Late in April, 1914, when war between the United States and Mexico seemed inevitable Richard once more left the peace and content of Crossroads and started for Vera Cruz, arriving there on April 29. He had arranged to act as correspondent for a syndicate of newspapers, and as he had for long been opposed to the administration's policy of "watchful waiting" was greatly disappointed on his arrival at the border to learn of the President's plan of mediation. He wrote to his wife:
CRUZ, April 24, 1914.
We left today at 5.30. It was a splendid scene, except for the children crying, and the wives of the officers and enlisted men trying not to cry. I got a stateroom to myself. With the electric fan on and the airport open, it is about as cool as a blast furnace. But I was given a seat on the left of General Funston, who is commanding this brigade, and the other officers at the table are all good fellows. As long as I was going, I certainly had luck in getting away as sharply as I did. One day's delay would have made me miss this transport, which will be the first to land troops.
A dreadnaught joined us today, the Louisiana. I wirelessed the Admiral asking permission to send a press despatch via his battleship, and he was polite in reply, but firm. He said "No." There are four transports and three torpedo boats and the battleship. We go very slowly, because we must keep up with one of the troop ships with broken engines. At night it is very pretty seeing the ships in line, and the torpedo boats winking their signals at each other. I am writing all the time or reading up things about the army I forget and getting the new dope. Also I am brushing up my Spanish. Jack London is on board, and three other correspondents, two of whom I have met on other trips, and one "cub" correspondent. He was sitting beside London and me busily turning out copy, and I asked him what he found to write about. He said, "Well, maybe I see things you fellows don't see." What he meant was that what was old to us was new to him, but he got guyed unmercifully.
April 27, 1914.
The censor reads all I write, and so do some half-dozen Mexican cable clerks and 60 (sixty) correspondents. So when I cable "love," it MEANS devotion, adoration, and worship; loyalty, fidelity and truth, wanting you, needing you, unhappy for you. It means ALL that.
VERA CRUZ, April 30, 1914.
This heat--humid and moist--would sweat water out of a chilled steel safe; so imagine what it does to me with all the awful winter's accumulation of fat. I hate to say it, but I LIKE these Mexicans--much better than Cubans, or Central Americans. They are human, kindly; it is only the politicians and bandits like Villa who give them a bad name. But, though they ought to hate us, whenever I stop to ask my way they invite me to come in and have "coffee" and say, "My house is yours, senor," which certainly is kind after people have taken your town away from you and given you another flag and knocked your head off if you did not salute it. I now have a fine room. The Navy moved out today and I got the room of the paymaster. It faces the plaza and the cathedral. I burned a candle there today for our soon meeting. The priests all had run away, so I had to hunt up the candle, and pay the money into the box marked for that purpose, but the Lord does not run away, and He will see we soon meet.
Yesterday I went out on the train that brings in refugees and saw the Mexicans. They had on three thousand cartridges, much hair, hats as high as church steeples, and lots of dirt. The Selig Moving Picture folks took many pictures of us and several "stills," in which the war correspondent was shown giving cigarettes to the brigands. Also, I had a wonderful bath in the ocean off the aviation camp. I borrowed a suit from one of the aviators, and splashed and swam around for an hour. My! it was good. It reminded me of my dear Bessie, because the last time I was in the ocean was with her.
Maybe you know what is going on, but we do not. So I just hustle around all day trying to find news as I did when I was a reporter. It is hot enough here even for me, and I have lost about eight pounds of that fat I laid in during our North Pole winter!
VERA CRUZ--May 8, 1914.
Today, when Wilson ordered Huerta not to blockade Tampico which was an insult to Mediators and the act of a bully and a coward, AND a declaration of war, we all got on our ponies to "advance." Then came word Huerta would not blockade. It is like living in a mad house. We all are hoping mediators refuse to continue negotiations. If they have self respect that is what they will do. Tonight if Wilson and Huerta ran for President, Huerta would get all our votes. He may be an uneducated Indian, but at least he is a man. However, that makes no never mind so far as to my getting back. The reason I cannot return is because I have "credentials." It is not that they want ME here, but they want my credentials here. The administration is using, as I see it, the privilege of having a correspondent at the front as a club. It says until war is declared it won't issue any more. So those syndicates who have no correspondent and the papers forming them, are afraid to attack or to criticise the administration for fear they will be blacklisted. And those who have a correspondent with his three thousand dollar signed and sealed pass in his pocket aren't taking any chance on losing him. So, I see before me an endless existence in Vera Cruz.
On May 7 Richard started for Mexico City where, if possible, he intended to interview Huerta. At Pasco de Macho he was arrested, but afterward was allowed to proceed to Mexico City. Here he was again arrested, and without being allowed to interview Huerta was sent back the day after his arrival to Vera Cruz.
Of this Vera Cruz experience John N. Wheeler, a friend of Richard's and the manager of the syndicate which sent him to Mexico, wrote the following after my brother's death:
"Richard Harding Davis went to Vera Cruz for a newspaper syndicate, and after the first sharp engagement in the Mexican seaport there was nothing for the correspondent to do but kill time on that barren, low lying strip of Gulf coast, hemmed in on all sides by Mexicans and the sea, and time is hard to kill there. Yet there was a story to be got, but it required nerve to go after it.
"In Mexico City was Gen. Huerta, the dictator of Mexico. If a newspaper could get an interview with him it would be a 'scoop,' but the work was inclined to be dangerous for the interviewer, since Americans were being murdered rather profusely in Mexico at the time in spite of the astute assurances of Mr. Bryan, and no matter how substantial his references the correspondent was likely to meet some temperamental and touchy soldier with a loaded rifle who would shoot first and afterward carry his papers to some one who could read them.
"One of the newspapers taking the stories by Mr. Davis from the syndicate had a staff man at Vera Cruz as well, and thought to 'scoop' the country by sending this representative to see Huerta, in this way 'beating' even the other subscribers to the Davis service. An interview in Mexico City was consequently arranged and the staff man was cabled and asked to make the trip. He promptly cabled his refusal, this young man preferring to take no such chances. It was then suggested that Mr. Davis should attempt it. By pulling some wires at Washington it was arranged, through the Brazilian and English Ambassadors at the Mexican capital, for Mr. Davis to interview President Huerta, with safe conduct (this being about as safe as nonskid tires) to Mexico City. Mr. Davis was asked if he would make the trip. In less than two hours back came this laconic cable:
"'Leaving Mexico City to-morrow afternoon at 3 o'clock.'
"That was Richard Harding Davis--no hesitancy, no vacillation. He was always willing to go, to take any chance, to endure discomfort and all if he had a fighting opportunity to get the news. The public now knows that Davis was arrested on this trip, that Huerta refused to make good on the interview, and that it was only through the good efforts of the British Ambassador at the Mexican capital he was released. But Davis went.
"There was an echo of this journey to the Mexican capital several months later after the conflict in Europe had been raging for a few weeks. Lord Kitchener announced at one stage of the proceedings he would permit a single correspondent, selected and indorsed by the United States Government, to accompany the British army to the front. Of course, all the swarm of American correspondents in London at the time were eager for the desirable indorsement. Mr. Davis cabled back the conditions of his acceptance. Immediately Secretary of State Bryan was called in Washington on the long-distance telephone.
"'Lord Kitchener has announced,' the Secretary of State was told, 'that he will accept one correspondent with the British troops in the field, if he is indorsed by the United States Government. Richard Harding Davis, who is in London, represents a string of the strongest newspapers in the United States for this syndicate, and we desire the indorsement of the State Department so he can obtain this appointment.'
"'Mr. Davis made us some trouble when he was in Mexico,' answered Mr. Bryan. 'He proceeded to the Mexican capital without our consent and I will have to consider the matter very carefully before indorsing him. His Mexican escapade caused us some diplomatic efforts and embarrassment.' (What the Secretary of State did to bring about Mr. Davis's release on the occasion of his Mexican arrest is still a secret of the Department.)
"Mr. Bryan did not indorse Mr. Davis finally, which was well, since Lord Kitchener of Khartum kept the selected list of correspondents loafing around London on one pretext or another so long they all became disgusted and went without an official pass from 'K. of K.' As soon as Mr. Davis was told he would not be appointed he proceeded to Belgium and returned some of the most thrilling stories written on this conflict at great personal risk."
May 13, 1914.
