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

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conflict with either beast or fellowman, the primitive lust for blood
comes to the fore, and the gentlest and most humane are oftentimes the
most bloodthirsty.

Of the enemy forty thousand were dead and two hundred and ten thousand
were wounded with seventy-five thousand missing. Of prisoners Dru had
captured three hundred and seventy-five thousand.

General Newton was killed in the early afternoon, soon after the rout
began.

Philip's casualties were twenty-three thousand dead and one hundred and
ten thousand wounded.

It was a holocaust, but the war was indeed ended.



CHAPTER XXIII

ELMA'S AFTERMATH


After General Dru had given orders for the care of the wounded and the
disposition of the prisoners, he dismissed his staff and went quietly
out into the starlight. He walked among the dead and wounded and saw
that everything possible was being done to alleviate suffering. Feeling
weary he sat for a moment upon a dismembered gun.

As he looked over the field of carnage and saw what havoc the day had
made, he thought of the Selwyns and the Thors, whose selfishness and
greed were responsible for it all, and he knew that they and their kind
would have to meet an awful charge before the judgment seat of God.
Within touch of him lay a boy of not more than seventeen, with his white
face turned towards the stars. One arm was shattered and a piece of
shell had torn a great red wound in the side of his chest. Dru thought
him dead, but he saw him move and open his eyes. He removed a coat from
a soldier that lay dead beside him and pillowed the boy's head upon it,
and gave him some water and a little brandy.

"I am all in, Captain," said he, "but I would like a message sent home."
He saw that Dru was an officer but he had no idea who he was. "I only
enlisted last week. I live in Pennsylvania - not far from here." Then
more faintly - "My mother tried to persuade me to remain at home, but I
wanted to do my share, so here I am - as you find me. Tell her - tell
her," but the message never came - for he was dead.

After he had covered the pain-racked, ghastly face, Dru sat in silent
meditation, and thought of the shame of it, the pity of it all.
Somewhere amongst that human wreckage he knew Gloria was doing what she
could to comfort the wounded and those that were in the agony of death.

She had joined the Red Cross Corps of the insurgent army at the
beginning of hostilities, but Dru had had only occasional glimpses of
her. He was wondering now, in what part of that black and bloody field
she was. His was the strong hand that had torn into fragments these
helpless creatures; hers was the gentle hand that was softening the
horror, the misery of it all. Dru knew there were those who felt that
the result would never be worth the cost and that he, too, would come in
for a measurable share of their censure. But deep and lasting as his
sympathy was for those who had been brought into this maelstrom of war,
yet, pessimism found no lodgment within him, rather was his great soul
illuminated with the thought that with splendid heroism they had died in
order that others might live the better. Twice before had the great
republic been baptized in blood and each time the result had changed the
thought and destiny of man. And so would it be now, only to greater
purpose. Never again would the Selwyns and the Thors be able to fetter
the people.

Free and unrestrained by barriers erected by the powerful, for selfish
purposes, there would now lie open to them a glorious and contented
future. He had it in his thoughts to do the work well now that it had
been begun, and to permit no misplaced sentiment to deter him. He knew
that in order to do what he had in mind, he would have to reckon with
the habits and traditions of centuries, but, seeing clearly the task
before him he must needs become an iconoclast and accept the
consequences. For two days and nights he had been without sleep and
under a physical and mental strain that would have meant disaster to
any, save Philip Dru. But now he began to feel the need of rest and
sleep, so he walked slowly back to his tent.

After giving orders that he was not to be disturbed, he threw himself as
he was upon his camp bed, and, oblivious of the fact that the news of
his momentous victory had circled the globe and that his name was upon
the lips of half the world, he fell into a dreamless, restful sleep.



CHAPTER XXIV

UNCROWNED HEROES


When Dru wakened in the morning after a long and refreshing sleep, his
first thoughts were of Gloria Strawn. Before leaving his tent he wrote
her an invitation to dine with him that evening in company with some of
his generals and their wives. All through that busy day Dru found
himself looking forward to the coming evening. When Gloria came Dru was
standing at the door of his tent to meet her. As he helped her from the
army conveyance she said:

"Oh, Philip, how glad I am! How glad I am!"

