Ferdinand Heinrich Grautoff.

Banzai! by Parabellum online

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racial war, which caused the very axis of the earth to quiver, unraveled
before his eyes, and with ardent enthusiasm he seized his pen, at last
master of himself once more.

Suddenly his mood of exaltation vanished; it seemed as though the sun
had been extinguished, and cold, dark shadows fell across the brilliant
picture of his imagination, subduing its colors with an ashy light. He
began slowly to realize that this did not only mean war, but that it was
his war, his country's war - a bitter struggle for which they were but
poorly prepared. At this thought he shivered, and the man who had
weathered many a storm laid his head down on both arms and cried
bitterly. The mental shock had been too great, and it was in vain that
they knocked at and shook his door. It was some time before John
Halifax recovered his self-possession. Then he lifted his head bravely
and proudly, and going to the door with a firm step, gave directions to
the staff with the calmness of a veteran general.

_Chapter V_


Mr. Horace Hanbury paced restlessly up and down his study, and presently
stopped before a huge map on the wall and carefully traced the long
lines of the trans-continental railroads across the Rocky Mountains.
"Will Harriman sell? No, he'll buy, of course he'll buy; he'd be an
idiot if he didn't. Of course he'll buy, and Gould and Stillman will
buy, too. Well, there'll be a fine tussle in Wall Street to-day." Thus
he soliloquized, puffing thoughtfully at his short pipe. Then he picked
up the heap of narrow tape on his desk containing the latest news from
the West, and read the reports once more as the paper slipped through
his fingers.

"This fiendish plot of the yellow curs seems to be a pretty clever one,"
he murmured; "they've simply cut off all railway connections. I can't
help admiring the fellows - they've learned a lot since 1904." He threw
himself into his comfortable Morris chair, and after having carefully
studied the Stock Exchange quotations of Saturday, went once more to the
map on the wall, and marked several spots with a blue pencil; these he
connected by means of a long line which cut off the Pacific States of
Washington, Oregon, and California, and large districts of Nevada and
Arizona from all communication with points to the East. He then looked
at his watch and pressed one of the electric buttons on his desk.

The door opened noiselessly, and an East Indian, dressed in the bright
costume of his native country, entered, and, crossing his arms, made a
deep bow. "When Mr. Gerald Hanbury returns, tell him I want to see him
immediately." The Indian disappeared, and Mr. Hanbury sat down on his
desk, folded his hands under his knees, and swung his feet to and fro,
puffing out the smoke of his pipe from between his teeth. "If only the
boy won't spoil everything with his ridiculous altruistic ideas - Ah,
Gerald, there you are!"

"Did you send for me, father?"

"Sit down, my boy," said the old gentleman, pointing to a chair; but he
himself remained sitting on the desk.

The son was the very image of his father - the same slender, muscular
figure, the same piercing eyes, the same energetic mouth. "Well, father,
what do you think of it?"

"Think of it? What do _you_ think of it?"

"Isn't it awful, this sudden attack on our country? Isn't it awful the
way we have been taken by surprise? Think of it, three of our States in
the enemy's hands!"

"We'll soon get them back, don't worry about that," said the old
gentleman calmly.

"Have you read the orders for mobilization?"

"I haven't read them, and don't intend to."

"Colonel Smiles told me just now that it will not be possible to
dispatch our troops to the West in less than three weeks. Fortunately
there are about a dozen ships of the Pacific fleet off the west coast,
and they will be able to attack the Japanese in the rear."

"If there's still time," supplemented his father. "Anyhow, we can leave
these matters to others. It's none of our business; they can attend to
all that at Washington. War is purely and simply a question of finances
so far as the United States is concerned, and it's as plain as day that
we can hold out ten times longer than those yellow monkeys. That the
money will be forthcoming goes without saying; Congress will do all that
is needed in that direction, and the subscriptions for the war-loan will
show that we are fully prepared along that line. So let us drop that
subject. The question is, what shall we do? What do you propose doing
with our factory during the war?"

"Go on working, of course, father."

