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The results of the University examinations filled three sheets of the Winnipeg morning papers. With eager eyes and anxious hearts hundreds of the youth of Manitoba and the other western provinces scanned these lists. It was a veritable Day of Judgment, a day of glad surprises for the faithful in duty and the humble in heart, a day of Nemesis for the vainly self-confident slackers who had grounded their hopes upon eleventh hour cramming and lucky shots in exam papers. There were triumphs which won universal approval, others which received grudging praise.
Of the former, none of those, in the Junior year at least, gave more general satisfaction than did Jane Brown's in the winning of the German prize over Heinrich Kellerman, and for a number of reasons. In the first place Jane beat the German in his own language, at his own game, so to speak. Then, too, Jane, while a hard student, took her full share in college activities, and carried through these such a spirit of generosity and fidelity as made her liked and admired by the whole body of the students. Kellerman, on the other hand, was of that species of student known as a pot-hunter, who took no interest in college life, but devoted himself solely to the business of getting for himself everything that the college had to offer.
Perhaps Jane alone, of his fellow students, gave a single thought to the disappointment of the little Jew. She alone knew how keenly he had striven for the prize, and how surely he had counted upon winning it. She had the feeling, too, that somehow the class lists did not represent the relative scholarship of the Jew and herself. He knew more German than she. It was this feeling that prompted her to write him a note which brought an answer in formal and stilted English.
"Dear Miss Brown," the answer ran, "I thank you for your beautiful note, which is so much like yourself that in reading it I could see your smile, which so constantly characterises you to all your friends. I confess to disappointment, but the disappointment is largely mitigated by the knowledge that the prize which I failed to acquire went to one who is so worthy of it, and for whom I cherish the emotions of profound esteem and good will. Your devoted and disappointed rival, Heinrich Kellerman."
"Rather sporting of him, isn't it?" said Jane to her friend Ethel Murray, who had come to dinner.
"Sporting?" said Ethel. "It is the last thing I would have said about Kellerman."
"That is the worst of prizes," said Jane, "some one has to lose."
"Just the way I feel about Mr. MacLean," said Ethel. "He ought to have had the medal and not I. He knows more philosophy in a minute than I in a week."
"Oh, I wouldn't say that," said Jane judicially. "And though I am awfully glad you got it, Ethel, I am sorry for Mr. MacLean. You know he is working his way through college, and has to keep up a mission through the term. He is a good man."
"Yes, he is good, a little too good," said Ethel, making a little face. "Isn't it splendid about Larry Gwynne getting the Proficiency, and the first in Engineering? Now he is what I call a sport. Of course he doesn't go in for games much, but he's into everything, the Lit., the Dramatic Society, and Scuddy says he helped him tremendously with the Senior class in the Y. M. C. A. work."
"Yes," said Jane, "and the Register told Papa that the University had never graduated such a brilliant student. And Ramsay Dunn told me that he just ran the Athletic Association and was really responsible for the winning of the track team."
"What a pity about Ramsay Dunn," said Ethel. "He just managed to scrape through. Do you know, the boys say he kept himself up mostly on whiskey-and-sodas through the exams. He must be awfully clever, and he is so good-looking."
"Poor Ramsay," said Jane, "he has not had a very good chance. I mean, he has too much money. He is coming to dinner to-night, Ethel, and Frank Smart, too."
"Oh, Frank Smart! They say he is doing awfully well. Father says he is one of the coming men in his profession. He is a great friend of yours, isn't he, Jane?" said Ethel, with a meaning smile.
"We have known him a long time," said Jane, ignoring the smile. "We think a great deal of him."
"When have you seen Larry?" enquired Ethel. "He comes here a lot, doesn't he?"
"Yes. He says this is his Winnipeg home. I haven't seen him all to-day."
"You don't mean to tell me!" exclaimed Ethel.
"I mean I haven't seen him to congratulate him on his medal. His mother will be so glad."
"You know his people, don't you? Tell me about them. You see, I may as well confess to you that I have a fearful crush on Larry."
"I know," said Jane sympathetically.
"But," continued Ethel, "he is awfully difficult. His people are ranching, aren't they? And poor, I understand."