Dru knew that she had no reference to his brilliant victory, but that it
was his personal welfare that she had in mind.

During the dinner many stories of heroism were told, men who were least
suspected of great personal bravery had surprised their comrades by
deeds that would follow the coming centuries in both song and story.
Dru, who had been a silent listener until now, said:

"Whenever my brother soldier rises above self and gives or offers his
life for that of his comrade, no one rejoices more than I. But, my
friends, the highest courage is not displayed upon the battlefield. The
soldier's heroism is done under stress of great excitement, and his
field of action is one that appeals to the imagination. It usually also
touches our patriotism and self-esteem. The real heroes of the world are
oftentimes never known. I once knew a man of culture and wealth who
owned a plantation in some hot and inaccessible region. Smallpox in its
most virulent form became prevalent among the negroes. Everyone fled the
place save this man, and those that were stricken. Single-handed and
alone, he nursed them while they lived and buried them when they died.
And yet during all the years I knew him, never once did he refer to it.
An old negro told me the story and others afterwards confirmed it. This
same man jumped into a swollen river and rescued a poor old negro who
could not swim. There was no one to applaud him as he battled with the
deadly eddies and currents and brought to safety one of the least of
God's creatures. To my mind the flag of no nation ever waved above a
braver, nobler heart."

There was a moment's silence, and then Gloria said:

"Philip, the man you mention is doubtless the most splendid product of
our civilization, for he was perhaps as gentle as he was brave, but
there is still another type of hero to whom I would call attention. I
shall tell you of a man named Sutton, whom I came to know in my
settlement work and who seemed to those who knew him wholly bad. He was
cruel, selfish, and without any sense of honor, and even his personality
was repulsive, and yet this is what he did.

"One day, soon after dark, the ten story tenement building in which he
lived caught fire. Smoke was pouring from the windows, at which many
frightened faces were seen.

"But what was holding the crowd's breathless attention, was the daring
attempt of a man on the eighth floor to save a child of some five or six
years.

"He had gotten from his room to a small iron balcony, and there he took
his handkerchief and blindfolded the little boy. He lifted the child
over the railing, and let him down to a stone ledge some twelve inches
wide, and which seemed to be five or six feet below the balcony.

"The man had evidently told the child to flatten himself against the
wall, for the little fellow had spread out his arms and pressed his body
close to it.

"When the man reached him, he edged him along in front of him. It was a
perilous journey, and to what end?

"No one could see that he was bettering his condition by moving further
along the building, though it was evident he had a well-defined purpose
from the beginning.

"When he reached the corner, he stopped in front of a large flagpole
that projected out from the building some twenty or more feet.

"He shouted to the firemen in the street below, but his voice was lost
in the noise and distance. He then scribbled something on an envelope
and after wrapping his knife inside, dropped it down. He lost no time by
seeing whether he was understood, but he took the child and put his arms
and legs about the pole in front of him and together they slid along to
the golden ball at the end.

"What splendid courage! What perfect self-possession! He then took the
boy's arm above the hand and swung him clear. He held him for a moment
to see that all was ready below, and turned him loose.

"The child dropped as straight as a plummet into the canvas net that was
being held for him.

"The excitement had been so tense up to now, that in all that vast crowd
no one said a word or moved a muscle, but when they saw the little
fellow unhurt, and perched high on the shoulders of a burly fireman,
such cheers were given as were never before heard in that part of New
York.

"The man, it seemed, knew as well as those below, that his weight made
impossible his escape in a like manner, for he had slid back to the
building and was sitting upon the ledge smoking a cigarette.

"At first it was the child in which the crowd was interested, but now it
was the man. He must be saved; but could he be? The heat was evidently
becoming unbearable and from time to time a smother of smoke hid him
from view. Once when it cleared away he was no longer there, it had
suffocated him and he had fallen, a mangled heap, into the street below.

