Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

women, d things, The younen ing ja

berhaps

exceptich the

breast-cloth and her legs bare below Youth holds on to what is worth while her panung, - who spits from her black in the past as it reaches out for the new. ened teeth a blood-red spurt of betel Communication and transportation juice and glares with open malice. A are, of course, the necessary nerves of properly humble visiting mind might unification and growth. The task of understand her disapproval of pallid H. R. H. Prince Kambaeng Bejra is strangers with ridiculous, stiff, uncom- not simple and calls out the extraorfortable clothing, simpering manners, dinary energy and power which that outlandish speech, and disgusting prince possesses. He has an example of odors of alcohol and tobacco smoke. successful railway maintenance near

Old women, however, being the at hand. The traveler going down the guardians of old things, are almost peninsula bursts suddenly out of Siam always hostile to the new. The young where the railway runs between pressSiamese do not resent the education ing jungle walls into open spaces where laws, the sanitation, the railroads that the same jungles have been conquered are being brought to them by their and cleared. At the very border of the princes. It is said that they envy their Federated Malay States the long-standbetters the chance to study abroad, ing achievements of British administraand thus acquire directly a Western tion are attested by well-policed highillumination, more than they envy ways and an appearance of established them their birth and right to rule. order. In his own territory the Siamese Perhaps they envy them also the administrator cannot run a train at streak of exceptional capacity that night, even now, without patrolling seems to run through the princes. They every mile. It is said, although for this are a remarkable group of men for no one is willing to stand as authority, other reasons than just their rank and that within the last two years more their responsibilities. The list is long than one jungle elephant has charged and hard to read, whether the names out of the immense florid thickets and are given in transliteration out of the attempted — with some success — to royal Pali alphabet or in English butt a puny man-made train off the equivalents. Prince Nagar Svarga track. Trains do run, however, with (called Nagung Sawung) is royal ad- precision and comfort, making it posviser and a strength to the kingdom. sible to go back and forth from SingaPrince Amoradat is secretary of the pore without braving the choppy terRed Cross and so administrator of the rors of the Gulf. ambitious public health programme being carried on through that organization. Prince Kambaeng Bejra builds and maintains railroads. Someone The works of Imperialism all around suited for every necessity seems dis- Siam may be achievements to emulate; coverable. One young man, after a but the political circumstances are a Beaux Arts training, devotes himself threat. A small triangle of rice-swamp, to the study of Khmer architecture, jungle, and mountain wilderness, inout of which the Siamese architectural habited by a few millions, cannot hope idiom was derived, and serves the State to remain the only free spot in southin preserving old temples as well as in ern Asia just by wishing. For about six designing new ones whose weird, glit- centuries after Kublai Khan drove tering beauties do not fall noticeably them southward out of his empire they beneath the standards of the ancients. made a yearly bow to the nominal

Suble to go back and to making it pos

ed Cross and so od secretary of the

III

in

but the posmall triangle wildernes

suzerainty of China, but it was only a at liberty to work out their people's bow and they got weary of giving even destiny; but it is a liberty that seems that. In the nineteenth century, when precarious, unquiet, and charged with they were casting off these vestigial responsibility. There is almost an air bonds, their neighbors, Shans and of hurry about the effort, as if they Burmese and Malays on west and feared the opportunity might not last. south, were slipping into the hands of The rights that powerful neighbors British rulers; and on the north and demand for themselves, even of a free east the Laos and Annamites into the country, are not always consistent with hands of the French. Their policy of what a free country may consider best imposing imperialistic benefits on them- for its own interests. Take the quesselves might be interpreted as an effort tion of opium. It is a comparatively to keep abreast of neighbors who receive recent problem for the Siamese; their those benefits from alien Western first experience with opium and their hands, and so to render Siam less ob- first adoptions of Western ideas came vious prey for invasion and control. together in the middle of the last cen

A complete cynic who had no faith tury. There was prohibition of the that any motives but the most mate- dangerous new drug, with public burnrial actuate imperial foreign offices ings and preaching and other useless might say that the Siamese are un- demonstrations, until the Government molested because across their narrow decided to get what benefit it could out triangle of free territory the British and of a bad business. Opium-dealing was the French find themselves unpleas. farmed out and a substantial part of antly face to face. Those two nations the State revenue was obtained from a have obvious reasons for not wanting traffic which the State did not cease to to share a boundary in Asia which condemn and discourage. Supplies might be so fertile of difficulties, a came largely from British India. The boundary of jungle and mountain, ill. agitation which swept through the defined and infested with tribes which Orient at the end of the century was might be hard to control.

