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THE HAPPY WARRIOR




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  1. OIL KING'S HAPPYEST DAY

 

The Roosevelts had lived for seven righteous gen-
erations on Manhattan Island; they owned a big brick
house on 20th Street, an estate up at Dobbs Ferry, lots
in the city, a pew in the Dutch Reformed Church, inter-
ests, stocks and bonds, they felt Manhattan was theirs,
they felt America was theirs. Their son,

 

Theodore,

 

was a sickly youngster, suffered from asthma, was
very nearsighted; his hands and feet were so small it
was hard for him to learn to box; his arms were very
short;

 

his father was something of a humanitarian, gave
Christmas dinners to newsboys, deplored conditions,
slums, the East Side, Hell's Kitchen.

 

Young Theodore had ponies, was encouraged to
walk in the woods, to go camping, was instructed in
boxing and fencing (an American gentleman should
know how to defend himself) taught Bible Class, did
mission work (an American gentleman should do his
best to uplift those not so fortunately situated);

 

righteousness was his by birth;
he had a passion for nature study, for reading
about birds and wild animals, for going hunting; he
got to be a good shot in spite of his glasses, a good
walker in spite of his tiny feet and short legs, a fair
horseman, an aggressive scrapper in spite of his short
reach, a crack politician in spite of being the son of one
of the owning Dutch families of New York.

 

In 1876 he went up to Cambridge to study at
Harvard, a wealthy talkative erratic young man with
sidewhiskers and definite ideas about everything under
the sun,

 

at Harvard he drove around in a dogcart, collected

 

-142-

 

stuffed birds, mounted specimens he'd shot on his trips
in the Adirondacks; in spite of not drinking and being
somewhat of a christer, having odd ideas about reform
and remedying abuses, he made Porcellian and the
Dickey and the clubs that were his right as the son of
one of the owning Dutch families of New York.

 

He told his friends he was going to devote his life
to social service: I wish to preach not the doctrine of
ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the
life of toil and effort, of labor and strife.



 

From the time he was eleven years old he wrote
copiously, filled diaries, notebooks, loose leaves with a
big impulsive scrawl about everything he did and
thought and said;

 

naturally he studied law.

 

He married young and went to Switzerland to
climb the Matterhorn; his first wife's early death broke
him all up. He went out to the badlands of western
Dakota to become a rancher on the Little Missouri
River;

 

when he came back to Manhattan he was Teddy,
the straight shooter from the west, the elkhunter, the
man in the Stetson hat, who'd roped steers, fought a
grizzly hand to hand, acted as Deputy Sheriff,

 

(a Roosevelt has a duty to his country; the duty of
a Roosevelt is to uplift those not so fortunately situated,
those who have come more recently to our shores)

 

in the west, Deputy Sheriff Roosevelt felt the
white man's burden, helped to arrest malefactors, bad
men; service was bully.

 

All this time he'd been writing, filling the maga-
zines with stories of his hunts and adventures, filling
political meetings with his opinions, his denunciations,
his pat phrases: Strenuous Life, Realizable Ideals, Just
Government, when men fear work or fear righteous



 

-143-

 

war, when women fear motherhood, they tremble on
the brink of doom, and well it is that they should vanish
from the earth, where they are fit subjects for the scorn
of all men and women who are themselves strong and
brave and highminded.

 

T.R. married a wealthy woman and righteously
raised a family at Sagamore Hill.

 

He served a term in the New York Legislature,
was appointed by Grover Cleveland to the unremunera-
tive job of Commissioner for Civil Service Reform,

 

was Reform Police Commissioner of New York,
pursued malefactors, stoutly maintained that white was
white and black was black,

 

wrote the Naval History of the War of 1812,
was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy,
and when the Maine blew up resigned to lead the
Rough Riders,

 

Lieutenant-Colonel.

 

This was the Rubicon, the Fight, the Old Glory,
the Just Cause. The American public was not kept in
ignorance of the Colonel's bravery when the bullets
sang, how he charged without his men up San Juan
Hill and had to go back to fetch them, how he shot a
running Spaniard in the tail.

 

It was too bad that the regulars had gotten up
San Juan Hill first from the other side, that there was
no need to get up San Juan Hill at all. Santiago was
surrendered. It was a successful campaign. T.R.
charged up San Juan Hill into the governorship of the
Empire State;

 

but after the fighting, volunteers warcorrespond-
ents magazinewriters began to want to go home;



 

it wasn't bully huddling under puptents in the
tropical rain or scorching in the morning sun of the
seared Cuban hills with malaria mowing them down
and dysentery and always yellowjack to be afraid of.

 

-144-

 

T.R. got up a round robin to the President and
asked for the amateur warriors to be sent home and
leave the dirtywork to the regulars
who were digging trenches and shovelling crap
and fighting malaria and dysentery and yellowjack
to make Cuba cosy for the Sugar Trust
and the National City Bank.

 

When he landed at home, one of his first inter-
views was with Lemuel Quigg, emissary of Boss Platt
who had the votes of upstate New York sewed into the
lining of his vest;

 

he saw Boss Platt too, but he forgot about that
afterwards. Things were bully. He wrote a life of
Oliver Cromwell whom people said he resembled. As
Governor he doublecrossed the Platt machine (a
righteous man may have a short memory); Boss Platt
thought he'd shelved him by nominating him for the
Vice-Presidency in 1900;

 

Czolgocz made him president.

 

T.R. drove like a fiend in a buckboard over the
muddy roads through the driving rain from Mt. Marcy
in the Adirondacks to catch the train to Buffalo where
McKinley was dying.

 

As President

 

he moved Sagamore Hill, the healthy happy
normal American home, to the White House, took
foreign diplomats and fat armyofficers out walking in
Rock Creek Park where he led them a terrible dance
through brambles, hopping across the creek on stepping-
stones, wading the fords, scrambling up the shaly banks,
and shook the Big Stick at malefactors of great
wealth.

 

-145-

 

Things were bully.
He engineered the Panama revolution under the
shadow of which took place the famous hocuspocus of
juggling the old and new canal companies by which
forty million dollars vanished into the pockets of the
international bankers,

 

but Old Glory floated over the Canal Zone
and the canal was cut through.
He busted a few trusts,

 

had Booker Washington to lunch at the White
House,
and urged the conservation of wild life.

