TRAFFICS AND DISCOVERIES
TRAFFICS AND DISCOVERIES
_from the Masjid-al-Aqsa of Sayyid Ahmed(Wahabi)_
THE BONDS OF DISCIPLINE
A SAHIBS' WAR
_The Wet Litany_
"THEIR LAWFUL OCCASIONS"--PART I.
"THEIR LAWFUL OCCASIONS"--PART II.
_The King's Task_
THE COMPREHENSION OF PRIVATE COOPER
_Kaspar's Song in "Varda"_
_Song of the Old Guard_
THE ARMY OF A DREAM--PART I.
THE ARMY OF A DREAM--PART II.
_The Return of the Children_
_From Lyden's "Irenius_"
"_Our Fathers Also_"
BELOW THE MILL DAM
FROM THE MASJID-AL-AQSA OF SAYYID AHMED (WAHABI)
Not with an outcry to Allah nor any complaining
He answered his name at the muster and stood to the chaining.
When the twin anklets were nipped on the leg-bars that held them
He brotherly greeted the armourers stooping to weld them.
Ere the sad dust of the marshalled feet of the chain-gang swallowed him
Observing him nobly at ease I alighted and followed him.
Thus we had speech by the way but not touching his sorrow
Rather his red Yesterday and his regal To-morrow
Wherein he statelily moved to the clink of his chains unregarded
Nowise abashed but contented to drink of the potion awarded.
Saluting aloofly his Fate he made swift with his story;
And the words of his mouth were as slaves spreading carpets of glory
Embroidered with names of the Djinns--a miraculous weaving--
But the cool and perspicuous eye overbore unbelieving.
So I submitted myself to the limits of rapture--
Bound by this man we had bound amid captives his capture--
Till he returned me to earth and the visions departed;
But on him be the Peace and the Blessing: for he was great-hearted!
"He that believeth shall not make haste."--_Isaiah_.
The guard-boat lay across the mouth of the bathing-pool her crew idly
spanking the water with the flat of their oars. A red-coated militia-man
rifle in hand sat at the bows and a petty officer at the stern. Between
the snow-white cutter and the flat-topped honey-coloured rocks on the
beach the green water was troubled with shrimp-pink prisoners-of-war
bathing. Behind their orderly tin camp and the electric-light poles rose
those stone-dotted spurs that throw heat on Simonstown. Beneath them the
little _Barracouta_ nodded to the big _Gibraltar_ and the old _Penelope_
that in ten years has been bachelors' club natural history museum
kindergarten and prison rooted and dug at her fixed moorings. Far out a
three-funnelled Atlantic transport with turtle bow and stern waddled in
from the deep sea.
Said the sentry assured of the visitor's good faith "Talk to 'em? You
can to any that speak English. You'll find a lot that do."
Here and there earnest groups gathered round ministers of the Dutch
Reformed Church who doubtless preached conciliation but the majority
preferred their bath. The God who Looks after Small Things had caused the
visitor that day to receive two weeks' delayed mails in one from a casual
postman and the whole heavy bundle of newspapers tied with a strap he
dangled as bait. At the edge of the beach cross-legged undressed to his
sky-blue army shirt sat a lean ginger-haired man on guard over a dozen
heaps of clothing. His eyes followed the incoming Atlantic boat.
"Excuse me Mister" he said without turning (and the speech betrayed his
nationality) "would you mind keeping away from these garments? I've been
elected janitor--on the Dutch vote."
The visitor moved over against the barbed-wire fence and sat down to his
mail. At the rustle of the newspaper-wrappers the ginger-coloured man
turned quickly the hunger of a press-ridden people in his close-set iron-
"Have you any use for papers?" said the visitor.
"Have I any use?" A quick curved forefinger was already snicking off the
outer covers. "Why that's the New York postmark! Give me the ads. at the
back of _Harper's_ and _M'Clure's_ and I'm in touch with God's Country
again! Did you know how I was aching for papers?"
The visitor told the tale of the casual postman.
