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Francis Mairs Huntington-Wilson.

Stultitia, a nightmare and an awakening; in four discussions online

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THIRD DISCUSSION 115

It's fascinating. My husband knows the Under-
Secretary of the English Foreign Office.
Drake walks in and comes up to them.

MISS MIDDLETON

Oh, Mrs. Barney, do you know Mr. Drake?
He's a great man in our Foreign Office.

Mrs. Barney greets him indifferently.

MR. drake
( To Miss Middleton) The Governor of the
Philippines is here — want to meet him? Just
back from seven years of fine constructive work.
He thinks independence would be fatal — make
the worst type of Central American republic on a
huge scale. Usual story — mass of the people
simple, honest and industrious. Independence
means their oppression by a small bunch of half-
educated grafters and opera bouffe heroes, with
a moral protectorate to drag us in.

Miss middleton
That's interesting. Yes.

BARNEY

Do they have polo at Manila ?



ii-6 STULTITIA

MRS. BARNEY

Who's the Governor of the Philippines? I
never heard of him. Oh, Jack, Miss Squiggs-
Mugginson has been traveling in South America.
She met your sister Sibyl — stopped with them at
the Legation. She knew Baron Gadding when
he was Secretary in London.

MR. DRAKE

What's the news from Colonia ? The Baron's
countrymen are very active there. I suppose he's
very busy and your daughter's become a great
diplomat? I wish we had her on our side, Mrs.
Barney.

MISS MIDDLETON

Why did you let Sibyl marry a foreigner? I
can't see how our girls can do it, giving up their
country, taking their fortunes abroad, raising sons
for foreign armies. What should we think of our
men if they gave up their country so lightly?

MR. DRAKE

You're all right, Miss Middleton. But it's the
American men who're to blame. We're too shy,
or too busy, or too lazy to cultivate the arts and



THIRD DISCUSSION 117

graces. We don't give our women a look in on
the big things. We fall between the harem and
the partnership. When you get woman's suf-
frage you can change the law of expatriation; —
or to put a tax on fortunes expatriated through
marriage would be very effective, I daresay.
Mrs. Barney, how does the Baroness like Co-
lonia ?

MRS. BARNEY

Oh, I don't know. Those posts are so stupid.
They just missed going to the Balkans. I wish
the Baron could be stationed in Europe — or come
to Washington.

MR. DRAKE

{Thoughtfully) Colonia is in the Balkans of
the United States, — our most important sphere of
vital interest.

MRS. BARNEY

The Queen of Roumania is so interesting! She
has a wonderful hospital for the blind. I'm work-
ing for one in New York. We've got the Eng-
lish ambassadress to be a patroness. It must be
so dreadful to be blind and not be able to see and
understand things.



n8 STULTITIA

MISS MIDDLETON

We need a school for the blind who won't see.

MRS. BARNEY

Here comes the dear Ambassador.

The Ambassador appears at the door of the
Green Room, looks about, evidently in search
of someone, and turns back.

MRS. BARNEY

{Rising) The diplomats are all going home.
It's getting late. I must find Mr. Barney and go.
Come, Jack, I want to introduce you to that de-
lightful English girl.

Jack says good-night to Miss Middleton and
Drake and he and his mother pass into the
East Room.

Miss Middleton is meanwhile led by Drake
to a seat at the right behind the palm trees.
Once alone with Miss Middleton, he as-
sumes a very tender manner toward her.
They converse in low tone. He takes her
hand, which she soon withdraws. An AlDE-
de-camp enters evidently looking for some
one.






THIRD DISCUSSION 119

THE AIDE-DE-CAMP

Drake, are you there?

MR. DRAKE

Yes, here I am.

THE AIDE-DE-CAMP

Just wait a minute, Mr. Barney wants to see
you. I'll get him.

