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two men who have experienced shellfire and suffered the misery of exhausted, shattered nerves known to the world as shell-shock. In the Somme offensive with the battery, he had been filling a sand-bag, when a shell of large calibre struck within a few feet of him. He had been peppered with splinters, but not badly hurt. He had been caught running back and forth behind the front, muttering to himself, and had been for months in hospital until his mind began to clear. Being of a prominent family in France, he had been sent to the United States to get him away from the war, and was going through the same thing I was, fighting it out alone. What long talks we had! We drove about in the country, lay on the grass in the woods, and talked and talked, searching together for the spark in the empty dark that would be a hint of the life to come.
I went to an old friend, a teacher who kept a school for the daughters of rich parents. She was a graduate of Vassar, and I thought she could help me. And the disappointment that followed! I thought that she was human, but she was n't. She had developed into the same sort that I have found elsewhere since then the type of neurotic weaklings who hide away from reality and live in a comfortable fog of voluntary ignorance. While the war was in progress, she had refused to read about it, on the ground that it was all too horrible. She had purchased Liberty Bonds, in order to be able to tell her clientèle how patriotic she was. She had 'closed her door on the war,' as she dramatically told me.
'Close your door on the war?' I said; 'how can you close your door on the biggest event since the coming of Christ?'
She was shocked, horrified at my blasphemy. She folded her hands, closed her eyes, and said that I must seek
solitude, weeks of solitude - and read Pilgrim's Progress!
It is so useless to go through the list of people to whom I went looking for help. To their credit be it said that many of them wanted to do something; but they never did it, because they could not, since they did not have the understanding to do it. So I left them, one after another, and went my way alone, always alone.
My head continued to ache and throb, I continued to be nauseated, I still could not sleep. An insane desire to kill myself, as four other friends had done, took possession of me. I would toy with my automatic, and think how best to do it. I would lock myself in my room when attacks came that I had to fight, attacks that made me tense all over, that made me want to scream, break the furniture, pull my clothes to pieces. I would lean against the wall, tears running down my face, and scratch at the plaster, and sob and gag, and end by throwing myself on my bed, utterly exhausted by the effort to regain control. I would lock my windows before retiring for the night, lock my door and throw the key through the transom, to prevent my doing some insane thing before morning. I would go to sleep late, and wake at about half-past three in the morning, and stare at the dark, trying to think out the meaning of this thing.
I read New Thought, studied Christian Science, read the Bible, became a regular attendant at church. I got a copy of that great piece of logical thought, Burke's 'Conciliation with the American Colonies,' and read it carefully, searching it for his great ideas on how to cure an ill by removing the cause. What was the cause of this thing? That was what I searched for in my own case. The thing to do was to remove the cause but what was the cause?
My mother came and stayed with
me. Never in my life before had I known what a mother could be. I believe that very few men really appreciate their mothers. I know I never appreciated mine until then. I have never seen such utter unselfishness, such obliviousness to her own desires, her own interests, as in my mother's loving thought, her anxiety to help her son.
But it was too much I could not stand her anxiety. I could not have her coming to my room in the middle of the night, and sitting with me hour after hour, listening to my raving. So I got a nurse and traveled for months on end. I took a ship and sailed off on a cruise through the Southern Seas. I stopped at an island in the south, took a house near the sea, and spent a month or more there. It was wonderful in that quiet and peace. I lay in a hammock, looking out over the beautiful blue Caribbean, listening to the pounding of the waves on the rocks, with the limpid azure of the sky, and its fleecy, scatter'ed clouds overhead.
I breathed in the balm of the fronded palms in the hush of the moonlit nights, until a wonderful thing came to me. The shadows broke, the night of that hideous fight was gone, and the first faint dawn of another day of my life came to me, in the knowledge that I was winning. Then the light came truly bursting in upon my consciousness. I was winning! I was getting well again! I was sleeping better - I could eat - the pains in my head were lessening my periods of depression were coming at lengthening intervals. I was getting well!
The knowledge that I was coming back came to me suddenly, all at once, and gave me a strength that I thought I could never have again. But once it came, the months that were to come were easy indeed, compared with the ones that had gone before. It was still a struggle, it still required all my will
power to keep going; but I knew that I could win. Before that time I had been trying to find out if that were a possible thing.