"Yes, they are ranching," said Jane, "and Larry has had quite a hard time getting through. I had a lovely visit last fall with them."
"Oh, tell me about it!" exclaimed Ethel. "I heard a little, you know, from Larry."
For half an hour Jane dilated on her western visit to the Lakeside Farm.
"Oh, you lucky girl!" cried Ethel. "What a chance you had! To think of it! Three weeks, lonely rides, moonlight, and not a soul to butt in! Oh, Jane! I only wish I had had such a chance! Did nothing happen, Jane? Oh, come on now, you are too awfully oysteresque. Didn't he come across at all?"
Jane's face glowed a dull red, but she made no pretence of failing to understand Ethel's meaning. "Oh, there is no nonsense of that kind with Larry," she said. "We are just good friends."
"Good friends!" exclaimed Ethel indignantly. "That's just where he is so awfully maddening. I can't understand him. He has lots of red blood, and he is a sport, too. But somehow he never knows a girl from her brother. He treats me just the way he treats Bruce and Leslie. I often wonder what he would do if I kissed him. I've tried squeezing his hand."
"Have you?" said Jane, with a delighted laugh. "What did he do?"
"Why, he never knew it. I could have killed him," said Ethel in disgust.
"He is going away to Chicago," said Jane abruptly, "to your friends, the Wakehams. Mr. Wakeham is in mines, as you know. Larry is to get two thousand dollars to begin with. It is a good position, and I am glad for him. Oh, there I see Mr. MacLean and Frank Smart coming in."
When the party had settled down they discussed the Class lists and prize winners till Dr. Brown appeared.
"Shall we have dinner soon, Jane?" he said as she welcomed him. "I wish to get through with my work early so as to take in the big political meeting this evening. Mr. Allen is to speak and there is sure to be a crowd."
"I shall have it served at once, Papa. Larry is coming, but we won't wait for him."
They were half through dinner before Larry appeared. He came in looking worn, pale and thinner even than usual. But there was a gleam in his eye and an energy in his movements that indicated sound and vigorous health.
"You are not late, Larry," said Jane; "we are early. Papa is going to the political meeting."
"Good!" cried Larry. "So am I. You are going, Frank, and you, MacLean?"
"I don't know yet," said MacLean.
"We are all due at Mrs. Allen's, Larry, you remember. It is a party for the Graduating Class, too," said Jane.
"So we are. But we can take in the political meeting first, eh, Mac?"
But MacLean glanced doubtfully at Ethel.
"I have just had a go with Holtzman," said Larry, "the German Socialist, you know. He was ramping and raging like a wild man down in front of the post office. I know him quite well. He is going to heckle Mr. Allen to-night."
The girls were keen to take in the political meeting, but Larry objected.
"There will be a rough time, likely. It will be no place for ladies. We will take you to the party, then join you again after the meeting."
The girls were indignant and appealed to Dr. Brown.
"I think," said he, "perhaps you had better not go. The young gentlemen can join you later, you know, at Allens' party."
"Oh, we don't want them then," said Ethel, "and, indeed, we can go by ourselves to the party."
"Now, Ethel, don't be naughty," said Larry.
"I shall be very glad to take you to the party, Miss Murray," said MacLean. "I don't care so much for the meeting."
"That will be fine, Mac!" exclaimed Larry enthusiastically. "In this way neither they nor we will need to hurry."
"Disgustingly selfish creature," said Ethel, making a face at him across the table.
Jane said nothing, but her face fell into firmer lines and her cheeks took on a little colour. The dinner was cut short in order to allow Dr. Brown to get through with his list of waiting patients.
"We have a few minutes, Ethel," said Larry. "Won't you give us a little Chopin, a nocturne or two, or a bit of Grieg?"
"Do, Ethel," said Jane, "although you don't deserve it, Larry. Not a bit," she added.
"Why, what have I done?" said Larry.
"For one thing," said Jane, in a low, hurried voice, moving close to him, "you have not given me a chance to congratulate you on your medal. Where have you been all day?"