"Go on working - that is to say, produce surplus stock. If we go on
working we shall have goods on our hands which no one will buy, and be
compelled to store them. Ironclads, cannon, powder, uniforms, guns,
these are the things for which there is a demand now; whisky, too, will
be bought and bread will be baked, and the meat trust will make money
hand over fist; but do you suppose the United States Government is going
to buy our pianos to play tunes to the soldiers?"

"But what about our workmen?" interposed Gerald.

"Yes, our workmen," said the old gentleman, jumping energetically off
the desk and standing before his son with his legs wide apart and his
hands in his pockets: "Our workmen - that brings us to your favorite
subject, to which you devote your entire time and interest!" He
transferred his pipe into the right-hand corner of his mouth and
continued: "I intend to dismiss our workmen, my boy, and shut up shop;
we couldn't earn a cent more even if we kept the machines going.
Besides, our Government needs soldiers now, not workmen. Let your dear
workmen shoulder their guns and march to the West. When I was your age,
and starting in with one hundred and fifty dollars in my pocket, no one
offered me pensions for sickness and old age or insurance against
non-employment or whatever this new-fangled nonsense is called. We
ought to increase the energy of the people, instead of stuffing pillows
for them. A man who has anything in him will make his way even in these

"Father!" The young man jumped up from his chair and faced his father
with all the idealistic enthusiasm of youth.

"Keep your seat, my boy, subjects of this nature can be better discussed

"No, father, I can't keep still. This question concerns four thousand
workmen and their families."

"Three thousand of whom I shall dismiss at noon to-day," interrupted the
old gentleman decisively.

"What! You don't mean to say you'll send three thousand workmen, quiet,
industrious, faithful, reliable workmen, begging to-day? Why, father!
That would be perfectly barbarous, that would be a crime against
humanity! The people have stuck by us in days of prosperity, and now
when our sales may perhaps," he emphasized the last word, "may perhaps
be diminished, you will stop the wheels and shut down the factory?"

"Look here, my son, I'm not a socialists' meeting. Such sentiments may
sound very nice from the platform, but there's no need of your trying
your speeches on me. The question at issue is, shall we suffer the
consequences or shall they, and I don't mind telling you that I prefer
the latter. Do you suppose that I've worked hard all my life and worn
myself out for the express purpose of turning our factory into a
workingmen's home? No, my boy, I can't support you in your little

"But, father, capital and labor - - "

"O, cut out those silly phrases," interrupted the old gentleman
irritably, "Karl Marx and Henry George and all your other stand-bys may
be all right in your library, and help to decorate your bookshelves, but
I prefer to settle our practical problems on the basis of my experience
and not of your books. As manager and proprietor of our plant I want to
tell you that when the whistle blows at noon to-day I shall notify our
workingmen that in consequence of the totally unforeseen breaking out of
hostilities - here I shall insert a few words about the sacred duty of
patriotism and of defending one's country - we are unwillingly forced to
dismiss three thousand of our workmen. We'll pay wages for, let's say, a
fortnight longer, but then good-by to the men; we'll shut up shop, and
the thousand men that are left can finish the standing orders and any
new ones that may come in. And if no new ones turn up, then the
remaining workingmen will be dismissed at once. In the meantime I'll
subscribe one hundred thousand dollars to the war-loan, and then engage
passage on a Lloyd steamer, the most expensive cabins with every
possible luxury, for your mother, your two sisters, myself, and I hope
for you, too, and we'll be off to old Europe. Shall we make it the
Riviera? We've been there before, and, besides, it's a little too hot
there now - let's say Norway or Switzerland. In my humble opinion we had
better watch developments from a distance, and, as I said, I earnestly
hope that my only son and heir will join our party, unless he should
prefer to remain here and become a lieutenant in our glorious army and
draw his sword against the enemy? This is my final decision and the last
word I have to say on the subject, unless you think that some friend of
ours in the financial world may have a better suggestion to offer."