 

He got the Nobel Peace Prize for patching up the
Peace of Portsmouth that ended the Russo-Japanese
war,

 

and sent the Atlantic Fleet around the world for
everybody to see that America was a firstclass power.
He left the presidency to Taft after his second term
leaving to that elephantine lawyer the congenial task of
pouring judicial oil on the hurt feelings of the money-
masters

 

and went to Africa to hunt big game.
Big game hunting was bully.
Every time a lion or an elephant went crashing

 

down into the jungle underbrush, under the impact of
a wellplaced mushroom bullet

 

the papers lit up with headlines;
when he talked with the Kaiser on horseback
the world was not ignorant of what he said, or

 

when he lectured the Nationalists at Cairo telling them
that this was a white man's world.

 

He went to Brazil where he travelled through the
Matto Grosso in a dugout over waters infested with the
tiny maneating fish, the piranha,
shot tapirs,
jaguars,

 

-146-

 

specimens of the whitelipped peccary.
He ran the rapids of the River of Doubt
down to the Amazon frontiers where he arrived
sick, an infected abscess in his leg, stretched out under
an awning in a dugout with a tame trumpeterbird beside
him.

 

Back in the States he fought his last fight when
he came out for the republican nomination in 1912 a
progressive, champion of the Square Deal, crusader for
the Plain People; the Bull Moose bolted out from
under the Taft steamroller and formed the Progressive
Party for righteousness' sake at the Chicago Colosseum
while the delegates who were going to restore demo-
cratic government rocked with tears in their eyes as
they sang

 

On ward Christian so old gers
Marching as to war

 

Perhaps the River of Doubt had been too much for
a man of his age; perhaps things weren't so bully any
more; T.R. lost his voice during the triangular cam-
paign. In Duluth a maniac shot him in the chest, his
life was saved only by the thick bundle of manuscript
of the speech he was going to deliver. T.R. delivered
the speech with the bullet still in him, heard the scared
applause, felt the plain people praying for his recov-
ery but the spell was broken somehow.

 

The Democrats swept in, the world war drowned
out the righteous voice of the Happy Warrior in the
roar of exploding lyddite. this was.

 

Wilson wouldn't let T.R. lead a division, this was
no amateur's war (perhaps the regulars remembered
the round robin at Santiago). All he could do was
write magazine articles against the Huns, send his sons;
Quentin was killed.

 

-147-

 

It wasn't the bully amateur's world any more.
Nobody knew that on armistice day, Theodore Roose-
velt, happy amateur warrior with the grinning teeth,
the shaking forefinger, naturalist, explorer, magazine-
writer, Sundayschool teacher, cowpuncher, moralist,
politician, righteous orator with a short memory, fond
of denouncing liars (the Ananias Club) and having
pillowfights with his children, was taken to the Roose-
velt hospital gravely ill with inflammatory rheumatism.
Things weren't bully any more;
T.R. had grit;
he bore the pain, the obscurity, the sense of being
forgotten as he had borne the grilling portages when he
was exploring the River of Doubt, the heat, the fetid
jungle mud, the infected abscess in his leg,

 

and died quietly in his sleep
at Sagamore Hill
on January 6, 1919
and left on the shoulders of his sons
the white man's burden.

 


THE CAMERA EYE (33)

 

11,000 registered harlots said the Red Cross Pub-
licity Man infest the streets of Marseilles

 

the Ford stalled three times in the Rue de Rivoli
in Fontainebleau we had our café au lait in bed the For-
est was so achingly red yellow novemberbrown under the
tiny lavender rain beyond the road climbed through
dovecolored hills the air smelt of apples

 

Nevers (Dumas nom de dieu) Athos Pcrthos and

 

-148-

 

d'Artagnan had ordered a bisque at the inn we wound
down slowly into red Macon that smelt of winelees and
the vintage fais ce que voudras saute Bourgignon.
in the Rhone valley the first strawcolored sunlight streaked
the white road with shadows of skeleton poplars at
every stop we drank wine strong as beefsteaks rich as the
palace of François Premier bouquet of the last sleet-
lashed roses we didn't cross the river to Lyon where
Jean-Jacques suffered from greensickness as a young-
ster the landscapes of Provence were all out of the Gal-
lic Wars the towns were dictionaries of latin roots Orange
Tarascon Arles where Van Gogh cut off his ears the
convoy became less of a conducted tour we stopped to
play craps in the estaminets boys we're going south to
drink the red wine the popes loved best to eat fat
meals in oliveoil. and garlic bound south cêpes pro-
vençale the north wind was shrilling over the plains of
the Camargue hustling us into Marseilles where the eleven
thousand were dandling themselves in the fogged mirrors
of the promenoir at the Apollo

 

oysters and vin de Cassis petite fille tellement brune
tête de lune qui amait les veentair sports in the end
they were all slot machines undressed as Phocean figurines
posted with their legs apart around the scummy edges of

 

the oldest port
the Riviera was a letdown but there was a candycol-
ored church with a pointed steeple on every hill beyond

 

-149-

 

San Remo Porto Maurizio blue seltzerbottles stand-
ing in the cinzanocolored sunlight beside a glass of VER-
MOUTH TORINO Savona was set for the Merchant
of Venice painted by Veronese Ponte Decimo in Ponte
Decimo ambulances were parked in a moonlit square of
bleak stone, workingpeople's houses hoarfrost covered
everything in the little bar the Successful Story Writer
taught us to drink cognac and maraschino half and half
havanuzzerone

 

it turned out he was not writing what he felt he
wanted to be writing What can you tell them at home
about the war? it turned out he was not wanting what he
wrote he wanted to be feeling cognac and mara-
schino was no longer young (It made us damn sore
we greedy for what we felt we wanted tell 'em all they
lied see new towns go to Genoa) havanuzzerone? it
turned out that he wished he was a naked brown shep-
herd boy sitting on a hillside playing a flute in the sunlight

 

going to Genoa was easy enough the streetcar went
there Genoa the new town we'd never seen full of marble
doges and breakneck stairs marble lions in the moon-
light Genoa was, the ancient ducal city burning?
all the marble palaces and the square stone houses and the
campaniles topping hills had one marble wall on fire

 

bonfire under the moon
the bars were full of Britishers overdressed civilians
strolling under porticoes outside the harbor under the

 

-150-

 

Genoa moon the sea was on fire the member of His
Majesty's Intelligence Service said it was a Yankee tanker
had struck a mine? been torpedoed? why don't they scut-
tle her?

