I

“IT is an extraordinary thing,’I find myself reflecting, standing up to let the waiter take away the luncheon tray, and looking out of the polished brass scuttle in a meditative fashion. Coming alongside is one of the company’s launches with a party of passengers. They confirm my suspicion that it is an extraordinary thing, this problem of race.

The door has closed behind the colored gentleman and his tray, and I continue to look out of the window, across the lagoon, which is as smooth and shining as a sheet of bright new tin, to the shores, rising, tier on tier of inviolate verdure, to the blue highlands fifty miles away.

There is a tap at the door; it opens, and Don Carlos enters, wishing to know if I am coming in the boat.

To one brought up in the dense air and congested mentality of a very old land, the phenomenon of Don Carlos focuses upon his extensive and peculiar familiarity with republics and liberty. The staple products of his native land are revolutions, panegyrics of liberty, and methodical volcanic eruptions which bury patriots and rebels impartially, and roll black rivers of hot lava over their tin-pot tantrums. The principal export, one gathers too, is talent fleeing from an excess of liberty. So he adumbrates in his gay boyish fashion, humming ‘My country,’t is of thee’ ; though whether he means Costaragua, where he was born, or Provence, where his father was born, or Spain, where his mother was born, or the United States of America, where he is now investigating new and startling phases of liberty, he does not say. We may assume, however, that his impressions of Saxon America are so far favorable, since he is determined to remain.

Some difficulty is encountered when the attempt is made to classify him on the ship. In his quality of Ariel, he is everything, everywhere, only provided there is mechanism to be tended. There is an element of the uncanny in his intuitive comprehension of machinery, from the operation of a sextant to the intestines of a brine-pump, a phonograph, or a camera-lens. Perceiving like lightning, and working like a leaping flame, he provides the stolid AngloSaxon mechanics with a fund of puzzled, indignant thoughts. One observes them taking stealthy stock of themselves and debating whether they are awake or dreaming, so incredible does it appear to them to be bossed by a stripling of one-and-twenty, and, they mutter, a Dago. This, one gathers, is not to be borne by men whose ancestors stood meekly round the village inn while Duke William’s hook-nosed minions took the names of all the folk for the first edition of Doomsday Book. Intolerable for hot-blooded gentlemen whose sires proclaimed to a wondering world a new scheme of government, and made it work by flinging wide the door to all who were willing to work.

And how can one fail to sympathize with them? When a man has grown up in a thousand-year-old tradition that it will take him seven years to learn a trade, he is in no condition to admit the possibilities of genius. And for Don Carlos there is no such thing as tradition. He has but childish memories of the days before the war. While Costaragua cannot be said to have no history, what he has is not of a kind that can be safely taught in the local schools. He approaches our civilizations with the frank eyes of a stellar visitor and the all-embracing knowledge of a university professor. You must remember his lack of tradition, if you are to understand his question about history. For he demands to know the use of it all. What does it get you? Law, Science, Music, Engineering — yes, very fine. But why did he have to learn about the Battle of Lepanto, the Council of Trent, and the Diet of Worms? He makes this pertinent query as he pulls energetically at the starter of the motor-boat; and any reply is lost in the thunderous roar of the engine.

I take the tiller as we rush away from the ship’s side. For among the many facilities of his career, including the divergent enterprises of electrician, turbine expert, time-keeper on a bananafarm, checker on a coffee-plantation, moving-picture operator, engine driver, clerk in a government office, tool-maker in a ship-yard, and all-round marine engineer, he belongs par excellence to the gasoline age. The internal-combustion engine is to him a familiar spirit, if the jest may be pardoned. For on this the story, which deals also with liberty and so forth, depends.

I take the tiller as we rush from the ship’s side. Don Carlos bends over the engine for a few moments, adjusting the spark and satisfying himself that the circulating waster is performing its functions; then he climbs out of the engine-pit and runs along the gunwale to the after thwarts, where he sits and begins to talk. And the point of the story is the destruction of a young and exquisite sentiment in his heart. He does not clearly perceive this, and may not comprehend its full significance for a good many years yet. But it has a pertinent bearing upon the aforesaid problem of race, and the genesis of nationality under the modern conceptions of government.