The reproach in her eyes and voice stirred Larry to quick defence. "I have been awfully busy, Jane," he said, "getting ready to go off to-morrow. I got a telegram calling me to Chicago."
"To Chicago? To-morrow?" said Jane, her eyes wide open with surprise. "And you never came to tell me--to tell us? Why, we may never see you again at all. But you don't care a bit, Larry," she added.
The bitterness in her voice was so unusual with Jane that Larry in his astonishment found himself without reply.
"Excuse me, Ethel," she said, "I must see Ann a minute."
As she hurried from the room Larry thought he caught a glint of tears in her eyes. He was immediately conscience-stricken and acutely aware that he had not treated Jane with the consideration that their long and unique friendship demanded. True, he had been busy, but he could have found time for a few minutes with her. Jane was no ordinary friend. He had not considered her and this had deeply wounded her. And to-morrow he was going away, and going away not to return. He was surprised at the quick stab of pain that came with the thought that his days in Winnipeg were over. In all likelihood his life's work would take him to Alberta. This meant that when he left Winnipeg tomorrow there would be an end to all that delightful comradeship with Jane which during the years of his long and broken college course had formed so large a part of his life, and which during the past winter had been closer and dearer than ever. Their lives would necessarily drift apart. Other friends would come in and preoccupy her mind and heart. Jane had the art of making friends and of "binding her friends to her with hooks of steel." He had been indulging the opinion that of all her friends he stood first with her. Even if he were right, he could not expect that this would continue. And now on their last evening together, through his selfish stupidity, he had hurt her as never in all the years they had been friends together. But Jane was a sensible girl. He would make that right at once. She was the one girl he knew that he could treat with perfect frankness. Most girls were afraid, either that you were about to fall in love with them, or that you would not. Neither one fear nor the other disturbed the serenity of Jane's soul.
As Jane re-entered the room, Larry sprang to meet her. "Jane," he said in a low, eager tone, "I am going to take you to the party."
But Jane was her own serene self again, and made answer, "There is no need, Larry. Mr. MacLean will see us safely there, and after the meeting you will come. We must go now, Ethel." There was no bitterness in her voice. Instead, there was about her an air of gentle self-mastery, remote alike from pain and passion, that gave Larry the feeling that the comfort he had thought to bring was so completely unnecessary as to seem an impertinence. Jane walked across to where Frank Smart was standing and engaged him in an animated conversation.
As Larry watched her, it gave him a quick sharp pang to remember that Frank Smart was a friend of older standing than he, that Smart was a rising young lawyer with a brilliant future before him. He was a constant visitor at this house. Why was it? Like a flash the thing stood revealed to him. Without a doubt Smart was in love with Jane. His own heart went cold at the thought. But why? he impatiently asked himself. He was not in love with Jane. Of that he was quite certain. Why, then, this dog-in-the-manger feeling? A satisfactory answer to this was beyond him. One thing only stood out before his mind with startling clarity, if Jane should give herself to Frank Smart, or, indeed, to any other, then for him life would be emptied of one of its greatest joys. He threw down the music book whose leaves he had been idly turning and, looking at his watch, called out, "Do you know it is after eight o'clock, people?"
"Come, Ethel," said Jane, "we must go. And you boys will have to hurry. Larry, don't wait for Papa. He will likely have a seat on the platform. Good night for the present. You can find your way out, can't you? And, Mr. MacLean, you will find something to do until we come down?"
Smiling over her shoulder, Jane took Ethel off with her upstairs.
"Come, Smart, let's get a move on," said Larry, abruptly seizing his hat and making for the door. "We will have to fight to get in now."
The theatre was packed, pit to gods. Larry and his friend with considerable difficulty made their way to the front row of those standing, where they found a group of University men, who gave them enthusiastic welcome to a place in their company. The Chairman had made his opening remarks, and the first speaker, the Honourable B. B. Bomberton, was well on into his oration by the time they arrived. He was at the moment engaged in dilating upon the peril through which the country had recently passed, and thanking God that Canada had loyally stood by the Empire and had refused to sell her heritage for a mess of pottage.
"Rot!" cried a voice from the first gallery, followed by cheers and counter cheers.
