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NEWSREEL XXX 12 страница




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did not have gables on the houses like in Baltic Europe.

 

When they got ashore Charley and Doc went to the
Broadway Central Hotel together. Charley had never
been in a big hotel like that and wanted to find a cheaper
flop but Doc insisted that he come along with him and
said he had plenty of jack for both of them and that it
was no use saving money because things would go bellyup
soon. New York was full of grinding gears and clanging
cars and the roar of the "L" and newsboys crying extras.
Doc lent Charley a good suit and took him down to the
enlistment office of the ambulance corps that was in an
important lawyer's office in a big shiny officebuilding
down in the financial district. The gentleman who signed
the boys up was a New York lawyer and he talked about
their being gentleman volunteers and behaving like gen-
tlemen and being a credit to the cause of the Allies and
the American flag and civilization that the brave French
soldiers had been fighting for so many years in the
trenches. When he found out Charley was a mechanic
he signed him up without waiting to write to the principal
of the highschool and the pastor of the Lutheran church
home in Fargo whose names he had given as references.
He told them about getting antityphoid injections and a
physical examination and said to call the next day to find
out the sailing date. When they came out of the elevator
there was a group of men in the shinymarble lobby with
their heads bent over a newspaperi; the U. S. was at war
with Germany. That night Charley wrote his mother that
he was going to the war and please to send him fifty dol-
lars. Then he and Doc went out to look at the town.

 

There were flags on every building. They walked past
business block after business block looking for Times
Square. Everywhere people were reading newspapers. At
Fourteenth they heard a drumbeat and a band and waited
at the corner to see what regiment it would be but it was
only the Salvation Army. By the time they got to Madison

 

-407-

 

Square it was the dinner hour and the streets were de-
serted. It began to drizzle a little and the flags up Broad-
day and Fifth Avenue hung limp from their poles.



 

They went into the Hofbrau to eat. Charley thought it
looked too expensive but Doc said it was his party. A man
was on a stepladder over the door screwing the bulbs into
an electric sign of an American flag. The restaurant was
draped with American flags inside and the band played
The Star-Spangled Banner every other number, so that
they kept having to get to their feet. "What do they think
this is, settin' up exercises?" grumbled Doc.

 

There was one group at a round table in the corner that
didn't get up when the band played The Star-Spangled
Banner, but sat there quietly talking and eating as if noth-
ing had happened. People round the restaurant began to
stare at them and pass comments. "I bet they're . . .
Huns . . . German spies . . . Pacifists." There was an
army officer at a table with a girl who got red in the face
whenever he looked at them. Finally a waiter, an elderly
German, went up to them and whispered something.

 

"I'll be damned if I will," came the voice from the
table in the corner. Then the army officer went over to
them and said something about courtesy to our national
anthem. He came away redder in the face than ever. He
was a little man with bowlegs squeezed into brightly pol-
ished puttees. "Dastardly pro-Germans," he sputtered as
he sat down. Immediately he had to get up because the
band played The Star-Spangled Banner."Why don't you
call the police, Cyril?" the girl who was with him said.
By this time people from all over the restaurant were ad-
vancing on the round table.



 

Doc pulled Charley's chair around. "Watch this; it's
going to be good."

 

A big man with a Texas drawl yanked one of the men
out of his chair. "You git up or git out."

 

"You people have no right to interfere with us," began

 

-408-

 

one of the men at the round table. "You express your
approval of the war getting up, we express our disap-
proval by . . ."

 

There was a big woman with a red hat with a plume
on it at the table who kept saying, "Shut up; don't talk
to 'em." By this time the band had stopped. Everybody
clapped as hard as he could and yelled, "Play it again;
that's right." The waiters were running round nervously
and the proprietor was in the center of the floor mopping
his bald head.

 

The army officer went over to the orchestra leader
and said, "Please play our national anthem again." At the
first bar he came stiffly to attention. The other men rushed
the round table. Doc and the man with the English accent
were jostling each other. Doc squared off to hit him.

 

"Come outside if you want to fight," the man with the
English accent was saying.

 

"Leave 'em be, boys," Doc was shouting. "I'll take 'em
on outside, two at a time."

 

The table was upset and the party began backing off
towards the door. The woman with the red hat picked up
a bowl of lobster mayonnaise and was holding back the
crowd by chucking handfuls of it in their faces. At that
moment three cops appeared and arrested the damn paci-
fists. Everybody stood around wiping mayonnaise off his
clothes. The band played The Star-Spangled Banner again
and everybody tried to sing but it didn't make much of
an effect because nobody knew the words.