As we make the entrance of the lagoon, and the ocean wind roars in our ears, and the boat takes her first buoyant plunge into an immense opaline swell, I endeavor to justify the college professor’s infatuation with the Battle of Lepanto, where, I remark in parenthesis, Cervantes did himself no discredit. I take as an example this very seaboard along which we are traveling in a gasoline boat. I point out certain low jungle-clad hillocks between us and the little white village inside, and I tell Don Carlos how one Francis Drake, a hard-bitten English pirate of the seventeenth century, came up after nightfall one evening and, anchoring, rowed ashore with muffled oars and crept through the dense undergrowth until, the surprised and sleepy sentry struggling to unloose their iron grip from his throat, he and his men stood within the shadows of the stockades.

A grim tale, typical of the times, and the outcome of great events and dignified animosities half a world away. And Don Carlos laughs, for he bears no malice toward the English who flew at the throats of his ancestors for so many strenuous years. Indeed, one derives a certain consolation from the fact that, while the English experience the usual human difficulty in loving their enemies, they certainly seem to achieve success in making their enemies love them; and that is something in a fallen world. He laughs and bears no malice. He sits with his hands clasped round his knees, looking down meditatively for a moment at the spinning shaft, and then suddenly startles me by demanding if I have ever been in jail.

This is so unexpected that, as we get round the point and into smoother water, I am at a loss to see how the question bears upon my feeble attempts to justify the study of history in a world made safe for democracy. A hasty review of an obscure and more or less blameless life enables me to disclaim the honor. But, it seems, he has. And he explains that for three weeks he was a political prisoner in the barracks up at San Benito in Costaragua. That was, oh, two years ago, and he was nineteen at the time. Just before he came to the States. And resting his arms on his knees and regarding me with his bright, smoked-hazel eyes, he relates his adventures as a political suspect.

It is essential to explain in the beginning, however, how he came to be so late in getting any ideas, as he calls it, about his country. The fact is, he ran entirely, as a child, to machinery. It assumed the dimensions of a passion, for he describes his emotions on encountering a new mechanism, and they are easily identified as a species of divine ecstasy.

As, for example, when he, a slender, quick-eyed schoolboy, stood in front of the Hotel Granada in San Benito and devoured with his eyes the first automobile ever seen in that remote capital. He waited for the owner to come out and start it, with a feeling akin to vertigo. And the owner, it appears, was an Englishman, a bulky person in knickerbockers and a monocle, prospecting, with racial rapacity, for gold. He came out and scrutinized the small, palpitating being crouched down on its hams and peering frantically under the chassis; demanded in an enormous, gruff voice what the deuce Don Carlos was up to.

‘Oh, please, can I see the motor? I ’ve never seen a motor.’

‘Why should I show you my motor, eh?’

‘Oh, I do want to look at it, only for a minute!’

And Don Carlos asserts that he was so worked up that he touched the rough tweed sleeve and stood on one leg.

The Englishman seemed amused at this and asked him where he learned his English. In the college, eh? Wish to the deuce his college in Oxford had taught him Spanish, confound it! Well, suppose they strike a bargain, eh? Don Carlos might wash the car if he, the owner, let him look at the motor. How about it?

He spoke to the empty air. Don Carlos had vanished into the Hotel Granada, seized a bucket and broom, and was dashing back again to start washing the car. Never was a car cleansed with such miraculous efficiency and speed.

But suppose, said the Englishman, when bucket and broom were restored to an indignant kitchen-maid, that he now declined to let Don Carlos look at the motor. Somewhat to his astonishment, the small, vivacious body became still, the eyes were cast down, and he was informed in a grave voice that such a thing was impossible. But why? he insisted, keeping his cigarette away from his mouth for quite a while in his interest. Well, remarked Don Carlos coldly, an Englishman always kept his promise — they were taught so in the college. Were they, by Jove! It was, the stranger added under his breath, news to him, for Corfield had just been butchered in Somaliland and nobody at home seemed to care. Always kept their promises, did they? And he supposed some infernal professor in the college was teaching all these Latin-American kids to regard English promises as sacred, ' giving us a darned difficult reputation to live up to, young man.'

