rich and the great. Kings really weren't so much of a treat to Medill, who had taken his fill of them in childhood when his father was minister to England. But nevertheless they lorded it over me when they saw me because the



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king wasn't on my calling list. But they couldn't keep from me the sad fact that they had started out to make the royal call without gloves--hoping probably to catch the king with their bare hands--and had been turned back by the Italian colonel who had them in charge. Henry once sang in the cantata of "Queen Esther," and Medill insists that all the way up to the royal cottage Henry kept carolling under his breath the song: "Then go thou merrily, then go thou merrily, unto the king!" and also: "Haman, Haman, long live Haman, he is the favoured one in all the king's dominions!" just to show that finical colonel who took them back to Udine for gloves that Wichita was no stranger to the inside politics of the court. However, gloves seemed to be the only ceremonial frill required, and they went to the king's business office as informally as they would go to the private room of a soap-maker in Cincinnati. They found the king a soft-spoken little man. Henry said he looked very much like the mayor of Kansas City, and was equally unassuming and considerate. He asked his guests what had become of the Progressive party, and they pointed to themselves as the "captain and crew of the Nancy brig." Then they talked on for a time about many things--such as



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would interest the Walrus and the Carpenter. Then the accounts of the visit changed. This is Henry's: "Well, finally after Medill began cracking his knuckles and the king began crossing and recrossing his legs, I saw it was time to go. I knew how the king felt. Every busy man has to meet a lot of bores. I sit hours with bores who flow into the Wichita Beacon office, and I began to appreciate just how the king felt. So I cleared my throat and said: 'Well Medill, don't you think we'd better excuse ourselves to his majesty and go?' The king put up his hand mildly and said: 'O please!' and the colonel in charge of the party gulped at my sympathy for the king; but I was not to be balked, and we all rose and after shaking hands around, the colonel led us out. And I didn't know that I had committed social manslaughter until the colonel exclaimed when we were in the corridor: 'Oh you republicans--you republicans, how you do like to show royalty its place!'"

Medill has another version. He declares that Henry stood the king's obvious ennui as long as he could, then he rose and cried: "O King! live for ever, but Medill and I must pull our freight!" This version probably is apochryphal! The Italian colonel declares that Henry



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expostulated: "Well, how in the dickens was I to know that a king always gives the high sign for company to leave!"

This Italian king is a vital institution. He could be elected president. For he is a mixer, in spite of his diffident ways. When the army in Northern Italy was hammering away at the Austrians, the king was with the soldiers. One gets the impression that he is with the people pretty generally in their struggle with the privileged classes. For he has lived peaceably with a socialist cabinet for some time. He is wise enough to realize that if the aristocracy is crumbling, the institution of royalty will crumble with aristocracy if royalty makes an ally of the nobility. So the king and the Socialists get along splendidly. Now the Socialists in Italy are of several kinds. There are the city Socialists, who are chiefly interested in industrial conditions--wages, old age pensions, employment insurance, and the like; a group much like the Progressive party in the United States of 1912. We saw the works and ways of these Socialists in every Italian town that we visited. Either they or the times have done wonders. And at any rate this is the first time in Italian history when industrial prosperity has so generally reached the workers



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that they are lifted almost bodily into the middle classes. Then there are the Socialists who emphasize the land question, and they have had smaller success than their industrial brethren. We went one fine day to Frascatti by automobile. Our road took us out south of Rome over the New Appian way, through fertile acres lying in a wide beautiful plain. We passed through half a dozen little agricultural villages, mean but picturesque. None of the splendid prosperity of the cities has penetrated here. The people in these towns are peasants--and look it. They are the peasant people who live in the canvasses of the artists of the Renaissance. Half a thousand years has not changed them. Along the dusty roads we passed huge wine-carts. Two bell-bearing mules tandem gave warning to other passing carts of a cart's approach. The driver of the cart was curled up in his shaded seat asleep. The mules took their way. Carts passed and repassed each other on the road. Autos whizzed by. Still the drivers slept. They were ragged, frowsy, stupid looking. They all wore colour, one a crimson belt, another a blue shirt, a third a red handkerchief about his head. They would make better pictures than citizens, we thought. In Rome and Genoa the people would make better



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citizens than pictures. All day going to Frascatti and coming home we passed these beggarly looking peasant farmers. At Frascatti, which stands proudly upon a great hill overlooking the Roman plain, we saw the rich acres stretching away for miles toward Rome and beyond it. Villages flashed in the sun, white and iridescent, and the squares of vineyards and the tall Lombardy poplars made a landscape that rested the eye and soothed the soul. We stood looking at it for a long time. With us were some high officials of the Italian government.