MY DEAREST ONE:
DO NOT BLAME me for this long delay in writing. God knows I wanted every day to "talk" to you. But we were on the "suspect" list, and to make even a note was risky. The way I did it was to exclaim over the beauty of some flower or tree, and then ask the Mexican nearest me to write the name of it HIMSELF in MY notebook. Then I would say, "In English that would be----" and I would pretend to write beside it the English equivalent, but really would write the word that was the key to what I wished to remember. So, you see, a letter at that rate of progress was impossible. It was a case of "Can't get away to cable you today; police won't let me!" However, we are all safe at home again. As a matter of fact, I had a most exciting time, and am dying to tell you the "insie" story. But the one I sent the papers must serve. I promised myself I would give the FIRST soldier, marine and sailor I met on returning a cigar, and the first sailor was the CHAPLAIN OF THE FLEET, Father Reany. But he took the cigar and gave me his blessing. I am now burning candles to St. Rita. What worried me the MOST was how worried YOU would be; and I begged Palmer not to send the story of our first arrest. But other people told of it, and he had to forward it. You certainly made the wires BURN! and had the army guessing. One officer said to me, "I'm awfully sorry to see you back. If you'd only have stayed in jail another day your wife would have had us all on our way to Mexico." And the censor said, "My God! I'm glad you're safe! Your wife has MADE OUR LIVES HELL!" And quite right, too, bless you! None of us knows anything, but it looks to me that NOTHING will induce Wilson to go to war. But the Mexicans think we ARE at war, and act accordingly. They may bring on a conflict. That is why I am making ready in case we advance and that is why I cabled today for the rest of my kit. I have a fine little pony, and a little messenger boy who speaks Spanish, to look after the horse, and me.
And now, as to your LETTERS, they came to-day, five of them, COUNT 'EM, and the pictures did make me laugh. I showed those of the soldier commandeering the vegetables to Funston and he laughed. And, I did love the flowers you sent no matter HOW homesick they made me! (Oh). I do not want a camera.
I have one, and those fancy cameras I don't understand.
The letters you forwarded were wonderfully well selected. I mean, those from other people. One of them was from Senator Root telling me Bryan is going to reward our three heroic officers who jumped into the ocean. I know you will be glad. There are NO mosquitoes! Haven't met up with but three and THEY are not COMING BACK.
I send you a picture of my room from the outside. From the inside the view is so "pretty." Across the square is the cathedral and the trees are filled with birds that sing all night, and statues, and pretty globes. The band plays every night and when it plays "Hello, Winter Time," I CRY for you. I paid the band-master $20 to play it, and it is WORTH IT. I sit on the balcony and think of you and know just what you are doing, for there is only an hour and a half difference. That is, when with you it is ten o'clock with me it is eight-thirty. So when you and Louise are at dinner you can know I am just coming in from my horseback ride to bathe and "nap." And when at eight-thirty you are playing the Victor, I am drinking a cocktail to you, and shooing away the Colonels and Admirals who interfere with my ceremony of drinking to my dear wife.
VERA CRUZ, May 20th, 1914.
I got SUCH a bully letter yesterday from you, written long ago from the Webster. It said you missed me, and it said you loved me, and there were funny pictures of you reading the war and peace news each with a different expression, and you told me about Padrigh and how he runs down the road. It made me very sad and homesick, but very glad to feel I was so missed. Also you told me cheerful falsehoods about my Tribune stories. I know they are no good, and as they are no good, the shorter the better, but I like to be told they are good. Anyway, I sat down at once and wrote a long screed on Vera Cruz and the sleepy people that five here.
We all live on the sidewalk under the stone porch. Every night a table is reserved and by my orders ALL chairs, except mine, are removed. So no one can sit down and bore me while I am dining. Another trick I have to be left alone is to carry a big roll of cable blanks, and I pretend to write out cables if anyone tries to talk. Then I beckon the messenger (he always sits in the plaza) and say "File that!" and he goes once around the block and reports back that it is "filed." If the bore renews the attack I write another cable, and the unhappy messenger makes another tour. The band plays from seven to eight every night. There are five bands, and I saw no reason why there should not be music every evening. After a day in this dirty hotel or dirty city a lively band helps. Funston agreed, but forgot, until after three nights with no band, I wrote him a letter. It was signed by fake names, asking if he couldn't get nineteen German musicians into a bandstand how could he hope to get ten thousand soldiers into Mexico City. So now we have a band each night. That is all my day. After dinner I sit at table and the men bring up chairs, or else I go to some other table. There are some damn fool women here who are a nuisance, and they now have dancing in the hotel adjoining, but I don't know them, except to bow, and I approve of the tango parties because it keeps them away from the sidewalk. They ire "refugees," the sort of folks you meet at Ocean Grove, or rather DON'T meet! All love to you, and give Patrigh a pat from his Uncle Richard for looking after you and looking for me, and remember me to Louise and Shu and everything at home. I love you so.
VERA CRUZ, May 28, 1914.
I want to be home to see the daisy field with you. That knee you nearly busted tobogganing when the daisy field was an iceberg is now recovered.
The one and all came this morning and as I expected it was all full of love from you. I DID get happiness out of the thought you put in it. And all done in an hour. The underclothes made me weep. I could get none here. Not because Mexicans are not as large as I am, but because no Mexican of any size would wear 'em. So I've had to wash the few that the washer-woman didn't destroy myself. And when I saw the lot you sent! It was like a white sale! Also the quinine which I tasted just for luck, and the soap in the little violet wrapper made me quite homesick. Especially was I glad to get socks and pongee suits, and shirts. I really was getting desperate. God knows what I would have done without them.
I want to see you so much, and I want to see you in the same setting of other days, I want to walk with you in the daisy field, and in the laurel blossoms, and clip roses. But to be with you I'd be willing to walk on broken glass. Not you, too. Just me.
VERA CRUZ--June 4, 1914.
DEAR OLD MAN:
I am awfully sorry for your sake, you could not get away. Of course for myself I am glad that I am to see you and Dai. At least, I hope I am. God alone knows when we will get out of here. I am sick of it. Next time I go to war both armies must fight for two months before I will believe they mean it, and BEFORE I WILL BUDGE.
It is true I am getting good money, but also there is absolutely NOTHING to write about. Bryan doesn't know that unless he talks by code every radio on sixteen ships can read every message he sends to these waters. And the State Department saying it could not understand the Hyranga giving up her cargo is a damn silly lie. No one is so foolish as to think the Chester and Tacomah let her land those arms under their guns unless they had been told to submit to it. And yet today, we get papers of the 29th in which Bryan says he has twice cabled Badger for information, when for a week Badger has been reading Bryan's orders to consuls to let the arms be landed. Can you beat that? This is an awful place, and if I don't write it is because I hate to harrow your feelings. It is a town of flies, filth and heat. John McCutcheon is the only friend I have seen, and he sensibly lives on a warship. I can't do that, as cables come all the time suggesting specials, and I am not paid to loaf. John is here on a vacation, and can do as he pleases. But I ride around like any cub reporter. And there is no news. Since I left home I have not talked five minutes to a woman "or mean to!" The Mexican women are a cross between apes and squaws. Of all I have seen here nothing has impressed me so as the hideousness of the women, girls, children, widows, grandmothers. And the refugees, as Collier would say it, are "terrible!" I live a very lonely existence. I find it works out that way best. And at the same time all the correspondents are good friends, and I don't find that there is one of them who does not go out of his way to SHOW he is friendly. What I CAN'T understand is why no one at home never guesses I might like to read some of my own stories. . . .
Of these days in Vera Cruz John T. McCutcheon wrote the following shortly after Richard's death:
"Davis was a conspicuous figure in Vera Cruz, as he inevitably had been in all such situations. Wherever he went, he was pointed out. His distinction of appearance, together with a distinction in dress, which, whether from habit or policy, was a valuable asset in his work, made him a marked man. He dressed and looked the 'war correspondent,' such a one as he would describe in one of his stories. He fulfilled the popular ideal of what a member of that fascinating profession should look like. His code of life and habits was as fixed as that of the Briton who takes his habits and customs and games and tea wherever he goes, no matter how benighted or remote the spot may be.
"He was just as loyal to his code as is the Briton. He carried his bath-tub, his immaculate linen, his evening clothes, his war equipment--in which he had the pride of a connoisseur--wherever he went, and, what is more, he had the courage to use the evening clothes at times when their use was conspicuous. He was the only man who wore a dinner coat in Vera Cruz, and each night, at his particular table in the crowded 'Portales,' at the Hotel Diligencia, he was to be seen, as fresh and clean as though he were in a New York or London restaurant.
Each day he was up early to take the train out to the 'gap,' across which came arrivals from Mexico City. Sometimes a good 'story' would come down, as when the long-heralded and long-expected arrival of Consul Silliman gave a first-page 'feature' to all the American papers.