"Providential!" said the ginger-coloured man keen as a terrier on his
task; "both in time and matter. Yes! ... The _Scientific American_ yet
once more! Oh it's good! it's good!" His voice broke as he pressed his
hawk-like nose against the heavily-inked patent-specifications at the end.
"Can I keep it? I thank you--I thank you! Why--why--well--well! The
_American Tyler_ of all things created! Do you subscribe to that?"
"I'm on the free list" said the visitor nodding.
He extended his blue-tanned hand with that air of Oriental spaciousness
which distinguishes the native-born American and met the visitor's grasp
expertly. "I can only say that you have treated me like a Brother (yes
I'll take every last one you can spare) and if ever--" He plucked at the
bosom of his shirt. "Psha! I forgot I'd no card on me; but my name's
Zigler--Laughton G. Zigler. An American? If Ohio's still in the Union I
am Sir. But I'm no extreme States'-rights man. I've used all of my native
country and a few others as I have found occasion and now I am the
captive of your bow and spear. I'm not kicking at that. I am not a coerced
alien nor a naturalised Texas mule-tender nor an adventurer on the
instalment plan. _I_ don't tag after our consul when he comes around
expecting the American Eagle to lift me out o' this by the slack of my
pants. No sir! If a Britisher went into Indian Territory and shot up his
surroundings with a Colt automatic (not that _she's_ any sort of weapon
but I take her for an illustration) he'd be strung up quicker'n a
snowflake 'ud melt in hell. No ambassador of yours 'ud save him. I'm my
neck ahead on this game anyway. That's how I regard the proposition.
"Have I gone gunning against the British? To a certain extent I presume
you never heard tell of the Laughton-Zigler automatic two-inch field-gun
with self-feeding hopper single oil-cylinder recoil and ballbearing gear
throughout? Or Laughtite the new explosive? Absolutely uniform in effect
and one-ninth the bulk of any present effete charge--flake cannonite
cordite troisdorf cellulose cocoa cord or prism--I don't care what it
is. Laughtite's immense; so's the Zigler automatic. It's me. It's fifteen
years of me. You are not a gun-sharp? I am sorry. I could have surprised
you. Apart from my gun my tale don't amount to much of anything. I thank
you but I don't use any tobacco you'd be likely to carry... Bull Durham?
_Bull Durham!_ I take it all back--every last word. Bull Durham--here! If
ever you strike Akron Ohio when this fool-war's over remember you've
Laughton O. Zigler in your vest pocket. Including the city of Akron. We've
a little club there.... Hell! What's the sense of talking Akron with no
"My gun? ... For two cents I'd have shipped her to our Filipeens. 'Came
mighty near it too; but from what I'd read in the papers you can't trust
Aguinaldo's crowd on scientific matters. Why don't I offer it to our army?
Well you've an effete aristocracy running yours and we've a crowd of
politicians. The results are practically identical. I am not taking any
U.S. Army in mine.
"I went to Amsterdam with her--to this Dutch junta that supposes it's
bossing the war. I wasn't brought up to love the British for one thing
and for another I knew that if she got in her fine work (my gun) I'd stand
more chance of receiving an unbiassed report from a crowd of dam-fool
British officers than from a hatful of politicians' nephews doing duty as
commissaries and ordnance sharps. As I said I put the brown man out of
the question. That's the way _I_ regarded the proposition.
"The Dutch in Holland don't amount to a row of pins. Maybe I misjudge 'em.
Maybe they've been swindled too often by self-seeking adventurers to know
a enthusiast when they see him. Anyway they're slower than the Wrath o'
God. But on delusions--as to their winning out next Thursday week at 9
A.M.--they are--if I may say so--quite British.
"I'll tell you a curious thing too. I fought 'em for ten days before I
could get the financial side of my game fixed to my liking. I knew they
didn't believe in the Zigler but they'd no call to be crazy-mean. I fixed
it--free passage and freight for me and the gun to Delagoa Bay and beyond
by steam and rail. Then I went aboard to see her crated and there I
struck my fellow-passengers--all deadheads same as me. Well Sir I
turned in my tracks where I stood and besieged the ticket-office and I
said 'Look at here Van Dunk. I'm paying for my passage and her room in
the hold--every square and cubic foot.' 'Guess he knocked down the fare to
himself; but I paid. I paid. I wasn't going to deadhead along o' _that_
crowd of Pentecostal sweepings. 'Twould have hoodooed my gun for all time.