"A wonderful landscape," said Henry to our hosts.

"In all the world there is no match for it," said Medill.

"It has lain this way for three thousand years, bearing crops year after year!" explained our host.

"Signor," said a friend of our host, "they tell me that this land yields seven per cent net."

"Yes," replied our host. "I was talking to a man in the agricultural department about it the other day; it really nets seven per cent."

"What's this land worth an acre?" This question came from me, who has the Kansas man's seven devil lust to put a price on land.



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"Well--I don't--" Our host looked at his Italian friends. They gazed, puzzled and bewildered, and consulted one another. The discussion developed a curious situation. No one knew the price of that land. With us, out in the Middle West, a boy learns the probable price of the land in his neighborhood, as soon as he learns the points of the compass. Finally our host explained: "The truth of the matter is that this land never has been sold in the memory of living men. Probably most of it has remained in its present ownership for from three hundred to five hundred years. No one sells land in Italy."

And that revealed much; there was the whole program of the agrarian Socialist. The man on the wine-cart asleep, the peasant villages, the rags and the poverty, the hovels that we saw on the rich land and the crumbling aristocracy of Rome, living meanly, striving vainly, bewildered, and bedevilled, trying to make profits out of a dormant tenantry, grinding seven per cent out of the land and yet losing money by it--all these things were the meat of the answer, which recounted the long unbroken line of feudal ownership of the land. Wooden ploughs and oxen, women yoked with beasts of burden, vines and vines planted and replanted through the centuries; no



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capital to develop the land; insufficient profits to wake up the tenants, master and servant going gradually down in a world where labour and capital, sharing profits equitably, are rising; it was a disheartening problem.

Then in due course we left Rome and went to the Italian army on the front, and there we saw another side of the shield. From Udine in Northern Italy we journeyed into the mountains where the Italian army at that time was holding the mountain tops against the Austrians. Wherever we ascended we saw white ribbons of roads twining up the green soft mountain sides that face Italy. These roads have been made since the war. Nearly four thousand miles of them furnish approaches to the Alpine heights. They are hard-surfaced, low-graded, wide highways gouged into the mountain side. Two automobiles may pass at full speed anywhere on these roads. And all night they were alive with wagon trains bearing supplies to the front. Women help the men mend the roads. We saw few Austrian prisoners at work on the Italian roads; possibly because we were too near the front line trenches to see prisoners who are kept thirty kilos back of the line, and possibly because they have better work for the Austrians--work that



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old men and women cannot do. Whenever we threaded our way up a mountain side and came to a top, we found its flanks tunnelled with deep wicker-walled, broad-floored, well-drained trenches, and its top honeycombed with runways for ammunition and with great rooms for soldiers and holes for gun barrels. Mountain top after mountain top has been made into a Gibraltar by the Italians. That Gibraltar was 300 miles long, before they lost it to the Germans. But they had few guns in their fortress. They showed us emplacement after emplacement without a stick of artillery in it. They had told the French and the English of their plight, and a few artillery companies had been sent in; but only a fraction of the need. There was no central council of the allies then. Every nation was running its own little war, and Italy was left to fall, and now the four thousand miles of Italian roads, and the 300 miles of Gibraltar are German military strongholds that will have to be conquered with our blood and iron. Probably no battle line in the world today is more interesting than the Italian front was in the autumn of 1917. The south face of the Alps often is green and beautiful but generally the northern faces of those mountains are bleak and rugged and steep.



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The battle line ran a zig-zag course through the mountains, now meeting in gulches, now scurrying away up to mesas, again climbing to the top of the barren heights. We stood one sunny day on a quiet sector of the Pasubio. We were with the Liguria brigade, the 157-158th infantry. Through a peep-hole in the trench we looked across a gulch to another mountainside and saw there the Austrian trenches, not 200 yards away. Before them lay the ugly scar of brown rusted barbed wire, and just below the wire, sprawled out on the white limestone of the steep mountainside, lay fifty dead Italian soldiers who had vainly charged into the machine guns up that formidable slope. They had lain there for weeks. It was the grisliest sight we had seen during our adventures.