 

After that Doc and Charley went to a bar to have a
whisky sour. Doc wanted to go to see a legshow and asked
the barkeep. A little fat man with an American flag in the
lapel of his coat overheard him and said the best legshow
in New York was Minsky's on East Houston Street. He
set them up to some drinks when Doc said they were
going to see this here war, and said he'd take them down
to Minsky's himself. His name was Segal and he said

 

-409-

 

he'd been a socialist up to the sinking of the Lusitania, but
now he thought they ought to lick the Germans and de-
stroy Berlin. He was in the cloak and suit business and was
happy because he'd as good as landed a contract for army
uniforms. "Ve need the var to make men of us," he'd say
and strike himself on the chest. They went down town
in a taxi but when they got to the burlesque show it was
so full they couldn't get a seat.

 

"Standin' room, hell . . . Ah want women," Doc was
saying. Mr. Segal thought a little while with his head
cocked to one side. "Ve will go to 'Little Hungary,'" he
said.

 

Charley felt let down. He'd expected to have a good
time in New York. He wished he was in bed. At "Little
Hungary" there were many German and Jewish and Rus-
sian girls. The wine came in funnylooking bottles upside
down in a stand in the middle of each table. Mr. Segal
said it was his party from now on. The orchestra played
foreign music. Doc was getting pretty drunk. They sat at
a table crowded in among other tables. Charley roamed
round and asked a girl to dance with him but she wouldn't
for some reason.

 

He got to talking to a young narrowfaced fellow at the
bar who had just been to a peace meeting at Madison
Square Garden. Charley pricked his ears up when the fel-
low said there'd be a revolution in New York if they tried
to force conscription on the country. His name was Benny
Compton and he'd been studying law at New York Uni-
versity. Charley went and sat with him at a table with
another fellow who was from Minnesota and who was a
reporter on The Call. Charley asked them about the
chances of working his way through the engineering
school. He'd about decided to back out of this ambulance
proposition. But they didn't seem to think there was much
chance if you hadn't any money saved up to start on. The

 

-410-

 

Minnesota man said New York was no place for a poor
man.

 

"Aw, hell; I guess I'll go to the war," said Charley.

 

"It's the duty of every radical to go to jail first," said
Benny Compton. "Anyway, there'll be a revolution. The
working class won't stand for this much longer."

 

"If you want to make some jack the thing to do is to
go over to Bayonne and get a job in a munitions factory,"
said the man from Minnesota in a tired voice.

 

"A man who does that is a traitor to his class," said
Benny Compton.

 

"A working stiff's in a hell of a situation," said Charley.
"Damn it, I don't want to spend all my life patchin' up
tin lizzies at seventyfive a month".

 

"Didn't Eugene V. Debs say, 'I want to rise with the
ranks, not from them?'"

 

"After all, Benny, ain't you studyin' night an' day to
get to be a lawyer an' get out of the workin' class?" said
the man from Minnesota.

 

"That is so I can be of some use in the struggle . . . I
want to be a wellsharpened instrument. We must fight
capitalists with their own weapons."

 

"I wonder what I'll do when they suppress The Call."

 

"They won't dare suppress it."

 

"Sure, they will. We're in this war to defend the Mor-
gan loans . . . They'll use it to clear up opposition at
home, sure as my name's Johnson."

 

"Talking Of that, I got some dope. My sister, see, she's
a stenographer . . . She works for J. Ward Moorehouse,
the public relations counsel, you know . . . he does
propaganda for the Morgans and the Rockefellers. Well,
she said that all this year he's been working with a French
secret mission. The big interests are scared to death of a
revolution in France. They paid him ten thousand dollars
for his services. He runs pro-war stuff through a feature
syndicate. And they call this a free country."

 

-411-

 

"I wouldn't be surprised at anything," said the man
from Minnesota, pouring himself out the last of the bottle
of wine. "Why, any one of us may be a government agent
or a spy right at this minute." The three of them sat there
looking at each other. It gave Charley chills down his
spine.

 

"That's what I'm tryin' to tell ye . . . My sister, she
knows all about it, see, on 'account of workin' in this guy's
office . . . It's a plot of the big interests, Morgan an'
them, to defeat the workers by sendin' 'em off to the war.
Once they get you in the army you can't howl about civic
liberty or the Bill of Rights . . . They can shoot you
without trial, see?"

 

"It's an outrage . . . The people of the Northwest
won't stand for it," said the man from Minnesota. "Look
here, you've been out there more recently than I have.
La Follette expresses the opinion of people out there,
don't he?"

 

"Sure," said Charley.

 

"Well, what the hell?"

