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HUNIS HAND SEEN IN PLOTS 3 страница

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-371-

 

little and made the hair streak on her forehead. Then there
was a patch of chilly sunlight. They sat down on the root
of a big beechtree and looked up at the long redbrown
pointed buds that glinted against the sky. Their noses were
full of the smell of the little cyclamens. Dick felt steamy
from the climb and the wet underbrush and the wine he'd
drunk and the smell of the little cyclamens. He turned
and looked in her eyes. "Well," he said. She grabbed him
by the ears and kissed him again and again. "Say you love
me," she kept saying in a strangling voice. He could smell
her sandy hair and warm body and the sweetness of the
little cyclamens. He pulled her to her feet and held her
against his body and kissed her on the mouth; their
tongues touched. He dragged her through a break in the
hedge into the next field. The ground was too wet. Across
the field was a little hut made of brush. They staggered
as they walked with their arms around each other's waists,
their thighs grinding stiffly together. The hut was full of
dry cornfodder. They lay squirming together among the
dry crackling cornfodder. She lay on her back with her
eyes closed, her lips tightly pursed. He had one hand
under her head and with the other was trying to undo her
clothes; something tore under his hand. She began push-
ing him away. "No, no, Dick, not here . . . we've got to
go back.""Darling girl . . . I must . . . you're so won-
derful." She broke away from him and ran out of the hut.
He sat up on the floor, hating her, brushing the dry shreds
off his uniform.

 

Outside it was raining hard. "Let's go back; Dick, I'm
crazy about you but you oughtn't to have torn my panties
. . . oh, you're so exasperating." She began to laugh.

 

"You oughtn't to start anything you don't want to fin-
ish," said Dick. "Oh, I think women are terrible . . . ex-
cept prostitutes . . . there you know what you're getting."

 

She went up to him and kissed him. "Poor little boy . . .
he feels so cross. I'm so sorry . . . I'll sleep with you,

 

-372-

 

Dick . . . I promise I will. You see it's difficult . . . In
Rome we'll get a room somewhere."



 

"Are you a virgin?" His voice was constrained and stiff.

 

She nodded. "Funny, isn't it? . . . in wartime . . .
You boys have risked your lives. I guess I can risk that."

 

"I guess I can. borrow Ed's apartment. I think he's going to
Naples tomorrow.""But you really love me, Dick?""Of
course, . . . it's only this makes me feel terrible . . .
making love's so magnificent.""I suppose it is . . . Oh, I
wish I was dead."

 

They plodded along down the hill through the down-
pour that gradually slackened to a cold drizzle. Dick felt
tired out and sodden; the rain was beginning to get down
his neck. Anne Elizabeth had dropped her bunch of
cyclamens.

 

When they got back the restaurant keeper said that the
others had gone to the Villa d'Este, but would come back
soon. They drank hot rum and water and tried to dry
themselves over a brazier of charcoal in the kitchen.
"We're a fine pair of drowned rats," tittered Anne Eliza-
beth. Dick growled, "A pair of precious idiots."



 

By the time the others came back they were warm but
still wet. It was a relief to argue with Barrow who was
saying that if the ruling classes of today knew as much
about the art of life as those old Italians he wouldn't be
a socialist. "I didn't think you were a socialist any more,"
broke in Anne Elizabeth. "I'm sure I'm not; look how the
German socialists have acted in the war and now they
try to crybaby and say they wanted peace all along."

 

"It's possible . . . to rec . . . to reconcile being a so-
cialist with faith in our President and . . . er . . . in
democracy," stammered Barrow, going close to her. "We'll
have to have a long talk about that, Anne Elizabeth."

 

Dick noticed how his eyes goggled when he looked at
her. I guess he's out after her, he said to himself. When
they got into the car he didn't care whether Barrow sat

 

-373-

 

next to her or not. They drove all the way back to Rome in the rain.