shared in Siam and the Government As the French came westward from made its disapproval more effective by Saigon and the British east into Bur- changing the farming-system into comma, they hesitated and eyed each plete control through smokers' licences. other. The French did not escape The difficulty of having powerful actual conflict with the Siamese. The neighbors became manifest when the Indo-Chinese peoples over whom the Siamese Government decided that it French had acquired domination were must find a substitute for the opium blood relatives and prehistoric enemies revenues, which were then nearly a of the Thais. Boundary disputes broke fourth of the total income, if it was to into guerrilla dueling in the 1890's. But suppress the vice still further. The ricethe two Western Powers saw whither grower seemed to be paying all he could this might lead and in 1896 they signed scrape together in ordinary taxes. The an agreement between themselves, to obvious resource was a tariff on the be extended later, which defined the imports which the imperial Governlimits of Siam and constituted a mutual ments of Europe (and America) put at promise between these strangers not Siam's door. Here is where freedom to encroach on the Siamese kingdom. had a condition. The State found it

So within a constricted circle the self bound by treaties, the same treaties Siamese Princes have been, in a degree, which protect it from aggression and

encroachment, not to tax such imports. learn something in method from the In an official statement before the Siamese royal family, whose laboratory health conference of the Oriental Red is only slightly more populous than Cross Societies, Bangkok, November New York and Chicago taken together. 1922, the Minister of Finance said. The one inevitable lesson is that 'The want of power to readjust her imperialism at home — or over your revenues, as required, is one of the rea- next-door neighbors — is possible, in sons which may deter this country from accord with our avowed political ethics, putting into force the measures having only if there exists a sincere and wellfor their object the registration of understood impulse of brotherhood. smokers'—in other words, the measures If the Siamese princes are capable of for suppressing the opium habit. imposing Western civilization on their

Other questions are not so complex. own countrymen it is largely because In a brave fight against the hookworm, there is no suspicion of ulterior purposes Western intervention, exerted through behind the rigorous, exacting laws for the International Health Board of the improvement. We cannot make laws Rockefeller Foundation, has been a for our neighbors; and we cannot even necessary aid. There has been for- make fruitful suggestions unless we are eign help, too, in the effort to collect purged of our conviction of superiority into hospitals the numerous lepers and and free from the taint of selfishness. begin their cure with chaulmoogra oil. Even then we may be helpless. It is

It would require an acute and deter- hard to be certain that the Siamese mined mind to draw any lesson for civilizers are not helpless. In one of America out of the Siamese experi- their Western-like houses, in an atmosments. There are American minds at phere of cultivated hospitality and work on the experiments themselves, intelligent worldliness, the whole proas advisers to the State and in the tech- gramme seems feasible if not easy. But nical boards for public improvement after the evening is done the visitor Americans are on the ground to supple- from the West is bowed out through the ment what princes have been able to front gate into the road. The liveried learn at first hand in American and servants withdraw and the compound European schools. But to bring back goes back to its forest silence. At the out of that alien and unique situation entrance to that circle of cosmopolitan anything useful to us is difficult. Care and generous thought lies still the old ful study might accomplish something, world of the klong and the house boat. however, and we are not so established The coolie, for whom all the efforts are in our own political maturity that we invoked, is sleeping on the poop deck can afford to neglect any hint.

of his dwelling on a square of ragged Are we, in truth, ready for, or inter- matting, with the water lapping under ested in, any imperialism in our own his head and visions of bigger ricedooryard? If we mean what we fre- bowls in his dreams. His wife is rockquently say about our benevolenting one of the next generation behind desires to weld the whole of two conti- him in the shadows. In the minds and nents into one harmonious and devel- hearts of these is the answer to the oped unity, if we are willing to share a problem of future change. The stranger cultural hegemony of the two Americas is shut out. The native apostle of imwith the elements of Hispanic civili- provement is fascinated by the queszation which are comparable to our tion as to how far into this mystery own Anglo-European ideas -- we might his own campaign can penetrate.

THE CONTRIBUTORS' CLUB

pail of water and took a bath in his CHRISTMAS UNDERGROUND

rubber basin. 'Drip on your own The day began as its predecessors. blankets!' we protested, angered by At 6.45 the sergeant's whistle pierced his virtue, and were delighted when our sleep. 'On your feet, wolves!'he the basin collapsed. The Lieutenant shouted, and flung up the blanket that had been seen driving off in his staffcovered the abri's entrance. Protest- car. “Trust him!' we growled, thinking ingly we drew ourselves out of our of our empty stomachs. 'Back to woolen warmth into the cutting damp- Noyon for a good meal!' ness of underground. Our teeth chat. Our gloom deepened with the early tered as we wound our putties. It dusk. Christmas was not an event on was n't till later, when we were stand- this calendar. We lay humped in our ing about the field kitchen burning our blankets, thinking of warmth and lips with tin cups of coffee, that a voice home, or sat about the stove 'crabbing' suggested, ‘Merry Christmas.' The in a chorus of contempt. With elabproper answer given and received was orate irony O'Brien read aloud the ‘Merry as hell!

