The Contributors' Column

Leighton Parks, one of the most interesting and eloquent preachers of the Episcopal Church, was from 1878 to 1904 rector of Emmanuel Church, Boston. Since 1904 he has been the rector of St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City. Katharine Fullerton Gerould is one of the most brilliant of contemporary essayists and story-tellers. Her admirers will be peculiarly interested in an essay which shows an unfamiliar and very positive side of her character. William James wrote as he talked. These letters come nearer to a reincarnation of the man in his habit as he lived than any modern collection with which we happen to be familiar.

William J. Locke is one of the pleasantest and most popular British novelists of the present day. L. Adams Beck is an Englishman who has traveled much, and has gone deep into Oriental lore, having among other things translated a volume of ancient Buddhist writings.

I have always thought [he writes] the Book of Kings in the Bible an uncommonly dull book, but it struck me that the Wives of the Kings might be more amusing. Accordingly, the stories I am doing now are all scenes from the lives of the Wives of the Kings in various times and places. ‘The Incomparable Lady’ is one.

Other stories in this series will follow. Jean Kenyon Mackenzie, missionary, poet, essayist, and sympathetic observer continues her inimitable proof of what a thing it is to have a biographer in the family. Sarah N. Cleghorn is a familiar poet and occasional novelist.

In this issue the serial publication of the Story of Opal Whiteley comes to an end.

The journal of these first years, including more than twice the amount of material which has appeared in the Atlantic, will appear in book form about the first of September. Perhaps the best test of the permanence of this new classic of childhood comes from reading it aloud to children of the diarist’s own age; for children have eyes to see and ears to hear the things of childhood.

George Boas is now connected with the Department of Public Speaking of the University of California. Number 13 may not be identified. It is sufficient to say that he speaks from first-hand and repeated experience. His point of view is as unexpected as it is interesting. Herbert Ravenel Sass, a South Carolinian, is a journalist by profession, and by natural attraction a naturalist. Our older readers will remember his delightful paper on the birds in a Charleston garden, printed half a dozen years ago. George Herbert Clarke, editor and poet, is Professor of English at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. Randolph Elliott sends us from San Francisco these vivid impressions of a deservedly famous old-time private school.

John Alleyne Gade, an architect of New York, as U.S. Commissioner to the Baltic Provinces was nearer to the seat of trouble in those regions than any other American diplomatic representative. He writes from first-hand accurate knowledge. Rita von Wahl belongs to an old family of Baltic Sea Barons, which formerly owned a large estate in Livonia. Her experiences under Bolshevist rule show plainly enough why she and others in a like position welcomed the appearance of the German army of occupation. Charlotte Kellogg, wife of Vernon Kellogg, had the distinction of being the only woman member of the C.R.B. working in Brussels during the war. She has recently revisited the field of her old labors. William S. Rossiter, long an occasional contributor to the Atlantic, was formerly an official of the Federal Census Office. He is at present Chairman of the Joint Advisory Committee to the Director of the Census from the American Statistical and American Economic Associations. His striking paper proves the falsity of many current opinions. We are glad to give space to this interesting comment on Herr Rohrbach’s discussion of the German situation.

It would be a perfectly just criticism of Mr. Paul Rohrbach’s article in your May number to say that when, in 1871, Prussia squeezed France for the uttermost farthing, France paid in full and on time. It does not, now that the tables are turned, look well to see the Hun whining, ‘ They starved us,’ and casting about to sow discord among the Allies by crying that the terms are too hard, and at the same time not keeping the terms he agreed to. A yellow streak has appeared in German modes of thought and consequent actions that must be eliminated before she can fill her place among the nations. To some this would appear to be her departure from Christian ethics, which applies equally to those in the Roman obedience and to her Protestants; so the trouble must lie in her educational training, or in a racial defect. Those who have most knowledge of her educational institutions know how far they have departed from any Christian standard, as they also know how far many of our own institutions and professors have been disposed to follow the Roman lead to the detriment of what we pride ourselves on, namely, our Christian civilization.

Do our readers recall the delicate and original story which Mies Wilson contributed to the April Atlantic? Here is an interesting footnote to that very unusual sketch of character.