 

The next three days were very busy with President Wil-
son's visit to Rome. Dick got cards to various official
functions, heard a great many speeches in Italian and
French and English, saw a great many silk hats and decora-
tions and saluted a great deal and got a pain in the back
from holding a stiff military posture. In the Roman Forum
he was near enough the President's party to hear the short
man with black mustaches who was pointing out the ruins
of the temple of Romulus, say in stiff English, "Every-
thing here bears relation to the events of the great war."
There was a hush as the people in the outer groups of
dignitaries strained their ears to hear what Mr. Wilson
would say.

 

"That is true," replied Mr. Wilson in a measured voice.
"And we must not look upon these ruins as mere stones,
but as immortal symbols." A little appreciative murmur
came from the group. The Italian spoke a little louder next
time. All the silk hats cocked at an angle as the dignitaries
waited for the Italian's reply. "In America," he said with
a little bow, "you have something greater, and it is hidden
in your hearts."

 

Mr. Wilson's silk hat stood up very straight against all
the timeeaten columns and the endless courses of dressed
stone. "Yes," replied Mr. Wilson, "it is the greatest pride
of Americans to have demonstrated the immense love of
humanity which they bear in their hearts." As the Presi-
dent spoke Dick caught sight of his face past the cocks-
feathers of some Italian generals. It was a grey stony cold
face grooved like the columns, very long under the silk
hat. The little smile around the mouth looked as if it had
been painted on afterwards. The group moved on and
passed out of earshot.

 

That evening at five, when he met Anne Elizabeth
at Ed's apartment he had to tell her all about the official

 

-374-

 

receptions. He said all he'd seen had been a gold replica
of the wolf suckling Romulus and Remus up at the Capitol
when the President had been made a Roman citizen, and
his face in the forum. "A terrifying face, I swear it's a
reptile's face, not warmblooded, or else the face on one of
those old Roman politicians on a tomb on the Via Appia.
. . . Do you know what we are, Anne Elizabeth? we're
the Romans of the Twentieth Century"; he burst out
laughing, "and I always wanted to be a Greek."

 

Anne Elizabeth who was a great admirer of Wilson was
annoyed at first by what he was saying. He was nervous
and excited and went on talking and talking. For this once
she broke her pledge and drank some hot rum with him,
as the room was terribly chilly. In the light of the street
lamps on the little corner of the Spanish Stairs they could
see from Ed's window, they could see the jumbled dark-
ness of crowds continually passing and repassing. "By God,
Anne Elizabeth, it's terrible to think about it. . . . You
don't know the way people feel, people praying for him in
peasants' huts . . . oh, we don't know anything and we're
grinding them all underfoot. . . . It's the sack of Corinth . . .

 

they think he's going to give them peace, give them
back the cosy beforethewar world. It makes you sick to
hear all the speeches. . . . Oh, Christ, let's stay human
as long as we can . . . not get reptile's eyes and stone
faces and ink in our veins instead of blood. . . . I'm
damned if I'll be a Roman."

 

"I know what you mean," said Anne Elizabeth, ruffling
up his hair. "You're an artist, Dick, and I love you very
much . . . you're my poet, Dick."

 

"To hell with them all," said Dick, throwing his arms
around her.

 

In spite of the hot rum, Dick was very nervous when
he took his clothes off. She was trembling when he came
to her on the bed. It was all right, but she bled a good deal
and they didn't have a very good time. At supper after-

 

-375-

 

wards they couldn't seem to find anything to say to each
other. She went home early and Dick wandered deso-
lately around the streets among the excited crowds and
the flags and the illuminations and the uniforms. The Corso
was packed; Dick went into a café and was greeted by a
group of Italian officers who insisted on setting him up to
drinks. One young fellow with an olive skin and very long
black eyelashes, whose name was Carlo Hugobuoni, became
his special friend and entertainer and took him around to
all the tables introducing him as Il capitan Salvaggio
Ricardo. It was all asti spumante and Evviva gli ameri-
cani and Italia irridenta and Meester Veelson who had
saved civiltá and evviva la pace, and they ended by taking
Dick to see the belle ragazze. To his great relief all the
girls were busy at the house where they took him and Dick
was able to slip away and go back to the hotel to bed.

