Unless you’re a hard core poetry buff, a historian, very very old, or live in Springfield, you’ve probably never heard of Vachel Lindsay.
He was a nineteenth century boy, born on November 10, 1879 in Springfield, Illinois and raised here. The son of a wealthy doctor, his boyhood home was across the street from the Governor’s mansion; there’s an office building there now.
The Illinois Times (Tardy Party, August 11, 2016) says of this book, “In 1918, amid enthusiastic statewide celebrations of Illinois’ centennial anniversary of statehood, Vachel Lindsay wrote The Golden Book of Springfield, in which he looked ahead a century to imagine a utopian vision of Springfield in 2018.”
That wasn’t incorrect, but wasn’t exactly correct, either. It was being written in 1918, but Lindsay had started writing it in 1904. He had wanted it to be on sale in 1918, but hadn’t yet finished it. It was finally published in 1920.
Also, my idea of utopia doesn’t include world war over a religion devoted to cocaine, as well as murders by lynching, shooting, knifing, and poisoning, but Wikipedia and everyone else agrees with the newspaper that despite all the mayhem, it was indeed utopia. I’d like to see what they would call “dystopia” (Yes, I’ve read Orwell).
A local historian has called it “speculative fiction”, which it technically is, but it’s actually surrealism.
When most people think of surrealism they think of painting, especially Salvador Dali, but surrealism was started by German writers who were writing about their dreams... or at least, what they would have liked for you to believe were their dreams.
That is exactly what this book is, and Lindsay puts it forth as such. It’s about his and friends of his (whether the friends are real or fictional) dreams of his city a hundred years in his future, two years in my future as I write this. In 1918, when Lindsay wanted to publish, Illinois was celebrating its centennial birthday. Two years from now will be its bicentennial.
It’s also a ghost story, written by a ghost. It’s about the 1918 Vachel Lindsay haunting our present. It reads “And my bones crumble through the century, like last year’s autumn leaves. Then there is, alternating with drouth, bitter frost. And roots wrap my heart and brain. And there is sleep.
“Then a galloping and gay shrieking, away on the road, to the East of Oak Ridge! And though I am six feet beneath the ground the eyes of the soul are given me. I see wonderful young horsewomen...”
Lindsay committed suicide in 1931. If that’s not a ghost story, what is?
Until now, the only copies of this book were a 1990s reprint, the antique original printed books, high definition scans of one of the antique book’s copies by Harvard University, and an optical character recognition text file from Google, full of OCR errors and devoid of niceties like italics or any kind of formatting.
I edited the OCR version, taking care to get the text exactly as it was in the graphic TIFF files. I was as precise as I could be, although I may have missed some errors. If you see something strange, like an upside down U or N, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, be aware that many words have different spellings these days, and I left the original spellings intact. Likewise I left in typographical and other errors, such as missing quotation marks, obvious misspellings, and so forth, All I have left out is the typesetter’s hyphenation that splits words at the end of lines. Also, the illustration at the end of this edition was not in the original.
I also cleaned a hundred years worth of dirt from the TIFF files and made it a PDF. You can download it here.
I took great pains to ensure its perfection, “perfection” meaning making it exactly like the original, except for size and typeface, as I have no idea how big the actual book was and do not know the name of the typeface or if it’s even available.
Of course, Lindsay got almost everything about 2018 perfectly wrong; ghosts must not see very well.
The airplane first flew the year before he started writing it, and the vacuum tube and with it electronics were invented in 1904 when he began writing it. By the time it was published, automobiles were still only driven by the rich. As a consequence, Lindsay’s 2018 has lots of horsemen and horsewomen, as well as blacksmiths and farriers.
World War One raged as he wrote this book, and the League of Nations was taking hold at the end of its writing, so he saw a 2018 with a world government. Prohibition had just been passed, so his 2018 has the “great experiment” succeeding, with alcohol still outlawed in our time.
Clearly, Lindsay was no prophet. And he would have had to have been one to conjure up all the changes that happened in the hundred years since he started writing it. In 1904, everyone except the very rich lived like their ancestors had lived a thousand years earlier, using kerosene and candles for light, wood and coal for heat and cooking, and horses and their own feet for transportation. There were no power tools or household appliances like washing machines, toasters, electric fans, or any such thing. The vacuum tube was invented the year he started writing it and computers were invented three decades after its publication, so there would be no way of imagining the internet.
Rather than science fiction, this is future fantasy fiction. The Golden Book flies into a room, but it isn’t a drone as someone in our time would presume, but magic. His war is fought on horseback with swords. He has a character shouting from a platform, Lindsay being unaware that in a hundred years a thing called a “bullhorn” would be commonplace.
He does introduce a very few innovations, such as a “lens gun,” “a new kind of” movie projector, and the “corn-dragon engine,” which isn’t an internal combustion engine running on ethanol or methanol, but a new kind of steam locomotive. A “corn-dragon” was a steam train driving past a cornfield, the “dragon” being what was called then “smokestack lightning”.
What it is, is a historian’s delight that allows a modern mind to see into the mind of this nineteenth century man at the turn of the twentieth century.
As was everyone else in America, and perhaps the world then, he was racist. Not in the sense that he believed one race was better than another, but that certain talents and modes of thought belonged to certain races. Many today will be highly offended by this book, and of course he and everyone else then have been proven completely wrong; if a white couple adopts a Chinese infant, the infant will be like the adopted parents, except his or her looks.
But like the Chinese baby raised by Americans, he was a product of his times. As the humorist Will Rogers remarked in the 1930s, “all I know is what I read in the papers.”
This book was Lindsay’s only novel. He had been a very popular poet before its publication and after, earning a living mostly by reciting the poetry he had written. He started what he called “singing poetry” and was known as a bard.
He moved to Spokane, Washington in 1924 and married twenty three year old Elizabeth Connor. He was then forty five.
His wife bore a daughter and son in the next two years, and money got tight. Of course it did, since two years after his son was born, the stock market crashed and we had entered into the Great Depression. Vaudeville, bards, and spoken poetry on stage were giving way to movies, especially after the introduction of feature length “talkies” in 1927.
On December 5, 1931, he killed himself by drinking Lysol. His last words were “They tried to get me; I got them first!” This is eerily like the Stephen King short story The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet, the “flexible bullet” being madness.
-August 29, 2016
THE GOLDEN BOOK OF SPRINGFIELD
LIST OF THE BOOKS OF VACHEL
A Handy Guide for Beggars.
Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of
The Art of the Moving Picture.
The Golden Book of Springfield.
Verse : —
General William Booth Enters Into Heaven
and Other Poems.
The Congo and Other Poems.
The Chinese Nightingale and Other Poems.
The Golden Whales of California and Other
Rhymes in the American Language.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. The Campbellite, the Florist and the Hostess
II. The Prognostlcator’s Club
III. How People of 1920 Think the Book Will
Come, in 2018
IV. History of the Mideast
V. I Myself Enter into the Springfield of 2018
VI. Kopensky Versus Boone
VII. The Drug Stores, Coffee Houses and Dance
VIII The Springfield Flag
IX. The Beginning of the Flying Machine Riots.
X. The End of the Flying Machine Riots
XI. St Friend, and His Two Religious Orders
XII. The Yellow Dance Halls Are Abolished
XIII. Surto Hurdenburg Is Lynched
XIV. In the House of the Man From Singapore
XV. Further Experiences in That Strange Man-
XVI. The Return of Joseph Bartholdi Michael
XVII. The Lynching of Boone. An interregnum of
the Diary. How The Golden Book Appears
XVIII. St. Friend and Avanel Read From The
XIX. Avanel and I Ascend to the Jungles of
THE PROGNOSTICATOR’S CLUB
David Carson, Campbellite minister,
becomes St. Friend
Anne Morrison, a florist,
becomes Roxana Grey
Eloise Terry, the hostess
becomes Patricia Anthony
Clara Horton, a school teacher,
becomes Josephine Windom
Gregory Webster, an artist,
becomes Sparrow Short
Nathan Levi, a Jewish boy,
becomes Rabbi Terence Ezekiel
Margaret Evans, a Christian Scientist,
becomes Rachel Madison
Daisy Pearl Johnson, a negress,
becomes Mary Timmons
Nathaniel Davidson, an evangelist,
becomes Cave Man Thomas
Ruth Everett, a welfare worker,
becomes Gwendolyn Charles
John Fletcher, the doubter,
becomes Dr. Mayo Sims
Joseph Bartholdi Michael, I,
becomes Joseph Bartholdi Michael, II
THIS BOOK IS INSCRIBED TO ISADORA
THE CAMPBELLITE, THE FLORIST AND THE H0STESS
In this, our town, we call “New Springfield,” David Carson, a young minister of the Disciples of Christ is a near neighbor of mine. He is a graduate of Bethany College. His great-grandfather studied there before him, when. Alexander Campbell, the founder of Bethany, was in his prime. If you want to know of this man as we know him, read Richardson’s staid old biography, or walk the shades of Bethany, West Virginia. Campbell, in our eyes, was the American pioneer theologian.
He was devoted to the union of the churches of Christendom. He pleaded that all disciples of Christ call themselves “simply “Christians”, and unite on those symbols and ordinances which Christendom has in common. If it would not make our great-grandfathers turn over in their graves, I and my neighbor would call ourselves “simply“ Campbellites. We would do it for a human, and not lofty reason. It seems that those spiritually or physically descended from the early Campbellites are on family terms, no matter how they seem to roam in thought or experience, or no matter what their hereditary argumentative disposition. For a “Campbellite” is sure to argue, on the least provocation. There are traces of this tendency even in Richardson’s reverent biography.
Ultra modem followers of Campbell hang in their libraries with unlimited pride a certain Rembrandtesque lithograph of the great man, an heirloom that is now quite rare, and to be classed in its southern way, as the spinning wheels and old Bibles of the Mayflower are classed in a northern way. This lithograph is the enlargement of the engraving in the front of the Richardson biography, but much color and magic have been added. Out of the darkness emerges a smooth-shaven, high bred, masterful physiognomy more like that of the statesmen who were the fathers of the republic, than of a member of any priesthood. Campbell’s cheeks and eyes are still fired with youth and authority militant. He has a head bowed with thought, crowned with grey hair, and beneath his chin is the most statesmanlike of cravats, with a peculiarly old-fashioned roll. Thus he must have looked, at the height of debate with the infidel.
This is the man who put so much learning. and deathless controversy, and high distinction into the log cabins of the Ohio river basin, especially the romantic regions of Mason and Dixon’s line. On west of the Mississippi his followers carried his light to Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, and the cities of Alaska and Canada and the farms between. And they start ’round the world with it all over again at this hour. Yet in the end that light is apt to have a color of its origin, touched with Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky—a southern gospel, far indeed from Plymouth Rock, or Manhattan Island.
I can never forget the copy of the lithograph that hung over my grandmother’s front room fireplace in the patriarchal Frazee farm house in Indiana. Under it I heard proverbs from Campbell every summer, from the time I can remember anything. All those sayings were mixed up with stories that came with my people along the old Daniel Boone trail from Kentucky and Virginia. And when that bid frame house was new and novel, and most other dwelling houses near were log cabins, Campbell had been a guest received with breathless reverence. Under that picture I was personally conducted through all the daguerreotypes and records pertaining to the Kentucky pioneers of our blood.
And now, in Springfield, under the same rich lithograph my neighbor keeps the bound volumes of Campbell’s Christian Baptist and Millenial Harbinger, once the arsenal of every debating “elder’’ of our persuasion. My grandfather’s copies were marked, every page, and these are marked by my radical friend, but with a different point of view.
On a certain evening I am in the pastor’s study tracing with astonishment the suggestion of Christian Socialism in the first number of the Harbinger. My Grandma had said nothing about that!
Few of Campbell’s older followers dwell on the hope of a practical City of God that shouted from the covers even before they were opened. This reasonable, non-miraculous millenium is much in the mind of my neighbor, and he tells me again and again of a vision that he has of Springfield a hundred years hence. But more of this later.
There is a woman who is florist of our town, Anne Morrison a descendant of the Chapman family. She holds in special reverence, John Chapman, (Johnny Appleseed,) who began his labors in a region a little north of Alexander Campbell’s diocese, in the Ohio basin. He remains a tradition among the more northern group of those who worshipped Campbell, and among similar pioneers. He is especially honored by that splendid sect, the Swedenborgians, for he was a preacher and teacher of the doctrines of Swedenborg. But he was even more notably a nurseryman. He was deserving of the laurels of Thorean, three times and more, and by the test of life rather than writing, to him belongs nearly every worth-while crown of Whitman. He skirmished on the very edge of the frontier, but fought the wilderness, not the Indian. The aborigines thought him a great medicine man and holy man, because of his magical bag of seeds, for along their trails, wherever he tramped, there soon came up pennyroyal and all beneficient herbs. With the tenderness of St. Francis he wept over every wounded bird, and with the steadiness of a nation builder, he planted orchards of apples in the openings of the forest, fenced them in, and left them for the pioneers to find, long after. He wore for a shirt and sole article of clothing an old gunny-sack with holes cut for arms and legs, and winter or summer slept in the hollow tree on the pile of old leaves, and weathered it past seventy years, while the great Whitman lived in houses, and Thoreau was on Walden but a season or two. These men left behind them certain writings, but Johnny Appleseed left behind him apples, orchards heavy with fruit, beauty from the very black earth, and a tradition whose wonder shall yet ring through all the palaces of mankind. He was swift as the deer, and gentle as the fawn,—and stern with himself, as the Red Indian. Like Christ and Socrates he wrote only in the soil. He was welcomed more like an angel than a man in the pioneer cabins, and if ever there was an American saint left uncanonized in 1920, it is John Chapman, Johnny Appleseed, and by 2018 he is canonized indeed, and has his niche in the Springfield Cathedral, according to Anne Morrison’s revelation.
Another friend is a great hostess of Springfield, Eloise Terry, by name. Her enemies declare that she is the representative of her family fortune, and little else. But they are apt to be people who do not attend her quite earnest parties, where every ramification of the social fabric is candidly examined, at least for one evening. The most competent person is brought in to speak of his strand of the web, be he bootblack or jailbird or poet. But this is an advance on her family who are dully conventional, to the core of their souls. And her constant companions, though they are in fact people of the same general stratification of good fortune as herself are selected for their human interest in her unconsciously inhuman inquisitions. And inquisitions, after all, come but once a month or so. In general she and her cronies are taking a decent part in politics, and their wealth does not interfere with an unprejudiced estimate of candidates, entirely apart from bank accounts. Her presence in town makes for the truth, and for progress that much. Liars hate her intensely. Petty political lies fade before her, however poor her remedies may be for the great lies. She is a golden-haired girl, around thirty years of age, with three thriving and well-reared children. Her distinction, in my eyes, is not her opinions, but the fact that she dresses in schemes allied to the gold of her hair. I meet her on the street like a bit of blessed sunshine. Also her heart is quite warm. If she had been a musician, instead of a kind of contemporary conversational historian, she would have talked of music, instead of events, with the same ardor and fine tone, to a similar circle of friends, and brought in the singers, to sing for them, from the very gutters if necessary, and have been as decent to such songbirds as she knew how.
THE PROGNOSTICATOR’S CLUB
The young disciple minister and I decide that the people of Springfield who see the vision of the city of the future should be brought together, and we write some carefully worded invitations. We organize a Prognosticator’s Club and meet in the Sun Parlor of the Leland Hotel.
One of the first to join, after our florist friend and the great hostess of Springfield, is John Fletcher, a Doubter. He is a person in whom we place much confidence in practical affairs. He is high authority in the financial circles of Springfield. He is religious, on Sunday only, from eleven till twelve-thirty, when he sits in his pew. He represents the present State House View which takes for granted that the fewer ideas men have the better, if only the crowd in power “get theirs.” The general assumption is:—politics is business and business is politics and the only worth while citizens are those that “get the money,” and, of course, those others who keep it safely and who correctly add the accounts till the money is wanted. They hate any new current in any party. And they hate the idea of any clan wanting anything except established well-dressed bank accounts to rule the city. Children are sent to universities to polish their manners, but not to bring back any changed thoughts on these subjects.
The gentleman who incarnates this dream lives in the north, is therefore a Republican. He is quite sure the Emancipation Proclamation meant that millionaires are exempt from criticism, except from other millionaires or their shrewedest lackeys, and that the Emancipation Proclamation was sent forth into the world to establish more thoroughly the lackey, the toady, the tuft hunter, the snob, the bootlicker, and the parasite, in the service of the stupidest holders of money and land. He will defend this position quite ardently, almost in those terms, and he is quite sure that anyone who protests against his views is a “red.” And “red,” “radical,” “anarchist,” and “liberal” are absolutely synonymous, according to his thinking. He is sure that anyone who does not want to be a millionaire or serve one well is contemplating arson. He is quite sure that every large bank account is automatically moral, that every small one is almost moral, and the one crime is to be without money. He is quite convinced that Abraham Lincoln died to establish such ideals more firmly in the Republican Party, and when he is in the South he maintains that Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson lived and toiled and suffered to establish them in the Democratic Party, and did it with eminent success: that all other notions have been recently imported from the shameful streets of Russia. When he sent his son to college he urged him to spend money on the conservative professors and their sons and daughters, and to put the radical professors in bad odor with the “best fellows,” and get them fired as soon as the trustees would listen to one so young.
All this point of view is in my friend’s tone of voice and gesture. He has inherited part of his money, and married the rest, and the income pays for a good caretaker. He himself is a physician for the most extensively landed families in central Illinois. He dresses well, so people think he knows all about medicine. He is squarely set, has a heavy jaw, a steadying manner, a kindly disposition, pays the best salaries to his office boy and secretaries and the people who work his farms. He has the greatest aversion to oaths, bad manners, adultery, and has a literary turn. Though he looks like an old prize fighter with a touch of deacon-sleekness, he reads Montaigne. Lord Chesterfield, Thackeray, Shakespeare, and the like. He enjoys discussing in the most sympathetic way every human trait that has to do with purely domestic dramatic and personal emotions. His wife is a valiant Daughter of the American Revolution and his daughter belongs to the most snobbish sorority to be discovered for miles. He has been “right in the wagon” whenever a bit of near royalty has passed through Springfield, and his manner though blunt, was deferential. His wildest turn is for radical painters, and he has the best collection west of the Hudson of the now forgotten cubists.
Of far different sort is the next member of our Club. She is of the fine nerved creatures of this world, a spring beauty in whose conversation I take delight. She is a teacher in one of the Springfield ward schools, and a sober little reader of The Atlantic Monthly, and we quarrel a bit about that. But her taste there represents her desire for fine grained English whatever the thought conveyed. When Clara Horton takes delight in life, it comes in a flash that sets her friends aflame. The school marm is gone. She ceases to admonish me. The imaginary eyes of her censorious pupils are banished, and I am no longer a pupil, and she is the daughter of a nymph of the most delicate mood and a faun of the gentlest sort. Her whole physical fabric is aglow with the idea of the book or the event or the mere day’s sunshine or tomorrow’s movie. Her skin shows the whiteness of a stock that has been too inbred for many generations for complete vigor, the gentle nymph and the gentle faun met too often, and there were not quite enough bullies or peasants among her far European ancestors. Her people have been for many generations in America. Every line of her family, north and south, has been remembered with the greatest comprehension of every taste and impulse. She gets her silky black hair from one grandmother, and her thousand dimples from another no doubt. She openly hates the complacency of our “first families.’’ Ideas go pouring through her head, all the time.
As for the families representing the defended and entrenched fortunes of Springfield, theirs is still the practice of keeping their children out of public school, for fear of contamination with teachers who read such papers as The Atlantic Monthly, and other vulgar publications. The children must be sent off to teachers who flatter and flatter and flatter. But we do not talk about these matters generally. We talk about New Springfield.
The Prognosticators discover that still others have been dreaming joyfully all alone of the future of Springfield. One fiery artist of our town brings in quite definite testimony. He was born in the village of Rochester, near to Springfield, but has no sign in his manner of being a citizen of the United States. Quite an old man, Gregory Webster has the ways of boulevard heroes of Paris who swung their canes like swashbucklers, among the cafes, in 1876. He speaks English with a French accent. Yet he has been a tremendous force for good in the history of American Art. Thousands upon thousands of pupils have passed through his studios. He has been a courageous patron of young artists. With infallible taste he has purchased their best pictures, as soon as their pictures were good, thereby giving them reputations twenty years sooner, and himself “going broke.” He has championed the most elegant craftsmanship. In torrents of tireless language, with an unflagging zeal and animation, he has talked down and out the cheap and popular conception of the uses of art. He has exalted the great portrait masters. He has exalted brushwork and drawing into a ritual, and good color into a finality of the soul. He has been marvelously generous in his sympathy and his patience with budding talent, and therefore the artists’ aspiration of America for a whole generation has come to his front door. He is, in actual subject matter, in his own pictures an unimaginative creature. He is able to paint fishes better than men and rabbits better than women, and yet, since he painted fishes and rabbits with Olympian finality, they have been enshrined in the highest galleries of the world next to portraits of human creatures by Rembrandt and Hals and Velasquez.
A stranger to these others comes to me. Nathan Levi, son of one of the Rabbis of our tiny Springfield Ghetto. He at once wins my heart. I have always found myself in peculiar sympathy with the Jews. Once past the moment of shyly seeking my confidence, he is full of the Jewish expressiveness and demonstration. He is astonished beyond measure to discover a double consciousness within himself. In this century he is as orthodox as his father, and a young man devoted to the routine of the pawn shop. In 2018 he is in a hundred ways opposite.
Another newcomer, Margaret Evans, is a Christian Science Reader. She is beautiful, in this day, and though she does not speak of her mirror in 2018, as does the headlong Jewish boy, I know she will always be beautiful in body and soul. She has fathomed the holy grace and immortal gladness of her teaching, and I can well believe she is immortal in this place, under our oak and apple trees.
Still another is a Springfield Negress who is a preacher among her own people. She has not a single Caucasian contour to her face or figure, yet all the world must admit that Daisy Pearl Johnson is beautiful as she is divinely young. She is “black but comely,” according to the scripture. And she is eager in all the matters of the mind and spirit.
Another prophet, Nathanial Davidson, gathers several denominations under one temporary roof, and preaches to them about hell. He was once a Y. M. C. A. physical director, and he ranges in attributes from Caliban to higher things, and looks much like Douglas Fairbanks and William A. Sunday. He receives an invitation to join the Prognosticator’s Club.
Then there is a woman who was a welfare worker in France. Ruth Everett has such a sleek and sophisticated grace, and her face is so snobbish yet so Alexandrian Greek that I have often called “The Daughter of Lysippus.” In every line is the elegance that old sculptor might have loved. In pomp, upon her throne, and she makes any chair her throne, she is like ’’Sara Siddons as the Tragic Muse” as painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
And here yon have men and women who see the vision, each in a strange and mystical fashion.
HOW PEOPLE OF 1920 THINK THE GOLDEN BOOK
WILL COME IN 2018
When we, the Prognosticator’s Club, come together for our meetings it is inevitable that our talk should be of the Springfield of our fancy and of the manner in which the vision has come to each one.
The first to testify, when we call the members together in the Sun Parlor of the Leland Hotel is the young Campbellite minister. He tells us of a dream that has come to him on many evenings by his study fire.
In a vision he is reborn three or four generations in the future. He is a priest of the Catholic Church. He is known as St. Friend, the Giver of Bread. He is almost alone in a vast Gothic Cathedral. He is astonished to find himself changed in body, conviction, and habit from all his former routine, but enough memory remains for the comparison, and he knows he is still himself. But of this another time.
There are a few people praying at the stations of the cross, in this, Springfield’s new church of St. Peter and St. Paul, on the old site of Sixth and Reynold’s Streets. The time is All Saint ’s Day, Anno Domini, 2018. As he tells us the story, the very picture springs before me in elaborate detail, as though I witnessed the event in my own person. The church is indeed gigantic for so small a town to build, and in many particulars as well as general type it is like Notre Dame, Paris. We behold with him how a book of air, gleaming with spiritual gold, comes flying in through the walls as though they were but shadows. It is a book open as it soars, and every fluttering page is richly bordered and illuminated. It has wings of black, and above them wings of azure. Long feathers radiate from the whirring, soaring pennons. The book circles above the heads of the congregation. From the sky comes music incredibly sweet.
The book flies toward the altar, where St. Friend finds himself standing. The wings fade. This day moves with rapid breath. The congregation has been trooping in as the visitant from the world of spirit-wonder has been settling into its own holy place on the altar.
Now St. Friend is in the act of reading the gleaming volume. It is a book of homilies, addressed directly to New Springfield. Day after day the whole population flocks to the cathedral to hear, in the blazing kaleidoscopic costumes of that time,—all kinds of people, saints and sinners. But to speak briefly of the essential story, the town is transfigured and redeemed beyond any merely mundane plan. And so we call 2018 the Mystic Year, and give it other honorable titles of similar import. For the town, then, becomes half-way millennial. Of these qualified but stirring wonders, another time. Let us turn for the moment to the second witness, and hear her version of the appearance of the Golden Book.
The florist had already revealed to me, when I was buying red roses in her gorgeous greenhouse, that she had a strange recurrent picture of the days of Johnny Appleseed’s triumph going through her head. She repeats her story to the other members of the club.
It is of Anno Domini 2018, and though she is still a florist she wears her rue with a difference. She finds herself the exponent of a religion of flowers. Her name is Roxana Grey.
She is daughter of a “Mother Grey,’’ who was in like manner daughter of a “Mother Grey.’’ There is much interesting detail irrelevant to the present point, but I may say she is first moved to tell me the story because she finds my name on the roll of the backsliders among the devotees of this 2018 religion of flowers. She has a double consciousness that keeps a mind in both periods, but is surprised to find both my name and my very self in the new time.
But as to Johnny Appleseed, which is more to the point of this chapter, she ia most uplifted of heart to find that he at last comes into his own in our city and his name is whispered there perpetually.
In his name Springfield has developed the great Amaranth Apple Orchards; it is said, from seeds he gave in his lifetime to a certain pioneer, Hunter Kelly. And it is taught in his name, or with the mood he engenders in our hearts, that he who eats of the Amaranth Apple is filled with a love of eternal beauty, and it is used as the City’s understood symbol of beauty.
Then there is a teaching in his name that he who, after certain prayers, eats of certain acorns, or walks under the oak saplings that come from them, accepts in some sense promptings toward eternal goodness. It has come about that eating the acorn, is the city’s accepted metaphor for the search for righteousness. The earlier devotees of the oak, planted a notable group that have of late grown taller than the California redwoods. They are in a complete circle of twelve, surrounding the very edges of the city. The first two, which are the tallest, are by the inside northwest gate, put there long before there was any gate, by Hunter Kelly, of whom more hereafter. But these oaks, the pillars of Springfield’s temple-cathedral-syagogue, whose roof is the sky, are made the theme of many varieties of teaching, all of which goes back to Johnny Appleseed, who gave to Hunter Kelly the original acorns that made the trees of Oak Ridge, and these pillar oaks as well.
There is another teaching, abroad in Springfield, 2018, the teaching of Democracy, of which the Symbol is the Golden Rain-Tree brought from New Harmony, Indiana. It is said in Springfield, and taught with especial emphasis by the devotees of the Flower Religion, that he who enters under the shade of the Rain-Tree boughs and leaves and flowers, enters the gate of eternal democracy, and so the trees are often called Gate-Trees.
And then having told us so much, my friend speaks again and shows to our spirit eyes an out-of door statue of John Chapman, Johnny Appleseed, near which she finds herself just before sunrise of All Saint’s Day, Anno Domini, 2018. Roxana is there to watch for the dawn. She walks alone, according to the discipline, saying certain prayers. The park is on the edge of the Governor’s yard.
A great rose-colored, egg-shaped boulder is dug from the midst of the lawn of the Governor ’s yard. She hides in a clump of bushes to watch; for the digging is by no mortal hand, but by spiritual presences which are the souls of the primeval trees of the city, looming, whispering, rustling above the place.
Then the boulder is there, rolled over on the grass, and a bolt from the clear starry heaven strikes it. The book comes flying forth. It has the same airy, other-worldly presence and power as when described by the first witness. But it soars to the Shrine of Flowers consecrated to the especial sect and the esoteric teachings of Roxana Grey and her immediate predecessors. But she does not know where it has gone, it has circled and wandered so, appearing and disappearing. And it is with a tremendous leaping of the heart she finds it next day on her altar with wings gone but with pages open to be read to the faithful. Its main themes are the teachings of the trees, of which we have spoken, woven with her own traditional doctrines of the flowers, but all these teachings in most heightened and glorified aspects. Along the margins are old texts from the special books of her shrine, and from Swedenborg and the Old and New Testaments.
When the great hostess of Springfield begins her testimony my first question, since I am but a man, is whether her hair in 2018 gleams with the same darling golden hue.
And have the red-haired girls the courage to dress like daffodils, in 2018? She insists I am the wicked one to be pressing this devilish investigation, when there are rarer things to impart,—but in the glad Mystic Year, since I must know, she is endowed with the hair of what might be called her 1920 Grandmother-self, and the only change she notices is a more painful tendency to freckles, from riding horseback in a certain notable cavalry, behind a certain young lady commander, Avanel Boone,—of whom more anon.
The most important revelation to her, sociologically, is that she finds herself no longer one of “our best people.” That is, she has not much money, and no privilege of collecting rents in the style that is now the sole reason many of the “old families” are in Springfield for a part of the year. She is in Springfield because she loves a certain factory. She loves it because she is Patricia Anthony, forewoman, and can order people about. Her factory is at Ninth and Converse Streets, on the same ground with The Illinois Watch Company and The Sangamo Electric Company. It is a place where telescopic and microscopic lenses are made. As for the Golden Book about which she is all aquiver, she finds the volume when she is inspecting the place in the late afternoon of All Saint’s Day, Anno Domini, 2018. She says I am there with her, carrying on, as of old, in the same conceited, philandering way. I am helping take inventory of the supplies needed for the next week, as my excuse for the tour. The factory echoes hollow with our solitary steps. Indeed it takes her aback to meet the book in such an off-hand, teasing moment.
But there is The Golden Book. Every transparent page, which flutters as though with the gusty thoughts of our spirits, is written in letters of fire. On the first leaf is an inscription delivering the work to her by name: “Patricia Anthony.”
She was always a conceited woman, and here is the first thing that ever happened to her to justify it, I say to her, speaking as one 1920 person to another.
But on, to 2018: For all the Golden Book is penned so gorgeously, the discussion is largely economic. There are citations from Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Henry George, and on, forward, to Joseph Bartholdi Michael the second, and Black Hawk Boone,—Springfield sages of 2018. All these are cited to corroborate, in various items, piecemeal, an absolutely new economic remedy for the world.
Patricia sees herself reading the volume to the workers, through the lunch hour. The book keeps its wings. Often, as though stirred with divine impatience, it dashes and (flutters on through the walls, as though they were shadows, then comes soaring back again. Each time it returns the work is re-opened, at the first page, and newer and more difficult teaching is written there, till the volume is no longer economic. It is as though a work by Henry George had been changed into a work by Swedenborg! Now it shows how to make microscopes that will enable all Springfield to find the fairies of the fairies, and telescopes that will discover the angels that guard the angels. At last the book instructs the devout how to woo and win these creatures, without turning upon them any glass of cold scrutiny, how to see them with the natural eye, and touch them with the natural hand.
The little school teacher finds herself reborn in 2018 as head of the three-color printing department of the school where she teaches. In the reincarnation she bears the name of Josephine Windom. She stands helpless when a Rock and Kopensky mob, and children of Doctor Mayo Sims seize the winged volume from the altar of St. Friend, apparently against its will, like a hundred men binding an angel. Near the market house between Fourth and Fifth on Monroe they pile fire- wood upon the book. They pour on oil. They light the pyre. All is turned to ashes. Later a band of Municipal University rescuers arrives. They are led by her assistant in the color printing department, Horace Andrews.
Slowly as though greeting this band the flames renew themselves, and take form. There is the book again, but four times as large, with wings, binding, leaves, and letters of fire. Then suddenly it is flying above the city. Its covers are of the iridescence of a shell, with a golden shimmering. The wings are music making.
The book is a friend of men. It is disposed to descend to its friends. It is carried in flying and fluttering state to the three-color printing department of the school, where hundreds of rainbow replicas of the pages are made, though not on this earth can replicas of the wings be made. And while the book is within the four walls, the school becomes a place of fairyland. Every cottage has its own copy of the volume in time. Edition after edition goes out, first from the school, then from the greater, more dazzling printing presses of the University, to the scholars and artists of Europe and Asia, through their colleagues who are attending the World’s Fair of the University of Springfield. But the book itself, having once been copied in the printing room there, files around the Truth Tower, the center of town; it goes up in higher and wider circles. At last it is seen, a star among the stars. Meanwhile the transfiguration of the city begins.
The future plays a curious trick with our artist friend, the valiant and patriotic American who sent forth all his sons against the Germans. He is astonished to find himself reborn a pacifist. Anno Domini, 2018. And there are other sad changes. He sees himself in a mirror as a long-haired creature, a ragged libel of the William Cullen Bryant type, with similar features, but dressed in ready made garments, and with much food spilled down the front of his vest. His nickname in 2018 is “Old Sparrow Short,’’ because at that time the sparrow is his favorite bird, and because he is tall. This increased height is the only concession to his vanity in the revelation, for in 1920 he has been obliged to stand on his toes over and over, to give any impression of height.
In 2018, though a pacifist, he is still militant in the esthetic field. He is a leader of a group of young Springfield painters, sculptors, and architects who are always dynamiting our stagnant exhibitions with appropriate bombs of paint. He insists it is the painting and sculpture of his followers that make Springfield such a dazzling success. He is still the head teacher of the Springfield Art Association which has its headquarters at the Edwards Place on North Fifth, as of old.
His political hobby in 2018 is that we should return to the glory of the ancient time of the unchained nations, especially, as he hears himself say, the era of peace and good will when the Czar instituted the Hague tribunal, and Andrew Carnegie sent out his peace lecturers. He is sent to our local World Government prison which is built across the street from the City and County Jails on Seventh and Jefferson Streets. He is here locked up for emphasizing his views to the point of world-treason. The book flies in through the walls of his cell as though those walls were shadows, and as though the book were made of but air and sunshine, woven together. He who is doomed to become this awful Sparrow Short declares that the principal mandate of the volume is for the immediate dissolution of the entire International Government. It demands a restoration of the conditions of 1913. The mandate of the volume for the artist is the same as for the nation. “Live like the Sparrow. Be yourself completely. Utter your soul, regardless of cost.” This condition, universally accepted, will secure a real world-peace, and one that is not hypocrisy or oppression.
It comes the turn of the Jewish boy 1 so much admire. He says that in 2018 he is “Rabbi Terence Ezekiel,” a rank heretic, and an old man. He dreams of himself as being the grandson and the son of two other Rabbis of the same name and as having a rebel congregation all his own in 2018, of being in their estimation and that of many others, the leading citizen of the community. His temple is on the site of the old Isador Kanner Synagogue. He it is, who, as the leading champion of the aggrandizement of the photoplay as a general social factor, fights his best chum, St. Friend, when films are a public issue, because St. Friend preaches against them from the Cathedral. No longer is his life the slow, devious midnight-lamp technique of the pawnshop, the furtive, the futile, the too confidential. Not his the bad street abounding in second-hand stores and cheap rooming lofts.
To his temple come the wise of all the world, and there is preached the gospel of righteousness as symbolized by the planting all around the world of the Ezekiel Oak (for thus he has taken a leaf from the testimony of Roxana Grey), and the distribution of all other great trees, including the Golden Rain-Tree and the Apple Amaranth. But within this wave of beneficence his sect has a peculiar and especial discipline, as rigid and elaborate as Leviticus, which is, in another set of forms, essentially the same curious flowering of the Jewish mind on the same general level of the soul. When he looks into the glass he sees, in 1920, a young rascal who has stooped shoulders, from long bending over the jewelry and watches he has mended. He sees dull-brown hair and eyes, a blank face, a heavy jaundiced skin, all of which give the lie to the great brain. And he is five feet in height.
In 2018 he is six feet four, an old man, but with a blazing eye and a voice like the surf in a storm. His hair is brilliant black, his face is that of the Arabian war horse and the American eagle. Into his temple come all the wise of the world, week after week, and he introduces them, and they speak to his people and the rest. But he is to deliver his own discourse on a certain day in the autumn of the Mystic Year. It is a little before the beginning of the services. Amid faint music from afar the light before the doors of the tabernacle is suddenly enriched in color and splendor. The holy doors swing open with a noble deliberation, and there, instead of the Torah, is The Book of Air and Wonder,—The Golden Book, poised like a cloud and a moon and a bird. It has six wings, woven from the rays of a strange moonrise, perhaps like the wings of the cherubim, that bent above the ark long ago. The book settles on the desk. The pennons fade. The volume is open at the beginning of a series of prophecies about the soul of Springfield, as though Springfield were a living personality and not a mere assembly of citizens, and as though the book were a person, and not mere wings of air.
He tells us that he sees a face much like mine in the assembly of 2018, and I have not changed, but have the same yellow hair and pale face, as he says, “still look like a Swede,” and, (as he insists, with the pawnbroker’s emphasis on material texture), I wear the same suit of clothes, and carry the same iron and leather cane.
And so he tells us his tale of double consciousness, with the honest glow of the blood that I love in all leaders of his race, with that thick fire which no other race can equal. His synagogue is rebuilt on a vast scale in 2018 to hold Golden Book devotees; And this is but the beginning of his history of great affairs in Springfield.
The Christian Science Reader says she sees my face in the Sunday morning Christian Science congregation of her vision. We are one and all given new names. Her name in 2018 is Rachel Madison, and, though I am not of her faith today, in the new time I have grown toward this light, and she sees me with my unfortunate yellow hair and my iron cane, for all the world as the young pawnbroker does, but sitting in the back of the Christian Science temple listening attentively, Sunday after Sunday. She says that it is a silver book that we see upon the great day of November 1st, 2018. It sheds an ineffable white light, it is almost as impalpable as a comet in the sky, yet a substance that comes flying through the walls as though they were but gleaming shadows. The air is filled with music from all the high heavens.
The book spreads six wings, like those of celestial swans. The pages have no illuminations or other abominable traces of the Gothic.
The book circles above the ecstatic and transfixed assembly, then it settles upon the desk between the two older books there, and in its presence they become like itself, books of air.
And so she reads to the people, with the other reader, who stands beside her according to old custom. They read as though by long understanding, but actually led as in a trance, through alternate pages of the three books.
