Infomotions, Inc.The White Morning / Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948



Author: Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948
Title: The White Morning
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): gisela; gisela doering; germany; women; revolution; war
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Title: The White Morning

Author: Gertrude Atherton

Release Date: September 18, 2004  [eBook #13496]

Language: English

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THE WHITE MORNING

A Novel of the Power of the German Women in Wartime

by

GERTRUDE ATHERTON







[Illustration: GISELA
_Photograph by Arnold Genthe, N.Y._]




I


1

Countess Gisela Niebuhr sat in the long dusk of Munich staring over at
the beautiful park that in happier days had been famous in the world as
the Englischer Garten, and deliberately recalled on what might be the
last night of her life the successive causes that had led to her
profound dissatisfaction with her country as a woman. She was so
thoroughly disgusted with it as a German that personal grievances were
far from necessary to fortify her for the momentous role she was to play
with the dawn; but in this rare hour of leisure it amused her naturally
introspective mind to rehearse certain episodes whose sum had made her
what she was.

When she was fourteen and her sisters Lili and Elsa sixteen and eighteen
they had met in the attic of their home in Berlin one afternoon when
their father was automatically at his club and their mother taking her
prescribed hour of rest, and solemnly pledged one another never to
marry. The causes of this vital conclave were both cumulative and
immediate. Their father, the Herr Graf, a fine looking junker of sixty
odd, with a roving eye and a martial air despite a corpulence which
annoyed him excessively, had transferred his lost authority over his
regiment to his household. The boys were in their own regiments and rid
of parental discipline, but the countess and the girls received the full
benefit of his military, and Prussian, relish for despotism.

In his essence a kind man and fond of his women, he balked their every
individual wish and allowed them practically no liberty. They never left
the house unattended, like the American girls and those fortunate beings
of the student class. Lili had a charming voice and was consumed with
ambition to be an operatic star. She had summoned her courage upon one
memorable occasion and broached the subject to her father. All the
terrified family had expected his instant dissolution from apoplexy, and
in spite of his petty tyrannies they loved him. The best instructor in
Berlin continued to give her lessons, as nothing gave the Graf more
pleasure of an evening than her warblings.

The household, quite apart from the Frau Graefin's admirable management,
ran with military precision, and no one dared to be the fraction of a
minute late for meals or social engagements. They attended the theater,
the opera, court functions, dinners, balls, on stated nights, and unless
the Kaiser took a whim and altered a date, there was no deviation from
this routine year in and out. They walked at the same hour, drove in the
Tiergarten with the rest of fashionable Berlin, started for their castle
in the Saxon Alps not only upon the same day but on the same train every
summer, and the electric lights went out at precisely the same moment
every night; the count's faithful steward manipulated a central stop.
They were encouraged to read and study, but not--oh, by no means--to
have individual opinions. The men of Germany were there to do the
thinking and they did it.

Perhaps the rebellion of the Niebuhr girls would never have crystallized
(for, after all, their everyday experience was much like that of other
girls of their class, merely intensified by their father's persistence
of executive ardors) had it not been for two subtle influences, quite
unsuspected by the haughty Kammerherr: they had an American friend, Kate
Terriss, who was "finishing her voice" in Berlin, and their married
sister, Mariette, had recently spent a fortnight in the paternal nest.

The count despised the entire American race, as all good Prussians did,
but he was as wax to feminine blandishments outside of his family, and
Miss Terriss was pretty, diplomatic, alluring, and far cleverer than he
would have admitted any woman could be. She wound the old martinet
round her finger, subdued her rampant Americanism in his society, and
amused herself sowing the seeds of rebellion in the minds of "those poor
Niebuhr girls." As the countess also liked her, she had been "in and out
of the house" for nearly a year. The young Prussians had alternately
gasped and wept at the amazing stories of the liberty, the petting, the
procession of "good times" enjoyed by American girls of their own class,
to say nothing of the invariable prerogative of these fortunate girls to
choose their own husbands; who, according to the unprincipled Miss
Terriss, invariably spoiled their wives, and permitted them to go and
come, to spend their large personal allowances, as they listed. Gisela
closed her beloved volume of Grimm's fairy tales and never opened it
again.

But it was the visit of Mariette that had marshalled vague
dissatisfactions to an ordered climax. She had left her husband in the
garrison town she had married with the excellent young officer, making
a trifling indisposition of her mother a pretext for escape. On the
night before her departure the four girls huddled in her bed after the
opera and listened to an incisive account of her brief but distasteful
period of matrimony. Not that she suffered from tyranny. Quite the
reverse. Of her several suitors she had cannily engineered into her
father's favor a young man of pleasing appearance, good title and
fortune, but quite without character behind his fierce upstanding
mustache. Inheriting her father's rigid will, she had kept the young
officer in a state of abject submission. She stroked his hair in public
as if he had been her pet dachshund, and patted his hand at kindly
intervals as had he been her dear little son.

"But Karl has the soul of a sheep," she informed the breathless trio.
"You might not be so fortunate. Far, far from it. How can any one more
than guess before one is fairly married and done for? Look at papa. Does
he not pass in society as quite a charming person? The women like him,
and if poor mama died he could get another quick as a wink. But at the
best, my dear girls, matrimony--in Germany, at least--is an unmitigated
bore. And in a garrison town! Literally, there is no liberty, even with
one's husband under the thumb. We live by rote. Every afternoon I have
to take coffee at some house or other, when all those tiresome women are
not at my own. And what do you suppose they talk about--but invariably?
_Love!_" (With ineffable disdain.) "Nothing else, barring gossip and
scandal; as if they got any good out of _love_! But they are stupid for
the most part and gorged with love novels. They discuss the opera or the
play for the love element only, or the sensual quality of the music. Let
me tell you that although I married to get rid of papa, if I had it to
do over I should accept parental tyranny as the lesser evil. Not that I
am not fond of Karl in a way. He is a dear and would be quite harmless
if he were not in love with me. But garrison society--Gott, how German
wives would rejoice in a war! Think of the freedom of being a Red Cross
nurse, and all the men at the front. Officers would be your fate, too.
Papa would not look at a man who was not in the army. He despises men
who live on their estates. So take my advice while you may. Sit tight,
as the English say. Even German fathers do not live forever. The lime in
our soil sees to that. I notice papa's face gets quite purple after
dinner, and when he is angry. His arteries must have been hardening for
twenty years."

Lili and Elsa were quite aghast at this naked ratiocination, but Gisela
whispered: "We might elope, you know."

"With whom? No Englishman or American ever crosses the threshold, and
Kate has no brothers. The students have no money and no morals, and,
what is worse, no baths. A burgess or a professional would be quite as
intolerable, and no man of our class would consent to an elopement.
Germans may be sentimental but they are not romantic when it comes to
settlements. Now take my advice."

They were taking it on this fateful day in the attic. They vowed never
to marry even if their formidable papa locked them up on bread and
water.

"Which would be rather good for us," remarked the practical Elsa. "I am
sure we eat too much, and Gisela has a tendency to plumpness. But your
turn will not come for four years yet, dear child. It is poor us that
will need all our vows."

After some deliberation they concluded to inform their mother of their
grim resolve. Naturally sympathetic, a pregnant upheaval had taken place
in that good lady's psychology during the past year. Her marriage,
although arranged by the two families, had been a love match on both
sides. The Graf was a handsome dashing and passionate lover and she a
beautiful girl, lively and companionable. Disillusion was slow in
coming, for she had been brought up on the soundest German principles
and believed in the natural superiority of the male as she did in the
House of Hohenzollern and the Lutheran religion.

But she suspected, during her thirties, that she was, after all, the
daughter of a brilliant father as well as of an obsequious mother, and
that she had possibilities of mind and spirit that clamored for
development and fired the imagination, while utterly without hope. In
other words she was, like many another German woman, in her secret
heart, an individual. But she was not a rebel; her social code forbade
that. She manufactured interests for herself as rapidly, and as various,
as possible, preserved her good looks in spite of her eight children
(the two that followed Gisela died in infancy), dressed far better than
most German women, cultivated society, gave four notable musicales a
season, and was devoted to her sons and daughters, although she never
opposed her husband's stern military discipline of those seemingly
typical maedchens. It was her policy to keep the martinet in a good
humor, and after all--she had condemned herself not to think--what
better destiny than to be a German woman of the higher aristocracy? They
might have been born into the middle class, where there were quite as
many tyrants as in the patrician, and vastly fewer compensations. At the
age of forty-four she believed herself to be a philosopher.

Six months before Mariette's marriage and shortly after the birth and
death of her last child, Frau von Niebuhr suddenly returned to her bed,
prostrate, on the verge of collapse. The count raged that any wife of
his should dare to be ill or absent (when not fulfilling patriotic
obligations), consult her own selfish whims by having nerves and lying
speechless in bed. But he had a very considerable respect for Herr
Doktor Meyers--a rank plebeian but the best doctor in Berlin--and when
that family adviser, as autocratic as himself, ordered the Frau Graefin
to go to a sanatorium in the Austrian Dolomites--but alone, mind
you!--and remain as long as he--I, myself, Herr Graf!--deemed advisable,
with no intercourse, personal or chirographical with her family, the
Head of the House of Niebuhr angrily gave his consent and sent for a
sister to chaperon his girls.

The countess remained until the eve of Mariette's wedding, and she
passed those six months in one of the superlatively beautiful mountain
resorts of Austria. She was solitary, for the most part, and she did an
excessive amount of thinking. She returned to her duties with a deep
disgust of life as she knew it, a cynical contempt for women, and a
profound sense of revolt. Her natural diplomacy she had increased
tenfold.

When the three girls, their eyes very large, and speaking in whispers,
although their father was at a yearly talk-fest with his old brothers in
arms, confided to their mother their resolution never in any
circumstances to adopt a household tyrant of their own, she nodded
understandingly.

"Leave it to me," she said. "Your father can be managed, little as he
suspects it. I'll find the weak spot in each of the suitors he brings
to the house and set him against all of them."

"And my voice?" asked Lili timidly. But the Frau Graefin shook her head.
"There I cannot help you. He thinks an artistic career would disgrace
his family, and that is the end of it. Moreover, he regards women of any
class in public life as a disgrace to Germany. My assistance must be
passive--apparently. It will be enough to have no worse. Take my word
and Mariette's for that."

The Graefin, true to her word, quietly disposed of the several suitors
approved by her husband, and although the autocrat sputtered and
raged--the Graefin, her youngest daughter shrewdly surmised, rather
encouraged these exciting tempers--arguing that these three girls bade
fair to remain on his hands for ever, he ended always by agreeing that
the young officers were unworthy of an alliance with the ancient and
honorable House of Niebuhr.

The battles ended abruptly when Gisela was eighteen and a fat Lieutenant
of Uhlans, suing for the hand of the youngest born, and vehemently
supported by the Graf, had just been turned adrift. The Graf dropped
dead in his club. He left a surprisingly small estate for one who had
presented so pompous a front to the world. But not only had his sons
been handsomely portioned when they entered the army, and Mariette when
she married, but the excellent count, to relieve the increasing monotony
of days no longer enlivened by maneuvers and boudoirs, had amused
himself on the stock exchange. His judgment had been singularly bad and
he had dropped most of his capital and lived on the rest.

The town house must be sold and the countess and her daughters retire to
her castle in the Saxon Alps. As there were no portions for the girls,
the haunting terrors of matrimony were laid.

The four women took their comparative poverty with equanimity. The
countess had been as practical and economical as all German housewives,
even when relieved by housekeepers and stewards, and she calculated
that with a meager staff of servants and two years of seclusion she
should be able to furnish a flat in Berlin and pay a year's rent in
advance. Then by living for half the year on her estate she should save
enough for six highly agreeable months in the capital. Perhaps she might
let her castle to some rich brewer or American; and this she eventually
did.

Lili was given permission to study for the operatic stage and spend the
following winter in Dresden, where Mariette's husband was now quartered.
It was just before they moved to the country that the Graefin said to her
girls as they sat at coffee in the dismantled house:

"You shall have all that I never had, fulfil all the secret ambitions of
my younger heart. If you are individuals, prove it. You may go on the
stage, write, paint, study law, medicine, what you will. You have been
bred aristocrats and aristocrats you will remain. It is not liberty that
vulgarizes. Don't hate men. They have charming phases and moods; but
avoid entangling alliances until you are thirty. After that you will
know them well enough to avoid that fatal initial submergence. The whole
point is to begin with your eyes open and your campaign clearly thought
out.

"I, too, purpose to get a great deal out of life now that my fate is in
my own hands. By the summer we shall even be able to travel a little.
Third-class, yet that will be far more amusing than stuffed into one of
those plush carriages with the windows closed and forbidden to speak
with any one in the corridor. And forced to carry all the hand-luggage
off the train (when your father had an economical spasm and would not
take a footman) while he stalked out first as if we did not exist. I
shall never marry again--Gott in Himmel, no!--but I shall gather about
me all the interesting men I never have been able to have ten minutes'
conversation with alone; and, so far as is humanly possible, do exactly
as I please. My ego has been starved. I shall always be your best
friend--but think for yourselves."

Gisela had no gift that she was aware of, but she was intellectual and
had longed to finish her education at one of the great universities. As
she was not strong, however, she was content to spend a year in the
mountains; and then, robust, and on a meager income, she went to Munich
to attend the lectures on art and literature and to perfect herself in
French and English. She took a small room in an old tower near the
Frauenkirche and lived the students' life, probably the freest of any
city in the world. She dropped her title and name lest she be barred
from that socialistic community as well as discovered by horrified
relatives, and called herself Gisela Doering. After she had taken her
degree she passed a month in Berlin with her mother, who already had
established a salon, but she was determined to support herself and see
the world at the same time. Herr Doktor Meyers found her a position as
governess with a wealthy American patient, and, under her assumed name,
she sailed immediately for New York.

The Bolands had a house in upper Fifth Avenue and others at Newport,
Aiken and Bar Harbor; and when not occupying these stations were in
Europe or southern California. The two little girls passed the summer at
Bar Harbor with their governess.

It took Gisela some time to accustom herself to the position of upper
servant in that household of many servants, but she possessed humor and
she had had governesses herself. Her salary was large, she had one
entire day in the week to herself, except at Bar Harbor, and during her
last summer in the United States Mrs. Boland had a violent attack of
"America first" and took her children and their admirable governess not
only to California but to the Yellowstone Park, the Grand Canon and
Canada. They traveled in a private car, and Gisela, who could enjoy the
comfortless quarters of a student flat in Munich with all that life
meant in the free and beautiful city by the Isar, could also revel in
luxury; and this wonderful summer, following as it did the bitter climax
of her first serious love affair, seemed to her all the consolation that
a mere woman could ask. At all events she felt for it an intense and
lasting gratitude.


2

It was during her first summer at Bar Harbor that the second determining
experience of her life began, and it lasted for three years. She dwelt
upon it to-night with humor, sadness, and, for a moment, thrilling
regret, but without bitterness. That had passed long since.

She was virtual mistress of the house at Bar Harbor, and as the children
had a trained nurse and a maid, besides many little friends, she had
more leisure than in the city with her one day of complete detachment.
She met Freiherr Franz von Nettelbeck when she was walking with her
charges and he was strolling with the little girls of the Howland
family. The introductions were informal, and as they fell naturally
into German there was an immediate bond. Nettelbeck was an attache of
the German Embassy who preferred to spend his summers at Bar Harbor. He
was of the fair type of German most familiar to Americans, with a fine
slim military figure, deep fiery blue eyes and a lively mind. His golden
hair and mustache stood up aggressively, and his carriage was exceeding
haughty, but those were details too familiar to be counted against him
by Gisela. Her rich brunette beauty was now as ripe as her tall full
figure, and she was one of those women, rare in Germany, who could dress
well on nothing at all. She too possessed a lively mind, and after her
long New York winter was feeling her isolation. Her first interview
(which included a long stroll and a canoe ride) with this young diplomat
of her own land, visibly lifted her spirits, and she sang as she braided
her heavy mass of hair that night.

Franz, like most unattached young Germans, was on the lookout for a
soul-mate (which he was far too sophisticated to anticipate in
matrimony), and this handsome, brilliant, subtly responsive, and wholly
charming young woman of the only country worth mentioning entered his
life when he too was lonely and rather bored. It was his third year in
the United States of America and he did not like the life nor the
people. Nevertheless, he was trying to make up his mind to pay court to
Ann Howland, a young lady whose dashing beauty was somewhat overpoised
by salient force of character and an uncompromisingly keen and direct
mind, but whose fortune eclipsed by several millions that of the
high-born maiden selected by his family.

Here was a heaven-sent interval, with intellectual companionship in
addition to the game of the gods. Being a German girl, Gisela Doering
would be aware that he could not marry out of his class, unless the
plebeian pill were heavily gilded. To do him justice, he would not have
married the wealthiest plebeian in Germany. An American: that was
another matter. If there were such a thing as an aristocracy in this
absurd country which pretended to be a democracy and whose "society" was
erected upon the visible and screaming American dollar, no doubt Miss
Howland belonged to the highest rank. In Germany she would have been a
princess--probably of a mediatized house, and, he confessed it amiably
enough, she looked the part more unapologetically than several he could
mention.

So did Gisela Doering. He sighed that a woman who would have graced the
court of his Kaiser should have been tossed by a bungling fate into the
rank and file of the good German people; so laudably content to play
their insignificant part in their country's magnificent destiny.

Gisela never told him the truth. Sometimes, irritated by his subtle
arrogance, she was tempted. Also consuming love tempted her. But of what
use? She was without fortune and he must add to his. He had a limited
income and expensive tastes, and when a young nobleman in the diplomatic
service marries he must take a house and live with a certain amount of
state. Moreover, he intended to be an ambassador before he was
forty-five, and he was justified in his ambitions, for he was
exceptionally clever and his rise had been rapid. But now he was
care-free and young, and love was his right.

Gisela understood him perfectly. Not only was she of his class, but her
brother Karl had madly loved a girl in a chocolate shop and wept
tempestuously beside her bed while their father slept. He married
philosophically when his hour struck.

But if she understood she was also romantic. She forgot her vow to live
alone, her mother's advice, and dreamed of a moment of overwhelming
madness which would sweep them both up to the little church on the
mountain. There, like a true heroine of old-time fiction, she would
announce her own name at the altar. This moment, however, did not
arrive. Nettelbeck, too, was romantic, but his head was as level within
as it was flat behind. He never went near the church on the mountain.