Well, here goes! He raised the bonnet of his toil-worn car, and Don Carlos stooped in ecstasy to gloat over the four hot, dry cylinders, the fan, the wires, the smell of gasoline. Twenty-five horse! He mutters apologetically to me (he was only a kid, I am to remember) that he had got the silly notion into his head that there were twenty-five little horses toiling away under that hood to pull the car. But I don’t think it needs any apology. I think it is beautiful, and the authentic thought of a child.

Well, he gazed and gazed, almost glaring in a desperate attempt to fix it all imperishably on his memory before the bonnet slowly descended and the vision was shut out. Don Carlos says he remembered everything so that he could draw it, even the grease-spots, and a chip off one of the spark-plugs; and raising his eyes to the green shores along which we are running, he says that he supposes I do not believe this.

On the contrary, I see no reason why I should not believe it. I tell him of the boy Mozart, who listened but once to the Vatican Mass at Rome, and came out to write it all down.

Without any mistakes? Don Carlos demands with sudden, intense energy. No, I say, he had to go back and correct one or two notes next day. Don Carlos nods and smiles in a mysterious fashion, and proceeds. He has another improbable statement to make. He says that, as the motor stuttered and roared, and the car sprang away into the dust of the Calle San Bernardino, he burst into tears.

And this is the point of the episode. His emotions as a youth were preoccupied with fascinating things like electric pumps, a broken adding-machine, learning the fiddle, and dancing with the extremely pretty girls of Costaragua. Costaragua itself had made no appeal to him. It is what can be called a difficult country in more senses than one. It is a country of immense treeclad gorges and cloud-capped mountains, with rivers as steep as staircases and volcanoes of uncertain temper. It is a country where butterflies grow to be a foot across the wings, and mosquitoes bite to kill. It is a country with a seaboard as hot and undesirable as a West African swamp; while inland, at four thousand feet, San Benito lies spread out on a cool and pleasant plateau. It is a country, moreover, where revolutions alternate with earthquakes, and between the two a life insurance policy runs high. And a country destitute of external oppressors and internal traditions is at a loss to make any profound impression upon a sensitive youth preoccupied with engines and girls. The appeal had to come indirectly.

From across the world came an immense rumor of war, an upheaval so vast that even in distant Costaragua life rocked uneasily. Local English, French, and Belgians drew into a group, silent, and thoughtful, Neighbors with harsh names difficult for Iberian tongues to utter held little celebrations from week to week as the field-gray hordes rolled on toward Paris. And to Don Carlos, buried in a Spanish traduction, as he calls it, of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and driving himself half-crazy in a superhuman effort to understand just how a bird uses his wings to get off the ground, was suddenly hauled out of his dreams by the news that two of his cousins in far Provence had been cited for valor, while yet another was dead at Verdun.

It was like a galvanic shock, because valor and death in defense of one’s country were to him novel conceptions.

And they were his kin. He was working for the Costaragua Railroad at that time, and as he overhauled the rollingstock he turned the matter over in his mind. They were his kin, but France was far away. His father had been killed in one of the innumerable revolutions of Costaragua. And it came upon him with abrupt clarity that dying for one’s country was, after all, nothing much unless one was prepared to live for it.

This was not so simple as it may seem to one who has been drilled from infancy in the civic virtues. In Costaragua, as in most small national aggregations, family is of paramount importance. You may be poor and work in a picture-house evenings, but you do not therefore lose caste as a member of the first families. And the tendency was for all these gentry, as we would call them in England, to adhere to the Liberal faction. So the best Don Carlos could do for himself at the time, with his limited knowledge of world-politics, was to conceive a very honest enthusiasm for the government in power, and indulge in a few fantastic dreams of Costaragua as a rich and powerful country. The point to remember is that, so far as it went, it was a genuine inspiration, a solid basis on which a more fortunate turn of event s might have erected a pure and passionate love for the land of his birth.

And on top of this, as if to confirm him in his new ideas, he was ordered one day to drive a special car to the coast. It was not merely his consummate skill in handling motor-cars that singled him out for this honor. The railway had an ample supply of competent drivers. But they were, many of them, tinged with an unfortunate prejudice toward a stable government. The great upheaval in Europe had caused a number of persons of pronounced radical views to take up their residence in Costaragua. The special motor-car, a large and richly appointed affair in varnished mahogany and red-silk curtains, with a cab in front for the driver, was destined to convey the brother of the President and the Minister for War to the coast. It was desirable, therefore, that someone of good family and undoubted fidelity be chosen to drive.