"That man was Sutton, and the child was not his own. He could have saved
himself had he not stayed to break in a door behind which the screams of
the child were heard."

There was a long silence when Gloria had ended her story, and then the
conversation ran along more cheerful lines.



CHAPTER XXV

THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE REPUBLIC


General Dru began at once the reorganization of his army. The Nation
knew that the war was over, and it was in a quiver of excitement.

They recognized the fact that Dru dominated the situation and that a
master mind had at last arisen in the Republic. He had a large and
devoted army to do his bidding, and the future seemed to lie wholly in
his hands.

The great metropolitan dailies were in keen rivalry to obtain some
statement from him, but they could not get within speaking distance. The
best they could do was to fill their columns with speculations and
opinions from those near, or at least pretending to be near him. He had
too much to do to waste a moment, but he had it in mind to make some
statement of a general nature within a few days.

The wounded were cared for, the dead disposed of and all prisoners
disarmed and permitted to go to their homes under parole. Of his own men
he relieved those who had sickness in their families, or pressing duties
to perform. Many of the prisoners, at their urgent solicitation, he
enlisted. The final result was a compact and fairly well organized army
of some four hundred thousand men who were willing to serve as long as
they were needed.

During the days that Dru was reorganizing, he now and then saw Gloria.
She often wondered why Philip did not tell her something of his plans,
and at times she felt hurt at his reticence. She did not know that he
would have trusted her with his life without hesitation, but that his
sense of duty sealed his lips when it came to matters of public policy.

He knew she would not willingly betray him, but he never took chances
upon the judgment she, or any friend, might exercise as to what was or
what was not important. When a thought or plan had once gone from him to
another it was at the mercy of the other's discretion, and good
intention did not avail if discretion and judgment were lacking. He
consulted freely with those from whom he thought he could obtain help,
but about important matters no one ever knew but himself his
conclusions.

Dru was now ready to march upon Washington, and he issued an address to
his soldiers which was intended, in fact, for the general public. He did
not want, at this time, to assume unusual powers, and if he had spoken
to the Nation he might be criticised as assuming a dictatorial attitude.

He complimented his army upon their patriotism and upon their bravery,
and told them that they had won what was, perhaps, the most important
victory in the history of warfare. He deplored the fact that, of
necessity, it was a victory over their fellow countrymen, but he
promised that the breach would soon be healed, for it was his purpose to
treat them as brothers. He announced that no one, neither the highest
nor the lowest, would be arrested, tried, or in any way disturbed
provided they accepted the result of the battle as final, and as
determining a change in the policy of government in accordance with the
views held by those whom he represented. Failure to acquiesce in this,
or any attempt to foster the policies of the _late government,_
would be considered seditious, and would be punished by death. He was
determined upon immediate peace and quietude, and any individual,
newspaper or corporation violating this order would be summarily dealt
with.

The words "late government" caused a sensation.

It pointed very surely to the fact that as soon as Dru reached
Washington, he would assume charge of affairs. But in what way? That was
the momentous question.

President Rockwell, the Vice-President and the Cabinet, fearful of the
result of Dru's complete domination, fled the country. Selwyn urged,
threatened, and did all he could to have them stand their ground, and
take the consequences of defeat, but to no avail. Finally, he had the
Secretary of State resign, so that the President might appoint him to
that office. This being done, he became acting President.

There were some fifty thousand troops at Washington and vicinity, and
Dru wired Selwyn asking whether any defense of that city was
contemplated. Upon receiving a negative answer, he sent one of his staff
officers directly to Washington to demand a formal surrender. Selwyn
acquiesced in this, and while the troops were not disbanded, they were
placed under the command of Dru's emissary.