 

Genoa eyes flared with the light of the burning
tanker Genoa what are you looking for? the flare
in the blood under the moon down the midnight streets
in boys' and girls' faces Genoa eyes the question in
their eyes

 

through the crumbling stone courts under the Genoa
moon up and down the breakneck stairs eyes on fire under
the moon round the next corner full in your face the flare
of the bonfire on the sea

 

11,000 registered harlots said the Red Cross Publicity
Man infest the streets of Marseilles

 


JOE WILLIAMS

 

It was a lousy trip. Joe was worried all the time about
Del and about not making good and the deckcrew was a
bunch of soreheads. The engines kept breaking down. The
Higginbotham was built like a cheesebox and so slow there
were days when they didn't make more'n thirty or forty
miles against moderate head winds. The only good times
he had was taking boxing lessons from the second en-
gineer, a fellow named Glen Hardwick. He was a little
wiry guy, who was a pretty good amateur boxer, though
he must have been forty years old. By the time they

 

-151-

 

got to Bordeaux Joe was able to give him a good workout.
He was heavier and had a better reach and Glen said he'd
a straight natural right that would take him far as a
lightweight.

 

In Bordeaux the first port official that came on board
tried to kiss Cap'n Perry on both checks. President Wilson
had just declared war on Germany. All over the town
nothing was too good for Les Americains. Evenings when
they were off Joe and Glen Hardwick cruised around to-
gether. The Bordeaux girls were damn pretty. They met
up with a couple one afternoon in the public garden that
weren't hookers at all. They were nicely dressed and
looked like they came of good families, what the hell it
was wartime. At first Joe thought he ought to lay off that
stuff now that he was married, but hell, hadn't Del held
out on him. What did she think he was, a plaster saint?
They ended by going to a little hotel the girls knew and
eating supper and drinking beaucoup wine and champagne
and having a big party. Joe had never had such a good
time with a girl in his life. His girl's name was Marceline
and when they woke up in the morning the help at the
hotel brought them in coffee and rolls and they ate break-
fast, both of 'em sitting up in bed and Joe's French began
to pick up and he learned how to say C'est la guerre and
On les aura and Je m'en fiche and Marceline said she'd
always be his sweetie when he was in Bordeaux and called
him petit lapin.

 

They only stayed in Bordeaux the four days it took 'em
to wait their turn to go up to the dock and unload, but
they drank wine and cognac all the time and the food was
swell and nobody could do enough for them on account
of America having come into the war and it was a great
old four days.

 

On the trip home the Higginbotham sprung leaks so
bad the old man stopped worrying about submarines al-
together. It was nip and tuck if they'd make Halifax.

 

-152-

 

The ship was light and rolled like a log so that even with
fiddles on they couldn't keep dishes on the messtable. One
dirty night of driving fog somewhere south of Cape Race,
Joe with his chin in his peajacket was taking a turn on the
deck amidship when he was suddenly thrown flat. They
never knew what hit 'em, a mine or a torpedo. It was
only that the boats were in darn good order and the sea
was smooth that they got off at all. As it was the four
boats got separated. The Higginbotham faded into the
fog and they never saw her sink, though the last they
could make out her maindeck was awash.

 

They were cold and wet. In Joe's boat nobody said
much. The men at the oars had to work hard to keep her
bow into the little chop that came up. Each sea a little
bigger than the others drenched them with spray. They
had on wool sweaters and lifepreservers but the cold
seeped through. At last the fog greyed a little and it was
day. Joe's boat and the captain's boat managed to keep to-
gether until late that afternoon they were picked up by a
big fishing schooner, a banker bound for Boston.

 

When they were picked up old Cap'n Perry was in a
bad way. The master of the fishing schooner did every-
thing he could for him, but he was unconscious when
they reached Boston four days later and died on the way
to the hospital. The doctors said it was pneumonia.

 

Next morning Joe and the mate went to the office of the
agent of Perkins and Ellerman, the owners, to see about
getting themselves and the crew paid off. There was some
kind of damn monkeydoodle business about the vessel's
having changed owners in midAtlantic, a man named
Rosenberg had bought her on a speculation and now he
couldn't be found and the Chase National Bank was
claiming ownership and the underwriters were raising
cain. The agent said he was sure they'd be paid all right,
because Rosenberg had posted bond, but it would be some
time. "And what the hell do they expect us to do all that

 

-153-

 

time, eat grass?" The clerk said he was sorry but they'd
have to take it up direct with Mr. Rosenberg.

 

Joe and the first mate stood side by side on the curb
outside the office and cursed for a while, then the mate
went over to South Boston to break the news to the chief
who lived there.

 

It was a warm June afternoon. Joe started to go around
the shipping offices to see what he could do in the way of
a berth. He got tired of that and went and sat on a
bench on the Common, staring at the sparrows and the
gobs loafing around and the shop girls coming home from
work, their little heels clattering on the asphalt paths.

 

Joe hung around Boston broke for a couple of weeks.
The Salvation Army took care of the survivors, serving
'em beans and watery soup and a lot of hymns off key
that didn't appeal to Joe the way he felt just then. He
was crazy to get enough jack to go to Norfolk to see Del.
He wrote her every day but the letters he got back to
General Delivery seemed kinder cool. She was worried
about the rent and wanted some spring clothes and was
afraid they wouldn't like it at the office if they found out
about her being married.

 

Joe sat on the benches on the Common and roamed
around among the flowerbeds in the Public Garden, and
called regularly at the agent's office to ask about a berth,
but finally he got sick of hanging around and went down
and signed on as quartermaster, on a United Fruit boat,
the Callao. He thought it ud be a short run and by the
time he got back in a couple of weeks he'd be able to get
his money.