Medill and Henry went to another lookout, leaving me with the Italian soldiers in the trench. Their luncheon came up, a fine rich soup, with bread cubes in it, some potatoes and vegetables. It looked palatable and was good. There was enough, but not plenty. As we sat in the trench waiting for Henry and Medill, one of the heroes beside me, after thinking it all out carefully, burst forth with this:

"I livea in Pittsburgh."



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It was plain to his comrades that he had put his meaning through to me. They clearly were impressed by his prowess. This cheered him up. He went on to further linguistic feats.

"Is, I live-a there five year."

That also got over and his comrades realized that he was a polyglot. Then in a joyous spirit of over-confidence, he waved the oriflamme of speech in our faces.

"Is, my papa he live-a in Brooklyn. He keepa da butcha shop and is make da roast bif. Is, my papa's broader he live-a in Brooklyn too. He keepa da saloon and is make da jag!" Then we shook hands as fellow Americans.

In another hour we had wormed our way through the tunnels to the other side of the peak, and had scrambled down the mountainside to the general headquarters. Never since Hannibal's day were more interesting brigade headquarters established. They were niched into the mountain side about 4,000 feet above a gorge below. The sleeping quarters and offices were half tunnelled into the hillside. The diningroom was mounted on a platform overlooking the gorge below. Across the gorge a quarter of a mile away an aerial tram ran. That morning two airplanes--an Italian plane and an Austrian--



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met out by the tram wire in a battle. It could be seen as easily from the diningroom platform as if it had been half down the block; yet the airmen were 4,000 feet in the air. We had luncheon at the brigade headquarters, and it was made a gala occasion. Some one had brought in an Austrian cow which was brigade property and we had real cream. Otherwise it was a war dinner. We had hors d'ouvres--thin sliced dried ham, sausages, and sardines--a delectable paste with parmesian cheese on it, roast beef and brown potatoes, salad and broiled chicken, and then the chef d'ouvres, the cream upon a charlotte russe! After that came cheese and coffee. Chianti and a cider champagne were served. The mess was proud of itself, as it should have been. But it seems sad to think how soon that Austrian cow went home. For within three weeks from the time we sat there, the general had surrendered in the gulch below the air-tram wire and the Germans had come with their big guns to fill the vacant emplacements!

We spent one night on our journey along the Italian front at Vicenza, and there, although the place was jammed full of soldiers, we left the war behind to stroll by moonlight over the beautiful mediaeval town. There is a fine square



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there--not so broad as the square at St. Mark's where the tourists used to feed the doves, but to me it seemed as beautiful. For upon the square was the famous arcade which Palladio erected around the city-hall of the place. It stood beautiful and gloomy before us in the moonlight, one of the world's real bits of architecture. As Americans we had a special interest in the arcade because it was typical of the best of Palladio's work and our own Thomas Jefferson, studying it, had reproduced it and Americanized it in some of the buildings of the University of Virginia, buildings that have had a distinct influence upon American architecture! A number of Palladio's other works we saw that night, softened and glorified by the moonlight. And we saw also an old French house, not twenty-five feet wide, but a gem of French architecture erected before the discovery of America. Finally we went back and stood by the statue of Palladio and listened to the low rumble of the guns on the front and wondered what the Germans would do with such a lovely thing as this Vicenza if by any chance they ever took it. That day we had looked down from a mountain-top upon an Austrian town lying peacefully in the valley below us directly under the Italian guns. The guns of the Austrians



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and the Italians were smashing away at each other from the mountain-tops over and across the town.

"You could pulverize that town easily enough," Henry said to the Italian who was taking the Americans through the trenches.

"Oh, yes," he answered. "But it's a beautiful little town! Why ruin it?" His theory was that if the Italians took it they would want it whole and would want the loyalty and respect of the people of the town: if they did not take it, why smash a beautiful little town just to be smashing?