There was no surface lovemaking during the first two summers, or in the
winter following the second summer, when he came over from Washington on
her Wednesday as often as he could, and they had luncheon and tea in
byway restaurants. They were both fascinated by the game, and they had
an infinite number of things to talk about, for their minds were really
congenial. They disputed with fire and fury. It was a part of Gisela's
dormant genius to grasp instinctively the psychology of foreign nations,
and before she had been in the United States a year she understood it
far better than Nettelbeck ever would. Even if he had despised it less
he would have lavished all the resources of his wit upon a country so
different from Germany in every phase that it must necessarily be
negligible save as a future colony of Prussia, if only for the pleasure
of seeing Gisela's long eyes open and flash, the dusky red in her
cheeks burn crimson and her bosom heave at his "junker narrow-mindedness
and stupid arrogance"--; "a stupidity that will be the ruin of Germany
in the end!" she exclaimed one day in a sudden moment of illumination,
for, as a matter of fact, she had given little thought to politics.
However, she recalled her typical papa.

Of course they talked their German souls inside out. At least Nettelbeck
did. As time went on, Gisela used her frankness as a mask while her soul
dodged in panic. She believed him to be lightly and agreeably in love
with her (she had witnessed many summer flirtations at Bar Harbor, and
been laid siege to by more than one young American, idle, enterprising,
charming and quite irresponsible), and she was appalled at her own
capacity for love and suffering, the complete rout of her theories,
based on harsh experience, before the ancient instinct to unleash her
womanhood at any cost.

She plunged into a serious study of the country, which she had
heretofore absorbed with her avid mental conduits, and read innumerable
newspapers, magazines, elucidating literature of all sorts, besides the
best histories of the nation and the illuminating biographies of its
distinguished men in politics and the arts. She was deeply responsive to
the freedom of the individual in this great whirling heterogeneous land,
and as her duties at any time were the reverse of onerous, it was
imperative to keep her consciousness as detached from her inner life as
possible.

But at the back of her mind was always the haunting terror that he never
would come again, that he was really more attracted to Ann Howland than
he knew; and of all American women whom Gisela had met she admired Miss
Howland preeminently. She was not only beautiful in the grand manner but
she possessed intellect as distinguished from the surface "brightness"
of so many of her countrywomen, and had made a deep impression upon even
the superlatively educated German girl when they had chanced to meet and
talk at children's picnics at Bar Harbor, or when the triumphant young
beauty ran up to the nursery in town to bring a message to the little
Bolands from her sisters. It was true that hers was not the seductive
type of beauty, that her large gray eyes were cool and appraising, her
fine skin quite without color, and her soft abundant hair little darker
than Franz's own, but she could be feminine and charming when she chose
and she would be a wife in whom even a German would experience a secret
and swelling pride.

What chance had she--she--Gisela Doering?

There were days and weeks, during that second winter, when she was
tormented by a sort of sub-hysteria, a stifled voice in the region of
her heart threatening to force its way out and shriek. There were times
when she gave way to despair, and thought of her vigorous youth with a
shudder, and at other times she was so angry and humiliated at her
surrender and secret chaos, that she was on the point more than once of
breaking definitely with Franz Nettelbeck, or even of going back to
Germany. If he missed a Wednesday, or failed to write, she slipped out
of the house at night and paced Central Park for hours, fighting her
rebellious nerves with her pride and the strong independent will that
she had believed would enable her to leap lightly over every pitfall in
life.

Then he would come and her spirits would soar, her whole awakened being
possessed by a sort of reckless fury, a desperate resolve to enjoy the
meager portion of happiness allotted to her by an always grudging fate;
and for a few days after he left she would give herself up to blissful
and extravagant dreams.

But Nettelbeck was by no means lightly in love with Gisela Doering.
During the third summer, partly owing to the increased independence of
her growing charges, partly to his own expert management, they met in
long solitudes seldom disturbed. Gisela dismissed fears, ignored the
inevitable end, plunged headlong and was wildly happy. Nettelbeck was an
ardent and absorbed lover, for he knew that his time was short, and he
was determined to have one perfect memory in his secret life that the
woman who bore his name should never violate. Miss Howland had meted him
the portion his dilatoriness invited and married a fine upstanding young
American whose career was in Washington; and his family had peremptorily
commanded him to return in the spring (with the Kaiser's permission, a
mandate in itself) and marry the patient Baronin Irma Hammorwoerth.

And so for a summer and a winter they were happy.

Gisela averted her mind tonight from the parting with something of the
almost forgotten panic. She had never dared to dwell upon it, nor on the
month that followed. Her powerful will had rebelled finally and she had
fought down and out of her consciously functioning mind the details of
her tragic passion, and even reveled arrogantly in the sensation of
deliverance from the slavery of love. Simultaneously she was swept off
to see the great natural wonders of the American continent and they had
intoned the requiem.

The following autumn she returned to Germany and paid her mother another
brief visit.

There all was well. Frau von Niebuhr, who had not developed a white hair
and whose Viennese maid was a magician in the matter of gowns and
complexion, was enjoying life and had a daring salon; that is to say
gatherings in which all the men did not wear uniforms nor prefix the
sacred von. She drew the line at bad manners, but otherwise all (and of
any nation) who had distinguished themselves, or possessed the priceless
gift of personality, were welcome there; and although she lived to be
amused and make up what she had lost during thirty unspeakable years,
she progressed inevitably in keenness of insight and breadth of vision.
She had become a student of politics and stared into the future with
deepening apprehension, but of this she gave not a hint to Gisela.
Mariette was her closest friend and only confidante. Mariette was now
living in Berlin, and amusing herself in ways Frau von Niebuhr
disapproved, mainly because she thought it wiser to banish men from
one's inner life altogether; but, true to her code, she forebore
remonstrance.

Lili, having discovered that her voice was not for grand opera, had
philosophically descended to the concert stage and was excitedly happy
in her success and independence. Elsa was a Red Cross nurse.

Gisela met Franz von Nettelbeck at a court function and had her little
revenge. He was furious, and vowed, quite audibly, that he would never
forgive her. But Gisela was merely disturbed lest the Obersthofmeisterin
who stood but three feet away overhear his caustic remarks.
Distinguished professors (without their wives) might go to court as a
reward for shedding added luster upon the German Empire, but lesser
mortals who had received payment for services rendered might not. Her
independent mother, still a favorite, for she was exceeding discreet,
would have incurred the imperial displeasure if the truth were known.
However, the incident passed unnoticed, and Franz, whatever his
shortcomings, was a gentleman and kept her secret.

The scene at the palace had been brilliant and sustaining and she had
received much personal homage, for she was looking very beautiful and
radiant, and the little adventure had been incense to her pride
(moreover the young Freifrau von Nettelbeck, whom she saw on his arm
later, was an insignificant little hausfrau); but when she was in her
room after midnight she realized grimly that if she had not done her
work so well during that terrible month in New York and buried her sex
heart, she should once more be beating the floor or the wall with her
impotent hands. But the knowledge of her immunity made her a little sad.


3

The next episode to her grim humor was wholly amusing, although it
played its part in her developing sense of revolt against the attitude
of the German male to the sex of the mother that bore him. She returned
to Munich after a month in Berlin, for by this time she had made up her
mind to write, and the city by the Isar was the most beautiful in the
world to write and to dream in. Moreover, she wished to attend the
lectures on drama at the University.

The four years in America, during which she had, in spite of her
sentimental preoccupation, studied diligently every phase that passed
before her keen critical vision, analyzed every person she had met, and
passed many of her evenings in the study of the best contemporary
fiction, had, associated with the spur of her own upheaval, developed
her imagination, and her head was full of unwritten stories. They were
highly realistic, of course, as became a modern German, but unmistakably
dramatic.

She attended the lectures, practising on short stories meanwhile,
devoting most of her effort to becoming a stylist, that she might attain
immediate recognition whatever her matter. She lived in a small but
comfortable hotel, for not only had she saved the greater part of her
salary, but the Bolands, however oblivious socially of a paid attendant,
had a magnificent way with them at Christmas, and had given her an even
larger cheque at parting.

In Munich she was once more Gisela Doering, once more led the student
life. There are liberties even for people of rank in Munich, and many
nobles, exasperated with the rigid class lines of Berlin and other
German capitals, move there, and, while careful to attend court
functions, make intelligent friends in all sets. They are, or were, the
happiest people in Germany. Here Gisela could sit alone in a cafe by the
hour reading the illustrated papers and smoking with her coffee,
attracting no attention whatever. She joined parties of students during
the summer and tramped the Bavarian Alps, and she danced all night at
student balls. Nevertheless, she managed to hold herself somewhat aloof
and it was understood that she did not live the "loose" life of the
"artist class." She was much admired for her stately beauty and her
style, and if the young people of that free and easy community were at
times inclined to resent a manifest difference, they succumbed to her
magnetism, and respected her obvious devotion to a high literary ideal.

It was during her second winter that she met Georg Zottmyer.

He was a tall, narrow, angular young man with a small clipped head and
preeminent ears. His narrow face was set with narrower features, and his
eyes were very bright, and the windows of his conceit. Although his
income was minute he boasted a father of note in the University of
Leipzig, and his mother had traveled and written a scathing satire on
the United States of America. He had not a grain of originality or
imagination, but he too was taking the course in dramatic art, and
reading for that degree without whose magic letters he could not hope to
take his place in the world of art to which his parts entitled him. He
met Gisela in the lecture room and immediately became her cavalier.

At first Gisela endeavored to get rid of him by an icy front, but this
he took for feminine coquetry and his own front was serene. As he had
made up his mind to be a dramatist merely because the career appealed
acutely to his itching ambition, so did he in due course make up his
mind to marry this handsome brunette (what hair he had was drab) who
bore all the earmarks of secret wealth in spite of the fact that she
lived in a small hotel. As time went on, Gisela resigned herself and put
his little ego under her microscope.

His wooing was methodical. He not only walked home with her after every
lecture, but he gave her a series of teas in his high little flat, and
he really did know "people." His parental introductions had given him
the entree to the professional circles, and he cultivated society both
semi-fashionable and ultra-literary. He knew no one who had not
"arrived."

He chose an unpropitious day for a tentative declaration of his
intentions. It was very cold. White mufflers protected his outstanding
ears, a gray woolen scarf was wound about his long neck and almost
covered his tight little mouth. He wore mitts and wristlets, and his
nose was crimson. Gisela, in a new set of furs, sent her for Christmas
by Mariette, and a smart gown of wine-colored cloth, looked radiant. Her
dark eyes shone with joy in the cold electric air of that high plateau,
her cheeks were red, her warm full-lipped mouth was parted over her even
white teeth. They walked from the University down the great
Leopoldstrasse, one of the finest streets in Europe, toward the Cafe
Luitpold, where he had invited her to drink coffee.

There was little conversation during that brisk walk. He was frozen, and
she was not thinking of him at all. At the cafe he selected an alcove as
far from the noisy groups of students as possible. All the "trees" were
hung with colored caps and the atmosphere was dense with smoke.

Zottmyer, who, after all, was young, soon thawed out in the warm room,
and when he had cheered his interior with a large cup of hot coffee and
lit a cigarette, he brought up the subject of matrimony. He had no
intention of proposing in these surroundings, but it was time to pave
the way--or set the pattern of the tiling; he cultivated the divergent
phrase.

"It is time I married," he announced, and, not to appear too serious, he
smiled into her glowing face. She looked happy enough to encourage a man
far less fatuous than Georg Zottmyer.

"Yes?" Gisela's eyes had wandered to the nearest group of students and
she was wondering if they might not have made handsome men had they
permitted their duel wounds to heal instead of excoriating them with
salt and pepper. "Most German men marry young."

"I am not conventional. I should not dream of marrying unless I found a
young lady who possessed everything that I demand in a wife."

"Ah? What then do you demand?"

"Everything."

"That is a large order. What do you mean, exactly."

"I mean, of course, that I should not marry a woman who did not have in
the first place beauty, that I might be proud of her in public, besides
refreshing myself with the sight of her in private. She must have beauty
of figure as well as of face, as I detest our dumpy type of German
women. And she must have style, and dress well. It would mortify me to
death, particularly after I had made my position, to go about with one
of those wives that seem to fall to the lot of most intellectuals.
Soft-waisted, bulging women," he added spitefully, "how I hate them!"

"Your taste is admirable. Our women are much too careless, particularly
after marriage. And the second requirement?"

"Oh, a small fortune, at least. I could not afford to marry, otherwise,
and although I shall no doubt make a large income in due course, I must
begin well. I prefer a house, as it gives an artist a more serious and
dignified position."

"Indeed, yes."

"And of course my wife must be of good birth, as good as my own. I
should never dream of marrying even a Venus in this Bohemian class. That
sort of thing is all very well--" He waved his hand, and arched an
eyebrow, and Gisela inferred she was to take quite a number of amours
for granted; much, for instance, as she would those of a handsome
officer who sat alone at the next table and who looked infinitely bored
with love and longing for war.

"She must--it goes without saying--be intellectual, clever, bright,
amusing. I must have companionship. Not an artist, however. I should
never permit my wife to write or model or sing for the public. And she
must have the social talent, magnetism, the power to charm whom she
will. That would help me infinitely in my career."

"Is that all?"

"Oh, she must be affectionate and a good housekeeper, but most German
women have the domestic virtues. Naturally, she must have perfect
health. I detest women with nerves and moods."

Gisela had been leaning forward, her elbows on the table, her little
square chin on her hands, and if there were wondering contempt in her
eyes he saw only their brilliance and fixed regard.

"And what, may I ask, do you purpose to give her in return for all
that?"

He flicked the ashes from his cigarette, and the gesture was quite
without affectation. "What has that to do with it?"

"Well--only--you think, then, that in return for all--but all!--that
a woman has to offer a man--any man--you should not feel yourself bound
to give her an equal measure in return?"

"I have not given the matter a thought. Naturally the woman I select
will see all in me that I see in her. Shall we get out of this? I feel
I have taken a cold. Fresh air is a drastic but efficient corrective."

He escorted her to her hotel, although he gazed longingly down his own
street as they passed it. His head felt overburdened and it was awkward
manipulating a handkerchief with mitts.

Within half a block of the hotel Gisela, who had been walking
rapidly, bending a little against the wind, paused and drew herself
up to her stately height. Cold as he was he thrilled slightly as he
reflected that she possessed real distinction; almost she might be
hochwohlgeboren--yes, quite. He tingled less agreeably as he recalled
a snub administered by a great lady with whom he had presumed to attempt
conversation at the house of a liberal little Russian baroness. This
woman would snub any hochwohlgeboren who presumed to snub him in the
future.

"Herr Zottmyer," said Gisela, and her tones were as crisp as the air
blowing down from the Alps, "you must permit me to give you a note of
introduction to my mother when you go to Berlin next week. I hope you
will find time to call on her."

Zottmyer's eyes snapped at this covert encouragement, although it was
rather forward in a German girl practically to ask a man his intentions.
"I shall be delighted to call on Frau Doermer--"

"Countess Niebuhr. I have practised a little innocent deception here in
Munich--for obvious reasons. Also, during my four years' sojourn in
America--"

"In America?" His brain, a fine, concentrated, Teutonic organ, strove to
grapple with two ideas at once. "You have been in America!"

"Rather. I feel half an American. You have no idea how it changed my
point of view--oh, but in many ways! The men, you see, are so different
from ours. The American woman has a magnificent position--"

"Ridiculous, uppish, spoilt creatures--"

"But how delicious to be spoiled. You will call on my mother?"

Zottmyer almost choked. "I hate the Prussians--above all, that arrogant
junker class. And the name of Niebuhr!--why, it stands for all that
junkerdom means in its most virulent form!"

"I am afraid it does. My brothers are junkers unalloyed. But I can
assure you that my mother is as democratic as one may be in Berlin. She
has quite a number of friends among the intellectuals--"

"Would she consent to your marriage with a--a--_mere_ intellectual?"

"What has that to do with it! It would never occur to me to marry
out of my own class. That is always a mistake. There are, you
see,--well--subtle differences that forbid harmony--"

"You are a snob. I might have seen it before this. You give yourself
airs--" He was now so torn between fury and disappointment,
mortification and Teutonic resentment at being obliged to diverge
abruptly from precisely thought-out tactics, that he forgot his
physical discomfort--and incidentally to use his handkerchief.

"A snob? When I am true to the best traditions of my race? Did you not
tell me that you would not marry a Venus if she happened to be born
outside of your own class? But it is rather cold here--not? Shall I send
the note of introduction to your flat?"

"I would not put my foot in any supercilious junker palace, and I never
wish to see you again!" He whirled about, burying his nose in his
handkerchief, and tore down the street.

Gisela laughed, but with little amusement. Her sympathy for German women
took a long stride. But she forgot him a few moments later at her desk.


4

During the next five years she wrote many short stories and essays, and
four plays. Her work appealed subtly but clearly to the growing
rebellion of the German women; she was too much of an artist to write
frank propaganda and the critics were long waking up to the object of
her work. Her first three plays were failures, but the fourth ran for
two years and a half and was played all over Germany and Austria. It was
a brilliant, dramatic, half-humorous, half-tragic exposition of the
German woman's enforced subservience to man as compared with the
glorious liberty of the somewhat exaggerated American co-heroine.

There was talk of suppressing this play at first, but Countess Niebuhr
brought all her influence to bear, and as the widow of one esteemed
junker and the daughter of another far more important, her argument that
her daughter merely labored to make the German woman a still more
powerful factor in upholding the might of German Kultur--that being the
secret hidden in what was after all but a fantasy--caused the powers to
shrug their shoulders and dismiss the matter.

After all, was not the play by a woman, and were not the German women
the best trained in the world? Besides, the play was amusing, and humor
destroyed the serious purpose always. Humor made the Americans the
contemptible race they were--fortunately for the future plans of
Germany. They took nothing seriously. In time they would!

Those who have not lived in Germany have not even an inkling of the deep
slow secret revolt against the insolent and inconsiderate attitude of
the German male that had been growing among its women for some fifteen
years before the outbreak of the war. They ventured no public meetings
or militant acts of any sort, for men were far too strong for them yet,
and the German woman is by nature retiring, however individualistic her
ego. Their only outward manifestation was the hideous _reformkleid_, a
typical manifestation in even the women of a nation whose art is as ugly
as it often is interesting. But thousands of them were muttering to one
another and reading with envy the literature of woman's revolt in other
lands. When one of their own sex rose, a woman of the highest
intelligence and an impeccable style, who, although she signed herself
Gisela Doering, was said to be a rebellious member of the Prussian
aristocracy, their own vague protests slowly crystallized and they grew
to look upon her as a leader, who one day would show them the path out
of bondage. Her correspondence grew to enormous proportions, but she
answered every letter, fully determined by this time to accomplish
something more than a name in letters while incidentally amusing herself
with stirring up the women and annoying the men. But although clubs were
formed to discuss her work and letters, they were still unsuspected of
the arrogant men who controlled the destinies of Germany. And as the
German woman is the reverse of frank, as little indication of the slow
revolution was found in the home. The solution was as far off as ever,
but German women are patient and they bided their time, exulting in
their secret. It gave them a sense of revenge and power.

