IN OUR TIME
ON THE QUAI AT SMYRNA
The STRANGE thing was, he said, how they screamed every night at midnight. I do not know why they screamed at that time. We were in the harbor and they were all on the pier and at midnight they started screaming. We used to turn the searchlight on them to quiet them. That always did the trick. We'd run the searchlight up and down over them two or three times and they stopped it. One time I was senior officer on the pier and a Turkish officer came up to me in a frightful rage because one of our sailors had been most insulting to him. So I told him the fellow would be sent on ship and be most severely punished. I asked him to point him out. So he pointed out a gunner's mate, most inoffensive chap. Said he'd been most frightfully and repeatedly insulting; talking to me through an interpreter. I couldn't imagine how the gunner's mate knew enough Turkish to be insulting. I called him over and said, "And just in case you should have spoken to any Turkish officers."
"I haven't spoken to any of them, sir."
"I'm quite sure of it," I said, "but you'd best go on board ship and not come ashore again for the rest of the day."
Then I told the Turk the man was being sent on board ship and would be most severely dealt with. Oh most rigorously. He felt topping about it. Great friends we were.
The worst, he said, were the women with dead babies. You couldn't get the women to give up their dead babies. They'd have babies dead for six days. Wouldn't give them up. Nothing you could do about it. Had to take them away finally. Then there was an old lady, most extraordinary case. I told it to a doctor and he said I was lying. We were clearing them off the pier, had to clear off the dead ones, and this old woman was lying on a sort of litter. They said, "Will you have a look at her, sir?" So I had a look at her and just then she died and went absolutely stiff. Her legs drew up and she drew up from the waist and went quite rigid. Exactly as though she had been dead over night. She was quite dead and absolutely rigid. I told a medical chap about it and he told me it was impossible.
They were all out there on the pier and it wasn't at all like an earthquake or that sort of thing because they never knew about the Turk. They never knew what the old Turk would do. You remember when they ordered us not to come in to take off anj more? I had the wind up when we came in that morning. He had any amount of batteries and could have blown us clean out of the water. We were going to come in, run close along the pier, let go the front and rear anchors and then shell the Turkish quarter of the town. They would have blown us out of the water but we would have blown the town simply to hell. They just fired a few blank charges at us as we came in. Kemal came down and sacked the Turkish commander. For exceeding his authority or some such thing. He got a bit above himself. It would have been the hell of a mess.
You remember the harbor. There were plenty of nice things floating around in it. That was the only time in my life I got so I dreamed about things. You didn't mind the women who were having babies as you did those with the dead ones. They had them all right. Surprising how few of them died. You just covered them over with something and let them go to it. They'd always pick out the darkest place in the hold to have them. None of them minded anything once they got off the pier.
The Greeks were nice chaps too. When they evacuated they had all their baggage animals they couldn't take off with them so they just broke their forelegs and dumped them into the shallow witer. All those mules with their forelegs broken pushed over into the shallow water. It was all a pleasant business. My word yes a most pleasant business.
Everybody was drunk- The whole battery was drunk going along the road in the dark,. We were going to the Champagne. The lieutenant kept riding his horse out into the fields and saying to him, "I'm drunkj I tell you, mon vieux. Oh, I am so soused." We went along the road all night in the dar\ and the adjutant kept riding up alongside my kitchen and saying, "You must put it out. It is dangerous. It will be observed." We were fifty kilometers from the front but the adjutant worried about the fire in my kitchen. It was funny going along that road. That was when I was a kitchen corporal.
At THE lake shore there was another rowboat drawn up. The two Indians stood waiting.
Nick and his father got in the stern of the boat and the Indians shoved it off and one of them got in to row. Uncle George sat in the stern of the camp rowboat. The young Indian shoved the camp boat off and got in to row Uncle George.
The two boats started off in the dark. Nick heard the oarlocks of the other boat quite a way ahead of them in the mist. The Indians rowed with quick choppy strokes. Nick lay back with his father's arm around him. It was cold on the water. The Indian who was rowing them was working very hard, but the other boat moved further ahead in the mist all the time.