After further negotiations it was arranged for such of the volunteers as
desired to do so, to return to their homes. This left a force of thirty
thousand men at Washington who accepted the new conditions, and declared
fealty to Dru and the cause he represented. There was now requisitioned
all the cars that were necessary to convey the army from Buffalo to New
York, Philadelphia and Washington. A day was named when all other
traffic was to be stopped, until the troops, equipment and supplies had
been conveyed to their destinations. One hundred thousand men were sent
to New York and one hundred thousand to Philadelphia, and held on the
outskirts of those cities. Two hundred thousand were sent to Washington
and there Dru went himself.

Selwyn made a formal surrender to him and was placed under arrest, but
it was hardly more than a formality, for Selwyn was placed under no
further restraint than that he should not leave Washington. His arrest
was made for its effect upon the Nation; in order to make it clear that
the former government no longer existed.

General Dru now called a conference of his officers and announced his
purpose of assuming the powers of a dictator, distasteful as it was to
him, and, as he felt it might also be, to the people. He explained that
such a radical step was necessary, in order to quickly purge the
Government of those abuses that had arisen, and give to it the form and
purpose for which they had fought. They were assured that he was free
from any personal ambition, and he pledged his honor to retire after the
contemplated reforms had been made, so that the country could again have
a constitutional government. Not one of them doubted his word, and they
pledged themselves and the men under them, to sustain him loyally. He
then issued an address to his army proclaiming himself _"Administrator
of the Republic."_



CHAPTER XXVI

DRU OUTLINES HIS INTENTIONS


The day after this address was issued, General Dru reviewed his army and
received such an ovation that it stilled criticism, for it was plain
that the new order of things had to be accepted, and there was a thrill
of fear among those who would have liked to raise their voices in
protest.

It was felt that the property and lives of all were now in the keeping
of one man.

Dru's first official act was to call a conference of those, throughout
the Union, who had been leaders in the movement to overthrow the
Government.

The gathering was large and representative, but he found no such
unanimity as amongst the army. A large part, perhaps a majority, were
outspoken for an immediate return to representative government.

They were willing that unusual powers should be assumed long enough to
declare the old Government illegal, and to issue an immediate call for a
general election, state and national, to be held as usual in November.
The advocates of this plan were willing that Dru should remain in
authority until the duly constituted officials could be legally
installed.

Dru presided over the meeting, therefore he took no part in the early
discussion, further than to ask for the fullest expression of opinion.
After hearing the plan for a limited dictatorship proposed, he arose,
and, in a voice vibrant with emotion, addressed the meeting as follows:

"My fellow countrymen: - I feel sure that however much we may differ as
to methods, there is no one within the sound of my voice that does not
wish me well, and none, I believe, mistrusts either my honesty of
purpose, my patriotism, or my ultimate desire to restore as soon as
possible to our distracted land a constitutional government.

"We all agreed that a change had to be brought about even though it
meant revolution, for otherwise the cruel hand of avarice would have
crushed out from us, and from our children, every semblance of freedom.
If our late masters had been more moderate in their greed we would have
been content to struggle for yet another period, hoping that in time we
might again have justice and equality before the law. But even so we
would have had a defective Government, defective in machinery and
defective in its constitution and laws. To have righted it, a century of
public education would have been necessary. The present opportunity has
been bought at fearful cost. If we use it lightly, those who fell upon
the field of Elma will have died in vain, and the anguish of mothers,
and the tears of widows and orphans will mock us because we failed in
our duty to their beloved dead.

"For a long time I have known that this hour would come, and that there
would be those of you who would stand affrighted at the momentous change
from constitutional government to despotism, no matter how pure and
exalted you might believe my intentions to be.

"But in the long watches of the night, in the solitude of my tent, I
conceived a plan of government which, by the grace of God, I hope to be
able to give to the American people. My life is consecrated to our
cause, and, hateful as is the thought of assuming supreme power, I can
see no other way clearly, and I would be recreant to my trust if I
faltered in my duty. Therefore, with the aid I know each one of you will
give me, there shall, in God's good time, be wrought 'a government of
the people, by the people and for the people.'"

When Dru had finished there was generous applause. At first here and
there a dissenting voice was heard, but the chorus of approval drowned
it. It was a splendid tribute to his popularity and integrity. When
quiet was restored, he named twelve men whom he wanted to take charge of
the departments and to act as his advisors.