"I should never have thought, father, that you could be so hard-hearted
and unfeeling, that you could be capable of ruining the lives of
thousands with one stroke of your pen. Your attitude towards the
relations between employer and employee is absolutely incomprehensible
to me; the socialistic conscience - - "

"Listen, my boy," said the old gentleman, going over to his son and
laying his hand gently on his shoulder: "I've always allowed you an
absolutely free hand in your schemes, and you know we've always tried to
meet our employees more than half way in all their wishes, but now it's
a question of who's to suffer - we or they? In times of peace there may
be some excuse for these nice socialistic ideas: they give a man a
certain standing and bring him into the public eye. There's a good man,
they say; he understands the demands of the times. But there's a limit
to everything. One man rides one hobby, and some one else another. One
keeps a racing-stable, another sports a steam-yacht, and still another
swears by polo or cricket, but these things must not be carried to
excess. The minute the owner of the racing-stable turns jockey, he
ceases to be a business man, and the same is true of the man who keeps a
racing-yacht and spends all of his time at the start, and, after all is
said and done, it's our business we want to live on. You've selected the
workingman as your favorite sport, and that also has its limits. If we
squander our hard-earned millions on socialistic improvements now, we'll
have to begin over again in about two years' time. I doubt whether I
should have sufficient genius left to discover a new piano-hammer, and I
entertain still more serious doubts as to your ability to invent a
panacea that will render the whole world happy and make you richer
instead of poorer. _Ergo_, we'll shut up shop. In Hoboken we'll sing
Yankee Doodle and as we pass the Statue of Liberty The Star Spangled
Banner, in token of farewell, and then off we go! If things turn out
better than we anticipate, we can come back, but this is my last word
for the present: At noon the following notice will be posted at all the
entrances and in all the rooms of our factory: 'Three thousand workmen
are herewith dismissed; wages will be paid for a fortnight longer, when
the factory will be closed indefinitely.' By the way, are you going to
the Stock Exchange to-day?"

"I'm not in a mood for the Stock Exchange, father. If that is your last
word, then my last word is: I am your partner - - "

"So much the worse," said the father.

" - and therefore have a right to dispose as I please of my interest in
the business. I therefore demand the immediate payment of so much of my
inheritance as will be required to pay the wages of the workmen you've
dismissed for at least another year, with the exception of the single
men who enter the army."

"No, my boy, we won't do anything of the sort. Don't forget that I'm
running this business. According to the contract made when you came of
age, you may demand a million dollars upon severing your connection with
the firm. This sum will be at your disposal at the bank to-day at noon,
but not a cent more. What you do with it is a matter of complete
indifference to me, but let me remind you that ordinarily when a man
throws money out of the window, he at least likes to hear it drop."

"That surely cannot be your last word, father, otherwise we must part."

"All right, my boy, let's part till dinner-time. I hope to find you in a
more sensible frame of mind when the family assembles this evening. I've
told you what will be done in the factory in the meantime, and as for
our trip, we'll discuss that to-night with your mother. Now leave me, I
must get ready for Wall Street."

The door closed noiselessly after Mr. Hanbury, Junior. "The scamp," said
the father to himself, "I can't help admiring him. Thirty years ago I
entertained just such ideas, but what has become of them!" He thought a
moment, passed his hand over his forehead, then jumped up quickly and
exclaimed: "Now to work!" He pressed a button on the desk, his secretary
entered, and the conversation that ensued dealt exclusively with coming
events in Wall Street.

_Chapter VI_


The _New York Daily Telegraph_ had already issued several regular
editions and a number of extras, without really having conveyed much
definite information, for the dispatches consisted for the most part of
rumors that arose like distant lightning on the western horizon, and it
was quite impossible to ascertain just where. A dark bank of clouds lay
over the Pacific States, completely shutting in the territory that had
been cut off from all communication, both by wire and rail. The natural
supposition was, that the Japanese outposts were stationed at the points
just beyond which to the east telegraphic communication had not yet been
interrupted, but the messages that were constantly pouring in from
places along this border-line revealed clearly that these outposts were
continually pushing further eastwards. A serious battle didn't seem to
have occurred anywhere. The utter surprise caused by the sudden
appearance of the Japanese troops, who seemed to spring up out of the
ground, had from the very beginning destroyed every chance of successful

Shortly after the first vague rumors of battles said to have been fought
at San Francisco, Port Townsend, and Seattle, had arisen, even these
sources of information ran dry. The question from where all the hostile
troops had come, remained as much of a riddle as ever. That was a matter
of indifference after all; the chief consideration was to adopt
measures of defense as speedily as possible.