 

The next morning when he came down to drink his
coffee there was Carlo waiting for him in the hotel lobby.
Carlo was very sleepy; he hadn't been able to find a
raggaza until five in the morning but now he was at the
orders of his caro amico to show him round the town. All
day Dick had him with him, in spite of his efforts to get rid
of him without hurting his feelings. He waited while Dick
went to get his orders from the military mission, had lunch
with him and Ed Schuyler; it was all Ed could do to get
him away so that Dick could go to Ed's apartment to meet
Anne Elizabeth. Ed was very funny about it, said that, as
he'd lost Magda, he wouldn't be able to do anything worth-
while there himself and was glad to have Dick using the
room for venereal purposes. Then he linked his arm firmly
in Carlo's and carried him off to a café.

 

Dick and Anne Elizabeth were very tender and quiet.
It was their last afternoon together. Dick was leaving for
Paris that night, and Anne Elizabeth expected to be sent
to Constantinople any day. Dick promised he'd get himself
out to see her there. That night Anne Elizabeth went with

 

-376-

 

him to the station. There they found Carlo⊥ waiting with
a huge salami wrapped in silver paper and a bottle of
chianti. The fellow that was going with him had brought
the despatch cases, so there was nothing for Dick to do but
get on the train. He couldn't seem to think of anything
to say and it was a relief when the train pulled out.

 

As soon as he reported to Colonel Edgecombe he was
sent off again to Warsaw. Through Germany all the trains
were late and people looked deathly pale and everybody
talked of a bolshevik uprising. Dick was walking up and
down the snowy platform, stamping to keep his feet warm,
during an endless wait at a station in East Prussia, when he
ran into Fred Summers. Fred was a guard on a Red Cross
supply car and invited Dick to ride with him a couple of
stations. Dick fetched his despatches and went along. Fred
had the caboose fitted with an oilstove and a cot and a
great store of wine, cognac and Baker's chocolate. They
rode all day together talking as the train joggled slowly
across an endless grey frozen plain. "It's not a peace,"
said Fred Summers, "it's a cockeyed massacre! Christ, you
ought to see the pogroms." Dick laughed and laughed.
" Jeerusalem, it makes me feel good to hear you, you old
bum, Fred. . . . It's like the old days of the grenadine
guards."

 

" Jez, that was a circus," said Fred. "Out here it's too
damn hellish to be funny. everybody starved and
crazy."

 

"You were damn sensible not to get to be an officer . . .
you have to be so damn careful about everything you say
and do you can't have any kind of good time."

 

" Jez, you're the last man I'd ever have expected to
turn out a captain."

 

"C'est la guerre," said Dick.

 

They drank and talked and talked and drank so much
that Dick could barely get back to his compartment with
his despatch case. When they got into the Warsaw station

 

-377-

 

Fred came running up with a package of chocolate bars.
"Here's a little relief, Dick," he said. "It's a fine for
coucher avec. Ain't a woman in Warsaw won't coucher
for all night for a chocolate bar."

 

When he got back to Paris, Dick and Colonel Edge-
combe went to tea at Miss Stoddard's. Her drawingroom
was tall and stately with Italian panels on the walls and
yellow and orange damask hangings; through the heavy
lace in the windows you could see the purple branches of
the trees along the quai, the jade Seine and the tall stone
lace of the apse of Nôtre Dôme. "What a magnificent set-
ting you have arranged for yourself, Miss Stoddard,"
said Colonel Edgecombe, "and if you excuse the compli-
ment, the gem is worthy of its setting.""They were fine
old rooms," said Miss Stoddard, "all you need do with
these old houses is to give them a chance." She turned
to Dick: "Young man, what did you do to Robbins that
night we all had supper together? He talks about nothing
else but what a bright fellow you are." Dick blushed. "We
had a glass of uncommonly good scotch together after-
wards . . . It must have been that.""Well, I'll have to
keep my eye on you . . . I don't trust these bright young
men."