"Where are we going, Dad?" Nick asked.
"Over to the Indian camp. There is an Indian lady very sick."
"Oh," said Nick.
Across the bay they found the other boat beached. Uncle George was smoking a cigar in the dark. The young Indian pulled the boat way up on the beach. Uncle George gave both the Indians cigars.
They walked up from the beach through a meadow that was soaking wet with dew, following the young Indian who carried a lantern. Then they went into the woods and followed a trail that led to the logging road that ran back into the hills. It was much lighter on the logging road as the timber was cut away on both sides. The young Indian stopped and blew out his lantern and they all walked on along the road.
They came around a bend and a dog came out barking. Ahead were the lights of the shanties where the Indian bark peelers lived. More dogs rushed out at them. The two Indians sent them back to the shanties. In the shanty nearest the road there was a light in the window. An old woman stood in the doorway holding a lamp.
Inside on a wooden bunk lay a young Indian woman. She had been trying to have her baby for two days. All the old women in the camp had been helping her. The men had moved off up the road to sit in the dark and smoke out of range of the noise she made. She screamed just as Nick and the two Indians followed his father and Uncle George into the shanty. She lay in the lower bunk, very big under a quilt. Her head was turned to one side. In the upper bunk was her husband. He had cut his foot very badly with an ax three days before. He was smoking a pipe. The room smelled very bad.
Nick's father ordered some water to be put on the stove, and while it was heating he spoke to Nick.
"This lady is going to have a baby, Nick," he said.
"I know,' said Nick.
"You don't know," said his father. "Listen to me. What she is going through is called being in labor. The baby wants to be born and she wants it to be born. All her muscles are trying to get the baby born. That is what is happening when she screams."
"I see," Nick said.
Just then the woman cried out.
"Oh, Daddy, can't you give her something to make her stop screaming?" asked Nick.
"No. I haven't any anaesthetic," his father said. "But her screams are not important. I don't hear them because they are
The husband in the upper bunk rolled over against the wall.
The woman in the kitchen motioned to the doctor that the water was hot. Nick's father went into the kitchen and poured about half of the water out of the big kettle into a basin. Into the water left in the kettle he put several things he unwrapped from a handkerchief.
"Those must boil," he said, and began to scrub his hands in the basin of hot water with a cake of soap he had brought from the camp. Nick watched his father's hands scrubbing each other with the soap. While his father washed his hands very carefully and thoroughly, he talked.
"You see, Nick, babies are supposed to be born head first but sometimes they're not. When they're not they make a lot of trouble for everybody. Maybe I'll have to operate on this lady. We'll know in a little while."
When he was satisfied with his hands he went in and went to work.
"Pull back that quilt, will you, George?" he said. "I'd rather not touch it."
Later when he started to operate Uncle George and three Indian men held the woman still. She bit Uncle George on the arm and Uncle George said, "Damn squaw bitch!" and the young Indian who had rowed Uncle George over laughed at him. Nick held the basin for his father. It all took a long time.
His father picked the baby up and slapped it to make it breathe and handed it to the old woman.
"See, it's a boy, Nick," he said. "How do you like being an interne?"
Nick said, "All right." He was looking away so as not to see what his father was doing.
"There. That gets it," said his father and put something into the basin.
Nick didn't look at it.
"Now," his father said, "there's some stitches to put in. You can watch this or not, Nick, just as you like. I'm going to sew up the incision I made."
Nick did not watch. His curiosity had been gone for a long time.
His father finished and stood up. Uncle George and the three Indian men stood up. Nick put the basin out in the kitchen.
Uncle George looked at his arm. The young Indian smiled reminiscently.
"I'll put some peroxide on that, George," the doctor said.
He bent over the Indian woman. She was quiet now and her eyes were closed. She looked very pale. She did not know what had become of the baby or anything.
"I'll be back in the morning," the doctor said, standing up. "The nurse should be here from St. Ignace by noon and she'll bring everything we need."