He goes out and returns immediately with
Barney, Sr.

mr. barney
{Confidentially) I don't like to tell the Presi-
dent. Will you tell him? You know he wants
those newspapers to support editorially his na-
tional defense policy and those treaties and the
ship subsidy. Tell him I've spoken to 'em.
They say the public's not interested in foreign af-
fairs. There's no demand. I couldn't press
them. You see Goldstein and his friends are
against it. Well, you see, my credit's in their
hands. I'm patriotic, and all that, you know, but
business is business. I don't know what's the mat-
ter with Goldstein. Now if we could have a



i2o STULTITIA

little war — not serious — that would have a
news value — excite the public. You could get
the press behind you.

MR. DRAKE

Yes, when it was too late. Thanks. I'll tell
the President. Good-night.

Mr. Barney says good-night and withdraws.
Drake returns to his seat beside Miss Mid-
dleton. He sighs and looks wrapped in
gloomy thought. She watches him. Sud-
denly his eyes turn to her and his expression
changes to one of tenderness. He smiles
and again takes her hand, which she again
withdraws. The hum of voices has gradu-
ally died away. A colored servant comes
out the doors of the East Room, which he
closes, and then starts to the door of the
Green Room, where he meets The Ambas-
sador coming out with his arm in that of
Mr. Goldstein. They are in earnest con-
versation, in low tones.

THE AMBASSADOR

( To the Servant) Are we the last?



THIRD DISCUSSION 121

SERVANT

Yas, sah. Youse de las'. But dey ain't no
hurry. Jest you take yo time, gemmen. When
youse ready jest come through hyar an' I'll let
you out through the South do'.

THE AMBASSADOR

(Pointing) Through there? All right.

As The Ambassador and Mr. Goldstein
saunter to the middle of the room, where
they stand talking, Drake seizes Miss Mid-
DLETON by the wrist and forces her with him-
self into a position against the wall where
they are quite hidden. Miss MlDDLETON
looks surprised, but holds her peace at a sig-
nal from Drake.

THE AMBASSADOR

Now is it understood, once for all, friend Gold-
stein? His Majesty feels the greatest interest
in our enterprise in Colonia. Support these
American plans, remember, and no more market
for your securities on our bourse or with our al-
lies. His Majesty wishes to see no merchant ma-
rine in this country, either. Your race is being
persecuted still in our allies' country. His



122 STULTITIA

Majesty's influence would be valuable. A Yan-
kee naval and diplomatic expansion just now would
be very inopportune. You of course love your
new country; but what do they want? We must
expand. His Majesty has great plans. This
great peace movement is America's natural role.
They can afford it. Get the shipping and finan-
cial interests to see this. Now, goodnight. And,
if you decide to go back and would like td be
Baron Goldstein — maybe I could help you.

MR. GOLDSTEIN

Yes, Excellency ; but where do I come in ? As
a matter of business I should have liked to take
these loans for Colonia and the railroad to Pan-
ama, but —

THE AMBASSADOR

You cannot do it. I can turn something your
way later through your European house. {Laugh-
ing) There may be no trouble, but if there is,
it will be big trouble. We'll let your house in on
the financing of the war indemnity! Goodnight.
The Ambassador goes out through the Green
Room with a jaunty gait. Mr. Goldstein
stands with rather a stupefied expression



THIRD DISCUSSION 123

wrapped in silent thought. The AlDE-DE-
CAMP appears at the Blue Room door with
Hawk, Mr. Turner and Miss Turner.

THE AIDE-DE-CAMP

Why Drake and Miss Middleton were here a
few minutes ago. They said they'd meet us
here. {Seeing Goldstein, who has turned
around in surprise, aroused from his reverie)
Good evening again, Mr. Goldstein.

DRAKE AND MISS MIDDLETON

{Who have meanwhile crept along the wall and
returned by a detour of the rooms) Here we
are. We thought you were never coming.

MR. GOLDSTEIN
{Who has regained his composure, joins them)
The beautiful American simplicity of this White
House captivates me. I forgot all about the time.
This is awful. I must be going right away.