 

They drank tea sitting around an ancient wroughtiron
stove. A fat major and a lanternjawed Standard Oil man
named Rasmussen came in, and later a Miss Hutchins who
looked very slender and welltailored in her Red Cross
uniform. They talked about Chartres and about the devas-
tated regions and the popular enthusiasm that was greet-
ing Mr. Wilson everywhere and why Clemenceau always
wore grey lisle gloves. Miss Hutchins said it was because
he really had claws instead of hands and that was why
they called him the tiger.

 

Miss Stoddard got Dick in the window: "I hear you've
just come from Rome, Captain Savage . . . I've been in
Rome a great deal since the war began . . . Tell me what

 

-378-

 

you saw . . . tell me about everything . . . I like it bet-
ter than anywhere.""Do you like Tivoli?""Yes, I sup-
pose so; it's rather a tourist place, though, don't you
think?" Dick told her the story of the fight at the Apollo
without mentioning Ed's name, and she was very much
amused. They got along very well in the window watch-
ing the streetlamps come into greenish bloom along the
river as they talked; Dick was wondering how old she
was, la femme de trente ans.

 

As he and the Colonel were leaving they met Mr.
Moorehouse in the hall. He shook hands warmly with
Dick, said he was so glad to see him again and asked him
to come by late some afternoon, his quarters were at the
Crillon and there were often some interesting people
there. Dick was curiously elated by the tea, although he'd
expected to be bored. He began to think it was about
time he got out of the service, and, on the way back to
the office, where they had some work to clean up, asked
the Colonel what steps he ought to take to get out of the
service in France. He thought he might get a position of
some kind in Paris. "Well, if you're looking for that, this
fellow Moorehouse is the man for you . . . I believe he's
to be in charge of some sort of publicity work for Standard
Oil . . . Can you see yourself as a public relations coun-
sel, Savage?" The Colonel laughed. "Well, I've got my
mother to think of," said Dick seriously.

 

At the office Dick found two letters. One was from Mr.
Wigglesworth saying that Blake had died of tuberculosis
at Saranac the week before, and the other was from Anne
Elizabeth:

 

DARLING:

 

I'm working at a desk in this miserable dump that's
nothing but a collection of old cats that make me tired.
Darling, I love you so much. We must see each other
soon. I wonder what Dad and Buster would say if I

 

-379-

 

brought a goodlooking husband home from overseas.
They'd be hopping mad at first but I reckon they'd get
over it. Gol darn it, I don't want to work at a desk, I want
to travel around Europe and see the sights. The only
thing I like here is a little bunch of cyclamens on my
desk. Do you remember the cute little pink cyclamens?
I've got a bad cold and I'm lonely as the Dickens. This
Methodist Board of Temperance and Public Morals are
the meanest people I've ever seen. Ever been homesick,
Dick? I don't believe you ever have. Do get yourself sent
right back to Rome. I wish I hadn't been such a prissy
silly little girl up there where the cyclamens bloomed. It's
hard to be a woman, Dick. Do anything you like but don't
forget me. I love you so.

 

ANNE ELIZABETH

 

When Dick got back to his hotel room with the two
letters in the inside pocket of his tunic he threw himself
down on the bed and lay a long time staring at the ceil-
ing. A little before midnight Henry knocked on the door.
He was just in from Brussels. "Why, what's the matter,
Dick, you look all grey . . . are you sick or something?"

 

Dick got to his feet and washed his face at the wash-
basin. "Nothing the matter," he spluttered through the
water. "I'm fed up with this man's army, I guess."

 

"You look like you'd been crying."

