Imatges de pÓgina


Seven were killed (two on this island) rand. 'Now don't get anything for me. and many injured.

I've just had breakfast, and could n't Then followed week after week of eat a bite more.' Often I am asked wistgales from the North. No fjelds, no sea, fully, 'Has the Fróken any news of the no sky, all milled up in a whirling fog of Amerika ship — with coffee?' as if, behard-cutting snow. The light in Kvis- ing an American, I must possess special ten was dim and gray, so thick was the knowledge. But not a word have we ice on the window. I shared my ward- heard. robe with my potatoes, yet they were

23 April, 1918. frozen. The water-supply gave out The baby, Elizabeth, died on Easter long ago. There is too little peat to Day. The world is too hard a place now melt much snow. The only water we for little babies. Our boy, Oli, grieves have must be brought some distance, for her; and knowing that many things from a brackish pool near the sea. The are ordered from Thorshavn, he begs salt water makes a sticky glaze on the Amalya to write for another little sister skin without cleaning it. There is prac- just like Elizabeth, to be sent on at tically no soap in the village, no soda or other cleansing stuffs. The fish-oil

30 May, 1918. lamps diffuse a universal oiliness. But The American schooner has come to there is one advantage in the common Thorshavn, nine months from port. plight: no one can look with disdain on She must have feared she was fated to his fellow man and say, 'I am clean.' be another Flying Dutchman. Month

The pride of the family, Melrose by after month of contrary gales crippled name, a large, half-Cheviot ram, blew her at last, so she drifted into the danaway in that opening gale. His carcass ger zone and had to seek a Shetland was fished up three days later from the haven for repairs. Part of the cargo is sea. This is not a time for undue fastid- damaged, but the coffee is saved. The iousness, and Amalya has salted most news passed swiftly over Eide, called by of the meat, and the rest we ate with a happy voices from house to house. I properly thankful spirit. Only I wished saw tears of joy on one wrinkled old that Amalya would speak of the dear face, and heard a quavering voice singdeparted as mutton, instead of saying, ing the gay 'Coffee Song' - a dance“Nella' (our boy's name for me), 'will ballad that the singer had danced more you have another piece of Melrose?' than a half century before.

The baby, Elizabeth, fails from day And now our only postal communicato day. The doctor went to Denmark tion with the outer world is by one old last year, and no one will come to take hooker, which brings salt and some rehis place while the war lasts. But no stricted wares from a British port, and doctor could help her. She needs takes back salt fish and fish-liver oil. warmth and sunshine, and Amalya To name it is forbidden, but seamen should have a generous and varied diet. call it The Lucky Ship.' Nor can we

The people miss the little visits of ask when it will come or go. During happier days between the cottages, the more than two years the valiant old gossip over a cup of tea and coffee, and skipper, now aged seventy-four, has perhaps little cakes brought out to gone back and forth across the danger honor a guest. Now the food-rations do zone, having adventures that cannot be not admit of hospitality. I admire the told. There is one young gunner on kindly fibbing that goes on when a board, but all the crew and officers neighbor comes on some necessary er- range from fifty-five to seventy years.


15 December, 1918. sible. Could I get to Thorshavn in time All was quiet when the few-worded to go on the Chaldur? Would she go message came of the signing of the Ar- to Scotland on her way to Denmark? mistice. Of course, in a little neutral Was my promised passage assured, land there would be no official celebra- when scores of passengers on the spot tion. A crowd gathered quickly when were clamoring to go? I dared not let the few-worded bulletin was put up, myself think of the parting from those and some asked me, 'Can it be true?' who had become so dear to me. Silence And some said, 'God give it be truth!' seemed the only way of getting through and some wiped their eyes. And I said with it. Once I said shakily, 'Amalya, "Gud ske Lov' (God be praised), and you know what is in my heart?'-'Yes, went away where I could see from afar Nella, I know.' Then, just in time, the that northern shore, where now I need storm subsided. not dread to look, fearing what I might Our boy at the last would not say find there. For the seas are to be clean good-bye. “Nella was bad. Nella should once more! And then I went back to not go to England. Nella should stay Kvisten and did my housework, and in Kvisten always.' that was all.