"In the afternoon he would play water polo over at the navy aviation camp, and always at a certain time of the day his 'striker' would bring him his horse and for an hour or more he would ride out along the beach roads within the American lines."
* * * * * * *
On June 15 Richard sailed on the Utah for New York, arriving there on the 22d. For a few weeks after his return he remained at Mount Kisco completing his articles on the Mexican situation but at the outbreak of the Great War he at once started for Europe, sailing with his wife on August 4, the day war was declared between England and Germany.
On Lusitania--August 8, 1914.
We got off in a great rush, as the Cunard people received orders to sail so soon after the Government had told them to cancel all passengers, that no one expected to leave by her, and had secured passage on the Lorraine and St. Paul.
They gave me a "regal" suite which at other times costs $1,000 and it is so darned regal that I hate to leave it. I get sleepy walking from one end of it to the other; and we have open fires in each of the three rooms. Generally when one goes to war it is in a transport or a troop train and the person of the least importance is the correspondent. So, this way of going to war I like. We now are a cruiser and are slowly being painted grey, and as soon as they got word England was at war all lights were put out and to find your way you light matches. You can imagine the effect of this Ritz Carlton idea of a ship wrapped in darkness. Gerald Morgan is on board, he is also accredited to The Tribune, and Frederick Palmer. I do not expect to be allowed to see anything but will try to join a French army. I will leave Bessie near London with Louise at some quiet place like Oxford or a village on the Thames. We can "take" wireless, but not send it, so as no one is sending and as we don't care to expose our position, we get no news. We are running far North and it is bitterly cold. I think Peary will sue us for infringing his copyrights.
I will try to get in touch with Nora. I am worried lest she cannot get at her money. As British subjects no other thing should upset them. Address me American Embassy, London. I send such love to you both. God bless you.
Richard arrived in Liverpool August 13, and made arrangements for his wife to remain in London. Unable to obtain credentials from the English authorities, he started for Brussels and arrived there in time to see the entry of the German troops, which he afterward described so graphically. Indeed this article is considered by many to be one of the finest pieces of descriptive writing the Great War has produced.
For several days after Brussels had come under the control of the Germans Richard remained there and then decided to go to Paris as the siege of the French capital at the time seemed imminent. He and his friend Gerald Morgan, who was acting as the correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph, decided to drive to Hal and from there to continue on foot until they had reached the English or French armies where they knew they would be among friends. At Hal they were stopped by the German officials and Morgan wisely returned to Brussels. However, Richard having decided to continue on his way, was promptly seized by the Germans and held as an English spy. For a few days he had a most exciting series of adventures with the German military authorities and his life was frequently in danger. It was finally due to my brother's own strategy and the prompt action of our Ambassador to Belgium, Brand Whitlock, that he was returned to Brussels and received his official release.
On August 27, Richard left Brussels for Paris on a train carrying English prisoners and German wounded, and en route saw much of the burning and destruction of Louvain.
BRUSSELS, August 17, 1914.
Write me soon and often! All is well here so long as I know you are all right, so do not fail to tell me all, and keep me in touch. If I do not write much it is because letters do not get through always, and are read. But you know I love you, and you know twice each day I pray for you and wish for you all the time. I feel as though I had been gone a month. Gerald Morgan and I got in last night; this is a splendid new hotel; for $2.50 I get a room and bath like yours on the "royal suite," only bigger. This morning the minister did everything he could for us. There are about twenty Americans who want credentials. They say they will take no Americans, but to our minister they said they would make exception in favor of three, so I guess the three will be John McCutcheon, Palmer and myself. John and I, if anyone gets a pass, are sure. With the passes we had, Gerald and I started out in a yellow motor, covered with flags of the Allies, and saw a great deal. How I wished you were with me, you would so have loved it. The country is absolutely beautiful. We were stopped every quarter mile to show our passes and we got a working idea of how it will be. Tonight I dined with Mr. Whitlock, the minister, and John McCutcheon came in and Irving Cobb. John and I will get together and go out. All you need is a motor car and you can go pretty much everywhere, EXCEPT near where there is fighting. So what I am to do to earn my wages I don't know. I am now going to bed and I send my darlin' all love. Today I sent you a wire. If it got to you let me know. Take such good care of yourself. Remember me to Louise, and, WRITE ME. All love, DEAR, DEAR one. My wife and my sweetheart.
The following is the last letter that got through.
BRUSSELS, August 21, 1914.
I cannot say much, as I doubt if this will be opened by you. The German army came in and there was no fighting and I am very well. I am only distressed at not being able to get letters from you, and not being able to send them. I will write a long one, and hold it until I am sure of some way by which it can reach you.
YOU KNOW WHAT I WOULD SAY.
Mrs. Davis had waited in London to meet Richard on his return from the war, but a misunderstanding as to the date of his return, coupled with her strong sense of duty to his interests at home, gave occasion for the letter which follows:
LONDON, August 31, 1914.
Not since the Herald Square days have I had such a blow as when I drove up to 10 Clarges, and found you gone! IT WAS NOBODY'S FAULT! YOU WERE SO RIGHT to go; and I COULD NOT COME. I am so distressed lest it was my cable saying I could not get back that decided you to go before the fifth. But Ashford says it was not. He tells me the cable came at THREE in the morning and that you had arranged to be called at six-thirty in order to leave for Scotland. So, for sending that cable I need not blame myself too much. I sent you so many messages I do not know which got through. But I think it must have been one saying I could not return in time to see you before the fifth. THEN, no trains were running. The very NEXT DAY the Germans started a troop train, and I took it. The reason I could not come by automobile was because I had a falling out with the "mad dogs" and they would not give me a pass. So Evans, with whom I was to motor to Holland, got through Friday afternoon and sent the cable. As soon as I reached Holland, I cabled I was coming and kept on telegraphing every step of the journey, which lasted three days.
I telegraphed last from Folkestone; even telling you what to have for my supper. As you directed, Ashford opened the cables, and when I drove up, he was at the door in tears. He had made a light in your rooms and, of course, as I looked up I thought you still were in them. When they told me I was a day late, I cried, too. It was the bitterest disappointment I ever knew. I had taken the very first train out of Brussels, the one with the wounded, and for three days had been having one hell of a time. But I kept thinking of seeing you, and hearing your dear voice. So the trip did not matter. I was only thinking of SEEING YOU, and thanking God I was shut of the dirty Germans. We had nothing to eat, and we slept on the floor of the train, the Germans kept us locked in, and, all through even Holland, we were under arrest. But nothing mattered, because I was so happy at thought of meeting you. As I said neither of us was at fault. You just HAD to go, and I could NOT COME. But, you can feel how I felt to learn you were at sea.
I was so glad I could use your old rooms. I went to the table where you used to write and was so glad I could at least be as near to you as that. No other place in London could have held me that night. Not Buckingham Palace. I found little things you had left. I loved even the funny pictures on the wall because we had talked of them together. It was ROTTEN, ROTTEN luck. But only the Germans and their hellish war were to blame. I drove straight to the cable office, and tried to wireless you, knowing you would feel glad to know I was well, and safe and sound. But the cable people could not send my message. You were then out of reach of wireless, on the Irish coast. And for nine days there was no way to tell you I had come back as fast as trains and boats and the dirty Germans would let me. Oh, my dear, dear one, HOW I LOVE you. If only I could have seen you for just five minutes. As it was, I thought for five days more we would be together. What I shall do now, I don't know. I must go back with either the French or the English until my contract expires, and then, I can join you. Tomorrow I am trying to see Asquith and Churchill to get with the army. And I will at once return across the channel. But, do not worry! I will never again let a German come within ONE MILE of me! After this, between me and the Germans, there will be some hundreds of thousands of English or French. So after this reaches you I will soon be on my way HOME. Don't worry. Get James back and Amelia and everyone else who can make you comfortable, and trust in the good Lord. I have your cross and St. Rita around my neck, and in spite of what the Kaiser says, God is looking after other people than Germans. Certainly he has taken good care of me. And he will guard you, and our "blessed" one. And in a little time, dear, DEAR heart, I will be back, and I will become a grocer. God love you and keep you, as he does. And you will never know HOW I LOVE YOU! Good night, dearest, sweetheart and wife! I am writing this at your table, and, thanking God you are going to the farm, and to peace and happiness. I SEND YOU ALL THE LOVE IN ALL THE WORLD.
LONDON, September 3rd.
MY DEAREST ONE:
It was a full moon again tonight and I think you were on deck and saw it, because by now, you have passed the four days at sea and should be in the St. Lawrence. So I knew you saw the moon, too, and I sent you a kiss, via it. It was just over St. James Palace but also it was just over you.