CAPTAIN HAWK

{To Miss Middleton) The Turner family
has had an eye-opener this evening. Turner has
seen his Expressive idol, Senator Hyhead, at close



I



124 STULTITIA

range. He heard all about the bill for the pro-
tection of waterfowl, and then the ten command-
ments, decently cloaked, of course, in legitimate
expediency. You'll let me write to you, won't
you, Miss Turner? (Quite seriously) It's been
a wonderful evening — such a joy to meet a plain
— no, far from plain (Miss Turner looks silly
and blushes) a simple American girl of the old
school, with no European airs — and with serious
ideas.

MR. GOLDSTEIN

Good-night, ladies. Good —

MR. DRAKE

(Pale and with tragic earnestness) Mr. Gold-
stein — or have you decided to be Baron Gold-
stein ? —

Goldstein turns pale — composes himself \ and
smirks, resuming an air of some assurance.
The President appears suddenly in the
door of the Green Room, with his hands in
his pockets and smoking a long cigar.

THE PRESIDENT

What! Some of you still here? Hello, Mr.
Goldstein. (Very cordially. Goldstein bows



THIRD DISCUSSION 125

with constraint) Hello, Drake. Hello, Miss
Middleton — up pretty late, aren't you? (He
nods to them all) This is fine. I can't sleep.
I'm too worried about those national defense meas-
ures. I've been out on the terrace thinking. It
got a little cool, so I thought I'd come in here and
walk up and down and smoke awhile.

MR. GOLDSTEIN

I must go, Mr. President.
He holds out his hand.

MR. DRAKE

(Quietly) Don't shake that man's hand.
He's a traitor.

Goldstein recoils.

THE PRESIDENT

(With a start, severely) Mr. Drake! You
forget yourself.

MR. DRAKE

I apologize, sir; but this is serious. You must
know of this. It is made criminal by statute for
an American citizen to correspond with a foreign
government against the diplomatic interests of the



126 STULTITIA

United States. A certain Ambassador practically
ordered this man to oppose your measures of na-
tional defense. He acquiesced. I will tell you
the details later. {To Mr. Goldstein, pulling
down his cufi) I have a stenographic report of
that whole conversation. {Sarcastically) It
would make good reading in the papers, wouldn't
it? If the American people knew —

MR. GOLDSTEIN

{With a snarl) Do you think they would print
it? Do you think they'd believe you, a mere
bureaucrat? I will have Senator Dormant spoken
to about an investigation of your Department and
its meddling imperialistic schemes.

THE PRESIDENT

{With emotion, to his Aide-de-camp) Show
Mr. Goldstein out.

The President stands in the middle of the hall
with his hands to his head and groans: " Oh,
Lord, is this possible!" The others stand
in a group to the right, respectfully silent.

THE PRESIDENT

And I counted on Goldstein as an American.
Perhaps I was wrong to expect it. Look at these



THIRD DISCUSSION 127

native born Americans chosen by the nation. I
can't even make them stand up together for the
broad national interest. It's in the air. If we
who are born here can't work together as one for
the nation, what on earth can we expect of those
we wish to assimilate ? ( Wistfully ) But we take
them in so heartily. How can they ever stand
apart when it comes to a national duty? You'd
think they'd feel they owed a special debt of grati-
tude. God give us a second generation American
through and through and teach us to set them an
example of earnest nationalism.

MR. DRAKE

What an evening! First, that fellow Caro, a
near-American foreigner, interfering in our in-
dustrial and social affairs, and now this other
American foreigner controlling our public opin-
ion and interfering in policies vital to the coun-

try.

CAPTAIN HAWK

Mr. Goldstein is too broadminded for us.
Thank God, they're not all like him. (Excit-
edly) I'm for every true American, whatever



128 STULTITIA

his race or creed (striking his hand on the hilt
of his sword) but I'm against people who are
American this or American that, — though Fm
willing to fight and die for any kind of Americans.
The country first. That's the test.

THE PRESIDENT

I'll sit down with you a few minutes. Then
you must all go home.