That was the way I regarded the proposition. No Sir they were not pretty
"When we struck Pretoria I had a hell-and-a-half of a time trying to
interest the Dutch vote in my gun an' her potentialities. The bottom was
out of things rather much just about that time. Kruger was praying some
and stealing some and the Hollander lot was singing 'If you haven't any
money you needn't come round' Nobody was spending his dough on anything
except tickets to Europe. We were both grossly neglected. When I think how
I used to give performances in the public streets with dummy cartridges
filling the hopper and turning the handle till the sweat dropped off me I
blush Sir. I've made her to do her stunts before Kaffirs--naked sons of
Ham--in Commissioner Street trying to get a holt somewhere.
"Did I talk? I despise exaggeration--'tain't American or scientific--but
as true as I'm sitting here like a blue-ended baboon in a kloof Teddy
Roosevelt's Western tour was a maiden's sigh compared to my advertising
"'Long in the spring I was rescued by a commandant called Van Zyl--a big
fleshy man with a lame leg. Take away his hair and his gun and he'd make a
first-class Schenectady bar-keep. He found me and the Zigler on the veldt
(Pretoria wasn't wholesome at that time) and he annexed me in a
somnambulistic sort o' way. He was dead against the war from the start
but being a Dutchman he fought a sight better than the rest of that 'God
and the Mauser' outfit. Adrian Van Zyl. Slept a heap in the daytime--and
didn't love niggers. I liked him. I was the only foreigner in his
commando. The rest was Georgia Crackers and Pennsylvania Dutch--with a
dash o' Philadelphia lawyer. I could tell you things about them would
surprise you. Religion for one thing; women for another; but I don't know
as their notions o' geography weren't the craziest. 'Guess that must be
some sort of automatic compensation. There wasn't one blamed ant-hill in
their district they didn't know _and_ use; but the world was flat they
said and England was a day's trek from Cape Town.
"They could fight in their own way and don't you forget it. But I guess
you will not. They fought to kill and by what I could make out the
British fought to be killed. So both parties were accommodated.
"I am the captive of your bow and spear Sir. The position has its
obligations--on both sides. You could not be offensive or partisan to me.
I cannot for the same reason be offensive to you. Therefore I will not
give you my opinions on the conduct of your war.
"Anyway I didn't take the field as an offensive partisan but as an
inventor. It was a condition and not a theory that confronted me. (Yes
Sir I'm a Democrat by conviction and that was one of the best things
Grover Cleveland ever got off.)
"After three months' trek old man Van Zyl had his commando in good shape
and refitted off the British and he reckoned he'd wait on a British
General of his acquaintance that did business on a circuit between
Stompiesneuk Jackhalputs Vrelegen and Odendaalstroom year in and year
out. He was a fixture in that section.
"'He's a dam' good man' says Van Zyl. 'He's a friend of mine. He sent in
a fine doctor when I was wounded and our Hollander doc. wanted to cut my
leg off. Ya I'll guess we'll stay with him.' Up to date me and my Zigler
had lived in innocuous desuetude owing to little odds and ends riding out
of gear. How in thunder was I to know there wasn't the ghost of any road
in the country? But raw hide's cheap and lastin'. I guess I'll make my
next gun a thousand pounds heavier though.
"Well Sir we struck the General on his beat--Vrelegen it was--and our
crowd opened with the usual compliments at two thousand yards. Van Zyl
shook himself into his greasy old saddle and says 'Now we shall be quite
happy Mr. Zigler. No more trekking. Joost twelve miles a day till the
apricots are ripe.'