 

"Crying over spilt milk," said Dick, and cleared his
throat with a little laugh.

 

"Say, Dick, I'm in trouble, you've got to help me
out. . . . You remember that girl Olga, the one who
threw the teapot at me?" Dick nodded. "Well, she says
she's going to have a baby and that I'm the proud
parent. . . . It's ridiculous."

 

"Well, things like that happen," said Dick sourly.

 

"No, but Christ, man, I don't want to marry the bitch
. . . or support the offspring . . . it's too silly. Even if

 

-380-

 

she is going to have a baby it's probably not mine . . .
She says she'll write to General Pershing. Some of those
poor devils of enlisted men they sent up for twenty years
for rape . . . it's the same story."

 

"They shot a couple. . . . Thank God I wasn't on that
courtmartial."

 

"But think of how it ud upset mother. . . . Look here,
you can parleyvoo better'n I can . . . I want you to come
and talk to her."

 

"All right . . . but I'm dead tired and feel lousy . . ."
Dick put on his tunic. "Say, Henry, how are you off for
jack? The franc's dropping all the time. We might be
able to give her a little money, and we'll be going home
soon, we'll be too far away for blackmail." Henry looked
low. "It's a hell of a thing to have to admit to your kid
brother," he said, "but I played poker the other night and.
got cleaned out . . . I'm S.O.L. all down the line."

 

They went around to the place on Montmartre where
Olga was hatcheck girl. There was nobody there yet,
so she was able to come out and have a drink with them
at the bar. Dick rather liked her. She was a bleached blonde
with a small, hard, impudent face and big brown eyes.
Dick talked her around, saying that his brother couldn't
marry a foreigner on account of la famille and not having
a situation and that he would soon be out of the army and
back at a drafting desk . . . did she know how little a
draftsman in an architect's office was paid en Amerique?
Nothing at all, and with la vie chère and la chute du franc
and le dollar would go next maybe and la revolution
mondiale would be coming on, and the best thing she
could do was to be a good little girl and not have the baby.
She began to cry . . . she so wanted to get married and
have children and as for an avortment . . . mais non,
puis non. She stamped her foot and went back to her hat-
check booth. Dick followed her and consoled her and pat-
ted her cheek and said qu'e voulez vous it was la vie and

 

-381-

 

wouldn't she consider a present of five hundred francs?
She shook her head but when he mentioned a thousand
she began to brighten up and to admit that que voulez
vous it was la vie. Dick left her and Henry cheerfully
making a date to go home together after the boite closed.
"Well, I had a couple of hundred bucks saved up, I guess
it'll have to go . . . try to hold her off until we can get
a good exchange . . . and Henry, the next time you
play poker, for goodness' sake watch yourself."

 

The day before the first plenary session of the Peace
Conference Dick was running into the Crillon to go up
to see Mr. Moorehouse who had promised to get cards
for him and Colonel Edgecombe, when he saw a familiar
face in a French uniform. It was Ripley, just discharged
from the French artillery school at Fontainebleau. He said
he was in there trying to find an old friend of his father's
to see if he could get a job connected with the peace dele-
gations. He was broke and Marianne the Third Republic
wasn't keeping him any more unless he enlisted in the
foreign legion and that was the last thing he wanted to do.
After Dick had phoned Major Edgecombe that Mr.
Moorehouse had been unable to get them cards and that
they must try again through military channels they went
and had a drink together at the Ritz bar.

 

"Big time stuff," said Ripley, looking around at the
decorations on the uniforms and the jewels on the women,
"How are you goin' to keep 'em down on the farm . . .
After they've seen Paree?" Dick grunted. "I wish to hell
I knew what I was going to do after I got out of this
manys army.""Ask me something easy . . . oh, I guess
I can get a job somewhere . . . if the worst comes to the
worst I'll have to go back and finish Columbia . . . I
wish the revolution ud come. I don't want to go back to
the States . . . hell, I dunno what I want to do." This
kind of talk made Dick feel uneasy: "Mefiez vous," he

 

-382-

 

quoted. "Les oreilles enemies vous écoutent.""And that's
not the half of it."