Almost in a day the church is rebuilt. It becomes a tremendous white dome, a house of devotion, where the whole city worships as one soul. Then begins the one new evolution of the town toward healing, and the peace of the clear sky.
The negress who sees prophetic visions is easily persuaded to add her testimony about the book. Her name in 2018 is Mary Timmons, and she is nicknamed “Pious Mary.” She is most voluble concerning the wonders of the new time. But to the matter of the book at once. She finds herself in her church, in the place where the Baptist Evangelical chapel stood a century before. And it is still called the “Baptist Evangelical.” The house of worship is now gorgeous with curious jungle-mooded ornaments, pillars which are so carved as to seem moss-hung and vine-wound. It is as though we were in the shade of things too high for man. All this house of worship has been evolved by her cousin, the great architect John Emis, who is also a member of this congregation, and a powerful exhorter among his own people, despite all his world fame among paler races. It is in the midst of his designs she moves, on this great day. With Pentecostal power her people are singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” While the faces are uplifted, the book of air, the book that gleams with spiritual gold, flies in through the walls as though they were but shadows. There is a mighty glory shout from the congregation. It is, according to Mary Timmons, answered by music from “the highest sanctorium of the meridian sky.” There are twenty heavenly doves soaring in a circle around the book. Outside of them is a circle of robins. All these birds fly through the walls and away, while the book settles upon the reading desk. The wings do not fade, but cover the pulpit with plumes of azure, plumes of ebony, peacock feathers, each with three eyes, and long feathery golden threads that are spreading and scattering like loose silk. Yet these things seem but as clouds spun by necromancy and as words of the angels made visible.
Then Mary Timmons takes a strange turn, and insists it is, after all, only a copy of the Bible, open at the Beatitudes. Glorified in this way it brings about the higher emancipation of her people. Beginning with this congregation they are stirred to the depths of their more creative selves. Devout composers, the kind that once gave birth to one line spirituals, sung like “rounds,” now develop epic forms of composition that are allied to these, so that great and musical shouts echo from mouth to mouth and breast to breast with three hundred singing, and then the whole African race singing. And instead of simply expressing the massed devotion of Africa, as of old, these more personal spirituals record the lyric cry of this or that black poet. Africa-in-America now sings the special story of the black statesman, the black farmer, or even the devout architect John Ends and the like. And the people and race of Mary Timmons, once natural orators, but no one a better creator than another, suddenly flower individually. Their genius becomes intensely centered in a few, and there are speakers with definite, individual messages, who shout not only wonderful round rolling words, but phrases with whip lash and sentences with sword edge, in orations as individual as the world demands that art shall be. The African man with the soul of the fox, now speaks like the fox, as is his right and duty, the man with the soul of the elephant now speaks like the elephant, as is his right and duty, and the woman with the heart of the nightingale now speaks like the nightingale.
Our evangelist reveals to us his dream that in the Mystic Year 2018, he is the Vice-President of the Springfield Athletic Union and his nickname is Cave Man Thomas. On a certain day, in the fall of 2018, the president of the Athletic Union is dying. He is “said to be” poisoned by a political foe. He hands a key to Cave Man Thomas. It opens the official roller-top desk, which is in a building on the site of the present Y. M. C. A. on Seventh Street and Capital Avenue. There is a book, the size and shape and general appearance of Spaulding’s Athletic Guide, with the same man with a baseball bat, on the cover. The near pamphlet has no wings or other such fantastic ornament It is mundane paper and ink, with a yellow back.
According to his tale, we two read it alone of nights. We follow its counsel as one would secret foot-ball signals. We do not betray the source of our wisdom to any but Mayor Kopensky and his friend Dr. Sims. We see large results of our labors. We two, acting for the Mayor and the Doctor, smash the face of everyone who does not submit to our dogmas about Hell, which we get from the very front pages of the book. We have more sluggers on our side every hour. We give God and the Mayor and the Doctor the glory, and take none of it ourselves. We hear no music in the air or such like nonsense, while these things are going on. The Cave Man insists that the town is much improved by our policy. Of his predestined valor I may discourse at an opportune time. But meanwhile let me show you a further variation from the typical story about The Golden Book.
I am more eager to know how the welfare worker finds herself in the mirrors of 2018 than to receive any other news of that time from her. Despite all her graces she has no especial personal vanity. She is more imperious than vain. but I gently insist upon her confidence till she confesses that she finds herself in the mirrors of 2018 much the same, but with a greater rush of blood through all that magnificent slender frame, and a consequent higher color. In her dream she rejoices in a great resiliency, a greater long-bow curve in action, as she walks with even more of her humorously commanding way. Her name in the new time is Gwendolyn Charles.
Gwendolyn Charles is, in 2018, a motion-picture director and scenario writer. She claims Rabbi Terence Ezekiel and many other choice spirits among her stockholders and backers.
For her enterprise generally runs at a loss, like Grand Opera, and great orchestras, and great universities.
I must at this time concern myself with her story of All Saints’ Day, 2018. Very early in the morning she finds herself in her leading theatre which is on the site of the Old Fancy Bazar on the South side of the Square; by her side is the aged Rabbi Terence Ezekiel muttering enthusiastically to himself over strange and magnificent doings. With him are the inner company of enthusiasts for her film enterprise. And the body of the theatre is filled up with its regular patrons, in a most unusual frame of mind.
There is thrown upon the screen the production of the studios for that month, the story of Hunter Kelly, the founder of Springfield, whose regular solemn festival is July eleventh, but who is celebrated in a thousand ways; all year. Unexpected things are happening in the operator’s box. And it is a new kind of a projecting machine, utterly beyond the current devices. But let us consider the story of Hunter Kelly, as it rolls by on the screen, the early part of which, to the year 1920, has been long known to me.
Hunter Kelly was an Irish Catholic boy reared in a Pittsburgh orphan asylum. In the very first years of the nation he met, and became an ardent disciple of, John Chapman—Johnny Appleseed, and differed from him seriously on only two points, the Catholic Church, and hunting. Kelly’s dearest devotion was re-reading St. Augustine’s “City of God,’’ which he carried always in his hunter’s pouch, by his powder horn. And Johnny Appleseed’s dearest devotion was in reading and re-reading Swedenborg’s “Heaven and Hell,” which he carried in his seed-sack. And Hunter Kelly would shoot deer, over whom Johnny Appleseed would weep. So these two were separated when Kelly’s lust for hunting was on him like the passion of mighty Nimrod. Then he would live through an almost vegetarian period, travelling and planting with John Chapman—johnny Appleseed, and listening to his great monologues.
They began together, exploring the primeval forests near Pittsburgh. Each season they marched further west, returning in the fall to the cider mills of Western Pennsylvania, to beg and sort apple seeds for next spring’s excursion beyond where any other white men fought or explored. Kelly and John Chapman parted at last where is now Fort Wayne in Northern Indiana, They said “goodbye” in great love and devotion, Kelly swearing on St. Augustine’s “City of God” to plant in honor of Johnny Appleseed, a city like an apple tree, with its highest boughs in Heaven, and to begin by sowing there a special breed of apple seeds the saint gave him with his old leather seed-sack for a token.
Kelly joined a group of settlers going further west of the same name, but no kin. He entered what was then known as the “Sangamaw” Country with them and lived in their cabin a while. In this region he planted the world’s first orchards of Apple Amaranth trees, from the old leather sack.
The first settlers were the Kellys, Matheneys and Elliots. The young sower of mysteries lived alternately in their great log houses, and sat, at the end of his great wolf-hunts, by their open fireplaces. The chief of the local wolf-pack was the Devil, and refused to be slain. At last he took on his true form and came alone to Kelly when he stood meditating among the first sprouts of the famous Apple Amaranth Orchard, and there gave the young fellow words of admiration for his valor. For the Devil is often a true sport.
There Kelly made a compact to submit himself to torture for many years if the pioneer city of his vow to Johnny Appleseed might be built here. He and the Devil swore the compact on St. Augustine’s “City of God.’’
The Devil pledged himself that if the young hunter’s soul would submit itself to long suffering, the place could be evolved in time. Old Satan laughed, and said his little subordinate devils would then be guided to build better than they knew. The Devil did not carry Hunter Kelly to Hell, but devised a special torment. He buried the mystic a few hundred feet below the orchard. In the hunter’s living skull and heart were entangled the roots of the first Apple-Amaranth Trees, and from them all others of this region come.
The Devil has a great respect for his contracts. Every year, for a century he dug up the mystic on Hallowe’en night, and showed him the city, and every time Kelly said: “Take me back to my torture. The City is not yet started.’’ At last, when the lads returned from the war with Germany, and the girls returned from Red Cross work, and the like, in the summer of 1919, and the city began to take on glory both visible and invisible, Hunter Kelly said to the Devil: “I will now trust my town to go on. At last they are eating of the Apple Amaranth, which they thought was poison. They are even transplanting it.”
Thereupon Hunter Kelly drove the Devil away with the great pickaxe and spade, the same which had often dug the hunter from the ground.
From this pickaxe on, the story was entirely new to the screen, and much of it new to the audience.
Kelly then built himself a cell in Heaven out of old and broken fragments of forgotten palaces in the far jungles. There he wrote The Golden Book for our little city far below. By day he lived as that boy of Springfield who grew up as Saint Scribe of the Shrines, and established the discipline and ritual of The One Hundred Shrines of the World. He was rumored among a few of us to be the reincarnation of Hunter Kelly. He became the first teacher of St. Friend, who wore his mantle well after him. And now he is pictured, in many a dazzling flame-like color, throwing down from the window of his cell in heaven, this very hour of All Saint’s Day, The Golden Book of Springfield.
All this is the first intimation to Gwendolyn Charles that stranger things than we know may happen in heaven and on earth. As the wonder upon the screen moves on, with no formula of orthodox religion, and indeed with a sense of humor, like the laughter of the skies, she understands not what world she is in, and the lovely hedonist and artist is shaken with the passions of the mystic St. Catharine of Sienna.
She is concerned to know that in the box of the projecting machine is a dazzling presence, a sort of giant fairy, a little larger than a man, an operator, indeed, one she has not hired. There is an orchestra of giant fairies, who play such tunes as blue bells should give forth in the wild woods.
And meantime, according to her tale, the book is there, pictured on the screen, circling around the domes and towers of Rabbi Terence Ezekiel’s heretical synagogue on east Mason Street. And so the Rabbi makes haste to that place, and a few friends follow. But many people in the audience of quite different faiths declare that those are their own church steeples and not his temple towers, and hasten to the houses of their belief. Which is not so strange, to one who has been in a law court, for there it is demonstrated that a witness is somewhat apt to see and remember what he desires to see and remember. And so each finds the book where he has faith to find it.
The Doubter is the next member of our club to testify and he tells of the midnight visions he has already described to me.
He is reborn as Mayo Sims, physician of all the great saints and sinners in the town. Incidentally he is the political ally of the Rock and Kopensky families, people obscure in 1920, since they are but tenants on his farms, but in 2018 in the city government, along with the tribe of Cave Man Thomas and others.
The physician tells first to me, then to the rest of the group of forecasters, that he has seen how the book with all its chronicles and exhortations, rituals and parables, is utterly rejected by the mass of the citizens of the Mystic Year. They refuse to let the pages draw conclusions for them from the past or move them with hopes for the future. According to his tale the volume raises a faction of desperate malcontents, whose business, beside fomenting strikes, is to sing in a particularly nasal whine. Some of the rank and file of this group are shot down, after the city has endured five days of hideous “racket,” and more hideous vocal music. There is no magic ballad or hymn in the air.
There is but one copy of the book, “thanks be.” It is full of sedition, and therefore tabooed, but dog-eared from being much passed around in secret. To be sure it has a cheap gilt paper cover. It is captured and carried ten miles east of the city by certain friends of law and order, members of the Rock and Kopensky families, led by Cave Man Thomas. It is dropped into an abandoned coal-shaft. It goes down like lead. It has no wings. It was written by hair-brained sociologists, some of the wild ones from the absurd University of Springfield, not by “practical business men.”
It is not rescued from the shaft. The writers of the work go back to their legitimate teaching, and are heard from never again.
The Doubter goes on to give the genuine psycho-analytical data on most of the saints of Springfield at that time. These accounts are from his confidential records. For he treats the holy ones for all varieties of nervous disorder, epilepsy, and the like. He is quite sure Christ and Mohammed were epileptics, and that settles it with all such foolishness. But perhaps you too have doubted.
The Doubter’s variety of revelation during double consciousness is not all certified by the man who dreams he becomes Cave Man Thomas. It is not quite T. M. C. A. enough.
HISTORY OF THE MICHAELS FROM 1920 TO 2018
As news spreads of The Prognosticator’s Club and of the remarkable tales and visions that are unfolded there, new men and women come to us, with the word that they, too, have a dream, persistent and recurring, of the Springfield of the next century. One such is Joseph Bartholdi Michael—whose father’s story belongs here in our narrative.
While many of the blacksmith shops of Springfield have slowly changed to garages, there is one in especial that has resisted the tide in a formidable way. It is the shop located on the southeast comer of Fifth Street and Capital Avenue. This place has kept most of the fancy horse-shoeing trade of the city in 1920.
The aged proprietor-patriarch, “The Iron Gentleman,” still does the heavy part of the work. He has,—with their own help, indeed, put three sons and three daughters through college, handsomely. He has trained his sons to his business and the extraordinary secrets of his shop, of which the whole tribe are inordinately proud.
In early youth he discovered the process of hammering out the old Damascus blades, and vastly improved upon it, and struck off a new type of sword for the worlds and his work has remained in undeviating pattern and quality ever since. At his simple forge he hammers out those wonderful swords in plain sight of the passer-by or the detective from Europe. They cannot grasp the secret. He named his gift to the world, “The Avanel Blade.” It is waspish and supple, all-conquering in body and soul. Sideways it can be wound like watch spring steel, or even a coil of narrow ribbon. Edgewise it can cut more human flesh and bone than the heavy guillotine, it can cut straight through an iron or granite block of any thickness, as though it were cutting snow. In its standard form it is longer than the longest cavalry sword. It is the assumption of the strange old “Iron Gentleman” that it will be used mostly by women, his descendants, and in battle for this land. Legend has it that the blade is named for a sweetheart who died in his youth. Certainly there is no living Avanel. He and his sons and daughters, all of them trained to his trade, have shod the horses of the notables of the country round, of more than one president of the United States, and of innumerable forgotten candidates for the presidency who began their careers by ostentatiously going to his humble shop.
His daughters are quite accomplished in light, ornamental iron work. They are well bred, high strung girls, and have the vitality of young tigers. These girls and their father are responsible for the most remarkable phenomenon of the streets of Springfield in 1917. Inspired by the Amazons of the Russian Revolution, at the very beginning of that revolution, before it was declared a failure by the western world, they filled out an idea which had long been forming in their minds, and organized a troop of girl cavalry and offered it to the government for service against Germany. The girls were fully disciplined and equipped at the time of the declaration of war. Their services were refused, and almost all of the girls went into the stereotyped war work, many of them overseas. But now the whole body of troops is together again, riding our streets night and day, armed with the Avanel sword, and led, quite haughtily, by the Iron Gentleman’s youngest daughter.
The brothers have organized a similar group of cavalry, armed with the same blade, and call it The Horse Shoe Brotherhood. But, of course, it has not attracted the same attention as the dazzling girls. The Horse Shoe Brotherhood was not accepted by the government as a body. They enlisted, or were drafted, one at a time, in a conventional fashion. Many of the cavalry girls, following the example of the Michael women, are often gritty enough to shoe their own horses.
The “Iron Gentleman” is lean and ruddy, with a hooked and hatchet face. He has the habit of pointing his long, skinny fingers at the enemy he denounces, who may be present in imagination, or even in fact, while the oratory flows. Every street corner of Springfield is haunted with the legends of a series of fist fights in the boyhood biography of “The Iron Gentleman,” election scrimmages of his young manhood, and the like. It is said that at the interesting age of fourteen he broke half the street lamps of Springfield with well thrown cinders until one evening when he had his jacket thoroughly dusted by a most energetic father. He had several personal encounters on the streets of Springfield in middle age, horsewhipping some hereditary enemy, or thwarting some hereditary enemy who threatened, imminently, to horsewhip him.
“The Iron Gentleman” is a savage only two or three days in the year in his old age. He tells his boys’ and girls’ children and grandchildren, that they are to shoe horses and ideas forevermore, and send these ideas galloping across the world, sure footed; and his family are to keep on doing this, whether the town likes it or not. He tells them to hammer out swords perfectly tempered and to put their own souls on the anvil and hammer them till they are swords likewise, and to go forth and cut their way through the world, and bring back the heads of their enemies to Springfield and hang them in rows in front of their forges, whether the town likes it or not.
“The Iron Gentleman” and his sons have revived the cult of boxing and bare fist fighting, and as a result there is many a black eye and bloody nose among both “delicate,” and “muckers” of Springfield. We are as thoroughly damaged as German duelling students, though with not quite the same marks. And the boy scouts are getting battered up, and something must be done to put a stop to this.
“The Iron Gentleman” and his two older sons have the forge-burned faces of blacksmiths. But though the youngest excels in their accomplishments, he is more a brother of his father’s cavalry-sword, the Damascus Blade.
Like the rest he is tall and slender, but there is a difference. He hardly needs his father’s gift to the world; he is such a fencer with the shorter and more conventional blade. He looks like the flattering portraits of Louis Fourteenth of France, that were made in that monarch’s youth. He has a great turn for pageantry, though with him it has taken a completely democratic phase. There is no sounder citizen in all his works and ways than this Joseph Bartholdi Michael. He has studied long under Thomas Wood Stevens, William Chauncey Langdon, and Percy Mackaye. And so he has established a pageantry calendar for the city which has been adopted by the City Commissioners, backed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Art Association, the Rotary Club, the Lion’s Club, and the Optimist’s Club.
He has somewhat mitigated the “scrapping” of the boy scouts by evolving a code book of chivalry for them, and it endeavors to impart taboos, observances, and as well, honorifics for real merit. He ties up all these with the pomps of his calendar. He it is that imparts to his youthful followers a special consideration for the ladies, and reverence for their beauty.
He fought at the Meuse-Argonne, was all through the battle of a little more than five weeks’ length from September 26, 1918, on through hell and glory to November first, when the American First Army cut like magic swords through those four intricate systems of German defenses, that were spread out over those famous ten miles. On November the first he and many Springfield boys, including his two blacksmith brothers, were going on like fate, like their own irresistible blades which they managed to carry into that long five weeks’ battle. In all this Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the exquisite, was the dashing leader of his group, a private in the ranks, but from the beginning to the end, a sword. And they swept forward with the American First Army till the very end of hostilities on the eleventh of November. They did their full share of the work of that American First Army, which, the experts say, took sixteen thousand prisoners, 468 guns, 2,664 machines guns, 177 trench mortars, made an advance of 34 miles in 47 days and set free 1,550 square kilometers of French ground and 150 villages.
Indeed they took their due part in that battle which saved the world.
It is at the end of this battle, at the dawn before Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, that Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the exquisite, has his vision of the year 2018. He dreams of leaving Springfield for a similar battle in Asia, with a far more uncertain outcome. He is about to go forth with The Horse Shoe Brotherhood and the Amazon Riders, armed one and all with the Avanel Sword, against the strange nation of the Singaporians, who are blasting the world with their demon ambition as did the Germans of 1914. And he bears the same name. He is known as Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, is an old man, with a pageant leader for a son:—Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third.
Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, has reverted to an exaggeration of “The Iron Gentleman.” His son, on the other hand, is in 2018 an exquisite: almost gone to seed, a histrionic silly. Bartholdi Second that is to be, touches on the history of the clan for one hundred years, for the benefit of the Prognosticator’s Club. On looking deeply into his dream he finds that his father is still known among the descendants as “The Iron Gentleman.” About 1925 the children and grandchildren took for their family flag the picture of six anvils, and above them six hammers.
In the Mystic Year the cottages of these people are scattered in every quarter of the town, and the flag with the six anvils and six hammers flies in front of almost every cottage of a descendant, man or woman. The male descendants, of whatever name or high education, are blacksmiths and forge workers and makers of the Avanel blade, as are indeed many of the women. It seems to take the Michael hammer stroke to make that blade. With a few temporary exceptions, the men are busy horse-shoeing for the Amazons and making swords.
And with the exception of a few too exquisite creatures like Joseph Bartholdi, III, the clan is not inbred. The greater part of the brains of the tribe is still in their legs and arms, not off in a separate compartment in their skulls.
By dint of earnest cross-questioning, I get it from Joseph Bartholdi Michael, that he has been a figure in Illinois in dreams of 2000-2018. He has been the author in precocious youth of a book, entitled: “Paper Made Nations,” a treatise on the laws of flying machine commerce and it became the basis of the economic side of Black Hawk Boone’s pet theory and way of life.
According to the model, Joseph Bartholdi, in his reincarnation, has shod the horses of many a governor of Illinois and President of the United States, and President of the World Government. This husky, distinguished democracy combines with the prestige of his precocious book to make him the most distinguished representative of the teeming 2018 Middle West, in the World Government. He champions there the ceremonies and honors due the International Flag with the loyalty to what they like and a sense of the depths of pageantry, that has distinguished the Michael following from the beginning. Portia, the Singing Aviator, has in the generation of the Mystic Year, written the local song about “The Patchwork Flag of Michael and the World.” And she calls it in the same song: “Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors” or “The Flag of Joseph’s Coat” in allusion to his fashion of almost draping it around him, with the Star Spangled Banner, when he is speaking on high occasions, on international issues.
Instead of an exquisite, he is lean, wiry, with a hooked and hatchet face, burned, cooked, in the forge. He finds he has the habit of pointing his long, skinny fingers at the enemy he denounces. He finds that, like his progenitor, “The Iron Gentleman” he has a record of putting things through with sheer fury when there is no other weapon handy.
He tells the Prognosticator’s Club, that, through the century, the flag with the six hammers and the six anvils has been smeared by renegades. But the proud truth-speaking custom has tortured the whole clan till some one has risen to confess the sins of the name, and start new.
And the Michaels have been hated off and on for a whole century because of these things, and because they were always hating some one, even without cause. They were apt to be jealous of other vigorous citizens, considering themselves the sole saviors of the principle of defiant democracy. But all the century the leading Michaels have seemed to be saying: “A town well hammered into shape is better than fortune or fame.” Few Michaels were guilty of living a private and secluded existence.
Few maidens were crowned with lovelier hair or carried themselves with finer mien than the granddaughters and great granddaughters of the “Iron Gentleman.” The stock has gone on in beauty and strength through the vision of a century. Yet in 2018 it seems that the scepter is just a little departing from the younger generation. It is not that they are ousted from public office. The fearless voice of a Michael always counts most as a private citizen, and, whenever Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, returns from The World Government, he takes his place in the Horse Shoe Brotherhood as a private in the ranks beside his son Joseph Bartholdi, the Third, and it is their full intention, according to hereditary political habit, to ride against Singapore, when the time is ripe, as privates in the ranks.
But a new clan has come up from Cairo, Illinois, led by Black Hawk Boone. Many of their young girls look more like young Indian maids from a government reservation school, than people of Caucasian stock. But, for all that, they have their own original ways of delicate manner and address, most disconcerting to the fixed limits of Springfield’s conventionality. They are rather short and heavy-set. Their merry young men and middle-aged men have, most of them, long, curly black lovelocks to the shoulders, not carefully combed, and nearly all defiantly wag big black beards in every argument, when all other men in the modem world are shaved clean.
They cheerfully hate the blacksmith clan which they are ousting by a greater talent for fury, preaching, and cursing, and by having just a little more brain at the back of the neck.
The town wits say these clans hate each other because, on the whole, they are so much alike, and always vote the same way at a crisis. The locks of both the Boone men and women stream back over their shoulders, and their left hands are dyed crimson as a proud perpetual reminder to themselves and all the world that among their ancestors were aborigines.
But America has not suffered the regime of nigh two hundred years of baseball umpires:—and presidential elections accepted by November 15 by the defeated party, without a disposition to be good sports on the part of self-respecting clans like these. And so it comes about to stir the romantic soul of the town that the Avanel Blade of the “Iron Gentleman” of 1920 has become a woman in 2018, but a woman no kin to the Michaels. In 2018 Horse Shoe Brotherhood and Michael Amazons are under one commander, the lovely Lady Avanel Boone, and, though they be armed with the Avanel Blade indeed, she scores a point in family pride and makes them swear fealty on Daniel Boone’s old hunting knife, which she carries in her belt as a token of her Kentucky forbears.
And now, as the son of the “Iron Gentleman” tells the story, it comes as a clouded vision before me, as though I were half in the vision and beginning a destiny of my own.
It is the snowy morning of All Saint’s Day, 2018, the Michael Clan and a general Assembly of Springfield people are at the crossing of Fifth Street and Capital Avenue, and by the ancestral forge on the southeast comer. The fire is burning high and the bellows is roaring. The horse of the conquering Avanel Boone is to be shod by that good sport Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, who has just returned from the World Government to take his modest place in the ranks of her following. And then there are these curly haired, black browed, black bearded rascals to whom all Michaels must be polite, and these Red-Indian looking girls and boys, Avanel’s innumerable adoring cousins who are publicly admiring her with hectic words and kissing her with sugar sweetness and honest family idolatry. There is a touch of the uncanny, the restless, the Ishmaelite about all these Boones, they have no business in the streets of a town. They look like dressed-up wood-choppers, all but that trim Avanel.
While the snow is blowing into the shop, white-haired Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, has taken the old shoes from the dainty feet of the white pony, and, just as he is lifting a new shoe from the fire and the flames leap up, there is a music incredibly sweet, and with a great whirring of wings and terrible thunder “The Book’’ flies out of the fire, and circles above these two clans. Avanel with eyes fixed and strained in wonder, follows it on her unshod horse. The Book settles into her arms, and I see her sit above the company like a fairy in a trance, and read with adoring voice from the snow white book while the assembled clans and all the citizens gather close to hear.
The first pages of the volume give in jewelled and flaming letters a new charter and constitution for the World Government, based on the life and teaching of Springfield’s deathless citizen, Abraham Lincoln.
There is in the air an exquisite song and around the consecrated Avanel a glory ineffable, for she is the High Priestess of The Book for her people. The song in the air praises her, and urges her, and all those she commands, to valor for the Heavenly Star Spangled Banner and the Heavenly International Flag. And the song whispers that the book, in many strange forms, will appear in many a green field of our middle west this day, in many a pulpit and many a lonely mourner’s house to give life and eternal light.
But, as my neighbor from the blacksmith shop of 1920 tells the tale more slowly, the vision turns to mere words again, and then to dust and ashes. And I myself seem but ashes on the winds of time.
The histories of the future in the Prognosticator’s Club are no more contradictory than the accounts our fathers give of the leading events of the Civil War.
Everywhere South of Mason and Dixon’s line they say that Grant surrendered to Lee. It is in every southern school book. When we look into history we are made dizzy by cloud and flame. And we shall still be partizans in the highest Heaven. There are many earthly languages. There are many heavenly languages. There are many blazing, blinding tomorrows. But they all lead to the same glorious tomorrow at last.
The Prognosticators are a dithyrambic, chanting, improvising howling dervish set, with a certain sense of humor among all these blinding lights, which is but to say they have elasticity of soul and mind.
Many of the Michael Clan of Springfield, of 1920, returned soldiers, Red Cross nurses, and other workers, saw kindred visions of the Flying Book of Springfield blazing above the trenches at midnight for their comfort, while voices in the air sang them stories of home.
Reader, in your town many like these are brooding alone over unaccountable vistas of the future of their city, that have come to them in battle or by the fireside or in the storm. They have found themselves standing momently at cross streets of vision, before they felt their hearts to be as dust again. Call them together. Blow ashes into flame. Start a brotherhood of your own. Live in the New City that is revealed to you, as we are living in our City and in the streets of our Tomorrow.
I ENTER INTO THE NEW SPRINGFIELD OF 2018. I AM
SNUBBED BY AVANEL, SHE RELENTS, SHOWING ME
MANY PANORAMAS OF NEW SPRINGFIELD. WE
CONFESS TO HAVING THE SAME DREAM OF
But it is not after the noble manner of these others that I enter at last into the vision of 2018.
There is deep darkness, and time passing by without end, and shade. There is the fear of the moles that will not leave me alone, who make nests of alien dust, beneath my ribs. And my bones crumble through the century, like last year’s autumn leaves. Then there is, alternating with drouth, bitter frost. And roots wrap my heart and brain. And there is sleep.
Then a galloping and gay shrieking, away on the road, to the East of Oak Ridge! And though I am six feet beneath the ground the eyes of the soul are given me. I see wonderful young horsewomen out on that Great Northwest Road and the ancient clay between me and that cavalcade turns to air and to light. And I am asking myself as the Girl Leader goes by like a meteor: “Am I coming up again through the earth as weed or flame or man? If I rise from this grave, I am coming but to praise her, if I may.”
There is deep darkness again, and sleep, and when next I awake I am in the midst of a terrible March rain, and I run for refuge into Dodd’s Drug Store. It is the old Fifth and Monroe corner. I buy the early afternoon Register from a bawling newsboy. It is dated March first, 2018. Soon the storm abates a little, but it is a freezing, thawing, wind-whistling, late afternoon. It is dusk, and I am walking South on what was once Third Street, but is now Mulberry Boulevard, with the Chicago and Alton railroad long gone. And I am with that girl who awakened me, Avanel Boone, and there is no poetry about it at all. It is obvious by the air with which she takes possession of me and hustles me down that rain and sleet-scourged avenue, that she considers herself the heroine of my story. But dear me, what stubborn material for a heroine. Here, after a century, woman is the same she always was.
To put it in restrained phrases she is, in her disposition, like the weather. She scolds me for the unpressed state of my clothes, and my mussed hair, and my lack of air of distinction. She says I have slept in my clothes so much that they are in a perfectly abused condition.
I admit that I have not consulted a tailor for some little time. She says I carry myself as though I were a ditch digger or were following the plough, instead of walking with a lady. She lashes me for what she alleges are my ridiculous ideas, and goes over the catalogue till it is impossible to enjoy the panorama that I glimpse through the bracing sleet and rain, and I scarcely care to look at her, the little devil,—though she is to be my heroine.
The only flattering thing about the encounter is the air of settled proprietorship of this young lady.
At length there is silence and I chase along meekly beside her under the umbrella, and cool down, and do her the honor to look her over as well as I can in the storm. Her face is half hidden by her flapping waterproof cape and we are walking under tremendous shade trees. I note her chin quite high in the air, her spirited profile set straight forward, and her cheeks, with color that goes like a blown-out flame and then comes again like a heart-beat.
March 2, 2018;—I am again in my New City. I begin the day by reading the Illinois State Journal of March 2; it is the same paper as of old. I note the advertisements of laundries, screen factories, cleaners and dyers, apple merchants, dealers in hats and caps, dealers in hay, grain and feed, places for the purchase of fish, game and oysters, poultry and eggs, etc. I note ladies’ furnishing establishments, retail dry goods stores, bakeries, headquarters for cash registers, meat markets, the establishments of upholsterers, places where may be found parcel delivery messengers, lists of dealers in flour and feed, various advertisements of baggage and transfer companies, dealers in wall paper, paints, oils and varnish, and everything in advertisements in the Journal to convince me that this is the same old paper, and the same old capital city. Yet I am endowed with new powers. I go about the streets as a sort of a millennial chameleon. I find myself wearing various bodies. First I am but myself, kneeling before the Image of the Virgin, in the church of St. Peter and St. Paul. In an hour I am a City Hall stenographer, in the office of the Mayor. This Mayor is referred to in the Journal as “Slick Slack Kopensky.” Later in the morning I am clerk for Justice of the Peace John Boat, whose office is right by the jail. And both the jail and the office stairs have the same old skunk smell that has distinguished jails and the stairs of justice from the beginning. Later, in the afternoon, I am an emergency messenger for the Japanese department of the World’s Fair of the University of Springfield, and am, to all appearances, a Japanese. I find myself wearing the clothes and shoes of these various supernumeraries, and in my double consciousness, knowing their affairs all through, as though I had lived in their frames twenty years. Yet no matter whose body I seem to wear or whose tongue I seem to be wagging, I step back into the same yokel when, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon, between these episodes I find myself cowering in the presence of Comrade Avanel. It is a cloudy, foggy day, and fog seems to come between us whenever I try to look at her. In the morning I win her hard consent to take yesterday’s walk again, and she promises not to scold me, only flinging out the assertion that I am a diamond in the rough and that it is her business to polish me:—a statement I seem to have heard before somewhere.
In the afternoon she behaves, and the fog blows away after a while and I am able to enjoy the vision of this proud quivering young body and soul. From beneath the bantam-rooster air emerges a little glimpse of the sibyl.
For all her tailor-made smartness, she is like the Indian, and walks unimpeded as though in moccasins. Her hair is black and long and straight, and today her fashion plate profile is changed to something more native American. Yet her skin is so white and her cheeks are so red, and the flush comes and goes so fast, the Indian illusion has Completely disappeared when she turns her face to me. Her changing elusive face has a haunting kinship to the countenance of my favorite and adored image of the virgin that has been for much more than a century to the north of the high altar of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, where I have been again meditating this very morning. And I try to tell her that she is a more earthly younger sister of this virgin, but indeed of the same tribe and house of saints.
When she bows her head in what may be dreaming, there is to my foolish imagination a hint of Pallas Athena about the action. When she lifts her head, and looks me full in the face all the upper part of her countenance is definitely a feminized portrait of Shelley, and she wears those curls hiding either ear after the smartest fashion of 2018. They are called the Harriet Beecher Stowe curls, and copied from those in the most frequent portrait of Harriet Beecher Stowe, when she was a dazzling young woman. I try to tell Avanel how her beauty seems, but my speeches are not eloquent and my heroine is neither poetess nor prophetess in her replies. She says “I cannot be all of those creatures. Your figures contradict.”
I answer: “Step into my hall of mirrors, and you will discover yourself to be all I have said, and a devil in the bargain.”
She drifts to speaking of her father, born in southern Illinois, descendant on one side from Daniel Boone, and on another from a Kentucky Indian chief of long ago. For the first time that high throaty snobbish mannerism and affected even tone disappear from her voice, and she speaks as a human creature should. She cannot be a society chatterbox when discussing her clan.
She goes on to tell how her mother came of two long lines of Springfield Catholics. And I gather, as Avanel talks on and on, and I piece it out from dim memories that float about the back of my head, that two lines of her mother’s house were the one Irish, and the other Lithuanian, and that long ago this woman was the most famous dancer of The Gordon Craig Theatre. She died in Avanel’s fifteenth year. And it seemed in the local fitness of things for the little girl with the same talent to go forward bearing the same responsibilities as soon as she could carry them, dancers coming to their own early, if they ever have a place. She was soon the head of all those who could make Springfield’s devotional ideals clear and appealing, through those inherited rituals. Avanel and her group have danced for the Churches at Christmas and other times, and, in the history of her art most important of all, the festivals of Johnny Applesed, and of St. Scribe and Hunter Kelly. And now I begin to remember with her some of those occasions as through rifts of cloud.
Now Avanel says she does not want me to be seen in the audience where she gives a religious dance. She is angry with herself and me, because she is herself flattening out so, after talking on religious matters. But I am philosophical about this young woman, today, and look about at what we are passing.
We stare silently into the windows at adding machines, mantels, grates, and tiles. We pass a wholesale house for barber supplies, and Avanel says I need a hair cut. We pass the business houses of feather-renovators and dealers, of dealers in safes and looks, and rubber stamps. I note aloud in passing that Avanel has many rubber stamp ideas and needs to alter them if she would do justice to her glorious face. She answers not. We walk on. We pass through a wholesale region, and while the fog still conceals the towers of the town and comes lower, we can look into the windows yet, and I note that this is not as in the century before. Almost every wholesaler has a dazzling insignia and coat of arms. This is true for instance of the manufacturing machinists and millwrights, the headquarters for tempering and dies. It is true, even, of the dealers in sand and gravel, the tinners and slate roofers, the transfer and trucking companies, the brick and tile manufacturers, the soda water manufacturers, the pump manufacturers, the cigar manufacturers, the leather and belting men, and many others that to me were most commonplace of old. But their window displays are as the throne rooms of knighthood.
March 3:—Mist and darkness of soul are clearing away. And I am welcomed in my real and permanent aspect in the streets of the New Springfield, by many fellow citizens that it appears I have known for long. I am to them also the yokel Avanel thinks me to be, and I meet with many covert smiles. It seems I have returned after years of art study in New York, and it is the first time many of them have seen me for quite awhile. I am welcomed back to town a slightly boresome but harmless cousin. But everyone calls his worst enemy cousin, as in a Kentucky village. Young Jim Kopensky asks in a cousinly manner why I start art classes here, if I had any kind of prospects in New York, rather implying that I am here because I have nowhere else to go. He takes up a strain remarkably like that of Avanel, and insists that I failed with the great metropolitan oracles of art because of uncreased trousers, and merely stares with incredulity when I insist that their trousers are often uncreased, and some of them dress like rag bags. Despite many similar greetings, I inwardly vow to start my art classes anyhow, and I spend a morning having a most fraternal chat with Sparrow Short. He is re-touching a portrait of Mara of Singapore, painted several years ago when she was a young girl, and the political issue between Singapore and America was not so keen. Short is determined to exhibit it at the August opening of The World’s Fair of the University of Springfield. In this picture I behold her in her glory, a premature creature of thirteen, a Singaporian Juliet, Short says “more hectic in her aspect than she is now. At the present she is an exceedingly cool panther.” The days Short painted this portrait, she was deeply reading the most inflaming Singaporian romance, and in the portrait it flashes recklessly from her, and her eyes and mouth are round with the thought of the loves of the lost gods, who flourished before the prophet of the Cocaine Buddha of Singapore killed them all in the jungle. She is dressed in green silk and in her hands is a great green feather fan. Short is painting out certain vague white blossoms on a bush in the background and turning them to green buds, for Mara has imperiously demanded it.
I am living near the studio of Sparrow Short, in one of the old houses of Springfield on South Fourth Street which existed in my previous life, and where once lived a dear friend of mine.
Everything in the old house is disposed and ordered as formerly, and it is only when I step out on the front lawn and pass under a certain mulberry tree that I seem to be in the New Springfield.
I pass under this tree. I walk a little way to the house of Avanel, and we saunter abroad. And the fogs are blowing away and she is in a most amiable mood, and I am able to note that our city is indeed a flying, fluttering place.