MISS MIDDLETON

(Goes up to The President and puts her hand
in his) I want to tell you something, Mr. Presi-
dent. I'm going to marry Mr. Drake. (Drake
looks rapturous and surprised and seizes her free
hand and kisses it) I haven't told him yet, but
I found out this evening that he loves his country
more than he loves me. That's why.

THE PRESIDENT

My wife will be happy. You're great favor-
ites of hers, you know. (He pats them on the
shoulders) I wish you all happiness, dear chil-
dren.

All congratulate them.



THIRD DISCUSSION 129

THE PRESIDENT

Don't I get a kiss as master of the house?
( They laugh as he steps forward)

The President kisses her on the forehead.
An old-fashioned clock meanwhile chimes the
hour of one.

THE PRESIDENT

Now, young people, it's one o'clock. Good
gracious. You must go home, young ladies.
{Meanwhile the lights have gradually gone out
in the room beyond and are growing dim in the
hall. All are standing and The PRESIDENT
starts toward the stair)

THE PRESIDENT

( Taking a paper from his pocket) Oh, by the
way, Drake, here's a carbon of a telegram tonight
from that embassy of ours. What do you make
of it?

The lights are growing dim as he reads it and
a thin white film drops before the stage, in-
creasing the effect of dimness and making the
group appear to recede.



130 STULTITIA

MR. DRAKE

(In a low voice) They're in earnest about
Colonia. None but the best diplomacy can stop
them — if it's not too late already.

THE PRESIDENT

Petty politics. The rule of little Americans.

CAPTAIN HAWK
God bless our big America.

Other filmy curtains fall, gradually increasing
the dimness. The orchestra begins to play
the "Star Spangled Banner" faintly.

CAPTAIN HAWK
(Continues) What fools we are getting to be.
Lord have mercy upon us. ( Very faintly ) Poor
navy fellows. Worse than us. Sunk like rats.
Three to one. No chance. Damn that fellow
Shuffler. Everything for re-election. Country
can go to hell.

Meanwhile the orchestra has become loud and
the curtain has become a solid white sheet.
Upon it appears first a body of troops march-
ing by. The orchestra plays a march. Then



THIRD DISCUSSION 131

appears a battleship, steaming by, while a
navy tune is played. Then is seen the en-
trance to the Panama Canal. The orchestra
is softly playing the "Star Spangled Ban-
ner," one section of it introducing alternately
the national anthems of Great Britain, Japan,
Germany and France. Certain concealed in-
struments punctuate this medley with the
crash and whistle of shells and the rattle of
musketry. These sounds gradually give
place to the wailing of women as the music
grows fainter. A party of troops is seen to
rush a redoubt where the American flag
flies, to lower the flag and to raise another
flag. The lights in the theatre, which have
gradually grown dimmer, go out for fifteen
seconds. Then the mist on the stage clears
away and reveals the actors standing exactly
as before.



Curtain



FOURTH DISCUSSION



FOURTH DISCUSSION

Scene I

Three years and a half have elapsed. It is nine
o'clock of an evening in November. The scene
is the office of The Chief of Staff, in all re-
spects the same as in the first act. General
Middleton, The Chief of Staff, in civilian
clothes, sits at his desk with piles of papers
before him. The room is brightly lighted, as
is the room beyond, from which is heard the
rattle of many typewriters. Clerks pass to and
fro with papers. A young officer in civilian
clothes sits in a chair at the right of the desk
of The Chief of Staff, half facing him.
General Middleton has aged noticeably, his
hair having turned grey. His face wears a
haggard, careworn look, and a sad expression.
Captain Hawk in evening dress sits in an
easy-chair at the left of General Middle-
iTOn's desk, lounging with a thoughtful air and
smoking a cigarette.

135



136 STULTITIA

THE GENERAL

( To Hawk) How do you like it out in Chi-
cago?