Then came the war.




II


1

Gisela, like all the good women of Germany, flamed with patriotism and
righteous indignation. Russia and France with no provocation, with no
motive but insensate ambition on the one hand and a festering desire for
revenge on the other, had crossed the sacred frontiers of the great
Teutonic Empire. A French aviator had dropped bombs on Neuremburg, one
of the artistic treasures of Europe, although, mercifully, his bombs had
inadvertently been filled with air. Then followed the even more
indefensible act of Great Britain, whose only motive in joining forces
with paper allies was to aim a blow at the glorious commercial prestige
of Germany, the object of her fear and hate these many years.

Gisela immediately entered the hospital opened by her mother in Berlin
and took a rapid first-aid course, concentrating upon the work all the
fine powers of her mind and strong young body. Literature, fame,
propaganda among women, all were dismissed. Although victory was certain
in a few months there would be many thousands of wounded and she was
filled with a passionate desire to serve those heroes and martyrs of
foreign hatred. She forgot her personal experience of the German male,
forgot herself. Her beloved Fatherland was attacked, and the German male
in his heroic resistance, his triumphal progress, was become a god.
_Dienen! Dienen!_

She had no time to ponder upon the violation of Belgium and knew nothing
of the curious escape of medieval psychology from the formal harness of
modern times. She was engaged in hard menial labor during those first
weeks and it was sufficient to know that Germany had been violated. It
is true that her warrior parent had sometimes boasted of the day when
Germany should rule the world, and that he had referred to the Great
European War as a foregone conclusion, as so many had been doing these
past ten or fifteen years; but he had been careful to say nothing about
throwing the torch into the powder. Gisela, like the vast majority of
civilians in the Central Empires, had grown too accustomed to the
evidences of a great standing army to give them more than a passing
thought. Were they not, then, situate in the very middle of Europe?
Surrounded by envious and powerful enemies? What more natural than that
they should be ever on the alert?

That Germany herself would strike at the peace of Europe, a peace which
had brought her an unexampled prosperity and eminence, never had crossed
Gisela's mind. Nevertheless, knowing the German male as she did, she was
quite sure that the officers reveled in the exchange of peace for war as
much as the men in the ranks detested it. She could see Franz von
Nettelbeck barking out orders for the irresistible advance, his keen
blue eyes flashing with triumph, his Prussian upper lip curling with
impatient scorn, and Georg Zottmyer grinding his teeth in the trenches
and suffering acutely from dyspepsia.

Until the summer of 1916 she was very busy, either in her mother's
hospital or in one in Munich run by a group of Socialist friends under
Marie von Erkel. She glanced at the English papers sometimes, but
assumed that their versions of the war's origin, and of Germanic
methods, were for home effect, and smiled at their occasional claims of
victory.

Poor things! By this time she had seen so much mortal suffering, soothed
so many dying men who raved of unimaginable horrors, written so many
pathetic last letters to mothers and wives and sweethearts, that the
first mood of fury and hatred had long since passed. Her mind, normally
clear, acute, just, regained its poise. Moreover, those five years
preceding the war, during which she had learned to use her gifts for the
benefit of her sex instead of for her own amusement and fame, played
their insidious part.

When she was ordered to take charge of a hospital in Lille in June of
the second year of the war she had forced herself to accept the present
state of Europe with a certain philosophy. After all, war was its
normal, its historic, condition. Following a somewhat unusual interval
of peace, owing to the beneficent reign of the German Emperor, the war
microbes of Europe, cultured in the Balkan swamps, had, through some
miscalculation, after a deplorable assassination, ravaged the entire
continent instead of being localized as heretofore. Men were men and
kings were kings and war was war. Gisela sometimes wondered if the
hideous upheaval were anybody's fault, if the desire to fight had not
been more or less simultaneous in spite of the fact that Germany was
caught napping and permitted Russia and France to sneak over her
frontiers.

The sinking of the _Lusitania_ and other passenger ships, or rather the
results, had filled her with a horror that might have developed into
protest had she not been assured that the U-boats had purposely waited
for a calm sea, not too far from shore, that the passengers might have
every opportunity for escape; and that they had been the victims of
contraband cargoes of ammunition exploding, badly adjusted life-boats,
panic among themselves, and utter inefficiency and selfishness of the
officers and crew.

These excuses sounded plausible to a young woman still too occupied to
ponder; but during her journey through Belgium and the invaded districts
of France her mind grew more and more uneasy. Surely an army so
uniformly victorious, an army which only forebore to press forward in a
battle--like that of the Marne, for instance--for sound strategic
reasons, should have found it unnecessary to destroy whole towns with
their priceless monuments of art, level countless insignificant
villages, and reduce their inhabitants to cowering misery. She had been
a student of history and had inferred that modern warfare was as humane
as war may be; witness the fine magnanimity of the Japanese, an Oriental
race. This passing country, which she had known well in its hey-day,
looked extraordinarily like the historical pictures of the invasions of
Goths and Vandals and Huns.

"Huns!" She had resented the constant use of the word in the English
papers, dismissing it finally as childish spite. Had its usurpation of
the classic and noble word "Germans" been one of those quick, merciless,
simultaneous designations that fly through every army in wartime and are
as apt as they are inevitable?

She felt a sudden desire to "talk it out" with Franz von Nettelbeck,
whose mind, despite his prejudices, was the most stimulating she had
ever known. But although she heard of him often, for he had covered
himself with glory, she had seen him only once--from a window in Berlin
as he promenaded Unter den Linden; a superb and haughty figure, his
swelling chest covered with medals.

In Lille she met Elsa, who had been in charge of a hospital for a year,
Mimi Brandt and Heloise von Erkel, with whom she had been intimately
associated in Munich. She found all three horrified and appalled at the
atrocious cruelties, the persistent and needless severities, the
arrogant and swaggering attitude, accompanied by countless petty
tyrannies, unworthy of an army in possession; the wholly unmodern and
dishonorable treatment of a prostrate and wretched people. Above all,
the deportations of the young girls of Lille, torn from their families,
driven in herds through the streets, their faces stamped with despair or
abject terror, condemned to God knew what horrible fate, had shaken
these three humane and thinking women to the core.

All three, while serving far behind the lines, had thought their German
army an army of demi-gods, and all three were bitterly ashamed of their
countrymen and disposed to question a sovereign, and a military caste,
that not only encouraged the saddist lust of their fighters and seemed
unable to spare sufficient food for the civilians, in spite of the great
leakage through neutral countries, but which persisted in calling
themselves victorious when they were either perpetually on the defensive
or in the act of being beaten, despite their irresistible rush. The
Somme Drive had not begun but there was not a nurse in Lille that did
not know the truth about Verdun.

"And believe me, as the Americans say," remarked Mimi Brandt, "when the
German people know the truth, particularly the German women, there will
be some circus."

Mimi had been far more of an active rebel than the Niebuhr girls,
possibly because her life-stream was closer to the source, patently to
herself because she had a magnificent voice which needed only technique
to assure her a welcome in any of the great opera houses of Germany.
Adroitly persuaded by her parents to marry when she was not quite
seventeen, she had conceived an abhorrence of the rodent-visaged young
burgess who had been her lot; not only was he personally distasteful to
the ardent romantic girl, but he would not permit her to cultivate her
voice, much less study for the stage. Her revenge had been a cruel
disdain, to which he had responded by lying under the bed all night and
howling. Twice she had run away, visiting prosperous and sympathetic
relatives in Milwaukee, and both times returned at the passionate
solicitations of her parents; not only outraged in their dearest
conventions but anxious to be rid of the small rodent born of the union.

Her last return had been but a month before the outbreak of the war, and
Hans Brandt, to his growling disgust, was promptly swept off by the
searching German broom. He was as much in love with his wife as a man so
meagerly equipped in all but national conceit may be, for Mimi was a
handsome girl with a buxom but graceful figure, and a laughing face
whose golden brown eyes sparkled with the pure fun of living when they
were not somber with disgust and rebellion.

Gisela had always looked upon Heloise von Erkel as the most tragic
figure in Munich. In appearance she had distinction rather than beauty,
for although her features were delicate her complexion and hair were
faded and there were faint lines on her charming face. She was a blonde
of the French type, and her light figure, although indifferently carried
and a stranger to gowns, possessed an indefinable elegance.

Under heaven knew what impulse of romantic madness Frau von Erkel, then
Heloise d'Oremont, had married a young German officer, and although both
fancied themselves deeply in love the breach began shortly after they
had settled to the routine life of the frontier town where he was
stationed, and had widened rapidly in spite of the fact that she
produced six children as automatically as the most devoted (and
detested) hausfrau of her acquaintance. Shortly after the birth of
Marie, the breach became a chasm, for the chocolate firm, inherited
through her bourgeoise mother and the source of Frau von Erkel's wealth,
failed, and the haughty Bavarian aristocrat was forced to keep up his
position in the army and maintain his growing family on an income,
accruing from chocolate investments, that should have been reserved for
pleasure alone.

However, there was help for it. He renounced cards and such other costly
diversions as was possible without lowering his standard as a gentleman
and an officer, and of course the real privation was borne by the women
of the family. He even ceased to rage at his wife, for she merely sat in
her favorite chair, her hands folded, and looked at him with her subtle
ironic smile.

When Gisela met them, Frau von Erkel and her three daughters (all in
their late twenties and unmarried) were living in a dingy old house in a
respectable quarter, with one beer-sodden maid to relieve them of the
heavy work and bake the cake for the Sunday "Coffee."

Colonel von Erkel and his three sons lived in bachelor quarters and
called upon the women of the family every Sunday afternoon at precisely
four o'clock. In full uniform, and imposing specimens of the German
officer, they sat stiffly upon the uncomfortable chairs for about thirty
minutes and then simultaneously escaped and were seen no more for a
week.

At first Gisela was intensely amused at the vagaries of the Erkels, but
when she saw the four narrow beds in a row in one small monastic room
(the first floor was let to lodgers to pay the rent), and still more of
their almost hopeless contriving to hold their position in Munich
society, to say nothing of a bare sufficiency of food and raiment, her
sympathies, always more deep than quick, were permanently aroused. But
they were confined to the girls. Charming and graceful as the old lady
was, it was evident that if above the arrogance of her German husband
she was afflicted with the intense conservatism of her own race. It had
taken Aimee, the oldest of the girls, three years of persistent begging,
nagging, arguments, tears, and threats of abrupt demise, to obtain
permission to move her piano--a present from relatives who occasionally
came to the rescue--a bookcase and three chairs up to the garret and
have a room she could call her own. Frau von Erkel was scandalized that
a French girl (she systematically ignored the German infusion in her
daughters) should wish for hours of solitude. But Aimee had the national
genius for pegging away, and her mother, who came in time to feel that
one nerve was being gnawed with maddening reiteration, finally
succumbed; relieving her mind daily.

After that it was comparatively easy, although there were several
notable engagements, for Heloise to become secretary to Gisela Doering.
She never dared admit that she received a generous monthly cheque for
her services, but Gisela was a favorite with the old lady (always
sitting placidly in her chair, with her hands in her lap, a faint ironic
smile on her still pretty face), and as her literary style was extolled
by her exacting daughters (Frau von Erkel never read even a German
newspaper, but subscribed for _Le Figaro_), and as she knew Gisela to
be a member of her own class, the new connection was harmonious; and
Heloise at last experienced something like real liberty in the tiny
garden house of the parterre apartment of Gisela Doering on the
Koeniginstrasse.


2

There is little time in the war zones to meet and talk, but even nurses
must rest and take the air, and during the month before the frightful
rush of wounded after the British offensive on the Somme began, the four
girls, all in different hospitals, maneuvered to obtain leave of absence
at the same hour, early in the evening. They promenaded the desolate
streets arm in arm, their heads together, relieving their burdened
souls. There was no idea of treason in any one of those rebellious
minds, for they still believed their Fatherland to have been on the
defensive from the first, the victim of a conspiracy, and they knew from
the expression of the officers' faces, to say nothing of their tempers,
that the danger was by no means past.

But being women, and women who had thought for themselves for many
years, they must talk it out, and when too overcharged to trust their
comments to the narrow streets, they retired to a hillock outside the
city which no spy could approach unseen. However, nothing was farther
from the minds of the German men of war than that the women cogs of
their supremely organized land should presume to criticize methods which
had, to their best belief, terrorized the world.

"But we are not the only ones," said Heloise grimly, as they sat on
their refuge one dusky evening. "All but the sheep have a word to say
now and then. Of course there always will be women who will grovel at
the feet of men merely because they are men; but look out for the others
when this accursed war is over. God! How I hate men! To think that once
I dreamed and hoped like the silly romantic girl I was that some day
some man would marry me in spite of my poverty. Now I would not marry
one of the Kaiser's sons. Sick or well, German, English, French, I
loathe them all alike. Obscene beasts every one of them; but I hate the
Germans most, for they are the most disgusting invalids. And I am a
German girl, too. France has never had any call for me. It is Marie who
would be all French if she could. Poor little Marie, with her drab face
and hair, her poverty, her dynamic body, mad to marry, and climbing out
of the window when mother is asleep, to go to Socialists' meetings and
scream off her pent-up passions. What a hideous world!"

She sprang to her feet and flung her arms above her head and glared at
the unresponsive stars.

"O God!" she prayed. "Deliver us! Deliver us from war and deliver us
from men! Deliver us from Kings and deliver us from criminal jealousies
and ambitions and greeds that the innocent millions expiate in blood and
tears! Deliver us from cowards--" She whirled suddenly upon Gisela.
"You--you--why don't you lead us out? You have more mind than any woman
in Germany. You have more influence. I have always placed my hopes on
you. But now--now--you are doing nothing but nurse disgusting men like
the rest of us."

"Hush! You are talking too loud. And you are carrying your revolt too
far. These poor deluded men you nurse are only to be pitied, and if they
merely revolt you, you have no vocation--"

"When did I ever pretend to have a vocation for nursing? Like all the
rest I felt I must do my part, and heaven knows it is better than
sitting at home making bandages and watching my mother slowly starve. If
I had rolled one more bandage I should have gone mad."

"Well, dear Heloise, as far as I am concerned, the time for women to
battle for their rights is when their country is safe, not in mortal
danger. Be sure that when this war is over--"

She fell silent. A little flame had leapt in her brain. She
extinguished it hurriedly, but it burnt the fingers of her will, always
enthroned and always on guard. As she stared at Heloise, lovely in her
Red Cross uniform, a white torch against the dark horizon, her tragic
eyes once more searching the heavens, it struggled for life again and
again. She loved Heloise and she felt a sudden inclusive love of her
sex, an overpowering desire to deliver it from the sadness and horror of
war; a profounder emotion than anything it had inspired in those far off
days of peace. After all, however serious she had believed herself to
be, it had been a game, a career; for in times of peace one must invent
the vital interests of life, and one's success or failure depends upon
one's powers of creating and sustaining the delusion. Only two things in
life were real, love and war.

Gisela, like many women of dominating intellect and personality, had
exhausted her power of sex-love with her first unfortunate but prolonged
passion, and although she had no hatred of men, and indeed liked many
and craved their society, she gave her real sympathies and affections
to her women friends. She had no intimates, and this, perhaps, was one
secret of her power. A certain aloofness is essential in intellectual
leadership. But if she had no talent for intimacy she had much for
friendship, and the friends of her inner circle were all women, partly
because there was no waste of time fending off love-making, partly
because there were more interests in common, consequently a deeper bond.
To-night she was filled with an irresistible pity and a longing to set
them free. But her hands were tied. She dared not even go to Great
Headquarters and protest against the terrible fate of the young girls of
Lille. She would have accomplished no good and become an instant object
of suspicion.


3

For many months she did her duty doggedly, her indignation routed by the
disquieting fact that the Germans were retreating from the Somme; inch
by inch, but still retreating. Once she might have been satisfied with
grandiose phrases and scornful assurances. But the long attack on Verdun
had ended in dark humiliation; a failure that the most resourceful
vocabulary was unable to translate into a German advantage, optically
inverted.

More than half a million young Germans had fallen before Verdun, and for
what? That France, disdained these many years by the mighty Teutonic
Empire, and numerically inferior, might demonstrate to the world that
she was the greater military nation of the two.

What was it all for? What of the ever-receding fields of peace, grown
green and fat again? What of the racing past dotted with the broken
headstones of promises of victory by this means or that?

But to attempt to answer historical enigmas while working day and night
over the mangled victims of the Somme was beyond her powers. It was not
until she broke down, and, with Heloise von Erkel and Mimi Brandt,
obtained leave to spend a month at St. Moritz, that she found her
answer.




III


1

The three girls went to a little hotel that had been a favorite resort
of Gisela's in times of peace when she had felt an imperative need of
the high solitudes and eternal snows. They planned a week's rest, and a
fortnight or more of mountain climbing, dismissing the world war from
their minds as far as possible. But their gentle plans were upset on the
eighth day after their arrival, when at the end of an hour's hard
skating, clad in the bright sweaters and caps of old, Gisela suddenly
stopped short and returned the hard stare of two young women who had
drawn apart and were evidently discussing her. That they were Americans
Gisela recognized at a glance, but for a moment she saw them through a
curtain of fire and smoke and shrieking shells and dying groans, so
deep in the background of her memory were the people and events of her
merely personal life. One of the young women was very tall, with a slim
dashing figure, fine fair hair, keen cold gray eyes, a haughty nostril
and upper lip: a beauty of the patrician American type. The other was
shorter but also excessively thin, with dark dancing eyes, a warm color,
a coquettish nose and pouting lips--which somehow invoked the complacent
visage of the late Herr Graf Niebuhr--and a brilliant smile. In a moment
Gisela recognized Ann Howland Prentiss and Kate Terriss, now Mrs. Tolby.
This American friend of her childhood had married an American whose
business kept him in London, and her path and Gisela's had never crossed
since her finishing days in Berlin; although she had corresponded with
Lili for two or three years and knew the family history in vague
outline.

Gisela skated directly over to them and held out her hand to Kate. "It
is a long while," she said, "but perhaps you remember me--"

"Do I? Ann will not believe me--that you are Gisela von Niebuhr not
Doering. What a lark that was to run off to America and fool everybody! I
wish I had come across you. It would have been quite dramatic to tear
off the mask of the governess and reveal the junker. I think it was too
stupid of you, Ann, that you didn't guess."

"I noticed many inconsistencies," said Mrs. Prentiss dryly. She added,
holding out her hand with a charming smile: "But later, I was so proud
to have known Gisela Doering, that personal curiosity seemed impertinent.
How we have missed your writings these last dreadful years!"

