Copyright
Edward Mandell House.

Philip Dru Administrator : a Story of Tomorrow 1920 - 1935 online

. (page 3 of 14)
Online LibraryEdward Mandell HousePhilip Dru Administrator : a Story of Tomorrow 1920 - 1935 → online text (page 3 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


justice. And the man or woman who fails to do his duty, not as he sees
it, but as society at large sees it, will be held up to the contempt of
mankind. A generation or two ago, Gloria, this mad unreasoning scramble
for wealth began. Men have fought, struggled and died, lured by the
gleam of gold, and to what end? The so-called fortunate few that succeed
in obtaining it, use it in divers ways. To some, lavish expenditure and
display pleases their swollen vanity. Others, more serious minded,
gratify their selfishness by giving largess to schools of learning and
research, and to the advancement of the sciences and arts. But here and
there was found a man gifted beyond his fellows, one with vision clear
enough to distinguish things worth while. And these, scorning to acquire
either wealth or power, labored diligently in their separate fields of
endeavor. One such became a great educator, the greatest of his day and
generation, and by his long life of rectitude set an example to the
youth of America that has done more good than all the gold that all the
millionaires have given for educational purposes. Another brought to
success a prodigious physical undertaking. For no further reason than
that he might serve his country where best he could, he went into a
fever-laden land and dug a mighty ditch, bringing together two great
oceans and changing the commerce of the world."



CHAPTER VI

THE PROPHET OF A NEW DAY


Philip and Mr. Strawn oftentimes discussed the mental and moral upheaval
that was now generally in evidence.

"What is to be the outcome, Philip?" said Mr. Strawn. "I know that
things are not as they should be, but how can there be a more even
distribution of wealth without lessening the efficiency of the strong,
able and energetic men and without making mendicants of the indolent and
improvident? If we had pure socialism, we could never get the highest
endeavor out of anyone, for it would seem not worth while to do more
than the average. The race would then go backward instead of lifting
itself higher by the insistent desire to excel and to reap the rich
reward that comes with success."

"In the past, Mr. Strawn, your contention would be unanswerable, but the
moral tone and thought of the world is changing. You take it for granted
that man must have in sight some material reward in order to bring forth
the best there is within him. I believe that mankind is awakening to the
fact that material compensation is far less to be desired than spiritual
compensation. This feeling will grow, it is growing, and when it comes
to full fruition, the world will find but little difficulty in attaining
a certain measure of altruism. I agree with you that this much-to-be
desired state of society cannot be altogether reached by laws, however
drastic. Socialism as dreamed of by Karl Marx cannot be entirely brought
about by a comprehensive system of state ownership and by the leveling
of wealth. If that were done without a spiritual leavening, the result
would be largely as you suggest."

And so the discussion ran, Strawn the embodiment of the old order of
thought and habit, and Philip the apostle of the new. And Gloria
listened and felt that in Philip a new force had arisen. She likened him
to a young eagle who, soaring high above a slumbering world, sees first
the gleaming rays of that onrushing sun that is soon to make another
day.



CHAPTER VII

THE WINNING OF A MEDAL


It had become the practice of the War Department to present to the army
every five years a comprehensive military problem involving an imaginary
attack upon this country by a powerful foreign foe, and the proper line
of defense. The competition was open to both officers and men. A medal
was given to the successful contestant, and much distinction came with
it.

There had been as yet but one contest; five years before the medal had
been won by a Major General who by wide acclaim was considered the
greatest military authority in the Army. That he should win seemed to
accord with the fitness of things, and it was thought that he would
again be successful.

The problem had been given to the Army on the first of November, and six
months were allowed to study it and hand in a written dissertation
thereon. It was arranged that the general military staff that considered
the papers should not know the names of the contestants.

Philip had worked upon the matter assiduously while he was at Fort
Magruder, and had sent in his paper early in March. Great was his
surprise upon receiving a telegram from the Secretary of War announcing
that he had won the medal. For a few days he was a national sensation.
The distinction of the first winner, who was again a contestant, and
Philip's youth and obscurity, made such a striking contrast that the
whole situation appealed enormously to the imagination of the people.
Then, too, the problem was one of unusual interest, and it, as well as
Philip's masterly treatment of it, was published far and wide.

