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In_the_Rut_of_War

THE SATURDRY EVENING POST 5 broad, coppery face. He had an arm over John P. Tell's shoulders and was laughing noisily. As the party sat down he rapped the table with his knuckles and called to the sloppy waiter: "Come here, son!" Whereat Nicholas Lowden looked round at Furbush, his nose wrinkling and his mouth expanding humorously, and observed under his breath, as though the idea were very amusing: "The Judge is getting soused again." Furbush watched as the waiter brought gin, seltzer and limes, then lifted his mug and sang out: "Hello, Judge!" The big man with the coppery face glanced round as though startled, then raised his glass and smiled. Thereafter “Pshilw I Nothing Crooked About Drawing a Will, is There? Just Get it Str night, Judge" Furbush seemed absorbed in watching the four men. When they arose the gin bottle was half empty and Judge Grogan collided with the table. Presently Furbush himself departed, leaving Nicholas and Ulysses to their prattle and their beer. "There goes a great man, Lowdy," said Ulysses solemnly, as though he were announcing an important discovery. "Furby's got brains. The first time I talked with him I said to myself: ' Here's a man with intellect!' He ain't caught on so far; but he will. If a man's got intellect he's sure to catch on." And he was so well satisfied with himself over that pronouncement that he took a long draught of beer. Meanwhile the great man tramped down Milwaukee Avenue, his eyes mostly brooding upon the sidewalk. About one factor in his problem he was perfectly clear—to wit: that Secretary "Suds" was a fat blockhead with whom he could do exactly as he pleased. In spite of bitter defeats he knew his power. Before the onset of his ruthless will all soft men quailed—and so many men were soft! He exemplified this next morning, sitting on a corner of Secretary Pettingill's table, his muscular hands clasped round an upraised knee and his head drooping as he looked down into the secretary's full-moon face. "You're the man to run this association, Suds," he said. "I'm going to throw these directors out and put you in charge." Over so preposterous a statement, made with an unsmiling face, Ulysses might well have tittered into his hand. Indeed, after the first shock of amazement he fairly started to do it; but Furbush's deep-set, ominous eyes held him. He felt the mass and urge of the other man's predatory will; and all he could do was to purse his small mouth, so that it looked like a pucker in a cheese, and stare glassily. "We've got to make them queer themselves some more," Furbush added. "We'll get 'em to pay a dividend soon." Again the statement was so preposterous that Ulysses might have tittered, but under Furbush's steady eyes he could for a moment only purse his mouth and gape. With a struggle and a wrench he asserted himself sufficiently to gasp: "Why, my goodness, Furby, they can't do that! They wouldn't think of doing it! The law says dividends can be paid out of profits only, and there are no profits." Furbush took a hand from his knee in order to draw its back across his mouth, but his eyes did not waver. "There are a thousand members in this association," he said. "No director knows more than a handful of them personally. There are seven directors. Preston and Martin are the two best ones in the lot and they're out of town. That leaves five, and if we can get three of 'em, that will make a majority of the board. There's Swanson, who's crazy to go to Congress. He don't want a thousand Pyramids members, half of whom are voters, on his back. There's Perkins with his little department store. He don't want a whole lot of enemies. There's Thompson, who's a coward. He don't want to be threatened with investigations and scandals. As for profits, let 'em mark up the value of the Westminster Apartments on their books by seventeen thousand dollars and call that a profit. That will provide for a three per cent dividend. All you've got to do is sit tight and attend strictly to your official duties. You needn't take any risks; and I'll put the management of the association in your hands." To Nicholas Lowden he explained more fully: "You circulate among these members, Lowdy, and get up a protective association. Probably you can get twenty members to follow you and then you can say you represent two hundred. Keep after Swanson andThompson and Perkins. Put it to 'em this way: The Pyramids Building and Loan Association is a benevolent concern. Its sole purpose is to give people in modest (Continued on Page 41) EN YEE* unr ET me say at the outset of this article that I do not set up as one professing to have any knowledge whatso- ever of so-called military science. The more I have seen of the carrying-on of the actual business of war, the less able do I seem to be to understand the meanings of the business. For me strategy remains a closed book. Even the simplest primary lessons of it, the A B C's of it, continue to impress me as being stupid, but none the less unplumbable mysteries. The physical aspects of campaigning I can in a way grasp. At least I flatter myself that I can. A man would have to be deaf and dumb and blind not to grasp them, did they reveal themselves before him as they have revealed themselves before me. Indeed, if he preserved only the faculty of scent unimpaired he might still be able to comprehend the thing, since, as I have said before, war in its commoner phases is not so much a sight as