Then all three began to talk at once and Gisela gathered that Mrs. Tolby
had nursed behind the British lines in France since the early days of
the war, and that her old friend, Mrs. Prentiss, had joined her a few
months since. Kate asked innumerable questions about the other girls,
particularly Mariette, whom she remembered as a Germanic blonde of warm
coloring, the coldest eyes, the most subtly rigid and ruthless mouth
she had ever seen. She had found some difficulty picturing her as a Red
Cross nurse and was not surprised to hear that she was in charge of an
enormous organization for the supply of cantines. Of her executive
ability and quick determination there could be no doubt--as she told Ann
Prentiss later.

In the excitement and exhilaration of this purely feminine
conversation--which soon included Heloise and Mimi--the two parties
forgot the gory chasm that divided them. When they dropped suddenly at a
chance word to the present that gripped even these glittering snow
fields with its red insatiable fingers, Kate, as ever, was equal to the
formidable moment and cried out, snapping her fingers at the blue ether
so tranquilly aloof from warring hosts:

"Forget it! For to-day, at least. What are you thinking about so hard,
Ann?"

"I'll tell you later. Let us go in and have tea and then skate again. I
noticed how well my step suited Countess Gisela's."

Ann Howland, as the wife of an eminent politician, had long since
cultivated the art of mental suppleness and had learned to fascinate the
most diverse intelligences and egos. Gisela, who was always warmly
responsive to personal charm when not too obviously insincere, enjoyed
the hour on the ice so exclusively devoted to her by the distinguished
American and went to bed that night well content to bury the war during
this period of necessary rest, grateful for this fresh current that
swept her for the moment into one of those old backwaters of mere
femininity. Mrs. Prentiss had not related a single anecdote of the
front, nor alluded to the fact that she was a Red Cross nurse.

But she and Kate Terriss sat up until midnight. They were both women
capable of seizing those rare opportunities for service that flit past
so many intelligent women lacking initiative, and here was one that the
most clear-thinking man would have envied. It was a piece of
unbelievable luck; Gisela Doering was not only here to their hand in a
relaxed and friendly mood, but she possessed charm combined with a
great intelligence and an iron will: she was far more the obvious leader
than they had inferred from her work, and they guessed something of the
powerful influence she must quietly have obtained over the women of
Germany. Mrs. Prentiss had by no means approved of her at an earlier
period, for she had shrewdly suspected that it was the handsome German
governess, not the high-born Irma, who thwarted her designs upon the
most attractive "foreigner" she had ever met. But even if she had
cherished a grudge, and her life had been far too happy and successful
for that, she would have been so profoundly grateful to Gisela for
saving her from the anomalous and wretched position of other modern
American women married to medieval Germans, that she felt almost as
great a desire to serve her as civilization in general.

When the two Americans parted for the night a methodical program had
been worked out, with every date at command and every fact in damning
sequence. The result of this momentous conference was that none of the
five went to bed on the following night, but sat about a large oval
table in the common sitting-room of Mrs. Prentiss and Mrs. Tolby, and
wrangled until dawn.


2

The challenge was given by the Americans and accepted by the Germans,
whose curiosity had been carefully pricked, and all had agreed that no
matter how intensely distasteful any argument might be they would not
separate for at least eight hours, and that there should be as little
"hot stuff" (quoting Mimi Brandt) as possible.

The avowed object of the Americans was to prove conclusively that
Germany, carrying out a deliberate program, had precipitated the war in
1914, believing Russia to be deliquescent, France riddled with
syndicalism, and Britain on the verge of civil war; consequently that
the exact moment had come for the swift execution of her scientifically
wrought plan for world dominion.

The three German girls, deep and many as were their causes for
resentment and disgust, had clung fast to the belief in their country's
defensive attitude in the face of a gigantic conspiracy, and were not
pried apart from it without hours of argument, hot and resentful on the
one side, cool, precise, and logical on the other. But those acute
German brains responded to the high intelligence of their opponents and
to their manifest honesty. Moreover, it was indisputable that from the
beginning the Americans had been in a position to know every side and
detail of the ghastly story, while the Germans, confined within their
own narrow borders and taught that the foreign newspapers were a tissue
of "strategic lies," had been wholly dependent upon their government for
"facts."

During this long debate Gisela sat at the head of the table, rigid and
watchful, when she was not fiercely arguing; Mimi Brandt sprawled in an
easy chair, satirical and slangy, enveloped in smoke; Heloise, very pale
and the first to be convinced, sat with her little hands clenched
against her cheek bones; Ann Prentiss, unshakenly cool quick and
precise; the more brilliant Mrs. Tolby flashing her beacon light into
recesses darkened these three years by systematic lies, but incapable of
the final stupidity.

That long argument need not be reproduced here. All the world has made
up its mind about Germany, knows her far better than as yet she knows
herself. It was the deliberate effort of the Americans to force these
three intelligent Germans, one of them a leader of the first importance,
to realize that their country stood to the rest of the world for lying,
treachery, cruelty, brutality, degeneracy, bad sportsmanship, ostrich
psychology; above all, that she had forfeited her place among modern and
honest nations.

When these facts had been hammered in, Mrs. Prentiss moved on to the
two cardinal facts for whose elucidation the rest had been a mere
preamble: that the Central Powers were beaten and knew it, but were
determined to go on sacrificing the manhood of the country, reducing the
population to the ultimate miseries of mind and body rather than yield;
and that the only hope of obtaining mercy from the Entente Allies in the
inevitable hour of surrender was to dethrone the Hohenzollerns and
establish a Republic. Otherwise as a nation they would cease to exist
and their last fate would be infinitely worse than their present. A
German Republic would be welcomed into the family of nations and receive
a friendly and helping hand from every one of the great adversaries,
whose prestige and wealth were still unshaken, and who all desired to
preserve the balance of power in Europe. Above all might they rely upon
the United States of America, the friendly hints of whose President had
been systematically distorted by the anxious Pan-Germans still in the
saddle; who would cheerfully witness the loss of every drop of the
people's life blood rather than their own power.

A conquered empire that had been hypnotized to the end by the monster
criminals of history, whose word no man would ever take again, would be
a mere collection of enslaved States for generations to come; the
conquerors, having given them their choice, would show no mercy.

Britain could not be starved. The submarine war, whatever its
devastations, and the vast inconveniences it had caused, was a failure.
And the colossal wealth of the United States in money, in food, in men!
Who knew her resources better than Gisela, who had lived in the country
for four years and found it an absorbing study, who had continued to
read American books, newspapers, and reviews up to the outbreak of the
war? Well, they were all at the disposal of democracy; and as the
Entente Allies, including the United States, were already many times
stronger than Germany, how could they fail to win in the end, no matter
how many millions of lives on all sides Germany continued to shovel
into Moloch?

All of these three clever German girls had been more or less prepared to
hear Germany proved a liar. They knew from British wounded that London
was neither a fortified city nor reduced to ashes; also that all the
Zeppelin raids on defenseless towns put together had been of less
strategical value to Germany than the taking of one village in the war
zone; she had merely piled up a mountain of hatred and contempt which
must be leveled by the quick repudiation of her people if they would
regain their lost intercourse with a triumphant world. Like all the
other women who had nursed near the front and knew the truth, they
translated into their own cynical vernacular such grandiose collocations
as "Strategic retreats" from that of the Battle of the Marne to those
which had been occurring periodically on the Western front since the
beginning of the Somme offensive of 1916.


3

Gisela's mind was complex and subtle, but it was also honest. When it
yielded a point, it yielded audibly. It was during the preliminary
discussion that she exclaimed:

"It is true--certain things come back to me--Mimi, open the window. The
air is blue and we are all hardy and can stand the night air. It was
after the Agadir incident that I felt a change. I say felt because I was
so absorbed in my work that I had no inclination for world politics and
never discussed them. Up to that time I had never heard a hint of war
for aggression on the part of Germany.... While, as far back as I can
remember, it was taken for granted there would be a great war some day,
I doubt if any but the military party really believed in it. We thought
the time had passed for real wars, that we were far too highly
civilized. Of course I knew that the military party to which my father
belonged would have welcomed a war, for war was their profession, their
game, their excuse for being, and I heard more or less talk among my
brothers of Pan-Germanism; but still I imagined that it was merely a
defensive Teutonic ideal, just as our oppressive standing army was a
necessity owing to our geographical position. My brother Karl said
once--it comes back to me, although I had quite forgotten it--that it
was futile for the military caste to try to work up a war, because every
moneyed man in the Empire--financiers, merchants, manufacturers, all the
rest--never would hear of it. The country was too prosperous. Our wealth
was growing at a pace which even the United States could not rival, and
poverty was practically eliminated. That is the reason no hint made any
impression on me. It seemed to me that we were the most fortunate and
advanced nation in Europe and had only to wait for our kultur to pervade
the earth.

"But--after Agadir--I seem to look back upon a slowly rising tide,
muttering, sullen, determined--even in Bavaria the old serenity, the
settled feeling, was gone--war was discussed as a possibility less
casually than of old--"

"I recall a good deal more than that," interrupted Mimi. "Remember that
I was the daughter of a manufacturer, and the wife, so-called, of a
merchant. They were always grinding their teeth--and from about the time
you speak of--over the wrongs of Germany. What the wrongs were I never
could make out, and I am bound to say I did not listen very attentively,
being absorbed in my own--but it would seem that Germany being the
greatest country in the world was somehow not being permitted to let the
rest of the world find it out--"

"It is all simple enough, now that I have the key. Germany tried to
bully France, and not only was France anxious to avoid war but Britain
showed her teeth. Germany was not then prepared to fight the world and
was forced to compromise. France gave her a slice of the Kongo in
exchange for Germany's consent to a French Protectorate in Morocco. Of
course--after that it must have been evident to all the business brains
of Germany that however great and prosperous the Empire might be she was
not strong enough to dictate to Europe; nor presume to demand any more
of the great prizes than she had already.

"In other words, she was shown her place. It was also more than possible
that her aggressive prosperity might one of these days excite the
apprehension of Great Britain, who would then show more than her teeth.
Gradually the idea must have permeated, taken possession of the minds of
men who had vast fortunes to increase or lose, that sooner or later they
must fight for what they had and that it were better perhaps to strike
first, at a moment they might choose themselves--however little they
might sympathize with the ambitions of the Pan-German Party for supreme
power in Europe--"

"Perhaps nothing," said Mimi. "They made up their minds to do it and
they did it. It is as plain as daylight. I'd forgive them, too, if
they'd won in six months, as they were so sure they would. What I don't
forgive them for is that they have proved themselves the most criminal
fools unhung. I'm glad that I am a Bavarian, and that Prussia, whom we
have always so hated and despised that we have never turned the lions
about on the Siegesthor, should be the prime offenders, humiliating as
it may be that we fell for their lies and got into this rotten mess. But
go ahead, Mrs. Prentiss. What's your next? Gee, but you can hand it out.
You must have kept tab since August 1st, 1914."

"I took merely an intelligent American woman's interest," said Mrs.
Prentiss, momentarily haughty. "And I spent the first two years and a
half in Washington, where I often knew more than the newspapers; at all
events where I was constantly in the society of thinking men. Also
honest men, for war was the last thing we wanted, until our honor became
too deeply involved to permit us to hold aloof and fatten on your misery
any longer. Also, to be frank, our interests."

The fact which impressed the Germans and reduced all that had gone
before to a heated academic discussion, was that Germany was beaten, and
that the United States embargo would reduce the Central Empires to
actual starvation, not merely devitalizing subnourishment; combined with
their own certainty that the Teutonic Powers would go on fighting, under
the lash of Prussia, sacrificing hundreds of thousands of loyal German
and Austrian boys, plunge countless more families into hopeless grief,
doom all the children in the land to sheer hunger and tuberculosis.

Starvation! That was the inevitable fate of Germany if she prolonged the
war. And for what? Prostration, physical, financial, economic. To suffer
for a generation, at least, the fate of the outlaw, mangy dogs nosing
among rotten bones, kicked by the victors whenever they stood on their
hind legs and whined for mercy.

And the Americans were prepared to pour into France and Britain billions
of dollars and millions of men and incalculable tons of food and
ammunition.


4

The two Americans had a deeper purpose in forcing this long argument
than hammering the truth into those intelligent but Prussianized brains.
As the hours wore toward the dawn they observed with satisfaction that
Gisela's face grew whiter and grimmer, until finally it set itself in
rigid lines. Her mouth was hard, her eyes expanded as if they saw far
beyond the crystal mountains glittering before the open windows. Her
mass of dark hair had fallen, and Mrs. Tolby whispered to Mrs. Prentiss
that she looked like the Medusa in the Glyptothek in Munich, lovely but
relentless.

Gisela was no longer the radiant and voluptuous beauty who had incurred
the secret wrath of Ann Howland at Bar Harbor. These years of war,
during which she had known hard physical labor and often insufficient
nourishment, more rarely still a full night's sleep, had taken her
lovely curves of cheek and form, her brilliant color. She was thin,
almost gaunt; but the dissolving of the flesh had given her intellect,
her force of character, her aspiring spirit, their first real
opportunity to stamp her features. She would always be handsome, with
her long dark eyes and masses of soft dark hair, her noble outlines; and
her womanly sympathies had preserved their balance between a
devitalizing horror on the one hand and callousness on the other; but it
was a spiritualized beauty, devoid of that appeal to sex of which she
had been, even after she had buried the memory of Franz von Nettelbeck
and all desire for love, femininely tenacious, however disdainful.

Mimi was the first to speak after a long interval of silence.

"You've got me, all right. I've been digging up a few more things. We're
up against it for keeps, and it's get out or starve out. I've a notion
to sneak off to my relations in Milwaukee. Mrs. Prentiss, I'll go as
your maid--"

"You'll do nothing of the sort!" Gisela's voice cut through the ripples
of laughter which always greeted Mimi's redundant slang. "You'll go back
to Germany with me and do your part in putting an end to this war!" All
but Heloise half arose, but she sat staring at that hard drawn face as
if in telepathic communication.

"Can you do anything--really?" gasped Kate. "We have been hoping for a
revolution, but had given up the idea--until after the war. Your
Socialists either eat out of the Kaiser's hand or sputter and fizzle
out. And all your able-bodied men are at the front--"

"But not the women."

"The what?"

"You have both lived in Germany. You know that German women are big
strong creatures--what you call husky. They are stronger than many of
the men because they have led more decent lives. The men at the front
are hopeless as revolutionary material--at present. They are hypnotized.
They have been taught not to think. They are sick of the war, they
suffer when they come home and see their women reduced to shadows, or go
to the cemeteries to visit the graves of their little brothers and
sisters; but the teaching of a lifetime: the omnipotence of their
sovereigns, whom they innocently believe to rule by divine right, sends
them back submissive, patient, sad. I know what you had in mind when you
brought us here to convince us that our country was not only responsible
for the war, but beaten. You hoped we would somehow bring about the
assassination of the Kaiser and the Crown Prince Ruprecht of
Bavaria--all the great generals. Is it not so? That would, assuredly,
break down the morale of the army, give it a more smashing blow than any
it has received even on the Western front. Well, it cannot be done. Even
I could not obtain a pass into Great Headquarters. You might as well
expect a British soldier to be permitted to saunter over from his lines
and make sketches of the German trenches. Those men guard
themselves--day and night, at every point--as if haunted with the fear
of assassination. Perhaps they are. And remember that the downfall of
Caesarism means the downfall not only of junkerism but of all the other
kings and Grand Dukes--who are powerful and wealthy in their own
domains. They have no doubt cursed Prussia daily since September, 1914,
but now they all sink or swim together. They will force Germany to die a
thousand deaths in the hope of a miracle that will save a class to which
the rest of poor Germany is a breeding-ground for their mighty armies. I
belong to that class. One of my brothers is on the staff of the Crown
Prince of Prussia. Take my word for it: the solution of Germany's
deliverance is not to be found in the simple antidote of political
assassination, for only men bound up in the success of the German arms,
or their terrorized creatures of our own sex, are near enough to throw
the bomb."

"It was rather a commonplace idea," said Kate, gracefully, "but what can
you do?"

"Quite aside from the women of the industrial and lower classes
generally, who have given the municipalities serious trouble with their
food riots--far more than you know about--the German women altogether
are restless and dissatisfied. They were promised a short and triumphant
war. They are daily more skeptical of promises. They have suffered death
in life. All that early exaltation--exhilaration--has gone long since.
They shut their teeth and endure because they still believe the cunning
official lies--that Britain must be starved by the submersibles, that
France's man power is nearly exhausted, that the United States cannot
prepare an army in less than two years and needs all her trained men at
home to quell the riots of the masses who disapprove of the war. They
are taught to believe that ultimate victory for Germany is
inevitable--that it is merely a question of months.

"But--convince them that Germany cannot win, that their own conquest is
inevitable after three or four more years of horror and torment and
personal despair, turn their blind hatred of England and America upon
their own conscienceless rulers--"

"Jimminy!" cried Mimi. "That's the dope. Pound it into them that the
Enemy Allies will give them a square deal as a Republic and put them
under the steam-roller with the Hohenzollerns if they stand pat, and
you'll get them. No more hungry and tubercular babies, no more babies
born with a cuticle short in theirs. They'd rise as one man--I
mean--damn the men!--as one woman."

Heloise left her seat like a whirlwind and flung herself at Gisela's
feet. Her face was flaming white. She looked like a sibyl. "I knew it
would be you!" she cried in her sweet bell-like tones. "I have had
visions of you leading us out of this awful war. You have only to talk
to the women--your word was gospel to them before the war--they too will
have the vision and they will make it fact."

"Yes--but--" interrupted the practical Ann. "How shall you go to work?
It is a stupendous idea. But you never could keep such a propaganda
movement a secret. Some one would be sure to betray you. German women
are perfect fools about men."

"No longer. Nor were they for several years before the war as
subservient (inwardly) to men as they had been in the past. Far from it.
And now! They have suffered too much at the hands of men. They have no
illusions left. Love and marriage are ghastly caricatures to women who
have lived in a time when men are slaughtered like pigs in massed
formation; when their little boys are driven to war; when young
girls--and widows!--are forced to bring more males into the world with
the sanction of neither love nor marriage; when those too young for the
trench or the casual bed wail incessantly for bread. Oh, no! The German
man's day of any but legal dominion is over. Of course there is always
the danger of spies and traitors, but--"

"The wall for you at sunrise if you get caught," cried Mimi, with
another subsidence of enthusiasm.

"If that happen to be my destiny. Can any one experience what we have
done during these three years and not be as fatalistic as the men in the
trenches? I'd rather die before a firing squad after an attempt to save
my wretched country than live to see it set back a hundred years. But I
refuse to believe that I shall be betrayed or that I shall fail. _That_
I believe to be my destiny. For a long time the idea has been fumbling
in the back of my mind, but it lacked the current which would switch it
into my consciousness. You two have supplied the current."