It was a small party that set forth in 15 January, 1919. the tiny fishing motor-boat. Our houseIn December, for the first time since father at the helm, a brother-in-law at July, 1916, a real steamer entered Eide the engine, two neighbors as assistants, fjord. A shabby black old hooker, to be Fru Kruse and I the


The sure, but it was the 'Lucky Ship.' And box-like pit where whelks for bait are now I can tell its name, the Cromwell, kept had been cleaned out, and Fru and the brave old skipper's name is Kruse and I sat down there, with our Captain Gibb, of Aberdeen, and the heads peering out 'above the rim. A ship belongs to the Iceland Shipping piece of canvas stretched overhead kept Co., Leith, Scotland. I wanted to go on out the rain. And so we chug-chugboard, but we are quarantined against ged southward, hour after hour, in the the Spanish influenza and no one is al gently falling rain, toward Thorshavn, lowed on deck. Only by going to wind- where I was to see a pony and a tree for ward can bags of salt be delivered to the first time in five years. Part of the the freight rowboats, and oils and fish time we were between the islands, then transferred to the steamer.

on the open sea, past treacherous reefs

and sucking whirlpools off the Stromö THORSHAVN, 2 August, 1919. coast, where many a boat has 'gone The breaking up of my life in Kvis- away.' Then, as we rounded a point of ten was a hard time. I was really ill land, we saw on the far southern horiwith a 'near-pneumonia' cold. Storms zon a faint smudge of smoke. That was and heavy surf swept the village-front, our Chaldur, and she will take me south making the launching of a boat impos- to Scotland.






'BETWEEN the bridge and the river legitimate drama. Rummage sales for there is time for an act of perfect con- charity are about our size. So when we trition,' my pious French playmates take over an empty lot and officially used to tell me. I knew very little about place a carnival upon it, as if we 'acts' in the ecclesiastical sense, and were Paris or New Orleans or Honolulu, the phrase puzzled me; but it stuck. It - we grow a little excited, especially if stuck like that other formula we were there are children in the family, whose all brought up on, about remembering natural bedtime is eight o'clock (daythe whole of your past life as you rise light-saving). for the third time before definitely We set out: two parents, a son, and drowning. I cannot, of course, verify a godfather. Of course, it was only the the first, and verifications of the second vacant lot opposite the old athletic are chancy. But there is no doubt that field, but who knew what the Legion a deal of subconscious philosophy can might have done to it? Both the male be formulated in a few seconds, if the parent and the godfather belong to the seconds are sufficiently uncomfortable. Legion, but they had no idea. Son There is something about a brief sharp knew that there was a merry-go-round instant of fear, especially when there and a Ferris wheel. The grown gentleare no steps that can be taken, that men of the party were rather cynical: makes one know a lot of things. The they were going, “to take the boy.' But shock pieces together your hitherto I have found that the greatest moral random inferences, and you behold, advantage of living in a small academic with apocalyptic suddenness, a mental town is to give one back some of the pattern. For example:

illusions of youth. You break your The other evening I attended a car- neck getting to see things that you nival. The phrase, I know, is absurd; would not turn your head for in New but in our village the only thing you York or (I suppose, since the new cencan do with a carnival is to attend it sus, one must say) Detroit. precisely as if it were a Chautauqua. The most exciting moment of the We are not very riotous, and our vacant great war was not August, 1914, or lots are very small. 'Carnival' is rather April, 1917, or November, 1918. It was the name of our intention than of our about 10.30 P.M. of that hot Sunday achievement. The American Legion in July, 1918, when the Crown Prince, chose to call it a carnival, - having with all his staff and three hundred got used, in France, to a grand scale thousand German soldiers, had surrenof doing things, – and we rather liked dered to the Allies. They had not surthe term ourselves. We are too small rendered in Europe, unfortunately, — for circuses, or band-concerts, or the only in Princeton, – but I assure you neither fake nor real armistice could with buckets of gasoline for the decompare with it. So I confess that the frauded engine. The crowd grew: half music of the merry-go-round, unmistak- of Naples and two thirds of the black able wherever heard, and the illumined belt, with an aggressive sprinkling outline of the Ferris wheel (quite the from Jewry, surged waist-high about smallest and youngest of the Ferris the demobilized guardians of the gate. family) stirred the blood. They would But finally the lath-like mechanism was have been almost inaudible and invisi- pronounced in order, and boy and godble elsewhere; but they were a portent

father climbed into the last empty car. in the Princeton twilight

even as the Westood and watched their revolutions, Handley-Pages or the Capronis that eyes fixed, it seemed, on the zenith, buzz gigantically over our garden, car- while Naples prodded and Lithuania rying the mail from capital to metro- kicked our ankles. Atlantic City would polis, give one no sensation comparable not have known there was a wheel with that evoked by the quick rise of a there; but to me it took on the matured ‘Alivver' of an air-plane off the little shape of Adventure. My husband was fair-ground at Prattsville, New York - as gallant as on the verge of Molokai or hard by the jellies, the sweet-grass bas- Halemaumau; he did not prophesy, he kets, the crocheted bedspreads, and the did not warn, he did not frown. ‘All prize ox.

right, if you want to'. - and as son and ‘Sweetheart, the dream is not yet godfather got off, we leaped into the ended,' as the ominous words run in the empty car. fairy-tale.