The German theory, of course, is exactly opposite to this. They would smash the town, if they were to take it, to put fear into the hearts of the inhabitants and command obedience; and if they knew they could not take it they would smash it to cripple the enemy that much! We of the Allies desire respect and loyalty that come from reason. The Germans demand unreasoning obedience and denied that, they destroy. One philosophy is Christian; the other Babylonian. But the devilish strength of the German philosophy came to us more forcibly in Italy than it came elsewhere because of certain contrasts. They were contrasts in what might be called



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public wisdom. The Germans take better care of their poor than some of the Allies. The Germans know that poverty is a curse to a nation, and during the past generation they have done much to alleviate it. And in alleviating poverty they have kept their poor docile; and they go into battle feeling that they have something to fight for. In the allied countries too often we have let the devil take the hindermost. As we rode one afternoon from Vicenza to Milan we wondered, looking at the farms and the farmers along the road, why those farmers should be asked to die for a country that kept them in so low an estate. And yet they were better off than the farmers of Southern Italy. But in socializing industry the Italian farmer has been forgotten, and when the press came upon the Italian front, thousands of ignorant peasant soldiers lay down their arms, deluded by a German spy ruse so simple that it should have fooled no intelligent soldier. But they were not intelligent. Their intelligence had been eaten up by their landlords for generations, and in a crisis the German civilization overcame its enemy! You cannot shake the sleeping peasant on the wine-cart from a thousand years' sleep and make him get up and go out and whip a soldier who is even half awake!



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As we rode from Vicenza to Milan we had a curious experience. There entered our compartment at twilight one of the carabinieri! We had been looking with admiration at the carabinieri for days. They were well-set-up soldiers, apparently of a picked grade of men, who wore wide cocked hats, like those worn by the British troops in the American revolution. The cocked hats of the Italian carabinieri are as wide as their handsome shoulders and they make striking figures. This one who entered our compartment was drunk--grandly, gorgeously and sociably drunk. He wanted to talk to us. He tried Italian and we shook our heads. Then Medill tackled him in French and he shook his head. Then Henry squared off and gave him the native Kansas English--with appropriate gestures. But the Italian sighed amiably and it was clear he was balked. Then he looked up and down the outer corridor of the car, came in, shut the door and smiled as broadly as his cocked hat.

"Sprecken sie Deutsch?" he asked, and Medill answered, "Seemlich!" When it was apparent that two of us understood German he opened up. He had to talk slowly, but he was willing to make any sacrifice to get conversation going. He rambled along in a maudlin way, and finally



We Become a Trio and Journey to Italy--259

picked up an illustrated paper containing an account of the Turin riots, which angered him, and then and there being, that Italian soldier told us in German the story of what he called der grosser rebellion! To talk German in an allied country today is as much as one's life is worth. For a soldier to talk German is a crime; for a soldier to tell three foreigners about a riot in his country, which he, as a soldier behind machine guns had to suppress, killing hundreds, was mighty near to treason. And we gasped. We thought he might be testing us out as potential spies. So we shut up. But he ambled on, and slowly, as the liquor overcame him, he ran down and went sound asleep with the offending paper in his arms. Perhaps he was one of those Germans wearing the Italian uniform who in the German drive three weeks later gave commands to the ignorant peasant regiments to lay down their arms and surrender! At least it was reported in Europe that thousands of them abandoned their works under the command of German spies!

When we arrived at Milan we found there waiting for us a note from the Gilded Youth, whom we had met coming over on the boat from America. And it brought back our everlasting love affair. It is curious how that love affair



260--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

kept projecting itself into the consciousness of two middle-aged men who reasonably may be supposed to have passed out of the zone of true romance. But the memory of the hazel eyes of the Gilded Youth as he gazed at the pretty face of the young nurse there in the moonlight at Landrecourt, with such exaltation and joy, kept bobbing back into our minds as we saw other lovers in other lands, married and single, crossing our paths. And there was the Young Doctor, diffident and reticent, who had his heart set on the girl, and the contest furnished us with a deathless theme for speculation. And here at Milan came this letter--just a note forwarded from Paris--telling us that the Gilded Youth could "stand and wait" no longer; he was going to hit back. He had quit the Ambulance service for aviation. And he was in a training camp near Paris. We wondered how many times during his training he would slip across the sky to Landrecourt to visit his true love. The one-horse buggy had been the only lover's chariot known to Henry and me, and we remembered how a red-wheeled cart used to lay out the neighbours in the heroic days of the nineties. So in our meditative moments we considered what a paralysing spectacle it would be for the neigh-



We thought he might...