He had made the trip so often that it was nothing. The only thing that made this one any different was a novel emotion of pride in being chosen to serve the government. Not that he had any ridiculous reverence for the President’s brother. Everybody in San Benito was secretly amused at that heavy-jowled, dark-browed, secretive, and pompous personage. He had one defect which is intuitively divined by the Latin — he was stupid. When a minister from a foreign power, after a reception, had jokingly remarked on the comparative sizes of their hats, the President’s brother had received with a look of blank puzzlement the remark that he had a large head. ‘Of course! I am the President’s brother!’ he observed in bewilderment. Don Carlos says the story went round behind the fans of the San Benito ladies like a ripple of phosphorescence on dark water.

Well, he was that sort of man. Quite different from the President, who was clever in many ways, with a pen, with a sword, with a revolver. In his career as President he had frequent recourse to all three talents. He was not clever enough, however, to dispense with his gloomy brother, who held obstinately to the view that it was he who had engineered the coup d’étât that raised the intellectual duelist to the throne. He pervaded the social atmosphere of San Benito, posing as a sort of Bismarck, and was observed to model his deportment upon that eminent political crook.

This was the illustrious passenger, accompanied by a short, animated gentleman with a black, upstanding moustache, the pair of them garbed in great cloaks and heavy-brimmed hats, who stood on the private platform of the terminal station as Don Carlos brought the big vehicle to a halt. The Administrador of the line hurried up to open the door and hand in the baggage. He himself was going up to his farm in the interior for a few weeks’ holiday. He hoped the trip would be pleasant. The line had been cleared of everything in advance. Once past Ensenada, where the up mail-train was side-tracked for half an hour, they had a clear run into Puerto Balboa, a hundred miles distant and three thousand feet below.

II

And now, while we run the boat in toward the yellow sands of a small, sequestered beach, backed by an impenetrable tropical jungle, and wade ashore with our clothes held high, it is necessary to give the urban dweller in a temperate zone some clear notion of this railroad over which the youthful patriot was to drive his massive Condorcet model car. To an Englishman, whose railways have the sober permanence and social aloofness of the House of Lords, or to an American accustomed to quadruple tracks vibrating at all hours to the hammering impact of enormous haulage, this Eastern Railroad of Costaragua gives the same bizarre impression as would an impulsive Oriental dancing-girl in a quiet New England sewing-circle.

Not that there is anything scandalous or reprehensible in its beginnings. The track runs quietly out of San Benito, between high, living palisades of green, through the occasional gaps of which you can get glimpses of gardens with low houses closely girdled by screened verandahs. All the houses in San Benito are low, sky-scrapers being at an ominous discount in a land so insecurely bolted down. The houses are low, the roofs light, the doors made to swing easily, and the people religiously inclined. There is one city, Ortygia, through which we pass presently, once an ambitious rival of San Benito — which is dreadful to contemplate, for the houses are now tortured ruins and the cemetery is full of jostling tombs which fell in upon each other as the earth split open and crashed, and split again, and then suddenly remained rigid, so that the white headstones sticking out of the riven furrows look like the teeth of the grinning jaws of Fate.

But that is not yet. San Benito is built upon a gentle eminence, in the centre of a wide, fertile plateau; so that, as you stand at the intersections of her broad, pleasant streets, you can see all around the ascending rim of the greenclad mountains, with a glimpse to the eastward of that formidable personality, the crater of Mount Cornaru with his forty-mile plume of rolling smoke darkening the sunrise.

And so, if the reader can figure himself in an airplane for a moment, he might have seen, on looking down upon this peaceful country one evening two years ago, the roof of the big Condorcet bumping rapidly along the single track between the gardens and coffee-farms, like a large and intelligent beetle.