Kate threw back her head and gave her merry, ringing laugh. "What
delicious irony! Germany defeated by its women! When I think of your
august papa, dear Gisela! That kulturistically typical, that naive yet
Jovian symbol of all the arrogance and conceit, the simple creed of
Kaiserism ueber alles, and will-to-rule, that hurled this colossus on
the back of Europe--"

"Quite so. You of all present know that I received the proper training
for the part I am about to play. If all goes well we women will erect a
tablet to my father's memory in the cathedral at Berlin." She leaned
down and patted the rapt face of Heloise, then scowled at Mimi. "May I
not count on you?" she asked sternly.

"May you? Well, say, what are you taking me for? I'm more afraid of you
than I am of a firing squad, and anyhow I seem to know we'll win out.
I'm going to carry a club in case I mix up with Hans. But what's your
plan?"

"This is neither the time nor place to work out a campaign. The first
move will be to train lieutenants in every State in Germany--women whom
we know either personally or through correspondence. You, Heloise, will
return to Munich at once and make out the lists. We shall have no
difficulty obtaining permits to travel all over the Empire, for it will
never enter the insanely stupid official head to doubt whatever excuse
we may choose to give. Not only are we German women and therefore sheep,
but we are Red Cross nurses.... And remember that nearly all the men who
are still in the factories are Socialists--and that women swarm in all
of those factories--"

"Marie!" cried Heloise. "How she will work! She has the confidence of
the Socialist party--both wings--wherever she is known; and she can
talk--like a torrent of liquid fire."

"And the next chapter?" asked Mrs. Prentiss curiously. "You led the
German women in thought for five years. Shall you have a Woman's
Republic, with you as President?"

"Certainly not. It is not in the German women--not yet--to crave the
grinding cares of public life. We shall make the men do the work, and we
will live for the first time. Delivered from Caesarism and junkerism and
with the advanced men of Germany at the head of a Republic, I should
feel too secure of Germany's future to demand any of the ugly duties of
government--although the women will speak through the men. Their day of
silence and submission is forever passed--"

"Same here," remarked Mimi, stretching and yawning. "Let's go to bed. I
have smoked fifty-three cigarettes and my voice is ruined. Nevertheless
I shall be a great prima donna, and you, Gisela, can chuck propaganda,
and write romance. The world will devour it after these years of
undiluted realism written in red ink on a black page. Look at the sun
trying to climb out of that mist and give us his blessing."

"I shall go for a walk," said Gisela, "and I shall go alone."




IV


1

Mrs. Prentiss and Mrs. Tolby placed a large sum of money to Gisela's
account in a Swiss bank, and this she transferred to the Bayerischer
Vereinsbank in Munich. As she had collected large sums for war relief,
and was on the board of nine war charities, no suspicion was excited.
She had given to these organizations the greater part of the small
fortune she had made from her play and other writings, not absorbed by
taxation and bond subscriptions, but there were many wealthy women,
hungry, sad, apprehensive that peace would find them paupers, upon whom
she could depend to give liberally.

There was to be no printed matter nor correspondence, but an army of
lieutenants, who, starting from certain centers, would augment their
numbers from Gisela's long list of correspondents, until it would be
possible to sound personally all the women of a district whom it was
thought wise to trust.

Gisela returned to Germany as soon as she had worked out the details of
her campaign and received the enthusiastic donation of her American
friends. Mimi Brandt, Marie von Erkel (who looked like an ecstatic fury
of the French Revolution when she realized that at last she had a role
to play in life that would not only vent her consuming energies and
ambition, but enable her to assist in the downfall of a race of men whom
she hated, both for their tyranny and indifference to brains without
beauty, with all the diverted passion of her nature), Aimee von Erkel,
who was persistent, incisive, and so alarmed at the prospect of all the
men in the world being killed, that she would have hastened peace on any
terms; Princess Starnwoerth, a Socialist and idealist, a brilliant and
persuasive speaker, to whom war was the ultimate horror; Johanna Stueck,
whose revolt had been deep and bitter long before the war and who was
one of Gisela's fervent disciples and aides--these and six others were
sent on one pretense or another into the various States of Germany--the
kingdoms, principalities, grand duchies, duchies, and "free towns"--to
bear Gisela's personal message and select the proper leaders.

Gisela went at once to Berlin and had a long interview with Mariette,
who was ripe for revolution: her lover had been killed and her husband
had not. Mariette was not of the type that sorrow and loss ennoble. She
was still a handsome woman, particularly in her uniform, but the pink
and white cheeks that once had covered her harsh bones were sunken and
sallow. Her mouth was like a narrow bar of iron. Her eyes were half
closed as if to hide the cold and deadly flame that never flickered;
even her nostrils were rigid. All her hard and sensual nature, devoid of
tenderness, but dissolved with sentimentality while the man who had
conquered her had lived, she had centered on her lover, and with his
death she was a tool to Gisela's hand to wreak vengeance upon the powers
that had sent him out of the world.

"Leave it to me," she said grimly. "There are not only the women in the
towns where I have been stationed these many years, but, here in Berlin,
the wives of men whose money is financing this war: men who permitted
the war because they hoped for infinite riches but are now terrified
that they will not have a pfennig if the war goes on much longer. They
dare not rebel, for they would be shot, and their fortunes be
confiscated: their banks, industries, shops, run by cowed minor
officials. But the women--I can count on many of them. Even if their
husbands suspected, they would wink at it, willing that the women should
take the risk and they reap the benefit. God! How they hate the
war--every woman I know. Leave this part of Germany to me, and be
prepared for Schrecklichkeit. There will be no mercy, no politics, in
this revolution--merely one end in view. The Russians are babies but we
are not. 'Huns' shall cease to be a term of opprobrium, for female Huns
will end the war."

Countess Niebuhr, whose love of intrigue had not diminished with the
years, and who had known more of the Pan-Germanic mind than her naive
husband had guessed--who, moreover, had had a long and enlightening
interview with one of her sons but a month before--undertook to win over
many women of her own class who had suffered death and disillusion.

Elsa's transfer to a hospital in Saxony was skilfully managed; and Lili
went on a concert tour for the Red Cross. It was not worth while to
campaign in Austria; the moment Germany was helpless she would collapse
automatically.

In the course of a month the secret propaganda was moving with the
invisible, sinister, irresistible suction of an undertow. The immense
army of women who did Gisela's work proved themselves true Germans,
logical products of generations of discipline, concentration,
secretiveness, and a thoroughness, even in trifling details, as
implacable as it was automatic. They made few mistakes. When they
discovered--and their spy service was also Teutonic--that they had
confided in some girl or woman whose inherent weakness or venality
threatened betrayal, she disappeared immediately and for ever.

Gisela, obtaining a commission to inspect the leading hospitals "back of
the front," visited each of the states in turn and addressed thousands
of women in groups of two or three hundred, gathered under the eyes of
the police in the name of one of the many war charities in which all
women were engaged. The lieutenants prepared these women, and Gisela
inspired, crystallized, cohered. The timid she shamed with the example
of the Russian women (and German women despise all other women); the
desperate she had little difficulty in convincing that there was but one
egress from their insupportable agony. Victory under her leadership if
they stood firm, was inevitable.

She had the gift of a fiery torrent of speech, a clear steady eye, even
when it flashed and blazed, and a warm and irresistible magnetism that
convinced the individual as well as the mass that she had but one
object, the liberation of the miserable women of her country, their
deliverance from further sorrow; and that she was wholly lacking in
personal ambition.

These women had known the gnawing sensation of unappeased appetite for
two years. They had seen old men and women, sometimes their own, fall in
the streets dead or dying, because they no longer had the reserves of
men and women in their youth or prime. They had seen men blow out their
brains in front of municipal buildings, cursing the Emperor, the
military autocracy, and even the Government, always at odds with the war
lords. They knew of suicides and child murder by despairing mothers that
they hardly whispered to one another. And all the children were
emaciated and wailed continually for food, sleeping little, playing
less, stunted in their growth and threatened with disease; if the war
went on another year they would join the little Polish victims on their
shadowy playground.... They feared for their daughters at home even as
they feared for their young sons in the trenches.... Barring a
revolution, the war might last for years ... _years_.... "Peace
Proposals" irritated what little humor they had left to ghastly obscene
joking.... "Victories" left them as cold as the mid-winter bed.... The
Hohenzollerns, the other kings and princes, the cast-iron junkers, would
cling fast to their own until the Enemy Allies' day of judgment, for
surrender meant their quicker extermination; now, at least, they were
still in the saddle, able to cheer their haunted egos with the Wine of
Lies.

It was the Hohenzollerns and defeat, or a Republic and easy terms from
the victors who would welcome a sound de-brutalized Germany, jealous of
her lost honor, into the family of nations. The arguments were brief and
simple. Gisela would have won over women far less despairing than
these. And the fact that she had spent four years in America studying
its institutions and resources, convinced the most susceptible to
official lies that the United States could pour money, men, ammunition,
munitions and food into Europe for countless years; and that the
agitations of her pacifists, syndicalists, German agents, and
bribe-takers were but picturesque ripples on the surface of a nation
covering over three million five hundred thousand square miles and
embracing more than one hundred million people.

And with all the insidious subtlety of her supple mind she changed the
prevailing hatred of President Wilson into a profound and pathetic
confidence. She had long since made them envy and admire the women of
America, and if these fortunate beings had enthusiastically reelected
him and were now giving his policy as persistent and effective
assistance as the men, it was for the desperate women of Germany to
believe in his promises of deliverance. Above all he had now the
approval of their own Gisela Doering.

It was the mothers of Germany, balked, potential, or veritable, who were
ready to rise and rescue what was left of the youth of Germany. If
victory for the German arms were hopeless they would risk their own
lives to force a peace that would leave them with the rags of their old
honor and prosperity, that would give them revenge upon the men who had,
for their own criminal ambitions--ambitions which belonged to the Middle
Ages--doomed them to lifelong sorrow; and that would save the lives of
their children--save husbands also for a few of these stern and weary
girls. Even in the Rhine Valley, where the greater number of the
munition and ammunition factories were grouped, there were incessant
meetings, among the night and day shifts, of the thousands of women
employed there, and Gisela herself addressed each of them.




V


1

Gisela, who had been staring across the Koeniginstrasse into the heavy
branches that hung over the wall of the park, her mental vision too
actively raking the past to spare a beam for the familiar picture,
suddenly switched her searchlight away from those milestones in her
historic progress and concentrated it upon a suspicious shadow opposite.
Surely it had moved, and there was not a breath of wind. The night was
mild and still.

She did not move a muscle but narrowed her gaze until it detached the
figure of a man from the dark background of wall and trees. Always
apprehensive of spies, although the Gott commandeered by the Kaiser
seemed to have adjusted blinders to eyes strained west, east, and
south, she leapt to the conclusion that she was under surveillance at
last, and her heart beat thickly. She who had believed that the long
strain, the constant danger, the incessant demand for resource and ever
more resource, had transformed her nerves to pure steel, realized
angrily that on this last night when she had permitted herself an hour's
idle retrospect before commanding sleep, her nerves more nearly
resembled the strings of a violin.

Her apartment was on the ground floor. She stood up, revealing herself
disdainfully in the moonlight that now lay full on her window, then went
out quickly into the vestibule and unlocked the house door. Her only
fear was that the man would have gone, but if he were still there she
was determined to walk boldly over to his skulking-place and pretend she
believed him to be a burglar or a foreign spy. In these days she carried
a small pistol and a dagger.

When she had stepped out on the pavement she glanced quickly up and down
the street. Not even a _polizeidiener_ was in sight, for this
aristocratic quarter was, in peace and war, the quietest part of an
always orderly town. It was evident that the man spied alone.

Holding her head very high, she started across the street; but she had
not taken three steps when the shadow detached itself and walked rapidly
out into the moonlight. She gave a sharp cry and shrank back. It was
Franz von Nettelbeck.

"You--" she stammered. "They sent you--"

"They? And why should I alarm you? Am I so formidable?" He uttered his
short harsh laugh and lifted his cap. His head was bandaged; there was a
deep scar along the outer line of his right cheek. His face was gaunt
and lined; and his shoulders sagged until he suddenly bethought himself
and flung them back with a deathless instinct.

Gisela smiled and gave him her hand with a graceful spontaneity. "The
sense of being watched always shakes the nerves a bit, and I have felt
up to nothing myself for a long time. Why did not you come up to the
window when you recognized me?"

"I was so sure of welcome! And yet as soon as I was fit to travel I came
here to see you. I intended to send in my card to-morrow. But I could
not help haunting your window to-night, and when I had the good fortune
to see you sitting there--with the moon shining on your beautiful
face--"

"My face is no longer beautiful, dear Franz--"

"You are a thousand times more beautiful than ever--"

Something else vibrated along those steel nerves, but she said briskly:
"Standing so long must have tired you. Come in and rest. It is late; but
if there are still conventions in this crashing world I have forgotten
them."

Her rooms were always prepared for a sudden visit of the police. If a
firing squad were her fate it would not have been invited through the
usual channels. Even the arms to be worn on the morrow were in the
cellars and attics of citizens so respectable as almost to be nameless.

He followed her through the common entrance of the apartment house into
her _Saal_. It was a large comfortable room with many deep chairs, and
on the gray walls were a few portraits of her scowling ancestors,
contributed long since by her mother. A tall porcelain stove glowed
softly. Gisela drew the curtains and lit several candles. She disliked
the hard glare of electricity at any time, and she admitted with a
curious thrill of satisfaction that those manifestly sincere words of
her old lover had given her vanity a momentary resurrection. Her
suspicions were by no means allayed, even when she met his eyes blazing
with passionate admiration, but why not play the old game of the gods
for an hour? What better preparation for the morrow than to relax and
forget?

"Poor Franz!" Her voice was the same rich contralto whose promise had
routed the Howland millions years ago. "Our poor gallant men! When will
this terrible war finish?"

"Ask your United States of America!" And he cursed that superfluous
nation roundly. "We had some chance before. Not so much, but still some.
Now we shall be beaten to our knees, stamped into the dust, straight
down to hell." He threw himself into a chair and pressed his hands
against his face.

"But when?" Gisela watched him warily. If these were tactics they were
admirable; but who more full of theatric devices than the Kaiser he
adored?

"Years hence, no doubt--if we continue to hold the Social-Democrats in
hand and drug the people. We'll fight on until our enemies' might proves
that they are right and we were fools. That is all there is to war."

Gisela sat down and let her hands fall into her lap with a little
pathetic motion of weakness. "Sometimes I wish the Socialists were
strong enough to win and end it all," she said plaintively.

"Oh, no, you don't. You are a junker, for all your independent notions,
and trying to put some of your own nerve into the women. I read you with
great amusement before the war. But no one knows better than yourself
that the triumph of democracy in Germany would mean the end of us."

"I cannot see that we are enjoying many privileges at present--unless it
be the privilege to lie rather than be lied to. And when our enemies do
win we shall be pried out, root and branch. So, why not save our skins
at all events? I do not mean mine, of course--nor, for that matter, am I
thinking of our class; but of the hundreds of thousands of our dear
young men who might be spared--"

"Better die and have done with it. And there is always hope--"

"Hope?"

"Oh--in the separate peace, the ultimate submersible, some new
invention--the miracle that has come to the rescue more than once in
history. There are times when my faith in the destiny of Germany to
dominate the world is so great that I cannot believe it possible for
her to fail--in spite of everything, everything! And everything is
against us! I never realized it until I lay there in the hospital. I was
too busy before, and that was my first serious wound. Oh, God! what
fools we were. What rotten diplomacy. Even I despised the United States;
but as I lay there in Berlin their irresistible almighty power seemed to
pass before me in a procession that nearly destroyed my reason. I knew
the country well enough, but I would not see."

"They are a very soft-hearted people and would let us down agreeably if
the Social-Democrats overturned the House of Hohenzollern and stretched
out the imploring hand of a young Republic--"

"No! No! A thousand times rather die to the last man than be beaten
within. That would be the one insupportable humiliation. _Canaille!_" He
spat out the word. "I refuse to recognize their existence--"

He sprang to his feet and before her mind could flash to attention he
had caught her from her chair and was straining her to him, his arms,
his entire body, betraying no evidence whatever of depleted vitality.
"Let us forget it all!" he muttered. "We are still young and I am free.
I was a fool once and you will believe me when I tell you that I would
beg you on my knees to marry me even if you were Gisela Doering.... I
have leave of absence for a month ... let us be happy once more...."

"It was a long while ago ... all that ... do you realize how long?"

Gisela stood rigid, her eyes expanded. To her terror and dismay she was
thrilling and flaming from head to foot. This lover of her life might
have released her from one of their immortal hours but yesterday. But
although she had to brace her body from yielding, her mind (and it is
the curse of intellectual women of individual powers that the mind
never, in any circumstances, ceases to function) realized that while the
human will may be strong enough to banish memories, and readjust the
lonely soul, its most triumphant acts may be annihilated by the physical
contact of its mate. Unless replaced. Fool that she had been merely to
have buried the memory of this man by an act of will. She should have
taken a commonplace lover, or husband, put out that flaming midnight
torch with the standardizing light of day.

Her mind seemed to be darting from peak to peak in a swift and dazzling
flight as he talked rapidly and brokenly, kissing her cheek, her neck,
straining her so close to him that she could hardly breathe. Suddenly it
poised above the memory of an old book of Renan's, "The Abbess Juarre,"
in which the eminent skeptic had somewhat clumsily attempted to
demonstrate that if the world unmistakably announced its finish within
three days the inhabitants would give themselves up to an orgy of love.

Well, her world might end to-morrow. Why should she not live to-night?

Her arrogant will demanded the happiness that this man, whom she had
never ceased to love for a moment, to whom she had been unconsciously
faithful, alone could give her. Moreover, her reason working side by
side with her imperious desires, assured her that if he really were
spying, and, whatever his passion, meant to remold her will to his and
snatch the keystone from the arch, it were wise to keep him here. It was
evident that he had no suspicion of the imminence of the revolution.

And it was years since she had felt all woman, not a mere intellect
ignoring the tides in the depths of her being. The revelation that she
was still young and that her will and all the proud achievements of her
mind could dissolve at this man's touch in the crucible of her passion
filled her with exultation.

She melted into his arms and lifted hers heavily to his neck.

"Franz! Franz!" she whispered.


2

Gisela moved softly about the room looking for fresh candles. Those that
had replaced the moonlight hours ago had burned out and she did not
dare draw the curtains apart: it was too near the dawn. She had no idea
what time it was. But she must have light, for to think was imperative,
and her mental processes were always clogged in the dark.