The Nation was clearly treating itself to a sensation, and upon Philip
were focused the eyes of all. From now he was a marked man. The
President, stirred by the wishes of a large part of the people,
expressed by them in divers ways, offered him reinstatement in the Army
with the rank of Major, and indicated, through the Secretary of War,
that he would be assigned as Secretary to the General Staff. It was a
gracious thing to do, even though it was prompted by that political
instinct for which the President had become justly famous.

In an appreciative note of thanks, Philip declined. Again he became the
talk of the hour. Poor, and until now obscure, it was assumed that he
would gladly seize such an opportunity for a brilliant career within his
profession. His friends were amazed and urged him to reconsider the
matter, but his determination was fixed.

Only Gloria understood and approved.

"Philip," said Mr. Strawn, "do not turn this offer down lightly. Such an
opportunity seldom comes twice in any man's life."

"I am deeply impressed with the truth of what you say, Mr. Strawn, and I
am not putting aside a military career without much regret. However, I
am now committed to a life work of a different character, one in which
glory and success as the world knows it can never enter, but which
appeals to every instinct that I possess. I have turned my face in the
one direction, and come what may, I shall never change."

"I am afraid, Philip, that in the enthusiasm of youth and inexperience
you are doing a foolish thing, one that will bring you many hours of
bitter regret. This is the parting of the ways with you. Take the advice
of one who loves you well and turn into the road leading to honor and
success. The path which you are about to choose is obscure and difficult,
and none may say just where it leads."

"What you say is true, Mr. Strawn, only we are measuring results by
different standards. If I could journey your road with a blythe heart,
free from regret, when glory and honor came, I should revel in it and
die, perhaps, happy and contented. But constituted as I am, when I began
to travel along that road, from its dust there would arise to haunt me
the ghosts of those of my fellowmen who had lived and died without
opportunity. The cold and hungry, the sick and suffering poor, would
seem to cry to me that I had abandoned them in order that I might
achieve distinction and success, and there would be for me no peace."

And here Gloria touched his hand with hers, that he might know her
thoughts and sympathy were at one with his.

Philip was human enough to feel a glow of satisfaction at having
achieved so much reputation. A large part of it, he felt, was undeserved
and rather hysterical, but that he had been able to do a big thing made
him surer of his ground in his new field of endeavor. He believed, too,
that it would aid him largely in obtaining the confidence of those with
whom he expected to work and of those he expected to work for.



CHAPTER VIII

THE STORY OF THE LEVINSKYS


As soon as public attention was brought to Philip in such a generous
way, he received many offers to write for the press and magazines, and
also to lecture.

He did not wish to draw upon his father's slender resources, and yet he
must needs do something to meet his living expenses, for during the
months of his inactivity, he had drawn largely upon the small sum which
he had saved from his salary.

The Strawns were insistent that he should continue to make their home
his own, but this he was unwilling to do. So he rented an inexpensive
room over a small hardware store in the East Side tenement district. He
thought of getting in one of the big, evil-smelling tenement houses so
that he might live as those he came to help lived, but he abandoned this
because he feared he might become too absorbed in those immediately
around him.

What he wanted was a broader view. His purpose was not so much to give
individual help as to formulate some general plan and to work upon those
lines.

And yet he wished an intimate view of the things he meant to devote his
life to bettering. So the clean little room over the quiet hardware
store seemed to suit his wants.

The thin, sharp-featured Jew and his fat, homely wife who kept it had
lived in that neighborhood for many years, and Philip found them a mine
of useful information regarding the things he wished to know.

The building was narrow and but three stories high, and his landlord
occupied all of the second story save the one room which was let to
Philip.