Nearly two years after I received the order that sent me into the shelled area of the Front, I left the army and returned to civil life. I got a job that took me again away from my country for several months. I was not yet really well, but this change helped a great deal, and rapidly I returned to normal again. Periods of ache and pain became very short, and few and far between. I believe the last one has come and gone. It was several months ago that I was writing on a typewriter, smoking my pipe. The pipe suddenly rattled in my teeth, my fingers became tense, my muscles tightened. I grabbed my pipe out of my mouth, stood up, forced my fingers out straight against my desk, took my hat, and walked and walked out into the country for a few miles, fighting for myself again. Finally I lighted my pipe again, and smoked. There was no more rattle then, my fingers were again all right. Once more I had won. That was the last time. Since then I have never had an indication that I had a nerve in my body anywhere. That was the last dying gasp of the thing that had held me in its grip for so long. 4
My work brought me back to the United States. I began to read the papers Articles caught my eye — exsoldiers not cared for, ex-soldiers out of work, in insane asylums, in jails, walking the streets. I looked into the matter and found that there were thousands upon thousands of these men in straitened circumstances, in poverty. There were more thousands, who needed hospital attention, who were not getting it. There was trouble in Washington over the means to care for these men. Governmental bureaus overlapped, passed
the buck to each other—and still nothing seemed to be accomplished. What was the matter with my country? Was it really ungrateful? Was it true that the public had tired of this responsibility? Statements were made to me that magazines would no longer accept war-stories, and that publishers would no longer print anything pertaining to the war, or the men who had fought in it. I found that these statements could be easily disproved, but, nevertheless, it was disheartening, when I kept learning for myself how these men were suffering.
I was walking down Broadway, and my walking-stick accidentally struck against a man. I apologized perfunctorily, but upon looking at him, I saw a poorly dressed man who looked familiar. Then he spoke. 'Colonel,' he said, 'can you do me a favor?'
I was astonished
I did not know him. But he knew me he had been in my regiment overseas. He wanted money two hundred dollars to start a cigar-stand. We went to the bank and he left me happy. Some day I shall hear from that man, who drove a lead pair on the march into silent, sullen Germany. He will win some day. All he needed was a little help, practical
help to start again; not emotional sentimentality, but help - practical, substantial help.
How many others there are just like him, who need just a little help. Are we going to give it? I believe we shall, if we but realize the truth; if we will but see, and not 'close our door on the war.'
There has come a thought to me that I wish the American people would ponder over when they grow tired of the war, which they felt so very, very little. When they damn the men who bother them for jobs, who pester them for help, they should search their own hearts first.
The workings of his heart and of his mind
What in our dull brain may seem a stain,
Shall we help back those thousands of humble men who trod the rocky pathway of the Front in France? Shall we give them the little boost that they need, to come back? And what of those other men who have suffered, whose minds are gone? Shall we be but ghosts for those unburied dead - who did not die?
THE ROUND-FACED BEAUTY
A STORY OF THE CHINESE COURT
BY L. ADAMS BECK
IN the city of Chang-an music filled the palaces, and the festivities of the Emperor were measured by its beat. Night, and the full moon swimming like a gold-fish in the garden lakes, gave the signal for the Feather Jacket and Rainbow Skirt dances. Morning, with the rising sun, summoned the court again to the feast and wine-cup in the floating gardens.
The Emperor Chung Tsu favored this city before all others. The Yen Tower soaring heavenward, the Drum Towers, the Pearl Pagoda, were the only fit surroundings of his magnificence; and in the Pavilion of Tranquil Learning were held those discussions which enlightened the world and spread the fame of the Jade Emperor far and wide. In all respects he adorned the Dragon Throne
in all but one; for Nature, bestowing so much, withheld one gift, and the Imperial heart, as precious as jade, was also as hard, and he eschewed utterly the company of the Hidden Palace Flowers.