He was feeling exalted and talkative as football players are in the dressing room after a game.
"That's one for the medical journal, George," he said. "Doing a Cassarian with a jack-knife and sewing it up with nine-foot, tapered gut leaders."
Uncle George was standing against the wall, looking at his arm.
"Oh, you're a great man, all right," he said.
"Ought to have a look at the proud father. They're usually the worst sufferers in these little affairs," the doctor said. "I must say he took it all pretty quietly."
He pulled back the blanket from the Indian's head. His hand came away wet. He mounted on the edge of the lower bunk with the lamp in one hand and looked in. The Indian lay with his face toward the wall. His throat had been cut from ear to ear. The blood had flowed down into a pool where his body sagged the bunk. His head rested on his left arm. The open razor lay, edge up, in the blankets.
"Take Nick out of the shanty, George," the doctor said.
There was no need of that. Nick, standing in the door of the kitchen, had a good view of the upper bunk when his father, the lamp in one hand, tipped the Indian's head back.
It was just beginning to be daylight when they walked along the logging road back toward the lake.
"I'm terribly sorry I brought you along, Nickie," said his father, all his post-operative exhilaration gone. "It was an awful mess to put you through."
"Do ladies always have such a hard time having babies?" Nick asked.
"No, that was very, very exceptional."
"Why did he kill himself, Daddy?"
"I don't know, Nick. He couldn't stand things, I guess."
"Do many men kill themselves, Daddy?"
"Not very many, Nick."
"Do many women?"
"Don't they ever?"
"Oh, yes. They do sometimes."
"Where did Uncle George go?"
"He'll turn up all right."
"Is dying hard, Daddy?"
"No, I think it's pretty easy, Nick. It all depends."
They were seated in the boat, Nick in the stern, his father rowing. The sun was coming up over the hills. A bass jumped, making a circle in the water. Nick trailed his hand in the water. It felt warm in the sharp chill of the morning.
In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die.
Minarets stuck up in the rain out of Adrianople across the mud flats. The carts were jammed for thirty miles along the Karagatch road. Water buffalo and cattle were hauling carts through the mud. No end and no beginning. Just carts loaded with everything they owned. The old men and women, soaked through, walked along keeping the cattle moving. The Maritza was running yellow almost up to the bridge. Carts were jammed solid on the bridge with camels bobbing along through them. Greek cavalry herded along the procession. Women and kids were in the carts crouched with mattresses, mirrors, sewing machines, bundles. There was a woman having a kid with a young girl holding a blanket over her and crying. Scared sick looking at it. It rained all through the evacuation.
THE DOCTOR AND THE DOCTOR'S WIFE
DlCK BouLTON came from the Indian camp to cut up logs for Nick's father. He brought his son Eddy and another Indian named Billy Tabeshaw with him. They came in through the back gate out of the woods, Eddy carrying the long cross-cut saw. It flopped over his shoulder and made a musical sound as he walked. Billy Tabeshaw carried two big cant-hooks. Dick had three axes under his arm.
He turned and shut the gate. The others went on ahead of him down to the lake shore where the logs were buried in the sand.
The logs had been lost from the big log booms that were towed down the lake to the mill by the steamer Magic. They had drifted up onto the beach and if nothing were done about them sooner or later the crew of the Magic would come along the shore in a rowboat, spot the logs, drive an iron spike with a ring on it into the end of each one and then tow them out into the lake to make a new boom. But the lumbermen might never come for them because a few logs were not worth the price of a crew to gather them. If no one came for them they would be left to waterlog and rot on the beach.
Nick's father always assumed that this was what would happen, and hired the Indians to come down from the camp and cut the logs up with the cross-cut saw and split them with a wedge to make cord wood and chunks for the open fireplace. Dick Boulton walked around past the cottage down to the lake. There were four big beech logs lying almost buried in the sand. Eddy hung the saw up by one of its handles in the crotch of a tree. Dick put the three axes down on the little dock. Dick was a half-breed and many of the fanners around the lake believed he was really a white man. He was very lazy but a great worker once he was started. He took a plug of tobacco out of his pocket, bit off a chew and spoke in Ojihway to Eddy and Billy Tabeshaw.