 

On the home trip they had to wait several days an-
chored outside in the roads at Roseau in Dominica, for
the limes they were going to load to be crated. Every-
body was sore at the port authorities, a lot of damn Brit-
ish niggers, on account of the quarantine and the limes
not being ready and how slow the lighters were coming

 

-154-

 

off from the shore. The last night in port Joe and Larry,
one of the other quartermasters, got kidding some young
coons in a bumboat that had been selling fruit and liquor
to the crew under the stern; first thing they knew they'd
offered 'em a dollar each to take 'em ashore and land 'em
down the beach so's the officers wouldn't see them. The
town smelt of niggers. There were no lights in the streets.
A little coalblack youngster ran up and asked did they
want some mountain chicken. "I guess that means wild
women, sure," said Joe. "All bets are off tonight." The
little dinge took 'em into a bar kept by a stout mulatto
woman and said something to her in the island lingo they
couldn't understand, and she said they'd have to wait a
few minutes and they sat down and had a couple of drinks
of corn and oil. "I guess she must be the madam," said
Larry. "If they ain't pretty good lookers they can go to
hell for all I care. I'm not much on the dark meat." From
out back came a sound of sizzling and a smell of some-
thing frying. "Dod gast it, I could eat something," said
Joe. "Say, boy, tell her we want something to eat." "By
and by you eat mountain chicken." "What the hell?"
They finished their drinks just as the woman came back
with a big platter of something fried up. "What's that?"
asked Joe. "That's mountain chicken, mister; that's how
we call froglegs down here but they ain't like the frogs
you all has in the states. I been in the states and I know.
We wouldn't eat them here. These here is clean frogs
just like chicken. You'll find it real good if you eat it."
They roared. "Jesus, the drinks are on us," said Larry,
wiping the tears out of his eyes.

 

Then they thought they'd go pick up some girls. They
saw a couple leaving the house where the music was and
followed 'em down the dark street. They started to talk
to 'em and the girls showed their teeth and wriggled in
their clothes and giggled. But three or four nigger men
came up sore as hell and began talking in the local lingo.

 

-155-

 


"Jez, Larry, we'd better watch our step," said Joe through
his teeth. "Those bozos got razors." They were in the
middle of a yelling bunch of big black men when they
heard an American voice behind them, "Don't say an-
other word, boys, I'll handle this." A small man in khaki
riding breeches and a panama hat was pushing his way
through the crowd talking in the island lingo all the time.
He was a little man with a gray triangular face tufted
with a goatee. "My name's Henderson, DeBuque Hen-
derson of Bridgeport, Connecticut." He shook hands with
both of them.

 

"Well, what's the trouble, boys? It's all right now,
everybody knows me here. You have to be careful on
this island, boys, they're touchy, these people, very
touchy. . . . You boys better come along with me and
have a drink. . . ." He took them each by the arm and
walked them hurriedly up the street. "Well, I was young
once . . . I'm still young . . . sure, had to see the
island . . . damn right too, the most interesting island in
the whole Caribbean only lonely . . . never see a white
face."

 

When they got to his house he walked them through a
big whitewashed room onto a terrace that smelt of vanilla
flowers. They could see the town underneath with its few
lights, the dark hills, the white hull of the Callao with the
lighters around her lit up by the working lights. At in-
tervals the rattle of winches came up to them and a crazy
jigtune from somewhere.

 

The old feller poured them each a glass of rum; then
another. He had a parrot on a perch that kept screeching.
The landbreeze had come up full of heavy flowersmells
off the mountains and blew the old feller's stringy white
hair in his eyes. He pointed at the Callao all lit up with its
ring of lighters. "United Fruit . . . United Thieves
Company . . . it's a monopoly . . . if you won't take
their prices they let your limes rot on the wharf; it's a

 

-156-

 

monopoly. You boys are working for a bunch of thieves,
but I know it ain't your fault. Here's lookin' at you."

 

Before they knew it Larry and Joe were singing. The
old man was talking about cotton spinning machinery and
canecrushers and pouring out drinks from a rumbottle.
They were pretty goddam drunk. They didn't know how
they got aboard. Joe remembered the dark focastle and
the sound of snoring from the bunks spinning around,
then sleep hitting him like a sandbag and the sweet, sicky
taste of rum in his mouth.

 

A couple of days later Joe came down with a fever
and horrible pains in his joints. He was out of his head
when they put him ashore at St. Thomas's. It was dengue
and he was sick for two months before he had the strength
even to write Del to tell her where he was. The hos-
pital orderly told him he'd been out of his head five days
and they'd given him up for a goner. The doctors had
been sore as hell about it because this was post hospital;
after all he was a white man and unconscious and they
couldn't very well feed him to the sharks.

 

It was July before Joe was well enough to walk around
the steep little coraldust streets of the town. He had to
leave the hospital and would have been in a bad way if one
of the cooks at the marine barracks hadn't looked out for
him and found him a flop in an unused section of the
building. It was hot and there was never a cloud in the
sky and he got pretty sick of looking at the niggers and
the bare hills and the blue shutin harbor. He spent a lot
of time sitting out on the old coalwharf in the shade of a
piece of corrugated iron roof looking through the plank-
ing at the clear deep bluegreen water, watching shoals of
snappers feeding around the piles. He got to thinking*
about Del and that French girl in Bordeaux and the war
and how the United Fruit was a bunch of thieves and then
the thoughts would go round and round in his head like
the little silver and blue and yellow fish round the swaying

 

-157-

 

weeds on the piles and he'd find held dropped off to
sleep.

 

When a northbound fruitsteamer came into the harbor
he got hold of one of the officers on the wharf and told
him his sad story. They gave him passage up to New
York. First thing he did was try to get hold of Janey;
maybe if she thought he ought to, he'd give up this dog's
life and take a steady job ashore. He called up the J.
Ward Moorehouse advertising office where she worked
but the girl at the other end of the line told him she was
the boss's secretary and was out west on business.

 

He went over and got a flop at Mrs. Olsen's in Red-
hook. Everybody over there was talking about the draft
and how they rounded you up for a slacker if they picked
you up on the street without a registration card. And sure
enough, just as Joe was stepping out of the subway at
Wall Street one morning a cop came up to him and asked
him for his card. Joe said he was a merchant seaman and
had just got back from a trip and hadn't had time to regis-
ter yet and that he was exempt, but the cop said he'd have
to tell that to the judge. They were quite a bunch being
marched down Broadway; smart guys in the crowd of
clerks and counterjumpers along the sidewalks yelled
"Slackers" at them and the girls hissed and booed.