He arranged with Mrs. Levinsky to have his breakfast with them. He soon
learned to like the Jew and his wife. While they were kind-hearted and
sympathetic, they seldom permitted their sympathy to encroach upon their
purse, but this Philip knew was a matter of environment and early
influence. He drew from them one day the story of their lives, and it
ran like this:

Ben Levinsky's forebears had long lived in Warsaw. From father to son,
from one generation to another, they had handed down a bookshop, which
included bookbinding in a small way. They were self-educated and widely
read. Their customers were largely among the gentiles and for a long
time the anti-semitic waves passed over them, leaving them untouched.
They were law-abiding, inoffensive, peaceable citizens, and had been for
generations.

One bleak December day, at a market place in Warsaw, a young Jew, baited
beyond endurance, struck out madly at his aggressors, and in the general
mêlée that followed, the son of a high official was killed. No one knew
how he became involved in the brawl, for he was a sober, high-minded
youngster, and very popular. Just how he was killed and by whom was
never known. But the Jew had struck the first blow and that was all
sufficient for the blood of hate to surge in the eyes of the race-mad
mob.

Then began a blind, unreasoning massacre. It all happened within an
hour. It was as if after nightfall a tornado had come out of the west,
and without warning had torn and twisted itself through the city,
leaving ruin and death in its wake. No Jew that could be found was
spared. Saul Levinsky was sitting in his shop looking over some books
that had just come from the binder. He heard shots in the distance and
the dull, angry roar of the hoarse-voiced mob. He closed his door and
bolted it, and went up the little stairs leading to his family quarters.
His wife and six-year-old daughter were there. Ben, a boy of ten, had
gone to a nobleman's home to deliver some books, and had not returned.

Levinsky expected the mob to pass his place and leave it unmolested. It
stopped, hesitated and then rammed in the door. It was all over in a
moment. Father, mother and child lay dead and torn almost limb from
limb. The rooms were wrecked, and the mob moved on.

The tempest passed as quickly as it came, and when little Ben reached
his home, the street was as silent as the grave.

With quivering lip and uncertain feet he picked his way from room to
room until he came to what were once his father, mother and baby sister,
and then he swooned away. When he awoke he was shivering with cold. For
a moment he did not realize what had happened, then with a heartbreaking
cry he fled the place, nor did he stop until he was a league away.

He crept under the sheltering eaves of a half-burned house, and cold
and miserable he sobbed himself to sleep. In the morning an itinerant
tinker came by and touched by the child's distress, drew from him his
unhappy story. He was a lonely old man, and offered to take Ben with
him, an offer which was gladly accepted.

We will not chronicle the wanderings of these two in pursuit of food and
shelter, for it would take too long to tell in sequence how they finally
reached America, of the tinker's death, and of the evolution of the
tinker's pack to the well ordered hardware shop over which Philip lived.



CHAPTER IX

PHILIP BEGINS A NEW CAREER


After sifting the offers made him, Philip finally accepted two, one from
a large New York daily that syndicated throughout the country, and one
from a widely read magazine, to contribute a series of twelve articles.
Both the newspaper and the magazine wished to dictate the subject matter
about which he was to write, but he insisted upon the widest latitude.
The sum paid, and to be paid, seemed to him out of proportion to the
service rendered, but he failed to take into account the value of the
advertising to those who had secured the use of his pen.

He accepted the offers not alone because he must needs do something for
a livelihood, but largely for the good he thought he might do the cause
to which he was enlisted. He determined to write upon social subjects
only, though he knew that this would be a disappointment to his
publishers. He wanted to write an article or two before he began his
permanent work, for if he wrote successfully, he thought it would add to
his influence. So he began immediately, and finished his first
contribution to the syndicate newspapers in time for them to use it the
following Sunday.

He told in a simple way, the story of the Turners. In conclusion he said
the rich and the well-to-do were as a rule charitable enough when
distress came to their doors, but the trouble was that they were
unwilling to seek it out. They knew that it existed but they wanted to
come in touch with it as little as possible.

They smothered their consciences with the thought that there were
organized societies and other mediums through which all poverty was
reached, and to these they gave. They knew that this was not literally
true, but it served to make them think less badly of themselves.