Today has been a day of worries. Wheeler cabled that the papers wanted me to be "neutral" and not write against the Germans. As I am not interested in the German vote, or in advertising of German breweries (such a hard word to SAY) I thought, considering the EXCLUSIVE stories I had sent them, instead of kicking, they ought to be sending me a few bouquets. Especially, as I got cables from Gouvey, Whigham, Scribner's and others congratulating me on the anti-German stories. So I cabled Wheeler to tell papers of his syndicate, dictation from them as to what I should write was "unexpected," that they could go to name-of-place censored and that if he wished I would release him from his contract tonight. Considering that without credentials I was with French, Belgian and German armies and saw entry of Germans into Brussels and sacking of Louvain and got arrested as a spy, they were a bit ungrateful. I am now wondering WHAT I would have seen HAD I HAD credentials.
I saw Anthony Hope at the club last night. He had to go back to the country, so I dined alone on English oysters. Fancy anyone being NEUTRAL in this war! Germany dropping bombs in Paris and Antwerp on women and churches and scattering mines in the channel where they blow up fishermen and burning the cathedrals! A man who now would be neutral would be a coward. Good night, NEAR, DEAR, DEAR one. It has been several weeks since I had sleep, so if I rave and wander in my letters forgive me. You know how I am thinking of you. God bless you. God keep you for me.
Your husband who loves you SO!
LONDON, September 7th.
I just got your cable saying you were at the farm, and well! HOW HAPPY IT MADE ME! I cabled you to Quebec, and to Mt. Kisco, and when two days passed and I heard nothing, today I was scared, so I cabled Gouvey to look after you, and also to Wheeler. I went to the Brompton Oratory today, which is the second most important church here (the cardinal lives at Westminster) and burned the BIGGEST CANDLE they had for you and the "blessing." A big woman all in black was kneeling in the little chapel and when I could not get the candle to stand up, she beckoned to one of the priests, and he ran and fixed it. Then she went on praying. And WHO do you think she was? Queen Amelie of Portugal, you see her pictures in the Tattler and Sphere opening bazaars. So she must be very good or she would not be saying her prayers all alone with the poor people and seeing that my Bessie's candle was burning. I have been waiting here hoping to get some sort of credentials from Kitchener. But though Winston Churchill has urged him, and tomorrow is going to urge him again, they give me no hope. So I'll just go over "on my own" and I bet I'll see more than anyone else. I have fine papers, anyhow. I am now writing Scribner article, so THAT is off my mind. And now that you are home, I have no "worries." I wish I had got your cable earlier. I would have had oysters and champagne in BATH TUBS. Give my love to all the flowers, and to Shea and Paedrig, and Tom, and Louise, and Gouvey and the lake. And take SUCH good care of yourself, and love me, and be happy for I do so love you dear one. I DO SO LOVE YOU.
Tonight I got your cable in answer to mine asking if you were well. All things considered twenty-four hours was not so long for them to get the answer to me. You BET I will be careful. I don't want to get nearer to a German than twenty miles. At the battlefield I collected five German spiked helmets but at the Paris gate they took ALL of them from me. I WAS mad! I wanted to keep them in my "gym," and pound them with Indian clubs. I wrote all day yesterday, so today I did not work. There is nothing more here to do. And as soon as my contract is up October 1st, I will make towards YOU! Seeing the big battle was great luck. So far I have seen more than anyone. I have had no credentials; and yet have been with ALL the armies. Now I am just beating time, until I can get home. The fighting is too far away even if I could go to it. But I can't without being arrested. And I am fed up on being arrested. Today all the little children came out of doors. They have been locked up for fear of airships. It was fine to see them playing in the Champs Elysees and making forts out of pebbles, and rolling hoops.
God loves you, dear one, and I trust in Him. But I am awful sick for a sight of you. What a lot we will have to tell each other. One thing I never have to tell you, but it makes me happy when I can. It is this: I LOVE YOU! And every minute I think of you.
With all my love.
PARIS, September 15th, 1914.
I got this morning your letter of August 25th. In it you say kind things about my account of the Germans entering Brussels. Nothing so much pleases me as to get praise from you or to know my work pleases you. Since the Germans were pushed in every one here is breathing again. But for me it was bad as now the armies are too far to reach by taxicab, and if you are caught anywhere outside the city you are arrested and as a punishment sent to Tours. Eight correspondents, among them two Times men and John Reed and Bobby Dunn, were sent to Tours Sunday. I had another piece of luck that day with Gerald Morgan. I taxicabed out to Soissons and saw a wonderful battle. So, now I can go home in peace. Had I been forced to return without seeing any fighting I never would have lived it down. I am in my old rooms of years ago. I got the whole imperial suite for eight francs a day. It used to be 49 francs a day. Of course, Paris that closes tight at nine is hardly Paris, but the beauty of the city never so much impressed me. There is no fool running about to take your mind off the gardens and buildings. What MOST makes me know I am in Paris, though, are the packages of segars lying on the dressing table. Give my love to Dai, and tell her I hope soon to see you. The war correspondent is dead. My only chance was to get with the English who will take one American and asked Bryan to choose, he passed it to the Press Association and they chose Palmer. But I don't believe the official correspondents will be allowed to see much. I saw the Germans enter Brussels, the burning of Louvain and the Battle of Soissons and had a very serious run in with the Germans and nearly got shot. But now if you go out, every man is after you, and even the gendarmes try to arrest you. It is sickening. For never, of course, was there such a chance to describe things that everyone wants to read about. Again my love to Dai and you. I will see you soon.
In October Richard returned to the United States and settled down to complete his first book on the war. During this period and indeed until the hour of his death my brother devoted the greater part of his time to the cause of the Allies. He had always believed that the United States should have entered the war when the Germans first outraged Belgium, and to this effect he wrote many letters to the newspapers. In addition to this he was most active in various of the charities devoted to the causes of the Allies, wrote a number of appeals, and contributed money out of all proportion to his means. The following appeal he wrote for the Secours National:
"You are invited to help women, children and old people in Paris and in France, wherever the war has brought desolation and distress. To France you owe a debt. It is not alone the debt you incurred when your great grandfathers fought for liberty, and to help them, France sent soldiers, ships and two great generals, Rochambeau and La Fayette. You owe France for that, but since then you have incurred other debts.
"Though you may never have visited France, her art, literature, her discoveries in Science, her sense of what is beautiful, whether in a bonnet, a boulevard or a triumphal arch, have visited you. For them you are the happier; and for them also, to France you are in debt.
"If you have visited Paris, then your debt is increased a hundred fold. For to whatever part of France you journeyed, there you found courtesy, kindness, your visit became a holiday, you departed with a sense of renunciation; you were determined to return. And when after the war, you do revisit France, if your debt is unpaid, can you without embarrassment sink into debt still deeper? What you sought Paris gave you freely. Was it to study art or to learn history, for the history of France is the history of the world; was it to dine under the trees or to rob the Rue de la Paix of a new model; was it for weeks to motor on the white roads or at a cafe table watch the world pass? Whatever you sought, you found. Now, as in 1776 we fought, to-day France fights for freedom, and in behalf of all the world, against militarism that is 'made in Germany.'
"Her men are in the trenches; her women are working in the fields, sweeping the Paris boulevards, lighting the street lamps. They are undaunted, independent, magnificently capable. They ask no charity. But from those districts the war has wrecked, there are hundreds of thousands of women and little children without work, shelter or food. To them throughout the war zone the Secours National gives instant relief. In one day in Paris alone it provides 80,000 free meals. Six cents pays for one of these meals. One dollar from you will for a week keep a woman or child alive.
"The story is that one man said, 'In this war the women and children suffer most. I'm awfully sorry for them!' and the other man said, 'Yes I'm five dollars sorry. How sorry are you?'
"If ever you intend paying that debt you owe to France do not wait until the war is ended. Now, while you still owe it, do not again impose yourself upon her hospitality, her courtesy, her friendship.
"But, pay the debt now.
"And then, when next in Paris you sit at your favorite table and your favorite waiter hands you the menu, will you not the more enjoy your dinner if you know that while he was fighting on the Aisne, it was your privilege to help a little in keeping his wife and child alive."
The winter of 1914-15 Richard and his wife spent in New York, and on January 4, 1915, their baby, Hope, was born. No event in my brother's life had ever brought him such infinite happiness, and during the short fifteen months that remained to him she was seldom, if ever, from his thoughts, and no father ever planned more carefully for a child's future than Richard did for his little daughter.