 

In the Custom House they were herded into some of
the basement rooms. It was a hot August day. Joe elbowed
his way through the sweating, grumbling crowd towards
the window. Most of them were foreigners, there were
longshoremen and waterfront loafers; a lot of the group
were talking big but Joe remembered the navy and kept
his mouth shut and listened. He was in there all day. The
cops wouldn't let anybody telephone and there was only
one toilet and they had to go to that under guard. Joe
felt pretty weak on his pins, he hadn't gotten over the
effect of that dengue yet. He was about ready to pass out

 

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when he saw a face he knew. Damned if it wasn't Glen
Hardwick.

 

Glen had been picked up by a Britisher' and taken into
Halifax. He'd signed as second on the Chemang, taking
out mules to Bordeaux and a general cargo to Genoa, going
to be armed with a threeinch gun and navy gunners, Joe
ought to come along. "Jesus, do you think I could get
aboard her?" Joe asked. "Sure, they're crazy for naviga-
tion officers; they'd take you on even without a ticket."
Bordeaux sounded pretty good, remember the girlfriends
there? They doped out that when Glen got out he'd phone
Mrs. Olsen to bring over Joe's license that was in a cigar-
box at the head of his bed. When they finally were taken
up to the desk to be questioned the guy let Glen go right
away and said Joe could go as soon as they got his license
over but that they must register at once even if they were
exempt from the draft. "After all, you boys ought to re-
member that there's a war on," said the inspector at the
desk. "Well, we sure ought to know," said Joe.

 

Mrs. Olsen came over all in a flurry with Joe's papers
and Joe hustled over to the office in East New York and
they took him on as bosun. The skipper was Ben Tarbell
who'd been first mate on the Higginbotham. Joe wanted
to go down to Norfolk to see Del, but hell this was no
time to stay ashore. What he did was to send her fifty
bucks he borrowed from Glen. He didn't have time to
worry about it anyway because they sailed the next day
with sealed orders as to where to meet the convoy.

 

It wasn't so bad steaming in convoy. The navy officers
on the destroyers and the Salem that was in command
gave the orders, but the merchant captains kidded back
and forth with wigwag signals. It was some sight to see
the Atlantic Ocean full of long strings of freighters all
blotched up with gray and white watermarkings like bar-
berpoles by the camouflage artists. There were old tubs
in that convoy that a man wouldn't have trusted himself

 

-159-

 

in to cross to Staten Island in peacetime and one of the
new wooden Shipping Board boats leaked so bad, jerry-
built out of new wood -- somebody musta been making
money -- that she had to be abandoned and scuttled half
way across.

 

Joe and Glen smoked their pipes together in Glen's
cabin and chewed the fat a good deal. They decided that
everything ashore was the bunk and the only place for
them was blue water. Joe got damn fed up with bawling
out the bunch of scum he had for a crew. Once they got
in the zone, all the ships started steering a zigzag course
and everybody began to get white around the gills. Joe
never cussed so much in his life. There was a false alarm
of submarines every few hours and seaplanes dropping
depth bombs and excited gun crews firing at old barrels,
bunches of seaweed, dazzle in the water. Steaming into
the Gironde at night with the searchlights crisscrossing
and the blinker signals and the patrolboats scooting.
around, they sure felt good.

 

It was a relief to get the dirty trampling mules off the
ship and their stench out of everything, and to get rid of
the yelling and cussing of the hostlers. Glen and Joe only
got ashore for a few hours and couldn't find Marceline
and Loulou. The Garonne was beginning to look like the
Delaware with all the new Americanbuilt steel and con-
crete piers. Going out they had to anchor several hours to
repair a leaky steampipe and saw a patrol boat go by tow-
ing five ships' boats crowded to the gunnels, so they
guessed the fritzes must be pretty busy outside.

 

No convoy this time. They slipped out in the middle of
a foggy night. When one of the deckhands came up out
of the focastle with a cigarette in the corner of his mouth,
the mate knocked him flat and said he'd have him arrested
when he got back home for a damn German spy. They
coasted Spain as far as Finisterre. The skipper had just
changed the course to southerly when they saw a sure

 

-160-

 

enough periscope astern. The skipper grabbed the wheel
himself and yelled down the tube to the engine room to
give him everything they'd got, that wasn't much to be
sure, and the gun crew started blazing away.

 

The periscope disappeared but a couple of hours later
they overhauled a tubby kind of ketch, must be a Spanish
fishingboat, that was heading for the shore, for Vigo prob-
ably, scudding along wing and wing in the half a gale
that was blowing up west northwest. They'd no sooner
crossed the wake of the ketch than there was a thud that
shook the ship and a column of water shot up that
drenched them all on the bridge. Everything worked like
clockwork. No. I was the only compartment flooded. As
luck would have it, the crew was all out of the focastle
standing on deck amidships in their life preservers. The
Chemang settled a little by the bow, that was all. The
gunners were certain it was a mine dropped by the old
black ketch that had crossed their bow and let them have
a couple of shots, but the ship was rolling so in the heavy
sea that the shots went wild. Anyway, the ketch went out
of sight behind the island that blocks the mouth of the
roadstead of Vigo. The Chemang crawled on in under one
bell.

 

By the time they got into the channel opposite the
town of Vigo, the water was gaining on the pumps in No.
2, and there was four feet of water in the engineroom.
They had to beach her on the banks of hard sand to the
right of the town.

 

So they were ashore again with their bundles standing
around outside the consul's office, waiting for him to find
them somewhere to flop. The consul was a Spaniard and
didn't speak as much English as he might have but he
treated them fine. The Liberal Party of Vigo invited offi-
cers and crew to go to a bullfight there was going to be
that afternoon. More monkeydoodle business, the skipper
got a cable to turn the ship over to the agents of Gomez

 

-161-

 

and Ca. of Bilboa who had bought her as she stood and
were changing her registry.

