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42
April 2, 1921
THE SATURDAY EVENING POST

(Concluded from Page 40)

up after his educational years to a life of toil; there will be very little toil left in the world. Mankind will have machines and power enough to do most of the toil for it. Why, between 1914 and 1918 we blew away enough energy and destroyed enough machinery and turned enough good gray matter into stinking filth to release hundreds of millions of toilers from toil forever!

Our young citizen will choose some sort of interesting work—perhaps creative work. And he will be free to travel about the whole world without a passport or visa, without a change of money; everywhere will be his country; he will find people everywhere who will be endlessly different, but none suspicious or hostile. Everywhere he will find beautiful and distinctive cities, freely expressive of the spirit of the land in which they have arisen. Strange and yet friendly cities.

The world will be a far healthier place than it is now—for mankind as a whole will still carry on organized wars—no longer wars of men against men, but of men against malarias and diseases and infections. Probably he will never know what a cold is, or a headache. He will be able to go through the great forests of the tropics without shivering with fever and without saturating himself with preventive drugs. He will go freely among great mountains, he will fly to the poles of the earth if he chooses, and dive into the cold, now hidden deep places of the sea.

But it is very difficult to fill in the picture of his adult life so that it will seem real to our experience. It is hard to conceive and still more difficult to convey. We live in this congested, bickering, elbowing, shoving world, and it has soaked into our natures and made us a part of itself. Hardly any of us know what it is to be properly educated, and hardly any what it is to be in constant general good health.

To talk of what the world may be to most of us is like talking of baths and leisure and happy things to some poor hopeless, gin-soaked drudge in a slum. The creature is so devitalized; the dirt is so ingrained, so much a second nature, that a bath really isn't attractive. Clean and beautiful clothes sound like a mockery or priggishness. To talk of spacious and beautiful places only arouses a violent desire in the poor thing to get away somewhere and hide. In squalor and misery, quarreling and fighting make a sort of nervous relief. To multitudes of slum-bred people the prospect of no more fighting is a disagreeable prospect, a dull outlook.

Well, all this world of ours may seem a slum to the people of a happier age. They will feel about our world just as we feel about the ninth or tenth century, when we read of its brigands and its insecurities, its pestilences, its miserable housing, its abstinence from ablutions.

But our young citizen will not have been inured to our base world. He will have little of our ingrained dirt in his mind and heart. He will love. He will love beautifully, as most of us once hoped to do in our more romantic moments. He will have ambitions—for the world state will give great scope to ambition. He will work skilfully and brilliantly; or he will administer public services, or he will be an able teacher; or a mental or physical physician; or he will be an interpretative or creative artist; he may be a writer or a scientific investigator; he may be a statesman in his state or even a world statesman. If he is a statesman he may be going up perhaps to the federal world congress. In the year 2020 there will still be politics, but it will be great politics.

Instead of the world's affairs being managed in a score of foreign offices, all scheming meanly and cunningly against one another, all planning to thwart and injure one another, they will be managed under the direction of an educated and organized common intelligence intent only upon the common good.

Dear! Dear! Dear! Does it sound like rubbish to you? I suppose it does. You think I am talking of a dreamland, of an unattainable Utopia? Perhaps I am! This dear, jolly old world of dirt, war, bankruptcy, murder and malice, thwarted lives, wasted lives, tormented lives, general ill-health and a social decadence that spreads and deepens towards a universal smash—how can we hope to turn it back from its course? How priggish and impracticable! How impertinent! How preposterous! I seem to hear a distant hooting.

Sometimes it seems to me that the barriers that separate man and man are nearly insurmountable and invincible—that we who talk of a world state now are only the pioneers of a vast uphill struggle in the minds and hearts of men that may need to be waged for centuries—that may fail in the end.

Sometimes again, in other moods, it seems to me that these barriers and nationalities and separations are so illogical, so much a matter of tradition, so plainly mischievous and cruel, that at any time we may find the common sense of our race dissolving them away.

Who can see into that darkest of all mysteries, the hearts and wills of mankind? It may be that it is well for us not to know of the many generations who will have to sustain this conflict.

Yes, that is one mood, and there is the other. Perhaps we fear too much. Even before our lives run out we may feel the dawn of a greater age perceptible among the black shadows and artificial glares of these unhappy years.

———
Editor's Note—This is the second of a series of six articles by Mr. Wells. The next will appear in an early issue.

 

WILD EARTH

(Continued from Page 11)

The girl had listened with her eyes cast down, her hands nervously picking at the edge of the tablecloth. But he was not mistaken in her. She had wherewith to meet him, and her gaze was honest, without coquetry or evasion.

"Oh, I do like you!" she cried with. quick color. "I do! I do! I always thought somebody like you'd come along some day, just like this, and then—it just seemed foolish to expect it. But look here. I told you a story, right off. My name's not Anita—it's Annie. I took to pretending it's Anita because—it does seem sort of silly, but I got to tell you—because I saw it in the movies, and it seemed sort of cute and different, and Annie's such a plain, common name. But I couldn't let you go on talking like that and calling me by it, now could I?"

