last by far the hardest of all, for the tons. The difference is found in the spirit of unrest-many times fomented wooden ship construction, a picturesque by German agencies has greatly de- phase of our maritime revival that is layed our ship

program this winter; at worthy of a little passing attention. times greatly endangered it. Strikes Some 270 wooden vessels of widely have been all too frequent. No criticism varying types, and aggregating more should be given to the national labor than 1,000,000 tons, are under construcleaders. Mr. Gompers and the men who tion or under contract for completion are closely associated with him at Wash- before December 31st at various points ington have been unswerving in their upon our seaboard. Old yards, shriveled patriotism and unflagging in their en or perhaps entirely abandoned for more deavors, but, as one of them once ex than half a century, have come back into pressed it to me, they do not own their the full flush of busy existence, and men. A ship-builder owns his yard. there are a hundred new yards along When he signs a contract on its behalf both the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts. he is responsible and generally able to There is, unfortunately, a great diskeep the contract. But the other party

But the other party similarity in the construction of these to the paper knows when he signs that vessels. Already we have seen the he has no way of enforcing the men need, the vast economy, of standardiwhom he represents to abide by the zation in the construction of our steel spirit or the text of the document. The vessels. It has been one of the largest most he can do is to plead or to threaten of our construction problems, and the —to use all the diplomacy and wits at fact that almost all of the privately his command. And then he sometimes given contracts to our shipyards beloses.

fore our entrance into the world conIn my opinion, the only way in which flict called for specialized ships was the situation may be worked out defi a great factor in slowing the production nitely and permanently is by drafting of those yards. The wooden ships are all the shipyard workers into Govern- less important, yet even in their conment service. They would be entitled struction steps are

now being taken to receive the high wages and excellent toward standardization, and a definite treatment which men working at hard effort is being made toward not only a labor and under great pressure need. solidity of construction that will withThey would have the right of protest if stand both the buffetings of the sea and these conditions were not fulfilled, and the strain of an engine, but toward their protests would come before prop- speed. It has been found that one of erly constituted arbitrators whose deci the best ways to dodge a submarine is sion would be final. But there would by having a genuinely fast ship-already be no strikes. If the men refused to men are talking of carriers capable of abide by the decisions of the arbitrators making, under pressure, thirty-five knots and refused to work, they would be sent an hour. And the City of Orange, a into the cantonment or into the front wooden cargo-carrier completed a short line trenches. A similar penalty could time ago at a little Texas town down be held over the heads of the owners of on the Gulf Coast, ran sixteen knots the yards. But up to the present time upon her trial trip. not one of them has failed in his patriotic The Norwegian experiments in the duty. They have met increased wage molding of concrete ships have not costs and every one of their perplexing escaped the attention of our ship-buildwar-time problems with great serenity ers in the United States. A concrete and faith and loyalty.

vessel is now under construction at San

Francisco. The hold is built in an The English editor who called atten inverted position, only an inner mold tion so vividly to our necessity for trans- being used. When the concrete is set port ships spoke of 6,000,000 tons as our

and hard the hold is reversed by an program for this year. And the steel ship elaborate pneumatic process—and the figures quoted in the paragraph that vessel Tunched. The method seems followed fell somewhat short of 5,000,000 both economical and efficient. But

VOL. CXXXVI.-No. 812.-25

the concrete ship still remains an ex And between fifteen and twenty modern periment

steel vessels, averaging from 350 to 385

feet in length-almost the extreme for a All this time and we have only con cargo-vessel of less than 45 feet beamsidered the building of ships in great were taken through the Welland Canal tonnage so as not only to offset the and the canals of the upper St. Lawdepredations of enemy submarines, but rence this last autumn. also to give us the great permanent The process was simple, although not merchant marine that our national heart particularly easy. The vessels were is now set upon possessing. The opera sawed in half. Gangs of men in the tion of ships is a problem hardly second dry-docks at Cleveland and Buffalo, to that of their construction. Already equipped with acetylene torches, did the the United States possesses some 2,875,- job in a time to be measured in hours 000 tons of ocean-going merchant ships; rather than in days. Temporary watera very creditable showing, despite the tight bulkheads were installed and the obstacles against which our marine has vessel towed in two sections to the deepstruggled in recent years, but not nearly water harbor of Montreal.