But the War Department worked slowly, and the news received from
headquarters at Washington consisted only of the declaration that the
regulars were going to be sent to the West immediately, that the
President had already called out the reserves, and that Congress would
meet on May eleventh to discuss means for placing the militia on a
war-footing and for creating an army of volunteers. The regular army!
Three States with their regiments and their coast-defenses had to be
deducted at the very start. What had become of them? Had they been able
to hold their own between the enemy and the coast? What had happened to
the Philippines and to Hawaii? Where was the fleet? None of these
questions could be answered, simply because all telegraphic connection
was cut off. The strength of the enemy was an absolutely unknown
quantity, unless one cared to rely on the figures found in the ordinary
military statistics, which had probably been doctored by the Japanese.
Was this the Japanese army at all? Was it an invading force? Could such
a force have pushed so far to the East in such a short space of time
after landing? The press could find no satisfactory answer to these
questions, and therefore contented itself with estimating the number of
American soldiers available after subtracting the three coast States.
The newspapers also indulged in rather awkward calculations as to when
and how the troops could best be dispatched to the invaded territory.
But this optimism did not last long and it convinced nobody.

Another serious question was, how would the masses behave upon the
breaking-out of this sudden danger, and what attitude would be assumed
by the foreign elements of the population. It was most important to
have some inkling as to how the Germans, the Irish, the Scandinavians,
the Italians and the various people of Slavonic nationality would act
when called upon to defend their new country. It was of course
absolutely certain that the two great political parties - the Republicans
and the Democrats - would work together harmoniously under the stress of
a common danger.

Francis Robertson, the well-known reporter of the _New York Daily
Telegraph_ - called the Flying Fish on account of his streaming
coat-tails - had been on the go all day. He had scarcely finished
dictating the shorthand notes made on his last tour of inspection, to
the typewriter, when he received orders - it was at seven o'clock in the
evening - to make another trip through the streets and to visit the
headquarters of the various national and political societies. First he
went to a restaurant a few doors away, and in five minutes succeeded in
making way with a steak that had apparently been manufactured out of the
hide of a hippopotamus. Then he jumped into a taxicab and directed the
chauffeur at the corner of Twenty-ninth Street to drive as quickly as
possible through the crowd down Broadway. But it was impossible for the
chauffeur on account of the mob to move at more than a snail's pace, and
the cab finally came to a dead stop at Madison Square, which was packed
with excited people. Robertson left the cab and hurled himself boldly
into the seething mass of humanity, but soon discovered that if he
wished to make any progress at all he would have to allow himself to be
carried forward by the slowly moving crowd. At the corner of
Twenty-second Street he managed to disentangle himself and hurried
through the block, only to find a new crowd on Fourth Avenue.

He intended to cross Fourth Avenue and then push on to Third Avenue, in
order to reach Tammany Hall by that route, but he was doomed to
disappointment, for the human stream simply carried him down Fourth
Avenue as far as Union Square, where it ceased moving for a time.
Presently it got under way again, proceeding even more slowly than
before, and Robertson soon found himself in the middle of the square,
being suddenly pushed against the basin of the fountain upon which he
climbed for the double purpose of regaining his breath and of looking
around to see if it were possible to make his way through to Tammany
Hall. In vain! His eyes were greeted by an interminable sea of heads and
hats, which did not offer the slightest chance of his being able to slip
through. The trees, the statues and the fountain in the square appeared
to be buried to a height of two yards in a black flood. He looked
longingly across Sixteenth Street over to Third Avenue, but nowhere
could he find an opening.

He felt like a ship-wrecked mariner cast ashore on a desert island. The
sullen roar of the crowd echoed against the buildings enclosing the
square like the dull boom of the surf. Over on Third Avenue the yellow
lights of the elevated cars crossed the dark opening of Sixteenth Street
at regular intervals, and recalled to Robertson a piece of scenery at a
fair, where a lighted train ran continually between the mouths of two
tunnels in the mountains. He pulled out his note-book and by the light
of the electric arc-lamp made a note of the observation.