She found the old box of candles and placed four in the brackets and lit
them. Then she went over to the couch and looked down upon Franz von
Nettelbeck. He slept heavily, on his side, his arms relaxed but slightly
curved. In a few moments she went down the hall to her bedroom and took
a cold bath and made a cup of strong coffee; then dressed herself in a
suit of gray cloth, straight and loose, that her swiftest movements
might not be impeded. In the belt under the jacket she adjusted her
pistol and dagger.

She returned to the _Saal_ and once more looked down upon the
unconscious man. How long he had been falling asleep! She had offered
him wine, meaning to drug it, but he had refused lest it inflame his
wounds. She had offered to make him coffee, but he would not let her
go.

It was in the complete admission of her reluctance to leave him, even
after he slept, and while disturbed by the fear that the dawn was nearer
than in fact it was, that she stared down upon the man who was more to
her than Germany and all its enslaved women and men. He knew nothing of
her plans, had not a suspicion of the revolution, but he had vowed they
never should be parted again. He had great influence and could set
wheels in motion that would return him to the diplomatic service and
procure him an appointment to Spain; where good diplomatists were badly
needed.

It was an enchanting picture that he drew in spite of the horror that
must ever mutter at their threshold; but to the awfulness of war they
were both by this time more or less callous, although he was mortally
sick of the war itself; and Gisela, who doled half-measures neither to
herself nor others, had dismissed the morrow and yielded herself to the
joy of the future as of the present. What she had felt for this man in
her early twenties seemed a mere partnership of romance and sentiment
fused by young nerves, compared with the mature passion he had shocked
from its long recuperative sleep. He was her mate, her other part. Her
long fidelity, unshaken by time, her own temperament and many
opportunities, all were proof of that.

The caste of great lovers in this unfinished world is small and almost
inaccessible, but they had taken their place by immemorial right. Were
it not for this history of her own making they would find every phase of
happiness in each other as long as they both lived. Women, at least,
know instinctively the difference between the transient passion, no
matter how powerful, and the deathless bond.

Gisela glanced at her wrist watch. It was within seventy minutes of the
dawn. If she could only be sure that he would sleep until Munich herself
awoke him. But he had told her that he never slept these days more than
two or three hours at a time, no matter how weary.

If he awoke before it was time for her to leave the house and renewed
his love-making, her response would be as automatic as the progress of
life itself.

If she attempted to leave the house before sunrise, on no matter what
pretext, his suspicions would be aroused, for she had told him that she
had been given a week for rest. For the same reason she dared not awaken
him and ask him to go. He would refuse, for it was no time to slip out
of a woman's apartment; far better wait until ten o'clock, when there
were always visitors of both sexes in her office. Moreover, he would no
more wish to go than he would permit her to leave him.

She was utterly in his power if he awakened and chose to exert it. He
had mastered her, conquered her, routed her career and her peace, and
she had gloried in her submission; gloried in it still. A commonplace
woman would have been satisfied, satiated, felt free for the moment,
turned with relief to the dry convention of the daily adventure, rather
resenting, if she had a pretty will, the supreme surrender to the race
in an unguarded hour.

Gisela was cast in the heroic mold. She came down from the old race of
goddesses of her own Nibelungenlied, whose passions might consume them
but had nothing in common with the ebb and flow of mortals. But great
brains are fed by stormy souls, and in the souls of women there is an
element of weakness, unknown, save in a few notable instances, to great
men in the crises of their destiny; for women are the slaves of the
race, and nature when permitting them the abnormality of genius takes
her revenge.

If he awakened.... There was little time for thought. She must plan
quickly. If she left the house at once he might awaken immediately and
after searching the apartment, follow her; there was the dire
possibility that he would learn too much before the terrific drama of
the revolution opened, and manage to thwart their plans. He was a man of
quick brain and ruthless will; no consideration for her would stop him,
although he would save her from the consequences of her act, no doubt of
that. Save her for himself.

Mimi Brandt, and Heloise and Marie von Erkel were asleep in rooms at the
end of the hall.... She had a mad idea of binding him hand and foot and
locking him in her bedroom.... Either he would hate her for the
humiliation he--Franz von Nettelbeck, glorious on the field of honor, a
bound prisoner in a woman's bedroom while his class was blown to atoms,
and his caste was roaring its impotent fury to a napping Gott!... Oh, an
insufferable affront to a man of his order who held even the dearest
woman as the favored pensioner on his bounty ... or she would be
consumed with remorse, melt ... it was positive that she must visit
him--not leave him to starve ... nor could she keep him bound ... and
once more she would be his slave ... could she hold out even for a day?

The first blow of a revolution is, after all, only its first. There is
always the danger of a swift reaction.

Unremitting vigilance, work, encouragement are the part of its leaders
for months, possibly years, to come. All revolutions are dependent for
ultimate success upon one preeminent figure.

Franz stirred under the unconscious fixity of her gaze and changed his
position, lying on his back. She hastily averted her eyes. Her hands
clenched and spread. Even to-morrow if this man found her ... one soft
moment ... when she needed all her energy, her fire, her powers of
concentration, of depersonalization, for the millions of tortured women
who would follow her straight out to meet any division the Emperor might
detach in the vain hope of subduing an army far outnumbering all that he
had left of men.

Nothing but a miracle could halt the initial stage of the revolution;
the wireless plants were all operated by women in her service, and no
telephone message had advised her of danger. No matter what her
defection at this moment the revolution would begin at dawn; but
although Germany happily lacked the disintegrating forces of Russia,
comfortable as she had been for two generations, and proud in her
discipline, that very discipline would dissolve its new backbone without
the stimulating force of her own inexorable will. And if she deserted
them!...

It was a woman's revolution. A necessary number of men Socialists had
been admitted to the secret and were to strike the second blow. But the
women must strike the first, and according to program. Not only were the
men under surveillance, but where women would be pardoned in case of a
failure, they would be shot. And most of them had more brain than brawn,
were past the fighting age; the girls, and women of middle years, were a
magnificent army which would make the graybeards appear absurd in the
open.

These women worshiped her, believed her to be a super-being created to
save them and their children; but if she betrayed them, proved herself
the merest woman of them all--a childless woman at that--the very bones
would melt out of them, they would prostrate themselves in the ashes of
their final despair.

Spain! Franz! For a moment her imagination rioted.

She smiled ironically. Happiness? Four-walled happiness? Hardly for her,
even without the blood of murdered thousands soaking her doorstep. Love,
for women like her ... even eternal love ... must be episodical. Life
forces the duties of leadership on such women whether they resent them
or not. They must take their love where they find it as great men do,
subordinated to their chosen careers and the tremendous duties and
responsibilities that are the fruit of all achieved ambition.

It was true that she had no political ambition, but for an unpredictive
period she must be the beacon-light of the new Republic, no matter how
successful the coup of the Socialists; until some one man (she knew of
none) or some group of men became strong enough to control its
destinies. The women must stand firm, a solid critical body led by
herself, until the tragically disciplined soldiers who had survived
these years of warfare had ceased to be sheep, or run bleating to the
new fold.

Even if she won Franz over, her power would be sapped; not for a moment
would he be out of her consciousness; her imagination would drift
incessantly from the vital work in hand to the hour of their reunion.
The hurtling power of her eloquence would be diminished, her magnetism
weakened.

Her memory flashed backward to those three years when he was an
ever-rising obsession--personifying love and completion as he
did--before which her proud will fell back again and again, powerless
and humiliated.

Why, in God's name could not he have come back into her life six months
hence?

No woman should risk a sex cataclysm when she has great work to do.
Nature is too subtle for any woman's will as long as the man be
accessible. And the strongest and the proudest woman that ever lived may
have her life disorganized by a man if she possess the power to charm
him.

She moved softly from the couch and walked up and down the room,
striving to visualize her manifest destiny and erect the grim ideal of
duty. Her mind, working at lightning speed, recalled moments, days, in
the past, when she had let her will relax, ignored her duties, floated
idly with the tide; the sensation of panic with which she had recaptured
at a bound the ideals that governed her life. Mortal happiness was not
for her. Duty done, with or without exaltation of spirit, would at least
keep her in tune with life, preserve her from that disintegrating horror
of soul that could end only with self-annihilation.

And end her usefulness. It was a vicious circle.

Suddenly a wave of humiliation, of insupportable shame, swept her from
sole to crown, and she returned swiftly to her post above the sleeping
man. One moment had undone the work of all those proud years during
which she had made herself over from the quintessential lover into one
of the intellectual leaders of the world, a woman who had accomplished
what no man had dared to attempt, and who, if the revolution were the
finality which before this man came had seemed to be written in the Book
of Germany, would be immortal in history. Wild fevers of the blood,
passionate longing for completion in man, oneness, the "organic
unit"--were not for her.

All feeling ebbed slowly out of her, leaving her cold, collected, alert.
She was, over all, a woman of genius, the custodian of peculiar gifts,
sleeping throughout the ages, perhaps, like Brunhilde on her rock, to
awaken not at the kiss of man, but at the summons of Germany in her
darkest hour.

She bent over the man who belonged to the woman alone in her and whose
power over her would be exerted as ruthlessly as her own should be over
herself. He looked a very gallant gentleman as he lay there, and he had
been a very brave soldier. His own place was secure in the annals of the
war, but at this moment, following upon his triumphant swoop after
happiness, he was the one deadly menace to the future of his country.

Gisela opened his shirt gently and bared his breast. She held her
breath, but he slept on and she took the dagger from her belt and with a
swift hard propulsion drove it into his heart to the guard. He gave a
long expiring sigh and lay still. A gallant gentleman, a brave soldier,
and a great lover had the honor to be the first man to pay the price of
his country's crime, on the altar of the Woman's Revolution.


3

Gisela went swiftly down the hall and awakened Heloise, Mimi, and Marie
and told them what she had done. No novelty in horror could startle
European women in those days. They dressed themselves hastily in their
gray uniforms and followed her to the _Saal_. With Mimi's assistance she
put on his coat, the hilt of the dagger thrusting forward the row of
medals on his breast. Marie went out into the street and flitted up and
down like a big gray moth, her gray little face tense with rapture. Her
devotion to Gisela had been fanatical from the first but now she begged
what invisible power her wild little mind still recognized to be
permitted to die for her.

In a moment she signaled that the street was deserted. Gisela and Mimi
carried the body over to the park and dropped it into the swiftly
flowing Isar. The clear jade green of the lovely river reflected the
points of the stars, and Franz von Nettelbeck as he drifted down the
tide looked as if attended by innumerable candles dropped graciously
from on high to watch at his bier. But it was to Heloise this fancy
came, and she lifted her face and thanked the stars for their silent
funeral march. Not for her would the supreme sacrifice have been
possible, and for the moment she did not envy Gisela Doering.

The four girls walked rapidly over to the Maximilianstrasse and crossed
the bridge to the Maximilianeum. The long symmetrical brown building
with its open galleries filled with the cold starlight was distorted by
a wireless station on its highest point and by a biplane on the extreme
left of the roof. It stood on a lofty terrace and commanded a view of
all Munich and of the tumbled peaks of the Alps.

They ran up the stairs and called to the operator from the higher
gallery. She answered in a hard and weary voice: "Nothing." Then they
walked down the gallery to the open tower facing the Alps. For half an
hour longer they stood in silence, alternately glancing from their wrist
watches to the faintly glittering peaks whose first reflection of dawn,
if all went well, would change the face of the world.




VI


1

The eyes of the four women traveled to the lofty towers of the
Frauenkirche. Its bells rang out a wild authoritative summons.
Coincidentally the streets filled with women dressed uniformly in
gray--big powerfully built women, sturdy products of the strong soil of
Germany. They did not march, nor form in ranks, but stood silent, alert,
shouldering rifles with fixed bayonets.

Involuntarily Gisela and her three lieutenants braced themselves against
the pillars of the tower. An instant later the walls of the
Maximilianeum rocked under the terrific impact of what sounded like a
thousand explosions. The roar of parting walls, the shriek of shells and
bombs bursting high in the air, the sharp short cry of shattered metal,
the deep _approaching_ voice of dynamite prolonging itself in echoes
that seemed to reverberate among the distant Alps, shook the souls of
even those inured to the murderous uproar of the battlefield.

Grotesquely combined with this terrific but majestic confusion of sound
were the screams of innocent citizens hanging out of the windows, waving
their arms, staring distraught at the sky, convinced, in so far as they
could think at all, that a great enemy air fleet was bombarding Germany
at last.

Masses of flame and smoke shot upward. The pale morning sky turned
black, rent with darting crimson tongues and lit with prismatic stars.
Other explosions followed in rapid succession, some coming down the
light morning wind from a long distance. Blasts of heat swept audibly
through the long galleries of the Maximilianeum.

"It is an inferno!" Marie von Erkel for the moment was almost
hysterical. "Will Munich be destroyed? Oh, not that!"

"The fire brigades know their business." Gisela glanced up at the
Marconi station. Even through the din she could hear the faint crackling
of the wireless. "If all Germany--"

But her eyes were wild.... If the revolutionists in the rest of the
empire had been as prompt and fearless as those of Bavaria, every
munition and ammunition factory, every aerodrome and public hangar, save
those taken possession of by powerfully armed squads of women, every
arsenal, every warehouse for what gasoline and lubricating oils were
left, every telegraph and telephone wire, every railway station near
either frontier, with thousands of cars and miles of track had been
destroyed simultaneously. The armies would be isolated, without arms or
ammunition but what they had on hand or could manufacture in the invaded
countries; no food but what they had in storage. They could not fight
the enemy seven days longer; if the Enemy Allies heard immediately of
the revolution through neutral channels and believed in it after so
many false alarms, the finish of the German forces would come in two
days.

But had the women of the other states been as prompt and ruthless as the
women of Bavaria? Spandau, Essen, all the centers in the Rhine Valley
for the manufacture of munitions on a grand scale ... the great Krupp
factories ... unless they were in ruins the revolution was a failure....

She could not be everywhere at once. War and misery and starving
children, the loss of the men and boys they loved, and a profound
distrust of their rulers, had filled them with a cold and bitter hatred
of an autocracy convicted of lying and aggressive purpose out of its own
mouth; but would the iron in their souls carry them triumphantly past
the final test? Women were women and Germans were not Russians. They had
little fatalism in their make-up, and their brain cells were packed with
the tradition of centuries of submission to man. True, their quiet
revolt had begun long before the war, and this last year had wrought
extraordinary changes, quickening their mental processes, forcing them
to think and act for themselves; but their hearts might have turned to
water during those last dispiriting hours before the dawn.

And how could it be possible that all traitors had been detected,
exterminated, with millions in the secret? Troops might even now be in
Prussia. Great Headquarters (Grosse Hauptquartier) were in Pless, and
although the women of that city were not in the confidence of the
revolutionaries, and it was to remain in ignorance as long as possible,
the abrupt cessation of telephone and telegraph communication would
advise that group of alert brains that something was wrong. Moreover,
even with interrupted communications they would soon learn of the
blowing up of factories in other Silesian towns; no doubt hear them. It
was true the railways and bridges between Pless and Berlin were--if they
were!--destroyed, but there were always automobiles; enough for a small
force.... And the police, the police of Berlin! They were still
formidable in spite of the drain on men for the front. Mariette had
written her grimly that she would "take care of 'the rats in the
granary,'" meaning the police; but although Mariette was the most
thorough and merciless person she knew, she doubted even her in this
awful moment.

How could she have dreamed of accomplishing a universal revolution in
a country possessing the most perfect secret service system in the
world?... a country with eyes in the back of its head? True, the
Socialists in her confidence had been noisy and bumptious of late in
order to concentrate attention upon their sex, and at the same time
careful to refrain from definite statements or overt acts.... It would
never enter the stupid official head that German women could conceive,
much less precipitate, a revolution; but there _must_ be traitors,
women who fundamentally were the slaves of men, weak spirits, spirits
rotten with imperialism, militarism, but cunning in the art of
dissimulation.... What an accursed fool and criminal she had been ...
egotistical dreamer! ... led on by the extraordinary power she had
acquired over the women of her race....

For a moment she clung to the embrasure, so overwhelming was her impulse
to hurl herself down into oblivion. In that dark and shrieking uproar
she had the illusion that she was in hell, in hell with her miserable
victims.

But although Gisela's long slumbering nerves had had their revenge last
night, they had given up the fight when she had destroyed their only
ally, and these last protesting vibrations were very brief. Her eyes
fell on the ranks of women standing in the wide Maximilianstrasse,--a
street a mile long and seventy-five feet across--undisturbed by the
turmoil they had anticipated, calmly awaiting her orders. The obsession
passed, and after a brief tribute of hatred to her imagination, which
was, after all, one root of her power, she turned and glanced
critically at her three companions. Marie, looking like a little gray
gnome, was dancing about and waving her arms in ecstasy. Heloise, her
long blonde hair hanging about her fine French face, was gazing out with
rapt eyes and lips apart, as if every sense were drinking in the vision
of a Germany delivered. Mimi was standing with her arms akimbo, nodding
her head emphatically.

"Great work," she said as she met Gisela's stern eyes. "Better go up to
the wireless."

They ran rapidly up to the roof and looked into the little room. The
girl who sat there nodded but did not speak. Her face was gray and
tense, but there was no evidence of despair. Gisela and Mimi stood
motionless for what seemed to them a stifling hour, but at last the
operator laid down the receiver.

"All," she said. "Every one."

"The Rhine Valley?"

The girl nodded, then rolled her jacket into a pillow, lay down before
the door and immediately fell asleep. It had been a night of ghastly
suspense. Another operator was already running up the stair to her
relief.

"Fate!" cried Mimi. "The same fate that sank the Armada and drove
Napoleon to Moscow. You had the vision--"

"I was the chosen instrument--" Gisela walked rapidly over to the
biplane. A girl sat at the joy-stick looking as if carved out of wood.
There was no more expression on her face than if she were sitting in the
gallery at a rather dull play. Her lover and six brothers were dead in
France. She had watched her little brother and her old grandmother die
of malnutrition. Her sister was "officially pregnant" and under
surveillance lest she kill herself. No more perfect machine was at the
disposal of Gisela Doering. Whether Germany were delivered or razed to
the earth was all one to her, but she was more than willing, as a
Bavarian with a traditional hatred of Prussia, to play her part in the
downfall of a race that presumed to call itself German.


2

Gisela stepped into the machine and it glided downward and skimmed
lightly over the great length of the Maximilianstrasse.

The compact ranks, which had listened unmoved to the roar of dynamite
and the detonations of bursting shells, raised their faces at the
humming of the machine and broke into harsh abrupt cheering. Then they
leaned their rifles against their powerful bodies and unfurled their
flags and waved them in the faces of the half paralyzed people in the
windows. It was a white flag with a curious device sketched in crimson:
a hen in successive stages of evolution. The final phase was an eagle.
The body was modeled after the Prussian emblem of might, but the face,
grim, leering, vengeful, pitiless, was unmistakably that of a woman.
However humor may be lacking in the rest of that grandiose Empire it was
grafted into the Bavarians by Satan himself.