It was anenough. The addition of 675,000 tons other job of hours rather than days to of German vessels interned in American join the hull together at the dry-docks harbors at the very beginning of the of that port and to fit the fresh-water Great War, but released to us upon our tramp with condensers and other equipentrance into it, was a very great help ment necessary for a craft who digs particularly at a time when we needed her heels into salt water for the first vessels to carry our fast-forming army time. and its vast quantities of supplies over To correlate this work and give it the seas. The damage wrought by the Ger full attention which its importance deman crews upon these ships during the mands the Shipping Board has appointed period of their internment was found a keen executive. Itis his job to find ships to be almost negligiblefar less than the for the cargoes which pile themselves up most optimistic had dared to hope. upon the wharves at our seaports, great

The Great Lakes also have contrib and little. The new executive is a clearuted liberally of their vast tonnage. ing-house and a train-despatcher in Through the entire autumn the coming

addition. He moves the ships by teleof heavy ice and the closing of naviga- graph or long-distance telephone or tion upon our inland seas was forecasted wireless. And the comic commercial by a steady procession of their craft tragedy of peace days—when ships ran down the River St. Lawrence. Nor was frantically to one port and left begging that as easy as it reads, for the passage cargoes behind at others should not ways from the four upper lakes—upon be

repeated in time of greatest stress which the greatest traffic rides—to the and anxiety—and necessity. blue waters of the salt seas is barred by great natural impediments. But long These problems are perplexing, but years ago the Canadians passed them by not beyond solution. Our ships, after means of canals. And the determining many vexatious trials and disappointfactor in navigation from Lake Erie to ments, are taking the water. Others are the sea has been the chambers of the replacing them upon the launchways, canal locks, about 265 feet in length, and still others will be coming there 45 feet in width, and 14 feet in depth. when these, in turn, take the water. We Long ago the lake craft that conformed are going to have the ships—God and to these dimensions were found by the labor unions permitting—and they searching eyes and taken out to the are going to be good ships-our mainstay Atlantic, and other craft were built at through the war and a full measure of the abundant and efficient steel and our commercial triumph in the long wooden shipyards along the upper lakes. years that are to follow it.




E were sitting-three outside his own country.

The curious Frenchmen, a young thing about him was that instantly on American named Ho- seeing him, almost before you thought man, and I--in the café of America, you thought of a particular of one of those small and localized section of America. You Paris hotels much fre- thought of the Middle West. There was

quented, even then, by something wholesome and provincial and officers on leave. It was the winter of colloquial about him. He was like a boy 1912, when the Balkans were playing out you'd gone to grammar school with the their colorful little curtain-raiser to the kind of fellow to succeed to his father's great drama which followed-playing it, business and marry and settle down in as they say in the theater, “in one, his home town, with New York City his using only the very smallest part of the farthest dream of venture and romance. stage, and failing even in their most Yet there he sat across the table from climactic moments to completely conceal a dark-visaged Balkan officer, who was the ominous sounds from behind the cur carrying on the conversation in careful tain where the stage was being set for English-it would have been unimaginthe real business of the play.

able that he should speak in anything At the tables a sprinkling of English but English to him—and it may have and Americans of the usual transient been the brilliance of this man's uniform type mingled with French from the which kept one, just at first, from seeing provinces, and here and there a swarthy that he, too, our American, was wearing Balkan in uniform accented the room. some sort of uniform, khaki color, very

It was the presence of those other workman - like and shipshape, which Americans—two or three, I should say, might, if there had been the least chance besides Homan and myself, though I of throwing us off, have thrown us. But hadn't noticed particularly—that gave his round, good-natured, uncomplicated the special significance to Homan's ex face, his light brown hair and the way it clamation when he discovered Corey. was brushed the very way it grew, like