The mutinous young waiter brought their food and thumped it truculently down before them.

"Look out!" said Dean with sudden violent harshness, the vein in his forehead darkening ominously. "What do you think you're doing, feeding cattle?"

The boy drew back in confusion, and Annie exclaimed: "Oh, he didn't mean it anything against us—he's just mad because he has to be a waiter."

"Well, he'd better be careful; kids can be too smart Aleck."

The little gust had deflected them away from their own affairs. But Annie brought them back. She leaned toward him.

"You make me kind of afraid of you. If you ever spoke to me like that it'd just about kill me."

He was contrite. "Why, I couldn't ever speak to you like that, honey; it just made me mad the way he banged things down in front of you. I don't want people to treat you like that."

"And you look so fierce, too—scowling so all the time."

He put up a brown finger and touched his savage vein.

"Now, now—you mustn't mind my look. All the Dean men are marked like that; it's in the blood. It don't mean a thing." He smiled winningly. "I reckon if you're beginning to scold me you're going to marry me, huh?"

Something very sweet and womanly leaped in Annie's blue eyes.

"I—I reckon I am," she said, and then confessed herself a brave adventurer and philosopher in one. "Wes, I'd be a fool tosit round and make excuses and pretend it wouldn't do to be so out of the ordinary when here you are and here I am, and it means—our whole lives. I don't care, either, if I didn't ever set eyes on you till to-day—I know you're all right and that what you say's true. And I feel as if I'd known you for years and years."

"That's the way I felt about you the minute I looked at you. Oh"—he gave a vast and shaking sigh—"I can't hardly believe my luck. Eat up your supper and let's get out of here. Maybe there's some stores open yet and I could buy you a ring."

"And I have to be in my boarding house by half past ten," offered Annie, "or I'll be locked out. What the girls are going to say when I come in and tell 'em ——" She looked at him with intense and piteous question — the question that every woman at the moment of surrender asks, sometimes with her lips, but always with her heart: "It is going to be all right, isn't it? And you'll be good to me?"

"So help me God," said young Wesley Dean.


The farm lay high, as Wesley had said. Indeed, all the way from Baltimore they had seemed to be going into the hills, those placidly rounding friendly Maryland hills that rise so softly, so gradually that the traveler is not conscious of ascent. The long straight road dips across them gallantly, a silver band of travel to tie them to the city, with little cities or towns pendant from it at wide intervals. Trees edge it with a fringe of green; poor trees, maimed by the trimmers' saws and shears into twisted caricatures of what a tree should be, because the telegraph wires and telephone wires must pass, and oaks and locusts, pines and maples must be butchered of their spreading branches to give them room.

It was along this highway that the motor bus, filled with passengers and baggage and driven with considerably more haste than discretion, carried the newly married pair. Annie's eyes grew wide at the wonder and beauty of it. She was not at all afraid. She snuggled her hand into Wes', and loved it—and loved him, too, with his look of pride and joy in her. She was content to be silent and let him talk. Now and then she looked at the little turquoise ring on her finger above the shiny new wedding ring, and loved that, too, for he had chosen it at once from the trayful offered them, blurting out that she must have it because it matched her eyes.

"All this country out here's rich," he bragged, "but Fred'rick County's got the richest land of all. Richest in the state. Maybe richest in the whole United States, I dunno. And all the farms are big. Great big farms—and great big teams to till 'em. People don't use mules here s'much as they do over on the Eastern Shore. And there's not any sand, like there is over there—in spots, that is."

"What's that man doing?" asked Annie alertly.

"Plowin'. Say, didn't you ever see a man plowing before?"

"Only in the movies," said Annie unabashed. "Do you ever plow?" He laughed outright.

" Say, you're going to be some little farmer's wife. I can see that. Yes'm, I plow a little now and then. It's like fancywork—awful fascinating—and once you get started you don't want to stop till you get a whole field done."

"Quit kidding."

"Say, Annie, do you know a chicken when you see it walking round? Or a turkey? Or a guinea keet? We got 'em all. Aunt Dolcey, she takes care of 'em."

"I'd like to take care of 'em. I'll feed 'em, if she'll show me how."

"Aunt Dolcey'll show you. She'll be tickled to death to have somebody feed 'em when she's got the mis'ry."

At Frederick they left the big motor bus and got into Wes' own rackety flivver, the possession of which delighted Annie's heart.

"My land, I never thought I'd get married to a man that owned an automobile," she confessed with flattering frankness in her voice.

"This ain't an automobile," said Wes. "It's a coffeepot, and an awful mean one. Sometimes she won't boil, no matter what I do."

The coffeepot on this particular day chose to boil. They rattled merrily out of Frederick and off into the higher hills beyond. It was a little after noon when they reached the farm.

They had had to turn off the pike and take a winding wood road, rough and muddy from the spring rains. All through the budding green of the trees dogwood had hung out white bridal garlands for them,

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