 

When they got to the bullring half the crowd cheered
them and yelled, "Viva los Aliados," and the rest hissed
and shouted, "Viva Maura." They thought there was
going to be a fight right there but the bull came out and
everybody quieted down. The bullfight was darn bloody,
but the boys with the spangles were some steppers and
the people sitting around made them drink wine all the
time out of little black skins and passed around bottles of
cognac so that the crew got pretty cockeyed and Joe spent
most of his time keeping the boys in order. Then the
officers were tendered a banquet by the local pro-allied
society and a lot of bozos with mustachlos made fiery
speeches that nobody could understand and the Ameri-
cans cheered and sang, The Yanks are Coming and Keep
the Home Fires Burning and We're Bound for the Ham-
burg Show. The chief, an old fellow named McGillicudy,
did some card tricks, and the evening was a big success.
Joe and Glen bunked together at the hotel. The maid
there was awful pretty but wouldn't let 'em get away with
any foolishness. "Well, Joe," said Glen, before they went
to sleep, "it's a great war." "Well, I guess that's strike
three," said Joe. "That was no strike, that was a ball,"
said Glen.

 

They waited two weeks in Vigo while the officials quar-
reled about their status and they got pretty fed up with
it. Then they were all loaded on a train to take them to
Gibraltar where they were to be taken on board a Ship-
ping Board boat. They were three days on the train with
nothing to sleep on but hard benches. Spain was just one
set of great dusty mountains after another. They changed
cars in Madrid and in Seville and a guy turned up each
time from the consulate to take care of them. When they
got to Seville they found it was Algeciras they were going
to instead of Gib.

 

-162-

 

When they got to Algeciras they found that nobody
had ever heard of them. They camped out in the con-
sulate while the consul telegraphed all over the place and
finally chartered two trucks and sent them over to Cadiz.
Spain was some country, all rocks and wine and busty
black eyed women and olive trees. When they got to
Cadiz the consular agent was there to meet them with a.
telegram in his hand. The tanker Gold Shell was waiting
in Algeciras to take them on board there, so it was back
again cooped up on the trucks, bouncing on the hard
benches with their faces powdered with dust and their
mouths full of it and not a cent in anybody's jeans left
to buy a drink with. When they got on board the Gold
Shell around three in the morning a bright moonlight
night some of the boys were so tired they fell down and
went to sleep right on the deck with their heads on their
seabags.

 

The Gold Shell landed 'em in Perth Amboy in late
October. Joe drew his back pay and took the first train
connections he could get for Norfolk. He was fed up
with bawling out that bunch of pimps in the focastle.
Damn it, he was through with the sea; he was going to
settle down and have a little married life.

 

He felt swell coming over on the ferry from Cape
Charles, passing the Ripraps, out of the bay full of white-
caps into the smooth brown water of Hampton Roads
crowded with shipping; four great battlewaggons at an-
chor, subchasers speeding in and out and a white revenue
cutter, camouflaged freighters and colliers, a bunch of red
munitions barges anchored off by themselves. It was a
sparkling fall day. He felt good; he had three hundred
and fifty dollars in his pocket. He had a good suit on and
he felt sunburned and he'd just had a good meal. God

 

-163-

 

damn it, he wanted a little love now. Maybe they'd have
a kid.

 

Things sure were different in Norfolk. Everybody in
new uniforms, twominute speakers at the corner of Main
and Granby, liberty loan posters, bands playing. He
hardly knew the town walking up from the ferry. He'd
written Del that he was coming but he was worried about
seeing her, hadn't had any letters lately. He still had a
latch key to the apartment but he knocked before open-
ing the door. There was nobody there.

 

He'd always pictured her running to the door to meet
him. Still it was only four o'clock, she must be at her
work. Must have another girl with her, don't keep the
house so tidy. . . . Underwear hung to dry on a line, bits
of clothing on all the chairs, a box of candy with half-
eaten pieces in it on the table. . . . Jez, they must have
had a party last night. There was a half a cake, glasses
that had had liquor in them, a plate full of cigarette butts
and even a cigar butt. Oh, well, she'd probably had some
friends in. He went to the bathroom and shaved and
cleaned up a little. Sure Del was always popular, she
probably had a lot of friends in all the time, playing
cards and that. In the bathroom there was a pot of rouge
and lipsticks, and facepowder spilt over the faucets. It
made Joe feel funny shaving among all these women's
things.

 

He heard her voice laughing on the stairs and a man's
voice; the key clicked in the lock. Joe closed his suitcase
and stood up. Del had bobbed her hair. She flew up to
him and threw her arms around his neck. "Why, I declare
it's my hubby." Joe could taste rouge on her lips. "My,
you look thin, Joe. Poor Boy, you musta been awful
sick. . . . If I'd had any money at all I'd have jumped
on a boat and come on down. . . . This is Wilmer Tay-
loe . . . I mean Lieutenant Tayloe, he just got his com-
mission yesterday."

 

-164-

 

Joe hesitated a moment and then held out his hand.
The other fellow had red hair clipped close and a freckled
face. He was all dressed up in a whipcord uniform, shiny
Sam Browne belt and puttees. He had a silver bar on each
shoulder and spurs on his feet.

 

"He's just going overseas tomorrow. He was coming
by to take me out to dinner. Oh, Joe, I've got so much to
tell you, honey."

 

Joe and Lieutenant Tayloe stood around eyeing each
other uncomfortably while Del bustled around tidying
the place up, talking to Joe all the time. "It's terrible I
never get any chance to do anything and neither does
Hilda . . . You remember Hilda Thompson, Joe? Well,
she's been livin' with me to help make up the rent but
we're both of us doin' war work down at the Red Cross
canteen every evening and then I sell Liberty bonds. . . .
Don't you hate the huns, Joe. Oh, I just hate them, and
so does Hilda. . . . She's thinking of changing her name
on account of its being German. I promised to call her
Gloria but I always forget. . . . You know, Wilmer, Joe's
been torpedoed twice."

 

"Well, I suppose the first six times is the hardest,"
stammered Lieutenant Tayloe. Joe grunted.

 

Del disappeared into the bathroom and closed the
door. "You boys make yourselves comfortable. I'll be
dressed in a minute."

 

Neither of them said anything. Lieutenant Tayloe's
shoes creaked as he shifted his weight from one foot to
the other. At last he pulled a flask out of his hip pocket.
"Have a drink," he said. "Ma outfit's goin' overseas any
time after midnight.""I guess I'd better," said Joe,
without smiling. When Della came out of the bathroom
all dressed up she certainly looked snappy. She was much
prettier than last time Joe had seen her. He was all the
time wondering if he ought to go up and hit that damn

 

-165-

 

shavetail until at last he left, Del telling him to come by
and get her at the Red Cross canteen.