HONOLULU, T. N., 20 May, 1920. DEAR ATLANTIC,—
I ripped the cover from the Atlantic and dipped into ‘A Marginal Acquaintance’ while I stood on a sweep of thick maniani turf, fringed around with hibiscus and plumeria and palms, waiting for the car to come and take me home. My eyes ran down the pages the faster for a certainty that was growing in my brain. With the line, ‘While training to become a nurse,’ it reached full stature. I no longer felt the languid Hawaiian air. I was transported across nine years and two thousand miles to a hospital room, with a stiff breeze from San Francisco Bay blowing into it. I was struggling out of anæsthesia, conscious of but one comforting thing in an aching world— the steady grip of Miss Peeples’s hand.

My slowly clearing brain discovered her to be a short, squareish woman, with a face whose very immobility made it the more dependable. She stayed with me that night long after the night nurse came to relieve her. She had what seemed an omniscient knowledge of where I hurt, and of what a pillow slipped in here and another doubled up there would do to relieve me.

The next day, after she came upon Nostromo among the books my husband had brought down, she commenced to talk a little. I was hardly more than out of college, and we compared the courses in composition she had taken in her years of special work in English at Stanford University with those which I had had at California. When she learned (what was an easy thing to learn in those days when it was the proudest fact of my experience) that a story written for one of them had been accepted by the Atlantic, she confessed to me her own attempts at marketing manuscripts. But, plead as I would, at the manuscripts themselves I was never permitted a glance.

Of her life I learned a great deal. She had been orphaned early. Her grandmother had brought her up. They had lived on the tiniest of small incomes, which she had eked out, as soon as she could, by teaching. For as long as she could remember there had been two things she wanted to do: to write and to travel. When her grandmother died, she had gone to Stanford to fit herself, if she could, for the former of them. The house in which she lived at Palo Alto was so small that a sofa and chair which had been the elder woman’s could not be got into it, but had to be left on the porch. Miss Peeples had loved them. They had been a sign of the only real relationship which her existence had brought her. (To me, with all the warm companionship of college just behind me and the dearer companionship of marriage just begun, she seemed the loneliest, the most pathetic figure.) But scanty as her space was, when winter came her pennies would not stretch to heating it, and for mere wood and coal she had to sell the lovely walnut things with their suave early Victorian curves. It chanced I knew the man who bought them of her, who came offering her a price, week after week, until her physical need drove her to accept it. He is a scholar, a distinguished gentleman, married to a rich wife. I shall never forgive it to him that he bargained with Miss Peeples in her extremity; that for ten dollars he possessed himself of her treasures.

It became apparent to her that she could not write. She had not money enough to travel. So she started, at forty-something, her hospital training. She had an idea that with that equipment she might become a sort of nurse-companion to some wealthy elderly woman and realize her foiled desire to see the world.

I have said she was pathetic. It was the last thing she desired to be. Her tales, even that of the departed furniture, crackled with dry humor. To me she talked nonsense, in burlesqued Elizabethan English. She would come into the room with a square swoop, demanding: ‘Hast seen the towel that I left erstwhile?’ Or she would depart with the announcement: ‘I go; but I’ll return anon to brush thy curly locks, fair lady.’ My locks have never been so well-cared-for, my fingernails so unremittingly ‘done,’ as in those two weeks of Miss Peeples’s shameless spoiling.

The girls of less than half her age who were in training with her had come, I could see, to depend on her interest and to wait for her advice. Because she was much in my room, the whole pack of them would gather there in the little space toward the end of the afternoon when patients temporarily cease from troubling. They addressed her by all manner of half-teasing, wholly affectionate variations of her name, which differed by only two letters from the one Miss Wilson has given her. One of them, a highheaded, tall young beauty, with no family to go to, and a half-dozen youths offering up candy and theatre-tickets and motor-rides, confided to me that she had saved herself some bad moments by ‘talking things over beforehand’ with Miss Peeples.

When I had gone home from the hospital, she used to come out, now and again, to our Sunday night suppers. At them she was a somewhat silent guest. ‘I don’t meet people well,’ she said after one of them. ‘I’ll ring you up, some time when I have an afternoon free, and if you’re going to be alone, I’ll come out. Then I can talk.’ Within the month she was dead.