Gisela nodded. "The hens are eagles--all over Germany," she announced
in her full carrying voice. "Word has come through from every quarter."

She flew down the Leopoldstrasse. It was packed with women from the
Feldherrnhalle to the Siegesthor, cheering women, waving their flags,
armed to the teeth. So was the great Park of the Residenz, the
Hofgarten, where the guards were either bound or dead. It took her but a
few moments to fly all over Munich. The narrow streets were deserted,
save for the prostrate policemen bound suddenly from ambush; but in all
the beautiful squares, with their pompous statues, and in all the wider
streets, and out in the wide Theresien Field before the colossal figure
of Bavaria, the women were gathered; relapsing into phlegmatic calm as
soon as she had given her message and passed.

But it was by no means a scene of unbroken dignity and silence. Here and
there groups of men in uniform lay dead, sword or pistol in hand. Once
Gisela flew low and discharged her revolver into the shoulder of a big
officer, half dressed and barely recovered from his wounds, who was
keeping off half a dozen women with magnificent sword play. The women
gave one another first aid, then lifted and pitched him into his house.

There was sniping, of course, from the windows, but the women made a
concerted rush and disposed of the terrified offender as remorselessly
as their own men had punished the desperate civilians of the lands they
had invaded. They had heard their men brag for too many years about
their admirable policy of Schrecklichkeit to forget the lesson in this
fateful hour.

The most exciting scenes and the only ones in which any of the women
were killed were in the vicinity of the garrison. These interior
garrisons of the country had been one of the long debated problems. As
no women entered them and as it was not safe to attempt the corruption
of any of the men, there were but two alternatives: blow them up and
sacrifice the men wholesale or meet them with a superior force as they
rushed out to ascertain the nature of the explosions, and fight them in
open battle. Gisela had finally decided to give them a chance for their
lives, as she had no mind to shed any more blood than was unavoidable;
and these men, being no longer in their prime, must be overcome
eventually, no matter what their fury.

When she hovered over the Marztplatz in front of the garrison a few
moments after the last of the explosions, and while fire was still
raging in this military quarter of magazines, arsenals and laboratories,
men and women were mixed in a hideous confusion, shooting and slashing
indiscriminately. But there were thousands of women and only a few
hundred men, all of whom at one time or another had been wounded.
Finally the captain of this regiment of women ordered a swift retreat,
and simultaneously three machine guns opened fire from innocent looking
windows, but on the garrison building, not on the square. They ceased
after one round, and the captain of the women gave such men as were
alive and unwounded their choice between death and surrender. They chose
the sensible alternative, were driven within, and placed under a heavy
guard.

It was not safe to venture too close to the still exploding and blazing
structures, but it was quite apparent that the work had been done
thoroughly. The fire brigades were busy, and there was little danger of
Munich, one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world,
falling a victim to the revolution. Many lives had been sacrificed, no
doubt. The women night-workers in the factories, fifteen minutes before
the signal from the Frauenkirche, had pretended to strike, seized all
the hand arms available and shot down the men who attempted to control
them. The men in the secret had gone with them and were already about
their business.

The officers in charge of the Class of 1920 were too few in number to
make any resistance, too dazed to grasp a situation for which there was
no precedent; they had surrendered to the Amazons grimly awaiting their
decision. The poor boys in the Kadettenkorps had run home to their
mothers, and, finding them in the streets, had either taken refuge in
the cellars, or joined those formidable warriors in gray, promising
obedience and yielding their arms.

Other aeroplanes were darting about the city. The greater number were
driven by women, directing the fire brigades, but now and again a man,
whose monoplane had been in his private shed, flew upward primed for
battle. After a few parleys he retired to await events, one only
shooting a woman, and crashing to earth riddled with avenging bullets.

Such air men as were in Munich were too callous to danger of all sorts,
too accustomed to the horrors of the battlefield, to take this
outpouring of women and mere civilians seriously; even in spite of the
explosions, which, to be sure, denoted an appalling amount of
destruction. Any attempt to sally forth on foot and ascertain the extent
of the damage was met by bayonets and pistols in the hands of brigades
of women whose like they had never seen in Germany. They inferred they
were Russians, who had managed to cross the frontier with the infernal
subtlety of their race. At all events they would be exterminated with no
effort of men lacking authority to act.


3

Several of the women flew out into the country, but except where people
were gathered about smoking ruins the land was at peace; there was no
sign of a rally to the blue and white flag of Bavaria, no sign of an
avenging army. In the course of the morning there were hundreds of these
aviators darting about Bavaria, descending to tell the peasants or
shop-keepers of the small towns that Germany was in revolution, the
armies deprived of all support, and that the Republic had been
proclaimed in Berlin. The Social Democrats had possession of the
Reichstaggebaeude, and every official head still affixed to its
shoulders was as helpless--a fuming prisoner in its own house--as if
those arrogant brains had turned to porridge. Every royal and official
residence throughout the Empire was surrounded by an army of women with
fixed bayonets, and before noon every unsubmissive member of the old
regime would be in either a fortress or the common prison.

This news Gisela heard at ten o'clock when she returned to the wireless
station on the Maximilianeum. The Berlin news came from Mariette.

In Munich the old King had been returned to the Red Palace which he had
occupied during the long years of his father's regency, and it too was
surrounded by an alert but silent army. The other royal palaces were
guarded in a similar manner, but the women had no intention of killing
these kindly Wittelsbachs if it could be avoided. All they asked of them
was to keep quiet, and keep quiet they did. After all, they had reigned
a thousand years. Perhaps they were tired. Certainly they always looked
bored to the verge of dissolution.

The Munich Socialists had taken possession of the Residenz in which to
proclaim their victory and the new Republic, and by this time were
crowding the Hofgarten and adjoining streets. They were unarmed and many
of the women moved constantly among them, ready at a second's notice to
dispose summarily of any man who even scowled his antagonism to the
downfall of monarchy.

Six hundred women, according to the prearranged program, and under
Gisela's direct supervision, were turning such outlying buildings as
commanded the highways leading toward the frontiers into fortifications.
They had little apprehension that their sons and fathers, their husbands
and lovers, would fire on the women to whom they had brought home food
from their rations these two years past, or that the General Staff would
risk the demolition of the cities of Germany. But they took no chances,
knowing that an attempt might be made to rush them. In that case they
were determined to remember only that their husbands and sons, fathers
and lovers, were bent upon their final subjection. Moreover, the term
"brain storm" had long since found its way from the United States to
Germany, and the women thought it singularly applicable to their former
masters when in a state of baffled rage.




VII


1

Mariette's communications by wireless were very brief, and on the second
day of the revolution Gisela went by special train to Berlin. It was
the King's own train, and always ready to start. The engineer and
fireman avowed themselves "friends of the revolution," but they
performed their duties with two armed women in the cab and fifty more in
the car behind the engine.

The cities through which Gisela passed, as well as the small towns and
wayside villages, presented a uniform appearance: smoking ruins in the
outlying sections which had been devoted to the war factories, and
streets deserted save for women sentries. One or two of the smaller
towns had burned, owing to lack of fire brigades. The food trains
destined for the front, which had been moved out of danger before the
general destruction, were being systematically unloaded, and a portion
of the contents doled out to thousands of emaciated men, women, and
children. The rest would be as methodically returned to the warehouses.

Gisela arrived in Berlin half an hour before the Kaiser.

The city was as dark as interstellar space and she would have been
forced to spend the night in the Anhalt Bahnhof if Mariette had not met
her. They walked from the station, keeping close to the walls of the
silent houses and entering Unter den Linden from the Friedrichstrasse.
There was not a sound but the high whirr of airplanes keeping guard over
a city that seemed stifled in the embrace of death, its life current
switched off by the proudest achievement of its pestilent laboratories.

Mariette did not take the trouble to lower her hard incisive voice as
she told her sister the brief story of the revolution in Berlin.

"I left not a loophole for failure. Two minutes before the bells rang
every policeman on duty was shot dead from a doorway or window. The
police offices and stations were blown up. There is not a policeman
alive in Berlin. I also ordered the garrisons blown up. Both the police
and the garrisons here were too strong. I dared not risk an encounter.
Criticize me if you will. It is done."

"But the Emperor, the General Staff?" Gisela was in no mood to waste a
thought upon means, nor even upon accomplished ends. "If they left Pless
at once they should have been here before this."

"They did not leave Pless at once. When they began to send out questions
by wireless after they found their telephone and telegraph wires cut,
they were kept quiet for several hours by soothing messages sent by our
women in Breslau and nearer towns. An abortive uprising of a handful of
starving Socialists! Even when their fliers went out they could learn
nothing because they dared not land even at Breslau; high-firing guns
threatened them everywhere. All they could report was that the streets
were full of armed women, which, of course, the General Staff took as an
unseemly joke. But toward night a soldier who had managed to escape from
Breslau came staggering into Great Headquarters with information that
penetrated even that composite Prussian skull: the women of Germany had
risen _en masse_ and effected a revolution. Of course they refused to
believe the worst--that every ounce and inch of war material had been
destroyed; and the entire Staff, escorted by a thousand troops--all they
had on hand--started for Berlin. They did not omit to wireless in both
directions for troops to march on Berlin at once; but, needless to say,
these messages were deflected. As the tracks were torn up they were
obliged to travel by automobile, and as the bridges over the Kloonitz
Canal and the Oder tributaries had been blown up, they were unable to
ameliorate what must have been an apoplectic impatience. No doubt a few
of them are dead. Of course their progress has been watched and reported
every hour, but they have not been molested. We want them here. Only
their small air squadron has been shot down."

They felt their way along Unter den Linden by the trees and entered the
Opernplatz. Two biplanes awaited them before the arsenal. There were
lights in the great pile of the Hohenzollerns across the bridge. Uneasy
spirits prowled there, no doubt, but none of the women of the Imperial
family had made any attempt to escape, accepting the assurances of the
revolutionists that no harm should come to them, and, knowing nothing of
the thorough methods taken to reduce the army to impotence, awaited with
what patience they could muster--and royal women are the most patient in
the world--the invincible troops that must come within a day or two to
their rescue.

The two biplanes flew over to the streets east of the Emperor's palace
and hovered just above the house tops until the eyes of Gisela and
Mariette, now accustomed to a darkness unpierced by moon or stars, made
out a long line of moving blackness in the narrow gloom of the
Koeniginstrasse. The forward cars entered the palace from the
Schlossplatz, and as lights immediately appeared in the courtyards
Gisela saw eight or ten men alight stiffly and hurriedly enter the inner
portals. The other automobiles ranged themselves in an apparently
unbroken line on all sides of the palace. Gisela had amused herself
imagining the nervous speculations of those war-hardened potentates and
warriors as they crawled through the sinister darkness of the
capital--proud witness of a thousand triumphal marches; of the sharp and
darting gaze above the guns of the armored cars, expecting an ambush at
every corner. How they must hate a situation so utterly without
precedent.

Gisela almost laughed aloud as she saw the purple flag, denoting that
the Emperor was in residence, run up on the north side of the palace.
However, automatic discipline worked both ways.

Once more Berlin was as silent as if at rest for ever under the pall of
darkness that seemed to have descended from the dark and threatening
sky.

But only for a moment.

Berlin suddenly burst into a blinding glare of light. Unter den
Linden from end to end--excepting only the royal palaces--with
its long line of imposing public buildings, hotels, and shops,
the Kaiser-Franz-Joseph-Platz, the Zeugplatz, the Lustgarten--the
Schlossplatz--all the magnificent expanse from the Brandenburg gate to a
quarter of a mile beyond the river Spree--had been strung and looped
with electric lights, and the scene looked as if touched with a royal
fairy's wand. The side streets from the Royal Library and the old Kaiser
Wilhelm palace as far as the Schlossbruecke, were also brilliantly
illuminated.

And in all these streets and squares women stood in close ranks, silent,
phlegmatic women, with pistols in their belts and rifles with fixed
bayonets on their shoulders, the steel reflecting the terrific downpour
of light with a steady and menacing glitter. These women wore gray
uniforms and there were shining Prussian helmets on their heads.

In every window was a double row of women, armed; and the housetops were
crowded with them. There were also machine guns on the roofs, pointing
downward or toward the roof of the palace.

Mariette laughed. "Theatric enough to please even his taste? Our last
tribute. Let us hope he will enjoy it."

A moment later the expected happened. A window of the palace overlooking
the great Schlossplatz opened and the Emperor stepped out into the
narrow balcony. His uniform was caked with dust and mud and his face was
drawn with a mortal fatigue; but as he stood there scowling haughtily
down upon that upturned sea of woman's faces, the most singular vision
that ever had greeted imperial eyes, he was an imposing figure enough
to those who knew that he was the Kaiser Wilhelm II, King of Prussia and
Alsace-Lorraine, and Emperor in Germany.

It was evident that he had no intention of speaking, but expected this
grotesque mob to be overwhelmed by the imperial presence and dissolve.

Frau Kathie Meyers, with the figure of an Amazon and the voice of a
megaphone, stepped forth from the ranks and lifted her placid red face
to the balcony.

"You will abdicate, William Hohenzollern," she announced in tones that
rolled down toward the Brandenburg gate like the overtones of a Death
Symphony at the Front. "Germany is a Republic. And the palace is mined.
If your soldiers fire one shot from the windows the palace goes up to
meet the ghosts of every arsenal and every ammunition factory in what
two days ago was the Empire of Germany. Your armies are helpless. You
will remain a prisoner within your palace until we have decided whether
to deliver you to Great Britain, incarcerate you in a fortress, or
permit you to live in exile. It will depend upon the behavior of the
army when it returns. If you attempt to leave the palace you will be
shot."

The Emperor stared down upon that mass of calm implacable faces, so
unmistakably German; not brilliant nor beautiful, but persistent as
death, and stamped with the watermark of kultur; stared for a long
moment, his gray face twitching, the familiar gray blaze in his eyes.
But he turned without a word or even a disdainful gesture and reentered
the palace, the window closing immediately behind him.

The Amazon addressed the men in the armored automobiles that surrounded
the palace.

"Fire upon us if you like. Our ranks are close and you will kill many.
But not one of you will live to eat rat sausage tomorrow morning. Now
disarm and march to the guard house."

The contemptible little army of the Kaiser, hypnotized as much by the
glare as by this solid mass of vindictive females--singly so
negligible--shrugged their shoulders, surrendered their arms, and
marched off under guard. After all, they would have a blessed rest,
however brief, before the great generals sent back a few brigades to
execute summary vengeance upon these presumptuous women, who had used
their incidental superiority in numbers so basely.


2

But nothing came from the front but frantic orders by wireless to the
staunch but impotent pillars of the old regime. The British, French, and
American forces, convinced at last that German women actually had
effected a revolution--God knew how!--attacked every point of the line
from Flanders to Belfort, and their aviators dropped newspapers
containing the extraordinary but verified story, into the German
trenches and back of the lines.

The destruction of the railways leading to the Austria-Hungarian Empire,
as well as all the rolling stock within three miles of the frontier,
balked any attempt to rush supplies in from the east, and in two days
Austria was in the throes of a revolution far more devastating
internally than Germany's, for that excitable and harassed people, long
on the verge of despair, merely caught the revolution-microbe and went
mad.

To supply either the army opposing Italy or that in Roumania and
Gallicia, to say nothing of that in the Northeast, was no longer even
considered. The young Emperor sought only to come to an understanding
with his people.

It was a matter of days before both ammunition and food would be
exhausted on the two fronts, and neither had a superfluous man to send
to Berlin, or even to repair the tracks.


3

By Friday there was no longer any doubt of the complete success of the
Revolution. Britain, France, Russia, Italy, the United States, with a
prompt and canny statesmanship, remarkable in Governments, had formally
acknowledged the German Republic, and offered terms of peace possible
for an ambitious and self-respecting but beaten people to accept. At all
events there would be no commercial boycott, and the young Republic
would be given every assistance in restoring the shattered finances of
Germany, and its economic relations with the rest of the world.

The good German people were flattered in phrases that they rolled on
their tongues. Even those too schooled in lies to believe the statesmen
of their own or any land reflected that, after all, the Enemy Allies had
demonstrated they were sportsmen, that German prisoners had been well
treated, and that before the war there had been no restrictions upon
German commerce save in insidious reiterated words of men determined
upon war at any cost. As a matter of fact, Germany had been absorbing
the commerce of the world, and Britain had been reprehensibly supine.

As the Socialists now did all the talking, and unhindered, it was not
difficult to persuade even the reluctant minority that the military
party had precipitated the war in a sudden panic at the rapidly
developing power of the proletariat.

Night fliers dropped millions of leaflets in the vicinity of the armies
on the Eastern and Western fronts, signed (at the pistol point) by the
most powerful names in the former Government, as well as by the
well-known Social-Democrat leaders, containing the details of the
Revolution and proofs of its success. The Empire had fallen. A Republic,
acknowledged by the great powers of the world, was established. Would
the soldiers stack their arms and return to their homes? If the generals
or under officers attempted to restrain them it was to be remembered
that the soldiers were as a hundred thousand to one.

The women felt no real apprehension of an avenging army. They knew the
average German male. His innate subserviency to power would turn him
automatically about to the party whose power was supreme. And the
soldiers hated their officers.




VIII


On Friday night Gisela left her apartment in the Koeniginstrasse, where
she had slept for a few hours after a visit to the principal cities of
the Empire, and walked out to Schwabing, that picturesque "village" that
looked like a bit of the Alps transferred to the edge of Munich. She had
not forgotten the man she had sacrificed, and at the end of the first
day of the Revolution she had learned that his body had been caught
under the Schwabing bridge, rescued, and placed temporarily in the vault
of the little church.

It was a bright starlight night, and the old white church with its
bulbous tower, last outpost of Turkey in her heyday, looked like a lone
mourner for the dream of Mittel-Europa. Gisela climbed the mound and
entered the quiet enclosure. She had met no one in the peaceful suburb,
although she had heard the deep guttural voices of elderly men still
lingering at the tables in the beer gardens.

She had sent orders to leave the door of the church unlocked, and she
entered the barren room, guiding herself with her electric torch to the
stair that led down to the vault. Fear of any sort had long since been
crowded out of her, but it was a lonely pilgrimage she hardly would have
undertaken ten days ago.

She descended the short flight of steps and flashed her light about the
vault. It was a small room, oppressively musty and humid. All Schwabing
is damp but the Isar itself might have washed the walls of this dripping
sepulcher. The coffin stood on a rough trestle in the center of the
chamber, and it was covered with the military cloak that, with his sword
and helmet, she had ordered sent from his hotel.