 

When he'd left she came and sat on Joe's knee and
asked him about everything and whether he'd got his sec-
ond mate's ticket yet and whether he'd missed her and
how she wished he could make a little more money be-
cause she hated to have another girl in with her this
way but it was the only way she could pay the rent. She
drank a little of the whiskey that the lieutenant had for-
gotten on the table and ruffled his hair and loved him up.
Joe asked her if Hilda was coming in soon and she said
no she had a date and she was going to meet her at the
canteen. But Joe went and bolted the door anyway and
for the first time they were really happy hugged in each
other's arms on the bed.

 

Joe didn't know what to do with himself around Nor-
folk. Del was at the office all day and at the Red Cross
canteen all the evening. He'd usually be in bed when she
came home. Usually there'd be some damn army officer
or other bringing her home, and he'd hear them talking
and kidding outside the door and lie there in bed imag-
ining that the guy was kissing her or loving her up. He'd
be about ready to hit her when she'd come in and bawl
her out and they'd quarrel and yell at each other and
she'd always end by saying that he didn't understand
her and she thought he was unpatriotic to be interfering
with her war work and sometimes they'd make up and
he'd feel crazy in love with her and she'd make herself
little and cute in his arms and give him little tiny kisses
that made him almost cry they made him feel so happy.
She was getting better looking every day and she sure
was a snappy dresser.

 

Sunday mornings she'd be too tired to get up and he'd
cook breakfast for her and they'd sit up in bed together
and eat breakfast like he had with Marceline that time in
Bordeaux. Then she'd tell him she was crazy about him

 

-166-

 

and what a smart guy he was and how she wanted him
to get a good shore job and make a lot of money so that
she wouldn't have to work any more and how Captain
Barnes whose folks were worth a million had wanted her
to get a divorce from Joe and marry him and Mr. Can-
field in the Dupont office who made a cool 50,000 a year
had wanted to give her a pearl necklace but she hadn't
taken it because she didn't think it was right. Talk like
that made Joe feel pretty rotten. Sometimes he'd start to
talk about what they'd do if they had some kids, but Del
ud always make a funny face and tell him not to talk like
that.

 

Joe went around looking for work and almost landed
the job of foreman in one of the repairshops over at the
shipyard in Newport News, but at the last minute another
berry horned in ahead of him and got it. A couple of
times he went out on parties with Del and Hilda Thomp-
son, and some army officers and a midshipman off a de-
stroyer, but they all high-hatted him and Del let any
boy who wanted to kiss her and would disappear into a
phone booth with anything she could pick up so long as
it had a uniform on and he had a hell of a time. He found
a poolroom where some boys he knew hung out and
where he could get corn liquor and started tanking up a
good deal. It made Del awful sore to come home and
find him drunk but he didn't care any more.

 

Then one night when Joe had been to a fight with some
guys and had gotten an edge on afterward, he met Del and
another damn shavetail walking on the street. It was
pretty dark and there weren't many people around and
they stopped in every dark doorway and the shavetail was
kissing and hugging her. When he got them under a street
light so's he made sure it was Del he went up to them
and asked them what the hell they meant. Del must have
had some drinks because she started tittering in a shrill
little voice that drove him crazy and he hauled off and let

 

-167-

 

the shavetail have a perfect left right on the button. The
spurs tinkled and the shavetail went to sleep right flat on
the little grass patch under the streetlight. It began to hit
Joe kinder funny but Del was sore as the devil and said
she'd have him arrested for insult to the uniform and
assault and battery and that he was nothing but a yellow
snivelling slacker and what was he doing hanging around
home when all the boys were at the front fighting the
huns. Joe sobered up and pulled the guy up to his feet
and told them both they could go straight to hell. He
walked off before the shavetail, who musta been pretty
tight, had time to do anything but splutter, and went
straight home and packed his suitcase and pulled out.

 

Will Stirp was in town so Joe went over to his house
and got him up out of bed and said he'd busted up house-
keeping and would Will lend him twentyfive bucks to
go up to New York with. Will said it was a damn good
thing and that love 'em and leave 'em was the only
thing for guys like them. They talked till about day about
one thing and another. Then Joe went to sleep and slept
till late afternoon. He got up in time to catch the Wash-
ington boat. He didn't take a room but roamed around
on deck all night. He got to cracking with one of the offi-
cers and went and sat in the pilot house that smelt com-
fortably of old last year's pipes. Listening to the sludge
of water from the bow and watching the wabbly white
finger of the searchlight pick up buoys and lighthouses he
began to pull himself together. He said he was going up
to New York to see his sister and try for a second mate's
ticket with the Shipping Board. His stories about being
torpedoed went big because none of them on the Dominion
City had even been across the pond.

 

It felt like old times standing in the bow in the sharp
November morning, sniffing the old brackish smell of the
Potomac water, passing redbrick Alexandria and Anacostia
and the Arsenal and the Navy Yard, seeing the MonuU00AD

 

-168-

 

ment stick up pink through the mist in the early light.
The wharves looked about the same, the yachts and power
boats anchored opposite, the Baltimore boat just coming
in, the ramshackle excursion steamers, the oystershells
underfoot on the wharf, the nigger roustabouts standing
around. Then he was hopping the Georgetown car and
too soon he was walking up the redbrick street. While he
rang the bell he was wondering why he'd come home.

 

Mommer looked older but she was in pretty good
shape and all taken up with her boarders and how the
girls were both engaged. They said that Janey was doing
so well in her work, but that living in New York had
changed her. Joe said he was going down to New York
to try to get his second mate's ticket and that he sure
would look her up. When they asked him about the war
and the submarines and all that he didn't know what to
tell 'em so he kinder kidded them along. He was glad
when it was time to go over to Washington to get his
train, though they were darn nice to him and seemed to
think that he was making a big success getting to be a
second mate so young. He didn't tell 'em about being
married.