I saw him pause with his glass half a school-boy's—the comfortable set of raised—he was gazing straight past me his broad shoulders, his kind of energetic over my shoulder—and a smile, meant inclination to stoutness, and even the for me, came into his eyes.

way he sat at the table, were pure “Look!” he said, “at the American!” American Middle West and nothing

I turned, because his manner indi- else, no matter what his uniform procated clearly enough that I might, claimed. He was as American as the squarely round in my chair, and imme- flag, as the opening bars of “The Stardiately it was clear to me why he had Spangled Banner,” as American as Kansaid just that. Any one would have said sas, Missouri, and Iowa. it-any other American, I mean—which And when, at young Homan's exclamakes it more striking-and said it in- mation, I had turned and found him voluntarily, too. You couldn't have looking straight toward me, the twinkle helped it. And yet you would encounter of his eyes had the effect of a friendly a dozen perfectly unmistakable Amer wave of his hand. He had, of course, icans every day in Paris without feeling as he said afterward, “spotted us,” too. the necessity for any remark. It was Then he had seen—and it amused him simply that Corey was so typically the the little play of our discovery. kind of American you wouldn't encounter I was just turning back to applaud in Paris, or any other place, you felt, to Homan the obviousness of his designa



tion, and to wonder, with him, what the surd as the idea was, so much likelier uniform meant, when my eye than that he could have been through caught by a thin, brilliantly colored line the kind of experiences which result in drawn, it seemed, just above the left being decorated by foreign governments. breast pocket of his coat, and about the And such an imposing array! The scarsame length.

let ribbon of the Legion of Honor, the My first impression of the man, of the green of the Japanese “Rising Sun,” the familiarity of his type, had, I suppose, brilliant stripes of Russian and English been so strong as to dull for a moment decorations, and strange ones I had my reaction to this discovery. I had never seen before! seen that vari-colored line often enough You see, he had turned out much before, on the uniforms of British offi more Middle West than we had imagcers, or French; I had perhaps seen it ined. In the first ten minutes of our on an American, but certainly I had conversation he had spoken of “home,” never seen it on an American like this. and mentioned the name of the townNo wonder the connection was slow to Dubuque, Iowa! And a few minutes establish itself. It was a decoration bar, later he gave us, by the merest chance and there must have been six ribbons phrase or two, involving the fact that at least, if not more.

his married sister lived “a block and a For sheer incongruous association, I half down the street" from his mother's doubt if you'd find a more pat example house, a perfectly complete picture of in a lifetime than the man I had, on that street-broad and shady and quiet, sight, conceived this one to be the man of his mother's yellow frame house, and I may as well say now he actually was the other, white with a green lawn round and that bar of ribbons pinned on his it, where his sister lived. And the point khaki-colored coat.

was that he was making no effort toward Young Homan had caught it, too, and such an effect. He was only being was sending past me his deliberate stare himself. of amazement.

His dinner companion, the Balkan It was not exactly as if we thought he officer, came in presently and addressed hadn't come by them honestly, but more Corey as "Doctor" (I adjusted myself as if we suggested to each other that he to that, still with the Dubuque setting, couldn't surely have got them in the however), and it was in the conversation way decorations were usually got; it following upon the new introduction seemed somehow impossible that he that the object of his being in Paris understood their importance. And there came out. He told us, quite by the way, was still something of that in our atti- though not in the least depreciating the tude when, later on, after dinner, we had importance of his mission—that he was drifted into the salon with the rest for in Paris for a few days looking up anour coffee, and by a kind of natural esthetics for the Serbian army. He had gravitation had found ourselves in con been working, he said, down in the versation with our compatriot, whose Balkans since shortly after the outbreak jocose friendliness led young Homan of the war, in charge of a sanitary secto ask, half in fun to be sure, where he tion. They'd been out of anesthetics for had

got all the decorations. He showed some time now-impossible to get them certainly no very proper appreciation of in-and they'd been operating, amputattheir importance by his answer: ing the poor devils' legs and arms, withBought 'em, at the Galleries Lafay- out anesthetics; and now at last he'd

Get any kind you want there, left things long enough to come up to y' know."