On April 11 my brother and his wife took Hope to Crossroads for the first time. In his diary of this time he writes, "Only home in the world is the one I own. Everything belongs. It is so comfortable and the lake and the streams in the woods where you can get your feet wet. The thrill of thinking a stump is a trespasser! You can't do that on ten acres."
A cause in which Richard was enormously interested at this time was that of the preparedness of his own country, and for it he worked unremittingly. In August, 1915, he went to Plattsburg, where he took a month of military training.
PLATTSBTTRG, N. Y.
DEAR OLD MAN:
This is a very real thing, and STRENUOUS. I know now why God invented Sunday. The first two days were mighty hard, and I had to work extra to catch up. I don't know a darned thing, and after watching soldiers for years, find that I have picked up nothing that they have to learn. The only things I have learned don't count here, as they might under marching conditions. My riding I find is quite good, and so is my rifle shooting. As you could always beat me at that you can see the conditions are not high. But being used to the army saddle helps me a lot. I have a steeple chaser on one side and a M. F. H. on the other, and they can't keep in the saddle, and hate it with bitter oaths. The camp commander told me that was a curious development; that the best gentlemen jockeys and polo players on account of the saddle, were sore, in every sense. Yesterday I rose at 5-30, assembled for breakfast at six, took down tent to ventilate it, when a cloud meanly appeared, and I had to put it up again. Then in heavy marching order we drilled two hours as skirmishers, running and hurling ourselves at the earth, like falling on the ball, and I always seemed to fall where the cinder path crossed the parade ground. We got back in time to clean ourselves for dinner at noon. And then practised firing at targets. At two we were drilled as cavalry in extended order. We galloped to a point, advanced on foot, were driven back by an imaginary enemy, and remounted. We galloped as a squadron, and the sight was really remarkable when you think the men had been together only four days. But the horses had been doing it for years. All I had to do to mine was to keep on. He knew what was wanted as well as did the Captain. After that we put on our packs and paraded at retreat to the band. Then had supper and listened to a lecture. I ache in every bone, muscle, and joint. But the riding has not bothered me. It is only hurling the damned rifle at myself. At nine I am sound asleep. It certainly is a great experience, and, all the men are helping each other and the spirit is splendid. The most curious meetings come off and all kinds of men are at it from college kids to several who are great grand fathers. Russell Colt turned up and was very funny over his experiences. He said he saluted everybody and one man he thought was a general and stood at attention to salute was a Pullman car conductor. The food is all you want, and very good. I've had nothing to drink, but sarsaparilla, but with the thirst we get it is the best drink I know. I have asked to have no letters forwarded and if I don't write I hope you will understand as during the day there is not a minute you are your own boss and at night I am too stiff and sleepy to write.
All love to you.
It is now seven-thirty, and I have had twelve busy hours. They made me pass an examination as though for Sing Sing, then a man gave me a gun that at first weighed eight pounds and then twenty. He made me do all sorts of things with it, such as sentries used to do to me. Then I was given the gun to keep, and packs, beds, blankets, and I made myself at home in a tent; then I was moved to another tent with five other men. Then I got a horse and they galloped us up and down a field for two hours. I lost ten pounds. Then we were marched around to a band. I had a sergeant on either side of me, so I did not go wrong, OFTEN. Then, aching in every bone and with my head filled with orders and commands, I got into the lake and escaped. You can believe I enjoyed that bath. It certainly is a fine thing, and I am glad I enrolled (for every one has been as nice as could be), but I miss you and Hope terribly. It seems years since I saw you. I am going to my cot quick. It is now eight o'clock, and I feel like I had been beaten in a stone crusher. Kiss Hope's foot for me.
Your loving husband,
I got such a beautiful letter from you! With pictures of Hope playing with the Bunny. It is the best picture yet. I carry it next to my heart because you made it, because it is of her. And she sits up now? Well, I will miss the big clothes-basket. I loved to see her in it. Years ago, when I left home, she was trying to crawl out of it. What you tell me of her--knowing what you mean when you say "Kitty" and "Bunny"--is wonderful. How good it will be! You must come close under my arm, and tell me every little thing. I feel so much better now that we have broken into the last week, and are on the home stretch. We have broken the backbone of the long absence, and, the first thing you know, I'll be telephoning to have you meet me at White Plains.
This is me sewing up a hole in my breeches. The socks are drying on the line, my rubber bath is on the right. I am now going to Canada. But I'll be back in half an hour; it's only 200 yards distant. All the folks here are French, and the signs are in French. Last place we halted I bought lumberman's socks to wear at night. I sleep very well, for I buy my raincoat full of hay from the nearest farmer, and sleep on that. Today we had another "battle." It began at 7.30 and ended at one o'clock. We were kept going all that time, taking "cover" behind railroad embankments and stone walls and in plowed fields, finally ending with a bayonet charge. I killed so many I stopped counting.
Don't let Hope forget her father. Better put on a wrist-watch and my horn spectacles, and hold her the wrong way, so she will be reminded of her Dad.
Good-night, my dearest one. You will never know how terribly I miss you and love you, and want you in my arms, and you holding Hope so that I can have all my happiness in one big armful of all that is good.
YOUR LOVING HUSBAND.
The Vitagraph people came today. They have a great film to stir people to preparedness called "The Battle Cry of Peace." It shows New York destroyed by Germans. They took pictures of several of the better-known men showing "them" preparing. I was taken cleaning my rifle, and, as the captain was passing, I asked him to get in the picture with me and be shown instructing me. He was delighted, but right in the middle of the picture he "inspected" my barrel. I had not cleaned it, and he forgot the camera, and gave me the devil. You can imagine how the crowd roared, and the camera director man was delighted. I wanted it retaken showing the captain patting me on the back.
Roosevelt turned up today, and was very nice. Martin Egan came with him and the British Naval Attache, and they have asked me to dine at a real table at Hotel Champlain with two other men. It will be fine to eat off china. The "hike" begins Friday, and we sleep each night on the ground, but the country we march through is beautiful. All that counts is getting the days behind me and getting you in my arms. Doing one's "bit" for one's country is right, but as the man said, "God knows I love my country and want to fight for her, but I hope to God I never love another country." Good-night, dear, dear one! How wonderful it will be to see and hear you again. Kiss Hope for her Dad.
This is writing with all the love, but with difficulties. I am sitting on a log and the light is a candle. Today we had our first fight. It happened the squad of eight men I am in was sent in advance, and I was 100 yards in front, so I was the first to come in touch with the scouts of the Red Army, and I killed a lot. My squad was so brave that we all got killed THREE TIMES. But as soon as the umpire rode away we would come to life, and go on fighting. Finally, he took us prisoners, and made us sit down and look on at the battle. As we had been running around and each carrying a forty-pound pack, we were glad to remain dead. But we have declared that nothing can kill us tomorrow but asphyxiating gas. I have terrible nightmares for fear something has happened to one of you, and then I trust in the good Lord, and pray him to make the time pass swiftly.
Good-night, and all the love and kisses for you both.
On October 19, 1915, Richard sailed on the Chicago for France and his second visit to the Great War. He arrived at Paris on October 30, and shortly afterward visited the Western front at Amiens and Artois. He also interviewed Poincare, and through him the French President sent a message to the American people. At this time my brother had received permission from the authorities to visit all of the twelve sectors of the French front under particularly advantageous conditions, and was naturally most anxious to do so. However, through a misunderstanding between the syndicate he represented and certain of the newspapers using its service, he found it advisable, even although against his own judgment, to go to Greece, and to postpone his visit to the sectors of the French front he had not already seen. On November 13 he left Paris bound for Salonica.
On Way to France, Oct. 18, 1915.
You are much more brave than I am. Anyway, you are much better behaved. For all the time you were talking I was crying, not with my eyes only, but with ALL of me. I am so sad. I love you so, and I will miss you so. I want you to keep saying to yourself all the time, "This is the most serious effort he ever made, because the chances of seeing anything are so SMALL, and because never had he such a chance to HELP. But, all the time, every minute he thinks of me. He wants me. He misses my voice, my eyes, my presence at his side when he walks or sleeps. He never loved me so greatly, or at leaving me was so unhappy as he is now."
Goodby, dear heart. My God-given one! Would it not be wonderful, if tonight when I am up among the boats on the top deck that girl in the Pierrot suit, and in her arms Hope, came, and I took them and held them both? You will walk with her at five, and I will walk and think of you and love you and long for you.
God keep you, dearest of wives, and mothers.