_In a direct and forceful manner, he pointed out that our civilization
was fundamentally wrong inasmuch as among other things, it restricted
efficiency; that if society were properly organized, there would be none
who were not sufficiently clothed and fed; that the laws, habits and
ethical training in vogue were alike responsible for the inequalities in
opportunity and the consequent wide difference between the few and the
many; that the result of such conditions was to render inefficient a
large part of the population, the percentage differing in each country
in the ratio that education and enlightened and unselfish laws bore to
ignorance, bigotry and selfish laws._ But little progress, he said,
had been made in the early centuries for the reason that opportunity
had been confined to a few, and it was only recently that any
considerable part of the world's population had been in a position to
become efficient; and mark the result. Therefore, he argued, as an
economical proposition, divorced from the realm of ethics, the far-sighted
statesmen of to-morrow, if not of to-day, will labor to the end
that every child born of woman may have an opportunity to accomplish
that for which it is best fitted. Their bodies will be properly clothed
and fed at the minimum amount of exertion, so that life may mean
something more than a mere struggle for existence. Humanity as a whole
will then be able to do its share towards the conquest of the complex
forces of nature, and there will be brought about an intellectual and
spiritual quickening that will make our civilization of to-day seem as
crude, as selfish and illogical as that of the dark ages seem now to us.

Philip's article was widely read and was the subject of much comment,
favorable and otherwise. There were the ever-ready few, who want to
re-make the world in a day, that objected to its moderation, and there were
his more numerous critics who hold that to those that have, more should
be given. These considered his doctrine dangerous to the general
welfare, meaning their own welfare. But upon the greater number it made
a profound impression, and it awakened many a sleeping conscience as was
shown by the hundreds of letters which he received from all parts of the
country. All this was a tremendous encouragement to the young social
worker, for the letters he received showed him that he had a definite
public to address, whom he might lead if he could keep his medium for a
time at least. Naturally, the publishers of the newspaper and magazine
for which he wrote understood this, but they also understood that it was
usually possible to control intractable writers after they had acquired
a taste for publicity, and their attitude was for the time being one of
general enthusiasm and liberality tempered by such trivial attempts at
control as had already been made.

No sooner had he seen the first story in print than he began formulating
his ideas for a second. This, he planned, would be a companion piece to
that of the Turners which was typical of the native American family
driven to the East Side by the inevitable workings of the social order,
and would take up the problem of the foreigner immigrating to this
country, and its effect upon our national life. In this second article
he incorporated the story of the Levinskys as being fairly
representative of the problem he wished to treat.

In preparing these articles, Philip had used his eyes for the first time
in such work, and he was pleased to find no harm came of it. The oculist
still cautioned moderation, but otherwise dismissed him as fully
recovered.



CHAPTER X

GLORIA DECIDES TO PROSELYTE THE RICH


While Philip was establishing himself in New York, as a social worker
and writer, Gloria was spending more and more of her time in settlement
work, in spite of the opposition of her family. Naturally, their work
brought them much into each other's society, and drew them even closer
together than in Philip's dark days when Gloria was trying to aid him in
the readjustment of his life. They were to all appearances simply
comrades in complete understanding, working together for a common cause.

However, Strawn's opposition to Gloria's settlement work was not all
impersonal, for he made no secret of his worry over Gloria's evident
admiration for Dru. Strawn saw in Philip a masterly man with a
prodigious intellect, bent upon accomplishing a revolutionary adjustment
of society, and he knew that nothing would deter him from his purpose.
The magnitude of the task and the uncertainties of success made him fear
that Gloria might become one of the many unhappy women who suffer
martyrdom through the greatness of their love.

Gloria's mother felt the same way about her daughter's companion in
settlement work. Mrs. Strawn was a placid, colorless woman, content to
go the conventional way, without definite purpose, further than to avoid
the rougher places in life.

She was convinced that men were placed here for the sole purpose of
shielding and caring for women, and she had a contempt for any man who
refused or was unable to do so.