They sunk the ends of their cant-hooks into one of the logs and swung against it to loosen it in the sand. They swung their weight against the shafts of the cant-hooks. The log moved in the sand. Dick Boulton turned to Nick's father.
"Well, Doc," he said, "that's a nice lot of timber you've stolen."
"Don't talk that way, Dick," the doctor said. "It's driftwood."
Eddy and Billy Tabeshaw had rocked the log out of the wet sand and rolled it toward the water.
"Put it right in," Dick Boulton shouted.
"What are you doing that for?" asked the doctor.
"Wash it off. Clean off the sand on account of the saw. I want to see who it belongs to," Dick said.
The log was just awash in the lake. Eddy and Billy Tabeshaw leaned on their cant-hooks sweating in the sun. Dick kneeled down in the sand and looked at the mark of the sealer's hammer in the wood at the end of the log.
"It belongs to White and McNally," he said, standing up and brushing off his trousers knees.
The doctor was very uncomfortable.
"You'd better not saw it up then, Dick," he said, shortly.
"Don't get huffy, Doc," said Dick. "Don't get huffy. I don't care who you steal from. It's none of my business."
"If you think the logs are stolen, leave them alone and take your tools back to the camp," the doctor said. His face was red.
"Don't go off at half cock, Doc," Dick said. He spat tobacco juice on the log. It slid off, thinning in the water. "You know they're stolen as well as I do. It don't make any difference to me."
"All right. If you think the logs are stolen, take your stuff and get out."
"Take your stuff and get out."
"If you call me Doc once again, I'll knock your eye teeth down your throat."
"Oh, no, you won't, Doc."
Dick Boulton looked at the doctor. Dick was a big man. He knew how big a man he was. He liked to get into fights. He was happy. Eddy and Billy Tabeshaw leaned on their cant-hooks and looked at the doctor. The doctor chewed the beard on his lower lip and looked at Dick Boulton. Then he turned away and walked up the hill to the cottage. They could see from his back how angry he was. They all watched him walk up the hill and go inside the cottage.
Dick said something in Ojibway. Eddy laughed but Billy Tabeshaw looked very serious. He did not understand English but he had sweat all the time the row was going on. He was fat with only a few hairs of mustache like a Chinaman. He picked up the two cant-hooks. Dick picked up the axes and Eddy took the saw down from the tree. They started off and walked up past the cottage and out the back gate into the woods. Dick left the gate open. Billy Tabeshaw went back and fastened it. They were gone through the woods.
In the cottage the doctor, sitting on the bed in his room, saw a pile of medical journals on the floor by the bureau. They were still in their wrappers unopened. It irritated him.
"Aren't you going back to work, dear?" asked the doctor's wife from the room where she was lying with the blinds drawn.
"Was anything the matter?"
"I had a row with Dick Boulton."
"Oh," said his wife. "I hope you didn't lose your temper, Henry."
"No," said the doctor.
"Remember, that he who ruleth his spirit is greater than he that taketh a city," said his wife. She was a Christian Scien tist. Her Bible, her copy of Science and Health and her Quarterly were on a table beside her bed in the darkened room.
Her husband did not answer. He was sitting on his bed now, cleaning a shotgun. He pushed the magazine full of the heavy yellow shells and pumped them out again. They were scattered on the bed.
"Henry," his wife called. Then paused a moment. "Henry!"
"Yes," the doctor said.
"You didn't say anything to Boulton to anger him, did you?"
"No," said the doctor.
"What was the trouble about, dear?"
"Tell me, Henry. Please don't try and keep anything from me. What was the trouble about?"
"Well, Dick owes me a lot of money for pulling his squaw through pneumonia and I guess he wanted a row so he wouldn't have to take it out in work."