The Honourable gentleman, however, was an old campaigner and not easily thrown out of his stride. He fiercely turned upon his interrupter and impaled him upon the spear point of his scornful sarcasm, waving the while with redoubled vigour, "the grand old flag that for a thousand years had led the embattled hosts of freedom in their fight for human rights."
"Rot!" cried the same voice again. "Can the flag stuff. Get busy and say something." (Cheers, counter cheers, yells of "Throw him out," followed by disturbance in the gallery.)
Once more the speaker resumed his oration. He repeated his statement that the country had been delivered from a great peril. The strain upon the people's loyalty had been severe, but the bonds that bound them to the Empire had held fast, and please God would ever hold fast. (Enthusiastic demonstration from all the audience, indicating intense loyalty to the Empire.) They had been invited to enter into a treaty for reciprocal trade with the Republic south of us. He would yield to none in admiration, even affection, for their American neighbours. He knew them well; many of his warmest friends were citizens of that great Republic. But great as was his esteem for that Republic he was not prepared to hand over his country to any other people, even his American neighbours, to be exploited and finally to be led into financial bondage. He proceeded further to elaborate and illustrate the financial calamity that would overtake the Dominion of Canada as a result of the establishment of Reciprocity between the Dominion and the Republic. But there was more than that. They all knew that ancient political maxim "Trade follows the flag." But like most proverbs it was only half a truth. The other half was equally true that "The flag followed trade." There was an example of that within their own Empire. No nation in the world had a prouder record for loyalty than Scotland. Yet in 1706 Scotland was induced to surrender her independence as a nation and to enter into union with England. Why? Chiefly for the sake of trade advantages.
"Ye're a dom leear," shouted an excited Scot, rising to his feet in the back of the hall. "It was no Scotland that surrendered. Didna Scotland's king sit on England's throne. Speak the truth, mon." (Cheers, uproarious laughter and cries, "Go to it, Scotty; down wi' the Sassenach. Scotland forever!")
When peace had once more fallen the Honourable B. B. Bomberton went on. He wished to say that his Scottish friend had misunderstood him. He was not a Scot himself--
"Ye needna tell us that," said the Scot. (Renewed cheers and laughter.)
But he would say that the best three-quarters of him was Scotch in that he had a Scotch woman for a wife, and nothing that he had said or could say could be interpreted as casting a slur upon that great and proud and noble race than whom none had taken a larger and more honourable part in the building and the maintaining of the Empire. But to resume. The country was asked for the sake of the alleged economic advantage to enter into a treaty with the neighbouring state which he was convinced would perhaps not at first but certainly eventually imperil the Imperial bond. The country rejected the proposal. The farmers were offered the double lure of high prices for their produce and a lower price for machinery. Never was he so proud of the farmers of his country as when they resisted the lure, they refused the bait, they could not be bought, they declined to barter either their independence or their imperial allegiance for gain. (Cheers, groans, general uproar.)
Upon the subsidence of the uproar Frank Smart who, with Larry, had worked his way forward among a body of students standing in the first row immediately behind the seats, raised his hand and called out in a clear, distinct and courteous voice, "Mr. Chairman, a question if you will permit me." The chairman granted permission. "Did I understand the speaker to say that those Canadians who approved of the policy of Reciprocity were ready to barter their independence or their imperial allegiance for gain? If so, in the name of one half of the Canadian people I want to brand the statement as an infamous and slanderous falsehood."
Instantly a thousand people were on their feet cheering, yelling, on the one part shouting, "Put him out," and on the other demanding, "Withdraw." A half dozen fights started up in different parts of the theatre. In Smart's immediate vicinity a huge, pugilistic individual rushed toward him and reached for him with a swinging blow, which would undoubtedly have ended for him the meeting then and there had not Larry, who was at his side, caught the swinging arm with an upward cut so that it missed its mark. Before the blow could be repeated Scudamore, the centre rush of the University football team, had flung himself upon the pugilist, seized him by the throat and thrust him back and back through the crowd, supported by a wedge of his fellow students, striking, scragging, fighting and all yelling the while with cheerful vociferousness. By the efforts of mutual friends the two parties were torn asunder just as a policeman thrust himself through the crowd and demanded to know the cause of the uproar.
