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But a few days earlier, in the twilight hour of a Saturday afternoon—the kindly hour when working folk go home to their day of rest—the two uppermost stories of that loft in Washington Place had turned into a red furnace choked with struggling humanity. Little trace of those ravening fires remained on the exterior to gratify a sightseer's curiosity. Even during the moments of the tragedy, no stupendous spectacle was visible outside. Only smoke, and a glow behind the windowpanes; a few frantic figures crawling out on the stone ledges.
Next day scientists were quoted. The scientists said that an object weighing, say, 120 pounds, if dropped ten tall stories, would land with some three tons' impact. This explained why sightseers found planks over holes in the sidewalk, also why sightseers found a New York loft worth seeing.
Words are so cold, compared with living facts! We skim our newspapers over and throw them away, and the things they print are speedily lost to mind. After the Triangle fire, the newspapers told vividly of the “long rows of coffined dead” in the temporary morgue. That day the city shuddered. A futile trial for manslaughter followed. Then New York went about its business again. Within a year the horror was forgotten.
But the few who on the Sunday morning after had to walk through the sullen East Side avenues, empty except for an endless, sobbing, shuffling line on its way to view the dead, and out upon the covered pier, among charred and broken things which had been young girls overnight, before Hell rose up in the lofts—they, at least, will not forget. Perhaps some day one of them will see to it that New York's building laws and building inspectors are wrenched out of the clutch of Tammany Hall, and made the things they should be.
Even that will not undo the work of twenty minutes in the house of Moloch, and give back to a hundred and forty East Side girls their pitiful chance in life.
A GALILEAN VAGABOND
In France religion does not count for much. It is hardly worth referring to, except incidentally, by way of illustrative allusion, as when in a public address the other day a member of the French Cabinet happened to refer to Jesus as 'that Galilean vagabond."
To the mind of this French statesman, to be a respectable man Jesus should have remained shut up to a carpenter's trade in Nazareth. He should have contented himself to hew boards, dowel benches and tables, put roofs on houses, and thus be a decent and respectable member of society, adding to its physical comfort and wealth. Instead of that he threw away the chance of a profitable life, gave up his home and trade, and became a wanderer, a vagabond, a leader of a company of strolling tramps, dependent on charity, less securely housed than the foxes and birds of the air. His was not a life of good repute. He lived a vagabond in Galilee.
The boards have rotted to dust, the benches are burned, the tables are perished, houses and roofs are sunk into decay, the little wealth which His brothers made in Joseph's shop with hammer and saw has vanished; yet somehow the Galilean vagabondage is the world's dearest story, its richest memory. He trudged from town to
ith his retinue of enthusiasts, and talked about nothing more substantial than God and Heaven and common goodness. He took no fee, got no riches, fed on the bread and water of charity, and talked, talked, talked of the Father in heaven. He consorted with
common people and said impudent things about rich men—and they killed Him and that was the end of Him.
The end of Him! What mean the Cathedrals of France? What the civilization we call Christian? What is Christendom but the current voice of all that is great and good-rich and powerful-humble and simple and poor_resounding to crown a vagabond Lord and Master?
Neither material things, nor the carpenter's trade, nor the goldsmith's art, nor the bookman's craft, nor the statesman's devotion has made the world great. Worth and wealth are of the spirit and the vagrant sandaled steps that traversed the byways of Galilee trod out a golden track through the golden grain, and along a dolorous road, past a cross-crowned mountain, until the byway became a highway and spread wide over the countries and broad over the lands. And why? Because value is of the spirit,--not of metal, nor marble, nor gems. The vagrancies and utterances of Galilee are precious above price because they give a glory and a worth to the civilization whose epithet is that of the Galilean Vagabond.
THE BURDENS OF WAR
Not many years ago I was in a little village nestling among the hills of New England. On this day the Grand Army of the Republic had paid fitting tribute to their honored dead. The beautiful memorial service had been rendered and all had gone, when I found myself in the little churchyard. I stopped by a plain stone. “Father and son killed in the service of their country," was the inscription, and upon the mounds rested wreaths placed by the hands of those that revered the memories of men who had perished in the performance of duty.
And close to this stone was another recording the time when another soul had passed away, the wife of the father, the mother of the son. But upon this stone was no inscription; upon this mound, no flowers of remembrance.
And I wondered as I stood there who bear the burdens of war. Through the mist of years I could see the happenings in that hamlet at that dread time. I could hear as they heard the thunderbolts of Sumter, sounding and resounding through the hills of Vermont. No need to interpret the shock. It was death for the individual, or death for the nation. And how splendid the response! I could see the grim, earnest face of that father, the eager eyes of that son, when word came that their country called. And I could see that dry-eyed, bravely smiling mother, holding a child upon her shoulder, that this might be the last image on their minds and in their hearts as they went away to war and whatever else betide.
The imagination can follow them without a blush. They were brave men. Into the clash and crash they went, possessing courage without limit, hearts without dismay; eager to fight, willing to die for the cause they considered just.
And turning to the other page, I could see the mother, her simple duties done, sitting by the window, looking down the village street, and waiting, waiting, waiting for the tidings of what God had willed. In Virginia was excitement, comradeship, possibly glory; but there by that little window was only helpless, patient, anguished waiting in the name of God, for the love of country, and for the freedom of the slaves. One could almost see the eyes of her who sat there begin to fade, almost hear her steps begin to falter, while through the unending days
and months and years she drew to her bosom the prattling child and taught it to plead with the God of Battles to save and not destroy.
And then came the fateful message—“Father and son gone forever. Memory only left." Look now to the window from down the village street, and fathom if you can the depth of one woman's soul.
Yes—who bear the burdens of war? Custom answers. Go, stand in the churchyard and read the inscriptions. "In the service of their God!" Yes. "In the service of their country!” Yes. “For freedom's sake!” Nobly true. Not a word would we erase. But what of her? What of the wife and mother! Inscription ? No. She fought in no battles. She bore no arms. No word had she to say, no act to do respecting need or cause. Hers not to reason why; hers but to give—to give all, husband, son, the love of her heart, the light of her eyes all, all that was on earth to make her wish to live. Hers not to reason why; hers but to give and die.
Who—who bear the burdens of war?
Colonel James Neill, the most religious of men, was not a theologian; but he grasped the one ethical truth that a thing is not good because it is commanded by God, but it is commanded by God because it is good.
During the hot afternoon of July 14, 1857, the distant boom of Neill's guns reached anxious ears in the streets of Cawnpore. Nana Sahib heard them and realized that without effective and immediate action he and his twenty men were lost. He hastily summoned his advisors, and Tika rose to make the most dastardly suggestion ever heard in a council of war. “These foreign devils," said