But, on reaching the river of the plateau, the character of the railroad changes with startling abruptness. It plunges into a dark cleft in the earth, and begins to twist and squirm until all sense of direction is lost. It emerges upon a perilous, spidery trestle, which is insecurely pinned to the bosom of a thousand-foot precipice. It slides athwart up-ended landscapes of a green so intense that it fatigues the eye like the lustrous sheen of an insect’s wings or the translucent glazing of antique pottery. It rolls rapidly down to the very verge of a drop that leaves one spent with vertiginous amazement, and turns away into a tunnel, after giving one a sickening and vivid view of a wrecked train half submerged in the river below. It becomes preoccupied with that river. It returns to those appalling banks with enervating persistence. It refuses to be allured by the crumbling yet comparatively safelooking sides of Mount Cornaru, now towering on our left like the very temple of disaster. It reaches out on perilous cantilevers and swaying suspensionchains, to look into that swifty rushing streak of silver almost lost in the gloom of the tropical canyon. It dodges declivities and protrusions, only to dart to the edge again and again. For this is the only way to Puerto Balboa, down the valley of the Corcubion River.

And now the reader must imagine night about to fall, Ortygia and Ensenada, with its side-tracked mail-train, impatiently tolling its bell and blowing off, left behind, and Don Carlos, in the gloom of his cab in front of the Condorcet, stepping on his accelerator and bolting headlong down t he abovedescribed permanent way. His orders were to make all possible speed — the sort of order which gives him great joy.

There was only one shadow on his mind. He was not sure that at full speed he could see a forgotten hand-car in time to pull up. One of the captivating habits of the native plate-layer is to leave his hand-car on the rails and go away into a niche of the rocks to sleep. In the ordinary day’s work the cowcatchers, one of which was securely bolted to the front of the Condorcet, would send the obstruction flying into space, and the journey would proceed unbroken. Don Carlos did not desire to take that risk with the President’s brother. It might disturb his equanimity, upon which he set a most ridiculous store. But speed must be made. A conference on board a steamer lying at Puerto Balboa was booked for that night.

Don Carlos, peering out along the beam of his searchlight, which was a long white cone littered with enormous moths and startling shadows, went ahead. And then, turning into a fiftyyard straight at about fifty miles an hour he suddenly saw the dreaded handcar right under him. There was a crunch, a jolt, a sparkle of metal crashing against metal, a shiver of glass, and the hand-car, game to the last, before shooting away and turning gracefully end over end into oblivion, lifted the front wheels of the Condorcet, so that the large and richly appointed affair waddled and reeled into the soft earth of the embankment, and halted.

Halted just in time, Don Carlos admits. He had no qualms. That is one of his characteristics — control. He darts at once, in a case of danger or difficulty, to the only possible means of recovery. He hopped out of the cab and, unhitching a thin and pliant steel cable from where it hung, he began to seek a purchase. He found it in an ebony tree not far away, took a bend round it, rove the shackle through the dead-eye of a small barrel fitted to the Condorcet’s rear-axles for haulage purposes, and running back to the cab, started the engine. The wheels began to scutter and slither, the wire-rope slowly wound itself on the revolving barrel, and the heavy car began to crawl upward toward the track. To take fresh hold, to haul out a couple of tamps and lever the car into position so that one more jerk astern settled her on the rails with a bump, was the work of a few moments. And then a perspiring Don Carlos bethought him of ids passengers. Thus far they had remained in enigmatic silence within the red-silk curtain of the car. Don Carlos pulled open the door and peeped in. The Minister for War was sitting up, holding on with frantic energy to an ornate arm-strap. The President’s brother was lying perfectly still, on his face, his head under the seat, his shoes, large number elevens, with the soles close by the door. Don Carlos pulled tentatively at one of these shoes; the owner gave a sudden hysterical wriggle and sat up, holding to his breast a bleeding finger. Don Carlos was rather alarmed. He inquired respectfully if the gentlemen were hurt, and informed them that all danger was past.

‘We are not killed,’ said the military one with a pious aside.

‘I have injured my finger,’ said the President’s brother with Bismarckian brevity. ‘ There must be an inquiry into this affair.’

‘But it is all over,’ suggested Don Carlos.

‘Not at all,’ observed the President’s brother. ‘ It is only beginning — at the inquiry.’