"Here," he cried, seizing Larry by the shoulder, "what does this mean?"
"Don't ask me," said Larry, smiling pleasantly at him. "Ask that fighting man over there."
"You were fighting. I saw you," insisted the policeman.
"Did you?" said Larry. "I am rather pleased to hear you say it, but I knew nothing of it."
"Look here, Sergeant," shouted Smart above the uproar. "Oh, it's you, Mac. You know me. You've got the wrong man. There's the man that started this thing. He deliberately attacked me. Arrest him."
Immediately there were clamorous counter charges and demands for arrest of Smart and his student crew.
"Come now," said Sergeant Mac, "keep quiet, or I'll be takin' ye all into the coop."
Order once more being restored, the speaker resumed by repudiating indignantly the accusation of his young friend. Far be it from him to impugn the loyalty of the great Liberal party, but he was bound to say that while the Liberals might be themselves loyal both to the Dominion and to the Empire, their policy was disastrous. They were sound enough in their hearts but their heads were weak. After some further remarks upon the fiscal issues between the two great political parties and after a final wave of the imperial flag, the speaker declared that he now proposed to leave the rest of the time to their distinguished fellow citizen, the Honourable J. J. Allen.
Mr. Allen found himself facing an audience highly inflamed with passion and alert for trouble. In a courteous and pleasing introduction he strove to allay their excited feelings and to win for himself a hearing. The matter which he proposed to bring to their attention was one of the very greatest importance, and one which called for calm and deliberate consideration. He only asked a hearing for some facts which every Canadian ought to know and for some arguments based thereupon which they might receive or reject according as they appealed to them or not.
"You are all right, Jim; go to it," cried an enthusiastic admirer.
With a smile Mr. Allen thanked his friend for the invitation and assured him that without loss of time he would accept it. He begged to announce his theme: "The Imperative and Pressing Duty of Canada to Prepare to do Her Part in Defence of the Empire." He was prepared frankly and without hesitation to make the assertion that war was very near the world and very near our Empire and for the reason that the great military power of Europe, the greatest military power the world had ever seen--Germany--purposed to make war, was ready for war, and was waiting only a favourable opportunity to begin.
"Oh, r-r-rats-s," exclaimed a harsh voice.
"That's Holtzman," said Larry to Smart.
(Cries of "Shut up!--Go on.")
"I beg the gentleman who has so courteously interrupted me," continued Mr. Allen, "simply to wait for my facts." ("Hear! Hear!" from many parts of the building.) The sources of his information were three: first, his own observation during a three months' tour in Germany; second, his conversations with representative men in Great Britain, France and Germany; and third, the experience of a young and brilliant attache of the British Embassy at Berlin now living in Canada, with whom he had been brought into touch by a young University student at present in this city. From this latter source he had also obtained possession of literature accessible only to a few. He spoke with a full sense of responsibility and with a full appreciation of the value of words.
The contrast between the Honourable Mr. Allen and the speaker that preceded him was such that the audience was not only willing but eager to hear the facts and arguments which the speaker claimed to be in a position to offer. Under the first head he gave in detail the story of his visit to Germany and piled up an amazing accumulation of facts illustrative of Germany's military and naval preparations in the way of land and sea forces, munitions and munition factories, railroad construction, food supplies and financial arrangements in the way of gold reserves and loans. The preparations for war which, in the world's history, had been made by Great Powers threatening the world's freedom, were as child's play to these preparations now made by Germany, and these which he had given were but a few illustrations of Germany's war preparations, for the more important of these were kept hidden by her from the rest of the world. "My argument is that preparation by a nation whose commercial and economic instincts are so strong as those of the German people can only reasonably be interpreted to mean a Purpose to War. That that purpose exists and that that purpose determines Germany's world's politics, I have learned from many prominent Germans, military and naval officers, professors, bankers, preachers. And more than that this same purpose can be discovered in the works of many distinguished German writers during the last twenty-five years. You see this pile of books beside me? They are filled, with open and avowed declarations of this purpose. The raison d'etre of the great Pan-German League, of the powerful Navy League with one million and a half members, and of the other great German organisations is war. Bear with me while I read to you extracts from some of these writings. I respectfully ask a patient hearing. I would not did I not feel it to be important that from representative Germans themselves you should learn the dominating purpose that has directed and determined the course of German activity in every department of its national life for the last quarter of a century."