And this is what I was coming to, in We eschewed the merry-go-round for all these weary paragraphs: my bit of ourselves, but watched the boy sitting bridge-and-river, third-time-rising-and

-very straight on his more than mortal sinking philosophy. We rose, we atsteed. A steed that goes up and down tained the height, we swung on in the vertically while he also goes round and downward loop once and once only. round in a circle is not exactly mortal I do not know how many revolutions - especially when he is a lion or a zebra they give you for your money; but I or a rooster. We tried our luck at the knew that one was all I could bear. I gambling booths - you can hardly call said, 'Do you think they would stop them anything else, those wheels and and let us off?' — and left the rest to G. bagatelle-boards and rifle-galleries. To I knew that he would get me off if possiothers the sofa pillows and red-glass ble, and that he would not say, 'I told vases, the boxes of candy and the wick- you so.' These are good things to be

' er tea-sets: our skill brought us noth- able to count on. After one unnatural ing but chewing-gum. You cannot take glimpse of the dim New Jersey plain chewing-gum away from a child who beneath us, I had shut my eyes - I has won it himself; so in the interest of who like heights. I was not sick, I was public morals we followed the crowd. not giddy, I was physically quite com

There the serried bunches of children fortable; but I found myself hesitant warred with members of the Legion as to intrude upon the stars at their own to who should be let through the gate front doors. I like to lie on a rock ten next. When they sneaked in at the side, thousand feet in air and feel that, if I the Legion shoved them back, in impec- blew hard, I could blow a planet clean cable good-humor, but with military out of place, or disarrange Orion's belt. finality. The wheel sprang a leak, and I am always hoping to double the ten youths ran back and forth saggingly, thousand; then, for one instant, I shall


have the illusion of a supreme decision:

II whether or not to lift my hand and grope for the lost Pleiad. It is not the Ah, my dear defensive Interlocutor, nearness of the stars I mind; simply, I - Spirit of the Wheel, or what not, like a back to my chair when I greet you touch one of the most pathetic and them. I would rather pull them down vital facts of human nature. To each of than have them pull me up. I wanted us it is natural to crave danger, since to get off the Ferris wheel - and did. a dash of danger is necessary to make,

What I had possessed for fifteen out of an act, an adventure. To prepare cents was one priceless moment of fear. yourself for that danger, in the right It is not often, in one's padded life, that way, to meet it when prepared, in the one is stark afraid, primitively, for one's right spirit, is to be a good sport. To be

, own skin. Under the revealing shock a good sport, it is not quite enough to of it, I did a lot of emotional algebra, face the danger bravely when it comes: finding with astonishing speed what x you must, to some extent, welcome it. equals. The equation slid through its Yet, to welcome danger, to go to look paces to the solution. In the mere in- for it — is not that being merely rash, stant of eye-closing I compared myself, or foolhardy? on my modest wheel, with those who There are distinctions, my child (so brave the ether. Yes: but they are fas spoke the Interlocutor). It is all a mattened in; if I were fastened in, I should ter of the quid pro quo. Nothing for not mind; in fact, what I mind most is nothing, in this world. The danger pays this fearful detachment from anything for something else — knowledge, or a like solidity. Think how many people new sensation. Is the knowledge worth go round on far bigger wheels than this. it? Is the new sensation worth it? You Yes, but the heart knoweth its own must decide. wheel. Besides, the bones of the baby But that is not being a sport, I are flimsier than those of the grown-up. protested. A sport takes his chances. This thing is made of string and papier- Exactly, replied the Spirit of the mâché, and even at Coney Island they Wheel. And a good sport must also be have horrid accidents. All these con- a good appraiser of quid pro quo. Ninetraptions are unsafe. We know it when ty times out of a hundred he must make we are on the ground, and are very wise a good guess at whether or not the adover the accidents, in headlines, once a venture is going to be worth the risk. season. But see the children swarming; Otherwise men write him down, if overand did n't your own boy actually hesitant, a coward; if over-willing, a rash squirm about to look behind him, in idiot. mid-air? Ah, children are fearless Is it worth my while, I asked, to open through ignorance. But grown-ups like my eyes, to be afraid for several revoluit, too: remember that at all pleasure- tions more, to repeat the horrid sensaresorts you find the most uncomfortable tion I have just been having at the very and dangerous devices the most popu- top of our career is it worth while? lar. They like to walk through rolling Am I failing to be a sport if I ask, in a barrels, they like to shiver along the few seconds more, to be allowed to get heights of the roller-coaster, they like to off? This has become a purely moral stand on the slippery whirling cone and matter, good Wheel. be flung off irresistibly into a padded Of course it is a moral matter, the precinct. They like looping the loops, Spirit of the Wheel replied. Show me and bumping the bumps. They like it. anything that is n't. It is even a moral

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