MY DEAR DAUGHTER:
So many weeks have passed since I saw you that by now you are able to read this without your mother looking over your shoulder and helping you with the big words. I have six sets of pictures of you. Every day I take them down and change them. Those your dear mother put in glass frames I do not change. Also, I have all the sweet fruits and chocolates and red bananas. How good of you to think of just the things your father likes. Some of them I gave to a little boy and girl. I play with them because soon my daughter will be as big. They have no mother like you, OF COURSE; they have no mother like YOURS--for except my mother there never was a mother like yours; so loving, so tender, so unselfish and thoughtful. If she is reading this, kiss her for me. These little children have a little father. He dresses them and bathes them himself. He is afraid of the cold; and sits in the sun; and coughs and shivers. His children and I play hide-and-seek, and, as you will know some day, for that game there is no such place as a steamer, with boats and ventilators and masts and alleyways. Some day we will play that game hiding behind the rocks and trees and rose bushes. Every day I watch the sun set, and know that you and your pretty mother are watching it, too. And all day I think of you both.
Be very good. Do not bump yourself. Do not eat matches. Do not play with scissors or cats. Do not forget your dad. Sleep when your mother wishes it. Love us both. Try to know how we love you. THAT you will never learn. Good-night and God keep you, and bless you.
PARIS, November 1.
Today is "moving" day, and I feel like ---- censored word, at the thought of your having the moving to direct and manage by yourself. I can picture Barney and Burke loading, and unloading, and coal and wood being stored, and provisions and ice, and finally Hope brought down to take her third--no--fourth motor ride. And God will see she makes it all safely, and that in her new house you are comfortable.
Last night I dreamed about Hope and you, a long dream, and it made me so happy. Something happened today that you will like to hear. When the war came the French students at the Beaux Arts had to go to fight. The wives and children had nothing to live on. So, the American students, about a dozen of them, organized a relief league. The Beaux Arts is in a most wonderful palace built by Cardinal Richelieu and decorated later by Napoleon. In this they were gathering socks, asphyxiating masks, warm clothes. They were hand painting postcards for fifty cents apiece. The "masters" as they call their teachers, also were painting them. I gave them some money which was received politely, but, as it would not go far, without much enthusiasm. As I was going, I said, "I'll be back tomorrow to get some facts and I'll write a story about what you're doing." This is the part that is embarrassing to write, but you will understand. They gave a cheer and a yell just as though I had said, "Peace is declared" or "I will give you Carnegie's fortune." And they danced around, and shook hands, and Whitney Warren, who is at the head of it, all but cried. Later, he told me the letter I had written for his wife's fund for orphans by the war had brought in $5000, that was why they were so pleased. So we, you and I, will try to look at it that way, and try to believe that from this separation, which is cruel for us, others may get some benefit. Tomorrow, I am to be received at the Elysee by the President, and I am going to try to make him say something that will draw money from America for the French hospitals. If he will only ask, I know our people will give. In a day or two, I think I will be allowed to see something, but, that you will know best by reading The Times.
Your loving husband is lonely for you, and so it will be always.
My last letter was such a complaining one that I am ashamed. But, not leaving me to decide what was best for the papers, made me mad. Since I wrote, I ought to be madder, for I have been to the trenches outside of Rheims in Champagne; and, had they not deviled the spirit out of me with cables, I believe I could have written such a lot of stories of France that no one else has had the opportunity to write. Believe me no one has yet told the story of the trench war. Anyway, in spite of all the photographs and articles, to me it was all new. I was allowed to go alone, and given carte blanche to see whatever I wished. I saw everything, but it would not be possible to write of it yet. It was wonderful. I was in the three lines, reaching the FIRST line by moonlight. No one spoke above a whisper. The Germans were only 300 to 400 yards distant. But worst of all were the rats. They ran over my feet and I was a darned sight more afraid of them than the Germans. I saw the Cathedral, and the only hotel open (from which I sent you and Hope a postal) was the same one in which we stopped a year ago. I had sent the hotel my book in which I said complimentary things, and I got a great welcome. They even gave me a room with a fire in it, and so I was warm for the first time since I left the Crossroads. And this morning it SNOWED. On my way back to Paris, I stopped to tell the General what I had seen and to thank him. He said, "Oh, that is nothing. When you return, I will take you out myself, and I will show you something worth while." I am going to carry a rat-trap, and two terriers on a leash. Tonight, when I got back, there was a letter from you, but no writing, but there was a photo of Her, and me holding her. How is it possible that any living thing is so beautiful as my child? How fat, and wonderful, and dear, and lovable, and how terribly I want to hold her as I am holding her in the picture, and how much better as I really don't need my left arm to hold such a mite), if I had you close to me in it. I miss you so, and love you so! I told Wheeler before I left as I was not going to waste time traveling I would not go to Servia. So, as soon as I arrived, I was fretted with cables to go. I cabled to stop giving me advice, that I had a much better chance in France than anyone could have anywhere else. Maybe, before I arrive, the Greeks will have joined the Germans, in which case, I WON'T LEAVE THE SHIP. I'll come straight back on her to the Allies.
This is the way Hope's cat looks, "My whiskers!" she says, "I never knew I was to be let in for anything like this!" When I told her about the big rats in the trenches she wanted to go with me next time, but, today when I told her that the Crown Prince of Servia made his servants eat live mice (he is no longer Crown Prince), she looked just as she does in the picture. "Then, what do I eat in Servia?" she said, and I told her both of us would live on goat's milk.
You will be glad when I tell you I have been, warm. We came pretty far south in two days, and, the damp chill of Paris is gone. On the train a funny thing happened. An English officer and I got talking and he was press censor at Salonica where I am going after Athens. I asked him to look over the many letters I had and tell me if any of them would be likely to get me in bad, being addressed to pro-Germans, for example. He said, "Well, THIS chap is all right anyway. I'll vouch for him, because this letter is addressed to me."
SEE THE CAT! HOPE GAVE THE CAT TO HER DAD. IS THE CAT SAD? YES IS THE DAD SAD? VERY!! WHY IS THE CAT AND THE DAD SAD? THEY WANT HOME AND HOPE. DO THEY LOVE HOPE? DON'T MAKE THEM LAUGH!
We leave, the Basses, the English officer and I, in a small tub of a boat for Patras, and train to Athens. I will try to go at once to Servia. Harjes, who are the Paris house of J. P. Morgan, gave me a "mission" to try and organize for the Servians the same form of relief as has been arranged for the Belgians. He gave me permission if I saw the need for help was imminent (and it will be) to cable him for whatever I thought the Serbs most needed. So, it is a chance to do much. To get out news will be impossible. However, here I am and tomorrow I'll be good and seasick.
I have your charm around my neck, and all the pictures, and the luck-bringing cat, and the scapular, and the love you give me to keep me well and bring us soon together. That is the one thing I want. God bless you both, Hope's dad and your husband.
I am off tonight for Salonica. I am not very cheerful for I miss you very, very terribly, and the further I go, the worse I feel. But now I am nearly as far as I can get, and when you receive this I will--thank God--be turned back to Paris, and London, and HOME! I thought so often of you this morning when I took a holiday and climbed the Acropolis. On the top of it I picked a dandelion for you. It was growing between the blocks of marble that have been there since 400 years before our Lord: before St. Paul preached to the Athenians. I was all alone on the rock, and could see over the AEgean Sea, Corinth, Mount Olympus, where the Gods used to sit, and the Sphinx lay in wait for travelers with her famous riddle. It takes two days and one night to go to Salonica, and the boats are so awful no one undresses but sleeps in his clothes on top of the bed.
Goodby, sweetheart, and give SUCH a kiss to my precious daughter. How beautiful she is. Even the waiter who brought me a card stopped to exclaim about her picture. So, of course, being not at all proud I showed him her in my arms. I want you both so and I love you both SO. And, I wanted you so this morning as I always do when there is a beautiful landscape, or flowers, or palms. I know how you love them. The dandelion is very modest and I hope the censor won't lose it out, for she has a long way to go and carries a burden of love. I wish I was bringing them in the door of the Scribner cottage at this very minute.
VOLO, November 27.
I got here today, after the darnedest voyage of two days in a small steamer. We ran through a snow storm and there was no way to warm the boat. So, I DIED. You know how cold affects me--well--this was the coldest cold I ever died of. I poured alcohol in me, and it was like drinking iced tea. Now, I am on shore in a cafe near a stove. We continue on to Salonica at midnight. There are 24 men and one woman, Mrs. Bass, on board. I am much too homesick to write more than to say I love you, and I miss you and Hope so, that I don't look at the photos. Did you get the cable I sent Thanksgiving--from Athens, it read: "Am giving thanks for Hope and you." I hope the censor let that get by him. The boat I was on was a refrigerator ship; it was also peculiar in that the captain dealt baccarat all day with the passengers. It was a sort of floating gambling house. This is certainly a strange land. Snow and roses and oranges, all at once. I must stop. I'm froze. Give the kiss I want to give to Her, and know, oh! how I love and love and love her mother--NEVER SO MUCH AS NOW.