For almost half an hour the speaker read extracts from the pile of books on the table beside him. "I think I may now fairly claim to have established first the fact of vast preparations by Germany for war and the further fact that Germany cherishes in her heart a settled Purpose of War." It was interesting to know how this purpose had come to be so firmly established in the heart of a people whom we had always considered to be devoted to the cultivation of the gentler arts of peace. The history of the rise and the development of this Purpose to War would be found in the history of Germany itself. He then briefly touched upon the outstanding features in the history of the German Empire from the days of the great Elector of Brandenburg to the present time. During these last three hundred years, while the English people were steadily fighting for and winning their rights to freedom and self-government from tyrant kings, in Prussia two powers were being steadily built up, namely autocracy and militarism, till under Bismarck and after the War of 1870 these two powers were firmly established in the very fibre of the new modern German Empire. Since the days of Bismarck the autocrat of Germany had claimed the hegemony of Europe and had dreamed of winning for himself and his Empire a supreme place among the nations of the world. And this dream he had taught his people to share with him, for to them it meant not simply greater national glory, which had become a mania with them, but expansion of trade and larger commercial returns. And for the realisation of this dream, the German Kaiser and his people with him were ready and were waiting the opportunity to plunge the world into the bloodiest war of all time.
At some length the speaker proceeded to develop the idea of the necessary connection between autocracy and militarism, and the relation of autocratic and military power to wars of conquest. "The German Kaiser," he continued, "is ready for war as no would-be world conqueror in the world's history has ever been ready. The German Kaiser cherishes the purpose to make war, and this purpose is shared in and approved by the whole body of the German people." These facts he challenged any one to controvert. If these things were so, what should Canada do? Manifestly one thing only--she should prepare to do her duty in defending herself and the great Empire. "So far," he continued, "I have raised no controversial points. I have purposely abstained from dealing with questions that may be regarded from a partisan point of view. I beg now to refer to a subject which unhappily has become a matter of controversy in Canada--the subject, namely, of the construction of a Canadian Navy. [Disturbance in various parts of the building.] You have been patient. I earnestly ask you to be patient for a few moments longer. Both political parties fortunately are agreed upon two points; first, that Canada must do its share and is willing to do its share in the defence of the Empire. On this point all Canadians are at one, all Canadians are fully determined to do their full duty to the Empire which has protected Canada during its whole history, and with which it is every loyal Canadian's earnest desire to maintain political connection. Second, Canada must have a Navy. Unfortunately, while we agree upon these two points, there are two points upon which we differ. First, we differ upon the method to be adopted in constructing our Navy and, second, upon the question of Navy control in war. In regard to the second point, I would only say that I should be content to leave the settlement of that question to the event. When war comes that question will speedily be settled, and settled, I am convinced, in a way consistent with what we all desire to preserve, Canadian autonomy. In regard to the first, I would be willing to accept any method of construction that promised efficiency and speed, and with all my power I oppose any method that necessitates delay. Considerations of such questions as location of dockyards, the type of ship, the size of ship, I contend, are altogether secondary. The main consideration is speed. I leave these facts and arguments with you, and speaking not as a party politician but simply as a loyal Canadian and as a loyal son of the Empire, I would say, 'In God's name, for our country's honour and for the sake of our Empire's existence, let us with our whole energy and with all haste prepare for war.'"
The silence that greeted the conclusion of this address gave eloquent proof of the profound impression produced.
As the chairman rose to close the meeting the audience received a shock. The raucous voice of Holtzman was heard again demanding the privilege of asking two questions.
"The first question I would ask, Mr. Chairman, is this: Is not this immense war preparation of Germany explicable on the theory of the purpose of defence? Mr. Allen knows well that both on the eastern and southern frontiers Germany is threatened by the aggression of the Pan-Slavic movement, and to protect herself from this Pan-Slavic movement, together with a possible French alliance, the war preparations of Germany are none too vast. Besides, I would ask Mr. Allen, What about Britain's vast navy?"