It is not the way of Don Carlos to argue in this fashion. He has not the mentality to brood on what is past. He slammed the door, making both of his passengers jump, climbed into the cab, switched on his side-lights, and started off once more. An hour later, the car rolled into the station at Puerto Balboa, and Don Carlos stretched himself out on the red-plush cushions vacated by the President’s brother, and slept like a top till dawn.

And that, in the ordinary course of events, would have closed the incident, but for the attitude of the President’s brother. That austere and suspicious statesman was not of the mental calibre to gauge accurately or justly the eager and swift-witted lad who had retrieved the situation. He was afflicted with a political cast of mind. He saw a sinister and deep-laid plot to assassinate the President’s brother and chief military adviser. He brooded upon this idea until he saw the whole of Costaragua aquiver with hostile designs. He returned in a steam-hauled armored car, which got derailed near Ortygia and nearly killed him in real earnest, the track having been disturbed by a large mass of rock tumbling five hundred feet and smashing a culvert. He summoned the Chief of Police as soon as he was once more safe in San Benito, and ordered the arrest of Don Carlos as a political suspect.

There was a great to-do, he assures me, in his home, when they came for him. He was with his mother and sisters, and they began to weep. His own feelings seem to have crystallized into a species of contempt for the stupidity of the whole business. That, I fear, is his weakness. He cannot credit the sad but immovable fact that the majority of people are not at all clever, that our civilization tends to put a premium on mental density and folly. And when he was finally incarcerated in the calabozo behind the Government buildings, he sat down and began to think and think.

III

We lay there on the narrow strip of hot white sand, between the dense green wall of the jungle and the glittering blue sea, and stared up into a flawless sapphire sky. And our thoughts, helped out by a lazy comment or two, were on these lines. Do our governors know as much as they should about governing? Or put it this way. Does n’t it seem as if the tendency of our Western notions is to engender useless bitterness in the hearts of the young, the unsophisticated, and the guileless? Neither of us has any very clear ideas on the subject. He, the Latin, is the more logical. ‘What do you want government at all for?’ he demands harshly; and there is a long silence, broken only by the soft kiss of the waves on the sand and the breeze stirring the tops of the mahogany trees and cocoanut palms.

In time, of course, he will see why we want government at all. He will see many things as he goes on. He may even forget the animosity born of those three weeks in jail. But the new and beautiful conception of self-dedication to his country was killed and can never be recalled. He will always be suspicious of political motives. His virtue will be without roots. That, I take it, is the problem of to-day. We have to provide a soil in which all these transplanted virtues can strike root. We have to devise a scheme that will prevent the spirited youth of the land from sitting down in bitterness, to think and think.

Of course, it must not be supposed that the son of a good family was permitted to languish in prison without comment. But, for the time, the President’s brother had it all his own way. He showed his damaged finger and congratulated the Liberals on having nipped a dangerous conspiracy in the bud. Efforts to reach the Administrador were futile, he being high up in the interior beyond rail or wire. So Don Carlos sat there and formulated his plans. He might be shot, which worried him not at all. But if he got out, he would go away. That was decided for all time, as he sat there thinking of the immense number of fools in the world. His mother came to see him, and went away frightened. There was a meeting of ‘ the family,’ mother and two daughters, to discuss what should be done.

It is strange to hear from him, as he lies on the hot sand, the reasons for their concern, and his views of ‘the family.’ ‘I support them,’ he remarks gravely, ‘and so they have a right to know my decisions.’

While I am digesting this somewhat unusual filial attitude, he goes on to describe the Administrador’s sudden return, the telephone calls, carried on in shouts, between the railroad office, the police-office, and the President’s house. And shortly after, Don Carlos, contemptuous as ever of stupidity, walked out and went home to his family. The Administrador was able to do this because the President had married his wife’s niece and the Chief of Police was his cousin.

He came round to the house while the family were in council and announced his intention of giving Don Carlos a job on the coast. The President’s brother had been advised by his physician to go into the country. Don Carlos declined the job on the coast. He said all he wanted of anybody was a ticket to the United States. The Administrador thrashed his polished leathern gaiters with his cane and looked very hard at the sullen youth in front of him. He asked if Don Carlos knew what would happen to him if he did go to the United States. The boy said he did not know, and did not care so long as he went. Well, he, the Administrador would tell him what would happen. ‘You,’ he informed Don Carlos, pointing his cane at him, ‘will be a millionaire inside of ten years.’