SALONICA November 30th, 1915.
DEAR OLD MAN:
I got here to night and found it the most picturesque spot I ever visited. I am glad I came. It was impossible to get a room but I found John McCutcheon and two other men occupying a grand suite and they have had a cot put in for me. To-morrow I hope to get a room. The place is filled with every nation except Germans and even they are here out of uniforms. We had a strange time coming. The trip from Athens should have taken two nights and a day but we took four. The Captain of the boat anchored and played baccarat whenever he thought there were enough passengers not seasick to make it worth his while. He played from eleven in the morning until four in the morning. I don't know now who ran the ship. It is so cold when you bathe, the steam runs off you. I never have suffered so. But, it looked as though every one else was singing "Its going to be a hard, hard winter" from the way they, dress. Tomorrow I am going to buy fur pants. You can't believe what a picture it is. Servians, French, Greeks, Scots in kilts, London motor cars, Turks, wounded and bandaged Tommies and millions of them fighting for food, for drink, for a place at the "movies," and more "rumors" than there are words in the directory. To-morrow, I present my letters and hope to get to the "front." I only hope the front doesn't come to us. But, it ought to be a place for great stories. All love to you old man, and bless you both. How I look forward to our first lunch in your wonderful home! And to sit in front of your fire, and hear all the news. All love to you both.
December 6, 1915.
I have been away so could not write. They took us to the French and English "front" and away from Greece; we were in Bulgaria and Servia. It was at a place where the three boundaries met. We saw remarkable mountain ranges and deep snow, and some fine artillery. But throwing shells into that bleak, white jumble of snow and rocks--there was fifty miles of it--was like throwing a baseball at the Rocky Mountains. Still, it was seeing something. Now, I have a room, and a very wonderful one. I had to bribe everyone in the hotel to get it; and I have something to write and, no more moving about I hope, for at least a week. I am able to see the ships at anchor for miles, and the landing stage for all the warships is just under my window. As near as McCoy Rock from the terrace. It is like a moving picture all the time. I bought myself an oil stove and a can of Standard oil, and, instead of trying to warm the hotel with my body, I let George do it. But it is a very small stove, and to really get the good of it, I have to sit with it between my legs. Still, it is such a relief to be alone, and not to pack all the time. McCutcheon and Bass, Hare and Shepherd are fine, but I felt like the devil, imposing on them, and working four in a room is no joke. We dine together each night. Except them, I see no one, but have been writing. Also, I have been collecting facts about Servian relief. Harjes, Morgan's representative in Paris, gave me carte blanche to call on him for money or supplies; but I waited until today to cable, so as to be sure where help was most needed. It is still cold, but that AWFUL cold spell was quite unprecedented and is not likely to come again. I NEVER suffered so from cold, and, as you know, I suffer considerable. All the English officers who had hunted in cold places, said neither had they ever felt such cold. Seven hundred Tommies were frost bitten and toes and fingers fell off. I do not say anything about how awful it is not to hear. But, if I had had your letters forwarded to this dump of the Levant, I never would have got them. Now, I have to wait for them until I get to Paris, but there I will surely get them. Cables, of course, can reach me, but no cables mean to me that you are all right. Nor do I want to "talk" about Christmas.
You know how I feel about that, and about missing the first one SHE has had. But it will be the LAST one we will know apart. Never again!
I want you in my arms and to hear you laugh and see your eyes. I am in need of you to make a fuss over me. McCutcheon and Co. don't care whether I have cold hands or not. You do. Your ointment and gloves saved my fingers from falling off like the soldiers' did. And your "housewife" I use to put on buttons, and, your scapular and medal keep me well. But your love is what really lifts me up and consoles me. When I think how you and I care for each other, then, I am scared, for it is very beautiful. And we must not ever be away from each other again. God keep you my beloved, and both my blessings. I cannot bear it--when I think of all I am missing of her, and, all that she is doing. God guard you both. My darling and dear wife and mother of Hope.
SALONICA, December 18th.
DEAREST WIFE AND SWEETHEART:
I am very blue tonight, and NEVER was so homesick. Yesterday just to feel I was in touch with you I sent a cable through the fog, it said, "Well, homesick, all love to you both." I did not ask if you and Hope were well, because I KNOW the good Lord will not let any harm come to you. I am certainly caught by the heels this time. And it will be the last time. As you know, I meant only to go to France where no time would be wasted in travel, and I would be able to get back soon. But the blockade held up the ship and on the other one the captain stayed at anchor, and, then when I got here, the Allies retreated, and I had to stay on to cover what is to come next. What that is, or whether nothing happens, you will know by the time this reaches you. So, here I am. For TEN days until this morning we have never seen the sun. In sixty years nothing like it has happened. The Salonicans said the English transports brought the fog with them. Anyway, I got it. My room is right on the harbor. I never thought I would LOVE an oil stove. I always thought they were ill-smelling, air-destroying. But this one saved my life. I wrote with it between my knees, I dry my laundry on it, and use the tin pan on top of it to take the dampness out of the bed. The fog kept everything like a sponge. Coal is thirty dollars a ton. To get wood for firewood the boatmen row miles out, and wait below the transports to get the boxes they throw overboard. I go around asking EVERYBODY if this place is not now a dead duck for news. But they all give me no encouragement. They say it is the news center of the world. I hope it chokes. I try to comfort myself by thinking you are happy, because you have Hope, and I have nobody, except John McCutcheon and Bass and Jimmie Hare, and they are as blue as I am, and no one can get any money. I cabled today to Wheeler for some via the State Department. I went to the Servian camp for the little orphans whose fathers have been killed, and they all knelt and kissed my hands. It was awful. I thought of Hope, and hugged a few and carried them around in my arms and felt much better. Today for the first time, I quit work and went to see an American film at the cinema to cheer me. But when I saw the streetcars, and "ready to wear" clothes, and the policemen I got suicidal. I went back and told the others and they all rushed off to see "home" things, and are there now. This is a yell of a letter, but it's the only kind I can write. My stories and cables are rotten, too. I have seen nothing--just traveled and waited for something to happen. Goodnight, dearest one. I love you so. You will never know how much I love you. Kiss my darling for me, and, think only of the good days when we will be together again. Such good days. Goodnight again--all love.
HARBOR SALONICA, December 19th.
I am a happy man tonight! And that is the first time I have been able to say so since I left you. The backbone of the trip is broken! and my face is turned West--toward you and Hope. John McCutcheon gave me a farewell dinner tonight of which I got one half, as the police made me go on board at nine, although we do not sail until five in the morning. So there was time for only one toast, as I was making for the door. Was it to your husband? It was not. It was to Hope Davis, two weeks yet of being one year old, and being toasted by the war correspondents in Salonica. They knew it would please me. And I went away very choken and happy. SUCH a boat as this is! I have a sofa in the dining-room, and at present it is jammed with refugees and all smoking and not an air port open. What a relief it will be to once more get among clean people. We must help the Servians, and God knows they need help. But, if they would help each other, or themselves, I would like them better. I am now on deck under the cargo light and, on the top floor of the Olympus Hotel, can see John's dinner growing gayer and gayer. It is like the man who went on a honeymoon alone. I am so happy tonight. You seem so near now that I am coming West.
How terribly I have missed you, and wanted you, and longed for your voice and LAUGH, and to have you open the door of my writing room, and say, "A lady is coming to call on you," and then enter the dearest wife and dearest baby in the world!
God bless you, and all my love.
Christmas Eve, 1915.