"Then we hitched on to his outposts and vedettes and cossack-picquets
or whatever they was called and we wandered around the veldt arm in arm
"The way we worked lodge was this way. The General he had his breakfast
at 8:45 A.M. to the tick. He might have been a Long Island commuter. At
8:42 A.M. I'd go down to the Thirty-fourth Street ferry to meet him--I
mean I'd see the Zigler into position at two thousand (I began at three
thousand but that was cold and distant)--and blow him off to two full
hoppers--eighteen rounds--just as they were bringing in his coffee. If his
crowd was busy celebrating the anniversary of Waterloo or the last royal
kid's birthday they'd open on me with two guns (I'll tell you about them
later on) but if they were disengaged they'd all stand to their horses
and pile on the ironmongery and washers and typewriters and five weeks'
grub and in half an hour they'd sail out after me and the rest of Van
Zyl's boys; lying down and firing till 11:45 A.M. or maybe high noon. Then
we'd go from labour to refreshment resooming at 2 P.M. and battling till
tea-time. Tuesday and Friday was the General's moving days. He'd trek
ahead ten or twelve miles and we'd loaf around his flankers and exercise
the ponies a piece. Sometimes he'd get hung up in a drift--stalled
crossin' a crick--and we'd make playful snatches at his wagons. First time
that happened I turned the Zigler loose with high hopes Sir; but the old
man was well posted on rearguards with a gun to 'em and I had to haul her
out with three mules instead of six. I was pretty mad. I wasn't looking
for any experts back of the Royal British Artillery. Otherwise the game
was mostly even. He'd lay out three or four of our commando and we'd
gather in four or five of his once a week or thereon. One time I
remember long towards dusk we saw 'em burying five of their boys. They
stood pretty thick around the graves. We wasn't more than fifteen hundred
yards off but old Van Zyl wouldn't fire. He just took off his hat at the
proper time. He said if you stretched a man at his prayers you'd have to
hump his bad luck before the Throne as well as your own. I am inclined to
agree with him. So we browsed along week in and week out. A war-sharp
might have judged it sort of docile but for an inventor needing practice
one day and peace the next for checking his theories it suited Laughton
"And friendly? Friendly was no word for it. We was brothers in arms.
"Why I knew those two guns of the Royal British Artillery as well as I
used to know the old Fifth Avenoo stages. _They_ might have been brothers
"They'd jolt into action and wiggle around and skid and spit and cough
and prize 'emselves back again during our hours of bloody battle till I
could have wept Sir at the spectacle of modern white men chained up to
these old hand-power back-number flint-and-steel reaping machines. One
of 'em--I called her Baldy--she'd a long white scar all along her barrel--
I'd made sure of twenty times. I knew her crew by sight but she'd come
switching and teturing out of the dust of my shells like--like a hen from
under a buggy--and she'd dip into a gully and next thing I'd know 'ud be
her old nose peeking over the ridge sniffin' for us. Her runnin' mate had
two grey mules in the lead and a natural wood wheel repainted and a
whole raft of rope-ends trailin' around. 'Jever see Tom Reed with his vest
off steerin' Congress through a heat-wave? I've been to Washington often
--too often--filin' my patents. I called her Tom Reed. We three 'ud play
pussy-wants-a-corner all round the outposts on off-days--cross-lots
through the sage and along the mezas till we was short-circuited by
canons. O it was great for me and Baldy and Tom Reed! I don't know as we
didn't neglect the legitimate interests of our respective commanders
sometimes for this ball-play. I know _I_ did.
"'Long towards the fall the Royal British Artillery grew shy--hung back in
their breeching sort of--and their shooting was way--way off. I observed
they wasn't taking any chances not though I acted kitten almost
"I mentioned it to Van Zyl because it struck me I had about knocked their
Royal British moral endways.
"'No' says he rocking as usual on his pony. 'My Captain Mankeltow he is
sick. That is all.'
"'So's your Captain Mankeltow's guns' I said. 'But I'm going to make 'em
a heap sicker before he gets well.'
"'No' says Van Zyl. 'He has had the enteric a little. Now he is better
and he was let out from hospital at Jackhalputs. Ah that Mankeltow! He
always makes me laugh so. I told him--long back--at Colesberg I had a
little home for him at Nooitgedacht. But he would not come--no! He has
been sick and I am sorry.'