 

"It's too deep for me," said Charley and started work-
ing his way among the closepacked tables to find Doc.
Doc was pretty drunk, and Charley was afraid the evening
would start running into money, so they said goodby to
Mr. Segal who said please to kill a lot of Germans just
for him, and they went out and started walking west along
Houston Street. There were pushcarts all along the curb
with flares that made the packed faces along the sidewalk
glow red in the rainy darkness.

 

They came out at the end of a wide avenue crowded
with people pouring out from a theater. In front of the
Cosmopolitan Café a man was speaking on a soapbox. As
the people came out of the theater they surged' around
him. Doc and Charley edged their way through to see
what the trouble was. They could only catch scraps of
what the man was shouting in a hoarse barking voice:

 

-412-

 

"A few days ago I was sittin' in the Cooper Institute
listenin' to Eugene Victor Debs, and what was he sayin'?
. . . 'What is this civilization, this democracy that the
bosses are asking you workers to give your lives to
save, what does it mean to you except wageslavery, what
is . . . ?'"

 

"Hey, shut up, youse . . . If you don't like it go back
where you came from," came voices from the crowd.

 

"Freedom to work so that the bosses can get rich . . .
Opportunity to starve to death if you get fired from your
job."

 

Doc and Charley'were shoved from behind. The man
toppled off his box and disappeared. The whole end of the
avenue filled with a milling crowd. Doc was sparring with
a big man in overalls. A cop came between them hitting
right and left with his billy. Doc hauled off to slam the
cop but Charley caught his arm and pulled him out of the
scrimmage.

 

"Hey, for crissake, Doc, this ain't the war yet," said
Charley. Doc was red in the face. "Ah didn't like that
guy's looks," he said.

 

Behind the cops two policedepartment cars with big
searchlights were charging the crowd. Arms, heads, hats,
jostling shoulders, riotsticks rising and falling stood out
black against the tremendous white of the searchlights.
Charley pulled Doc against the plateglass window of the
café.

 

"Say, Doc, we don't want to get in the can and lose the
boat," Charley whispered in his ear. "What's the use?"
said Doc. "It'll all go bellyup before we get there."

 

"Today the voikers run before the cops, but soon it will
be the cops run before the voikers," someone yelled.
Someone else started singing The Marseillaise. Voices
joined. Doc and Charley were jammed with their shoul-
ders against the plate glass. Behind them the café was full
of faces swimming in blue crinkly tobaccosmoke like fish

 

-413-

 

in an aquarium. The plate glass suddenly smashed. People
in the café were hopping to their feet. "Look out for the
Cossacks," a voice yelled.

 

A cordon of cops was working down the avenue. The
empty pavement behind them widened. The other way
mounted police were coming out of Houston Street. In
the open space a patrolwagon parked. Cops were shoving
men and women into it.

 

Doc and Charley ducked past a mounted policeman who
was trotting his horse with a great clatter down the inside
of the sidewalk, and shot round the corner. The Bowery
was empty and dark. They walked west toward the hotel.

 

"My God," said Charley, "you almost got us locked
up that time . . . I'm all set to go to France now, and
I wanter go."

 

A week later they were on the Chicago of the French
Line steaming out through the Narrows. They had hang-
overs from their farewell party and felt a little sick from
the smell of the boat and still had the music of the jazz-
band on the wharf ringing through their heads. The day
was overcast, with a low lid of leaden clouds, looked like
it was going to snow. The sailors were French and the
stewards were French. They had wine with their first
meal. There was a whole tableful of other guys going over
in the ambulance service.

 

After dinner Doc went down to the cabin to go to sleep.
Charley roamed around the ship with his hands in his
pockets without knowing what to do with himself. In the
stern they were taking the canvas cover off the seventyfive
gun. He walked round the lowerdeck full of barrels and
packingcases and stumbled across coils of big fuzzy cable
to the bow. In the bow there was a little pinkfaced French
sailor with a red tassel on his cap stationed as a lookout.

 

The sea was glassy, with dirty undulating patches of
weed and garbage. There were gulls sitting on the water

 

-414-

 

or perched on bits of floating wood. Now and then a gull
stretched its wings lazily and flew off crying.

 

The boat's bluff bow cut two even waves through dense
glassgreen water. Charley tried to talk to the lookout. He
pointed ahead. "East," he said, " France."

 

The lookout paid no attention. Charley pointed back
towards the smoky west. "West," he said and tapped him-
self on the chest. "My home Fargo, North Dakota."But
the lookout just shook his head and put his finger to his
lips.

 

" France very far east . . . submarines . . . war," said
Charley. The lookout put his hand over his mouth. At
last he made Charley understand that he wasn't supposed
to talk to him.

 

-415-

 


NINETEEN-NINETEEN

 

-iii

 


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