"The answer to this question," said Mr. Allen, "is quite simple. What nation has threatened Germany for the past forty years? On the contrary, every one knows that since 1875 five separate times has Germany threatened war against France and twice against Russia. Furthermore military experts assure us that in defensive war an army equipped with modern weapons can hold off from four to eight times its own strength. It is absurd to say that Germany's military preparations are purely defensive. As for Britain's navy, the answer is equally simple. Britain's Empire is like no other Empire in the world in that it lies spread out upon the seven seas. It is essential to her very life that she be able to keep these waterways open to her ships. Otherwise she exists solely upon the sufferance of any nation that can wrest from her the supremacy of the sea. At her will Germany has the right to close against all the world the highways of her empire; the highways of Britain's empire are the open seas which she shares with the other nations of the world and which she cannot close. Therefore, these highways she must be able to make safe."
"If Mr. Allen imagines that this answer of his will satisfy any but the most bigoted Britain, I am content. Another question I would ask. Does not Mr. Allen think that if the capitalistic classes, who leave their burdens to be borne by the unhappy proletariat, were abolished wars would immediately cease? Does he not know that recently it was proved in Germany that the Krupps were found to be promoting war scares in France in the interests of their own infernal trade? And lastly does not history prove that Britain is the great robber nation of the world? And does he not think that it is time she was driven from her high place by a nation which is her superior, commercially, socially, intellectually and every other way?"
As if by a preconcerted signal it seemed as if the whole top gallery broke into a pandemonium of approving yells, while through other parts of the house arose fierce shouts, "Throw him out." Mr. Allen rose and stood quietly waiting till the tumult had ceased.
"If the gentleman wishes to engage me in a discussion on socialism, my answer is that this is not the time nor place for such a discussion. The question which I have been considering is one much too grave to be mixed up with an academic discussion of any socialistic theories."
"Aha! Aha!" laughed Holtzman scornfully.
"As for Britain's history, that stands for all the world to read. All the nations have been guilty of crimes; but let me say that any one who knows the history of Germany for the last three hundred years is aware that in unscrupulous aggression upon weaker neighbours, in treachery to friend and foe, Germany is the equal of any nation in the world. But if you consider her history since 1864 Germany stands in shameless and solitary pre-eminence above any nation that has ever been for unscrupulous greed, for brutal, ruthless oppression of smaller peoples, and for cynical disregard of treaty covenants, as witness Poland, Austria, Denmark, Holland and France. As to the treachery of the Krupps, I believe the gentleman is quite right, but I would remind him that the Kaiser has no better friend to-day than Bertha Krupp, and she is a German."
From every part of the theatre rose one mighty yell of delight and derision, during which Holtzman stood wildly gesticulating and shouting till a hand was seen to reach his collar and he disappeared from view. Once more order was restored and the chairman on the point of closing the meeting, when Larry said to his friend Smart:
"I should dearly love to take a hand in this."
"Jump in," said Smart, and Larry "jumped in."
"Mr. Chairman," he said quietly, "may I ask Mr. Allen a question?"
"No," said the chairman in curt reply. "The hour is late and I think further discussion at present is unprofitable."
But here Mr. Allen interposed. "I hope, Mr. Chairman," he said, "you will allow my young friend, Mr. Gwynne, of whose brilliant achievements in our University we are all so proud, to ask his question."
"Very well," said the chairman in no good will.
"Allow me to thank Mr. Allen for his courtesy," said Larry. "Further I wish to say that though by birth, by training, and by conviction I am a pacifist and totally opposed to war, yet to-night I have been profoundly impressed by the imposing array of facts presented by the speaker and by the arguments built upon these facts, and especially by the fine patriotic appeal with which Mr. Allen closed his address. But I am not satisfied, and my question is this--"
"Will not Mr. Gwynne come to the platform?" said Mr. Allen.
"Thank you," said Larry, "I prefer to stay where I am, I am much too shy."
