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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, September 04, 1914, LAST EDITION, Image 14

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1914-09-04/ed-1/seq-14/

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that it would be a manifest absurdity
to say that we could reach New York
by our present route.
But the greatest horror that hung
over us was that we might suddenly
be encountered by a German war
boat whichTshould drown us all and
bear away our luggage to that conti
nent from which we had carried it
with so much hard labor.
There was an amazing note of real
ity underneath all the absurd alarm.
We kept well to the north. We used
our wireless for nothing but war
news, and at night every porthole was
shut and every decklight covered, lest
any other ship should see us creeping
slowly along the horizon. We passed
one boat, an Atlantic transport liner,
creeping towards England by the
same cold, eerie northern route, with
all lights dimmed, and never a friend
ly wireless word for us.
The climax of our thrills came one
night at ten o'clock with the sighting
of another boat far off our stern. She
had a yellow light at bow and stern,
and a red light halfway between
them. It seemed to me that she kept
a steady course for England, but so
many of the others who were watch
ing declared that she turned around
and followed us that I began to be
uncertain". I still do not know wheth
er we had a narrow escape or wheth
er we only were clinging to the fond
hope that we did.
One tiny incident which had no
bearing on the trip or the war or on
anything but the code of courtesy
which has been built up at sea, stays
in my mind. It was the happiest,
most suggestive little incident of the
whole trip. One great boat slowly
began to turn around in a great circle,
and go more slowly.
We stood at the rail and watched
the great, smooth path which she
made in turning, a huge semi-circle,
from which the little white waves rip
pled away. The white-haired man had
it that we were at last heading for
England. It was all over with us.
"Well, it's all over now," he said,
with a morbid relish. "But it's no sur
prise to me. And it's a good thing
we're prepared for it"
But no one paid much attention to
him, for it was a beautiful thing to
see that big boat gently swoop around
and, not head for England, but stop
at a tiny, brown rowboat far down
below its bow. Just for a second we
stood still there by the little, tiny
brown thing, which had strayed so far
away, until the watch on the bridge
was sure that it was empty except for
the sea weed which surged in and
out of it
Then we moved on our way and '
the passengers again took up the
hunt for warships, which some way
seemed so unimportant and so much
less connected with mystery and the
sorrow of the sea than was the little
boat left rocking there alone.
The days went by, one after an
other, and the steerage passengers
climbed up into second class and the
game of graft wis played with large
stakes and gradually the rumors and
the alarms died down, for we were at
Quarantine.
And the emigrants had never been
alarmed at all, but had lain on their
platforms and fought their good-natured
fights and had their tug-of-war,
and made love to each other, out in
tie stern in the evenings, and eaten
theiri bologna, and slept, most of
them, not in cabins such as the Amer
ican steerage had at all, but in great
wards where one bunk topped an
other in towering tiers toward the
ceiling.
It was eight o'clock on Saturday
morning" by the clock on the Jersey i
Central station, when we came up the
harbor. We had seen the Statue of
Iilberty, and we could see a black
spot up ahead which grew into a
crowd of many people, waiting for us
at the White Star Lane pier. And, just
as if nothing in the world had hap
pened, we opened up our bags for the
customs man to see.
(THE END)

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