"'How d'you know that?' I says.
"'Why only to-day he sends back his love by Johanna Van der Merwe that
goes to their doctor for her sick baby's eyes. He sends his love that
Mankeltow and he tells her tell me he has a little garden of roses all
ready for me in the Dutch Indies--Umballa. He is very funny my Captain
"The Dutch and the English ought to fraternise Sir. They've the same
notions of humour to my thinking.'
"'When he gets well' says Van Zyl 'you look out Mr. Americaan. He comes
back to his guns next Tuesday. Then they shoot better.'
"I wasn't so well acquainted with the Royal British Artillery as old man
Van Zyl. I knew this Captain Mankeltow by sight of course and
considering what sort of a man with the hoe he was I thought he'd done
right well against my Zigler. But nothing epoch-making.
"Next morning at the usual hour I waited on the General and old Van Zyl
come along with some of the boys. Van Zyl didn't hang round the Zigler
much as a rule but this was his luck that day.
"He was peeking through his glasses at the camp and I was helping pepper
the General's sow-belly--just as usual--when he turns to me quick and
says 'Almighty! How all these Englishmen are liars! You cannot trust
one' he says. 'Captain Mankeltow tells our Johanna he comes not back till
Tuesday and to-day is Friday and there he is! Almighty! The English are
"If the old man hadn't stopped to make political speeches he'd have had
his supper in laager that night I guess. I was busy attending to Tom Reed
at two thousand when Baldy got in her fine work on me. I saw one sheet of
white flame wrapped round the hopper and in the middle of it there was
one o' my mules straight on end. Nothing out of the way in a mule on end
but this mule hadn't any head. I remember it struck me as incongruous at
the time and when I'd ciphered it out I was doing the Santos-Dumont act
without any balloon and my motor out of gear. Then I got to thinking about
Santos-Dumont and how much better my new way was. Then I thought about
Professor Langley and the Smithsonian and wishing I hadn't lied so
extravagantly in some of my specifications at Washington. Then I quit
thinking for quite a while and when I resumed my train of thought I was
nude Sir in a very stale stretcher and my mouth was full of fine dirt
all flavoured with Laughtite.
"I coughed up that dirt.
"'Hullo!' says a man walking beside me. 'You've spoke almost in time. Have
"I don't use rum as a rule but I did then because I needed it.
"'What hit us?'I said.
"'Me' he said. 'I got you fair on the hopper as you pulled out of that
donga; but I'm sorry to say every last round in the hopper's exploded and
your gun's in a shocking state. I'm real sorry' he says. 'I admire your
"'Are you Captain Mankeltow?' I says.
"'Yes' he says. 'I presoom you're Mister Zigler. Your commanding officer
told me about you.'
"'Have you gathered in old man Van Zyl?' I said.
"'Commandant Van Zyl' he says very stiff 'was most unfortunately
wounded but I am glad to say it's not serious. We hope he'll be able to
dine with us to-night; and I feel sure' he says 'the General would be
delighted to see you too though he didn't expect' he says 'and no one
else either by Jove!' he says and blushed like the British do when
"I saw him slide an Episcopalian Prayer-book up his sleeve and when I
looked over the edge of the stretcher there was half-a-dozen enlisted men
--privates--had just quit digging and was standing to attention by their
spades. I guess he was right on the General not expecting me to dinner;
but it was all of a piece with their sloppy British way of doing business.
Any God's quantity of fuss and flubdub to bury a man and not an ounce of
forehandedness in the whole outfit to find out whether he was rightly
dead. And I am a Congregationalist anyway!
"Well Sir that was my introduction to the British Army. I'd write a book
about it if anyone would believe me. This Captain Mankeltow Royal British
Artillery turned the doctor on me (I could write another book about
_him_) and fixed me up with a suit of his own clothes and fed me canned
beef and biscuits and give me a cigar--a Henry Clay and a whisky-and-
sparklet. He was a white man.
"'Ye-es by Jove' he said dragging out his words like a twist of
molasses 'we've all admired your gun and the way you've worked it. Some