Life did its best, by the personality it gave her and the circumstances in which it placed her, to make and keep Miss Peeples no more than a marginal acquaintance of all the world. Miss Wilson has in that one felicitous phrase summed up most of her characteristics and all of her limitations. She was shy, plain, precise; she was inarticulate; she was poor. But she was brave; I think through a hard life she never knew self-pity; I know she was a lonely woman who yearned to her kind.

For justice’s sake, then, and because I loved her, I have been constrained to bear witness to the unquenchable humanity of Miss Peeples.
Yours very sincerely,

Nowadays, when even the theologians are losing their ‘punch,’ nobody spoils for a fight quite so spiritedly as the naturalist. Mr. Clough’s ingenious and suggestive paper on the Soaring Hawk brought many hot replies. We print, however, this moderate comment.

You have ‘done gone and done it’ again. In Mr. Clough’s article on the ‘ Mystery of the Soaring Hawk’ you win a responsive thrill—one of many—from one who loves a good piece of writing, whether it be narrative, expository, or descriptive. For clearness, Mr. Clough could not well be surpassed. He has given us an excuse, too, for lying out on a sunny slope, gazing heavenward. This has always been a favorite posture of mine, but heretofore conscience has always interfered with urgings to be about more useful business. But now, let there be only a hawk in the field of vision, and mind is occupied and conscience at rest.

Here, then, are the first-fruits of such cogitation. Mr, Clough does not go quite far enough. He explains the upward motion but not the forward. He also leaves out of consideration the third point of support, the tail. Without this essential organ, I feel sure that the bird would be ‘driven down the wind’ as surely as a keelless ship. How, then, is this wide-open fan of a tail used? Between the alternate wing-beats, does the tail lift the posterior parts, so that the head points slightly downward, allowing the creature to ‘coast’ a little before the next lifting of wing?

And now, having put the question, I feel that my duty to science is accomplished, and shall retire modestly from the field, leaving the answer to men of Mr. Clough’s ability.
Respectfully yours,

It is in the remoter places of the earth we think, that the Atlantic has its nearest friends. In Angola, for instance, only the amiable hippopotamus can divide its popularity.

K. 501, C. F. BENGUELA,
ANGOLA, AFRICA,Jan. 20, 1920.

The Atlantic Monthly has arrived, and how I did enjoy Beebe’s article, ‘The Home Town of the Army Ants.’ In fact, our whole little community here has read it with great interest. It was especially timely, as we are having an unusual number of visitations from various raiding parties of army ants. None of us, however, has had the good fortune to find their home town. One day last week they marched through our yard, a column six deep, all day long. I longed to follow them, but there was work to do, so it was evening before I got a chance. They were still hurrying along between the walls of earth they had thrown along their path. Sometimes the line rushed along on top of the ground, and sometimes it vanished into the ground; always, however, by a little careful digging I found them again still going on. It was fascinating, and I was completely oblivious to the fast-approaching storm, until I met some natives hurrying to get under cover before the rain came. I told them that I was trying to find ’the village of the chief of the army ants,’ and asked whether they knew where it was. They did not, but they said it was far, far away in the bush, for they had crossed the paths of several armies going west, and the Ndona must hurry home for it was soon going to rain yaka-handangala, which meant a steady downpour for several hours. So my attempt at investigation bore no fruit.

It seems that the ovisonde are both a blessing and a curse here. So far as my own personal experience is concerned, only the blessings have been apparent. Last dry season they raided our kitchen at night, and the boys had a lively time getting them out in the morning; but after they were gone we found to our joy that not a cockroach was left, and we have been free from the horrid nuisances ever since. And only last week we discovered the ants in our cornfield, creeping into the ears of corn to eat the worms that might be there, and we were n’t a bit sorry for that. Though they are often found marching through the yard, we have no especial complaint — yet!

They are sure death, however, to any animal they set upon, if it cannot escape. One of the worst stories is that of their attack on a sitting hen. When the lady of the house went out to examine her poultry, she found, in the place where the hen ought to be, only bones, feathers, and bits of shell. The ants had been there.