They were all able men, each distinguished in his own field of endeavor,
and when their names were announced there was an outburst of
satisfaction.

The meeting adjourned, and each member went home a believer in Dru and
the policy he had adopted. They, in turn, converted the people to their
view of the situation, so that Dru was able to go forward with his great
work, conscious of the support and approval of an overwhelming majority
of his fellow countrymen.



CHAPTER XXVII

A NEW ERA AT WASHINGTON


When General Dru assumed the responsibilities of Government he saw
that, unless he arranged it otherwise, social duties would prove a tax
upon his time and would deter him from working with that celerity for
which he had already become famous. He had placed Mr. Strawn at the head
of the Treasury Department and he offered him the use of the White
House as a place of residence. His purpose was to have Mrs. Strawn and
Gloria relieve him of those social functions that are imposed upon the
heads of all Governments. Mrs. Strawn was delighted with such an
arrangement, and it almost compensated her for having been forced by her
husband and Gloria into the ranks of the popular or insurgent party. Dru
continued to use the barracks as his home, though he occupied the
offices in the White House for public business. It soon became a
familiar sight in Washington to see him ride swiftly through the streets
on his seal-brown gelding, Twilight, as he went to and from the barracks
and the White House. Dru gave and attended dinners to foreign
ambassadors and special envoys, but at the usual entertainments given to
the public or to the official family he was seldom seen. He and Gloria
were in accord, regarding the character of entertainments to be given,
and all unnecessary display was to be avoided. This struck a cruel blow
at Mrs. Strawn, who desired to have everything in as sumptuous a way as
under the old régime, but both Dru and Gloria were as adamant, and she
had to be content with the new order of things.

"Gloria," said Dru, "it pleases me beyond measure to find ourselves so
nearly in accord concerning the essential things, and I am glad to
believe that you express your convictions candidly and are not merely
trying to please me."

"That, Philip, is because we are largely striving for the same purposes.
We both want, I think, to take the selfish equation out of our social
fabric. We want to take away the sting from poverty, and we want envy to
have no place in the world of our making. Is it not so?"

"That seems to me, Gloria, to be the crux of our endeavors. But when we
speak of unselfishness, as we now have it in mind, we are entering a
hitherto unknown realm. The definition of selfishness yesterday or
to-day is quite another thing from the unselfishness that we have in view,
and which we hope and expect will soon leaven society. I think, perhaps,
we may reach the result quicker if we call it mankind's new and higher
pleasure or happiness, for that is what it will mean."

"Philip, it all seems too altruistic ever to come in our lifetime; but,
do you know, I am awfully optimistic about it. I really believe it will
come so quickly, after it once gets a good start, that it will astound
us. The proverbial snowball coming down the mountain side will be as
nothing to it. Everyone will want to join the procession at once. No
one will want to be left out for the finger of Scorn to accuse. And,
strangely enough, I believe it will be the educated and rich, in fact
the ones that are now the most selfish, that will be in the vanguard of
the procession. They will be the first to realize the joy of it all, and
in this way will they redeem the sins of their ancestors."

"Your enthusiasm, Gloria, readily imparts itself to me, and my heart
quickens with hope that what you say may be prophetic. But, to return to
the immediate work in hand, let us simplify our habits and customs to as
great a degree as is possible under existing circumstances. One of the
causes for the mad rush for money is the desire to excel our friends and
neighbors in our manner of living, our entertainments and the like.
Everyone has been trying to keep up with the most extravagant of his
set: the result must, in the end, be unhappiness for all and disaster
for many. What a pitiful ambition it is! How soul-lowering! How it
narrows the horizon! We cannot help the poor, we cannot aid our
neighbor, for, if we do, we cannot keep our places in the unholy
struggle for social equality within our little sphere. Let us go,


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Online LibraryEdward Mandell HousePhilip Dru Administrator : a Story of Tomorrow 1920 - 1935 → online text (page 7 of 14)