Confectioneries, auto trucks, popcorn vans, pleasure machines, and the passing crowds are decked with ribbons and streamers. Many families have a flag pole in the front yard with a row of tiny ancestral flags, one over the other, each indicating some form of skilled or unskilled manual labor by which the ancestors of the house made their way, and it is considered a disgrace to display any other type of ancestral flag, but one which shows some form of manual labor.
But many staffs have only three flags, that of the town, that of the International Government, and above these, the Star Spangled Banner. These people pride themselves in being more democratic, and not parading their ancestry. Nearly all business houses, particularly the large and wholesale houses, have their own especial banners and bunting, and some give out toy balloons and the like to the children, marked with the same schemes. The Star Spangled Banner is above everything, even on the International buildings, to indicate that the United States has the old South Carolina privilege of secession from the World Federation, whenever she pleases. And so I am walking with Avanel, on the late afternoon of March third, 2018, We find ourselves very near the center of the group of slender Sunset Towers, Seven of them are of the seven colors of the rainbow, one for each color, placed in a circle around the Truth Tower, which is in the very center of the star-plan system of boulevards. We climb the Truth Tower and look about. The Truth Tower is also called The Edgar Lee Masters Tower, and it is high above the rest. At the foot of it is the circular green with Golden Rain-Trees from New Harmony, Indiana. This is called the Edgar Lee Masters Park. Near by is the Lincoln Memorial Park, containing the marked sites of Lincoln’s three law offices, and in the center our first State House, now the Lincoln museum. On the sides of all the Sunset Towers that one may see from the old public square is spread the Red Star of Springfield, set in the White Star of Illinois. Searchlights blaze through it, spreading red and white light. Outside the white Truth Tower that soars above all the city, and outside its rainbow circle of campaniles, the ninety-two other campaniles shimmer in the sun, their hues ranging from grey to rose-grey, and grey-gold to rose-gold. And they grow wilder in the red, black and white gorgeousness of the night.
The fifty towers on the outermost circle are the newest. They are the only separate buildings of the World ’s Fair of the University of Springfield, except one long street called “The Street of Past History,” which is about a mile to the south beginning at Bunn Park and sweeping toward the northwest in a quarter of a circle to the high hill of Washington Park. Every building in the city is officially a part of the fair and in theory at least, the City is the Fair.
It is late in the evening, and I am with Avanel on top of the Truth Tower, and she is relenting, not so much toward me, as toward her town. It is the first time she has taken in the panorama, since the last circle of towers was completed and The Street of Past History illuminated.
“I must admit,” she says, “the civic patriotism of two most unfashionable persons. Old Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, who is away now at the legislature of the World Government, is the head of our whole architectural project. He is something of a Smart Set person, and is in fact an old West Pointer. But the real work was done by the most unpopular Thibetan Boy and the architectural planning and imagining was by the negro John Emis. Old Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, has lent his name to protect these people, and leave them unmolested in their project. As it is, he turns his appropriation over to them. The city would not give either of such a salary. It will give the Thibetan Boy a little credit, when all is over, but John Emis none at all, because he is a negro. When you go down into the streets again you will find a black stripe tucked away in some odd comer of the design of every building in The Street of Past History. If you look you will see that same stripe now, on the outer circle of towers. It goes slenderly around the fourth story and the tenth. That black stripe is the personal secret signature of John Emis, the negro architect.”
The voice of this woman beside me alters to that gentle and human tone in which she spoke of her mother, as though this city, too, has its hand somewhat on her heart. Yet she is proud and almost barks at me when I attempt any kind of understanding, and to her I am not of this city, and my sole excuse for living is that I admire her, and therefore must be forgiven every other trait in my character till she has time to mend my ways. My scalp must dangle at her belt.
“I begin to be almost reconciled to living in Springfield,” she muses, “Springfield is all society, you know, and it is hopeless to try to make it anything else. Of course there are some places where it pays to have ideas, but here a girl must conceal ideas if she has them.’’
Then, in an instant, another Avanel seems to flash forth. “You think I am a snob and a fool, you silly art student, but I would die for the International Flag far sooner than people like your idol Sparrow Short. ”
Avanel points out to me old Camp Lincoln, northwest, beyond the towers. There she leads the Amazonian Cavalry and the Horseshoe Brotherhood in bi-weekly drill, in preparation for the possible war against Singapore. Looming like the dome of the Taj Mahal above the trees is a gigantic world globe, which marks the center of the field. Around this shining map of everything her drills are held.
But I answer her cut: “Sparrow Short is no idol of mine, and you know it. I regard him as the best teacher of art in Springfield, but I do not accept his international views.”
“It seems to me,” she gives reply, “that you are always finding excuses for dubious revolutionaries, whose spirits and bodies are rag bags.”
About nine in the evening, there are star-chimes from all the towers. The bells are singing the song of Portia, the aviator:—“Look up at the far-off suns, Oh hearts of eternal desire.”
Avanel speaks to me in a swearing tone of voice: “I think I cut fewer people than you do. I should not be elected the head of the Amazons if I were a fool about exclusiveness. As a matter of fact I cut those who go to the parties of Mara, the daughter of the Man from Singapore. It is plain she gets those people under her roof to poison them against the world government or at least muffle their suspicions of her father’s doings and the doings of his like. You are the only person who thinks I cut loyal patriotic people.”
I am wondering why I like this Avanel. I conclude it is because of her overwhelming vanity and unbreakable pride. She has the soul of a thousand peacocks and there is a potential lioness in her beside.
She clasps her hands and looks silently over the city, her eyes wide and leaping with delight over the glory of the illumination. I say to Avanel: “My Fathers have been long in the grave, and my own dust has long been buried in other dust. I walk with you, only because my heart loved you, one hundred years ago.” But she does not understand me in the least, when I talk in this fashion.
March 4:—It is such an established custom among the young people of 2018 to watch the sunset from the great uninterrupted glass spaces of the upper halls of these sunset towers that there may be found the most famous cafeterias of the town. We dine at the top of one of them. There with gay singing the young democracy, and the young cocks of the walk as well, linger and wait till long past the afterglow. This evening the haughty Avanel consents to take dinner with me, that she may reprove me once more, seeing that, in general, my name is mud, however I may try to improve.
The catalogue of her hoity-toity friends rolls on forever and I can only protest by saying that while these are undeniably good citizens, they are all sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles of those who are invited to Mara’s parties, and thus quite near to treason.
But now the town choir sings the civic hymn from a tower near by:—“Springfield Awake, Springfield Aflame” and all the young people about join in the chorus, and as Avanel sings devoutly she cannot help but be the other self whose existence she tries to deny.
March 7:—I am dining again in the tower cafeteria with Avanel, a quite early dinner, and while the afterglow still blazes we look down upon the clustered cottages of our town. They are, in design, dominated by the so-called “Violet Curve,” a complex rhythm, which is magnified from the whorls of the violet petals, and the cottages are generally violet in hue. Some of the roofs and cupolas are beginning to be gilded. Springfield extends over the whole county through the taking in of countless groves, orchards, and aviation fields.
Not only in their special groves, but everywhere titan Amaranth Apple vines rise on trellises high above the other trees, for this famous Amaranth is a kind of a tree-vine that is in the fall thick with red and white blossoms and clusters of red apples. There are many parks in the New Springfield that were not in the old Springfield: Rankin, Sandburg, Humphrey, Roberts, Joyce, Kilmer, Masters, Untermeyer, and others. Avanel points out the public schools beneath us, often rebuilt on the old sites or near them, and bearing the same names. Ancient streets keep their names, except where boulevards have replaced them.
East of Tenth Street is the Negro district, all new, beautiful, flamboyant jungle houses, constructed for his people by John Emis, and through his influence not one slack old building remains, though, “most of them still hold slack colored people,” Avanel says. These houses are far richer than the towers and other buildings of the World’s Fair, for only here in Africa has John Emis an unrestrained hand.
March 8:—Avanel, with a view to my further chastisement, takes me about, scolding again, and we encounter a row of grotesques on great pedestals, which she confesses were put up by a group of young Boones who came from near Cairo, led by her father in his more fiery youth, when the Boones had by no means so strong a hold on the city.
They are in Liberty Park, near Concordia College, whose golden pinnacles glitter through the bare limbs of the trees. On
the central pedestal of the grotesques is inscribed: “To the cornerstones of the town; to the newspaper and motion picture and stage censors; to the respectables, the lady bountifuls, the so-called senior families; to the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution; to the Sons and Daughters of the Ancient Democrats, and the Sons and Daughters of the Ancient Republicans; and in general, to the dragon-quack worm of respectability, that dieth not.” Avanel says these were put up the day the “Boone Ax” newspaper was founded.
On the central pedestal, which is higher and more massive than the rest, crawling down from the top, is a dragon with a duck’s head. On the top of the other pedestals are the stone images of a fretful ape, an enormous frog, a long nosed ant eater, a laughing idiot, a hawk, a goat, a three-legged bull dog wearing a plug hat, a chicken without feathers, and a hog wearing trousers.
I say, on looking at these: “Avanel, I desire to meet your father, the honorable Black Hawk Boone. I darkly suspect he is one of those who go about in unpressed clothes and will doubtless furnish me with words to say to you. I should say that the daughter of such a father should be willing to dye her left hand crimson, for him, proudly.”
Avanel answers with a tearful solemnity, positively babyish:—“If you truly love me you will not use my father against me. While I respect him, I cannot respect all his clan and ideas and I am even more vexed over his way of mixing with mussy people. If I must have that kind of thing, I go to the saint who does it for religion and not from philosophy. I want you to meet St. Friend.”
March 10:—Late this evening I buy a sack of popcorn and walk about the shopping district alone, eating the well-buttered corn from my pocket, and swinging my cane, and observing the beauty of the ladies as they go into the theatre with their escorts. Many of them remind me of girls I used to eye with breathless reverence in Springfield. I am glad to wonder over beauty without being vexed with it, and I stand in the shadow, inwardly defying Miss Avanel. And having defied her about an hour, I call at nine o’clock, feeling perfectly emancipated, and tell her the following story:—
“Avanel, last night we went abroad into Dreamland together, hand in hand and heart in heart, looking with equal guilt for the Golden Pool of the Handsome Medicine Man, Devil’s Gold. It was way past midnight when we found him, in the midst of the black prairies of Dreamland I well know. He was making his medicine, and dishonoring our souls, by calling our names across the plain. We did not flinch. We walked straight to his yellow campfire, and looked into his gilded face and admired his yellow blanket, and right by his fire we satisfied our wicked desire by admiring ourselves in his golden pool.
“Our faces were close together, and as we looked into the pool, we saw ourselves in a mundane world, so perfect that its materialism became magical.
“We walked down through the pool, as though into an underground house, and we looked into each others faces again. And we were moving, gilded images from head to feet, and we were satisfied with each other at last, and I knew I wanted you to be gilded as much as you desired me to be so, and we took the wickedest pleasure in looking upon the yellow world around us.”
“Yes,’’ said Avanel, “I walked there with you in my dream last night, and I hope we will walk in houses of holiness together and I am sorry we walked in the pool of gold. Come with me to St. Friend.” After that, Avanel is more of a Christian.
THE TWO FACTIONS:— MAYOR SLICK SLACK KOPENSKI
AND HIS BOSS. MAYO SIMS; VERSUS BOONE,
PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF
April 3, 2018:—It is a sunny April morning. I note some tiny spring beauties in the patches of snow. Every cloud threatens, but every cloud rolls by. I begin to apprehend April’s pretty promise of final deliverance from frost and snow. I am loafing around the coffee houses, listening to the talk, and being received as one of the more obscure inhabitants. Occasionally some one asks, with an effort at interest, if I am starting my art classes soon. But the most lofty and the most humble call me “cousin,” as they do one another. I am sounded a bit as to whether I share the political opinions of Sparrow Short, and incidentally if we belong to the same school of art teaching, and if he will give my classes a criticism from time to time. I write down the name of the youth who seeks me out desiring to enroll and am for the first time flattered.
By putting fugitive bits of loud talk with observations of the last few mornings, I begin to get the social fabric, and take a lesson in New Springfield’s politics.
More women vote than men. Woman is the housekeeper and municipal politics is a kind of nest building and a house keeping of a sort.
The women follow their old occupations. And they have many new ones. They are locksmiths, safe experts, confectioners, cigar factory workers and owners, makers of advertising novelties for the whole world, eye, ear, nose and throat physicians, bill posters, wallpaper cleaners, opticians, dog, cat, and bird doctors, barbers, undertakers, auctioneers, dentists, and a thousand other things. But this does not mean that women monopolize such occupations. It is only a minority that leaves the home. But it is a majority that floods the elections. They are about equally divided between the established factions among the men and perhaps getting the mass of their opinions from the men but certainly furnishing their own steam.
I note many curious phases of caste, if there may be said to be such in a fluent community where everyone may change his status before nightfall by doughty deed or awful failure. There is an exalted status to occupations that were once deemed commonplace. There is yet the same distinction that used to go to lawyer or doctor or head of a university department, but it is extended to such seemingly miscellaneous occupations as conductors of Turkish baths, special gymnasiums and mud baths, billiard halls, bowling alleys. Stores for sporting and athletic goods convey great distinction. And the demi-god of these, Cave Man Thomas, is indeed held in high regard and his minions have almost the same lustre, and so he is one of the eleven city commissioners.
But the end of these surprises is not complete. There is a particular dignity given to junk dealers, cobblers, garbage handlers, and manufacturers, and devisers of patent medicines. They stand as did the lords, dukes, knights, and bishops of old, if there is a charm to their private characters equal to that of their public service.
I find that a special training, and therefore a special distinction, is involved in being shoddy manufacturers, pawnbrokers, silo manufacturers. And many other once simple ways of making a living have become so complex and fastidious that they are the signs of nobility. But respectability, in man or woman, is, as a matter of fact, not always a thing of occupation in the final analysis. It may be a matter of race or of personal record. And sometimes it seems to be a matter of party politics.
The really significant party lines are local. The Democratic and Republican parties have their turn every four years at national elections but at all other seasons new ideas come into the local commissioners, platforms that cannot be classed as Democratic or Republican ideas and the people do not array themselves under those banners but rather the banners of Doctor Mayo Sims on the one hand and Black Hawk Boone on the other.
New Harmony, Indiana, is particularly distinguished for sending in civic and social recruits to Boone’s faction, though the neucleus of the faction came up with him from Cairo. While New Harmony was founded by those who protested against mystical religion, many of the present waves of enthusiasm from that exceedingly vital place were born in the New Harmony Methodist and Episcopal churches. They take to Boone by affinity, and hate Mayo Sims by instinct.
With no particular support from Boone, they have cultivated the mania for planting the highly specialized ever-blooming Golden Rain Trees from New Harmony as symbols of democratic feeling and as a way of saying that all men are created equal. And they call them The Gate Trees, since, passing under them, we enter the gate to the free land of democracy in symbol if not in fact. The horticulturists from New Harmony are making newer and more magnificent varieties of the tree and sending them across the world.
But in the Mystic Year, Springfield is rather to be discussed, for instance—as a convention center, which has at last evolved into the home of a perpetual World’s Fair. It is as of old, a travelling man’s home city, a retired farmer’s place of sleep, a state official’s paradise. Agricultural experts, coal mining experts, would-be statesmen of the middle west, have the same general relation to the city about them that they had in the ancient days of the horse-cars, and the Sangamon County Fair. The town has many of its ancient types. But they are overshadowed by the sculptors, the motion picture scenario writers, the motion picture directors and actors, and the prophets and sibyls of all the arts that go to make up a University Fair. The entrance examination for permanent residence in Springfield except for the native-born is the same as that for the Universities of America. The native-born, no matter how stupid or cranky, cannot be banished. There are so many extreme followers of the various local religious and philosophical sects that Springfield is as much a Hobby Horse Fair as University Fair, if we are to believe the wits and the laughing poets.
One index of the hobby riding character of the place is the way the humorous columnist, Romanoff, in theBoone Axcharacterizes conspicuous people, even at the risk of suit. Today’sBoone Axcontains a new epithet: “The Muttering Thibetan,” a name for the young architect and protege of St. Friend, the Bread Giver. This youth makes his acquaintances impatient by talking to the empty air as he walks the streets.
The columnist names himself: “The Sentimental Romanoff. ” He it is who named John Short, political rebel and painting teacher: “Sparrow Short.’’ He perpetually hounds the mayor with the nicknames: “Slick Slack Kopensky” and Sims’ Bitters.” This last is because Mayo Sims is deemed the boss and Kopensky his dose to be administered to the town in regular spoonsful.
The deathless industrial revolution that followed the war with Germany still rumbles along elsewhere, with strikes, boycotting, blacklistings, picketings, street barricades, dynamitings, massacres, and general annoyances and bedevilment:—advancing, retreating, and advancing again, through three generations and around the world.
But, for the most part, the soreheads outside of Springfield, particularly those stewing in their own caldrons in Chicago, serve vicariously to set us free. We are wrestling with more up-to-date nuisances, with a brighter goal in sight.
It is the dream of a human beehive far from the Marxian society. It is something on the newest New Harmony model, a Springfield that is democratic, artistic, religious, and patriarchal, and therefore following many of the most ancient forms and metaphors of orthodoxy, as an electric Light may be softened and given its final character by the shell of an ancient horn lantern.
April 7:—This evening I take Avanel Boone to the Henry George dinner. When I see that long array of distinguished citizens and Avanel names off to me their offices and attributes, I realize that Henry George triumphs in an especial manner over the soul of Springfield, and I rejoice in this with all my heart, for I deeply revere the man and glory in his influence. Avanel first points out to me the followers of her saints:—St. Scribe of the Shrines, who has only recently departed this world, and St. Friend, The Bread Giver, who is still to be seen in the Springfield Cathedral, active and wonderful. And here are some of the principal followers of this dynasty of saints:—the pious Darsies, the wholesome Hollys, the sad Rancies, torch bearers of liberalism. Among them are endless officers and privates in the ranks of the Amazonian and the Horseshoe Brotherhood, all religious and political radicals. Avanel is much amused to point out at the dinner an equal number of opposites, though often of the same nominal allegiances, the snobbish Rues, the wire-haired Radleys, the iron-ribbed Standings, and some of the less powerful of the mayor’s faction, some young Kopenskys, Rocks, and the like, who have no more to do with the spirit of Henry George than they have to do with the New Testament.
My dear Avanel grows more sarcastic and almost breaks up the meeting at our end of the table when Jefferson Radley, henchman and slave of the wicked Doctor Mayo Sims, opens the evening with a speech in which he names Henry George and Alexander Hamilton, in the same tone of voice and with the same praise.
And now I get my first sight of Black Hawk Boone. As he rises to speak, my dear Avanel blushes with ill-repressed pride and she cannot keep the sparkle from her eyes and the tension of embarrassment and love from her face as Black Hawk shakes his mane.
He is a short man, with a curly big black beard such as Ashurbanipal and Nimrod must have shaken at their foes. His cheek is flushed with anger and his midnight eyes give out lightning and he hits the table till the dishes rattle and as good as denounces Jefferson Radley as a hypocrite and a scoundrel. He is plainly one of those accustomed to having his way completely, as far as he has it at all, for few people will have the energy to combat the wrath he puts into any battle or into such a thing as a pretty after-dinner tribute to a saint. Boone howls, and snaps his teeth together. His terrible sneer would destroy all but a rhinoceros or a seasoned politician.
At length Boone possesses himself enough to speak clearly and with much economic eloquence, a perfect bore to Avanel and myself. She is trying to fascinate me by allowing me to hold two of her fingers under the table. Then suddenly the banquet ends and she goes home with her father, looking severely at me. And she kisses her father, and whispers in his ear—no doubt that he made an excellent speech. Boone does not so much as glance my way and I must wait till another time to talk to him. He has never been at home when I have called on his daughter.
April 10:—The city hall is apparently less rigid than of old, a masterpiece of the happy-go-lucky. Mayor Slick Slack Kopensky, “Sims’ Bitters,” is sitting next to me at a coffee house table with Sims and Kusuko and Cave Man Thomas, all parts of the City Hall machine. Kopensky looks like the pictures of President William McKinley. While by no means so large a character, he is, by all reports, much more picturesque in his political methods. He is even now saying to his coterie and with intent that those near by may hear if they so desire: “All the governments above that of the city weigh on the people like a hat of lead. But the government of our City Hall, as long as I have my way, is going to be as gay and easy as safety will allow. As long as the Public School bunch act like a bunch of regulators and hoot-owls, we will beat them to pulp.”
April 12:—Now I note certain established and accredited loafers, who are assumed to be part of the landscape. I find that the gang of Kopensky, Sims, and so forth have not failed to annex every one of such, who can tell a smutty story to some jolly group of pornographically inclined gentlemen. Mayo Sims believes in the medicine of laughter to cure the sickness of a political machine, and with Kopensky’s help has made it appear on the surface that the issue is between the laughing City Hall and the militant and irksome University. So I get a public-school map of the city from the Board of Education offices and hire a taxi and make a quick still hunt around all the old and new sites. Judging by the equipment alone, I conclude at once that the public schools of Springfield have gone on like a line of irresistible battle-tanks. There is a complete material ladder from the first grade, on through the awards and honors of The University World’s Fair that sets itself in rigid competition with the masters of the world. But there are, no doubt, many qualifications to this outline to be offered by friends and enemies of the system. It is plain in one taxi ride that the system has commanded rivers of ungrudged money and I can well believe that outside the political field the system has had an unbroken and unchallenged prestige.
In the coffee houses and the gigantic loafing lobbies of the motion-picture theatres and over the endless ice cream tables of the drug stores and confectioneries and in the lounging rooms of the dance-halls everywhere the argument roars and rattles and clatters and squeals and shrieks and splutters and swears. Every kind of a skirmish between Catholic and Protestant, aristocrat and democrat, labor and capital, is obliterated or merged into this main war. Springfield is Black Hawk Boone, President of the Board of Education and the World’s Fair of the University of Springfield and editor of the relentless Boone Ax:—versus this gang composed of Mayor Kopensky, Sims, his boss, and the laughing, dancing crew led by Drug Store Smith and Coffee Kusuko and Cave Man Thomas.
Practically all the religious leaders and all the people with names of real distinction and untainted standing are with Black Hawk Boone. His School Board includes among others Rabbi Terence Ezekiel, Roxana Grey, Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, son of the Senator who represents us in the World Government, St. Friend, the Bread Giver, Rachel Madison, the Christian Science Reader, Mary Timmons and John Emis, representatives of the African Race, Gwendolyn Charles, the Motion Picture Director and scenario writer, Patricia Anthony, Josephine Windom of the Three Color Printing Department. They are a dithyrambic, charting improvising howling-dervish set, with a local millenial dialect of their own and lacking mainly in that sense of humor and everydayness and that cold political self-control with which the City Hall is fully supplied.
FURTHER DISCUSSION OF THE POLITICAL MACHINERY
INCLUDING THE CITY HALL DRAG NET OF DRUG
STORES, COFFEE HOUSES AND DANCE HALLS.
April 11, 2018:—Mayor Kopensky is particularly deep in Singapore learning. He conceals his well-beloved studies in public, as senators of old used to conceal their wealth. He must, of course, get his majorities from the University students, who are the majority of the population, so many are studying even after marriage, and so many men continue their studies after entering business.
In political hours the attitude even of the older students of the University of Springfield is seemingly ungrateful. It is that of the traditionally impudent college freshman toward the imaginary greasy grind and toward the professor who eggs him on to scholarship. They think the names of these City Commissioners: “Cave Man Thomas,’’ “Sparrow Short,’’ “Coffee Kusuko,” “ Montague Rock,” “Drug Store Smith,” “’Jefferson Radley,” “Mayo Sims,” mean dash and romance.
This is the “City Hall” block of seven people in the city commission of eleven. The Mayor is the eighth. He seldom has occasion to use his prerogative of the casting vote, for it is not often five to five on a side. There are only three people in the commission who represent the School Board, one of them is Black Hawk Boone.
Boone roars away with the others, who are on his right and left, like Aaron and Hur holding up the hands of Moses. And it is only at the end of some long and well dramatized skirmish that Boone wins by forcing the issues in his paper theBoone Axand scaring a more cowardly four in Kopensky’s faction to vote with him temporarily on what seems a purely educational issue. It is not always the same four he bulldozes and many and obvious are his plots.
Drug Store Smith and Coffee Kusuko supply about one-fifth of cold science to the Mayor’s City Hall stew. They represent the “slick” side of Kopensky. They have natty ideas of dress and natty ideas of administration. The remainde of Kopensky ’s routine political workers are slack in every way except in the matter of secret party-discipline.
The columnist Romanoff in a charitable mood says, in theBoone Axfor April 11, 2018:—“When we view the soggy-souled but amiable group of city fathers around Kopensky, we rejoice. There is no sign of a complete clean-up of the ages. The patriot is still at home in the government. And, as Andrew Jackson knew, there is an intrinsic governing power in any mass of humanity linked by friendship and under American skies. Along with the City Hall dishonesty there goes a certain mercy and fraternity, far from the sternness of the editor of this paper, who may take my remarks for what they are worth, and he may fire me if he chooses. Let my boss, the editor, admit, since he must, that the City Hall gang keep our more angular truth-telling moods from torturing the town beyond reason. As it is, I declare myself the only real jester among all our children of light.”
April 15:—As I wander about, I am glad that in my former life I was a member of the Anti-Saloon League of Central Illinois. There is no such thing as a saloon to be seen. The bar room is as extinct as the trilobite. Coca-Cola and Bevo have their new successors every day, along with mysterious elaborations of coffee and tea, and spiced drinks from the Jungles of South America. And, of course, after a hundred non-alcoholic years the soda fountains have tremendous importance. Drug Store Smith, member of the city council, is the local Soda Fountain King. He is now the owner of all the drug stores, including Dodds’ Drug Store, which keeps its old location at Fifth and Monroe.
I have indeed a curious impression as I go into Dodds’ for a soda. Fifth and Monroe reminds me of a century before. It is still the street-car center of our town. There are as of old long benches in Dodds’ where people are waiting to take street cars and there are the same revolving stools along the soda fountain counter but that counter is twice as long and there are tables for customers now. The sodas are as good as those wonders Jim Sylva used to mix, but no better.
Across the street is the old Coe’s Book Store, owned by some descendant of the original Coe family. There is, as of old, a great counter of magazines, some of them better, some of them rawer than the old list. Many of them are now published in Springfield or near by. The majority of the motion picture magazines are full of simpering photographs of Los Angeles ladies in bathing suits. They are, of course, delightful to behold but the mystery still remains as to what this has to do with the art of the motion picture. Of the literary magazines, the Atlantic Monthly and Poetry, a Magazine of Verse, still survive. The Atlantic still keeps its brick red cover and its nippy New England style and Poetry still has Pegasus on the cover and new poets on the inside. Vogue and Vanity Fair are still for sale. I wander out and watch the Fifth and Monroe crowd again. It is Saturday, nine o’clock in the evening, and the automobile horns are deafening and the crossing policeman is quite busy.
And now I have gone to a good old slapstick movie, by a descendant of Charlie Chaplin, and I am standing again on the comer and it is half past ten. Many people are looking up at the passing figures in the dance hall in the third story over the theatre. Windows are open and wild Singaporian music pours out into the streets. There are great yellow Singaporian lanterns hanging in front of the open windows and yellower light is pouring from the hall itself. It is one of the chain of Yellow dance halls in the syndicate owned by Kusuko and part of his political machine, along with his chain of Coffee houses. This particular place is called “The Hall of Velaska.”
There was a man who sat by me in the movie laughing like a boy. He is now beside me again. He is a gigantic black haired but aged Jew, obviously the Rabbi Terence Ezekiel, heretic, and planter of the Oaks of Springfield, He is in most matters a henchman of Boone and a political “scrapper,” whose deeds have set the town ringing. We are friends in a minute. He has seen me with Avanel in his synagogue—takes me as a matter of course, asks me to go with him to the Tom Strong Coffee House and Restaurant, just east of the Gaiety Theatre. There we encounter Boone and the over-sensitive quivering Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third. They are enjoying eleven o’clock salt mackerel together. They take along with it the knockout coffee of Kusuko, who owns all the coffee houses under whatever name, new or old.
And so the Rabbi and I join in these refreshments and have a jolly midnight with the heart of political and educational Springfield and, as long as the Rabbi leads the argument, there is more than enough wit in the assembly. He has the Jewish turn for puns and it is plain that Doctor Mayo Sims and Kopensky have a second laughing foeman.
But amid the jokes the Rabbi is not a bit backward about hatching local empires along with this inbred Michael and this black-haired descendant of Daniel Boone. Their present campaign, which they do not conceal in its tactics from me, their “cousin,” is, of course, an effort to out-maneuver the Mayor. Kopensky wants to bring cheap unskilled labor to town, leaving out the usual University entrance-examination. His ostensible reason is that the World ’s Fair buildings will not be completed August 15, the date of opening, without this aid. It is obviously but a maneuver to bring more City Hall votes to town and votes of a manageable type.
And so I talk politics with these three. Boone proclaims that the presence this evening of Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, is an evidence that the Boones and the Michaels can pull together from time to time and the Rabbi and the lad seem completely ruled by this headlong Boone who cannot eat mackerel without glowering as though he were devouring his enemies.
The other two are jollying him out of his intensity and he seems to thank them for it. He really relaxes a little toward midnight, as though, after all, this is a festive occasion of red blooded lads in a coffee house. As I think it over, walking home alone, there is an elusive impression that young Michael was being given an extra show of confidence for “reasons” by the apparently headlong older gentlemen.
April 17:—I have been asking questions about Drug Store Smith. It seems this person, Smith, has aspirations, and values his exceedingly nominal place among the scientific chemists of America and will leave the town any time to attend a congress of such, where he receives due invitation:—and it is part of the tactics of Boone to lure him out when his vote will be an inconvenience. But it is not always easy to get him sufficient honors of this kind for he is not a benevolent scientist. The charm of his tonics and beverages is deemed specious, though some of them are discreetly marked: “Highly recommended by Doctor Mayo Sims.” “They say” he did some sound chemical and biological research in his youth in the Springfield University laboratories.
I have been asking questions and am beginning to understand Coffee Kusuko. He has a chain of coffee houses as long as Smith’s chain of pharmacy-post-office-street-car-station-patent-medicine-confectionery-cigar-stand-and-soda-fountain establishments. Kususko has made the black demi-tasse the special Springfield vice and there are no deeper addicts than those who fight him politically.
People feel quite sure his drink contains some more sinister ingredient from the Malay peninsula. And he it is who sees to it that all the business offices are equipped with coffee urns that whistle through the late afternoon:—the custom of mixing business and coffee having originated with his great great grandmother, a famous local stenographer, who in the end became lady mayor, through her stenographers’ guild. Politics and coffee are hereditary with Kusuko.
In the legitimate organization which ministers to this drinking habit, Kusuko has concealed his henchmen, who bring him all needed information and carry abroad all necessary orders. And they have a considerable opportunity to serve him. Drinking begins in the offices at 4.30 P. M. and in the more fastidious business groups with many forms, till it is near to resembling the Japanese tea-ceremony. Stenographers, some austere and some luxurious, mingle with women political
leaders, such as Orator Carrie Moore, Portia, the Singing Aviator, and others. These help materially to make up the sum of grace and bedevilment of the business and political day. A little later people who are still restless and do not want to go home drift off toward the motion picture houses, or the drug stores or the coffee houses of Kusuko.
As to the coffee houses, I make my tours through many and find these places extraordinarily varied in design, though the same general average of a crowd is in most of them. There is a Chinese-looking place called: “The Opium Fish.” There is a place hung with copies of Velasques, Goya, Sorolla, and others, called: “The Spanish Gypsy.” This is a place quieter than most. Then there is a kind of a Jazz emporium with copper and brass decorations, called “The Whing Whang Tree.” There are two other places that specialize in chop suey, called: “The Mock Duck” and “The Fire Cracker King” and then I loaf in “The Pig and the Goose,” and “The Sword of the Skallawag,” etc. In these last two on slightly raised platforms the Malay storytellers sit cross-legged. They unroll the beautiful ensnaring legends of the Malay peninsula and the islands around it. These storytellers appear occasionally in some of the other coffee houses, also, along with negro singers, etc.
And now comes Kusuko’s last touch, where he has completely replaced the old political functions of the American saloon, as an acceptable harness for the social brigands. There is always some allusion in the coffee houses, some implication, that the next real thing to do will be dancing, later in the evening, in wonderful Yellow Dance Halls. These are also owned by Kusuko and are the very keystone of his system. I follow the drifting tide of jolly good fellows several evenings and it leads me inevitably to the halls before midnight.
They are never too near the coffee houses and soda fountains and never too far away. There is nothing on the surface to make one apprehensive in the halls, except some very daring social dancing. There is often a motion picture show for part of the evening just off the lounging hallway and place of promenade. The crowd is not much below the average of the regular Fifth and Monroe crowd of all kinds of people.
April 20:—I attend this evening, at the invitation of two prospective art students, a session of the Board of Education. They explain the session to me, while we sit in the gallery and look down upon the general tempestuousness.
Boone is not only the presiding officer but has the impression that he is the whole Board of Education. Despite this they are fond of him on the board, but row with him till the men cuss before the ladies in desperate efforts to hold him down, and keep him down, and prevent his bullying the whole assembly out of existence. He insults everybody mercilessly and wags his black beard at them till they quail and quake.
It is a joy, a sorrow, an amazement, and a wonder to me to see people who look so much like the old Prognosticator’s Club, fighting away, and when I meet them all at the end of the verbal war none of them see me except as a casual bystander.
April 21:—I have had a jolly evening at Tom Strong’s with my beloved Rabbi. Boone is our inevitable theme in the end. The Rabbi, as we drink the black coffee and eat the salt mackerel, confirms my tentative remark that Boone, as president of the Board of Education, enforces its edicts, though few of the decrees are those into which from the standpoint of strategy, or even conviction, he can put his private heart. But, the Rabbi points out, they are all clubs with which Boone can pound the Mayor’s majority in the city commission and he backs the board’s edicts, every one, in The Boone Ax, and ever so often forces something through the council.
Boone is also University Professor, one hour a week, and in his professorial special pleading, which he excludes from his activities as chairman of the Board of Education, he presents to the University and the world a new doctrine of health and economics, called: “Boonism” by his followers, and “The Complete Healing” in his text book.
The Rabbi expounds: “Boonism denounces metal money for a starter. Boone’s aversion to it has come through millionaires burying their money and bringing out coins one at a time. Boone advocates a special system of paper currency for an economic remedy, and as a means of abolishing millionaires. So Kusuko allows only metal money to be used in his places, which regulation Boone, after some contests, has accepted with a sense of humor, since he likes black coffee and cannot deny it and wants a jolly place to meet his friends. And meanwhile millionaires, though forbidden by the constitution to exist, keep on hiding money.”
According to the Rabbi:—“The most outstanding prescription in the personal health chapters of ‘The Complete Healing’ is the Apple Amaranth orchard. The devotee is to walk in the orchards summer and winter, breathing the breath of the bark, blossoms, apples, and leaves, with certain well-worded philosophic meditations. In general Boone condemns drugs, so there is a personal reason for making war on him on the part of Smith and Sims and their followers.
“The Amaranth Apple orchard, around the grave of the Sangamon County pioneer and saint, Hunter Kelly, is particularly esteemed by the Boone following.
But I cannot imagine Boone or any remotely resembling imitator indulging in philosophic meditations. I could rather imagine him climbing .a tree like a cinnamon bear, only with more speed and fidgets.
THE NEW SPRINGFIELD FLAG AND THE STAR PLAN
MAP FOR WHICH IT STANDS, INCLUDING THE
DOUBLE WALLS ON THB FAR BORDERS OF THE
CITY, BUILT LONG AGO BY RALPH
May 4, 2018:—I make an early afternoon call on Avanel. First we mourn over the scene outside, for Apple Amaranths and all are nipped by the frost and from all over the United States come reports that the peach crop once more ia blighted. Then Avanel is in her most “young ladyfied” mood and complains fondly of her fathers general code of behavior. I gather the impression that her ideal has no big black beard and no long curly oily locks, no fashion of getting angry. She is just the age when they palpitate between fond indulgence of “father” and black fury at his goat-like intractability to all plain suggestions that he make a change in himself. Boone being a widower and Avanel his only child, she is his shepherdess most emphatically.
Meanwhile Avanel hand-embroiders a gorgeous Springfield Flag and allows me to help her untangle several skeins of red silk and in general to play the idle dangler as well as I can. I am quite aware I do not do it in the off-hand manner I should. I am a little too heavy with the silk but she admits that I do not roar at the least tangle, as her father might.
Anyway, the flag is finished. And just as I begin to get what might be called “in earnest” with Avanel, a lot of disgusting young dandies, whose names I do not know, come in for tea. And I am obliged to stay and drink the stuff and I would rather drink rain water off the roof of a soot-factory, that’s what I would.
May 5:—I have seen in waking dreams, as I walk on the edge of New Springfield, at the prairie end of a shadowed deserted street, a great open door into the deep of eternity and, hovering above the great deep, Springfield, when it becomes the perfect and transcendent city. I look down upon towers so packed together in a sheaf and the flags so mighty, it seems but a fantasy of celestial flagstaffs and pinnacles. There are many flags of the International Government and many flashes of the Star Spangled Banner. But one flag stirs me the most. It is the one embroidered with the very silk and with the very same stitches I have seen Avanel put in with much silly chat so lately. It is the flag nearest. It is on a tower rising from the deep, a neighbor, it seems, I can almost touch. But as I look there are thousands of flags like it suddenly unfurled on a myriad pinnacles of the city below.
May 6:—All the city is mourning the blighting of the season’s acorns and Amaranth Apples and the buds of the Golden Rain Tree. Almost all the boughs have the little blackened tufts of buds and leaves. Avanel meets me at the door in the evening. Her father has given her a terrific scolding for what she says is “nothing much” and she is glad to walk and walk for miles and cool off in the clear starry air. I get it out of her, she has been trying to stop her father’s smoking. But she is forgetting it and taking on her sibyl mood. Later she confesses she has been trying to get her father to cut his hair and quit dyeing his left hand crimson and that he has been trying to get her to dye her hand and unbind her hair as a Boone should. So, sore of heart, she is willing that we should be true comrades in the midst of this universe. And at once we are, as it were, brothers and sisters of the stars. She goes so far as to take my arm.