There is also the story that the natives would take a person condemned as a witch and tie him in the path of the army ants. They enjoyed the result much as the old Romans enjoyed the gladiatorial combats between criminals. That army ants are not averse to a diet of human flesh is evidenced by an incident that occurred a number of years ago at Cisamba. An epidemic was sweeping the country, and white traders as well as natives were suffering. A number of these white men came to Cisamba to be under the medical care of Dr. Currie, and were lodged in small houses at some distance from Dr. Currie’s residence. At last, all had recovered but one man, who was still very weak and who had temporarily lost his sight. He was alone in his house, with no native boy to tend him. In the middle of the night Dr. Currie heard a faint call, and fearing that his patient was worse, he pulled on his slippers and went with all speed to the house where the Portuguese was sleeping. He found that the ants had first attacked the bed. To escape them the sick man tried to get out of bed, but was too weak to walk and fell upon the floor.

When Dr. Currie arrived, the Portuguese was a mass of ants, and the room was full. Dr. Currie swung the man on his shoulder and rushed to his own house with him, where he worked for hours getting off the ants that were on his patient and himself. Their whole bodies were bitten, and even their heads. It is dreadful to think of what might have happened if the call had not been heard.

I am very busy and very happy in my work here. We have forty-five girls in school and they are forty-five different problems. I have been very fortunate not to have had any fever yet, and although heavy colds are prevalent now, due no doubt to constant rain and dampness, I have escaped so far with only a slight sore throat. We are having an unusually rainy season and are daily living in expectation of a visit from a hippo. There are many of them down the river, but ordinarily our stream is too small to attract them. It is much swollen now with the rains, and we hope Mr. Hippo will deign to visit us this season. I’m so eager to see one.
Most sincerely yours,

* * *

If we may trust the impression our correspondence makes upon us, Opal’s story has reduced the average age of new readers by some three or four decades. A younger member of the Atlantic s circle sends this delightful contribution. A WONDERFUL CAT
By Cecelia Reiniger (age 5)

Once upon a time there was a beautiful mountain. It had all beautiful colored stripes upon it. It had red and green and yellow and orange and brown and lavender and purple stripes on it. And it had silver and gold! It was so beautiful it just shined! It shined in the sunlight! It was God’s mountain.

And some of God’s people climbed way up to the top of that nice mountain that was so lovely and beautiful. And when they got to the top they saw a little hole, and they thought they would find something so wonderful and gorgeous! And what do you think they saw? They saw the most gorgeous and wonderful cat, that had the most gorgeous fur of silver and gold and green. And all colors that were all pure and would never rub off. My, but it was a gorgeous cat!

Do you know whose cat that was? It belonged to the best man in the world. It was God’s cat.

When God lived down on this world he lived on that mountain, and he owned a million houses, and a million cats, and that was his best cat. He lived there for years and years and years, just five years. And then some real, real, real bad men killed God, and God died and went to Heaven, where his good blessed-heart Father was. And God forgot to take his cat with him. So God made the cat die and took it up to Heaven with him.

And then what do you think happened? There was a great well. The top of it was way up in Heaven, and the bottom of it was way down on this earth. And the cat fell down to the bottom of that well! But it did not get hurt! Because it was a magic cat, and a magic God, and a magic well.

And the bottom of that well ended right in the bottom of a house. It went right through the house. And the people heard the cat fall in that wonderful well. And the bottom of that well was made of straws and mud and painted so it would stick together. And there was grass on the bottom.

And the people broke the straws and mud so they could see what was inside of it. And what do you think they saw? That cat! They were just scared green, as green as grass and as white as snow! Because they thought that cat would get dead or hurt. But it did not, because there was nice soft grass at the bottom of that well.

And do you know, that well had wonderful steps in it. And the people climbed up the steps to take the cat up to Heaven to God Dear, who was so wonderful and good and nice, and minded everything everyone said. And God was so happy to get his cat back that he let them all stay there forever and ever and ever.

And after everyone got dead and got up to Heaven, God made this world all soft, so soft that no one could get hurt if they fell on it out of Heaven. Because, you know, some people up there haven’t any manners. And they might not know that this air was just air, and they might walk on it and fall out.