Paris himself and see what could be We laughed, all of us, for everybody done. He was starting back the next had seen the cases of medals and deco- day or the day after that. rations at the Galleries. I believe for Corey, from Dubuque! In a makean instant the youngster was half in- shift Serbian field hospital, in that terclined to think he had bought them. I rible cold, performing delicate and diffiknow I was. As some kind of outlandish cult operations—wholesale, as they must practical joke, of course. It seemed, ab- have been performed-on wounded Bal



kan soldiers; probing for bullets in raw had followed it, of his being because of woundsthat was a picture to set up it much more unique than he could ever beside the one we had of him in Du have made himself by turning aside. buque!

True enough, there are people who, if And yet-it wasn't at all a question they heard the tale, might maintain that of doubt (we'd read it all in the papers he could hardly have accomplished a day after day); it wasn't that we didn't more striking divergence from type. believe Corey was telling the truth; I'll have to confess I thought so myselfhis evidence was too obvious for that at the first; certainly I thought so all the picture didn't somehow succeed in the while I listened, long afterward, to painting itself—I can't to this day say the quiet, though somewhat nasal, and why. Surely the Balkans just then- thoroughly puzzled voice of the gentle operations without anesthetics, the pag old man from Dubuque, who seemed, as eantry and blood-red color of war he recounted the story, to be seeking in surely there was pigment of more brill me some solution of Corey's phenomeiant hue than any contained in the mere statement that his married sister I thought it even afterward, until, lived a block and a half down the street sitting there where he had left me, I from his mother's. But the picture began slowly to orient the facts in relawasn't painted. Corey wasn't the artist tion to Corey's character. And then, all to do it. Not, mind you, that he tried; at once, it came to me that it was exhe was as far from trying to impress actly because Corey hadn't diverged that one, from affectation, as a boy of four he did what he did. He went straight teen.

through everything to his predestined I do remember my imagination taking end. Any other man would have had me far enough to think that if I were a stages, subtleties, degrees of divergence. soldier, and wounded, and had to have But Corey knew none of those things. a leg or an arm off, I couldn't think of a It was from old Mr. Ewing of Duman I'd rather have do it than Corey. buque that I had my first news of Oh yes, I believed him; I knew he'd Corey after that night in the Paris. hotel. been down there in the Balkans, as he He must have gone

back to his army said, and was going back again to in the Balkans the next day, for we were morrow_but I went right on seeing him to have seen him that night again in in Dubuque, practising his quiet, pros case he had to stay over, and when I perous profession in the same suite of asked I was told that Monsieur had offices his father had used before him.

gone. He himself lent, by the things he said, Things kept reminding me of him. force and reality to the illusion. He'd The names of streets and places in Paris like nothing better, he declared, than recalled his flat American mispronunciasettling down in Dubuque for the rest of tion of them-mispronunciations which his life, and enjoying a home of his own. sounded half as if he were in fun and He intended, in fact, to do just that half as if he didn't know any better, or when he had finished the Balkan busi- hadn't paid enough attention to learn ness. “I'm that type,” he said. “I them correctly. I believe he saw, or was never was meant to knock around the subconsciously aware of, his own inconworld like this."

gruity. Still, one would think he'd have And he was that type, so much the become, so to speak, accustomed to himtype that it seemed hardly credible he self in the strange rôle by then. shouldn't turn out the exception to I think I must have spoken of him prove the rule. He had already, one rather often to people, so long as I rewould think, made a sufficient diver mained in Paris; and it was, if not exgence.

actly curious, at least a little less than And that, I suppose—the feeling that one would expect, that I never came in no personality could follow so undeviat contact with any one else who knew him, ing a line, so obviously its own path- until that day, a little while ago, when was responsible for my impression, when I met, in the smoking-car of a westI came later to hear how completely he bound train out of Chicago, the man who

« VorigeDoorgaan »