Cries of "Platform! Platform!" however, rose on every side, to which Larry finally yielded, and encouraged by the cheers of his fellow students and of his other friends in the audience, he climbed upon the platform. His slight, graceful form, the look of intellectual strength upon his pale face, his modest bearing, his humorous smile won sympathy even from those who were impatient at the prolonging of the meeting.
"Mr. Chairman," he began with an exaggerated look of fear upon his face, "I confess I am terrified by the position in which I find myself, and were it not that I feel deeply the immense importance of this question and the gravity of the appeal with which the speaker closed his address, I would not have ventured to say a word. My first question is this: Does not Mr. Allen greatly exaggerate the danger of war with Germany? And my reasons for this question are these. Every one knows that the relations between Great Britain and Germany have been steadily improving during the last two or three years. I note in this connection a statement made only a few months ago by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. Winston Churchill. It reads as follows:
"'The Germans are a nation with robust minds and a high sense of honour and fair play. They look at affairs in a practical military spirit. They like to have facts put squarely before them. They do not want them wrapped up lest they should be shocked by them, and relations between the two countries have steadily improved during the past year. They have steadily improved side by side with every evidence of our determination to maintain our naval supremacy.'
"These words spoken in the British House of Commons give us Mr. Winston Churchill's deliberate judgment as to the relations between Germany and Great Britain. Further Mr. Allen knows that during the past two years various peace delegations composed of people of the highest standing in each country have exchanged visits. I understand from private correspondence from those who have promoted these delegations that the last British delegation was received in Germany with the utmost enthusiasm by men of all ranks and professions, generals, admirals, burgomasters, professors and by the Kaiser himself, all professing devotion to the cause of peace and all wishing the delegation Godspeed. Surely these are indications that the danger of war is passing away. You, Sir, have made an appeal for war preparation tonight, a great and solemn appeal and a moving appeal for war--merciful God, for war! I have been reading about war during the past three months, I have been reading again Zola's Debacle--a great appeal for preparedness, you would say. Yes, but a terrific picture of the woes of war."
Larry paused. A great silence had fallen upon the people. There flashed across his mind as he spoke a vision of war's red, reeking way across the fair land of France. In a low but far-penetrating voice, thrilling with the agonies which were spread out before him in vision, he pictured the battlefield with its mad blood lust, the fury of men against men with whom they had no quarrel, the mangled ruins of human remains in dressing station and hospital, the white- faced, wild-eyed women waiting at home, and back of all, safe, snug and cynical, the selfish, ambitious promoters of war. Steady as a marching column without pause or falter, in a tone monotonous yet thrilling with a certain subdued passion, he gave forth his indictment of war. He was on familiar ground for this had been the theme of his prize essay last winter. But to-night the thing to him was vital, terrifying, horrible. He was delivering no set address, but with all the power of his soul he was pleading for comrades and friends, for wives and sweethearts, for little babes and for white-haired mothers, "and in the face of all this, you are asking us to prepare that we Canadians, peaceful and peace-loving, should do our share to perpetrate this unspeakable outrage upon our fellow men, this insolent affront against Almighty God. Tell me, if Canada, if Britain, were to expend one-tenth, one-hundredth part of the energy, skill, wealth, in promoting peace which they spend on war, do you not think we might have a surer hope of warding off from our Canadian homes this unspeakable horror?" With white face and flaming eyes, his form tense and quivering, he stood facing the advocate of war. For some moments, during which men seemed scarcely to breathe, the two faced each other. Then in a voice that rang throughout the theatre as it had not in all his previous speech, but vibrant with sad and passionate conviction, Mr. Allen made reply.
"It is to ward off from our people and from our Canadian homes this calamity that you have so vividly pictured for us that I have made my appeal to-night. Your enemy who seeks your destruction will be more likely to halt in his spring if you cover him with your gun than if you appeal to him with empty hands. For this reason, it is that once more I appeal to my fellow Canadians in God's name, in the name of all that we hold dear, let us with all our power and with all speed prepare for war."
"God Save the King," said the Chairman. And not since the thrilling days of Mafeking had Winnipeg people sung that quaint archaic, but moving anthem as they sang it that night.
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