And immediately I conceive an immense respect for this bluff creature of Latin-American politics, because he has had the vision to see what he had there before him.

Don Carlos looks at him and waits for the rest of the oration, merely murmuring, ‘And—?’

‘And you will abandon your native Costaragua for ever,’ continues the Administrador.

And that, says Don Carlos as we resume our journey along the coast, was true anyhow. He went to the United States, or rather New York, and he plunged into the life of the city with the naïve egotism of a traditionless expatriate. Any idea that opportunities imply responsible allegiance is not yet born. When I mention in passing that the Chief Executive at the White House is far from being what is called wealthy, he looks incredulous and inquires, ‘What’s he president for, then?’ But as we speed round a green headland, which conceals the mouth of a river, and as we start on our way up this river, I ask Don Carlos just why he prefers the United States to his native Costaragua or the neighboring Republic of Contigua. After all, I argue, with the illogical folly of the English, he must have some feeling of love for the land where he was born and grew up. Suppose, for instance, Contigua declared war on Costaragua, would he not take the first boat back home and offer himself as a sacrifice to his country? Would not Costaraguans the world over collect in the great seaports, and lie and smuggle and scheme to get themselves home to enlist?

He is silent for a while, as the immense vertical green walls of the gorge, through which the river runs, close round us. And then he says soberly that a country like his does not get you that way. He is speaking a foreign language, one must remember, and he turns over various unsuitable phrases to hold his meaning. It is different. It is, very much of it, like this; and he waves his hand toward the shores.

The river winds and winds. High up above the towering cliffs of eternal verdure gleams a solid blue sky like a hot stone. We are in a green gloom. The river, fabulously deep, flows without a ripple, like a sheet of old jade. There is no movement of bird or tree or animal. One is oppressed by the omnipotent energy of the vegetation which reaches down from its under-cut banks as if seeking to hold the very water from flowing away. And the crazy notion takes hold of one’s mind that this sort of thing is not conducive to sanity, or morality, or patriotism, or any of the funny old-fashioned ideas that grow rather well in our northern air. One begins to understand what Don Carlos means when he says it does not get you that way.

And then I poke him up with something he has forgotten. I lead him on to see how he and his contemporaries are in the grip of machinery. He even learned English composition by means of lecture-records on a phonograph, a hoarse voice blaring at him, out of a black iron box, selections from Keats and Shelley. There is something metallic in his voice even now as he repeats from memory, —

‘Hail la thee, blithe spirit,
Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven or near it
Pourest thy full heart,’ —

and growing cautious as he approaches the last, line with its ‘unpremeditated art.’ Well, he is satisfied machinery can do everything. His mind already plays about unsolved problems of mechanism. All right, I concede. And now will he tell me, as a favor, what are we all going to do, later, when the fuel gives out?

As we approach the ship in the darkness and figures come to the rail to see us arrive, he falls silent, and I chuckle. After all, it is up to him and his like, clever young supermen, to get us out of the hole they have got us into, with their wonderful inventions. We dunderheads can go back to keeping chickens and writing poetry and watching the sunsets over blue hills, and we shall be content. But when the fuel runs out, and the machines run down, and the furnaces are cold and dead, and the wheels stop turning, what then, O wonderful youth, what then? Will you harness volcanoes and the tides? Will you contrive great burning glasses, and turn the alkali deserts into enormous storage batteries? or will you fly away in planes to some other planet where there is an abundance of fuel and no fools at all?

At which Don Carlos laughs and says, ‘ I have plenty of ideas.’ That, indeed, is his solution of the problem. He is not afraid so long as we continue to have ideas.

And so I leave him at the gangway and climb up to the smooth, brilliantly lighted decks, where the ladies and gentlemen of many races recline in deck-chairs, or promenade to and fro. There is no doubt, I reflect, that the Administrador’s prophecy will come true. He will be a millionaire by virtue of his ideas, and a leader of men by virtue of his personality. He is forever dissociated from us, who toil and fail and toil again, until we achieve some pitiful travesty of our dreams. He functions, as we say, perfectly. But what will he do, I wonder, when the fuel of life runs down?