She agrees to my proposal that we pluck out the mystery of the souls of our city’s flags together, if two young creatures may get such wisdom.
May 7:—Avanel this evening takes me to call upon St. Friend, The Giver of Bread. It is, in her eyes, quite a religious function. And we are to inquire formally about flags. St. Friend knows me not, though there is something in his voice that goes back one hundred years, and I dimly remember, in my double consciousness, visits with a friend who had much the same furniture, and some of the same turns of phrase, but he had not the face or figure of this man. We are by the open fireplace, under the old lithograph of Alexander Campbell. Flashing in the firelight, is the old bookcase to the left, containing the bound volumes of the Millenial Harbinger and Richardson’s old life of Campbell and all the rest of it.
St. Friend, the Giver of Bread, is indeed an old man, a little lame, leaning on a cane. He is much over six feet tall, when straightened, and with a smooth shaven countenance, but looking as Abraham Lincoln might have done, had he lived into another century and grown grayer with no other sign of the passing of the years. St. Friend, the Giver of Bread, receives Avanel as a favorite daughter and convert and indeed I feel in the air the justification for my estimate of this girl. In his presence she puts aside all vestige of nonsense. It is Church to her to be with him.
St. Friend disgraces himself by taking the oldest kind of a corncob pipe from a shelf inside the fireplace and smoking like a chimney. He asks Avanel if she cares and she says “No, certainly not.”
We get to the matter of the flags quite late in the evening.
St. Friend tells how in his youth when Apple-Amaranth blossoms had as now a touch of red in the hearts, those hearts began to be called, “The Blood of Hunter Kelly,” and St. Friend suggests that the saying be restored to its former place on the tongues of Springfield, especially since the red and white star in the municipal flag is copied from this flower.
Then much of what he and Avanel have to say to each other about the flag he declares he will put into his next sermon. It is plain to me that this gray mind leans for vitality upon the mind of the proud young child. She knows it not but only thinks herself a kind of playmate in a solemn way.
On the way home Avanel is much ashamed of herself for staying so long and says that I am an awkward lummox, and I can walk home my own way.
Therefore I make my speech, as I take her sternly to her door. She holds herself straight as a ramrod, with lips stubbornly pursed together, as I say:
“Your name is Springfield. If there is any banner of the soul flying above me, your name is written on it and the white is the pride that makes you so angry and the red is the strength that makes you an Amazon, and the blue of the flag is the prairie sky, of which you are the vainest, loveliest daughter.” Avanel goes into the house with a sharp “Goodnight.’’
May 8:—It is a blazing spring day and everything that was not frosted is getting quite green. Baby carriages are abroad, with the pink darlings crowing within them, welcoming the sun. The streets are full of spring finery. About four o’clock on this jolly afternoon I meet Rabbi Terence Ezekiel in Tom Strong’s, We fill up on rousing coffee and I manage to get the conversation around to the Springfield flag about which I am endlessly curious.
The Rabbi says:—“The star of red and white in the heart of the flag, being the twenty-first star in the design, indicates, in the official interpretation, that Illinois was the twenty-first state admitted to the Union and the red part indicates Springfield, the capital.” But Rabbi Ezekiel prefers the idea that this red and white star indicates in the year 2018 the coming of age of Illinois and America.
May 10:—It is Sunday morning, and I am in the Great Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul with Avanel. The whole picture is clean cut around me. Every word and whisper is clear. There are no clouds at all. Yet the Cathedral is indeed gigantic. I am reminded of majestic Notre Dame in Paris. It is the same combination of styles, and St. Friend begins his sermon with an appeal for a special fund to add the steeples. As in cathedrals of Europe, only the rectangular foundations of the spires, a little higher than the roof, are in place.
He preaches the sermon, which Avanel helped him build, which touches on the flag: “Visitors to the Fair may care to know the path of white around the red star of Springfield is the map of our five-pointed system of double walls and within them a star-plan system of avenues. This system, like this star, is a symbol of the relation of Springfield to all the outside world. The top of the star points north to Chicago by way of the outer-wall gate at Mason City. Tomorrow the corn dragon engines begin to take that route. They are to be dedicated with honors that I hope all who hear me will be there to endorse and acclaim. The star-point, indicating north-east, starts our flying machine trip over the inner-wall gate at Illiopolis and the outer-wall gate at Warrensburg and on to Danville, if you please, and to New York and the sea journey to the capital of the International Government, which government is looked to with loyalty by all patriots and honorable men. Highways running parallel to the air lines in this direction are haunted by memories of Johnny Appleseed, in the regions of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Massilon, Ohio. The roads are of some distinction in all the fruit and flower religions of Springfield. Our city sends pilgrims that way in the spring who will yet replant the whole world in glory with many a sacred grove. But the southeast point of the Springfield star system is a road that passes through the inner-wall gate at Taylorville and the outer at Pana, and points in the direction of Virginia and Richmond. Our fruit and flower devotees take all roads, but because of the wonders of the early southern spring many of them deem this the holiest way. There are found, more than other where, the botanizing pilgrims of the faiths of my friend Rabbi Terence Ezekiel and my friend Mother Grey and her daughter Roxana. There many of the Rabbi’s young oaks have sprung up in the name of universal righteousness and that way he still takes his pilgrimage, according to the mystical doctrine of the Oak which is the foundation of our Rabbi’s dreams. This road goes through New Harmony, Indiana, before it turns south into Kentucky. Many pilgrims pass that way to do honor to the original home of the Golden Rain Tree of Democracy.
“The point in the star-plan system of boulevards that becomes a road passing through the inner-wall gate at Modesta and the outer at Palmyra starts the fancy moving along a certain classic flying-machine route over Alton and St. Louis, southwest to the tremendous motion-picture studios of the Los Angeles region and the radical educational institutions evolved from them, which are so great a peril to the land. This air route I call ‘The Path of Ill Learning.’ It is constantly travelled by our motion-picture educators and artists who go to exchange ideas and refresh themselves at Los Angeles, that great seat of spiritual lies.”
At this point Avanel frowns indeed she will not be bullied out of her movies. But she grows grave again and she takes earnestly what else he has to say:
“The star-point indicating northwest with the inner gate at Ashland and the outer at Virginia is the one that interests me most. There are three orders of discipline in connection with this Cathedral. The newest is the Order of the Blessed Bread of the More Liberal Observance, in whose name we are to have the great bread distribution on June the eighth. The one a little older is The Order of the Blessed Bread of the Strict Observance, a discipline for those lost in despair and determined to seize one more hope, if there be one, before they consent to die.
“But the oldest order, the darling of the founder of the greater work of this Cathedral, is the order of the Pilgrimage, founded here seventy-five years ago by St. Scribe of the Shrines, now gone to his reward. And the road northwest, as all but strangers in the city know, leads from the first shrine, which is the tomb of Lincoln, through the gates at Ashland and Virginia, straight north to Havana and the classic land of Spoon River and Lewiston, to North Dakota and the coast, and so on around the world to the hundred shrines. How many young pilgrims have turned back before they reached the outer gate at Virginia, held more by soul’s weakness than by bodily weariness, within the double walls built so long ago by Ralph Adams Cram! But some here present today have continued the not too difficult journey and have returned to live within these double walls again and adore the Host upon this altar.
They have taken the ocean ships or airships of Seattle, they have gone afoot and by every known vehicle through Asia. It is a journey unforgettable—to the holy land of Confucius and to his holy grave, to the Blessed Bohdi Tree of Buddha, to the bathing placed of Benares, to the holy places of Mecca, Jerusalem, Assisi, Rome, Lourdes, and London. I, too, in my youth, with a fiery young company from Springfield made this pilgrimage which was first undertaken by St. Scribe and written down later in his little book of Discipline called: ‘The Hundred Shrines.’ We went by motor, by steamship, by flying machine, but whenever possible, afoot. Let the visitor in this audience note that he who prays at these shrines, according to the office of The Brotherhood of The Hundred Shrines, has made, we think, the true beginning of life for a modem soul.
“Every shrine is a modem Station of the Cross. Between shrine and shrine, await many desperate foes of the soul. And so have often called it ‘The Road to Heaven and Hell.’ There is no nominal way to take this discipline. He who is a little hurt by this discipline is destroyed.”
May 11:—Avanel and I are taking lunch together at the Fire Cracker King Restaurant and Coffee House. She is, indeed, giving absent father a scolding. It seems that Black Hawk Boone has presumed to “offer advice.’’ And she “ hates him.’’ I venture to inquire wherein he has been so presumptuous as to attempt to guide her wandering feet. And it seems that he thinks she is too fond of long rehearsals for the celebration of the festival of St. Scribe, May fifteenth in the Gordon Craig Theatre, and not enough devoted to the Amazonian drill ground. He wants three drills a week, not two. He says we may be at war with Singapore any day and she cannot dance to victory and had best quit religious dancing, till after the war. My reply is quite deft. I insist that I, at least, am prepared to appreciate her dancing and am only waiting the next appearance at the Gordon Craig Theatre and she continues to scowl but says I have but till the fifteenth to wait. It is now about two in the afternoon and we are going to hear some speeches. Avanel explains to me that the first Corn Dragon Engines are starting, with great ceremony, to Chicago and we are to hear orations at the station before they go. The transportation district centering in Illinois has, through Eric Hedder, a plough-boy from near Cairo, evolved a type of a dragon engine, a mate to the dragon-fly flying machine. A complete set of these engines have just been finished for the Springfield and Chicago division. They are equipped with silvery horns instead of shrill whistles. The exercises are, of course, at the gigantic Union Depot at Tenth and Washington. The passengers of honor include this Eric Hedder, the Mayor and some of his political enemies, including Black Hawk Boone, who is making the speech of the afternoon. This prospect seems to please his daughter fairly well, considering how she hates him. But now we are there, and Boone is already speaking:
“You all know that my Kentucky forbears went west and settled down near Cairo, Illinois, and also that I feel no odium in the appelation ‘Egyptian.’ Possibly the name of the region, ‘Egypt, Illinois’ derives from the fact that there is an older Cairo, in Egypt. Then Memphis, Tennessee is not so far away. Possibly the floods and the malaria and the frogs and the languor and the witchcraft of legend, where the Ohio comes rolling down into the swamps, help out the Egyptian idea. The time was when ‘Egypt’ meant, exclusively, that part of Illinois by Cairo. Now it is applied in derision to all down state Illinois, by the peanut politicians of Chicago. In a whirlwind world, independent languor becomes a virtue, and meditation engenders a finer art than any nervousness.”
Here Avanel whispers to me: “He is a great one to prate of languor.” But now her father is mentioning an artist she admires.
“Eric Hedder, who designed these engines, is a ploughboy from near my home-town of Cairo. The Corn Dragons are indeed messengers from Egypt to Chicago, and other where. The corn-dragon engine is a giant wound-up mechanical toy but something more. It is a kind of citizen, through its Egyptian soul, and through the soul of the engineer who happens at any time to inhabit it. He is one of our new type of aristocracy. The older aristocracies indicated their worth by having themselves photographed in the midst of their athletic sports, at the race track, or playing golf or croquet, or in soldier’s uniform. But in this year of grace, 2018, they are depicted as amateur or professional railroad engineers, or the like. To hold so many lives in trust and to discharge the obligation year after year without faltering is classed as the occupation of a scholar and a gentleman. And so, as is the case of all special privilege, the chariot of privilege is decorated and starred and given plumes like the corn and made glorious.
“To me this is a journey from the State of Illinois to somewhere else. Loyalty to Chicago is a commendable thing in itself, but Chicago is the commercial center of the entire United States, and the only way to keep it from tipping and teetering the state clean over, is to bring forward other than commercial considerations. Loyalty to Chicago is loyalty to Florida and California, Oregon and Maine. These are all of them quite commendable commonwealths. But loyalty to Springfield is the distinctive sign of loyalty to Illinois.
“The engines will rush back, bringing skilled mechanics, wise industrial statesmen, and world leaders in art for little Springfield, down here in Egypt. Such people are held in infinitely higher honor here than in the Chicago that made them. All men and women seem to have increased in vanity in this year 2018, and this is a highly commendable change. I rejoice that citizens of the United States now live upon honor and its power more than upon the desire for mere currency. So the corn-dragons will always be robbing Chicago, America’s commercial capital, of her best. People will keep coming here for much smaller salaries and for more passionate praise. [Applause!]
“I hope that the whizzing and whistling of these engines, henceforth more musical than of old, will be the war cry of our whole Egyptian village and countryside. I hope that for generation after generation many dragons of this breed will whirl by, and many another ploughboy, sighting them through the cornfields, will not only catch the original vision of Eric Hedder, but new untamed dreams of art and glory and creation will be engendered on such days.
“Without haste, without rest, our rewards and appreciations pay for our creations. Let the young Egyptian patriot see these dragons as big brothers that sweep through the high growing corn armies, messengers flying from county to county, crying in the trumpet glory of their silver voices, that art and life are married in the region of the capital.” [Great Applause!]
Avanel admits that her father had to roar in this case, for the crowd was large, and, speaking from a station platform in the open air, the loudest man cannot be heard with traffic going by and newsboys selling extras about the event before it happens. We walk just a little south along the viaduct on Tenth from the great New Union Depot to a most familiar and ancient structure, a kind of rough memorial shrine, which was once the station whence the Lincoln presidential train left for Washington and where Lincoln gave his parting word to the City of Springfield. Outside the door of the museum, Avanel and I re-read Lincoln ’s famous farewell to his fellow citizens, cast in bronze and set up for a tablet long ago.
Then, being in the mood of reminiscence, we walk past the Lincoln residence and Avanel begins to compare Lincoln to Jesus and speak of him as the greatest person sent to men since Jesus. And I think. the sibyl has at last permanently emerged and that my companion is finally with me.
But there is a devil in this Avanel. And so she says, partly because she thinks it, and partly because she knows it will annoy me: “I wonder if the Lincoln residence was located among the best people when it was built?” And then, as the silence grows deadly on my side of the conversation: “My grandmother once told me that Mrs. Lincoln was really a fashionable person and not of poor-white stock like Lincoln and I am glad to hear it. He must have been a great trial to her, with her refined instincts.”
My silence growing even more deadly she continues:—“I am sorry the Lincoln residence is not in a more fashionable region today. I wonder if they can move it out by the Country Club. Springfield is all ‘society,’ you know, and you might as well admit it . I wish if they leave the residence here they would move these common houses and build a great Greek Temple over the Lincoln home, and make a park for about two hundred yards each way and have big avenues leading up to it and allow no common person to live anywhere near here. Lincoln was after all the greatest person since Jesus and we ought to show some sense of it.”
We stroll on and on, and Avanel, being not yet twenty, as this world counts the years, is somewhat forgiven for these discursive remarks. She does not want to be forgiven, and hates my pious forbearance and at last says: “I simply cannot stand that cheap cowboy hat you wear. It is simply a ridiculous pose or else the instinct of a rotter.”
So I take Miss Avanel Boone firmly by the arm and turn her toward town and at my insistence we step into the first gentlemen’s furnishing store we encounter and I urge her to help the clerk pick out a hat for me. They select one that is hardly a hair’s breadth different from the one I have been wearing. I pay for it in paper money, “to please old Black Hawk Boone,” as I explain to the humorous clerk. Avanel seems placated by this quip, though there is no reason on earth why she should be. She begins to behave like a Christian at once and stays so, all the way to her door. And I bid her good evening and she gives me the word I may soon see her dancing.
TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT OVER WHETHER PEOPLE WITH
BURIED GOLD SHALL MONOPOLIZE THE
May 15, 2018:—It is the evening of this day and Avanel is quite busy in her parlor with costumes. I am invited for dinner with her and old Boone. I am to help her immediately after to the theatre with her costumes that I am to carry in two heavy suitcases. Three friends of Avanel’s have prepared the dinner and serve it in true communal fraternity. According to their chatter the comming event is all in the spirit of a college lark or grand commencement occasion, rather than a churchly event.
But when I sit in the Gordon Craig Theatre, strangers to the right and left of me, the theatre darkened and the stage a temple steps, the Avanel emerges that has refused so many times to come forth at my petition. Her face and carriage convey the sibyl, the saint, the mother of great sages of our city and the muse of poets of our city. She hardly knows this, for the innocence of her unspoiled youth tells its gentle, overwhelming story. As for the alleged dance, it is more procession than anything else: boys and girls, men and women, moving to varied chants or measured silences or amid wonderful and measured lights. There is no very direct allusion to the Birthday of St. Scribe, Old political parades are suggested and historical triumphs, but mostly the type of parade that might be held of a Sunday before a religious service, ending at a shrine or an altar. There are ceremonies from the book of St. Scribe of the Shrines. His favorite shrines are suggested, beginning with the Grave of Lincoln at Oak Ridge. The dancers are crowned with Apple-Amaranth leaves, which are larger than ordinary apple-leaves and a paler green. Avanel's part in the pageantry is but that of a leader and partner of the chief marching man, young Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third. Avanel is closely followed in glory and signficance by the whole company. And Michael deftly takes his place as a proper background for Avanel, for which I thank him. Therefore when Avanel sits with me a little by her open fire tonight, all tired out and very solemn she knows she has vindicated herself in my eyes a little and she tosses her head and wears jauntily one young green Apple-Amarenth leaf which still gleams brightly in her black hair.
She asks, as a child: “Did it seem as though we were at shrines together or walking in the woods together?” And so I answer: “I have never yet been at any of these shrines but that of Lincoln and that many, many years ago. But it did seem as though we were walking in the woods together among the very oldest trees. I want to go to shrines with you soon.”
And Avanel asks me: “Do you think we will get on better in woods?”
And so I answer, not quite to the point: “A tree a thousand years old has leaves in the spring, as green as when a sapling. But if my dust had lived to this hour, it would have been the semblance of a palsied man, a horror more than grave clothes. Such as I am, I pray to the God of Heaven that I may be the green leaf in your hair.”
May 16:—I find myself walking in the shadows, where there is neither Springfield nor Jerusalem nor any other known place, where there is neither calendar nor clock nor sun. The clouds of meditation are beneath my feet, storm overhead. One flash of lightning lasts for an eternity and the thunder roll is as long.
May 17:—I walk with Avanel again through our town. As we pass beneath the splendid and soaring towers, we note the signs of the various citizens who occupy the shops, facing the street. As we pass the ladies’ tailoring establishments, we see fancy dress and religious costuming, to be used for ceremonials such as the festival of Hunter Kelly. They are carefully made, these costumes, for permanent and individual use. Many people, men and women, pass us on the street well fitted out, splendid, yet realistic, off hand, casual, and unconcerned, citizens in all sorts of well fitting, brightly dyed ceremonial gear. It is rather the custom of the city to come out more and more gaily for the spring, summer and autumn. In the cold weather it is the idea to dress as of old and according to the customs of the United States, in routine garments.
And now, being light hearted, Avanel and I make an amusement of going the rounds of the more fancy ice-cream parlors. They bear the old names, Maldener’s, Kutrakon’s, Bonansinga’s, Stuart’s, and there is the beautiful place of Najim, the Syrian. Stuart’s is conducted by a direct descendant of the original family, as also Bonansinga’s. Some of the places are in the hands of new firms but keep the old names.
The sign-painters’ shops are a wilderness of bedevilment. They are almost official extensions of the art department of the World’s Fair of the University of Springfield. They are full of everything that may be painted to bring rejoicing to the fastidious stranger.
It is growing toward evening and my dear lady has signified that she will consent to eat with me in that restaurant room of glass, that high tower place, where she gave me my first view of the new city. And, as we walk that way, we are amazed at something as novel to her as to myself. We have been almost noting it to one another all day. With glowering faces and ugly looks, two factions in costume are passing and re-passing one another. And there are threats of fist fights between the young men and some appointments for real battles without gloves are obviously made, with those euphuisms that in the old day covered appointments for pistol deeds.
There are two factions of aviators, one dressed somewhat in the color scheme of the robin, including the vest, which follows the red color of the breast of that bird. The rival faction are the Snobs, who are out with it, make no quibble about being snobs, and are costumed with hints of the wasp and bee. There are as many girls and women, as boys and men, in the Snob and Robin costumes. All this has sprung up from the ground in a few days and is not in the pageant and festival calendar of the city. The aviator’s day for dressing up is in early October. But the surprise is not so much the new costumes as the increasing sharpness of the controversy. Most of the children of the Boone and Michael clans, rivals though they be, are dressed as Robins and expound to us their side of a complicated matter. The substance is that the city is liable to a riot over the use and monopoly of the flying machines by the Snobs, led by one John Nash, sometimes called “Beau Nash,“ and the Snobs are defying their enemies and spoiling for a riot. While Avanel and I have our customary little dinner in what was once a quiet comer, two young Booneites we have previously interviewed, having finished their chocolate, come to us and roar their anger again in our ears and seek to recruit our good opinions, as they nerve themselves to subdue the Snobs and if necessary shoot holes in their machines.
May 18:—The costumes of the rival factions have disappeared from these streets. All noise and argument have disappeared. The city goes about the even tenor of its way. The papers are full of the social and military affairs of the Amazons and the Horseshoe Brotherhood and denunciations of the world’s common enemy, Singapore. I am wondering why I have never gone to Camp Lincoln to see these Amazons and Michaelites drilling in full panoply of war and wondering even more why the child Avanel is at the head of them. She must be a sort of “daughter of the regiment” as one may say, decorative royalty, with the real management in other hands. But I always speak in her presence of military matters as though she were in actual command. Tonight I meet her near her home as she comes riding from Camp Lincoln on her white war pony. She is a centauress.
Not only is her pony white but every thread of her riding habit is white. I help her down from her pony, go through the entirely unnecessary motion of doing so, and we lead the tired steed around to the stable in the rear 6f the Boone cottage and old Boone is there, waiting to feed and water the creature. The father is ignored and the horse is spoken to by Avanel in terms of endearment. We go into the house and sit by that unlit fireplace and wait for Black Hawk to come in to dinner. All of which is, by the way, preliminary to the fact I wish here to record, that the tired Avanel draws from her belt an old hunting knife and its heavy white sheath and puts it on the mantle with the unbuckled Avanel sword and sheath, then allows me to take them down, and answers my questions about the knife.
“This is the hunting knife my remote ancestor, Daniel Boone, carried into the wilderness of Kentucky in his first discovery of the blue grass region that was to him new Eden. . This hunting knife means more to me than pride in fighting blood. It may go through the heart of some cocaine-crazy creature in far Asia. But it means that other thing to me, the sanctity of the log cabin, or the cottage which we must defend as Boone defended the first cabins in the blue grass. To him they were pavilions of new patriarchs, not barnyards or forts.”
May 19:—By this time all the trees are putting forth their second leaves, and smaller blossoms than before the frost. But everyone is rejoicing for it is spring of a sort. The air is filled with hovering branches in palest green, a good gift to man. The town knows it and walks abroad gaily, this morning of May nineteenth.
Then, late in the afternoon, local war breaks out suddenly and we know nothing about the trees, and care less. It is a Springfield utterly new and terrible to its citizens. The star chimes are not allowed to ring. I am with Comrade Avanel in the very top of the Truth Tower. The terrors of flight and pursuit sweep over the far sections of Springfield given over to aviation fields, orchards and the like.
When machines overtake each other there is, so far, no shooting or the like, only a veering to the right or left. It might be a game of tag, were it not for the symbolism in decoration put on by the two factions driving the machines. There is a big death’s head painted near the front of every Snob machine, and the hunting knife of Daniel Boone painted on the front of every Robin Redbreast machine.
Neither Black Hawk Boone nor Avanel has authorized any such use of this symbol. The whole threat and roaring are unauthorized by any of the leaders of factions. The “People” have escaped the leash.
Avanel is the only reporter her father will trust tonight and she has come to the top room of the Truth Tower, because it is the observation and news gathering room for things that may be untangled from a tower. All the papers have made common cause tonight. All the telescopes are in use, looking to the borders just beyond the City Wall, the borders of Morgan, Menard, Logan, Macon, Christian, Montgomery and Macoupin Counties. The news is assembled and everything observed is explained by telephones from these regions and re-telephoned into the various offices and rewritten there and then telegraphed to all the world that cares. News-gathering remains what it has been for a century and a half. Boone is at the opposite end of the phone from Avanel and the first definite effects of the threatened air-riot are to make that gentleman quite profane.
The flying machines were at first not public property. But so much crowding out of the truly skilled flyers came about by the monopolists with buried gold, that machines are now rented to private citizens by the state or city for a nominal fee and deposit for damages. To enter the examinations in the autumn and to fly for the year is, in theory, one of the privileges of highly skilled, athletic people. Our friend, Portia, the Singing Aviator, is with us tonight and helping unravel the story of the rise of factions. And the gentle creature has written of the uppermost blue and of the dawn clouds and of the map of the earth and of sailing around the curve of the earth. This young girl is appalled to be obliged to take sides in the controversy and enlist for a possible battle of mere children. The most famous aviators on each side come from the High Schools. She does not want to paint war insignia upon her machine. But already her literary imitators have done so. Her three most sedulous apes in the High School, John Nash and Findlay Bryson and Margaret Rand, who have diluted her innocent and heroic songs, turning them into society verses, now demand that she put the death’s head upon her machine, or lose them as disciples. And Portia is appalled to find that the names she once chose in, sport to classify the machines are now used to represent actual factions in the threatened war. The Robin Redbreast and Carrier-Pigeon machines are all on the side of the Robins, and the Snobs are subdivided into the Don Juan, the Raider, the Flamboyant, the Brahmin and the Bird of Paradise. It is the exceedingly high priced Brahmin and Bird of Paradise machines that make the trouble.
People go to the High Schools past their twenty-first year. And the town is first torn up by High School pupils, children of the local multimillionaires, such of them as still have brains and body enough to go through the rigid examinations for aviation. These children of men with buried gold are again and again at the top of the aviation waiting- lists. This is especially exasperating because having a private fortune is proclaimed in every political speech to be against the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Illinois.
And so youngsters of the Wicked Standings, the Cheerful Radleys, the Arrogant Rocks, the Fat Zebeskys, the Nervous Kusukos, the Slick Slack Kopenskys, the Shrewd Sims family, and all that set try successfully to monopolize the priceless Brahmin and Bird of Paradise. Their sinecure is defended in silly verse by Findlay Bryson, John Nash, sometimes called “Beau Nash,’’ and Margaret Band.
May 20:—Many of those parading the streets in the Redbreast costume are skillful High School seniors, young men and women, licensed graduate aviators, whose machine rent-money has been refused through the quibbling of the corrupted authorities. The only work left open to them is drilling for the work of mail carriers for the International Government. Word comes to the news room at the top of the Truth Tower that all through the counties touching the Springfield wall, wherever Brahmin and Bird of Paradise machines reach the ground, the farmers taking Springfield affairs a little more seriously than we do, proceed to set torch to the wings.
May 21:—The Robin Redbreast people can work, at least, and their costume has now flooded the offices. There is such a tension everywhere (without the least thing really happening) and the streets are so full of marching Robins that the young sports say today that they have surrendered. There is much talk of peace and sentimental prattle about our dear little town and slush about all calling each other “cousin” again. But just before midnight The Boone Ax gets out an extra, charging that the Brahmin and Bird of Paradise machines are tied up to the snob children by long time leases and there is not one but still remains in the hands of the owner of a secret fortune or some directly obligated minion of the same.
May 22:—The sky is all gold today. The Snob machines reappear, defiantly gilded, and on the front of every one is painted the name of the Snob using it, and after his name the word:—“Owner.” And young John Nash has taken the fatal step and added a terrible element to what was before but a family row that was leading nowhere in particular. He has decorated his machine with green jade eyes and pictures of the green and speckled lotus of the Cocaine Buddha of Singapore and thereby added the final insult of “international and national treason” and utterly changed the spirit of the fight. All day the gilded machines go by unmolested among the angry Pigeons and Robins, but as Black Hawk Boone says in a big type evening editorial: “John Nash has tattooed himself with treason forevermore and it remains to be seen whether every gilded wing stands for treason.”
May 23:—The University set today bring forth legislation which is drawn up and sponsored by John Boat and St. Friend, the Giver of Bread. This emergency legislation, backed by the immediate surrender and burning of the arrogant leases, appears to insure uniform rents for all machines of whatever class. The fear of the curse of treason has made all the gold-foil faction meek as rabbits for a day. And so they consent to the cancellation of all previous lists and papers of all sorts and the re-enlistment of all aviators once a month. They consent to the proposal that it be made a jail offense to use the same machine longer than three months. Machines must be re-rented in order as registered. No classification to be made as to value of machine, or gold-foil on the wings, or type of machine:—every aviator to take his chance. St. Friend thinks that he and Justice of the Peace, John Boat, have done well. Certainly this afternoon, according to the new arrangement, it is as in Utopia and the rich and the poor, the privileged and unprivileged, have equal chances in the air.
We are alone in the Truth Tower, my love and I, and we are talking of St. Friend, who has brought this all about, and Avanel sends for him, to take in the view of the sunset with us, if he pleases, and wait with us for the returning star chimes. The evening and its beauty, after such days of empty stampede and panic, move my lady Avanel to deeper words than are her habit. And of the coming guest, she whispers:—“St. Friend represents, almost in spite of himself, the idea of thousands of laymen, that few priests have represented:—the general idea of religion, under a church roof, with one’s fellow human beings. The idea stands in contrast to any worship chained to a special list of teachings. St. Friend champions freedom, yet his kind of freedom goes to prayer, of its own choice, with no theological or creed fences, to what he calls, ‘the blessed company of all faithful, people.’ ”
St. Friend comes to us, just before the star chimes begin to ring. He steps out from the noiseless elevator and is before us while we are speaking. Avanel pets him as she does her father when she is being especially good, and the aged guest likes it, of course. He sits in the largest and easiest chair which is reserved for guests in The Boone Ax room, and he hunches forward, a stooped giant. He looks through the top of his eyebrows at Avanel and he keeps time to his armchair talk, beating the arms of the chair slowly with his open hands, according to a habit from of old. He rubs his face and his old forehead with his palms as though to wake up and deliberately brings a flush to his forehead. By incessantly beating the chair and humming and hawing he seems to beat up a kind of nervous strength from some hidden source in the air and talks with increasing animation about the “strike’’ or “riot” or “whatever it may be called’’ and mentions with great complacency his measures against it. And now another curtain seems to lift from the soul of Avanel. The spirit of prophecy is upon her. The old man listens with fixed eyes. The youth of his immortal soul seems to me, in this hour of revelation, to depend upon clear speaking on the part of this young voice. She is denouncing with endless words the ironies of flying and material dreams, yet with girl slang and wit mixed in with it all.
THE END OF THE FLYING MACHINE RIOTS, PANICS,
ALARUMS AND EXCURSIONS.
May 24:—Today with that same light in his eye, St, Friend preaches back at Avanel the sermon she preached to him last evening with, of course, many turns of his own. I sit with her quite close to the pulpit of the Cathedral. The place is packed to the doors.
“You all know my aversion to the motion picture. It is one element in the university about which I differ from the majority of the board. If I express an equal distrust of the flying machine, you will say I am probably against all mechanical advancement.
“Such advancement is but a qualified gift to man. The best wings are spirit wings, however we fly with them. It is better to be like Shelley than to have the glory of Langley and Wilbur and Orville Wright.
“I deeply mourn that Springfield has been almost ready to bleed and die over the flying-machine issue. I am sorry that either our good or our bad people are obsessed. The father of the souls of many of our young people seems the telegraph, the mother, the railroad. There does not appear to be a filament of their minds made of anything more human than the uncanny filament of the incandescent light. When they peer into the future of our city, they imagine our optical factories and the like, hard at work producing things like the new lens gun but more ingenious. The odor of acids is ever on their garments, never the incense of some future Christmas day. They envy the discovery of the three new infinitesimal elements by the chemists of Singapore. No wonder some of them finally turn to the green and speckled lotus and the cocaine Buddha.
“The service this type of imagination has done our city is calculable, definite. People moved by it have made our factories the most notable of the kind in this region of the United States. And they give us also an airship of the mind that carries us far into the future and we return heavily ladened. We examine the treasure. It is a funny little creature called ‘man,’ carrying an extraordinary world conquering device, some amorphous, dubious toy, akin to the ancient phonograph.
“Let us agree that whatever carries bread across the world is of service. Whatever puts a roof over the head of democracy is worth while. Whatever puts clothing on the back of mankind must be respected. And because they fetch and carry well, such gifts as the dragons of Eric Hedder are not to be gainsaid in this place.
“But let ns not hesitate to examine such devices and consider where this matter of toy-making is going to lead us. Will the millennial future be a tin and wire world, an electrical experiment station, and no more?
“We compare it to the automobile. The advantage is all on the side of the flying machine. The automobile is a sort of racing hog. The flying machine is, by comparison, a wild swan. And, crossing world oceans, it works for world unity.’’
Avanel’s face is taking on the deepest crimson I have ever seen upon it. About every tenth sentence is her own. St. Friend laughs, the congregation supposes, at his own wit. He continues:—“And for the fatness of the overfed automobile driver we substitute the leanness of the bird-boned boy or girl aviator. The flying machine is a representative of the perilous privilege of physical aspiration. But what goes up must come down. The aviator is sure of a return journey. Portia will tell us, in an exalted mood, that the aviator is up there to investigate the great milky way for us. She will tell us that clouds and sky now enter into the pleasure landscape of democracy. She makes it plain to us that the tops of the sunset towers, of the man-built Truth Tower, are not the top of the Universe.
“ ‘The Aviator,’ she says, ‘is our delegate to the congress of planets.’ Yet if we agree with every song of Portia, there is even more to be said for looking out upon the fields from no higher point of vantage than the footpath, if we be taking such a pilgrimage as that of St. Scribe of the Shrines, beginning with the first shrine, the Tomb of Lincoln, and praying the prayers St. Scribe has written down for us, as we go around the world to the one hundred shrines of the one hundred religions. We may take part of that journey by steamship and airship but it is when we are afoot we gain wisdom.” And so St. Friend, the Giver of Bread, continues upon his favorite theme of “The Pilgrimage” and urges upon us that life is a glorious adventure and was never meant to be a matter of merely mechanical achievement or cold calculation for physical power. And Avanel’s heightened color continues.
But what is the real Avanel? As we leave church, we look up and she shrieks with delight. Every known variety of machine is in long line, is in cavalry formations in which she delights, some of which she uses with her own Amazons, and she shouts the orders and claps her hands and tries to anticipate each new maneuver with her orders, like chanticleer crowing, and ordering the sun to rise. She stands amid the purple cottages like a fairy in a bed of violets and it is as though all the butterflies of the Sangamon Valley land had become gorgeous giants for us and were flying for our delight. For overhead friend and foe are celebrating truce, if not peace, and the whole remaining populace is in the street to behold it.
May 25:—I am reading in the Truth Tower, in the newspaper lookout room, last evening’sBoone Axwith Avanel and talking it over with her. It seems that the inside political whispers convey to the intelligent the fact that Mayo Sims has sent out his dragnet:—his jesters, his druggists, his coffee house wits, to talk among the older people and get their youngsters in hand. And he has been strongly abetted by the arrogant Rock family.
The arrogant Rock family have other, if limited, claims to consideration. They have rightly prided themselves on being experts on the coal question. Some of the most offensive of them are indeed learned in this matter. It remains a family talent and accomplishment, when nothing else can be said for these people. For many a day, and indeed for two generations, on behalf of the city and state, they have been flying from mine to mine in their working hours, giving expert advice or exercising stern authority, according to their specific offices.
The Rock family began as the Michaelites began. For a long time it was a tradition that every boy of the Rock clan must dig coal with the pick for a certain number of years, and belong to the Miner’s Union. But these people gradually rose from labor-union officers, who dug, in a nominal way, to able but unwholesome fops who would rather be hanged than dirty their own hands in coal.
They hate the Michaelites in a very special way for going doggedly and literally on with their horseshoeing and hammering out swords. But the Rock family know when they have had enough and hate the open accusation of Singaporianism that is the result of the antics of “Beau Nash.’’
It seems that “Beau Nash” has become a fanatic, he has been initiated into the devilish religion, and he defies the committee from Mayo Sims, Slick Slack Kopensky, and the Rocks, that has subdued all the other young representatives of the flying snobs. He says he will do as he pleases, and do it soon, that this is a land of religious liberty, that he chooses the green glass god of Singapore, of his own free will, and there is no treason in it, that he will have the law on whoever molests him.
Now there are shouting and cries below and there are jinglings of all the phones in the lookout rooms and when we answer one we are told that Nash has already ascended and is coming from the west. Almost instantly we see him and then he is directly above the Truth Tower, circling, going up, and circling and going down, while his own old faction, in the street, grow angrier every minute. He has painted his whole machine the Singaporian green and there are all the special signs and seals of Singapore he can put there, upon the body of his machine, and finally, in insult to our virtuous city, he flies low that we may see them and then flies high that we may hate him.
But on his third descent, a Robin Redbreast machine, with all speed on, sweeps up from the north. Nash expects a threat, but the man la the other machine begins to shoot at Nash, just as he is above Washington Park, and down comes the dead man by the Washington Park Pavilion, with a terrific crash of broken wings, and absurd Singapore has her first American martyr.
The newspaper people come pouring into the Truth Tower. We all send the story to the pikers as we can. It seems that the avenger is the son of the Mayor. It is “Crawling Jim Kopensky,” the new President of the Robin Redbreast flying association. He has been president twenty-four hours and has made haste to vindicate his office.
Of course there will be no prosecution of Jim. In the first place he is the son of the Mayor. In the second place he is now a newspaper hero. In the third place he has removed the blasphemer, hated alike by those with millions in gold and alcohol buried away, and those with teetotal tendencies and no money but their legal salaries.
May 26:—Everyone has forgotten the flying machine feud. An Anti-Singapore panic is on. St. Friend has started a series of weekday sermons against Singapore in the Cathedral and Rabbi Ezekiel is doing the same in his Temple and they are moving all secular forums to co-operate. And The Boone Ax whacks and chops at the issue for no one hates a Singaporian better than Black Hawk Boone, the roaring cinnamon bear. It is hard to make out any justification of a war at this exact hour.
When, in his youth, St. Friend made the Pilgrimage of St. Scribe he heard certain strange political talk near the dazzling temple of the cocaine Buddha of Singapore. Three half-English Eurasians were deep in future world politics. This conversation temporarily spoiled his meditations on the real and beautiful Prince Gautama, which otherwise continued throughout the whole of Asia. Ever since that day, St. Friend has been giving his attention to the Japanese and Chinese denunciations of the Singaporians, especially since those denunciations have been so stoutly re-echoed by Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, the greatest American representative in the legislature of the World Government. That tremendous hall has rung with the hammerblows of Michael, the Blacksmith, against international treason, the arrogant Singaporian cry of “States Bights.”