His wife was silent. The doctor wiped his gun carefully with a rag. He pushed the shells back in against the spring of the magazine. He sat with the gun on his knees. He was very fond of it. Then he heard his wife's voice from the darkened room.
"Dear, I don't think, I really don't think that any one would really do a thing like that."
"No?" the doctor said.
"No. I can't really believe that any one would do a thing of that sort intentionally."
The doctor stood up and put the shotgun in the corner behind the dresser.
"Are you going out, dear?" his wife said.
"I think I'll go for a walk," the doctor said.
"If you see Nick, dear, will you tell him his mother wants to see him?" his wife said.
The doctor went out on the porch. The screen door slammed behind him. He heard his wife catch her breath when the door slammed.
"Sorry," he said, outside her window with the blinds drawn.
"It's all right, dear," she said.
He walked in the heat out the gate and along the path into the hemlock woods. It was cool in the woods even on such a hot day. He found Nick sitting with his back against a tree, reading.
"Your mother wants you to come and see her," the doctor said.
"I want to go with you," Nick said.
His father looked down at him.
"All right. Come on, then," his father said. "Give me the book, I'll put it in my pocket."
"I know where there's black squirrels, Daddy," Nick said.
"All right," said his father. "Let's go there."
We were in a garden at Mons. Young Buckley came in with his patrol from across the river. The first German I saw climbed up over the garden wall. We waited till he got one leg over and then potted him. He had so much equipment on and looked awfully surprised and fell down into the garden. Then three more came over further down the wall. We shot them. They all came just like that.
THE END OF SOMETHING
In THE old days Hortons Bay was a lumbering town. No one who lived in it was out of sound of the big saws in the mill by the lake. Then one year there were no more logs to make lumber. The lumber schooners came into the bay and were loaded with the cut of the mill that stood stacked in the yard. All the piles of lumber were carried away. The big mill building had all its machinery that was removable taken out and hoisted on board one of the schooners by the men who had worked in the mill. The schooner moved out of the bay toward the open lake carrying the two great saws, the travelling carriage that hurled the logs against the revolving, circular saws and all the rollers, wheels, belts and iron piled on a hull-deep load of lumber. Its open hold covered with canvas and lashed tight, the sails of the schooner filled and it moved out into the open lake, carrying with it everything that had made the mill a mill and Hortons Bay a town.
The one-story bunk houses, the eating-house, the company store, the mill offices, and the big mill itself stood deserted in the acres of sawdust that covered the swampy meadow by the shore of the bay.
Ten years later there was nothing of the mill left except the broken white limestone of its foundations showing through the swampy second growth as Nick and Marjorie rowed along the shore. They were trolling along the edge of the channel-bank where the bottom dropped off suddenly from sandy shallows to twelve feet of dark water. They were trolling on their way to the point to set night lines for rainbow trout.
"There's our old ruin, Nick," Marjorie said.
Nick, rowing, looked at the white stone in the green trees.
"There it is," he said.
"Can you remember when it was a mill?" Marjorie asked.
"I can just remember," Nick said.
"It seems more like a castle," Marjorie said.
Nick said nothing. They rowed on out of sight of the mill, following the shore line. Then Nick cut across the bay.
"They aren't striking," he said.
"No," Marjorie said. She was intent on the rod all the time they trolled, even when she talked. She loved to fish. She loved to fish with Nick.
Close beside the boat a big trout broke the surface of the water. Nick pulled hard on one oar so the boat would turn and the bait spinning far behind would pass where the trout was feeding. As the trout's back came up out of the water the minnows jumped wildly. They sprinkled the surface like a handful of shot thrown into the water. Another trout broke water, feeding on the other side of the boat.
"They're feeding," Marjorie said.
"But they won't strike," Nick said.
He rowed the boat around to troll past both the feeding fish, then headed it for the point. Marjorie did not reel in until the boat touched the shore.
They pulled the boat up the beach and Nick lifted out a pail of live perch. The perch swam in the water in the pail. Nick caught three of them with his hands and cut their heads off and skinned them while Marjorie chased with her hands in the bucket, finally caught a perch, cut its head off and skinned it. Nick looked at her fish.