CAPTAIN HAWK

Oh, pretty well in some ways. There's some-
thing about those western people: they're whole-
souled and real. When we get those people
really to attend to public questions and watch what
goes on at their State capitals and what goes on
here in Washington, we're going to get a square
deal for sane government policies. So far the
press and the politicians have been too much in
the way.

The officer at Hawk's old desk getting up and
walking toward Hawk with a gesture, says
to him: " Won y t you come over and sit at
your old desk? You } ll feel more at horned
Hawk is in a brown study for a moment.
He then gets up and with a smile of appre-
ciation replies: " Thanks very much. ,f He
goes over, exchanging seats with the officer.

CAPTAIN HAWK

The Drakes and ourselves were dining tonight
at Mrs. Barney's. Everyone gay as a lark. Ca-



FOURTH DISCUSSION 137

bello and Verda were going to sing, five thousand
per, followed by some new-fangled dancers at the
same figure. Just like the ball before Waterloo.
Confusion at home and war clouds on the horizon,
— and (bitterly) not an idea above dancing,
pretty dresses and a good time. I couldn't stand
it. Drake will be along soon.

THE GENERAL

Drake's doing great work with his editorials
since he left the State Department. I find he's
making some of the people at the Capitol sit up.

CAPTAIN HAWK
We came on from Chicago together. It was
like old Drake to come out to help celebrate Dan
Riley's election to succeed me in the House. A
fine type of American, is Dan Riley. Did Drake
tell you they're suggesting me for the Senate ? I
don't seem to see my way clear, though.

The old colored Messenger comes in and an-
nounces Mr. Drake.

the general
Bring him right in.

Drake enters and shakes hands with The
General.



138 STULTITIA

THE GENERAL

How's my little daughter?

Oh, fine. She and Mrs. Hawk are such poli-
ticians that they were leaving early to get away
from the silly talk. Of course, they were telling
the hostess that they had to get back to the chil-
dren.

THE GENERAL

( To Hawk) How does your wife like Wash-
ington this time ?

CAPTAIN HAWK

She still takes it rather hard. The machinery
of Government looks better when you're not near
enough to hear it squeak. She never got over her
initiation — the night Drake caught old Goldstein
with the goods and I caught Caro. It depresses
her. She came here an optimist, but now —

MR. DRAKE

General, things are not very serious yet, are
they? The western papers didn't say much.

CAPTAIN HAWK

But what are you all lit up here for? That
means something, always. The whole side of



FOURTH DISCUSSION 139

the War Department's lit up, every window. Do
you remember the night I was finishing up your
arguments for the national defense bills?

THE GENERAL

{Sadly) I do, indeed. {After a pause)
Hawk, do you think you did right to leave the
House of Representatives?

CAPTAIN HAWK

Yes, I could see no hope — now. Later it may
be different. I have been talking it over with
Drake and I've decided to put my entire fortune
into a campaign of education. Drake's going to
work with me. We can see no hope except in
attacking the national diseases at the root — in
telling the truth to the people and arousing public
opinion. I have a plan in mind — sort of a pa-
triotic league.

THE CLERK

{Comes from the room beyond and approaches
The General. He speaks to him in a low
voice) Telephone from the White House that
the President has sent out an urgent call for a cab-
inet meeting tonight.



i 4 o STULTITIA

THE GENERAL

{Makes a low whistle) Anything from the
State Department tonight?

THE CLERK

No, sir, but they're now deciphering a long tele-
gram.

THE GENERAL

{After a brief silence, looking very gravely at
Hawk and Drake) My dear boys, the situa-
tion is of the very utmost seriousness.

Hawk and Drake start.

MR. DRAKE

Why, General, you don't mean to say —

Just then the colored Messenger comes in and
announces Senator Dormant, Senator
Rock, Representative Shuffler and
Senator Hyhead. The General rises
and shakes hands with them gravely. The
two young officers offer their chairs and draw
up others. The Senators seat themselves
about the desk of The Chief of Staff.
Drake goes over and sits on the edge of the
desk at which Hawk is seated.