St. Friend and the Rabbi and Boone, backed by the Board of Education, proclaim that they have been studying the wily local policy of the man from Singapore. It seems to be first, to promote confusion. St. Friend declares that the stranger has incited “by peculiar and devious means” all the recklessness of the children of the city and that “the defiance of Beau Nash was a test case” and that “the man from Singapore hoped, if the Beau survived, to build a green glass temple here.” The man from Singapore is really a public benefit judged by the mere surface of things, since he is the scapegoat for all our recent fights and fevers. But no man touches him. He goes on teaching in the University, unmolested. His classes in the Malay Peninsula languages and literature are well attended by the sons and daughters of those who denounce him. Many wait for any slip of the tongue or wrong turn of the voice and cannot catch him.
They cannot help liking the jolly old Malay lore about things which have nothing to do with politics and which are the whole theme of the brown professor’s discourses.
May 27:—Boone and his faction have slacked up on the Singaporian scent and are back on the old argument. Boone declares that the University must be put more firmly in the position of censor of the administration, and after all there are, by actual count, a larger group of those, supposed to have buried gold and buried alcohol, still using flying machines than the list of our “common people.” The Snobs have merely put on the Robin Redbreast uniform. And he boldly prints the list of those morally certain to have much buried alcohol and gold but puts it so deftly there is no risk of suit. And so, to make good, the City Hall starts an informal flying festival this afternoon and crowds anyone who can fly at all into machines that come pouring down from Chicago in. response to orders from our City Hall. But they are all Robin Redbreast machines.
May 28:—The Mayor is winning. Simply by giving everyone a ride who can possibly be persuaded to ride, he has out-numbered in one day, by actual count of temporary flyers, the active Boone constituency, and what is called: “The Moral Issue’’ has completely disappeared. But Boone turns today to a personal issue. He gives all possible attention through coffee-house henchmen, and openly, in The Boone Ax, to the discrediting of “Crawling Jim.’’ And true or false, the stories are whispered around the town about Jim that will spoil him as a political asset and ruin his glory as the punisher of “Beau Nash.”
He has been guilty of certain cruelties to animals and children. It is whispered that the police have clearly established it. They are keeping the records. They are hoping they may some day have the freedom to act. And so Boone gets Jim “where he lives” for rumor hurts Jim to the soul. Since he is himself a peddler of little scandals, it is his world. He is said to be a carrier of everything in the way of poisoned small-talk to that strange beauty, Mara, the daughter of Singapore. When the small talk turns against him, as he gathers it, he droops and mopes indeed for an hour or two.
But he is still president of the Robin Redbreast Club and he takes his consolation this afternoon by extraordinary evolutions in the air, near where he killed Beau Nash. He goes through as many curves as a pigeon bred for flying tricks. And it is said on the street that the Robin Redbreast Club will keep him in office out of respect for his luck. He has always been a reckless but endlessly successful trick flyer. So by midnight Jim has won the cheap rumor battle in the coffee houses and Yellow Dance Halls and drug stores. And why not? Boone should be in better business.
May 29:—The town wakes up this morning to find the Snobs asserting themselves again, though now it is the parents and grandparents that are more at fault, not the high school aviators. The families on the list Boone has published, along with their sympathizers, have in the night put gold-foil on conspicuous portions of the cupolas of their cottage roofs or the roofs of their club houses.
May 30:—There is a scandal in the Microscope and Telescope Factory. Old Montague Rock is one of the chief men of the factory. Patricia Anthony, the Proud, is leading a strike against him because of a certain contract, which he long ago secured, for lenses which have been delivered for over a year in a steady stream to a firm on the western coast. It now transpires that these people were agents for the Singaporian Government and Patricia Anthony is morally certain, Singapore is using these lenses in the new mysterious war machine which is a step beyond the lens gun. The Singaporians are presumed to be laying up these machines already, for the day of Singaporian rebellion against the World Government.
Old Montague Rock has always had an irritating style of address and he has made a speech to the strikers in a fashion that has not helped toward peace one little bit. He has said this very morning that the Singaporians are the souls of honor and most admirable, aside from their religion, with which, of course, he has nothing to do. And that they are the height of Asiatic aristocracy at all times. He has said our city should be flattered to furnish them with lenses for guns for local police work in Asia. And so he continues to paraphrase his speech in conversations with reporters at Fifth and Monroe and in Coe’s Book Store, and wherever he meets his friends and enemies, through the whole afternoon.
So The Boone Ax advocates a strikers’ parade for tomorrow afternoon and Boone strains his whole credit and prestige in the city to make it a success. Those societies, etc. that are to be the principal decorative features are listed, in this afternoon’s papers, and the line of march is printed. They are to assemble on Second and Monroe, near the old arsenal, and march south on Second to Capital Avenue, east on Capital Avenue to Fifth, north on Fifth to Monroe, east on Monroe to Sixth, etc.
May 31:—The Anti King Coal Parade goes by this afternoon with many surprises, not in the official list of splendors. The event was scheduled to be called: “The Parade of the Striking Lens Factory” but Montague Rock being often called King Coal, the other title gets into the headlines.
First, between girls on horseback, carrying the Star Spangled Banner and the International flag, rides Patricia Anthony, forewoman of the lens factory, and, after her, march or ride the strikers, in all possible glittering and glassy spangles, to show their trade and their gaiety. And then comes King Coal in chains. He is presumed to be an excellent portrait of the head of the Rock family. He is built of actual coal, in parts, and black pasteboard also. Elegant minions of King Coal are impersonated by masked people, in caricatures of the fastidious Singaporian costume, and they wear light chains that, nevertheless, hold them in leash to the great image.
Everyone jeers with emphasis when King Coal goes by, and many people on the street sing and shout:—“The Song for All Strikers’’ composed by Portia, the Singing Aviator, for this especial parade.
There is an interminable miscellany of floats, reiterating with less and less force, the general theme of the occasion, and I am about tired out. Then Avanel comes by at the head of her Amazons and Michaelites, all riding milk white ponies. It is the first time I have seen Avanel in command, and Boone did not mention this cavalcade in his paper. Indeed, it is remarked upon as a most arbitrary use of military forces that are accepted by the International Government. Avanel is every inch the commander and, for all she is so slender and young, looks the immortal, Athena, leading forth her city. There must be something, not rumored in the coffee houses, or this demonstration in force would not be permitted this mile of riders. Their faces are not masked as were those of the ancient Ku Klux Klan but the costume is, indeed, as singular. It is, for both the men and the women, in the pattern of the old hunter and trapper outfit of coonskin cap and fringed shirt, jacket, leggins and moccasins. But it is all white leather, with touches of long white fur. The girl’s costumes are cut a bit like the conventional riding habit. The dazzling whiteness would not have been possible before the days of smoke consumers and dustless streets. I behold an avalanche of thundering snow.
It is late in the evening, and I am helping the tired Avanel dismount from her pony. Then. we sit together by her unlit fireplace. She has put the hunting knife and the sword back on the mantle and they seem but family relics, and the parade seems but a tale she has told me, and her horse but a thought that she rode today. I walk home through the midnight, under newly blossoming trees. The rich and heavy perfume of the Apple-Amaranth flowers, that are looming delicately against the moon, sweeps around me. It is as though every cluster were a censer from heaven, devised by a lazy and luxurious angel.
MATTERS TOUCHING ST. FRIEND, THE GIVER OF
BREAD, AND HIS ORDER OF THE STRICT OBSERV-
ANCE AND HIS ORDER OF THE LIBERAL
June 1, 2018:—In the capital of Illinois, in this year of grace, St. Friend is a healer of the body and soul. He is more of a philosopher than the fuming Black Hawk Boone, that is, he has a cooler disposition. Yet Boone heals by hard maxims, given with that lovely fruit, the Amaranth-Apple. St. Friend heals by sermons and prayers and the pictured parables, the rituals envisaged and illuminated in the celebration of the Office of the Blessed Bread.
The real name of our saint, which no one ever hears, is Hugh Adams Matheney. He is, away and beyond, the oldest of the Board of Education or of any of the leaders of the city. He has little fire in his blood, but has still the greatest reserve battery of nervous force. He was, even as a little boy, a protege and disciple of St. Scribe of the Shrines, who was then in the height of his glory as a leader of our town. He preceded St. Friend as the dominating figure of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul and handed down to him and to the whole city the old doctrine, with a new emphasis, that the whole human race is the mystical body of Christ, soon to he raised from the dead. On his mother’s side St. Friend is a descendant of a long line of members of the Church of the Disciples. On his father’s side his ancestors are notable in several lines, for instance, the Matheneys of Springfield. The original Matheneys put up one of the first three settlers’ log cabins ever erected in this county. The Adams strain is from New Harmony, Indiana. There they were bakers for several generations. The cottage of St. Friend has his baker’s coat of arms painted over the little front door, over the tremendous open fireplace, and in the little dining room. On one slender pole, in front of his cottage, all of his family flags are flying. The most important of the flags, in the estimation of St. Friend, is that of the clan of these same Adams people from New Harmony.
St. Friend is the last of his actual clan to be a baker, though the town is full of his first and second cousins;—and third cousins, indeed, that claim him proudly. He has adopted a son, an orphan boy, early apprenticed to his flour barrels by the school authorities, a boy of Thibetan ancestry and one of a small local group of Thibetans. He is now grown. Except for ceremonial occasions he has long graduated from baking. He is occupied in designing more exquisite and slender sunset towers, of the school of Louis H. Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, to add one more circle to the outer ring, when purple cottages and old buildings have been sufficiently cleared away. He is known as the “young St. Friend” or the “Thibetan boy.”
When I have passed him on the street, I have observed him muttering to himself or occasionally walking and arguing with the other Thibetans. He looks every inch the stranger, with square face and almond eyes, and skin brickdust red, with heavy bronze beneath it.
The sister of St. Friend, living in the same cottage, a mild, ghostly creature, creeping about, is more than a centenarian. She remembers the celebration of Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. She was then a baby in her father’s arms, and held out her hands to catch the falling showers of confetti thrown from the high buildings. She thought it was snow.
St. Friend graduated from the Hay-Edwards school. He went through one oi Springfield’s High Schools. He continued on for a while through the Municipal University of the town. He attended a college of his faith at Washington, D. C. He then became a novice of the order of St. Scribe of the Shrines and took that discipline as literally as possible.
St. Friend is a close correspondent of the hundred radical bishops who are, often in remoter fashion, followers of St. Scribe of the Shrines, while at the same time they are conserving the results of the Church Revolution. Two of these bishops, the present leaders of the order, were young pilgrims with him when he made the journey commanded by St. Scribe, the pilgrimage around the world to the one hundred shrines of the one hundred religions, beginning with the Tomb of Lincoln. The boy returned while St. Scribe was still in his prime and a rousing, dominating figure in the city. The boy became the private secretary of the Saint. When the saint was an old man, the disciple was his confidential adviser and finally, when the great man departed this life, the office of leading the Cathedral flock naturally devolved upon the disciple. It was about this time that the rumor began to move among the people that the departed St. Scribe was once Hunter Kelly and it slowly became the fashion, with some of the more fanciful citizens, to speak of Hunter Kelly-St. Scribe as though they were one guardian spirit. St. Friend was offered the headship of the order of St. Scribe but he refused it and, without abandoning his place and the prescribed forms and prayers of this discipline, he set up quite a separate order of his own, the Order of the Blessed Bread of the Strict Observance, and today he has proclaimed from the Cathedral pulpit the setting up of a more popular order, of the more liberal observance, and though there is much not yet cleared up by the sermon, Avanel is resolved to join, if possible, and recruit me, if it may be done.
This is the history of The Order of The Strict Observance:—For many years St. Friend has given himself, in true devotion, as a member of the Springfield Associated Charities, to provide for the handful of defectives, drug fiends, and those outlaws who are now classed with them by common consent:—the unskilled laborers. St. Friend finds in his heart a great Franciscan pity for them. He finds there a sharp social rebellion that there should be any outlaws or helpless ones whatever. So he has become, by acclamation, the perpetual head of the Associated Charities, and these feverish wanton ones have been cheerfully left to his over-solicitude. The entire contingent of the socially crippled cuts as small a figure on the general horizon of the city as did the group of the professional paupers in the days when blind men turned hand organs. The educational machinery is such that within the double city walls, built long ago by Ralph Adams Cram, the so-called “exploited” have long been kept out. People in general are well-fed, super-skilled laborers. And they have about all the carnal bread and all the carnal circuses they can well digest.
But St. Friend, who in his youth wept for every fallen sparrow till he could weep no more, has long maintained his Order of the Blessed Bread of the Strict Observance for those left behind in the race, generally degenerate sons and daughters of old settlers. The order is properly called the “Brotherhood of the Blessed Bread.” Those who join eat of a bread baked from a special Sangamon County wheat, planted between the inner and the outer wall by some of the various sects of the Flower Religion and the Park Religion. St. Friend cares not what sect plants the wheat, so it be planted by those who believe in democracy and prayer.
After due vigil, the bread is skilfully baked by the Thibetan boy, or other chosen members of the society. Those who eat of it are exhorted, but not commanded, to take the oath before John Boat, for the bread, till now, has been primarily intended for the Brotherhood of the Strict Observance.
This oath before John Boat or other co-operating justice of the peace is printed in the little book of devotion that goes with the Strict Observance. The book and oath are intended for the most hopeless derelicts only. Presumably the bread is eaten for the first time by these, after the oath is administered.
The gray-headed old justice of the peace furnished the idea himself, when he and St. Friend were young men, and St. Friend kept the copy of the oath and brooded upon it long before he felt it politic to found the order. John Boat had observed, in his experience as a notary, that men, who seem but animated putrescence, still regard their sworn word in court. It is the last chance to put iron into them. This thought in mind, the oath is administered with the solemnity that went into the old monastic vows. From the many who have been given life by the oath, St. Friend has taken great assurance that he is on the road to a tremendous social amelioration.
June 2:—Because Avanel and I have decided to join the more liberal observance of the Order of the Blessed Bread, though we, as yet, know little about it, she is eager to show to me the occasion of the administering of the oath of the Strict Observance. This Monday morning we are taking the back bench in the shadowy comer of the justice court to watch the older ceremonial. Now most oaths in court are rattled off like parrot words, but to John Boat this is an occasion when he is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. He gives a seeming dignity to the most carping and exacting demand of the pledge, reading it line upon line. Blue-faced Surto Hurdenburg, the derelict, echoes him with full and honest intent, repeating every line after the learned court with great respect and devotion.
This is the text of the pledge:—
State of Illinois
City of Springfield,
June 2, 2018.
I, Surto Hurdenburg, accepting the lordship of Christ, do solemnly swear, by the ever-living God, that from this time henceforth I will support the Constitution of the World Government, the Constitution of the United States, the Laws of Illinois, the Ordinances of Springfield, that I will faithfully observe and keep inviolate the moral laws of the community; that I will carefully and faithfully observe my duty to my neighbor, recognizing his rights at all times; that I will endeavor to become an expert workman and member of a guild; that I will faithfully, honestly and conscientiously exercise my rights of franchise as a member of my guild and a citizen of the community, with a firm determination to bring about the best results for clean and honest government, and that I will devote as much strength as possible to the study of civic reform, examining at all times the opinions of clean-minded radical citizens and acting on them according to the dictates of my conscience. I specifically promise to abstain from motion-picture shows, yellow dance halls, bad women, alcoholic liquors and narcotics, and to denounce and work against in every way possible the traffic in Singaporian cocaine.
Further and finally, I promise to eat the Blessed Bread of this Order of the Strict Observance, according to the manner and at the times laid down in the Book of Devotion, and to follow the discipline for body and soul there prescribed and imposed for the good of the order and the health and well-being of my city.
(Signed) Surto Hurdenburg.
Subscribed and sworn to before me this Second Day of June, 2018,
(Seal) John Boat
I conclude that, in the light of Springfield life as I have seen it these strange days, it will be easier for such as Surto Hurdenburg to keep the more literal specifications of the pledge, such as the ban on motion pictures, than to enter into the deep mazes of citizenship with judgment. He will keep close to St. Friend and the order, who hate the films, and thereby be able to let the films alone. Most photoplays outside of the educational buildings or beyond the immediate jurisdiction of the World ’s Fair authorities are shown on the right or left of the sauntering corridors opening on the Yellow Dance Halls on the same floors. Here half-hour lengths of film are run through, when the crowd sweeps in to rest. The merits of the exceedingly artistic studio and theatre, called “The Egyptian Photoplay Association,” headed by Gwendolyn Charles and Rabbi Terence Ezekiel remain unappreciated by St. Friend and the members of the Order of the Strict Observance. This in spite of the fact that the Photoplay Association in question now has in charge most of those exquisite and unimpeachable film theatres of the University World’s Fair and several other worthwhile film-theatre circuits in Central Illinois. “The Egyptian Photoplay Association” will rent slightly worn films to Yellow Dance Halls, after first runs in these others, and thereby make the films in the eyes of the Order of the Strict Observance, mere devil ’s nets for fish.
So, though the highly esteemed Rabbi Terence Ezekiel tries to act as mediator, there is eternal war between the fiery Gwendolyn Charles and this saint.
For a long time back truly aesthetic and truly educational motion pictures have been shown in the school and University class rooms. Many of them are scientific and historical records and renderings. In the odd hours of loafing through these three months I have noted many of them as of the best gifts of the new time. But our stubborn St. Friend, as a member of the school board, generally votes against them, and in solitary grandeur. While at one with the general policies of the educational system, he makes many a speech before the members for the restoration of the regime of the book and the blackboard. He truly says that these are now almost abolished in the presence of the protean triumphant films, of the street pageantry, the training of skilled labor in the high schools, of the oral, the phonographic, telegraphic and telephone methods, applied to all forms of teaching. And only last week he met what appeared to be his Waterloo when it was voted to extend and enlarge the entirely respectable, if a little frigid, university dance halls and to include motion picture loafing rooms, the better to run competition with the Yellow Halls.
Some of these things I go over with Avanel, as we walk home from witnessing Surto Hurdenburg’s oath, and we wonder just what of the forbidden things, besides motion pictures, St, Friend will include in his pledge for the Liberal Observance. Avanel says: “I admit that the men who are sworn in, like this Surto Hurdenburg, are apt to become useful, if fanatical, citizens. Their poor strength must be economized in narrow channels if it is to last and be recuperated. But if St. Friend tries to put such a set of chains on me I will not speak to him for a month.”
Saturday, June 7:—St. Friend has today given it out by word of mouth and by editorials in the five papers that the whole world is welcome to his bread. The Order of the Liberal Observance is already more popularly called by the alternate descriptive title: “The Citizens in the Communion of the Blessed Bread.” There is no oath; even a Quaker may join.
Sunday, June 8:—It is the warmest morning of the year, so far, in an exceedingly backward summer. It is the first real June weather, and all the people rejoice in it. Avanel walks to church in the most wonderful of white airy dresses. And in these vacuum-cleaned streets, with no soot and no coal dust and no factory grime, people, working or playing, can be dressed all day as for a party if they choose.
All day yesterday couriers of all faiths, representing St. Friend’s personal rather than his religious companions, have been out inviting the people. At least one member of each family has been asked to bring his tribe to the Cathedral green and to listen and carry the message back with the bread.
Avanel and I are early for Church and so we make a circuit, enjoying the airy splendors of the crowd. And we go around by St. John’s Hospital, so lately rebuilt by the insistence of Mayo Sims, to vindicate his scientific zeal, and they say it is a splendid scientific monument to any man. It is east of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, as it has been for over four generations. And the heretic synagogue and the school for teaching Hebrew, conducted by Rabbi Terence Ezekiel, are on the sites where the two orthodox synagogues were, one hundred years ago.
The green in front of the Cathedral was enclosed by a beautiful Gothic wall long ago, at the same time the devout congregation rebuilt the church. The enclosure is rapidly filling with people. St. Friend is to speak to the whole city from the Cathedral steps.
Piled on great wooden trays on the side of the Cathedral steps are the splendid brown loaves, put there for all the world by the Brotherhood of the Strict Observance, who are about in their almost monkish official robes, proud indeed to be so prominent.
Blue-faced Surto Hurdenburg, so lately sworn in, is an ex-headwaiter of alleged New York hotel training and he is now to prove his mettle. He is about his task decorously and swiftly enough, for those seated and settled already have the tissue-wrapped loaves in their laps, and all through the sermon, as fast as our citizens are settled, they are given their loaves without a sound or a grimace, and Hurdenburg, the efficient, rises high at once in the estimation of the children of light.
But now the saint rises to speak. He is indeed a figure; his white hair gleams in the June morning air. His face is the face of Lincoln, grown old, with a touch of St. Francis eternally young. He straightens to his full height. He is fifty years younger. He is one of those capable of seeming collapse for weeks, when it is but the storage time, and then the lightning is discharged in one tremendous hour.
There is a certain vast medieval humor about him. He is vested in his ceremonial baking apron and Avanel giggles till he actually begins to speak. This is the end of his sermon:—
“Pray consider that, in your freedom from vows this splendid June day, you are nevertheless dubbed knights, my fellow citizens. In medieval times monks and knights served the Church with the same divine vocation and devotion.
“The Church of Springfield has come. It is the sunlit grass of this park; it is this Illinois sky. Under the roof of this Cathedral behind me and of all the churches, temples, and synagogues of this town, its primer work has been done and will be done. It will begin with sheltered faiths and will not contradict or undermine any.
“It seems that we must periodically sing hymns and look ac the little jeweled holy things and read the precious little books, or we cannot go on and out and up. There was only one Johnny Appleseed in the history of mankind. His image is in our Cathedral, but even he read Swedenborg and clung to that system. Yet sooner or later, like that great saint Johnny Appleseed, we awaken to our great outdoors, and all the visions there.
“All Holy worship, learned, as when Johnny Appleseed walked the highroad, or the primer lesson when he first read Swedenborg beneath his boyhood roof, makes over the mere bread of comradeship into this blessed bread which will heal our shameful diseases of body and of soul.
“Share it, share it! When we have shared the blessed bread, communing like true friends, the beauty of all Heaven, the sea in which we move that is above all and through all and in all, will gild more perfectly the Springfield daily grind and the Springfield sabbath. The devout convert and his child and his grandchild will build his house as beautifully as our Sacred Apple Tree is made, as righteously as the Sacred Oak Tree, as democratically as the Golden Rain Tree, which spreads its branches like a gate for all of us to pass through in equality. The devout convert will build such architecture as glitters in the songs and books of devotion of St. Scribe.
“The voices of the children will be as noble as the discourses of the prairie winds that catch our tree boughs at sunset. Every house will be as delicate and subtle as the ferny hollows of the Sangamon. The convert will name many birds that will come at his call and he will feed them crumbs of this Blessed Bread in friendship.
“When Springfield has partaken of this manna for a generation, all things will become new. Leavening thoughts will come from all the street comers. Novel fancies will come from the coffee houses. The conferences and colloquies of fallible men will take on something of the aspect of the meetings of the inspired souls of Heaven.
“We walk our plain path! We eat our plain bread in a rare fellowship! Therefore all things become eternal. The Church of Springfield, the church of this sunlit grass, the church of a million days and nights, is proclaimed from the steps of this Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul this day.”
And now Avanel comments:—“If you look deeply into the aphorisms my father serves with his apples and with his paper money theory, you will find, though he is no atheist or mocker, he is a Son of the narrow, dry antagonisms of some of the village atheist stock with which our blood mingled during our sojourn in Egypt. I glory in my Indian ancestry, even if I do not make myself conspicuous with my hair loose and my left hand crimson. But as to my father’s village-infidel streak, I have no use for it. Moreover, I heard him ding dong his doctrines in my childhood at times when he was not at his best. I know better how to take St. Friend. Both are narrow as mousetraps on their literal side, if one has a turn for being caught.
“I think I choose St. Friend for my guide, because he begins and ends with prayer. I do not stay away from motion pictures, as he commands, nor from the Yellow Dance Halls, as he and my father both command. But I distrust these places, because of the warnings of these good men. I will eat this bread, you and I will eat it together, though I know it is railed at in the Yellow Dance Halls, and I know the keen things that are said there against such superstitions. We will continue to eat together the Amaranth-Apples that are tabooed there. We will read together the proverbs and songs and prayers of St. Scribe and while our feet may be in the Yellow Halls, our souls will be making the pilgrimage of the one hundred religions. We will be thinking together how the whole human race is the body of Christ, soon to be raised from the dead.
And so this evening Avanel invites me to her own select table in the inn at the top of one of the great northwest gates, the inner gate, that overlooks the former village of Ashland, Cass County, and is one of the chief glories of the Inner Wall. It is the Musicians’ Building and from here oftener than anywhere else on this wall, sound the special evening hymns and organ solos and chimes, over this whole segment of the city and over the forest parks to the north, between the walls. Pilgrims pass through the gate beneath us. They have visited, according to the ritual, Lincoln’s monument, the First Shrine of St. Scribe—Hunter-Kelly, and they are hurrying along his great highway leading northwest through the Gate of the Outer Wall, that overlooks the former village of Virginia in old Cass County.
Our refractory is called:—The Pilgrim’s First Inn. It is on the cafeteria principle but is a most spacious place, being the whole floor of the tower, with tremendous sheets of glass for windows, so that an aviator, circling it, can see straight through it from every angle, and all the colored and decorative searchlights of this happy June evening sweep through it as the twilight comes on, lights for the most part of the delicate tints of the towers:—more like rapid clouds, left over from the sunset, than sharp, searching, swords.
So Avanel and I find our table, in proper chatting distance from several others, some of whom have also brought their brown loaf. And we carry from the counter a few things like coffee and butter and Amaranth-Apples and we banquet. She speaks more lovingly of her father’s many moods. She divides the apples, uttering at the same time scraps of his philosophy.
At last we take the bread of St. Friend. It is our communion service, High Mass of comradeship.
Avanel quotes from the Gospel of Luke,—from Luke’s deathless story of the first communion.
There is a ringing of bells all over the city, silvery and sweet, and in every tower of the walls:—the ringing of the star chimes. It is a clear night. The sweeping colored lights are gone. We go to the great expanse of windows and look up.
Avanel says:—“The trouble with this breaking of bread is that it is a pledge to break our bodies. I do not want to break mine for a long time, if ever.
“Yet,” I say, “You ride your pale war horse.” Avanel, the dancer, replies:—“Let us hope that the war will never come. Let us hope, before the time war is due, the body of Christ, the whole human race, will be raised from the dead.
HOW THROUGH SERMONS BY ST. FRIEND AND BY
POLITIAL ACTIVITY, SUCH AS THAT OF SURTO
HURDENBURG, THE YELLOW DANCE HALLS
ABE VOTED OUT FOR GOOD.
June 9, 2018:—I have given up art teaching in a separate studio of my own and have been, for some time, merely writing verses and loafing about and peering into the town, often with old Sparrow Short. This comes about because I have sent my few pupils over to him. He is a most likable fellow. He puts on no airs whatever. We find we have a great ocean of common opinions and identical prejudices in the field of art and an equal love of feeding crumbs to the English sparrows and other such birds and we keep off ground where we would be hostile in argument. I think I did the town a good turn when I persuaded such people as showed symptoms of studying with me, to study with him. In return he urges me to give criticisms in his life classes when I feel the urge to impart to youth, or when he is out loafing, or helping decorate some of the newly revamped yellow halls, particularly the Hall of Velaska. The latest occasion when I took over his place came about because he was locked up for days without anyone to go his bail all for alleged treason to the World Government. At last Boone lets him out, by going bond, with a roaring lecture, which is replied to in kind, they say, with no show of gratitude whatever. But the privilege of being out on bond is precarious and liable to be withdrawn to one waiting trial for World Treason and Short keeps me in sight for emergencies. Sparrow Short is, of course, passionately loyal to the Star Spangled Banner and Washington’s Farewell Address but that is considered only one half of patriotism and called “World-Anarchy” now. Most of the people who study under him do not care what his views may be on any subject but art. He is the best teacher and that is enough for them. And, as a matter of fact, in expressing his international views which he does out of teaching hours, he is a roaring baby and unworthy the attention of grown up politicians. But I tell him that even grown ups in politics should not be too much censured for misunderstanding him. People, like Short, who fight for individuality and those whole object as teachers is to promote the diversity of their pupils, cannot see why the world cannot be one great art class. They are, indeed, in strong contrast with state builders, who build with men in masses and blocks.
This morning Short takes me around to the Hall of Velaska, when it is absolutely deserted except by ourselves, and shows me with pride the pictures he has given the hall. These pictures are so set in the walls, they seem painted there, and the whole color scheme that Short has long planned holds them together. There is a defiant touch of Singaporian green in it, sometimes with the glisten of the hated green glass, but the place is otherwise in the most quiet and inoffensive taste.
The first picture is the one that he had long planned for the World’s Fair, till it was debarred on account of its subject:—the portrait of Mara of Singapore, when she was the age of Juliet. Next is what Short calls a Fairy Fashionplate, a gown to be worn at the funeral of an exceedingly wealthy bumblebee. If we are to believe our guide, Mr. Short, here is depicted an occasion when one must wear a look of grief and resignation and an appropriate costume. Short explains that all bootlicking fairies consider it good form to blacken the face on such occasions. They will not blacken their faces for bumblebees who are poor. But, when a deal of honey is left to sustain the mourners, it has become a convenient manner of expressing grief for the honey-eater to steal an ink bottle off a writing table and spill the ink all over one ’s self. One looks more crestfallen than in any conventional black. So this fairy manikin is dressed in gray dove’s feathers and ink poured on her in streaks and her little face is all smudged with it. Soon she will hurry, home, take a complete bath, and eat the honey.
The Boy and the Ostrichissimus:—The Ostrichissimus is a bird about three times the size of the ostrich and with ostrich plumes all over it, and some of them so long behind, it has not the insulting shape of the ostrich. A more graceful neck helps also. Its head is not so bald. The Ostrichissimus is driven with a silk cord, passed through the mouth, for a bridle. The boy driving holds on tight with both knees and is a little scared but enjoying himself immensely. They are hurrying across the Sahara desert.
The Devil is Making Candy:—Short explains that this is a picture with a purpose. The Devil, in a cook’s costume, is bending over the usual candy kettle. Peeping in at the door are those that wait for his candy. These are the usual run of sinners, types that appear in sermon pictures, the miser with his gold and the Magdalene with her painted jaws, etc. The devil looks exceedingly sly but Short explains that there is nothing for him to look sly about. It is only fudge. The Devil tests it by dipping in his finger, which, of course, he can do without burning himself. “Yet,” says Short, “I would not eat after the Devil ‘s fingers. Would you?”
The Sewing Machine of Fate:—Fate is an old woman among the stars, big as a sign of the zodiac. She is crouched in a heap over a sewing machine. It is a little too small for her clumsy hands but she can use it. Forever and forever, with eyes that never lift from the plunging needle, she bends over her task, sending through new cloth from the looms of time. When this cloth has passed under the needle, it is written with characters that can never be snipped out. This inscription is all she lives for. Yet, like the inscriptions of the temples of Yucatan, it is forever unreadable except to ghosts, hobgoblins, spooks, and such like creatures, with whom sensible people have nothing to do.
There is one great blank space on the wall, for the portrait of the mythical queen of the revels in this particular Yellow Hall, Sally Mary Ann Velaska Harris, familiarly called “Velaska”.
Sunday, June 15:—I find myself this morning in the loft of the gigantic Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul with Surto Hurdenburg. His face is still painted blue by mother nature, as a reminder of his long struggles with alcohol. But there are new unquenchable fires within. He looks like a broken down but repentant Bill Sykes. He takes the sermon with great literalness, as I know, by his asides to me.
St. Friend’s voice is much more quavering and old than last Sunday. He is living in the reaction from that tremendous physical outlay. It is as though we were endowed with a special sense of hearing and were listening from celestial parapets to the cry of a sick man on the earth.
Such is the magnificence and medievalism of the old church, so brilliant are its windows, so austere its pillars and niches for the saints, and the images of those saints, that it seems to have been built a thousand instead of a hundred years ago. Yet here are not only images of St. Peter and St. Paul, but of a long line of saints, as beautiful as America itself all the way to yesterday. Here are Saint Francis and Swedenborg, and Johnny Appleseed before whom candles are burning:—Hunter Kelly, in his aspect of St. Scribe of the Shrines, and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mary Baker Eddy, and the first Mother Grey, founder of the flower religion and Jane Addams and that tremendous and divine jester and poet and sage, Abraham Lincoln. There are a hundred other niches with the American saints and world saints and a hundred others waiting for the saints of tomorrow.
But Surto Hurdenburg is listening to the sermon. Here is a fragment thereof:—
“The solution of the problem of the social evil can be given in four words: ‘THE PROUD CITIZEN WOMAN.’
“Springfield has no tenements but until the life of the United States outside of Springfield has its larger hours of leisure and more green clear spaces in which to cultivate codes and fine observances between boy and girl, the custom of selling the young girls to the slaughter will leap over double Gothic walls and invade those groves and parks we call ‘Springfield’. We have the beginning of chivalry in many ways, such as the public school honor pageants and athletic honor tournaments and all the fine codes of Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the First, in connection therewith. We still need more sense of honor, honor beyond the point of Bayard and the Cid.
“There is only one issue for sweethearts:—honor or dishonor, citizen or slave. So it has been from the beginning of time, so it will continue till woman’s redemption and complete emancipation. The fantastic Hindu would die ten thousand deaths before he would break caste.
“The stubborn Mohammedan or Jew will yet be torn to shreds before he will consent to offer to an idol. Not all the tides of the world cynicism has changed these. The Japanese would cut out his tongue before he would speak a slighting word against the flag or honor of Japan or do a work in her despite. Are these people to be mocked for having a code?
“By standing by those Don Quixotic notions they prove they are men, not cattle. America, led by such orchard cities as Springfield and the other capitals that are turning their streets into parks of worship, should have one patriotism, one caste rule, one religion, the religion of honoring woman as a comrade citizen.
“The Yellow Dance Halls are deceits. They dance lies. Their unwritten laws are poisonous Singaporian devices that in the end make beasts of boys and girls and take cocaine for granted. And in the sporting, boastful excitement of cocaine, ill things are born, vendettas that only yesterday brought mortal bloodshed upon our streets and tricks that shamed us before the ages.
“The election is coming Tuesday, the Yellow Dance Hall Parade, tomorrow. Let us remember that this referendum election has been brought about by the signatures of the entire Board of Education, of over half the City Council and of a completely representative host of citizens of all families and clans and faiths. If we who have signed that paper win our petition, it is the last and third call and the voters will grant that The Yellow Dance Halls be banished from our city forever. Tomorrow the Yellow Parade is coming. There will be every effort on the part of the yellow claque to laugh down the seriousness of the issue. Let no friend of this Cathedral take part in that parade. Let all good citizens, at every spare moment from this hour to the election, go forth to urge their immediate kith and kin and fellow clansmen to turn out at the polls and vote for the banishment of these places and let my friends who have taken the especial Oath of the Strict Observance consider this election their charge and let them leave nothing undone that will secure a full showing at the polls of the voters of whatever persuasion. The only way to lose this election is by staying at home.”
The voice of the aged and weary St. Friend rises almost to a shriek. He pauses many times for breath but goes on, clinging to the pulpit as he may, exhausted by vigil and anger:—
“The Yellow Halls, where all public gambling is carried on and all election money passes! The Yellow Halls, where, despite the legislation of a clearly established majority, through a hundred years, the gold and alcohol from far beneath the gilded roofs, is brought forth from mouldy hiding places and doled out to corrupt the electorate and thwart the clearly recorded will of the people. How long shall we endure these secret multimillionaires and secret wine kings and secret cocaine kings, despising every phase of thoroughbred and honor-bound American Democracy? Despite all the doings of the month of May, not one hiding place of their gold has been unearthed, not one case of their wine has been dug up and confiscated by the Federal Government.
“Yet their children know these secret treasuries and meet in these halls to corrupt all the other children of the city. From way below gilded roofs the poison venders ascend by tortuous and shameful passages and go forth to dance and destroy and defeat the plain will of the people as recorded in initiative, referendum, and recall, and elections at the polls and guild elections:—and even, at the height of their folly, to whisper Singaporian treason.”
And so St. Friend has done and Surto Hurdenburg beside me takes him with exceeding literalness and goes forth to agitate and organize even more zealously till this battle is over.
Monday, June 16:—Such is the protean character of human nature that at least one third of that congregation of yesterday, having their costumes already prepared, think it is a pity not to use them, and are in the parade this afternoon, which comes immediately after business hours, at four o’clock.
The parade is led by Velaska, and her minions are scattering giant asters from her yellow barge. She is an unknown and wears a yellow mask. All this is a tradition of these parades. The pantomime acts and dances, the width and length of the block, made up of a thousand clowns and jesters with baubles, go by; and Falstaffs without number. Because of the vacuum-cleaned streets and streets not so hard as of old underfoot, endless dancing and delicate and crisp and diaphanous effects can be secured and kept effective. But it is all yellow, not orange:—from Bacchus and Ariadne to the April gods and goddesses of all of Asia. Three great ballets, the New York, the New Orleans and the St. Louis, are imported to dance their way down the streets. The parade follows the exact route of the other and pours north on Sixth defiantly past the Cathedral, where I am watching it as it ends. The crowd has begun to clear away. There is a rabble of automobiles. Then there is a queer hush. The auto horns stop blowing.
There comes the palanquin of the Man of Singapore, followed by that of his daughter, Mara:—such familiar sights to a certain number of Springfield citizens, that the element they add to the day’s pageantry is nominal, but to those sensitive on the issue it is everything politically. The Boone Ax reporters scan once more, for the thousandth time, the unreadable faces of the two, searching out the Mystery of Asia. The man bows to his friends and the girl does the same and, according to those who have seen them many times before, their aspect is not one hair’s breadth changed from former occasions. The blazing green, in the name of the Green Glass Buddha of Singapore is, if anything, a rest to the eyes after the uncanny yellow in the name of other less mysterious gods.
I am most of all impressed with the fact, seeing him for the first time, that the Man from Singapore is, after all, in his Asiatic way, a superb gentleman. His daughter seems to me the most high bred of gazelle-like ladies, which, indeed, I had known from her child portrait by Sparrow Short and by Short’s careful report of her ways.