Gloria's extreme advanced views of life alarmed her and seemed
unnatural. She protested as strongly as she could, without upsetting her
equanimity, for to go beyond that she felt was unladylike and bad for
both nerves and digestion. It was a grief for her to see Gloria actually
working with anyone, much less Philip, whose theories were quite
upsetting, and who, after all, was beyond the pale of their social
sphere and was impossible as a son-in-law.

Consequently, Philip was not surprised when one day in the fall, he
received a disconsolate note from Gloria who was spending a few weeks
with her parents at their camp in the hills beyond Tuxedo, saying that
her father had flatly refused to allow her to take a regular position
with one of the New York settlements, which would require her living on
the East Side instead of at home. The note concluded:

"Now, Philip, do come up for Sunday and let's talk it over, for I am
sadly at variance with my family, and I need your assistance and advice.

"Your very sincere,

"GLORIA."

The letter left Dru in a strangely disturbed state of mind, and all
during the trip up from New York his thoughts were on Gloria and what
the future would bring forth to them both.

On the afternoon following his arrival at the camp, as he and the young
woman walked over the hills aflame with autumnal splendor, Gloria told
of her bitter disappointment. The young man listened in sympathy, but
after a long pause in which she saw him weighing the whole question in
his mind, he said: "Well, Gloria, so far as your work alone is
concerned, there is something better that you can do if you will. The
most important things to be done now are not amongst the poor but
amongst the rich. There is where you may become a forceful missionary
for good. All of us can reach the poor, for they welcome us, but there
are only a few who think like you, who can reach the rich and powerful.

"Let that be your field of endeavor. Do your work gently and with
moderation, so that some at least may listen. If we would convince and
convert, we must veil our thoughts and curb our enthusiasm, so that
those we would influence will think us reasonable."

"Well, Philip," answered Gloria, "if you really think I can help the
cause, of course - "

"I'm sure you can help the cause. A lack of understanding is the chief
obstacle, but, Gloria, you know that this is not an easy thing for me to
say, for I realize that it will largely take you out of my life, for my
path leads in the other direction.

"It will mean that I will no longer have you as a daily inspiration, and
the sordidness and loneliness will press all the harder, but we have
seen the true path, and now have a clearer understanding of the meaning
and importance of our work."

"And so, Philip, it is decided that you will go back to the East Side to
your destiny, and I will remain here, there and everywhere, Newport,
New York, Palm Beach, London, carrying on my work as I see it."

They had wandered long and far by now, and had come again to the edge of
the lofty forest that was a part of her father's estate. They stood for
a moment in that vast silence looking into each other's eyes, and then
they clasped hands over their tacit compact, and without a word, walked
back to the bungalow.



CHAPTER XI

SELWYN PLOTS WITH THOR


For five years Gloria and Philip worked in their separate fields, but,
nevertheless, coming in frequent touch with one another. Gloria
proselyting the rich by showing them their selfishness, and turning
them to a larger purpose in life, and Philip leading the forces of those
who had consecrated themselves to the uplifting of the unfortunate. It
did not take Philip long to discern that in the last analysis it would
be necessary for himself and co-workers to reach the results aimed at
through politics. Masterful and arrogant wealth, created largely by
Government protection of its profits, not content with its domination
and influence within a single party, had sought to corrupt them both,
and to that end had insinuated itself into the primaries, in order that
no candidates might be nominated whose views were not in accord with
theirs.

By the use of all the money that could be spent, by a complete and
compact organization and by the most infamous sort of deception
regarding his real opinions and intentions, plutocracy had succeeded in
electing its creature to the Presidency. There had been formed a league,
the membership of which was composed of one thousand multi-millionaires,
each one contributing ten thousand dollars. This gave a fund of ten
million dollars with which to mislead those that could be misled, and to
debauch the weak and uncertain.

This nefarious plan was conceived by a senator whose swollen fortune had
been augmented year after year through the tributes paid him by the


1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryEdward Mandell HousePhilip Dru Administrator : a Story of Tomorrow 1920 - 1935 → online text (page 3 of 14)