She stood beside the coffin, trying to visualize the man who lay within,
wondering if the orders still bulged above the hilt of the dagger she
had driven in with so firm a hand ... or if they had taken the time to
remove it ... or if that symbol of Germany's freedom would be found ages
hence in a handful of dust when the man who had taught her all she would
ever know of love or living was long forgotten....

But in a moment these vagrant fancies, drifting from a tired brain, took
flight, her reluctant mind focused itself, and she knelt beside the
bier, pressing the folds of the cloak about her face and weeping
heavily.

It was her final tribute to her womanhood. That she had rescued her
country and incidentally the world, making democracy and liberty safe
for the first time in its history, mattered nothing to her then. Nor her
immortal fame.

To regret was impossible. Strong souls are inaccessible to regret. But
she hated life and her bitter destiny, for she had sacrificed the life
that gave meaning to her own, and she wished that the implacable Powers
that rule the destinies of individuals and nations had foreborne their
accustomed irony and presented her gifts to some woman mercifully
lacking her own terrible power to love and suffer--and the imagination
which would keep for ever vivid in her mind the poignant happiness that
had been hers and that she had immolated on the cold altar of duty. She
was still young, and her sole hope, glimmering at the end of an
interminable perspective, was that it would be her privilege to lie at
last in the grave with this man; who had been her other part and whose
heart and hers she had slain.




THE WOMEN OF GERMANY

An Argument for my "The White Morning"

From _The Bookman_, February, 1918,
by courtesy of Dodd, Mead & Co.




THE WOMEN OF GERMANY

An Argument for my "The White Morning"


I have been asked by the Editor of _The Bookman_ to state my authority
for writing _The White Morning_; in other words for daring to believe
that a revolution conceived and engineered by women is possible in
Germany.

Before giving my own reasons, stripped of what glamor of fiction I have
been able to surround the story with, I should like to say that when I
began to put the idea into form I thought it was entirely my own. But
while it is always pleasant to offer this sort of incense to one's
vanity, I should have been more than glad to quote to my editor and
publisher some reliable male authority; a man's opinion, on all
momentous subjects, by force of tradition, far outweighing any theory or
guess that a woman, no matter what her intimate personal experience, may
advance.

Imagine then my delight, when the story was half finished, to read an
article by A. Curtis Roth, in the _Saturday Evening Post_, in which he
stated unequivocally that it was among the possibilities that the women
of Germany, driven to desperation by suffering and privation, and
disillusion, would arise suddenly and overturn the dynasty. Mr. Roth,
who was American vice-consul at Plauen, Saxony, until we entered the
war, has written some of the most enlightening and brilliant articles
that have appeared on the internal conditions of any of the belligerent
countries since August, 1914. He remained at his post until the last
moment and then left Germany a physical wreck from malnutrition. In
spite of the fact that he was an officer in the consular service of a
neutral country, with ample means at his command, and standing in close
personal relations with the authorities, he could not get enough to eat;
and what he was forced to swallow--lest he starve--completely broke down
his digestion.

On the other hand, he never ceased to observe; and having made friends
of all classes of Germans, and been given facilities for observation and
study of conditions enjoyed by few Americans in the Teutonic Empire at
the time, he noted every phase and change, both subtle and manifest,
through which these afflicted people passed during the first three years
of the war. They are in far worse case now.

Later (in November) I read an article by a German, J. Koettgen, in the
New York _Chronicle_, which was even more explicit.

Herr Koettgen is one of the agents in this country of Hermann Fernau, an
eminent intellectual of Germany, who escaped into Switzerland, and wages
relentless war upon the dynasty and the military caste of Prussia; which
he holds categorically responsible for the world war. There is a price
on Fernau's head. He dares not walk abroad without a bodyguard, and
cannon are concealed among the oleanders that surround his house. Not
only has he written two books, _Because I am a German_, and _The Coming
Democracy_, which if circulated in Germany would prick thousands of
dazed despairing brains into immediate rebellion, but he is the head of
those German Radical Democrats which have united in an organization
called "Friends of German Democracy."

Their avowed object, through the medium of a bi-weekly journal, _Die
Freie Zeitung_, and other propaganda, is to plant sound democratic ideas
and ideals in the minds of German prisoners in the Entente countries,
and to recruit the saner exiles everywhere. These publications reach men
and women of German blood whose grandfathers fled from military tyranny
after their abortive revolution in 1848, and, with their descendants,
have enjoyed freedom and independence in the United States ever since.
The best of them are expected to exert pressure upon their friends and
relatives in Germany. There are already branches of this epochal
organization in the larger American cities.

Herr Koettgen (who has written a book called _The Hausfrau and
Democracy_, by the way) walked into the office of the _Chronicle_ some
time in November and presented a letter to the editor, Mr. Fletcher. In
the course of the heated conversation that ensued, Herr Koettgen
exclaimed with bitter scorn: "Oh, so you think yourself as fiercely
anti-German as a man may be? Well, let me tell you that you are not
capable of one-tenth the passionate hatred I feel for a dynasty and a
caste that has made me so ashamed of being a German that I could eat the
dust."

In Herr Koettgen's article occur the following paragraphs: "At the first
glance German women hardly appear likely material for the coming
Revolution which will turn Germany into a modern country. But many
incidents point to the fact that German women are growing with their
increasing task. They are beginning to replace their men not only
economically but politically. Most of the public demonstrations in
Germany during this war have been led and arranged by women. The very
first demonstration in 1915 consisted of women. As Mr. Gerard tells us
in his book, they had no very definite idea of what they wanted; only
they wanted their men back. But since that time their political
education has made rapid progress.... With their men in the field and
their former leaders (Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, Louise Zietz) in
prison, German women are learning to act for themselves. Their
demonstrations point to it, as do also letters written by German women
to their men who are now prisoners of war in France and England. In one
of these letters which escaped the watchful eye of the censor, a German
hausfrau described how she made the officials of Muenster sit up by her
energetic and persistent demands."

A girl upon one occasion said to Herr Koettgen: "Only women and children
were employed in our factory. We had more than one strike. Two women
would go round to every woman and girl in the shop and tell them: 'We
have asked for twenty or thirty pfennings more. To-morrow we are going
on strike. She who does not come out will have the thrashing of her
life.' We were all frightened and stayed away, for they really meant
it."

Herr Koettgen continues: "Novel circumstances are reawakening in the
meek German hausfrau some of that combative spirit which characterized
the Teuton women in the time of Tacitus, when they often fought
alongside of their men in the wagon camp.... German women will show
their men the way to freedom. Doing more than their share of the
nation's work, they insist upon being heard, and their growing influence
is one of the greatest dangers to German autocracy in its present
predicament. As politicians German women have the advantage of not
having gone through the soul-destroying, brutalizing school of Prussian
militarism, and of not being burdened with the rigmarole of theory which
formed the content of German politics before the war. They can be
trusted to make a bee-line for the real obstacle to peace and
liberty--to eradicate the autocratic militaristic regime which enslaved
the German people in order to enslave the world."

Now that the way has been cleared by two men of affairs who have never
condescended to write fiction, I will give my own reasons for belief in
the German women, and also for the general plan of _The White Morning_.

I had an apartment for seven years in Munich and spent six or eight
months alternately in that delightful city and traveling in Europe,
passing a month or two in England, or returning for an equal length of
time to my own country. During that long residence in Germany I
naturally met many of its inhabitants, and of as many classes as
possible. German women do not tell you the history of their lives the
first time you meet them, not by any means; they are naturally secretive
and the reverse of frank. But they are human, and when you have won
their confidence they will tell you surprising things. The confidences I
received were for the most part from girls, and one and all assured me
they never should marry. Having grown up under one House Tyrant, for
whom they were not responsible, why in heaven's name should they
deliberately annex another? Far, far better bear with the one whose
worst at least they knew (and who could not live forever), than marry
some man who might be loathsome as well as tyrannical, and who, unless
there happened to be a war, might outlive them?

The idea in my novel of the four Niebuhr girls and their initial
rebellion was suggested to me by a family of Prussian junkerdom that I
met at a watering place in Denmark. The baroness was a charming woman
who used a moderate invalidism in a smiling imperturbable fashion to
insure herself a certain immunity from the demands of her autocratic
lord. The girls were lively, intelligent, splendidly educated. They were
in love with society and court functions, but deeply rebellious at the
attitude of the German male, and determined never to marry. That is to
say the three younger girls; the oldest had married a tame puppy, and
anything less like a tyrant I never beheld. No American husband could be
more subservient. But there was no question that he belonged to a small
exceptional class: while his wife, with all the dominating qualities of
her father, was one of a rapidly increasing number of German women,
silently but firmly rebellious.

The Herr baron was a typical Prussian aristocrat and autocrat. The girls
could hardly have had less liberty in a convent. When they came from
their hotel to mine he escorted them over and often came in. Luckily he
liked me or I never should have had the opportunity to know them as well
as I did. Nor should I have been able to continue the acquaintance
after the day I wickedly induced them to run away with me to Copenhagen,
where we shopped, promenaded all the principal streets, then took ices
on the terrace of one of the restaurants. When we returned he was
storming up and down the platform of the station, and he fairly raved at
the girls. "And you dared, you dared, to go to Copenhagen, without
permission, without your mother, without me!" The girls listened meekly,
but whenever he wheeled laughed behind his military back. Then he turned
on me, but I called him a tyrant and gave him my opinion of his
nonsensical attitude generally. As I was not his daughter he gradually
calmed down and seemed rather to relish the tirade. Finally they all
came over to my hotel to tea.

"You see!" said one of the girls to me afterward. "I have not
exaggerated. Do you think I want another like that?" And, so far as I
know, they have never married.

I did not draw any of my characters on these four delightful girls, but
took the episode as a foundation for the incidents and characters that
grew under my hand after I got round to the story.

The episode of Georg Zottmyer was also told me by a German girl whom I
got to know very well in Munich, and who distantly suggested the
character of Gisela (that is to say in the very beginning. As Gisela
developed she became more like her own legendary Brunhilda).[1]

This young woman was as independent in her life and in her ideas as any
I ever met in England or the United States. But fortune had been kind to
her. Her father died just after her education was finished, and as he
left little money, she went to Brazil as governess in a wealthy family.
She remained in South America for several years, gaining, of course,
poise and experience. Then a relative died and left her a comfortable
fortune. When I met her she was living in Munich from choice, like so
many other Germans who were bored with routine and rigid class lines.

She was a beautiful young woman, with dark hair and eyes and a brilliant
complexion, and dressed to perfection, although she wore no stays. This
may have been a bit of vanity on her part, as the awful reformkleid was
in vogue, and fat German women were displaying themselves in lumps and
creases and billows and sections that rolled like the untrammelled waves
of the sea. Her own figure was so firmly molded and so erect and supple
that it was, for all her fashionable clothes, quite independent of the
corset. She had charming manners combined with an imperturbable
serenity, and always seemed faintly amused. On the other hand, she
displayed none of the offensive German conceit and arrogance.

We spent several days together at Partenkirchen, one of the most
picturesque spots in the Bavarian Alps, and as we were both good
walkers, and there was no one else in the hotel who interested us, we
became quite intimate. She was one of the first to talk to me about the
deep discontent and disgust of the German women, and of her own utter
contempt for the meek hausfrau type, and for the tyrannies, petty,
coarse, often brutal, of the man in his home. Nothing, she was
determined, would ever tempt her to marry, and she could name many
others who were making an independent life for themselves, although,
lacking fortune, often in secret. No matter how much she might fancy
herself in love (and I imagine that she had had her enlightening
experiences) she would not risk a lifelong clash of wills with a man who
might turn out to be a medieval despot.

It was then that she told me of the tentative proposal of one of her
beaux (she had many) "Georg Zottmyer," which I have recorded almost
literally in the scene between this passing character and Gisela in the
Cafe Luitpolt. My object in doing so was to give as realistic an
impression as possible of what the German woman is up against in
dealings with her male. I knew Zottmyer personally, and he interested me
the more (as one is interested in a bug under a microscope) because he
had less excuse for his conceit and arrogance than most German men: he
was brought up in California, where his father is a successful doctor.
But that only seemed to have made him worse. He returned to Germany as
soon as he was of age, more German than the Germans, and despising
Americans.

I had often wondered what became of this highly interesting young woman,
and when I began to write _The White Morning_ she popped into my mind. I
believe she could be a leader of some kind if she chose. Perhaps she is.

The cases could be multiplied indefinitely. The Erkels and Mimi Brandt
are drawn, together with their conditions, almost photographically.
"Heloise" finally married a Scot and went with him to his own country,
but her sisters were dragging out their tragic lives when I left Munich.

A few days ago I met a highly intelligent American woman of German
blood who, before the war, used to visit her relatives in Germany every
year. I told her that I had written this story and she agreed with me
that it was on the cards the women would instigate a revolution.
"Never," she said, "in any country have I known such discontent among
women, heard so many bitter confidences. Their feelings against their
fathers or husbands were the more intense and violent because they dared
not speak out like English or American women."

There is no question that for about fifteen years before the war there
was a thinking, secret, silent, watchful but outwardly passive revolt
going on among the women of Germany. I do not think it had then reached
the working women. It took the war to wake them up. But in that vast
class which, in spite of racial industry, had a certain amount of
leisure, owing to the almost total absence of poverty in the Teutonic
Empire, and whose minds were educated and systematically trained, there
was persistent reading, meditating upon the advance of women in other
nations, quiet debating unsuspected of their masters; and they were
growing in numbers and in an almost sinister determination every year.
Of course there were plenty of hausfraus cowed to the door mat, and,
like the proletariat, needing a war to wake them up; but there were
several hundred thousand of the other sort.

Now, all these women need is a leader. The working women have their Rosa
Luxemburgs, who think out loud in public and get themselves locked up;
and, moreover, do not appeal to the other classes--for Germany is the
most snobbish country in the world. If there were--or if there is--such
a woman as Gisela Doering, who before the war had acquired a widespread
intellectual influence over the awakening women of her race, and then,
when they were approaching the breaking point, had gone quietly and
systematically about making a revolution, there is no question in my
mind as to the outcome.

Just consider for a moment what the German women have suffered during
this war--a war that they were told was forced upon their country by the
aggressive military acts of Russia and France, but which, owing to
Germany's might, would hardly last three months. For nearly three years
they have never known the sensation of appeased hunger, and, having
always been immense eaters, have suffered the tortures of dyspepsia in
addition to hunger. But, far worse, they have listened almost
continuously to the wails of their children for satisfying food,
children who are forever hungry and who often succumb. Karl Ackerman,
whose accuracy no one has questioned, states in his book, _Germany, The
Next Republic?_, that in 1916 sixty thousand children died of
malnutrition in Berlin alone.

These women have lost their fathers, husbands, sons--well, that is the
fortune of any war; but they are beginning to understand that they have
lost them, not in a war of self-defense, but to gratify the insane
ambitions and greed of a dynasty and a military caste that are out of
date in the twentieth century. Their parents, when over sixty, have died
from the same cause as the children. Their daughters, both unmarried and
newly widowed, are "officially pregnant," or the mothers of brats the
name of whose fathers they do not know. The young girls of Lille hardly
have suffered more. The German victims are sent for, then sent home to
bear another child for Germany.

Now, we know what the German men are. These women are the mothers and
wives and sisters of the German men; in other words, they are Germans,
body, and bone and brain-cells, capable of precisely the same ruthless
tactics when pushed too hard--if they have a leader. That, to my mind,
is the whole point. Given that leader, they would effect a revolution
precisely as I have described in my story. Nor would they run the risk
of failure. The German race is not eight-tenths illiterates and
two-tenths intellectuals, emotional firebrands, anarchists and
sellers-out like the Russians. They are uniformly educated, uniformly
disciplined. They will do nothing futile, nothing without the most
secret and methodical preparation of which even the German mind is
capable. It will be like turning over in bed in camp: they will all turn
over together. They are damnably efficient.

It may be said: "But you may have spoiled their chances with your book.
You not only have revealed them in their true character to their men,
but all the details of their probable methods in working up and
precipitating a revolution. You have, in other words, put the German
authorities on their guard."

The answer to this is that no German of the dominant sex could be made
to believe in anything so unprecedented as German women taking the law
into their own hands, uniting, and overthrowing a dynasty. Nothing can
penetrate a German official skull but what has been trained into it from
birth. Unlike the women, the system has made the men of the ruling
class into the sort of machine which is perfect in its way but admits of
no modern improvements. That has been the secret of their strength and
of their weakness, and will be the chief assistance to the Allies in
bringing about their final defeat. I am positive they go to sleep every
night murmuring: "Two and two make four. Two and two make four."

The women could hold meetings under their very noses, so long as they
were not in the street, lay their plans to the last fuse, and apply the
match at the preconcerted moment from one end of Germany to the other
unhindered, unless betrayed. The angry and restless male socialists
would not have a chance with the alert members of their own sex--who
regard women with an even and contemptuous tolerance. Useful but
harmless.

I made Gisela a junker by birth, because a rebel from the top, with
qualities of leadership, would make a deeper impression in Germany than
one of the many avowed extremists of humbler origin. On the other hand,
it was necessary to drop the von, and take a middle-class name, or she
would have failed to win confidence, in the beginning, as well as
literary success; from opposite reasons. It is very difficult for an
aristocratic German of artistic talents to obtain a hearing.
Practically all the intellectuals belong to the middle-class, the
aristocrats being absorbed by the army and navy. The arrogance and often
brutal lack of consideration of the ruling caste, to say nothing of
common politeness, have inspired universal jealousy and hatred, the more
poignant as it must be silent. But even the silent may find their means
of vengeance, as the noble discovers when he attempts recognition in the
intellectual world. But if he were a propagandist, with the welfare of
all Germany at heart, and won his influence under an assumed name, as
Gisela Doering did, the revelation of his identity, together with proof
of dissociation from his own class, would enhance his popularity
immensely. Moreover, it would be incense to the vanity of classes that
never are permitted to forget their inferior rank.

In this country there is a snobbish tendency to exalt and boom any
writer who is known to belong to one of the old and wealthy families;
and the more snobbish the writer the more infectious the disease. But
then in this country, which has never suffered from militarism, there is
a naive tendency to worship success in any form. In Germany my heroine
would have doomed herself to failure if she had signed her work Gisela
von Niebuhr. But her early education, surroundings, position,--to say
nothing of her four years in the United States--were just what gave her
the requisite advantages, and preserved her from many mistakes. She
starts out with no prejudices against any caste, and an intense sympathy
for all German women who lack even the compensation of being
_hochwohlgeboren_.

No one knows what the future holds, or what unexpected event will
suddenly end the war; but I should not have written _The White Morning_
if I had not been firmly convinced that a Gisela might arise at any
moment and deliver the world.


GERTRUDE ATHERTON.

[Footnote 1: For this reason I asked the most beautiful woman I have
ever seen of the heroic or goddess type to be photographed for the
frontispiece.--G.A.]



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