So it is hard for the honest puritans of The Boone Ax, even those who were not born yesterday, to find legitimate place for a new denouncing of the Professor of Malay Arts and Letters and his daughter. And so the late evening edition of The Boone Ax calls them “the two strangers.” That is all.
I have a jolly evening with Old Sparrow Short in the Tom Strong Lunch Room. There with many others, friends of the halls, Short is quite frank over the issue of tomorrow and prattles away at the pessimists. He feels, for a certainty, all needed is that everyone there glow and enthuse. Coffee Kusuko owns most of the Yellow Halls, of course. That means he uses them any way Slick Slack Kopensky and Mayo Sims direct, at a crisis, and tonight the talk at the neighboring tables is all for the Yellow people and as loud as possible to be skillful. This is true in the Drug Stores of Smith as well, no doubt, for they are in the same combination.
Then later in the evening we go together to take Avanel to the Hall of Velaska, somewhat to the astonishment of Short, who knows she hates him. But she wants to give him a chance at her approval, through his pictures. When the revellers sight my lady, the leers fade, and the boa constrictor dances of Singapore subside. And the gray head of Short puts them somewhat on their dignity, even if they merely regard Avanel with spite. But so many of them are sage and solemn with her and bow so carefully!
“They are trying too hard,” says Avanel.
Sparrow Short shows us the mottoes he has painted high on the walls:
’’Good Cheer Can Save the Soul.”
“Let us Cultivate the Patience of Humor.”
“Let us Seek the Humility of Humor and Laugh at Ourselves.’’
“The Touch of Humor is in all Successful Politics.’’
“No Man is Too Awkward to Dance." (But he has never danced in his life!)
Then he shows us the picture of Velaska, the mythical muse of the Hall. Velaska is expecting her lover. She is dressed in the heaviest and most pretentious of yellow silks; were it not for her veil, there would be no harmony. But it is iridescent, covers her from head to foot, blending and modifying all.
She wears her yellow mask. Short says:—“Her lover will not see her face till the dawn, when she lays aside her veil also.”
He is quite proud of his picture. Avanel is politely interested and no more. The picture gives me the headache, 1 am sure it is the poorest thing Short has done. He thinks it is the flag of liberty, almost equal to the Star Spangled Banner, and the Declaration of Independence, and Washington’s Farewell Address. Avanel dances with many loving and devoted boys. Avanel admires enthusiastically all the other pictures of Short and his decorations. But it is plain, when the evening is over, they still hate each other.
Tuesday, June 17:—Today “Velaska’’ and her train are voted out “for good and all.” Blue-faced Surto Hurdenburg and a thousand like him have gone from house to house, talking incessantly. Morality is always keener in the followers than the leaders, and Hurdenburg and his kind worked among the sharp strong-minded semi-obscure people, just a little better than themselves, whose edge is not dulled by many successes or the paradoxes and mixed alliances that come about through the long possession of power.
Some Yellow Dance Hall people charge that Drug Store Smith, Coffee Kusuko, and Slick Slack Kopensky pocketed the campaign fund of the dug-up gold, to bury it in their own pits.
The “dead game sports” of the city roar themselves purple about a “tyrannical minority” and “horrible puritanism” despite the heaviest majority against them that the laughing city ever polled on any issue. They try to spread the wild rumor that “tobacco and coffee will go next and then the theatre.”
HOW BLUE-FACED SURTO HURDENBURG IS LYNCHED,
HOW THE TOWN SWEEPS ON INTO THE GLORIES
OF SUMMER AND JUNE BRIDES AND THE GORG-
EOUSNESS OF THE TOWERS FROM NIGHTFALL
TILL MIDNIGHT. HOW MY LOVE AND I
ARE AGAIN ENSNARED BY DEVIL’S
June 20, 2018:—Last night was presumably the time of the final closing of the halls, at precisely five minutes of twelve. So at five minutes of eight or thereabouts, one of the younger members of the Montague Rock family brings, with great secrecy and under special devices of disguise, a treasury of wine from beneath some cellar of his clan and distributes it to a carefully censored company in the Yellow Hall of the Mythical Velaska. The world begins to burn for those here assembled for their farewell dance. It so happens that Hurdenburg, intoxicated from the mere drink of victory, hears the noise as he passes. He mounts the stairs. He breaks past a guard who has himself had enough drink to make him too easy. But the remainder of the company have had enough to make them too stern and at the very sight of the “puritan” Hurdenburg, they turn to beasts. They have been saying, moreover, that they were going to hang the whole Board of Education and “every other damned hypocrite in town.’’ They have been denouncing, with some shrieks, “the millions of rank hypocrites” with which America is beset, hypocrites who banish the gold and the alcohol to the cellars and will not permit people to be “honest millionaires” and “honest drunkards” when they please. “What the town really needs,” they have been saying,—and Crawling Jim, slayer of Beau Nash, has been saying it the loudest,—is a vigilance committee. What the “holy city of Springfield needs is a committee to hang with ropes all people who attempt to regulate the religion or the habits of their neighbors.” By religion, Jim probably means the Singaporian religion but does not stress that point.
And so, at sight of Hurdenburg, the infamous minion of the wicked St. Friend, Hurdenburg drunk on political and ecclesiastical power, they make a rush for him, and, led by crawling Jim, this crew, in the masks of the Mythical Velaska, tie Surto Hurdenburg to a pillar. They drink more buried treasure, as they decide what to do with him. They formally and solemnly conclude that they will be merciful and not follow the well established American lynching custom of burning alive, though Hurdenburg, in this case, deserves such treatment. They untie him from the pillar, and carry him to the foot of a Golden Rain Tree of Democracy! Crawling Jim puts the noose in place. Then Hurdenburg is hanged by the neck till he is dead. And the merrymakers go back to the hall undisturbed and dance till five minutes before twelve and then the city police close the hall, according to expectations. The followers of the masked Velaska go home, apparently satisfied with one night’s work, most of them in the arms of one another and quite drunk with wine. It is toward morning a policeman finds Hurdenburg, cut down by an unknown Hand, lying in the grass.
June 24:—All local papers, including The Boone Ax, roar about the lynching for one day, then proceed to minimize it as much as possible. So I will do the same in this chronicle, being loyal to my city. A Chicago paper of infamous repute is glad to “have something on” Springfield and sends down gloating reporters, who make the very worst of it, rehash Springfield’s political history for the last month, putting the ugliest face on everything, tracing through the city their own kind of history.
June 25:—Rumors of the threatened lynching of all the accepted leaders of the town are circulating from the City Hall, though the City Hall people are with the greatest impartiality included in the rumors. The Board of Education is not frightened. The city today proceeds to give Hurdenburg a wonderful funeral. This funeral seems to ring the doom of infamous Yellow Halls for all time. Saint Friend preaches a funeral sermon with tremendous fire.
June 26:—It appears that the bad bloods of the town are frantically devouring their own souls, or leaving. The city has been losing, since the election and the lynching, as much genius as it does deviltry. Sparrow Short who has been obliged to take down his pictures and hang them defiantly in his own studio, has turned into a profane old varlet, amazing to hear, and is inciting as many pupils of ours as possible to leave Springfield. He is himself threatening to leave. But he does not leave. “Certainly it is no hardship,” as the Sentimental Romanoff says, in The Boone Ax “to see departing the most of those with a special talent for raising Cain.” And he remarks on what an awful row they would have made, had they been sent out of town. The coffee houses still exist. There is no denying that they are getting pretty lively, considering that nothing but coffee is dispensed.
Rabbi Ezekiel, moreover, with all care to defer to the aged St. Friend in a personal way, declares that the photoplay movement, being no longer in alliance with questioned places, is destined to go forward with fresh life. He admits that the abolition of the halls is justified, though he took no part in it. But he is a motion picture fan, whatever the turn of history.
June 27:—My whole feeling over the fights about the halls is that I have not had much chance, after Avanel’s promise to dance there with me. I have had only an evening or so.
As for the lynching, the court proceedings promise to drag on, as they always have in such cases. Everyone knows nothing will be done except postpone. Everyone knows it was Jim, yet no one knows it, and the Janitor of the Yellow Hall is the only person whose name gets into the papers.
June 28:—The Thibetan Boy, that the Romanoff dubbed the Muttering Thibetan, now swings into my life, and as though he were a guide sent from wonderland, with sealed orders just opened, he takes me the rounds of Springfield and the whole city becomes new. It is not a place of individual sinners and saints. The City’s architecture seems to breathe and live for him. The tiniest gargoyle takes on personality and citizenship. All this morning he has been taking me through the gardens of Mother Grey. These gardens seem built rather than planted. The trees are green walls and roofs. I am amused to note there is no prejudice against dandelions, since, in a former existence, I had so many to dig up. They now make the carpets. He takes me into the temple studio of Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, who is. especially busy for young university student girls who expect to be June brides in the next two or three days. This studio is a place established for the innermost circles of the flower religion. Before each altar is a design to be set up and kept glorious in some new cottage. Several of these are for a new row of cottages near Washington Park called Bridal Row. The temple is full of the fluttering brides of tomorrow, seeing the last touches and consulting about what candles and incense to bum, and asking over and over what flowers are permitted by the Flower Religion Marriage Service, which is the one most preferred by the exquisites of 2018.
June 29:—Avanel and I have developed a favorite walk: the Lincoln’s monument region. We pass under many of the Golden Rain Trees and Ezekiel Oaks, to the Apple-Amaranth Grove that was the first in Sangamon County, and the Grave of Hunter Kelly, in the midst of it. There are the old pick and spade of the Devil, always left on the grave. When we do not walk in this region we are apt to be looking this way from the Truth Tower, from the lookout room of the newspapers, or looking back from the telescope room of the Ashland Gate. Avanel is generally very solemn looking this way, planning new processions and dances in praise of Hunter Kelly and the next festival of Hunter Kelly, July 11.
June 30:—Avanel has four suitors in Springfield. I am often but a ghost in my own eyes and always but shadow to them. On the hot summer days she goes with three of them to the gigantic porcelain-lined swimming pool of Bunn Park, with two girls, a merry six.
I hardly have my turn with her for several days at a time.
One of her suitors is an engineer. One is a motor-truck driver. One is an aviator. I sometimes find myself the servant of all three men, but ignored as servants may be. As clouds, mists and smoke seems to choke me, through the whirlwind, I am sometimes the absurd unregarded dragon engine bearing her and the engineer to Chicago. While she laughs as his guest in the engine cab I must look down the track through the murk, and I cannot turn round and see the face of her lover, and the skies are laughing at me forever. Sometimes I am in my dream the absurd auto-truck engine, carrying her and the driver, as he delivers his last consignment of goods from the central market. Even the stones of the street laugh at me as we rattle over them. I am only a mechanical toy, and the traffic in the street, preparing for the great World’s Fair, drowns out the whispers of the young people.
Sometimes I am the ridiculous flying machine in which she rides as though to mock me, with the third lover. I must soar on and carry them and they go through fearful storms and up through inconceivable blackness and I cannot see before or after. Even the sound of the rushing wind drowns out their words.
And as these men dismount from their chariots, and as they are on the point of passing by me, with their lordly airs, I turn to dust. I am as dust of the road swept up by a little puff of wind. And then the witchcraft continues and I find myself a coal digger in the mine beside young Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, or laying brick with him somewhere, and I know that I am such stuff as dreams are made off.
My fourth rival is the one I most fear. He is a twenty year old libertine, a kind of a Lord Byron. He loves her now, for a day. His name is TIME. To torture me the more and lure me on from the desire for perpetual death and to prepare me again for a more futile struggle, he gives me deep and curious days with Avanel, when we seem to be twin explorers of the Universe. And then I have big athletic days with her when I seem, not a ghost, but something as substantial as a strutting turkey gobbler.
So this last day of June, in the Mystic Year, after a big swim at Bunn Park, amidst thousands of gay mermen and mermaids, we plan an all-afternoon and all-evening walk.
And we go west on Wellesley Avenue and north on Sixth Street, all the way to the Sangamon River and to Sangamon River Park. We find there a cage we have never seen before. It is between the ice pit of the grizzly bears and the yard of the giraffes. It is a large cage. In it a pair of new animals pace back and forth, trailing their quills on the ground. The cage is marked. “Quilled Lions from Java.” They do not seem as fierce as lions, but have a more human peering, way. They seem to be deeply interested in the world rather than angry with it. The male animal marches round and round his mate. She is like him even to the collar of gorgeous quills that rise and fall. The heads of these sagacious beasts differentiate them further from lions. They have a bit more skull structure, and at the same time are more satanic in their foreheads and their faces. They seem to speak to each other by signs, by glances, and mere pacing together. It gives the impression of being most detailed and constructive conversation. Meanwhile, the crests go through chameleon changes. The beasts watch the setting sun as intently as we have ever done, and the spikequill collars follow every evanescent turn of the hues.
Avanel says: “Whatever these animals are, they ought not to be in a cage. If they could only be taught the English language, or we could learn theirs, we might make them mascots for the city, or even Lord Mayor and Wife,”
The attendant says: “Do not go too near. Those quills are poison.”
“Yes, indeed,“ answers Avanel as the light dawns instantly. “And Java is almost the same as Singapore. We might have known such beasts came from near Singapore. I have heard of them. They are the Singaporian Lions.”
Then we forget these beasts and walk eastward along the Sangamon River Drive. Through the openings of the trees and from the higher points we look back southward. We have had our feast and our Amaranth-Apples in the Sangamon Park pavilion. The star chimes are ringing. The towers are there to the south. What torch bearers before time have equalled these priest-wizards with entrails of fire? They are sterner than priests. They are the soldier-machines of liberty that will sweep the world. They are the Macedonian phalanx that will decide for another century every field upon which they will appear. The merchants of Singapore refuse to use the Sunset Towers, when they build their new cities in their battle for world supremacy, and even by that they are doomed. The houses and commercial palaces and temples of Singapore crouch little and low, like huts in a forest, or glass pagodas in little stage comedies. They are fearful of the incantations hatched in our hives of electrical flame that shine on to the glory of Louis H. Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, who planned the first ones, a century ago, and the Thibetan Boy and John Emis, who build them today.
Avanel and I walk south to the city down beautiful Fifteenth Street. The city is the Fair and the Fair is the city, though there has not yet come the formal proclamation to the world of the opening. There is not one heart on the street but seems to be beating happily. The elation in the air on this perfect June night is worth a lifetime of groans. It seems to me that for this hour Springfield has been patiently toiling and staggering on, despite much sorrow and sin, for a century. All the children of this generation seem to sweep by us and to be spending the stored up capacity of themselves and all their ancestors for jubilation.
There are hundreds of unspoiled sightseers in the crowd looking on the lights of Springfield, often for the first time. These visitors will not wait for the Mayor’s proclamation, that the Fair has begun.
And they are happy, but not as we two are. The bass viol orchestra of the lacquered and rumbling pleasure wagons sings a special song to us though we be independent walkers. We hear them, we boast, better than they hear themselves. There is a babble and a roar that is the beating of the vast heart of Springfield. Its rhythm goes into our footfalls every instant.
It is late, and Avanel insists on going on, in the intoxication of weariness, and will not let me take her to her house on Mulberry Boulevard. She leads me into the very thick of the great forest of Sunset Towers again, now “midnight towers,’’ she says to me, with her face flushed to a deep crimson from utter weariness, and her eyes heavy with the desire for sleep, and her determined little feet still dancing nervously on. And this is what her soul says to me, and what we say to one another, in our fashion, as we whirl on: “Not until another civilization rises here, will there be a rival form to these towers. It is only a matter of years till the type be perfected by John Emis or the Thibetan Boy or their kind. The first generation of ripened builders came a century ago. That was our Early Renaissance. At last our high Renaissance has come. Theipe architectural genius will appear who will gather to himself all that can be known of beam and girder and truss, of foundation and wind pressure and the distribution of light, all that can be learned about hollow brick and tile, of pillar and elevator and fireproofing. He will understand the chances peculiar to his materials and town. His imagination will be a smelter, a mastered volcano. He will have visions of welded steel that will put all men to shame but the builders of the Parthenon, the hewers of the Sphinx. There shall be no borrowings from Paris or Rome.
“The least minor decoration shall reflect the majesty of the dream, as the Gothic altar carving repeated the flying buttress and the spires leaping heavenward.
“Because we take our pleasure at the feet of the Sunset Towers, now ‘midnight towers’ while the midnight stars go by, they shall be reembodied and perfected in the sons that shall spring from them like light.
“They are the rose and gold progenitors of Springfield, the rainbow patriarchs of Springfield. They stand proudly through the night and the lighted streets below them are like a carpet of goldenrod and dandelions unrolled at their feet. Their heads are so far in the heavens they converse with their serene sister the moon. They look out together to the Springfield University and the Sangamon River where the bridges sweep to the north, sparkling threads in the mist. They look south to the Street of Past History that bends around till it meets them.
“Who shall dispraise the excellence of our towers? They look west with all the pioneers, and the very soul of far off, west-going Daniel Boone is in them.
“We take our pleasure, honorable, or philosophical, innocent or stupid or guilty, at their feet, and where pleasure is, there art is born. Many songs shall be sung to them, many new names given to them. Their children shall rise up to call them blessed. Their children shall be a world-conquering city all about them, before the relentless sun looks down upon their ruins, before that blazing lion of time shall have eaten their bones of steel.
“They were born from the black soil of Illinois and from the heart of the Thibetan and from the Red Indian and the Afro-American and all the tribes of the earth. There is in them many an antithesis to all the old architectures and structures.
“The noblest thing to be seen from their heights is the mighty northwest road. For the souls’ highway will stay open and crying for the souls of men to follow when these towers are dead and gone.”
Now it is way past midnight, and we are at old Fifth and Monroe, and all the street cars and vehicles have long stopped, and the light in Dodds’ drug store is dim, and the all-night clerks are nodding behind the cases, or chatting at the ice cream tables, half awake.
And so Avanel and I, walking in one dream together, know not whether we see with the human eyes that perish or the eyes of eternity.
Suddenly something of the cry of the earth reaches us, and there, camping at the crossing of the street car tracks of Fifth and Monroe is the Handsome Medicine Man, Devil’s Gold. He is shaking his bead covered rattle, making medicine, and dishonoring our souls with his leer. And he calls us by name as we stand directly in front of him. We are so tired from our long walk, we cannot but admire his gilded face and his yellow magic blanket.
Holding each other’s hands like lovers we stoop and admire ourselves in the golden pool that flickers in the great campfire he has impudently built at the crossing of the street car tracks.
We walk down through the pool into a mundane world, so perfect its materialism becomes magical, and into many an underground field and forest of wonder, and as we look into each other’s faces and admire one another we are moving gilded images from head to feet. But since we are, at least, together, a hundred-year hunger in the very midst of my heart is thus terribly satisfied, though I am frightened at a betrayal I cannot understand, as though the heavens themselves had lied. We take the wickedest pleasure in looking upon the yellow world around us. And we hear on the air the laughter of the Handsome Medicine Man, Devil’s Gold.
HOW I MAKE CERTAIN EXPLORATIONS OF THE GREAT
DEEP HOW I LATER FIND MYSELF THE MALAY
SLAVE OF THE MAN FROM SINGAP0RE AND
THEREBY GET AN ENTIRELYLY NEW ANGLE
ON NEW SPRINGFIELD.
July 2, 2018:—This morning Avanel telephones to me as she is looking out of her bedroom window over Mulberry Boulevard and South Grand Avenue, she wants me to meet her at once on her lawn and to hurry, for there is a strange giant bird like a burst of flame, in a mulberry treetop. And so before it goes, (and it was there yesterday morning at dawn and hurried away), I am able to meet the Lady Avanel, as she stands in her hasty kimono and bedroom slippers, and goes wild over the marvel singing overhead and eating mulberries for all it is worth. It is a kind of Singing Bird of Paradise, lost here unaccountably from the tropics. Birds of Paradise do not sing, but most sweet music this one makes. He flies down the street and away into the sun at the moment the whole orb appears. He seems to go to the center of it, like an arrow of a demi-god.
This afternoon and evening are the final drill times for the solemn festival in praise of Hunter Kelly, on July the eleventh. I watch the rehearsal. It is directed by Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third. The main dances, especially the drills on chosen white ponies are directed by the Lady Avanel, being modifications of the solemn marchings and countermarchings of the Gordon Craig Theatre. In this eleventh of July festival to celebrate Hunter Kelly’s first planting of the Amaranth Orchards, there are to be great comic dancers, and clowns, but they are completely overshadowed by the devout ceremonial processions, horseback or afoot. Like all rehearsals, the affair drags interminably; much of the stateliness is still to be taken for granted, till the final occasion. It is a weary Avanel, who sends her pony home by a friend, and takes dinner with me in the Lincoln Park Pavilion and her eyes are unnaturally bright and she is silent and half crying. She pulls her napkin to pieces and then the card, from nervousness.
She says:—“Why are you here with me, awkward and ill dressed man! Unmannerly and uncouth man! Yokel and anarchist! Why run around with that mussy old Sparrow Short all the time and then expect to appear in fashionable places?’’
And then, after a silence, she continues:—“There is nothing respectable about you. All the best people of the city make fun of you and wish you would leave town. Why do you stay here? Why not go to some other town and start fresh? You have offended all our first families by your queer manners and gauche ways. And you will never improve them as long as you run around with that mussy old Sparrow Short. Certainly none of the real people, accomplishing anything, have any use for you. I do not believe you even know how to make out a check or keep a bank book. And how on earth you expect to get along in Springfield without dancing or playing cards I cannot understand.
“Why are you here, you silly man?’’
And so I say to her: “Do you think it has cost me nothing to struggle up through the dust and the dead grass and walk beside you? Do you think it has cost me nothing of pain to beat with my poor bare knuckles through the years?”
But when I say such things to Avanel, she does not hear them.
But I am determined and I say: “Last March you came galloping up the Northwest Road on your white pony, and I was buried too near the highway to sleep, with such glory going by. A man may hardly expect to live again beyond the life of that little earth that surrounds his bones, and feeds the roots of the nearest tree. He may, perhaps give life through the leaves of that tree to the locust in the bark, or to the squirrel in the branches, but your song came past my grave like a fairy’s breath, and my ashes are again man or foe or week or living thorns, or what you will them to be. If you will have nothing of a man, why give life to his dust?”
But when I say such things to Avanel, she does not hear them. I am a gauche beau, that is all . . . The mists sweep down upon us, and we are on the very eastern edge of Chaos, where it storms in upon the shore of created things. And Avanel’s eyes are sleepy and her voice is faint and far away. But she says: “Do you think I dance for temporal Springfield, or make my pony dance for such a city? We dance for an audience of the great deep.”
Looming across the gulf is the gigantic porch of the Palace of Eve, its pillars reaching up into the highest clouds of the storm, pillars that are Doric, archaic, immemorial. And out of the gulf between rises the vague splendor of Avanel’s Dream City of the Great Deep. Avanel says:—
“Any one with Daniel Boone’s hunting knife in her belt needs no pompous false prophets of democracy to tell her the road to freedom. In this gulf alone is freedom, if it is to be found, and in this gulf only, is tomorrow.”
And as she speaks Avanel’s Dream City of the Great Deep takes form and is a picture of the Springfield we have left behind, but utterly transcendent, with the Sunset Towers in jewelled glory, with the Truth Tower like a pillar hewn from the white mountains of the sun, and around the town, star shaped double walls, with the pillar oaks between them. But even that dream crumbles and falls into nothingness. It becomes a great cloud plain, a bridge for spirit-feet, over the gulf. And then I see, as I sit lonely, the real dance and ceremonial of Hunter Kelly begin. I see Avanel on her dancing pony of white fire, surrounded by her devoted maidens, while dim and shadowy similitudes of branches of the Amaranth-Apple, made gigantic to shade the Universe, bend above the far off ministers of stately cosmic festival.
As I watch the dance with eyes like those of a far-seeing bird, I behold a dim flashing under the shadow of the gigantic pillars of the Palace of Eve. As it were, a candle flame in the storm, Mother Eve, the immortal, looks up and down those great pillars and up to the clouded and roaring zenith with its tossing flowering boughs, and then to the solemn dances, far away. She sees her fairest daughters do honor to Hunter Kelly, pupil and friend of Johnny Appleseed. Nothing stranger or more beautiful ever happened in the shadow of her palace or beneath a flowering storm.
July 4:—I am today in the wonder of a triple consciousness. To the sense of being an Anglo Saxon of the centuries of 1920 and 2018 is added that of being a Malay of 2018: I find myself in the house of the Man from Singapore his Malay slave. I find myself equipped with singular habits, ideals, and ideas, as though I were the mainspring of a most unfamiliar clock. I am interested in the wheels that keep going.
It is a blasting Fourth of July and one of the second servants, whom I have haughtily sent down town on an errand, tells me, on returning, that the thermometer at Dodds’ drug store already registers one hundred and ten in the shade. But we are so much over arched by old trees, our house is cool enough.
Remembering various ill-reports when I lived in other bodies in Springfield at this time, I am astonished to find the Man from Singapore a person of domestic grace. He has consideration for my feelings as a slave. He has an outstanding gallantry toward the darling of his heart, his only child, Mara, the queen of his house. The picture of her departed mother hangs in the book room of the Professor of Malay Arts and Letters. It looks down gently upon many lounging mats and books left open. The face is all dignity and languor and devotion.
My master’s ancestors, according to his conversation with his daughter at late breakfast this morning, had an original Malay strain.
But added to that was a peculiar mixture of Anglo Saxon remittance man, Chinese banker and Arab trader. It is the combination that crystallized into the caste to which he now belongs, the caste that finally gave distinctive energy to his polyglot, world-shaking city, and lifted the mystic diabolism of the Cocaine Buddha into aggressive imperialism. His new caste found themselves resolving to make Singapore a city worshipped like Mecca, if they had to cut the throats of two thirds of the human race to bring it about.
And so, at this late breakfast, he looks into his coffee languidly, but as though he saw pictures of history there. He says that the English admixture in his caste has long given them insight into the west, and kept English for their main language. The English strain has also given the Singaporian a facility in taking on the most modern scientific devices, and has endowed the proud island with political common sense for routine political tasks. The Chinese blood has given them patience and iron, to work on a hundred-year plan, first in their trade relations and banking arrangements, and then in all policies linked up with these. But now it is the sword of the far off ancient Arab disposition that is beginning to flash.
The Man from Singapore speculates, drinking more coffee, and looking reverently at his daughter. He wonders what he and others will pay, for almost breaking caste in their joining themselves with the honorable but too voluptuous and beautiful Kling caste. So many of them are marrying women of her mother’s race, and paying the high priests tremendous sums for the privilege. He wonders if it will bring them to inefficiency, and smother the Arab before it has a chance for complete expression. At least her mother’s tribe brought them their first energy, for they owe the gift of the Cocaine Buddha, nearly a century ago, to the Kling Prophet.
July 5:—I find myself at a civic reform rally late this afternoon, after business hours. I am still the Malay servant. I am sent by Mara, the good and beautiful, to watch from a distance the doings of the young artist, altar-builder, coal miner, bricklayer, exquisite and civic patriot:—Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third. He is her adorer. She sends me with a note to him, urging him to come to a suddenly improvised Sumatra chess party. Like Cleopatra, she urges me to observe his doings narrowly, and his moods when he reads her note.
Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, is on the back row of seats. He will take no part in the meeting, though urged to do so by many friends around him. The Mayor’s proposition has been voted down at the polls, his desired legislation to let great masses of unskilled labor into the city’s double walls without a time limit on their stay and without the usual University examination. Now he proposes another referendum. He wants to introduce his huskies temporarily, especially Singaporian bricklayers from California, since, as he says, our bricklaying machines have broken down and there is great haste to complete, in time, the building of the Street of Past History of the World ’s Fair of the University of Springfield.
The meeting, squeezed in between the coffee house chats and dinner time, has been called by Michael the Third’s best chums among the older men:—Boone, and the Rabbi, who hope to defeat the new measure. The speakers maintain that, once these laborers are admitted inside our double Gothic walls, it will be impossible to expel them, even after the Street of Past History is finished. They prove that there are enough bricklaying machines to fill all the present contracts on time. They maintain that there are endless boys in the High School Labor Department trained to follow up and finish the work in the wake of such machines as may surely be impressed into service.
All this while that solemn conceited pumpkin Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, thinks he is brooding like Prince Hamlet himself. He will not say how much he believes of these accusations hurled about.
Now rises old Black Hawk Boone and I am indeed amazed to see him through Singaporian eyes. He looks almost like a whey-faced creature, he is so much whiter than my master. And he looks like the world’s greatest fidget, my master is such a languorous cat. And for all Boone’s shrewd, cinnamon bear countenance, he seems to me a simple baby, my master looks so wise. And when he speaks of my master by implication, I cannot but be insulted. For my body and nerves tonight are Malay, whatever my soul may be. And at the same time I am in a terrible fear of Boone as one would be of a child with lighted matches in a powder mill. There is in him a certain divination by force of fury that I cannot but shrink to apprehend, though I utterly despise his mind, as long as I wear this Malay body as a garment and make shift with these Malay eyes and ears and this Malay sixth sense.
Boone ’s fury is everything. His words are nothing. In his capacity as editor and citizen, and not as President of the Board of Education, he denounces my master, who is entitled to official courtesy as a member of the University faculty. But it is plainly in Boone’s thought that the time has almost come for the parting with the course in Malay Arts and Letters and Allied Studies, and the dismissal of all oracles therein, though they be the most learned oracles in the whole world, and the most courteous creatures above ground. Boone snaps out his words like a beast straining at a chain.
He says these conspirators have long thought they could buy everything, including the souls of all state capitals. He tells how, nearly a century ago, Singapore purchased its freedom from the British Government at an enormous fee, furnished by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of that city. He tells how the port was immediately lifted from the rank of seventh to the rank of first in the world. He shows how, after the death of the prophet of the Cocaine Buddha and the local triumph of the religion, this zeal for purchase became Singapore’s most eloquent service in that Buddha’s name. They bought at any price every island north of Australia and south of Japan, including America’s own Philippines. He charges that the war in southeast Asia, a generation ago, was stirred up by their spies, and while they were ostensibly with the World Government, the war ended with a vast increase of their territory by direct purchase of land and the bribing of many new and feeble legislatures to vote themselves into the Singaporian Union. Finally he rises to the height of mere abuse. He lets slip a most appalling avalanche in the name of his western God. And he says this Mayor and his boss have in some way been over-persuaded by a Singaporian spy, present in the city or writing to them, and petitioning that they send for these workmen, who come in as rough labor. But that “labor” will send by wireless, code reports to the high priests of the Cocaine Buddha.
The whole house rises, and the harder Boone denounces, the more they seem to approve, and some of them seem to have the hydrophobia. Race hate sweeps the hall like a blasting wind. And Boone crouches at the very edge of the footlights, and roars on.
He declares that some of this alleged rough labor is morally certain to be a group of high officers of the army, here to paralyze America at the exact second the high priests of Singapore shall choose, using that dreadful secret gun, that it is whispered through all the world, is two steps beyond the terrible lens gun.
Meanwhile these Singaporians, open and secret, will corrupt the wild and innocent young blood of our city. Boone charges that the island capital is the world’s Barbary coast, the one infamy beyond Suez. Among all the world’s red-eyed and fish-eyed human derelicts, where cocaine is used to over-energize, and to make men flashy and reckless, there always their spies are busiest, and their missionaries are most pertinacious and successful. The world around, “SINGAPORE IS COCAINE.”
Boone continues, in an utterly different manner. There is that curious slender girl near the front seat with her companions, the Lady Avanel, and he does not want to seem to be speaking of her. But he says that these Singaporians are as afraid of white as the native soldiers of the Indian mutiny were afraid of breaking cast in their fashion, or the Egyptians were,—which enabled Cambyses to defeat them by heading his procession against them with a small and famous army of kittens. He says they are as afraid of white as the negroes of the South were afraid of it, which enabled the Klu Klux to send them scattering. It is no idle fancy of his that these people are as superstitious as the blacks of the old days. He says that in the last war of the World Government against the rebels of Asia, where Chinese, Japanese and Americans won so great a victory for world unity, there were a few Singaporians among the rebels, denounced by the Singaporian high priests, but these rebels seemed secretly authorized, and they had the typical lens gun equipment and the complete cocaine soul. And Boone tells what is evidently a familiar story, how one of the Springfield Amazons found a mysterious white pony on the battlefield, after her own had been shot under her. She rode him to the front line and drove a whole company of those cocaine fiends in flight, lens guns and all, with nothing in her hand but her Michael-forged blade. Boone says the Singaporians hate white because it is the color of truth and daytime and decency, and as for him, if he had had his way he would have painted every tower of this World’s Fair white, and the inner and outer walls of the city white, to keep out the Singaporian spies and missionaries, but Slick Slack Kopensky and Mayo Sims won a victory for the present color scheme.
Then young Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, to keep himself right with his friends, throws off his coat, and goes forward in the bricklayer’s clothes he has been wearing beneath. As a former High School student-bricklayer and one often practicing that profession still, he pledges himself to go out and work one of the bricklaying machines, or use the old fashioned trowel, as is needed, until the Fair buildings are done. And he calls for volunteers to join him, and many of the gay young bloods do so at once.
So this evening as I serve the black Siamese wine to the Man from Singapore and his daughter, and I stand respectfully at her left hand, and give my report while her wonderful smiles come and go, she clasps her hands and tries to be gay over old Boone. But her eyes are tragic pools, indeed, when I speak of her lover, and of the evident conflict in his heart. And now it is her father’s turn to laugh and try to shift her mood.
“They blame me with their own petty doings and are always suspicious at the wrong time. They never know when I am fighting the real tigers in the holy cause of our High Priests. Not as a Singaporian, but as a man, I am going to give this town a blow with my left hand. One more word from that baby, that bawling Boone, holding me in contempt, and then let him look to himself. It is done more simply than he knows. The distrust of all leaders of every faction from Mayo Sims to Boone is growing every hour. Even those leaders love a lynching, if it removes an enemy. They went to the funeral of Surto Hurdenburg for respectability’s sake, not to mourn him. Not one of all the City Council or the Board of Education put in an extra hour seeing that his lynchers were brought to trial. They are all lynchers and one needs hardly to accelerate their natural gait a bit, but only to fail to warn them of what their own may do. Certainly the Board of Education would be insulted if they knew that Sims and Kopensky are as alien and unknown to us as are Boone and Saint Friend. If they are putting on their fights to edify us, the attempt is a failure. I sincerely hope that Sims and Kopensky and Boone are hanged by their adoring citizens side by side on the same tree. But Montague Rock, I hope, will be spared to us. He is a fine paw. I will tell you that much, little Mara.”
HOW AS A MALAY I WITNESS THE CONVERSION OF
YOUNG KOPENSKY TO THE COCAINE BUDDHA,
LATER WHEN I AM MY AMERICAN SELF
THE THIBETAN BOY TAKES ME
BEYOND THE NORTH STAR
AND SHOWS ME THE
July 6, 2018:—This afternoon Mara sends me to find Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, and report once more. I discover that he has been at work according to his pledge, and with a bricklaying machine. There are more than enough, both of machines and Springfield workers to complete the Street of Past History on time.
And so, this evening, the Kling beauty dawdles through her black wine and cigarettes looking at her father with an indulgent and patronizing squint, completely at ease in the possession of his heart. Though with so many other strains of ancestry, the Malay manner predominates tonight, in her as in him, an outer appearance of super languor, a suggestion of nerve force accumulating through long seasons, to be discharged in one day of supreme achievement, or of “running amuck.”
Suddenly Mara asks her father, as though to plague him all she dares and startle him from his languor: “How do I differ from Avanel Boone? We are, for instance, the same age.” He answers without a quiver: “She is a worthy daughter of Black Hawk Boone, except that she will not dye her left hand or wear her hair on her shoulders, and you are a worthy daughter of your father, except that you like to quiz.”
And she opens her eyes and they seem the wide gates of his Prophet’s heaven. And they have, to him, all the dewiness of honest youth. She asks with earnestness:—
“But how do we differ?”
He defies those eyes. He says:—“Both have dark hair, but Avanel’s is straight like that of the Japanese, and yours is a storm cloud about your head.
“But how do we differ? You need not deny you have studied that girl like a book. I have seen you watching her as though she were a growing scorpion, looking over over and over, at the Gordon Craig Theatre.
“She is no scorpion, but an artless child. Her eyes are blue. Your eyes are black. Avanel’s skin is white and rose. You are more golden than any coin or any sunrise. That is the difference.” And he smiles with an air of mock finality.
But there is more difference and my American soul fights my Malay body and mind, as I apprehend this distinction, while they argue of other matters. I find torturing the very depths of me, that which loves Avanel, though I lie in this Malay grave. Yet the comparison is not all to the advantage of the daughter of Boone.
Avanel follows the most conventional of Vanity Fair and Vogue fashion plates, when not a marching, dancing priestess or an equestrienne in white. The Kling beauty is in her library or in her palanquin wrapped in endless easy swathings of green silk from breast to knee. Her bare shoulders and knees and feet and hands are her father’s pride. He thinks there is nothing like their slender modelling in all the west. She is a singer with the Borneo harp. Avanel in her life as a religious dancer and leader of maiden cavalry and of the Horseshoe Brotherhood, is an unmaidenly horror to Mara, who prides herself on her seclusion. Avanel’s omnipresence on the streets, as the town heroine, seems to Mara America’s most complete scandal.
Yet Mara has often been out in her palanquin, behind that of her father, ostensibly to please him, but actually to see if by chance this hated Avanel will go by. And she has brooded in seclusion over Avanel as much as such a gentle nature can.
Finally, and chiefly, that rare mask, the face of Mara is the same her father wears, and so is half a world away from the open countenance of the lady who carries Daniel Boone’s direct ancestral dagger. Yet there are things readable in the Singaporian countenances. The sincere passion for jungle beauty revealed in the face of Mara can be discerned. The Asiatic necromancy, the instinct for intrigue, is hidden by the innocence of the experiences of her sheltered days, and also, as in the face of her really wicked father, it is hidden by that University air of submitting absolutely to the open finalities of scholarship. And so they will often submit, where Singapore is not concerned. But one would say all Mara’s scholars are poets to her, and of her father all his scholars are statesmen. Each is the other’s flattering image. Each is disarmed in the presence of the other, artless and fond and kind.
She continues this evening by talking frankly with her father about her suitors. I am as a well worn article of furniture. My ears do not trouble her. Are we not all members of the order that has sworn in a great whisper to conquer the world in the name of the holy green glass image that dwells in the temple on the far off Raffles plain?