Yet the Inner Chambers were filled with ladies chosen from all parts of the Celestial Empire - ladies of the most exquisite and torturing beauty, moons of loveliness, moving coquettishly on little feet, with all the grace of willow branches in a light breeze. They were sprinkled with perfumes, adorned with jewels, robed in silks woven with gold and embroidered with designs of flowers and birds. Their faces were painted and
their eyebrows formed into slender and perfect arches whence the soul of man might well slip to perdition, and a breath of sweet odor followed each wherever she moved. Every one might have been the Empress of some lesser kingdom; but though rumors reached the Son of Heaven from time to time of their charms, especially when some new blossom was added to the Imperial bouquet, he had dismissed them from his august thoughts, and they languished in a neglect so complete that the Great Cold Palaces of the Moon were not more empty than their hearts. They remained under the supervision of the Princess of Han, August Aunt of the Emperor, knowing that their Lord considered the company of sleeve-dogs and macaws more pleasant than their own. Nor had he as yet chosen an Empress, and it was evident that without some miracle, such as the intervention of the Municipal God, no heir to the throne could be hoped for.
Yet the Emperor one day remembered his imprisoned beauties, and it crossed the Imperial thoughts that even these inferior creatures might afford such interest as may be found in the gambols of trained fleas or other insects of no natural attainments.
Accordingly, he commanded that the subject last discussed in his presence should be transferred to the Inner Chambers, and it was his Order that the ladies should also discuss it, and their
jewel jade, permitted them to slip from the string and so distended the rose of her mouth in surprise that the small pearl-shells were visible within. The Lady Tortoise, caressing a scarlet and azure macaw, in her agitation so twitched the feathers that the bird, shrieking, bit her finger. The Lady Golden Bells blushed deeply at the thought of what was required of them; and the little Lady Summer Dress, youngest of all the assembled beauties, was so alarmed at the prospect that she began to sob aloud, until she met the eye of the August Aunt and abruptly ceased.
'It is not, however, to be supposed,' said the August Aunt, opening her snuff-bottle of painted crystal, 'that the minds of our deplorable and unattractive sex are wholly incapable of forming opinions. But speech is a grave matter for women, naturally slowwitted and feeble-minded as they are. This unenlightened person recalls the Odes as saying:
'A flaw in a piece of white jade
But when a woman has spoken foolishly
a consideration which should make every lady here and throughout the world think anxiously before speech.'
So anxiously did the assembled beauties think, that all remained mute as fish in a pool, and the August Aunt continued:
opinions be engraved on ivory, bound together with red silk and tassels, and thus presented at the Dragon feet. The subject chosen was the following:
Describe the Qualities of the
Now when this command was laid before the August Aunt, the guardian of the Inner Chambers, she was much perturbed in mind, for such a thing was unheard of in all the annals of the Empire. Recovering herself, she ventured to say that the discussion of such a question might raise very disquieting thoughts in the minds of the ladies, who could not be supposed to have any opinions at all on such a subject. Nor was it desirable that they should have. To every woman her husband and no other is and must be the Ideal Man. So it was always in the past; so it must ever be. There are certain things which it is dangerous to question or discuss, and how can ladies who have never spoken with any other man than a parent or a brother judge such matters?
'How, indeed,' asked this lady of exalted merit, 'can the bat form an idea of the sunlight, or the carp of the motion of wings? If his Celestial Majesty had commanded a discussion on the Superior Woman and the virtues which should adorn her, some sentiments not wholly unworthy might have been offered. But this is a calamity. They come unexpectedly, springing up like mushrooms, and this one is probably due to the lack of virtue of the inelegant and unintellectual person who is now speaking.'
This she uttered in the presence of the principal beauties of the Inner Chambers. They sat or reclined about her in attitudes of perfect loveliness. Two, embroidering silver pheasants, paused with their needles suspended above the stretched silk, to hear the August Aunt. One, threading beads of
'Let Tsu-ssŭ be summoned. It is my intention to suggest to the Dragon Emperor that the virtues of women be the subject of our discourse, and I will myself open and conclude the discussion.'
Tsu-ssŭ was not long in kotowing before the August Aunt, who dispatched her message with the her message with the proper ceremonial due to its Imperial destination; and meanwhile, in much agitation, the beauties could but twitter and whisper in each other's ears, and await the