headline from an old Times: 'Boys At Our feet squelched in the liquid mud Yaphank Suffer In Rain.' In a far that chilled us through the rubber, and corner a mouth organ whined sourly. from habit we gazed at the dun waves ‘Oh, shut up, can't you!' Beside a of earth which undulated toward the candle Vosberg read and surreptitiouslines. Distant guns struck like hammer- ly munched some chocolate. Where blows at the leaden sky. Someone he had gotten it we did not know. It cursed the mail. There was reason. was too small to share. But we damned Since our division had moved back him in our envy. en repos sixteen days ago we had had The cook appeared. 'It's snowing,' not a letter. Furthermore, we had had he remarked. We did not care about no pay. Half of us had no tobacco, and that. 'What 's for supper?' we asked. the other half had too little to lend. 'Stew.' 'What, no fried potatoes? No Without 'work,' without our sources of rice pudding? Hell, is n't it Christillusion, we were miserable. We lived mas!' 'No lard. No rice. Stew,' said in the timbered cellar of a squashed the cook laconically. granary and we moved through the ‘I want four men up here,' called the routine of repos cold and complaining. sergeant from the abri door.

The day continued indifferently. Those of us who climbed up into the We stood inspection and our feet went night found the sergeant beside the numb. Surrounding an iron marmite rattling staff-car. Silently he flicked we chipped the skin from slimy frozen his torch into the tonneau. It was

histling staff-car serge

it hanged. We quarrem up, coox frozen

begged. We quarreled as to whose turn Mail!' we shouted as we hauled them it was to search for firewood. 'General' out. And beneath the sacks on the floor Wallace, so called because he washed were two cases of golden-neck bottles. more often than Pershing, heated a “Who 'll trade Fatimas for Camels?'

od when the tracted to "I waist. Lou

they get antern in harough

Here

‘Hank, see what m' girl made me — ert, I am sending you a cootie string. knitted 'em herself. ... “Aspirin, It was recommended to me by Mrs. castor oil capsules, and Foot Ease: Keswick. We have been told that you there 's a merry present for you! ... boys tie them about your waist. The 'Who 'll have some fudge? . . .' 'Say, cooties are attracted to the worsted, will you listen to this: “Oh, Dick, how and when the trap is full all you need I can picture you, wandering through to do is hang it on a tree and come No Man's Land, lantern in hand!” away refreshed.” 'Try it!' we cried, How do they get that way!...' rocking with laughter. A specimen was 'Here's looking at you, Slim!...' obtained without much difficulty and “Add a cup of milk, butter size of placed on a sheet of paper, close to the walnut, and serve hot.” Great idea 'trap.' With one look at the worsted that. . ..' 'Is that soap or candy?' it fled in the opposite direction. ‘Cripes, Sally Winslow's engaged! And now the mouth organ was in a

We sat in the aureole of a lantern frenzy and the ‘Kentucky Colonels' hung from the beams. Two splintered (Privates, Second Class) were clogging. doors laid on empty fuse-cases served We sang. We sang of Rinky Dinky, as our table. The stove's belly glowed Madelon, The Tattooed Lady, and a dull red. The warm air was scented other warriors too humorous to menwith the freshly opened sweets, the tion. We sang: soap - almost a Christmas fragrance.

I want to go home, We read the familiar handwriting on

I want to go home! our packages, then tore open the paper The bullets they rattle; the cannons they roar, and fingered the dainty tissue within I don't want to go to the Front any more. (Wow, how dirty our hands were!); we

Take me over the sea dropped the red ribbons round our

Where the Allemands can't get at me.

Oh, my! I don't want to die. necks — and drew forth our presents!

I want to go home! The marmite of stew steamed on the table, and our tin cups were filled But Tom, our tenor, and the biggest again and again with nectar. No wine man in the Section, had fallen asleep will ever taste quite like that from our beside the stove. 'Wake up, Tom. old tin cups, stained black in the inside Come and sing, Tom - it's Christwith their blend of coffee, pinard, and mas.' Tom shook himself and climbed rum. Licking the gravy from their to his feet. 'Goin' out t get th’ Gerknives, some slit open their letters mans,' he announced thickly. In this while they ate; others kept the packet mood, swaying slightly, his big fingers in their breast pockets for private stretched rigidly open, Tom frequently reading. Our letters as much as told sought 'the Germans.' But never us we were heroes and the champagne found them. We sang on. gave us strength to believe it. Hunger W e had subsided into our blankets was surfeited. We were warm at last. and with candles beside us were reading

“Rabbit' Kindall, who had nine our mail when there sounded the clump aunts, climbed on a box and claimed of boots on the steps. Tom appeared in the knitting championship. He ex- the doorway. If he had not found the hibited a worsted helmet without any Germans he had certainly found the face. “See, you put it on, and there snow. It marked him where he had you are — safe as an ostrich.' And a fallen. ‘Merry Christmas, Tom,' somecootie string. 'A what?' we shouted. one called. “Stars are out,' said Tom, ‘I'll read the directions: “Dear Rob- gazing at us solemnly. We waited in

« ElőzőTovább »