She asks her father which man will be of the greater service to Our Lord of Cocaine? Will it be the son of Slick Slack Kopensky, Crawling Jim:—or Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, who thinks he has converted my good mistress to Mary of Bethlehem and all the saints of the western heaven. Shall she do lip service to his faith, when he is present, till the day of all days when Singapore ceases to whisper and comes roaring against the world? Or shall she take Crawling Jim for all time?
She is remarkably interested in both men. I am all curiosity over her tenderness for Jim. She calls him James. To be sure, he has undertaken a perilous thing for a son of Springfield. He has already discarded the wearing of anything white.
July 7:—There are not many other Singaporians in the city, and tonight comes an all-Caucasian party except for servants, host and hostess. My amazement about Mara’s attitude toward James now ceases. In this company he is a new creature.
The ladies and gentlemen who come in for initiation into that curiosity, a Sumatra chess game are many of them Jim’s most devoted henchmen in Jim’s presumably highly democratic and now triumphant Robin Redbreast Aviation Club. They were deft enough to capture the club for him. They are people of breeding and assurance. As long as it existed, at the house of the Mythical Veleska the most famous yellow dance hall, they set the pace. Tonight they talk openly of their jolly little lynching of Surto Hurdenburg. They talk of how to bring back to town all the malcontents who have left because of the suppression of the Yellow Halls. They speak of them as martyrs and heroes. And then they talk as though they will leave also. With scarcely an exception they belong to Springfield’s senior families, many of whom have been here as long as the Boones, and some of them before the Michaels. Scions of the house of Montague Rock are among them, including Montague Rock, Junior.
By their voices and a thousand impalpable signs I know that, with scarcely an exception, they have been educated out of town at male and female finishing schools, on funds or power secured by the secret sale of their hereditary buried gold and buried alcohol. These schools are, obviously, the last stand of American plutocracy, that has grown most subtle in what appears to be its final battle. Here, at this party among friends, with no spies, and in perfect confidence, they use with an exaggerated freedom all the secret codes, passwords, and hints of manner that indicate the hidden masters of the land, the tribes with buried gold and buried alcohol.
They are well grounded in the main books of plutocratic and alcoholic apologetics, one of which has been written by a fellow townsman, and it appears today, in Coe’s Book Store:—“The Graces of Bacchus and Mammon’’ by Doctor Mayo Sims. Every poet, architect, artist, or musician who in any fine indirect way licks the boots of money, or sings sweetly of strong drink, has their approval. Many such craftsmen have been induced by gentle means to drop a delicate word for Singapore as the ultimate land of real aristocracy, and dangerous but marvelously inspiring cocaine.
Mara’s guests have been taught in these out of town schools to hate our educational system from the World’s Fair of our University down to the first grade, ward school. They are taught in their male and female finishing schools that the whole city of Springfield and all such cities are infamously democratic. These children are taught they must not let one tone of voice indicate anything more than a suffering tolerance of that system of which, in this city, Black Hawk Boone is the official head.
As the evening progresses, all this crowd gaily says that Jim’s luck in aviation holds in Sumatra chess, and the ladies whisper in their delicate fashion that they hope he stays lucky when it comes to love.
Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, enters late. He says he is tired from bricklaying and slumps into the most conspicuous chair like a second rate actor’s idea of a martyr to patriotism. Michael, the Third, will not play Sumatra or any other chess. He will not bet on any other man’s chess playing. He glares at the merry Jim, or in his general direction. He stalks around, like a stork at a dinner of foxes.
The crowd thins out, and at length the two men are left with Mara, because J. B. Michael, the Third, has not sense enough to go. She has given Jim Kopensky every sign and Michael, the Third, no signs at all.
She wants this exquisite scion of the Blacksmith clan to play the game, and take his chance. But he is more at ease in his patriotic overalls, laying bricks to hurry up the final official opening of the Fair, and the Street of Past History.
So she helps Kopensky to back Michael to the door, which is done by a simple process of walking toward him with a certain air.
He is overwhelmed at Jim’s assurance and vital power. But Jim is one of those whom love makes a man for an hour in a lifetime. As I open the door for the exquisite Michael, I divine Mara’s pity for him. But what can a woman do? No proud Singaporian can have mercy on an unmagnetic fool. It is not a conspiracy against the loser. It is an elemental contest. This red oriental heart is for the man who wins this doorstep fight. Religion and destiny wait. And J. B. Michael, the Third, of his own weakness goes out the door in defeat.
But Mara, having, without an uttered word, chosen this James Kopensky for what she can make of him, turns at once to the cocaine Buddha around the comer of the hall. Religion comes next.
The triumphant Jim follows her thought. He takes a candle from the table. He holds it in front of the august image, that seems to him more like green air than glass. He bows, the complete devotee before that ironical god whose doctrines are absurd, even to me, though I am for a season in a Malay mind. But what doctrines are not absurd to that soul that refuses to receive them?
Jim blows out the candle, and with it his former life, and, in intention, every western desire, and all for the glory of the holy islands of southeast Asia. He relights the candle at a taller one that is burning in front of the image.
Just then a telegram comes. Later I am reproved for letting the boy make the turn in the hall that enables him to see Crawling Jim light the candle. It is a real telegram, that has to do with an out-of-town lecture to be given by the Man from Singapore, on “The Republic of Letters.” And so the lord of the house comes in, for it, reads it, and signs. The boy is not hustled to the door. He lingers. Our little ceremony is quite interrupted.
At last the slow youth goes. He is the son of a Japanese Industrial Commissioner to the World’s Fair. It seems that this man and the Chinese Commissioner are sufficiently Asiatic to understand my master, and their subterranean feud with him and his ally, Old Montague Rock, never has an end. The Man from Singapore says: “They must have had their spy at the party tonight. And this telegram has been delayed as part of their game.”
And so, soon after, the flustered Jim bids his lady a devout good evening.
July 8:—Mara has been nervous about the Springfield fortunes of her accepted suitor all day, but he reports this evening that there is no cause for apprehension, that he has not noted one more fluttering eyelid than usual to-day. He is still in place, in Springfield.
Then Mara makes ardent haste to talk with Jim of the religion into which he took a decisive, if interrupted, first step last evening. There is a bit of a suppressed strain and the harshness of argument in her voice, as though she were debating with all Springfield, though Springfield is not here. She is showing Jim that the Singaporian aversion to white, colorless things, is in no way unreasonable, since the religion was born in a sweet shadowed jungle. The whitest thing to be found in such a woods is the patch of dried grass in the opening of the trees under the blasting rays of the noonday sun. The living creature who lingers there must die. The prophet had talked so long to the religious beasts that he learned the inner wisdom of this fear. By listening long to their stories and their teachings, white came to mean the death of the soul to him. When he returned to Singapore and preached his first sermon that shadowy evening on the Raffles plain, proclaiming the religion of night, the religion of prowling, of rich wines and sweeping hanging moss, he gave them the Holy Green Glass Idol, and extended the doctrine of the fear of whiteness. It was there revealed to him, as he spoke with inspiration, that the whiter the silver, the whiter the horse, the whiter the armor, the whiter the plume, the more dangerous the foe. And so Mara assures Jim that all the deadliest enemies of the faith will come in the open noonday, dressed in white. If Singapore conquers all things white, and all the noonday races of men it will win the world. If once it falls before an army in white, it will be utterly annihilated, and the Holy Religion of Cocaine will perish from the earth.
Mara asks Crawling Jim if this is not perfectly reasonable, as doctrine and as prophecy. He falls before her. He embraces her golden knees with his crazy arms. He says it is perfectly reasonable, as doctrine and as prophecy.
But she lifts him up and she preaches and kisses away the hours, like any devout lady in like case.
July 9:—Mara is saying to Jim this evening that while in the by streets of her holy city among the dregs of the world’s population, much cocaine is taken, in the presence of grotesque libels of the Green Glass Buddha, as a matter of fact, that is a degenerate form of the religion. It is well enough since it keeps the outcasts happy and in subjection, more easily led, yet fierce in battle like the old hashish-eating assassins. But the esoteric, the masters, do not take cocaine. She speaks lovingly of the Green Glass Buddha, but saying finally of him, with the University Tone of Voice, that he is the god of wine. Like Dionysius he is especially the inspiration of the drama and all the arts that gather round it. Upon those patrons of drugs, the two greatest civilizations have been founded and the fairest catalogue of the arts.
It seems to me this evening, that the lessons are done. Mara has called to me to go for her father. I have ushered him into the room, and he is receiving Jim, the son of the Mayor of Springfield, as his own son. The Man from Singapore takes on a manner Jim has never seen. There are tears in his carved eyes. He is the headlong devotee in the infatuation of proselyting.
He tells Jim that those who are faithful take on the soul of the holy green glass idol, which was long ago the pure and transparent spirit of the first king of the boa constrictors, who, it is recorded, ruled his tribe in integrity and crystal honor. It is in his service that Singapore goes forth to choke the earth. From the god of glass emanate rays of psychic force that extend world wide, and give his followers spiritual eyes so they can do battle for him in the forest of Christianity and civilization. The war is really between these faithful ones and the tiger souls that infest the jungle. The vendetta of the serpents against the tigers has gone on through the ages since before there were men. It will not be ended till all the tigers are gone and the Great Boa Constrictor swallows the world as though it were a rabbit.
The Man from Singapore says that the tigers feed on all men from wantonness, while the serpents kill only those who interfere with the spread of their beneficent kingdom and eat only when hungry. Before the eyes of the true priests of the serpent, all buildings turn to forest trees and all shadows to forest boughs, and all men to serpents or tigers or some neutral beasts. Thus we know our most dangerous foes. These are not necessarily the men who curse us. They are often our intended friends, but actually in the way of the God of Glass. Thus there is no real serpent among the citizens of Springfield but Montague Rock. He is indeed a good Singaporian. All the other men in power, be they friends or foes in the open, are tigers alike. Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, at the seat of World Government, is the worst tiger of all. He is proscribed and doomed.
The Man from Singapore eyes Jim steadily and continues:—“Does that seem reasonable to you? And does all I have said seem clear, logical, infallibly convincing!’’
Jim takes the hand of this man and says it is absolutely convincing. I note that Jim looks like a composite portrait of the heirs apparent of all the thrones left in Europe, a weak and pasty fool, but lit up by love.
July 10:—Crawling Jim lives but in the eyes of Mara. Everything Singaporian is reasonable while she smiles, and it is all reasonable to her. This doctrine of swallowing the world seems merciful because “father’’ says it is. And Jim seems to her like a man. He is aflame with desire, such as only the daughter of her voluptuous and gentle mother could provoke, and only such a strong soul as hers could harness. He is a mirror, pouring back the rays of her own romantic glory, and she knows it not. She is incredibly happy, for she thinks she has done a good stroke for Singapore and her own heart. I, even as a Malay, am stirred with a great pity for her.
Her father, also, sees Jim as a hero. The serpent Buddha has not made this man and his daughter infallible.
July 11:—Mara is near the window looking out through the black velvet hangings, watching for Jim, though it is not time for him to call. Meanwhile there is indeed an interruption to her fancies, she utters not a word, she does not flinch, while there comes north on Mulberry Boulevard Avanel Boone and her maiden cavalry.
They are going toward the grave of Hunter Kelly, to take part in the solemn festival in the groves there, and along the great Northwest Road, the festival in celebration of the planting of the first Amaranth orchard there. The girls go by like a white whirlwind, and they give the old Springfield cry used in battle in Asia by their mothers who were young amazons before them. It shrieks and screams and sings down the street: “Springfield Awake! Springfield Aflame!” They know they are going by the house of Mara of Singapore but not one eye turns her way. But the swords, the swords, the Damascus blades, are hissing and glittering in the air. And the Man from Singapore, apparently intent upon his affairs does not turn to look out of the window of the book room. He does not so much as look up from his book of Malay lyrics. He utters one phrase: “The Cats of Cambyses, if we are to take Black Hawk Boone at his word.”
I am temporarily of the Singaporians, in my way. I have their poisoned eyes, it seems. So, while I have watched, horse and rider have faded into something new and strange. They go by in semblance as beautiful white tigers.
But what of Mara, who regards me as an article of furniture? What has she seen? Apparently nothing but Springfield girls on a wild, lovely, sweet, shrieking revel to which she has not been invited. She feels “snubbed.” She is lonely, weary, in this house and city, though she has a lover and a convert coming within the hour.
For, after these girls have gone by, she turns to the Cocaine Buddha. She bows with hands and arms outspread. Hers is a strange cry and prayer:—
“Master of the World, tell me, am I more beautiful than Avanel Boone?”
Which proves to me that Mara is only a girl.
July 12:—I find myself in all respects an American citizen of Springfield, Illinois, today, as of old. The hours with Mara and her father are as a “tale of little meaning, though the words are strong.” As I wander through a July rain in our streets, and parks, many vague hands seem stretched from the ground, catching me by the heels.
It is much later in the afternoon. The storm is gone, and I am walking with the lady Avanel, and she has looked into my eyes and given me my life again.
We confess to one another that these days are certainly not the millennium, that many of them are as grotesque as the early geologic ages, that had their monster sloths and lizards big as whales, and what you will. Avanel says with her happy laughter: “Let no man declare that the end of time is soon approaching.”
The lady Avanel has sometimes what might be called the mood of butterfly wings, and this afternoon, as we go further north across the fields, we are suddenly walking on a crimson cloud a little above the trees and then that cloud on its borders takes on slowly, first from the edges, the aspect of the wings of a giant butterfly whose body is at last the raft on which we stand and ride. And toward the North Star we go, and when we reach it, there sits a most grotesque and turtle-headed dwarf that Avanel calls a gnome. The North Star is really a hill of dandelions, and the dwarf is sitting at the foot of the hill.
We dismount from our cloud and the dwarf goes with us down a corridor in the hill. There are on one side mirrors where details are dimmed, where only big clear outlines of a possible new Springfield are shown, and near by are shown plans for other similar villages in the world. On the other side are mirrors into which we look and see greatly magnified the raw machinery of a possible Springfield in sections that any one can understand. Then we speed along through the passageway and at last come through and see the light of the north sky on the other side of that gorgeous dandelion hill.
The hill seems to be on the very edge of things, and though it has much of the aspect of that place to the east where I saw the Great Palace of Eve, once upon a time, the Dwarf calls this present cliff disrespectfully: “The Jumping-off Place.” And Avanel seems amused and exhilarated. But waves of outer darkness, into which I have looked so often, dash upon the cliff.
The Dwarf says: “This particular Jumping-off Place is one of the principal suburbs of Springfield, and I have seen all kinds of Springfield people and dreams jump off here.”
Then, while we wait interminably, the gnome lets down an iron bucket by a long rope, and brings it up full of the perpetually burning soul bones of animals, men, and dreams that have jumped off. He says: “We live by the death of these.” And he gathers the flames off the top as though they were burning flowers and his hands were iron. And he pours the bones back with a great thunder into the deep of the Jumping-off Place. Then he eats of the terrible burning petals and makes us eat them. Then he leads us back through the corridors and we seem to have been given eyes to see and remember every detail of the microscopic cross section of Springfield and he sends us back riding on the butterfly cloud, and enjoins the Lady Avanel to help in the building of Springfield, day after day.
July 13:—Today I meet the Thibetan Boy in Coe’s Book Store. We are both rather aimlessly turning over the magazines, and, after I have observed his idleness awhile, I take him out for a walk and say: “Why do you look at me when you pass, with your eyes a story untold? All the while I have walked the streets of this New Springfield, you have looked at me so.
He answers slowly, almost whispering:—“Your fathers came from the ancient Christian world. My fathers came from the more ancient Buddhist world. Christ is my master but I cannot deny that Buddha is my friend. This is the hour for friends. Come with me.” We walk north on Mulberry Boulevard, past the House of the Man from Singapore, and then west on Carpenter toward a little highway that finally joins the great Northwest Road. But we have not gone far on the Great Northwest Road till we flash past the Gothic double walls of our city.
The Thibetan Boy takes me, in one instant, to the far edge of Space and Time, way beyond the North Star and its dandelions. And as we stand on the shaking shore of Space and Time we see and hear, rolling in from Chaos, endless smoke and glory and darkness and dissolving foam. Standing beside us, like a superb Gandhara sculpture that has taken on life is that Prince Siddartha who was the founder of Buddhism. He stands in that aspect he had, while still a citizen and householder, and twenty-four centuries before his green glass libel cursed mankind.
Before us is, indeed, a vision of Buddha the dreamer, superb, thoroughbred, in all the jewels of his tribe. It is the hour before he took chariot and drove forth from home. We are back in that hour when he looked upon all things, and saw them as a dissolving foam, the hour before he set forth for his victory over this crumbling universe. His eyes are fixed upon those waves that roll in forever, that keep their forms an instant, and are gone for all time: some of men, some of wraiths and gods, some of planets and comets and suns.
He turns around and beckons and over the sand comes Channa, the superb charioteer, and the horses of that chariot are nobler than the horses of the sun. Prince Siddartha is in the chariot in an instant and they drive out into that sea and the wheels of that chariot ride the waves. Those horses are like lightning, climbing waves that are like hills and mountain, till chariot, horses, and men all are veiled by the endless smoke and glory and darkness and dissolving foam. The Thibetan boy says to me: “It is the ‘Great Going Forth from Home’ and thus Buddha becomes a conquerer, and Chaos and the Universe are put beneath him.”
But the star chimes behind us are ringing new tunes and we are back in our city again, leaving Prince Siddartha to conquer what he will.
THE RETURN OF SENATOR JOSEPH BARTHOLDI
MICHAEL FROM THE WORLD GOVERNMENT TO
SPRINGFIELD. HIS CONTERSE OF HIGH IMPORT
WITH A JAPANESE ELDER STATESMAN WHO
IS A COMMISSIONER TO OUR WORLD’S FAIR.
July 14, 2018:—The regular session of the World Senate has ended, and all the talk in the coffee houses is of the imminent return of Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, namesake of the high dandy of one hundred years, ago, himself a reversion to tribe still further, in that he is a replica of the Iron Gentleman, except that he has a hotter temper in old age, which makes him a most tigerish fighter in the World Senate.
Today, being the Iron Gentleman’s birthday, is a family festival with the Michaels and, in the very early morning, before there are any passers by, the leading representatives of the family are hand in hand in silence around the original forge of the Iron Gentleman, for a little while. The bellows is blowing and the fire is high and there is the beginning of a blade in the flame, for they remember that he has said: “I will return to you only in the leaping flame of the forge fire.” Then they repeat the Lord’s Prayer and disperse, before the town is awake, leaving, according to custom, one man to finish the blade, at his leisure:—in this case Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third.
St. Friend, the Giver of Bread, has told me that the Michaels in general have old fashioned Bible reading in their homes, with old hymns and family prayers, every morning or evening no matter what pet heresies may be running through the tribe. Not many of them accept the formally designed altars of Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, they have left here hammering a blade, unless they are direct fanatical converts to the Flower Religion.
This evening I find myself one of a party in the library of St. Friend. We have been given an uplifting welcome by the saint, and the Thibetan Boy. Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Third, the non-entity whose fortunes seem always thrust upon me, is of the party. Black Hawk Boone is there. Our special guest is Sake Shioya, one of the Elder Statemen of Japan, and in America because he is head of the Department of Asiatic Art in the World’s Fair of the University of Springfield. At home, when not in the Japanese Cabinet, he is professor Sake Shioya of the Doshisha University of Japan, and brother of Nataro Shioya, the leading Japanese representative in the Senate of the World Government.
For a lifetime the brothers have shouted through Japan: “We will strike off the head of the Singapore Snake with the Sword of the Samurai.’’ St. Friend passes round the cigars and, himself, sticks to his corncob pipe. Perhaps it is because we are under the portrait of Alexander Campbell our talk turns to religious controversy. St. Friend says: “The world over, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, used to hate each other to the point of slaughter, though all spoke the name of Abraham and several other patriarchs with the same reverence, and invoked Abraham’s tribal God. Now the Marxians of the world revere Marx and Hegel as these others did Abraham and Jehovah, but the only way to keep them from cutting each other’s throats is for the World Government to stand between them.”
“Indeed it is true,” confirms Shioya, “The Purple Flag Marxians of Japan, the Yellow Flag Marxians of China, the White Flags of Thibet, the Black Flags of Russia, the Red Flags of Central Europe, the Gray Flags of America, all conspire against one another, with at least five times five which is twenty-five hates, in all, to be mathematical. Yet they all read the same Marx to tatters. When the Yellow Flag Marxians of China agree among themselves sufficiently to fall upon the Purples of Japan, a thing we are momently expecting, the World Government will have a stern police duty, especially since both sides are being urged on by Singapore.”
Samiri Shioya, that austere old man, continues, saying that which he can more gracefully say than any of the rest of us: “Instead of a world of three classes, special priviliged, middle class, and peasantry, as these Marxians think it to be, it is, from my brother’s standpoint and my own, a globe whose seas and continents are spread with fifty to one hundred antagonistic races, mutually repellent. These fifty to one hundred races dye thoroughly, with the dye of race-mysticism, any economic teaching they take up. So practical world statesmanship, from the Japanese standpoint and I am glad to say, from the standpoint of the fiery Michael also, has dealt with race. Our statesmen advocated the principle of one vote to every main tribe in the world and fractional votes in due proportion to the size of the small tribes, long before your Michael entered the Senate, and every speech he has made there to strengthen that doctrine has been cheered from end to end of Japan.”
July 15:—Senator Joseph Bartholdi Michael is here and has refused the conspicuous first place in the great sunset parade and drill held in his honor and has taken his place in the ranks with his son, and has demanded that the whole ceremony be in honor of the Star Spangled Banner and the International Flag. Those flags have been put up in special size and splendor, all over the town, even more than is the custom. And the borders of the parks around Camp Lincoln are one tremendous fleet of these banners. I find myself on the drill ground near the aged Japanese statesman. I am huddled on the side of the reviewing platform with the newspaper men, and we watch those strange Japanese eyes, and are amazed at his fiery enthusiasm for the International Flag. The reviewing platform is by the famous wrought-iron gates, hammered out by the Iron Gentleman and his three sons and three daughters.
Just as he named the sword “The Avanel Sword,” knowing not of the child who was coming in one hundred years, he named these “The Avanel Gates,” for the perhaps mythical Avanel of more than one hundred years ago.
These gates are massive and towering, yet a little distance away are wonderfully trellised vines, seeming to be climbing the white wall from which the gates are swung.
In the center of each design is a Golden Rain Tree. The blossoms of the tree are most delicately wrought, and shining with gold foil against the black. These trees were, in especial, the work of the hammers of the three daughters.
But now, to the delight of the old Japanese, and the delight of us all, the magnificent cavalcade of men and women sweeps in from their city parade through these ancestral gates, to the! Camp Lincoln grounds, in order, yet in riot, after the manner of a great dance of gay and inspired horses and horsemen. And they are all within the command of Avanel, standing high in her stirrups, and as much beneath her eye and as subject to her entranced fancy, as has been St. Friend, the Giver of Bread, when she uttered his sermons for him, hardly knowing how she did it, except that she spoke her mind.
The men on horseback are but the background of the girls in their Diana mood. The huntress, and yet the Pallas Athena, seems roused in all these girls in white. Most of them are in their first strength:—high school girls when they are still a bit Tom boy; that which is with every girl for a year or half a lifetime as a reminiscence of the primeval girlhood of her far grandmothers, when they rode the two-toed and three-toed horse in equestrian dance and revel.
High above all the other flags, on gigantic poles on either side of the reviewing stand, are the official flags of the field. The poles are of equal height and the flags are of identical size and importance in the eyes of the paraders, as they salute them and salute the Japanese each time round the field:—while the afterglow turns the air to crimson and orange and grey pearl.
They go by screaming and screeching with delight, and sweep and cut the air with their Avanel blades in a sunset sword-drill. When they pass Avanel, whose horse is now near us, the salute in sign of submission to her pride, is given with all a girl Amazon’s fantastic chivalry: the Boone dagger, lifted high overhead. In her person at least, the Boones of Springfield have put the Michaels of Springfield under their feet. And certainly the whitest thing in the whole whirlwind of white is the spirited head of old Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second. Whatever the morrow between these clans, his submission is made as she sights him, and he bows and salutes in the last afterglow, and she forces him to lead the review beside her.
The Japanese watches and wonders and says to the press gallery that of course no day can be women’s day and men’s day equally, and this is one of the days of the women.
Now all the while I have been wondering about a certain device that is the millinery and nonsense of this drill park, the globe that is the mechanical toy of these laughing girls. Now the whole company are whirling round and round that giant school-globe that looms like the dome of the Taj Mahal in the center of the field. Upon the surface of the sphere of hollow crystal, the map of the world now begins to blaze out as darkness comes on, the continents in the conventional colors of the school globes from the beginning of the log school house days. The interior of the sphere is a vapor, the color of the sea, but becoming iridescent as though the world were but a bubble blown by the fancy of one of the powers of the universe. The changes of light are painted upon the faces of the riders and the flanks of the horses.
July 17:—The Japanese is addressing the leaders of the Horseshoe Brotherhood and the Amazons. He says in conclusion:—“Hardly a man on the earth wanted the war to come that was waged against the World Government thirty years ago, if we are to believe the professions then made. So far as I can discover not one responsible statesman expected or intended it. Such dynamite may be touched off again, and this time it will be with more cause and more open anticipation. So though the responsible ones like Michael and my brother, if I may say so, are doing their best to prevent war, half the world is drilling and riding and marching, and flying about in practice war planes, and even here where the Great World’s Fair of the University of Springfield is going on, that seems in itself an assurance of international brotherhood forever, you are drilling more zealously every day.
“Pardon me, if for a moment I speak as an old man to his grandchildren. I ask to be forgiven if I am jealous of the furious and romantic years just coming on, jealous for the farther future, and for its vindication. The immediate years, I know, will fill our cups with sorrow whether we live or die. But I ask of you one Spartan thing, beyond fighting ten years—if ten years be necessary to subdue mad Singapore. Remember not only the virtues but the follies of your mothers, the Amazons, and your fathers, the Horseshoe Brotherhood, who rode side by side and fought so nobly thirty years ago. I can speak of this because I can say without flinching that our Japanese men and women Samurai went through the same glories and follies, with them in the same battle line. Forever after, they have lived in that war on that battle line. Do not go on perpetually climbing into office because you can recount military history, as many of our Samurai have done, drowning out the man or woman who wants to speak of matters thirty years ahead and plan such a thing as your Fair or University. No war ushers in the perfect state. The great wars are not all fought with the sword. To speak in the Christian phrase, remember that every yesterday is but a box of costly spikenard to be broken on the feet of Holy Tomorrow. Though you fight ten wars, let yesterday be your enemy. Otherwise you fight but as the nations that died before Confucius, and Mencius.”
July 18:—The same group as on the 14th of July are around the library table of St. Friend with the addition of the gigantic Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, who is among as as though he were in his boyhood again, being as he says, “Back home, after so long.” The idolizing friendship of the Japanese and his private secretary but provoke him to franker monologues and a greater disposition to sprawl about with his hair mussed up and his head on one side like an eagle acting the robin. He has his arm around his son, as though he would push him in amongst us. As the evening progresses, in reply to some quite pointed questions from the Japanese, on behalf of his brother and himself, who want to act upon the information, discreetly but definitely, Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, bawls out a confession:—
“First, let me say that no man ever held office in the world, who was actually capable of running more than a village of ten thousand inhabitants. All men who have been higher in apparent rank than village mayors, have simply made shift: rattled about in their big chairs as they could. The courageous man, knowing this, respects, but does not fear or revere the alleged great. They all get the respect from me due to a good mayor, and no more. No man should run for a great office without expecting to make a botch of his administration. I dream of something definite and quite selfish. I want to have my turn as President of the World Government. This proclamation may be too much American style for the stomachs of my Japanese friends here present. But no one was ever elected dog catcher, coroner, governor, senator, or president, in this United States, who did not first nominate himself. As a matter of fact I know of no American politician who was ever urged to run by his most admiring friend. I must keep my American political habits if I am to feel at home in this contest and to retain even the American vote. All this is by the way. I hope it is not too mysterious to a Japanese.
“To continue as to my views around and about this office. A man may serve but one term at best. We Michaels are a long lived set, and I am hoping at the end of this war to have strength for one term.
It is a long journey to the nomination past all other possible national or international ambitions; for instance, in my case, past an ambition to forge a thousand Michael blades.
“I admit I am an old man, and I know the ironies, or at least some of them, if I win. Whoever is President of the World or mayor of a small town is predestined to be overthrown by the ten most envious and vigorous young men who want his place.”
And now the eagle begins to flame in the face of Michael and he speaks most earnestly: “I can only hope that some of the envious will be from Springfield’s freshman chivalry. I love the hate of young men and young women when it is high and keeps them driving forward to unseat the older generation in tournaments over noble issues. And whoever replaces me at the World Capitol, either in the legislature or the supreme chair, I hope to have made my bungling record there of such a sort, my foe, equally human, will be obliged to do his noblest to unseat me. But the sword of the Michaels has not been called the Avanel sword by divine accident alone, and at the end of my turn, ten years hence, or so, I am willing to be driven out of the supreme-chair by a Boone, of Springfield, particularly if it is a girl, and particularly if she is named Avanel.” Which ending is of course but gallant nonsense. But I venture, from my dark corner to interrupt severely:—“The world would have a princess, not a president. It would simply be the reiteration of monarchy and idolatry from of old time.”
But no one seems to hear me. My voice comes from too far away.
July 21:—Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, is talking with the two Japanese and myself in Tom Strong’s Lunch Room, and, with most elaborate and knightly deference to the extremely contrasting race character of our guests, and is giving his theory of what he calls:—“The New Springfield Race.’’ And his tone of voice is most diplomatically ingratiating, as he touches on matters alien to Japanese thought.
“Just as the sea is naturally the world’s buffer state, and in area far greater than the total of all the continents, with the happy circumstance that the World Government is supported by a sea revenue, in this same way and no other way, institutions like the University Fair lie between all great enemies and factions of Springfield, a sea of separation, cooling, and reconciliation.
“Springfield, in other ways, affords so good a symbol of desirable world conditions, toward which the World Government should be, perhaps, constructed, that I would like to put the city before you in that light.
“What is the ultimate citizen of Springfield? Already the race strains that have mixed, have made an elastic, resilient type, that is one with the city’s suddenest moves.
“Of course, one event or festival pleases the Italians most, another seems to be in the Scandanavian mood, though both events represent Springfield. Every new song or event or new idea goes echoing through the various temperaments, and has a resonance that a thought cannot have when it is echoed in only one kind of a corridor.
“And Springfieldians, for all their marvelous intermarriages, are not mongrel. They have a special Springfield sense of the sacred mystery of race, that keeps the great pronounced race types like the Japanese and others in honored separation, while within one general type or kindred tradition, there is much intermarriage.
“We Michaelites say to each other, and you will forgive a family allusion, that the Springfield soul, which is so elastic, is like the sword evolved by the Iron Gentleman, which can be coiled like a ribbon from the side but, when cutting straightforward, can go through granite without losing edge anywhere.
“As for the versatility and elasticity, the Irish grandmother of my pet enemy will keep him in city hall politics, and one Russian great-grandmother keeps him in the music department of the University, as one of the leading composers. Or so we are accustomed to tracing out family lines in this town.
“Another man is quite sure that his Portugese great-grandfather gives him the voice to be one of the city’s principals in local opera, and his Scotch great-grandfather, at least in his own eyes, explains the fact that he is an expert accountant.
“The mystery of race is first of all a sex mystery, and with endless subtleties settled by instinct, on which no man can dogmatize, though they have caused jealous Othello to misunderstand and kill Desdemona, and Jessica to understand and wed Lorenzo, from the beginning. If race is first of all a sex mystery, it is next a religious mystery, which is more easily expounded, from the standpoint of politics, and touches, perhaps more clearly, our theory of World Government. The prayers at our family altars differ in tone and accent. The races with a turn for sectarianism, like the Scotch, are still working in our blood while others are the mainstay of the Cathedral. All phases of the race—the religious mystery, moving in harmony, cleanness, and self respect are not only a part of Springfield’s total personality, but of Springfield’s government, in the midst of apparent mob-law.
“For instance, the fact that the Catholics have remained for these one hundred years worshipping in their incense-haunted Churches in the Springfield atmosphere, means that Springfield people, married before Springfield Catholic altars, have become a special kind of dreaming Catholics. Therefore, they have given us miracle-working, vision-seeing saints, like Saint Scribe of the Shrines, to help unify our mood. And we all worship in season at the Cathedral, and half of us are followers of St. Friend, the Giver of Bread, whatever our religious belief.
“I say the Christian Science Church of Springfield has a most noble history. It is made up largely of heretic Jews and proselytes from the old Congregational New Englanders. This would not be so if the doctrine were a pure abstraction appealing to all men equally. It is mixed in some incalculable way with the mystery of race and the mystery of the past, or it would not appeal so definitely to these two race traditions, and so little to all others.
“The side of it that appeals to me is its history of freedom and its chronicle of subdivision, which mean life, at least I hold that they do in this case. And so we find the local Mother Church growing at first strong, and then new teachers rising in the body of the Church’s life to make more vital the friendly and hostile pulpits of the town, and stimulate everywhere debate.
“The teachings of Rabbi Ezekiel of the Oak Religion and Mother Grey of the Flower Religion may be largely classified as coming from Christian Science. The wave of its tide is still strong among us, and we know not what Christian Science may bring forth for Springfield tomorrow.
“Our sects quarrel, of course, but whatever quarrels they have divide families only, never the city.
“I wish this could always be true of the races in the World Government.
“We have seen adorers of the truth, like close followers of Mother Grey, the Florist, going from Synagogue to Church and from Church to the Open Forum, and it is generally deemed a mark of a good citizen, certainly among the descendants of the Iron Gentleman, to understand all of these movements, and to love many, though they appear to contradict one another. Within the dominion of the Springfield mind, there is a principle:—one sect, one vote: one race, one vote. As florist Mother Grey is willing to say to her most devoted following ‘Our religions and races may be looked upon by the wise as many flowers of opposite design, yet all making glad the Springfield garden.’ Yet there is no place in the world where people are more loyal to their clans. Boones are Boones forever.
“You, as a Japanese, will be glad and comprehend when I say that even the religious life from the far east, except the teaching of Singapore, moves up into this common denominator in Springfield that we call citizenship. There are a few Mohammedan Philippines, and I happen to know, they are good citizens and good Americans, though they are allowed but one apparent wife in these states. There is a group of Thibetans, of whom the Thibetan Boy is one socially, if not religiously, who do not find a contradiction between their Springfield patriotism that has gone on these three generations, and their reformed Buddhism. Of course, they marry for the most part among themselves, or bring Thibetans from New York or San Francisco to build up their colony. Whatever church a group of our people finds in tune with their race and sex and love-tradition, no matter how separate they keep their race strains, or how guarded their family altars and holy family flags, they surely belong to the Springfield race and the Springfield Civic Religion. They are loyal to the city as a scholar is to his University. This is the mood I would like to get into World-Government-Flag-Patriotism, which is now too crude. With obvious Singaporian exceptions, this Springfield civic religon is preached by every philosopher and every local atheist. Even Sparrow Short, though he seems to hate me and the World Government, would count it as great a hardship to be banished from Springfield, as Dante counted it, to be banished from Florence. I wish his kind could see the World Flag as they see the Springfield Flag.
“You have wanted to understand my politics, to make it clearer to your brother in Japan. In most things the city is a symbol and pattern to me of World Unity and World Government and if there has been any consistency in my battles in the World Senate, it is because I had faith in this pattern.
“Within the range from Jew to Greek we openly trust one another’s priesthood, realizing we are all kings and priests before God. Above all races and their sects are the stars, and beneath them is the rich earth, and between these our city climbs heavenward. I am sure that before a thousand years go by, yes, before a hundred years go by, some image of Prince Siddartha will stand beside the image of Johnny Appleseed, whose soul was so much like his own. Our image of Johnny Appleseed would have been equally impossible in the church of St. Peter and St. Paul that stood on the site of our cathedral one hundred years ago. With such practical unity of the main forces that have quarrelled immemorially in the old lands, I have the hope that similar forces of race and sect, with the buffer state of the ocean between them, to keep them cool, may come to practical reconciliation under the World Flag:—that those that can unite under the Flag of Springfield with joy, can some day unite, the world over, under the flag of all mankind.” And so, till midnight Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, talks on and on, possibly recruiting a member of his possible cabinet, if his dream comes true, of being for one term the President of the World. And the Japanese Samurai nods his gray head keeping time to the eloquence, till the one remaining waiter gets us out of the restaurant by turning down the lights, and handing us our hats.
HOW IN THE LATTER PART OF JULY BLACK HAWK
BOONE IS OPENLY LYNCHED AND JAMES KOPENSKY
MYSTERIOUSLY STABBED ON THE SAME EVENING.
HOW THREE MONTHS LATER THERE IS NO
SIGN THAT EITHER MURDER WILL BE PUN-
ISHED. HOW THE GOLDEN BOOK APPEARS
ON THE MYSTIC DAY. NOVEMBER 1, 2018 AND
HOW, WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO THE
MOURNING AVANEL, SHE TAKERS COUR-
AGE AND LEADS HER PEOPLE AGAINST
SINGAPORE, THAT WICKED NATION,
THAT HAS DECLARED WAR ON THE
* * * * * *
July 22, 2018:—This morning owing to new utterances on the part of Sparrow Short and two others, more venomous than himself, brothers of “Beau Nash,’’ he and they are put into the International Prison for world treason, with all further bail and bond refused. Therefore tonight there is a great torch-parade and ritual by St. Friend and his followers in the cathedral. Debs, John Brown, Lovejoy, Liebknecht, are invoked. Springfield’s fury, glory, and devotion are in every face and eye. St. Friend, with unaccustomed fire for these his days of feebler health, reviles the opinions of Short and his companions. But he demands their liberation in the name of the Constitution of the United States and Free Speech. St. Friend cries from the pulpit: “We preach not the low revolution, but the high revolution, not the massacre in the street, but the high unquenched torch of freedom and free speech in the unconsumed cathedral.”
The smoke of those torches comes between me and St. Friend. Everything on this day happens to me in such a fashion. There is much dust on the dustless streets, at least when I pass by. And many streets are unaccountably deserted, morning and afternoon, though there is a World’s Fair crowd roaring somewhere near, I know. And the dust that sweeps up with the autumn leaves from these streets has the taste of old years in it, and the grave. It seems, some moments, as though I can keep my eyes open no longer. I am not to take one step further. Some fate has forbidden me to glimpse more of my City. But there is that in my will and my soul that commands me to go forward one step further, and open my eyes for one moment longer.
