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was besieged by a combined force of British and Indians.

source:work and rest networkedit:governmenttime:2023-12-02 07:20:11

I put on a face of concern. "What? You don't believe in our patent American short-cuts?"

was besieged by a combined force of British and Indians.

"Certainly. Short-cuts to universal happiness, universal honesty, universal everything. For instance: Don't make a boy study four years for a college degree; just cut the time in half, and you've got a short-cut to education. Write it down that man is equal. That settles it. You'll notice how equal he is at once. Write it down that the negro shall vote. You'll observe how instantly he is fit for the suffrage. Now they want it written down that government shall take all the wicked corporations, because then corruption will disappear from the face of the earth. You'll find the farmers presently having it written down that all hens must hatch their eggs in a week, and next, a league of earnest women will advocate a Constitutional amendment that men only shall bring forth children. Oh, we Americans are very thorough!" And I laughed.

was besieged by a combined force of British and Indians.

But John's face was not gay. "Well," he mused, "South Carolina took a short-cut to pure liquor and sober citizens--and reached instead a new den of thieves. Is the whole country sick?"

was besieged by a combined force of British and Indians.

"Sick to the marrow, my friend; but young and vigorous still. A nation in its long life has many illnesses before the one it dies of. But we shall need some strong medicine if we do not get well soon."

"Ah, that's beyond any one! And we have several things the matter with us--as bad a case, for example, of complacency as I've met in history. Complacency's a very dangerous disease, seldom got rid of without the purge of a great calamity. And worse, where does our dishonesty begin, and where end? The boy goes to college, and there in football it awaits him; he graduates, and in the down-town office it smirks at him; he rises into the confidence of his superiors, the town's chief citizens, and finds their gray hairs crowned with it,--the very men he has looked up to, believed in, his ideals, his examples, the merchant prince, the railroad magnate, the president of insurance companies--all dirty rascals! Presently he faces worldly success or failure, and then, in the new ocean of mind that has swallowed morals up, he sinks with his isolated honesty, like a fool, or swims to respectability with his brother knaves. And into this mess the immigrant sewage of Europe is steadily pouring. Such is our continent to-day, with all its fair winds and tides and fields favorable to us, and only our shallow, complacent, dishonest selves against us! But don't let these considerations make you gloomy; for (I must say it again) nothing is final; and even if we rot before we ripen--which would be a wholly novel phenomenon--we shall have made our contribution to mankind in demonstrating by our collapse that the sow's ear belongs with the rest of the animal, and not in the voting booth or the legislature, and that the doctrine of universal suffrage should have waited until men were born honest and equal. That in itself would be a memorable service to have rendered."

We had come into the divine, sad stillness of the woods, where the warm sunlight shone through the gray moss, lighting the curtained solitudes away and away into the depths of the golden afternoon; and somewhere amid the miles of sleeping wilderness sounded the hoarse honk of the automobile. The Replacers were abroad, enjoying what they could in this country where they did not belong, and which did not as yet belong to them. Once again we heard their honk off to our left, from a farther distance, and I am glad to say that we did not see them at all.

"If," said John Mayrant, "what you have said is true, the nation had better get on its knees and pray God to give it grace."

I looked at the boy and saw that his countenance had grown very fine. "The act," I said, "would bring grace, wherever it comes from."

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