FOURTH DISCUSSION 141

SENATOR DORMANT

Well, well, General. You look tired. All
the windows lit in this building's making folks
talk. There's nothing in it, is there • — except that
little trouble down in Colonia ?

SENATOR ROCK

(Pompously) This man Drake here with his
editorials is largely responsible for all this ex-
citement. Why, this very day I got letters from
a dozen constituents actually asking if we were
prepared for war!

SENATOR DORMANT

Prepared! Well, I guess nobody's going to
monkey with Uncle Sam. Conolia ! Who cares
for Conolia?

MR. DRAKE

Colonia's the name of the place, Senator.

SENATOR ROCK

Mr. Drake, I thought you were now a party
man. Why don't you write some reassuring edi-
torials and support your party? (To Senator
Dormant) Why, there was an awful slump on



142 STULTITIA

the stock exchange today. These howlers'll bring
on a business crash, the first thing we know.
He looks at Drake.

MR. DRAKE
Why don't I support my party? {Very quietly
and slowly) Because I'd rather support my
country. This administration had no mandate
from the people to modify our diplomatic poli-
cies, nor to keep us a helpless babe on land and
sea. Your new style party's a makeshift of mi-
nority groups — compromise of contending preju-
dices — jealous know-it-all doctrinaires. That's
no party. Do you remember the " Burgois Gen-
tilhomme " — the story of the man who suddenly
got rich and started in to buy an education — and
how he was told what poetry was and what prose
was, and was so tickled foolish to find he'd been
talking prose all his life without knowing it?
Well, there's your get-power-quick politician —
the American " Burgois Gentilhomme." Not the
hard-shell cynic of the old school; oh, no, he'll
soon be gone forever, I hope. But it's this new
transition brand- — part high-brow, part hypo-
crite, part demagogue — discoverer of justice,
patentee of honesty — sing high, sing low — and a



FOURTH DISCUSSION 143

wink at the gallery. And the gallery laps it
up like a kitten! Of course our former foreign
policies were wrong. Did not they date before
the new dispensation? It would be too horrible
to admit that they could be just or honest. You
might think we'd been criminals because we
worked for American interest. We lacked the
higher altruism. This is beyond me ! Who will
look after American interests if not the American
Government? And what else is a Government
for? And see what our deliverers have let us in
for. We're on a rotten bridge of opportunism
between the rotten old and a new era of real men.
I suppose it was decreed that America's stirring
conscience should first be ridden thus. It can't
last long. Oh, the attitudinizing of these people
makes me sick. We must all be villains to make
a background for the great act of some profes-
sional Honest Man. Plain men wear their hon-
esty as they wear their skins — unconsciously. It
remains for this modern type of genius to capi-
talize it — and strut, an Honest Man, — if he has
to blacken everybody else to keep his monopoly!

SENATOR ROCK

The stock market —



144 STULTITIA

MR. DRAKE

To hell with the stock market !

SENATOR HYHEAD

But, General, you are prepared, I suppose, if
anything serious should happen?

SENATOR ROCK

When you place the order for those new field
guns we appropriated for at the last session, I
want you to give a good share to that company
out in my state. You remember, I spoke to you
about it.

THE GENERAL

(Nods to Senator Rock. To Senator Hy-
head, speaking very quietly and distinctly) No,
Senator, neither the army nor the navy is in the
least prepared for war.

MR. SHUFFLER

What! That's a pretty situation. Well, how
long will it take you to get ready, then? (A
pause) But, look here, man to man, this war
business is all nonsense. You fellows always start
something to try to put over your appropriations.



FOURTH DISCUSSION 145

{He laughs knowingly) Why, I remember three
or four years ago — {turning to the Senators)
This talk unsettles the country. Why, if the peo-
ple get the notion that we had to eat dirt on the


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Online LibraryFrancis Mairs Huntington-WilsonStultitia, a nightmare and an awakening; in four discussions → online text (page 5 of 7)