And so through this evening I realize that, dimly and dizzily, the torches are being uplifted at the beginning of the star chiming hour.
Now the great Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, is himself speaking in the cathedral, and, if he testifies for old Sparrow Short, who shall say that Short is a danger to the World Flag?
Michael says that just as freedom resides in the Declaration of Independence, in trial by jury, and the like, which are immemorial, crystallized institutions of the radicalism of ancient times, so radicals with new thoughts should have every chance with their torch in the church and not be forced to wave it in the street, and that “he is indeed glad this meeting is being held in this place, etc., etc.”
July 23:—Sparrow Short is left locked up and forgotten, for to-day there is a great war-music in the streets.
All Singapore is running amuck. The Horseshoe Brotherhood and the Amazons are drilling double hours. Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, is firing his clan like an Arab Mahdi, preaching a new holy war. A new group of trumpeters are to the fore, blowing slender trumpets, all of them silver white, to frighten the Lord of Cocaine, trumpets whose cry is that of birds that the Singaporians hold accursed; the eagle, the turkey and the wild swan.
And to that music, there at Camp Lincoln, the malestrom of cavalry goes on, round and round their gigantic mechanical toy, their simple childlike image of the earth, and its glow is turning to a glare as of a smelter-furnace door, or the blaze of a little planet, newly whirled off from the sun.
July 24:—War talk dies down and the whole town is full of hatred of its leaders and feverish silly rumors against them. More and more openly the small fry politicians of all factions seem to be justifying with reminiscent emphasis the lynching of Surto Hurdenburg as an heroic act of defiance of both the City Hall and the Board of Education. The actual responsibility for the lynching is shifted from this one to that one, but, whoever it was that led (if we are to believe the tone of the coffee houses) is a hero.
The fairly well-meaning leaders of the town, comprising the majority of both the Board of Education and the City Hall, are in new tremendous offices, administering the growing responsibilities of the World’s Fair and the war preparations also, and a gulf has been made between them and the people with whom they have been on gossiping terms heretofore.
The old war between the town and the gown seems revived, with this difference, that the natives of Springfield act like the University students, and the finest World’s Fair visitors seem the real citizens of the place, insulted at the deeds of the freshmen. The habit of turning every spare village green into a summer camp ground for passing tourists in automobiles, that has prevailed through the United States for a long time, has established in all the counties adjoining Springfield an enormous circle of village grounds, and here the great part of the Fair visitors camp by their own machines and come in to the show by day, by local transportation of all sorts. Their resentment of the frivolity of the rank and file of the city grows, and nightly they are the more appalled at the rumor as they chatter in their camps, that the Springfield mob intends to lynch wholesale the only people who have treated the Fair visitors with any degree of courtesy, namely:—the City Council and the Board of Education.
Whole streets of the city are suddenly deserted and the business houses closed, for this or that lightly given reason, and the next hour that street, under obscure leaders may be filled with a howling mob, that seems to be howling about nothing.
The slander still persists, with infinite variations, that the man who poisoned Drug Store Smith and Coffee House Kusuko did it at the direct instigation of old Boone. Such an action is indeed far from Boone’s nature. And this, all discredited leaders, in a panic for their personal safety, steadily maintain.
July 25:—I am again the Malay servant at the house of the Man from Singapore.
The death of Drug Store Smith and Coffee House Kusuko was exacted of the Mayor’s son by Montague Rock. It was an earnest of the sincerity of his conversion to the Singaporian cult. The Man from Singapore had nothing to do with it and, in fact, does not approve of the use of such a drastic initiation, “But who can control these zealous proselytes, these foreigners?” he says. The slandering of Boone, it appears, by the talk of the Man from Singapore with his daughter, is also the work of this fanatical convert, Montague Rock. It is not exactly the Singaporian way. But again “who can control these foreigners?”
July 26:—About the beginning of July, four men come to town, who took part in the burning alive of a negro in Chicago. The burning was provoked by a yellow journal’s account, giving hear-say evidence against the negro. Disturbing their minds not at all over the subsequent vindication of the black man, his executioners come to Springfield, intoxicated with their recent leadership, the first taste of public power they have ever known, the smell of burning flesh delighting their cannibal nostrils. They take odd jobs from Boone and profess to be his violent partizans. They are more violent than he desires or uses.
And so tonight, while I am chained in the body of the Malay body-servant, the news comes over the phone, particularly grieving the Man from Singapore, that Boone has been hanged from the same tree at the northwest comer of the State House ground, where Surto Hurdenburg was hanged on the twentieth of June. The four men from Chicago, who lead the mob, want to burn Boone to death, but the rest of the crowd insist on a hanging. The crowd is not composed of partizans of the City Hall. There are few people who were at the murder of Hurdenburg; according to the report over the phone, equally obscure members of all factions are represented.
The Man from Singapore says he deeply regrets the death of Boone who was an honorable and open foe of Singapore. He almost weeps before the beautiful Mara and, as to what she thinks, I know not. He says that if he had had his way, Boone should have lived several years longer, but the fashions, even of proselytes in Springfield, are past finding out. “They are WHITE people, you know,” he says to Mara, “even if they are converted.”
Then he is gone to his writing room in the white tower of his house, and Mara sits waiting for Crawling Jim, who is due later this evening.
And here let it be recorded that, the Singaporian issue becoming more bitter, the towers of Springfield and all the principal cities of the United States have been painted white this last month, to drive out the more fanatical Singaporians. In complete harmony with this hysterical and fantastic and humorous procedure. Crawling Jim has been under the necessity of wearing a small white plume in his hat, or resigning his place as President of the Robin Redbreast Flying Club. Nothing is said among the members. Plumes begin to appear one at a time. Soon a majority have them. Jim put on his plume late yesterday. He values his supremacy in that flying club more than any victory in love or any dogma of religion.
But having had a part in the Judas tricks which have ended in the hanging of Boone, he knocks most confidently on the door tonight, when it is almost midnight, and I let him in. He carries in his hand the hat with the white plume.
He walks into the book-room most jauntily. There the deep eyed Mara awaits him with love. She is nestled among her books, just below her mother’s languid picture. She lifts slow eyes that are heavy with love. But she sees that white plume. And Jim has little time left in life to have the Malay nature explained to him, the brief tale of how they may run “amuck” without reason.
Mara cannot wait. Her dagger is out, and she is indeed running “amuck.” They reach the hall together, and she stabs him before the eyes of the green Glass Buddha. She stands stark and lonely above him, and screams for her father to come down from his writing room.
October 29:—The body of Crawling Jim was found in a shadow, near the tree where Boone was hanged, by the group of young Boones who came to take away the body of their kinsman.
No one is in serious peril of being brought to justice for the death of Boone, though that was three months and three days ago. This has always been, the case, in Springfield lynchings and murders. It is a thing still taken for granted, as people look drearily in the direction of the courts. The weekly magazines in Coe’s Book Store, from all over the country, roar about the two unavenged and unspeakable Springfield murders:—of the leading editor, and the son of the mayor on the same night. This has been in the papers, on similar occasions, for a century. And curiously enough, the town is blazing with international courage and all tense with efficiency on international issues. We are more in despair of bringing some sixty or one hundred masked murderers to justice than of annihilating the whole nation and religion of Singapore on the other side of the world. And there is, I admit, some justification for our hope. America, paralyzed one minute, is like a million bolts of lightning the next. There is something of the essence of majority rule in this, if one might think it out. But to our story.
Singapore is about to proclaim an all-Asiatic alliance against the World Government, with the ostensible object of an ultimate Pacific Ocean Government, living in alleged reciprocity and amity with the World Government, but not under one jurisdiction. Their newspaper editorials, sent by cable, sound marvelously like the fulminations of South Carolina in the days of Andrew Jackson, and further fulminations in the days just before the Civil War.
Indo China joins the Singaporian league, Burmah, and certain provinces of Southern China. But most of the Asiatic continent and all of Japan remains actively loyal to the Flag of Joseph’s Coat. On the other hand there are strange hesitancies in Europe and South America. There are rumors of World Treason, even among American officials of the World Government. Today the Singaporian declaration hangs.
I find myself again with the Japanese and his secretary on the reviewing stand by the wrought iron gates of Camp Lincoln, as the Amazons once more whirl by. They are valiant and potent as Britomart, and the Japanese Samurai says “it is inconceivable that such creatures could let a mob run away with their town, if such things had not happened hundreds of times in the history of noble cities.”
I find a wan new hope pouring into my dusty veins as they pass us many thousand strong, riding the best bred, the best shod horses in the whole wide world, and flashing the finest swords ever made. And along with the swords, the eyes of the horses flash as though they themselves were shouting the song of the warrior maidens. It is the old song, sung now with terrible irony and sweetness: “Springfield Awake, Springfield Aflame.” And then there are strains of that World Government song, beginning: “Every ship of every land, every wheel and every wing.’’
The cheeks of the girls are sun-browned, and rosy as the Amaranth-Apples in the orchards of Hunter Kelly.
The whole town is here; every faction, religion, tribe and tongue. Besides all the Michaels, Boones and Darsies, Bonansingas, Romanoffs, Fagins, Kopenskys, Rocks, Rues, Swartzes, McGinnisses, Ezekiels, Greys, there are even girls of the negro Timmons and Emis families. There are Hymans, Stanleys and Radleys, and all the rest. Each steed is like a pale horse of death. I am thinking that when human beings go forward like this, trained to the last inch, all whipcord and tempered steel, it is no wonder that, left far behind, to make mischief, there are human embers. This must be paid for, by the discarded creatures among us who cannot stand this pace and who are not quite vile enough in ordinary hours to be hid in jails or sanitariums, but who when their little time suddenly arrives, go forth marauding according to their nature and their good luck.
I am beneath the reviewing platform and, as I am meditating, the mayor’s little sister stands up in her stirrups and cuts me across the face with her whip, not checking her pace an instant. Some one behind and above me says: “Evidently you did not see the flags.’’ It is the Japanese, all courtesy and solicitude. But he has been fortunate enough to see in time and to salute the meteors just ahead of this fiery little rider, the two battle flags of the Amazons, the Star Spangled Banner and the thousand-colored flag that will yet redeem mankind, made of all the flags in the world, sewed into one glorious banner, the Flag of Joseph’s Coat.
But I have my excuse for not seeing the flags of my world. My eyes have been dazzled by Avanel, who has been mourning and hidden three months and three days; she is riding in from a boulevard to the left, hurrying with her escort to the head of the cavalcade.
The meaning of her accoutrement is plain. She is saying, by what she wears: “No Singapore intrigue can drive the child of Daniel Boone from her destiny.” Never was she such a commander as she is in this twilight, with black horse, black gauntlets, black dress, black harness, black plume, all things black and the only flash of white, her mourning face. Her pride is laid low for a higher pride. For the first time her black hair is combed back over her shoulders, after the manner and regulation of the Boones, and she goes forward to resume her command, and the girls cry out in passionate welcome, and there is a terrible mourning and a terrible menace in their cry, when she takes her left hand from the gauntlet, and it is dyed crimson, after the manner and regulation of the Boones.
October 30.—The Amazons of the city, and the Horseshoe Brotherhood have taken possession of the city, and until the day of their going, they will police the city and none shall hinder them, and they ride down the boulevards with little consideration or patience for the loitering of passers by. More and more the Avanel blades hiss in the air, and there is angry fear in the eyes of the women, that the mobs may again own these streets, while the city’s warriors are away in Asia. And this evening The Boone Ax, of which Avanel is now the nominal editor, comes out with an editorial, front page, with her signature:—“I have railed in my time at middle-class respectability. Yet The Boone Ax trusts it today as the one jewel case containing most of the gems of brotherhood. Whatever its policy in the past The Boone Ax now puts at the head of its regular inside editorial page a picture of Confucius, and under it this description:—‘The champion of old-fashioned, middle-class decency and respectability, and the lawgiver for this paper.’
“The picture goes there as our only vengeance for the death of the founder of this paper, and as our eternal reminder of that act.
“As a matter of getting down to the bed rock of civilization we turn to the world’s most ancient champion of propriety and civility and fight lynch law land all popular and ill-considered whirlwinds, until our paper has won its battle, or is wiped from the face of the earth.”
November 1, 2018:—But Confucius is not the patron saint of the lady Avanel.
It all comes as a clouded vision before me as though I were half in the vision, and through it beginning a new and more desperate destiny of my own. It is the snowy morning of All Saints’ Day. Representatives of the Michael Clan, young and old, Horseshoe Brotherhood, Amazons and many others are at the crossing of Fifth Street and Capital Avenue, by the ancestral Blacksmith Shop. The horse of the conquering Avanel Boone is to be shod by that good sport, Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, as a sign of fealty, and in final preparation for the going forth against Singapore. Scattered among the Michaels are the long-haired, black-haired Boones, with the locks of both the men and women streaming back over their shoulders, after the manner and regulation of the Boones, and their left hands dyed crimson, as a perpetual reminder to themselves and all the world of certain strains of Red Indian ancestry.
While the snow is blowing into the shop, white-haired Joseph Bartholdi Michael, the Second, aided by his son, the Third have taken the old shoes from the dainty feet of the white pony, and just as the old warrior is lifting a new shoe from the fire, the flames leap up, there is a music incredibly sweet and, with a great whirring of wings and terrible thunder, the Golden Book flies out of the fire and circles above these two clans and their satelites of renown.
And the swords of the Amazons are out in the air in involuntary salutation, and the face of Avanel has the consecration of a nun, taking her final vows. I wonder if all her girlish escort, so wonderstricken, see, as I see. For to me, as I feel my feet sinking into the dust of the ancient grave, this horse and rider move heavenward a little, it seems as though Avanel's horse’s hoofs no longer quite touch the ground; she is a sort of celestial lady centaur. She and her horse have one pair of wings that bind them together, and the wings are rays of light and the same color as the wings of the book and akin. And even while I look, the very glory of this vision of a young girl, receiving her commission from the unseen world, burns me down like the last embers of a campfire blown upon by a terrible wind from the skies. I am neither man nor weed nor flame any more but something less than these and doomed by the years. There is a flower of flame above her forehead that consumes my eyes; there are flowers of flame above the foreheads of all her girl companions.
Avanel, with eyes fixed and strained, follows the flying book on her winged horse. The book settles into her arms and, though the snow and autumn leaves swirl down and blind me, I see her there above the company, like a fairy in a trance, while the assembled clans and all the citizens gather close to hear every word. The first pages of the volume give a new constitution for the World Government, based on the teachings of Abraham Lincoln. The song in the air praises Avanel and urges her and all she commands to valor for the Heavenly Star Spangled Banner and the Heavenly International Flag.
But as for myself, I am sinking to my knees into yesterday, and this is not Fifth and Capital Avenue, for me, for the wind says: “ashes to ashes dust to dust.” Then Avanel leans down. She gives her crimson hand to me one moment. She gives me life for this war. This is the day of going forth against Singapore.
HOW SEVEN YEARS AFTER THE MYSTIC YEAR ST.
FRIEND AND AVANEL READ FROM A COPY OF THE
GOLDEN BOOK AND HOW HE TELLS HIS VISION
THAT CAME THE DAY THE BOOK FIRST AP-
FEARED. ON OTHER DAYS THE LADY AVANEL
SOWS THE THISTLE OF DREAMS AND THE
APPLE AMARANTH SEEDS AND THE ACORNS
OF EZEKIEL AND THE SEEDS OF THE
GOLDEN RAIN TREE AND THEREBY COME
NEW VISIONS AND TEACHINGS AND
Of the Singapore adventure, there is a song to be sung, some day, but we cannot, by taking thought, sing of battles. The song of battle comes when we least expect it, long after or long before the event that is so moving to the heart.
But Singapore is indeed overthrown and for two seasons the young men and maidens have been back from the Asiatic war front. To some of them, to many, The Golden Book came before they left Springfield. To others it appeared after the last battle, hovering above the trenches at midnight and there were songs in the air calling them home. Or they found it suddenly in their hands in camp shelters, and long litanies and proclamations of the New Springfield and the New Earth flashed upon their souls and burned eternal record there.
It is a gorgeous first of March afternoon and the wind has abated for a few hours, and a few buds are out in Washington Park and we are hoping that frost will not nip them in this exceedingly premature spring, The lotus pond is still empty and leaden. It flowers only in the height of July but we look to it in hope and with remembrance of other lotus days.
Avanel and I and St. Friend are in the Washington Park Pavilion. The precocious spring is in the blood of the ancient saint. He is the youngest of us, the gayest. Avanel is speaking of that morning in front of the blacksmith shop when the great Book fluttered into her arms. “In the fire flaming from the words of that book, I found power to go out and fight for the International Flag, and make that the vengeance for the death of my father.”
Now I draw from my coat pocket a tiny duplicate of the book, such as is now in the hands of practically every Springfield citizen, printed by Josephine Windom and Horace Andrews. As we three loaf in the pavilion: St. Friend, Avanel and myself, and look at the leaden lotus pond, St. Friend reads aloud the familiar opening sentences of St. Scribe of the Shrines, who wrote the book in Heaven:—
“I have been long in the jungles of the Celestial Zion, speculating on how the ruined mansions here, and how the earth itself, might be rebuilt. Yet the true Heaven lies in a single flower, and more and more my speculations turn on how my own city, Springfield may be rebuilt.”
Then St. Friend the Giver of Bread, at our urging, reads on and on. The volume tells, for instance, how Heaven became a jungle within the lifetime of an ordinary man. The book contains a sermon, which our saint reads to us, on: “Your great great grandson’s neighbor’s.” It is a volume no more consecutive than the Koran. Each dream is written down once for all as it came, to the tranced soul of St. Scribe, as he bent over the page, with his terrible pen in his hand.
With endless reiteration the book denounces the diabolical works of the Singaporian sect and their conspiring against world peace. It pronounces a blessing on the predestined victorious armies of the World Government and prophecies the triumph of their splendid flag.
Moreover, St. Friend reads, not only many of these things, but the sermon on “The Rhythm of the Heart,” and the homily upon “The Good and Evil of Beauty.’’ He reads the exhortation for “The Young Musician who has not learned to Pray,” and the one for “The Young Politician who has not learned to Pray,’’ and like discourses for many other occupations.
And then Avanel and I take turns reading on and on to him through the specific directions for the founding of the schools of the Young Prophets, and the discourse on the horror of the angels at all the World Wars, and the tale of how the angels went out to redeem the stars from war by surrendering themselves to crucifixion on millions of crosses on millions of suns and stars and planets, and thus within the lifetime of the generation now on earth. Heaven was left a jungle. This is followed by an exhortation to make Springfield a city “worthy of the blood of the crucified poured down upon it.”
But its powers are not directly in its interminable discourses. Always it seems to be a person, not a book, and so, on this afternoon.
April 10, 2025:—Again it is a goodly afternoon, and we are still hopeful for these precocious buds. As we sit in the sun in the Washington Park Pavilion, Saint Friend, the Giver of Bread, tells us of the visions that came seven years ago.
“I remember the Halloween of 2018, and the next few days, as no other period in my life. I was in the Cathedral all the night, praying before the Image of St. Scribe of the Shrines. And toward morning it took on the appearance of breathing human flesh, but was Hunter Kelly of long ago, in the hunter’s cap and deerskin dress, such as he wore when he came to Illinois two centuries ago.
And so Hunter Kelly, St. Scribe of the Shrines, made me forget all else, telling me stories of the tomorrow of Illinois and giving clear prophecies of the tomorrow of the Cathedral, in the city and the nation and the world. He spoke of saints of the pattern of Abraham Lincoln, and Johnny Appleseed, foreordained to live and breathe beneath our Cathedral roof, before the ever living presence on the altar. Then he gave me the joy of confession, and seemed to be St. Scribe, the master of my youth. Then all was darkness and sleep.
“In the early morning I woke from my trance and found myself lying on the floor of the Cathedral. The Image of Hunter Kelly-St. Scribe, was gone from the niche.
“In the late morning, when found myself reading his Golden Book to the people it seemed as though I had known its every word for infinite years.
“I read on and on. When I closed the book and dismissed the people, they went out singing through the streets ‘Springfield Awake Springfield Aflame.’
“As I stood alone in the church, a vision of the war came to me.
“The angel of the Cathedral came down from the carved niche near the roof. By many signs she was, indeed, the angel of Illinois. The stone was transformed into a presence, delicate as the milkweed silk, ruddy as the sunrise. Her hair was the hue of red corn. Her wind blown mantle was the color of ripe wheat. Her wings were like those of the white eagle. Her eyes were dark as the deep-digged mine. Her smile was the beginning of visions.
“Circling her temple was an opalescent crown, twenty white stars, with the twenty first over the forehead, with the red blood of Hunter Kelly in the heart’s core of it.
“Above her head appeared a great hand, swinging a censer through the roof and walls of the building. The Angel of the Cathedral said to me, as she stood beside me:—“This is the Censer of Change. A great change is coming to Illinois and the Capital of Illinois.”
“The smoke poured out and filled the streets. It penetrated every grove of Springfield. It beat in the blood of every living creature.
“The Angel of Illinois said:—‘This is the Incense of Civic Genius. The city shall be barren no longer but bring forth.’
“Then through the roof, as though there were a censer higher than the first, clouds of many colors descended. These became gorgeous cloud-winged children in wonderful, gleaming silks, flying through the walls. And in the same stream Gothic grotesques walked and crawled down the aisles and out into the streets, all singing: ‘Springfield Awake, Springfield Aflame.’
“The angel of the Cathedral said: ‘These are the children of the New Time and their playmates, the beasts of Innocent Fancy.’
“Then the dusty stone cherubim and seraphim that stood by the pillars of the church, with their dusty cold trumpets, took on life. They blew a long awakening cry. Every note was a delicate and heart-shaking surprise. Then from above the high altar, from a fire which burned round the Host on the altar, there came soldiers of Heaven, in very ancient armor, but with newly pierced hands.
“The Angel of the Cathedral, the Angel of Illinois, said: ‘These are they who shall live invisibly by every hearth and table throughout the Capital.’
“There burst from the pavement smoke and dust and stones, and from there arose the great glass image of the cocaine Buddha. Immobile as any other stone, he was yet carried by invisible hands. He and his company rushed with a great whistling like the hissing of serpents. They went out through the walls into the streets as though the walls were nothing. They had many kinds of monsters with them, and strangely singing birds of paradise, and lions with poison quills.
“The Angel of Illinois said to me: ’This glass image will turn to dust. Yet for every angel at a hearth of the city there will be a demon, a quilled lion, and a singing bird of paradise. These will eat invisibly at your tables and hearths, feeding upon the words and thoughts of the household. They will breathe hell’s breath into the faces of the children. But the Angel Soldiers of Heaven who have marched from out the High Altar will be with the people also.
“These powers will be in perpetual truce and perpetual war in every house in the Capital. But open war between nations and races of men will soon be ended forever.
“These lions have crept and ramped through the dark valleys of Heaven and they have the seeds of sweet flowers clinging to their feet and these singing birds of paradise have flown through the dark trees of heaven, and have the seeds of rare trees clinging to their pinions.
“These censers that have swung over the raw capital, will swing over many another this day, and the angel soldiers will appear in many another city around the world, and by many a far off hearthstone and family and tribal table, with their demon foes beside them, in perpetual truce, and perpetual war.”
May 15:—The premature, precocious buds and green twigs of the year are surviving this perilous spring. There are showers and carpets of every kind of blossom. It seems more like June fifteenth than May fifteenth. Beautiful people, mothers and children, boys and girls, in the lightest and whitest of summer masquerading costumes are walking and dancing over the whitest, cleanest streets our city has ever known. But the Lady Avanel and I confess to one another, as of old, that these days are not the millennium, however gay they seem to be.
And yet my lady, this evening, becomes a thing not quite of this earth, a spirit, yet a sower in earthly fields.
I whisper: “Lady Avanel, Miss Fantastic, while the star chimes are ringing another new tune, what are you sowing from your close-woven willow basket so full of seed? The lady speaks with the voice of the wind:—“I am sowing the torturing thistle of dreams. Some men do not see this city as it is, because they have walked in easy and stupid ways. They have never walked, as we do this evening, while the Thistle of Dreams comes up. We see it springing from the ground in an instant. It will go in an hour. But if we touch it we are blessed and tormented forever by newer and newer dreams. And at last our eyes will see this city as it is, a weed patch indeed, but of fancies. And more than a weed patch of fancies,—a forest, but of gigantic dreams.
“The men who can see the dreams build the patterns into visible forms, and then we have the Sunset Towers, and the Truth Tower, and the Street of Past History, and the rest.
“Then I walk past these buildings and sow new thistle-down and thistles, and they penetrate the very concrete of the sidewalk, splitting it for their roots. Then younger men and women are stung with new visions, that make the Sunset Towers seem commonplace, and all but the Springfield Flag, the Star Spangled Banner, and the World Flag, dim things.”
The Thistle of Dreams is growing around Avanel as she speaks. It looks like a gigantic fleur de lis, but from it comes endless silk as though from the pods of the milkweed. She says of that silk: “It is full of thorns sharper than Cupid’s arrows, more transforming than any drug from Asia. They work their way to many a heart and brain. When the young citizens are tormented by these they will build things greater than Springfield has yet looked upon, people’s palaces, as yet without a name.”
“And who are you. Lady Avanel, and by what authority do you speak?”
“I am only the breath of the prairie, I am only the West-going Heart, and by that authority I speak to you, and by that authority I sow the thistle.”
“Lady Avanel, Miss Fantastic, while the star chimes are ringing another new tune, what are you sowing from your close woven willow basket, so full of seed?
“I am sowing the appleseeds of Johnny Appleseed and Hunter Kelly and the Acorns of Rabbi Terence Ezekiel and the seeds of the Golden Rain Tree of New Harmony. But they are now breathed on by the winds of chaos and their glory comes suddenly.”
At once in her path appear saplings, then they become full grown trees. And there are many earthquakes, as the boughs begin, this very midnight, to bear flowers and fruit. Then come up from the roots explosive scraps of earth and volcano coals. Treasure sacks of strange jewels, neither scorched nor smoked, are tossed to the surface of the ground. These sacks are full of coins of Celestial gold, stamped with a picture of Hunter Kelly, as though he were a President or an Emperor of some strange dominion.
From each heap of celestial gold come two or three bright spirits with wreaths of tiny leaves or flowers round their baby foreheads, weeping angels, an hour old, little boys, most sturdy and kicking.
And now angels will come to bear them to the houses of the laughing people. Citizens who are not at home will find them later on the table, and in the wood box and in the waste-basket, strange little visitors and sons.
“Lady Avanel, Miss Fantastic, what of these children from the sod?”
The lady answers: “These are the laughter of earth and heaven.
“These children will grow in stature and beauty for twenty years. And then these little sons of God will see the daughters of men, that they are fair, as it was in the book of Genesis, at the very beginning of time. The next generation of men in Springfield, born of the loves of these angels and daughters of the city, will be giants like Nimrod. These giants will drive out the former institutions with their own swords, forged for this special war. That generation will build many mansions of divine beauty, sheltering men and near-angels alike. And the houses of magical or heavenly aspect will mix with the plain, grimy or earthen houses:—for the generations of Springfield will be forever a mixed breed.’’
HOW AT THE END OF ALL THOSE WORKS AND DAYS,
AVANEL AND I RISE IN A BOAT THROUGH THE
AIR, FOLLOWING THE GREAT NEW AMARANTH
VINE FROM CAMP LINCOLN TO THE PARAPETS OF
HEAVEN. HOW WE TRACE ITS BANYAN-LIKE
BRANCHES THROUGH THE JUNGLES OF
HEAVEN, AND HOW WE DEFY THE HANDS0ME
MEDICINE MAN, DEVIL’S GOLD, AND HOW,
LATER, WE FIND THE EMPTY SACK OF
JOHNNY APPLESEED. HOW I RETURN
TO FIFTH AND MONROE AND AVANEL
IS ONE HUNDRED YEARS AWAY.
It is many years after the triumphant return of the Amazons and the Horseshoe Brotherhood from the battles in Asia. Avanel and I are walking again along the Great Northwest Road, and we reach the Old Camp Lincoln grounds where the Horseshoe Brotherhood and the Amazons so often drill. But this evening it is deserted, with neither tent nor horse nor rider to be seen. It is autumn and leaves whirl between me and the Lady Avanel and too often hide her from me. Many leaders of various sects of the city are moving about or assembled. It has always been the holy region of the city, near the Gardens of the Flower Religions and the Grave of Lincoln and of Hunter Kelly.
Avanel and I are in the spirit on this evening. We walk, as though upon carpets of glory, and we hear from the black lips of the humble earth the cry: “Springfield Awake, Springfield Aflame.”
The old giant toy globe, that used to be in the center of this field, is long gone. And where it stood, there has come up, since The Golden Book appeared, a great Apple-Amaranth Vine, coming as it were, like Jack ’s beanstalk, suddenly.
It is autumn and the whole air is fragrant with the honey of the fruit of this Apple-Amaranth, and bees are busy with the rich fruit.
Every highest, fartherest bud that opens day after to-morrow, or in a thousand years, will flash with a spark and a flame, that has climbed up hundreds and thousands of miles from the roots that touch all the gardens of our city, up the old streets of Heaven, where this vine blooms today.
In the twinkling of an eye, while the star chimes of Springfield are ringing new tunes, from the dimmest stars of the blue, from east, west, north and south, magic boats sweep down to the Amazonian field.
It is happiness to be even the oldest of the prophets, who wait exhausted, after ages of service, praying and dreaming, stretched out on the decks of their swift boats, consumed with beautiful sorrow and hope. The honey of each different Amaranth, growing through the stars, has burnt all the strength of their bodies away, yet it gives to them stronger courage, hour by hour. When it touches their lips, all else is vanity. It is the live coal from the altar and is their new Heaven.
The boats are now above the field, and some of them have rested near the earth, and some of the prophets are standing round the tree. Among them is that wild ancient man Isaiah. He gathers the whole company of Springfield people who are there on the edges of the field. Then there join, from the invisible world, many of the long dead Saints of Springfield and many saints from other capitals of this land.
Isaiah speaks to us in words, such as he spoke to the Jews, when the earthly Jerusalem had fallen, but they are words that shall ever be new till the last millennium is achieved. He stretches forth his hand and blesses our kneeling company and, with the honey of this new Amaranth Flower still burning on his lips, like visible fire, he cries in a loud voice his old prophecies of the coming of the restored and redeemed Zion.
Avanel and I are now in our ship above the town, and looking down on the sea of dim fleets. Avanel whispers: “There are prophets in those boats from all the hermit caves and all the shrines in the moon and all the planets and all the suns. There are prophets that once walked the innermost streets of the far jungles of Heaven.
“Yet the song that somes up from that sea and shakes our sails is: ‘Springfield Awake, Springfield Aflame,’ because the song and heart and blood of any prophet are for the city that will receive them.”
The boats are ranged in three great circles beneath us round the new Amaranth Vine. These ride on invisible sea-levels. They are not air ships with modern wings and propellers, but boats of the ancient type, such as were used by Hiram, King of Tyre when he brought the wood to build the temple of Solomon, such as St. Peter used on Lake Galilee, such as bore St. Paul to the ends of the world.
While the star chimes of the city ring new tunes, the weird sailors below us pour down a crimson wine from the sides of the boats, that mixes with the autumn leaves of the Amaranth Vine that swirl now between us and the whole towered city below. The wine and the leaves turn to crimson mist and crimson storm, filling the city canyons with rolling rivers of storm to the top of the Sunset Towers.
The boats rise, sailing as though travelling of their own knowledge. Even those that are empty and have no prophet sailors in them are up and away. Some of them seem like exhalations from the perfume and gleam of the gigantic vine or from the light and mist of the city below. And so out to the stars scatter all these purposeful ships, some empty, some with prophet crews, and every boat has blazing at its masthead the red and white star of Springfield and Illinois.
And the song goes up with them to the stars: “Springfield Awake, Springfield Aflame.’ Avanel says, “That song comes because the song and heart and blood of the proudest prophets from the proudest suns, are for the city that will receive them.”
We let our ship blow and drift as it will. But it sweeps up and up, with the swiftness of light. In less time than it takes a flower to open, we are carried to the parapets of ancient Heaven. We find our great-leaved, heavy-fruited Amaranth Vine, climbing up over the closed gates and high wall-towers of Heaven and winding a long way into the old forest that has overgrown the streets. We find the new all conquering Springfield vine, spreading branches through the forest like a banyan tree.
As this Amaranth from our little earthly village grows thicker, we see by its light a bit of what the ancient Heaven has been. And it is still a solid place of soil and rock and metal. Where the Springfield Amaranth blooms thickest, shedding luminous glory from the petals in the starlight, this Heaven is shown to be an autumn forest, yet with the cedars of Lebanon, and sandalwood thickets, and the million tropic trees whose seeds have blown here from strange zones of the planets, and whose patterns are not the patterns of those of our world. Among these, vineclad pillars and walls are still standing, roofed palaces, so gigantic that, when our boat glides down the great streets between them, they overhang our masts.
And from branches above us these strange manners of fruits tumble upon our decks for our feasting and delight. And there are beneath our ship, as it sails on as it will, little fields long cleared in the forest, where grows weedy ungathered grain.
Through hours and hours of the night our boat goes on, whether we will or no, through starlight and through storm-clouds and through flower-light. And the red star at the masthead and the sight of the proud face of Avanel keeps laughter in my bosom, and the heavenly breeze that blows on the flowers still sings to our hearts: “Springfield Awake, Springfield Aflame.”
Out of the storm now, three great rocks appear, giving forth white light there on the far horizon, and this light bums on and on. At last our ship approaches. We see the great rocks are three empty thrones.
These are the thrones of the Trinity, empty for these many years, just as the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies were bereft of the Presence, when Israel sinned.
And now we are near, and see that the light that hangs round these mountain thrones is because of the vines of gigantic Amaranths, of strange design and of many colors, that bloom upon them. These vines have journeyed up through the ether and great spaces from many cities and many stars.
Our boat sweeps to the side of the thrones, and we look down on what was once the crystal sea, a wild green water now, with great fleets of idle boats, moored by its marshy banks, the boats of dead prophets and angels who lie turned to stone on their strange and beautiful decks. “These are the souls who sinned by refusing to enlist in the crusade against world wars,” or, at least, so Avanel tells me from her heart.
And this is all her dream, none of it mine, and without her all this is nothing.
There are boats of the older days, galleons of rotted magnificence, wrecked and high and dry upon the sand bars, and the skeletons and driftwood of boats are scattered in the marshes by long forgotten storms and cyclones.
We disembark and tread our perilous way among these strange appearances. Sometimes they are as seemingly material as earth. Sometimes we are but walking on the dust of nebulae.
Then we walk into the vine-clad forest that covers the pass between the nearest throne mountains, where broken steps are still to be found in the moss, and whisper to us to follow. There are many butterflies and bees that have taken too much of the blood of the fruit of the Amaranth Flower and are fallen down and some of them dead.
The stair leads us up and through a dark pass and down into a deeper twilight. And the stair, slowly descending, whispers to us: “Follow.” And thus we go, into the most abysmal and curious of valleys, whence, perhaps, ages ago, many spirits fled affrighted because of the loneliness.
We walk amid rich ruins, miles and miles of vaulted halls, deep sheltered recesses, heaped with the purple dust of dead tapestries, mouldering porticos shaken by the wind. Avanel, fearing not follows the steps that still call: “Follow, follow.” She is eating of the Amaranth that still blooms and bears fruit, eating the fruit from many stars, breathing strange perfume, humming her old songs and new songs, with heart aflame, a dauntless prophetess, prodigal and guide.
But now even her spirit is weary and her soul has earth thoughts again, as we wander through the echoing throne rooms. She tries in vain to laugh in the desolate halls. In a fever and a fret and in unutterable, earthly weariness, we shuffle amid heaps of old shields of blackened silver, amid helmets of brass and iron, amid ivory chariots and rotted harps and broken crowns and swords of rusted gold. And then we see a campfire we know and smell the familiar fragrance of pine wood and, in the crossing of two tremendous grass grown streets, we find him we found, first in a dream in springtime, and then at midsummer midnight of a far off June at Fifth and Monroe. The Handsome Medicine Man, Devil’s Gold, is saying to us, as though resuming a conversation in which he had quite the best of us a moment ago:
“After all, people are ranked in Springfield according to their money. People with six thousand dollars apiece a year are considered decent and no questions are asked. People with a million in buried gold or alcohol are on a level of righteousness with the world saints, who are, of course, admitted to their class by generous dispensation. Heaven may be a jungle but nothing will ever alter this great law,’’ and the handsome jester. Devil’s Gold, is shaking his bead-covered rattle, making medicine and calling us by name. We are so tired from our long walk that we cannot but admire his gilded face and his yellow magic blanket. And, holding each other’s hands like lovers, we stoop and admire ourselves in the golden pool that flickers in the great campfire he has impudently built at the crossing of two streets in Heaven.
But we do not step into the pool as beforetime. Our boat is beside us, it has overtaken us like some faithful tame giant swan, and Avanel whispers: “Take us where The Golden Book was written.” And thus we are up and away. The boat carries us deeper, down the valley. We find the cell of Hunter Kelly,—St. Scribe of the Shrines. Only his handiwork remains to testify of him. Upon the walls of his cell he has painted many an illumination he afterward painted on The Golden Book margins and, in a loose pile of old torn and unbound pages, the first draft of many a familiar text is to be found. His dried paint jars are there and his ink and on the wall hangs the empty leather sack of Johnny Appleseed, from which came the first sowing of all the Amaranths of our little city, and the Amaranth that led us here.
And Avanel whispers:—“I ask my heart:—Where is Hunter Kelly, and my heart speaks to me as though commanded: ‘The Hunter is again pioneering for our little city in the little earth. He is reborn as the humblest acolyte of the Cathedral, a child that sings tonight with the star chimes, a red-cheeked boy, who shoes horses at the old forge of the ton Gentleman. Let us also return’.”
It is eight o’clock in the evening, at Fifth and Monroe. It is Saturday night, and the crowd is pouring toward The Majestic, and Chatterton’s, and The Vaudette, and The Princess and The Gaiety.
It is a lovely, starry evening, in the spring. The newsboys are bawling away, and I buy an Illinois State Register. It is dated March 1, 1920.
Avanel of Springfield is one hundred years away.
The Register has much news of a passing nature. I am the most interested in the weather report, that tomorrow will be fair.
Written in Washington Park Pavilion,