"You don't want to take the ventral fin out," he said. "It'll be all right for bait but it's better with the ventral fin in."
He hooked each of the skinned perch through the tail. There were two hooks attached to a leader on each rod. Then Marjorie rowed the boat out over the channel-bank, holding the line in her teeth, and looking toward Nick, who stood on the shore holding the roc] and letting the line run out from the reel.
"That's about right," he called.
"Should I let it drop?" Marjorie called back, holding the line in her hand.
"Sure. Let it go." Marjorie dropped the line overboard and watched the baits go down through the water.
She came in with the boat and ran the second line out the same way. Each time Nick set a heavy slab of driftwood across the butt of the rod to hold it solid and propped it up at an angle with a small slab. He reeled in the slack line so the line ran taut out to where the bait rested on the sandy Hoor of the channel and set the click on the reel. When a trout, feeding on the bottom, took the bait it would run with it, taking line out of the reel in a rush and making the reel sing with the click on.
Marjorie rowed up the point a little way so she would not disturb the line. She pulled hard on the oars and the boat went way up the beach. Little waves came in with it. Marjorie stepped out of the boat and Nick pulled the boat high up the beach.
"What's the matter, Nick?" Marjorie asked.
"I don't know," Nick said, getting wood for a fire.
They made a fire with driftwood. Marjorie went to the boat and brought a blanket. The evening breeze blew the smoke toward the point, so Marjorie spread the blanket out between the fire and the lake.
Marjorie sat on the blanket with her back to the fire and waited for Nick. He came over and sat down beside her on the blanket. In back of them was the close second-growth timber of the point and in front was the bay with the mouth of Hor-tons Creek. It was not quite dark. The fire-light went as far as the water. They could both see the two steel rods at an angle over the dark water. The fire glinted on the reels. Marjorie unpacked the basket of supper. "I don't feel like eating," said Nick.
“Come on and eat, Nick."
They ate without talking, and watched the two rods and
the fire-light in the water.
"There's going to be a moon tonight," said Nick. He looked across the bay to the hills that were beginning to sharpen against the sky. Beyond the hills he knew the moon was coming up.
"I know it," Marjorie said happily.
"You know everything," Nick said.
"Oh, Nick, please cut it out! Please, please don't be that
"I can't help it," Nick said. "You do. You know everything.
That's the trouble. You know you do."
Marjorie did not say anything.
"I've taught you everything. You know you do. What don't you know, anyway?"
"Oh, shut up," Marjorie said. "There comes the moon."
They sat on the blanket without touching each other and watched the moon rise.
"You don't have to talk silly," Marjorie said. "What's really
"I don't know."
"Of course you know."
"No I don't."
"Go on and say it."
Nick looked on at the moon, coming up over the hills.
"It isn't fun any more."
He was afraid to look at Marjorie. Then he looked at her. She sat there with her back toward him. He looked at her back. "It isn't fun any more. Not any of it."
She didn't say anything. He went on. "I feel as though everything was gone to hell inside of me. I don't know, Marge. I don't know what to say." He looked on at her back. "Isn't love any fun?" Marjorie said.
"No," Nick said. Marjorie stood up. Nick sat there, his head in his hands.
"I'm going to take the boat," Marjorie called to him. "You can walk back around the point."
"All right," Nick said. "I'll push the boat off for you."
"You don't need to," she said. She was afloat in the boat on the water with the moonlight on it. Nick went back and lay down with his face in the blanket by the fire. He could hear Marjorie rowing on the water.
He lay there for a long time. He lay there while he heard Bill come into the clearing walking around through the woods. He felt Bill coming up to the hre. Bill didn't touch him, either.
"Did she go all right'" Bill said.
"Yes," Nick said, lying, his face on the blanket.
"Have a scene?"
"No, there wasn't any scene."
"How do you feel?"
"Oh, go away, Bill! Go away for a while."
Bill selected a sandwich from the lunch basket and walked over to have a look at the rods.