Then he jumped down from the ledge where he had taken refuge and once
more joined the human stream. The latter, as if animated by a common
purpose, was moving downtown, and if Robertson's neighbors were properly
posted, it was headed for the Chinese quarter. It was evident that they
intended to vent their fury for the present on these allies of the
Japanese. This longing for revenge, this elementary hatred of the yellow
race kept the crowd in Union Square in motion and shoved everyone
without discrimination towards Broadway and Fourth Avenue. The square
resembled a huge machine, which by means of some hidden automatic power
forced tens of thousands of unresisting bodies into the narrow channels.
The crowd rolled on unceasingly. Here and there a hat flew off into the
air, came down again, bobbed up and down once or twice, and then
continued its journey somewhere else on the surface. It was fortunate
that those who had become insensible from the dreadful noise and the
foul, dusty air were unable to fall down; they were simply held up by
the close pressure of their neighbors and were carried along until a few
blocks farther on they regained consciousness. Nevertheless a few fell
and disappeared in the stream without leaving a trace behind them. No
pen could describe their terrible fate; they must have been relentlessly
ground to pieces like stones on the rocky bed of a glacier.

Above this roaring stream of human beings there swept unceasingly, in
short blasts like a tearing whirlwind, the hoarse cry of a people's
passion: "Down with the yellow race! Down with the Japanese! Three
cheers for the Stars and Stripes!" The passionate cry of a crowd
thirsting for revenge rose again and again, as if from a giant's lungs,
until the cheers and yells of "down" turned into a wild, deafening,
inarticulate howl which was echoed and re-echoed a thousand times by the
tall buildings on both sides of the avenue. Now and then an electric
street-car, to which clung hundreds of people, towered like a stranded
vessel above the waving mass of heads and hats.

Robertson decided to give up the idea of reaching Tammany Hall and to
drift with the crowd to the Chinese quarter. At Astor Place a branch of
the human stream carried him to the Bowery, where he found himself on
the edge of the crowd and was scraped roughly along the fronts of
several houses. He stood this for another block, but determined to
escape at the next corner into a side street. Before he could reach it,
however, he was crushed violently against the wall of a house and turned
round three or four times by the advancing throng; during this maneuver
his right coat-tail got caught on something and before he knew it, he
had left the coat-tail behind. At last he reached the corner and clung
tightly to a railing with his right hand, but the next moment he flew
like a cork from a champagne-bottle into the quiet darkness of Fifth
Street, bumping violently against several men who had been similarly
ejected from the current and who pushed him roughly aside.

Robertson was bursting with rage, for just before he had been propelled
into Fifth Street, he had caught a glimpse of the grinning face of Bob
Traddles, of the _Tribune_, his worst competitor, only a few feet away.
The latter showed clearly how delighted he was at this involuntary
discomfiture of his rival in the mad race for the latest sensational
news. Robertson attempted for a while to get back into the current, but
all of his efforts proved futile. Then he tried at least to find out
what the people intended to do, and in spite of the contradictory
information he received, he was pretty well convinced that they were
really going to make an attack on the inhabitants of the Chinese
quarter. Although hopelessly separated from Tammany Hall by the
countercurrent of the human stream, he at last succeeded in reaching the
Eighth Street station of the Second Avenue Elevated, where he took an
uptown train to Forty-second Street. Then he walked over to Third Avenue
and took a downtown train, which was crowded to suffocation, as far as
Grand Street, for the purpose of reaching the Chinese quarter from the
uptown side. The trip had consumed fully two hours. At the crossing of
Grand and Mott Streets he found the entrance to the latter barred by a
line of policemen standing three deep. He showed his badge to a sergeant
and received permission to pass.

The dead silence of Mott Street seemed almost uncanny after the noisy
roar of the mob, the echoes of which still rang in his ears. The
basements of the houses were all barricaded with shutters or boards, the
doors were locked, and there was scarcely a light to be seen in the

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Online LibraryFerdinand Heinrich GrautoffBanzai! by Parabellum → online text (page 6 of 23)