 

"Say, have you heard anything from Steve Warner?"
Dick asked in a low voice. "I got a letter from Boston . . .
I think he got a year's sentence for refusing to register
. . . He's lucky . . . A lot of those poor devils got
twenty years.""Well, that comes of monkeying with the
buzzsaw," said Dick outloud. Ripley looked at him hard
with narrowed eyes for a second; then they went on talk-
ing about other things.

 

That afternoon Dick took Miss Stoddard to tea at Rum-
pelmeyers, and afterwards walked up to the Crillon with
her to call on Mr. Moorehouse. The corridors of the Cril-
lon were lively as an anthill with scuttling khaki uni-
forms, marine yeomen, messenger boys, civilians; a gust
of typewriter clicking came out from every open door. At
every landing groups of civilian experts stood talking in
low voices, exchanging glances with passersby, scribbling
notes on scratchpads. Miss Stoddard grabbed Dick's arm
with her sharp white fingers. "Listen . . . it's like a dy-
namo . . . what do you think it means?""Not peace,"
said Dick.

 

In the vestibule of Mr. Moorehouse's suite, she intro-
duced him to Miss Williams, the tiredlooking sharpfaced
blonde who was his secretary. "She's a treasure," Miss
Stoddard whispered as they went through into the draw-
ingroom, "does more work than anybody in the whole
place."

 

There were a great many people standing around in the
blue light that filtered in through the long windows. A
waiter was making his way among the groups with a tray
of glasses and a valetlooking person was tiptoeing around
with a bottle of port. Some people had teacups and others
had glasses in their hands but nobody was paying much
attention to them. Dick noticed at once from the way Miss
Stoddard walked into the room and the way Mr. Moore-

 

-383-

 

house came forward a little to meet her, that she was used
to running the show in that room. He was introduced to
various people and stood around for a while with his
mouth shut and his ears open. Mr. Moorehouse spoke to
him and remembered his name, but at that moment a mes-
sage came that Colonel House was on the phone and Dick
had no further chance to talk to him. As he was leaving
Miss Williams, the secretary, said: " CaptainSavage, ex-
cuse me a moment . . . You're a friend of Mr. Robbins',
aren't you?" Dick smiled at her and said, "Well, rather
an acquaintance, I'd say. He seems a very interesting fel-
low.""He's a very brilliant man," said Miss Williams,
"but I'm afraid he's losing his grip . . . as I look at it
it's very demoralizing over here . . . for a man. How
can anybody expect to get through their work in a place
where they take three hours for lunch and sit around
drinking in those miserable cafés the rest of the time?"

 

"You don't like Paris, Miss Williams."

 

"I should say not."

 

" Robbins does," said Dick maliciously. "Too well,"
said Miss Williams. "I thought if you were a friend of
his you might help us straighten him out. We're very wor-
ried over him. He hasn't been here for two days at a most
important time, very important contacts to be made. J.W.'s
working himself to the bone. I'm so afraid he'll break
down under the strain . . . And you can't get a reliable
stenographer or an extra typewriter . . . I have to do all
the typing beside my secretarial duties.""Oh, it's a busy
time for all of us," said Dick. "Goodby, Miss Williams."
She gave him a smile as he left.

 

In late February he came back from a long dismal run
to Vienna to find another letter from Anne Elizabeth:

 

Dick DARLING:

 

Thanks for the fine postcards. I'm still at this desk job
and so lonely. Try to come to Rome if you can. Some-

 

-384-

 

thing is happening that is going to make a great change in
our lives. I'm terribly worried about it but I have every
confidence in you. I know you're straight, Dicky boy.
Oh, I've got to see you. If you don't come in a day or
two I may throw up everything and come to Paris.
Your girl,

 


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