We thought he might be testing us out as potential
spies




(blank page follows)



We Become a Trio and Journey to Italy--263

bours to see a young man come swooping down upon his lady love's bower in an airplane and Henry, who was betting on the Gilded Youth as against the Doctor, began taking even money again!

Milan we found today is an industrial town, entirely modern, dominated not by the cathedral as of old, but by the spirit of the new Italy. They took us to a luncheon given by the American chamber of commerce. We heard nothing of their antiquities, and little of their ruins. We had to fight to get time to see the cathedral, whose windows are boarded up or filled with white glass; but the Milanese were anxious to have us see their great factories; their automobile works, their Caproni airship plant and the up-to-the-minute organization of industrial efficiency everywhere. Here in Milan we saw thousands of men out of uniform, but wearing the ribbon arm-band of the industrial reservists. We fancied these Milanese were bigger, huskier men than the men in the south of Italy, and that they looked better-kept and better-bred. They certainly are a fierce and indomitable people. The Austrians don't raid the Milanese in airships. They said that once the Austrians came and the next day the Milanese loaded up a fleet of big



264--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

Capronis with 30,000 pounds of high explosives, sailed over Austria and blew some town to atoms. So Milan has never been bothered since as other border towns of Italy have been bothered by air-raiders. The days we spent in Milan were like days in a modern American industrial city--say Toledo, or St. Paul or Detroit or Kansas City.

Turin is similarly modern and industrial. though not so beautiful as Milan. In Turin we saw the scene of the riot--the "grosser rebellion," which our carabinieri friend told us about. Signor Nitti, now a member of the Italian cabinet, who entertained us in Rome, told the Italian parliament--according to the American newspapers--that the millers caused the riot. The bread ration did not come to Turin one morning, and the working people struck. Nitti says the millers were hoarding flour and caused the delay. The strike grew general over the city. Workers wandering about the town were threatened with the police if they congregated. They congregated, and some troops from a nearby training camp were called. The troops were new; they were also friends of the strikers. They refused to fire. Then the strikers built barricades in the streets and in a day or so the regular troops came down



from the mountains with machine guns, fired on the barricades and when hundreds were hit the rebellion was quelled. And Signor Nitti says it was all because some profit hog stopped the ordinary flow of flour from the farmer to the consumer of bread! There is, of course, the other side. They told us in Turin that boys in their teens were found dead back of the barricades with thousand lire notes in their pockets, and that German agents came during the first hours of the strike and spread money lavishly to make the riot a rebellion. Probably this its true. The profiteer made the strike possible. It was an opportunity for rebellion, and Germany took the opportunity. Always she is on hand with spies to buy what she cannot honestly win.

Reluctantly we turned our faces from Italy to France. Yet the journey had been well worth while. We came home with a definite and hopeful impression about Italy. The Turin riot, bad as it was, was not an anti-war riot. It was directed at the bad administration of the food controller. Italy then was not an invaded country, as France was, and had no such enthusiasm for the war, as a nation has when its soil is invaded. Italy has that enthusiasm now for the war. We saw that her man-power was hardly tapped. She



266--Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

has millions to pour into the trenches. She needs and will need until the end of the war, iron and coal. She will have to borrow her guns and her fuel. But she has almost enough food. We found sugar scarce; butter scarce, and bread sharply allowanced in hotels and restaurants. We found two meatless days a week besides Friday and found the people, as a rule, observing them. We found the industries of the nation turned solely toward the war. Italy realizes what defeat means. The pro-Austrian party which was strong at the beginning of the war has vanished, and since the invasion, even the Pope has lost his interest in peace!

But all these things are temporary; with the war's passing they will pass. The real thing we found was an awakening people, coming into the new century eager and wise and sure that it held somewhere in its coming years the dawn of a new day. That really is the hope of the war--an industrial hope, not a political hope, not a geographical hope, but a hope for better things for the common man. It is a hope that Christianity may take Christendom, and that the fellowship among the nations of the world so devoutly hoped for, may be possible because of a fellowship among men inside of nations.





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