a great bad smell. As for the rudiments of the system which dictates the movements of troops in large masses or in small, which sacrifices thousands of men to take a town or hold a river when that town and that river, physically considered, appear to be of no consequence whatsoever, those elements I have not been able to sense, even though I studied the matter most diligently. So after sundry months of firsthand observation in one of the theaters of hostilities I tell myself that the trade of fighting is a trade to be learned by slow and laborious degrees, and even then may be learned with thoroughness only by one who has a natural aptitude for it. Either that, or else I am most extraordinarily thick-headed, for I own that I am still as complete a greenhorn now as I was at the beginning. Having made the confession which is said to be good for the soul, and which in any event has the merit of blunting in advance the critical judgments of the expert, since he must pity my ignorance and my innocence even though he quarrel with my conclusions, I now assume the role of prophet long enough to venture to say that the day of the modern walled fort is over and done with. I do not presume to speak regarding coast defenses maintained for the ITE-ufi,ED so C©IJ purposes of repelling attacks or invasions from the sea. I am speaking with regard to land defenses which are assailable by land forces. I believe in the future great wars—if indeed there are to be any more great wars following after this one—that the nations involved, instead of buttoning their frontiers down with great fortresses and ringing their principal cities about with circles of protecting works, will put their trust more and more in transportable cannon of a caliber and a projecting force greater than any yet built or planned. I make this assertion after viewing the visible results of the operations of the German 42- centimeter guns in Belgium and France, notably at Liege in the former country and at Maubeuge in the latter. Except for purposes of frightening noncombatants the Zeppelins apparently have proved of most dubious value; nor, barring its value as a scout—a field in which it is of marvelous efficiency—does the aeroplane appear to have been of much consequence in inflicting loss upon the enemy. Of the comparatively new devices for waging war, the submarine and the great gun alone seem to have justified in any great degree the hopes of their sponsors. Since I came back out of the war zone I have met persons who questioned the existence of a 42-centimeter gun, they holding it to be a nightmare created out of the German imagination with intent to break the confidence of the enemies of Germany. I did not see a 42-centimeter gun with my own eyes, and personally I doubt whether the Germans have as many of them as they claim to have; but I have talked with one entirely reliable witness, an American consular officer, who saw a 42-centimeter gun as it was being transported to the front in the opening week of the war, and with another American, a diplomat of high rank, who interviewed a man who saw one of these guns, and who in detailing the conversation to me said the spectator had been literally stunned by the size and length and the whole terrific contour of the monster. Finally, I know from personal experience that these guns have been employed, and employed with a result that is past adequate description; but if I hadn't seen the effect of their fire I wouldn't have believed it were true. I wouldn't have believed anything evolved out of the brains of men and put together by the hands of men could operate with such devilish accuracy to compass such utter destruction. I would have said it was some cosmic force, some convulsion of natural forces, and not an agency of human devisement that turned Fort Loncin inside out, and transformed it within a space of hours from a supposedly impregnable stronghold into a hodgepodge of complete and hideous ruination. And what befell Fort Loncin on the hills behind Liege befell Fort Des Sarts outside of Maubeuge, as I have reason to know. When the first of the 42-centimeters emerged from Essen it took a team of thirty horses to haul it; and with it out of that nest of the Prussian war eagle came also a force of mechanics and engineers to set it up and aim it and fire it. Here, too, is an interesting fact that I have not seen printed anywhere, though I heard it often enough in Germany: by reason-of its bulk the 42-centimeter must be mounted upon a concrete base before it can be used. Heretofore the concrete which was available for this purpose required at least a fortnight of exposure before it was sufficiently firm and hardened; but when Friiulein Bertha Krupp's engineers escorted the Fraulein's newest and most impressive steel masterpiece to the war, they brought along with them the ingredients for a new kind of concrete; and those who claim to have been present on the occasion declare that within forty-eight hours after they had mixed and molded it, it was ready to bear the weight of the guns and withstand the shock of their recoil. This having been done, I conceive of the operators as hoisting their pets into position, and posting up a set of rules—even in time of war it is impossible to imagine the Germans doing anything of importance without a set of rules to go by—and working out the distance by mathematics, and then turning loose their potential cataclysms


In_the_Rut_of_War
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