MY DEAREST, DEAREST, DEAREST:
I planned to get to Paris late Christmas night. I cabled Frazier at the Embassy, to have all my letters at the Hotel de l'Empire. I MEANT to spend the night reading of you and Hope. I made a record trip from Salonica. By leaving the second steamer at Messina and taking an eighteen-hour trip across Italy I saved ten hours. But when I got here I found the French Consul had taken a holiday, AND WAS OUT BUYING CHRISTMAS PRESENTS! So, I could not get permission to enter France. With some Red Cross Americans, I raged around the French Consulate, but it was no use. So I am here, and cannot leave UNTIL MIDNIGHT CHRISTMAS. When I found I could not get away, I told Cook's to give me their rapid-fire guide, and I set out to SEE ROME. The Manager of Cook's was the same man who, 19 years ago, sold me tickets to the Greek war in Florence, when the American Consulate was in the same building with Cook's, and Charley was Consul. So he gave me a great guide. We began at ten this morning and we stopped at six. They say it takes five years to see Rome, but when I let the rapid-fire guide escape, he said he had to compliment me; we climbed more stairways and hills than there are in all New York and Westchester County; and there is just one idea in my mind, and that is that you and I must see this sacred place together. On all this trip I have wanted YOU, but NEVER so as today. And I particularly inquired about the milk. It is said to be excellent. So we will come here, and you, with all your love of what is fine and beautiful, will be very happy, and Hope will learn Italian, and to know what is best in art, and statues and churches. I have seen 2900 churches, and all of them built by Michael Angelo and decorated by Raphael; and it was so wonderful I cried. I bought candles and prayers, and I am afraid Christian Science had a dull day. Tomorrow we start at nine, and go to high mass at St. Peter's, and then into the country to the catacombs, where the early Christians hid from the Romans. It is not what you would call an English Christmas, but it is so beautiful and wonderful that you BOTH ARE VERY NEAR.
I sent you a cable, the second one, because it is not sure they are forwarded, and I hung up a stocking for Hope. One of the peasant women made in Salonica. I am bringing it with me. And the cat is on my window--still looking out on the Romans. The green leaf I got in the forum, where Mark Antony made his speech over Caesar's body. It is the plant that gave Pericles the idea of the Corinthian column. You remember. It was growing under a tile some one had laid over it--and the yellow flower was on my table at dinner, so I send it, that we may know on Christmas Eve we dined together.
Good-night, now, and God bless you. I am off to bed now, in a bed with sheets. The first in six days. How I LOVE you, and LOVE you. Such good wishes I send you, and such love to you both. May the good Lord bless you as he has blessed me--with the best of women, with the best of daughters. I am a proud husband and a proud father; and soon I will be a HAPPY husband and a HAPPY father.
Good-night, dear heart.
PARIS, December 28th, 1915.
DEAR OLD MAN:
Hurrah for the Dictator! He has been a great good friend to me. I will know to-day about whether I can go back to the French front. If not I will try the Belgians and then London, and home. I spent Christmas day in Rome in the catacombs. I could not wear my heart upon my sleeve for duchesses to peck at. It is just as you say, Dad and Mother made the day so dear and beautiful. I did not know how glad I would be to be back here for while the trip East led to no news value, to me personally it was interesting. But I am terribly tired after the last nine days, sleeping on sofas, decks, a different deck each night and writing all the time and such poor stuff. But, oh! when I saw Paris I knew how glad I was! WHAT a beautiful place, what a kind courteous people. We will all be here some day. Tell Dai she must be my interpreter. All love to her, and you, and good luck to the syndicate. YOUR syndicate. I have not heard from mine for six weeks. They have not sent me a single clipping of anything, so I don't know whether anything got through or not, and I have nothing to show these people here that might encourage them to send me out again. They certainly have made it hard hoeing. Tell Guvey his letter about the toys was a great success here, and copied into several papers.
Goodbye, and God bless you, and good luck to you.
PARIS, December 31st, 1915.
DEAR OLD MAN:
To wish you and Dai a Happy New Year. It will mean a lot to us when we can get together, and take it together, good and bad. I am awfully pleased over the novel coming out by the Harper's and, in landing so much for me out of The Dictator. You have started the New Year for me splendidly. I expect I will be back around the first of February. I am now trying to "get back," but, I need more time. I can only put the trip down to the wrong side of the ledger. Personally, I got a lot out of it, but I am not sent over here to improve my knowledge of Europe, but to furnish news and stories and that has not happened.
I am constantly running against folks who knew you in Florence, and I regret to say most of them are in business at the Chatham bar. What a story they make; the M----'s and the like, who know Paris only from the cocktail side. One of our attaches told me to-day he had been lunching for the last 18 months at the grill room of the Chatham, where the "mixed grill" was as good as in New York. He had no knowledge of any other place to eat. The Hotel de l'Empire is a terrible tragedy. They are so poor, that I believe it is my eight francs a day keeps them going; nothing else is in sight. But, it is the exception. Never did a people take a war as the French take this worst of all wars. They really are the most splendid of people. I only wish I could have had one of them for a grandfather or grandmother. Bessie writes that Hope is growing wonderfully and beautifully, and I am sick for a sight of her, and for you. Good night and God bless you and the happiest of New Years to you both.
Your loving brother,
These postcards are "originals" painted by students of the Beaux-Arts to keep alive, and to keep those students in the trenches. They are for Dai.
PARIS, December 31, 1915.
The old year, the dear, old year that brought us Hope, is very near the end. I am not going to watch him go. I have drunk to the New Year and to my wife and daughter, and before there is "a new step on the floor, and a new face at the door," I will be asleep. Of all my many years, the old year, that is so soon to pass away, has been the best, for it has brought you to me with a closer tie, has added to the love I have for every breath you breathe, for your laugh and your smile, and deep concern, that comes if you think your worthless husband is worried, or cross, or dismayed. Each year I love you more; for I know you more, and to know more of the lovely soul you are, is to love more. Just now we are in a hard place. I am sure you cannot comprehend how her father, her "Dad" and your husband can keep away. Neither do I understand.
But, for both your sakes, I want, before I own up that this adventure has been a failure, to try and pull something out of the wreck. If the government says I CAN, then I still may be able to do something. If it says, "NO," then it's Home, boys, Home, and that's where I want to be. It's home, boys, home, in the old countree. 'Neath the ash, and the oak, and the spreading maple tree, it's home, boys, home, to mine own countree! This is Hope and you. So know, that in getting to you I have not thrown away a minute. I have been a slave-driver, to others as well as to myself. But you cannot get favors with a whip; and, the French war office has other matters to occupy it, that it considers of more importance than an impatient war correspondent. So long as you understand, it will not matter. Nothing hurts, except that you may not understand. The moment I see you, and you see me, you will understand. So, goodnight, and God bless you, you, my two blessings. Here is to our own year of 1915, your year and Hope's year, and, because I have you both, my year. I send you all the love in all the world.
January 5, 1916.
MY DEAREST ONE:
WHAT PICTURES! WHAT HAPPINESS! What a proud Richard! On top of my writing yesterday that I had had no sketches of yours, and no kodaks of Hope, eight came to-night, and oh! I am so proud, so homesick. What a wonderful nurse and mother you are! Was ever there anything so lovable? And that she should be ours, to hold and to love, and to make happy. These last eight days in Paris, in and out, have made me so homesick for those I love, that you will never know what the delays meant. I felt just the way poor women feel who kidnap babies. In the parks I know the nurse-maids are afraid of me. I stick my head under the hoods of the baby carriages, and stop and stand watching them at play. And tonight when all these beautiful pictures came, I was the happiest father anywhere.
The delay was no one's fault, not mine anyway, nor can I blame anyone. These people are splendid. They are willing to do anything for one, but it takes time. When they are fighting for their lives and have not seen their own babies in a year, that you want to see yours is only natural and to oblige you they can't see why they should upset the whole war. But now it looks less as though I would have to call it a failure. And Hope may be proud of me, and you may be proud of me, and I will have enough ammunition to draw on for many articles and letters, and another book.
It has been a cruel time; and when I tell you how I worked to get it over, and to be back with you, you will understand many things. The most important of all will be how I love you. Only wait until I can lay eyes on you, you will just take one look and know that it couldn't be helped, that the delay was the work of others, that, all I wanted was my Bessie and my Hope.
How heavy she will be, if she is anything like the picture of her on the coverlet, she is a prize baby. And if she is anything like as beautiful as in the baby carriage she is an angel straight from God. I want to sit in the green chair and have you on one knee and her majesty on the other, and have her climb over me, and pull my hair and bang my nose, and in time to know how I love you both.
Goodnight, dear heart, I wish you had had yourself in the picture. I have three in the summer time with you holding her and that is the way I like to see you, that is the way I think of you. I love you, and I love her for making you so happy, and I love her for her sake, and because she is OURS: and has tied us tighter and closer even than it has ever been. I love you so that I can't write about it, and I am going to do nothing all spring but just sit around, and be in everybody's way, watching you together.
How jealous I am of you, and homesick for you. Of course, she knows "mamma" is YOU; and to look at you when they ask, "Where's mother?" Who else could be her mother BUT THE DEAREST WOMAN IN THE WORLD, and the one who loves her so, and in so wonderful a way. She is beautiful beyond all things human I know. If ever a woman deserved a beautiful daughter, YOU DO, for you are the best of mothers, and you know how "to care greatly."
Good-night, my precious, dear one, and God keep you, as He will, and help me to keep you both happy. What you give me you never will know.
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