 

Going down on the train to New York Joe sat in the
smoker looking out of the window at farms and stations
and billboards and the grimy streets of factory towns
through Jersey under a driving rain and everything he
saw seemed to remind him of Del and places outside of
Norfolk and good times he'd had when he was a kid.
When he got to the Penn Station in New York first thing
he did was check his bag, then he walked down Eighth
Avenue all shiny with rain to the corner of the street
where Janey lived. He guessed he'd better phone her
first and called from a cigarstore. Her voice sounded

 

-169-

 

kinder stiff; she said she was busy and couldn't see him
till tomorrow. He came out of the phonebooth and
walked down the street not knowing where to go. He had
a package under his arm with a couple of Spanish shawls
he'd bought for her and Del on the last trip. He felt so
blue he wanted to drop the shawls and everything down
a drain, but he thought better of it and went back to the
checkroom at the station and left them in his suitcase.
Then he went and smoked a pipe for a while in the wait-
ingroom.

 

God damn it to hell he needed a drink. He went over
to Broadway and walked down to Union Square, stopping
in every place he could find that looked like a saloon but
they wouldn't serve him anywhere. Union Square was
all lit up and full of navy recruiting posters. A big wooden
model of a battleship filled up one side of it. There was
a crowd standing around and a young girl dressed like a
sailor was making a speech about patriotism. The cold rain
came on again and the crowd scattered. Joe went down a
street and into a ginmill called The Old Farm. He must
have looked like somebody the barkeep knew because he
said hello and poured him out a shot of rye.

 

Joe got to talking with two guys from Chicago who
were drinking whiskey with beer chasers. They said this
wartalk was a lot of bushwa propaganda and that if work-
ing stiffs stopped working in munition factories making
shells to knock other working stiffs' blocks off with, there
wouldn't be no goddam war. Joe said they were goddam
right but look at the big money you made. The guys from
Chicago said they'd been working in a munitions factory
themselves but they were through, goddam it, and that if
the working stiffs made a few easy dollars it meant that
the war profiteers were making easy millions. They said
the Russians had the right idea, make a revolution and
shoot the goddam profiteers and that ud happen in this

 

-170-

 

country if they didn't watch out and a damn good thing
too. The barkeep leaned across the bar and said they'd
oughtn't to talk thataway, folks ud take 'em for German
spies.

 

"Why, you're a German yourself, George," said one
of the guys.

 

The barkeep flushed and said, "Names don't mean
nothin' . . . I'm a patriotic American. I vas talking yust
for your good. If you vant to land in de hoosgow it's not
my funeral." But he set them up to drinks on the house
and it seemed to Joe that he agreed with 'em.

 

They drank another round and Joe said it was all true
but what the hell could you do about it? The guys said
what you could do about it was join the I.W.W. and
carry a red card and be a classconscious worker. Joe said
that stuff was only for foreigners, but if somebody started
a white man's party to fight the profiteers and the goddam
bankers he'd be with 'em. The guys from Chicago began
to get sore and said the wobblies were just as much white
men as he was and that political parties were the bunk
and that all southerners were scabs. Joe backed off and
was looking at the guys to see which one of 'em he'd hit
first when the barkeep stepped around from the end of
the bar and came between them. He was fat but he had
shoulders and a meanlooking pair of blue eyes.

 

"Look here, you bums," he said, "you listen to me,
sure I'm a Cherman but am I for de Kaiser? No, he's a
schweinhunt, I am sokialist unt I live toity years in Union
City unt own my home unt pay taxes unt I'm a good
American, but dot don't mean dot I vill foight for
Banker Morgan, not vonce. I know American vorkman
in de sokialist party toity years unt all dey do is foight
among each oder. Every sonofabitch denk him better den
de next sonofabitch. You loafers geroutahere . . . closin'
time . . . I'm goin' to close up an' go home."

 

-171-

 

One of the guys from Chicagothe
lee of the recruiting tent. Joe felt lousy. He went down
into the subway and waited for the Brooklyn train.

 

At Mrs. Olsen's everything was dark. Joe rang and in
a little while she came down in a padded pink dressing
gown and opened the door. She was sore at being waked
up and bawled him out for drinking, but she gave him a
flop and next morning lent him fifteen bucks to tide him
over till he got work on a Shipping Board boat. Mrs.
Olsen looked tired and a lot older, she said she had pains
in her back and couldn't get through her work any more.

 

Next morning Joe put up some shelves in the pantry
for her and carried out a lot of litter before he went over
to the Shipping Board recruiting office to put his name
down for the officer's school. The little kike behind the
desk had never been to sea and asked him a lot of dam-
fool questions and told him to come around next week
to find out what action would be taken on his application.
Joe got sore and told him to f -- k himself and walked out.

 

He took Janey out to supper and to a show, but she
talked just like everybody else did and bawled him out
for cussing and he didn't have a very good time. She liked
the shawls though and he was glad she was making out

 

-172-

 

so well in New York. He never did get around to talking
to her about Della.

 

After taking her home he didn't know what the hell
to do with himself. He wanted a drink, but taking Janey
out and everything had cleaned up the fifteen bucks he'd
borrowed from Mrs. Olsen. He walked west to a saloon
he knew on Tenth Avenue, but the place was closed:
wartime prohibition. Then he walked back towards Union
Square, maybe that feller Tex he'd seen when he was
walking across the square with Janey would still be sit-
ting there and he could chew the rag a while with him.
He sat down on a bench opposite the cardboard battle-
ship and began sizing it up: not such a bad job. Hell, I
wisht I'd never seen the inside of a real battleship, he was
thinking, when Tex slipped into the seat beside him and
put his hand on his knee. The minute he touched him Joe
knew he'd never liked the guy, eyes too close together:
"What you lookin' so blue about, Joe? Tell me you're
gettin' your ticket."

 

Joe nodded and leaned over and spat carefully between
his feet.

 

"What do you think of that for a model battleship,
pretty nifty, ain't it? Jez, us guys is lucky not to be over-
seas.fightin' the fritzes in the trenches."

 

"Oh, I'd just as soon," growled Joe. "I wouldn't give
a damn."

 

"Say, Joe, I got a job lined up. Guess I oughtn't to
blab around about it, but you're regular. I know you
won't say nothin'. I been on the bum for two weeks,
somethin' wrong with my stomach. Man, I'm sick, I'm
tellin' you. I can't do no heavy work no more. A punk I
know works in a whitefront been slippin' me my grub,
see. Well, I was sittin' on a bench right here on the square,
a feller kinda well dressed sits down an' starts to chum up.
Looked to me like one of these here sissies lookin' for
rough trade, see, thought I'd roll him for some jack,

 

-173-


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