Imágenes de páginas

Naval Wives and Daughters

[ocr errors]

By Annie Paulding Meade (THILE public interest is at present the "powers that be” to cavil at, and, for her

more or less engaged with the part, enjoys unusual facilities for seeing the

doings of our naval officers, there world. Where trouble has been made, it has is a private contingent whose interest in the invariably been the fault of the individual officers themselves is nothing less than vital, and not of the habit, the strongest argument because of the fact that these same servants in extenuation of which is the “home" arguof Uncle Sam stand to them in relationship ment. By this I mean that I see no improof fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers, and priety, if a man is ordered for a term of years represent to them not only the Nation's safe to a foreign station, in his wife or family guard, but also the guardians and protectors making their residence in such a place that of their hearts and homes.

he may be enabled to spend his leave at The home life of an officer of the Govern- home, which he certainly could not do were ment constantly under orders to “ move on" they in the United States and he, for inmay appear to the casual observer to be anal- stance, attached to the Asiatic squadron. ogous to the Irishman's “road that led to The habit of some women of having no setnowhere;" but a little closer observation of tled abiding-place on a foreign station, but the naval life itself, presenting, as it does, of following the ship from port to port, is the possibilities of a novelty and variety quite habit from which most of the abuses of the unique among the professions of the Govern- system have arisen; nevertheless, there is not ment, will show that, in spite of the vicissi- the slightest reason, if regulations be strictly tudes of its ever-varying interest and chang- observed, why such a system should not exist ing scene, there is the same strong and steady in all propriety and no offense be given. undercurrent of love for the “home” that The « bon camaraderie "established among caused Howard Payne to immortalize him the wanderers from home on a foreign station self in song.

can seldom be entered into by those who On the subject of this home life in relation have not had the same experience. The wife to the wives and daughters of naval officers, keeps in touch with her husband's interests, the most enjoyable chapters would doubtless knows his friends, their tastes and his, and, if be those concerning the woman who follows she has a settled home, keeps open house for the ship. Here we have a topic remarkably all those brother officers to whom it may fruitful of argument, and one on which all please her husband to offer hospitality; and shades of opinion have been expressed, from so grows up that thoroughgoing, unconventhat of ex-Secretary of the Navy Chandler— tional friendship that makes the clan feeling who while in office positively forbade the so strong among us. Also, she can generally members of a man's family to follow the ship make herself agreeable in several languages from port to port-to the opinion as ex- this oftentimes being the result of necessitypressed by the conduct of a very few women while the woman who has stayed at home (be it said for the credit of the majority), will, in competitive conversation, find that she who, on well-authenticated occasions, when in is handicapped and outdone by comparison port with the ship, have actually gone to this with her more traveled sister. I have in length, that the woman whose husband was mind an introduction I once witnessed: A lady caterer at the time actually ran the ward who had followed her husband was calling room mess for him. These instances show on one of those wives who had stayed at the antipodean limits to which ship-following home. During the call another visitor came has been carried, and, it must be remembered in, an officer whose ship had just arrived in are extreme cases. As a rule, the woman port. The hostess was about to introduce who follows the ship makes little trouble for her guests, but found it unnecessary to do so.

“Oh,” explained the officer, “Mrs. — and 1 Miss Annie Paulding Meade, the author of this arti- ja cle, is the daughter of the late Admiral Meade, and granddaughter of Commodore Richard Worsam Meade Montevideo," and, the conversation turning and Admiral Hiram Paulding, United States Navy, THE EDITORS.

to the South Atlantic station, the hostess

naturally felt herself more or less outside its much of service life-and, with all the dispale, except where her woman's wit or inter- advantages of distance and poor commulocutory gift came to her aid.

nication, managed to keep in touch with the Although I am strongly in favor, under news of the times and to keep her husband certain conditions, of—shall we call it?—naval (who, while in the junior grades of his proglobe-trotting, yet I should be the very last fession, was kept constantly at sea) informed one to so much as breathe an unfavorable on all matters of interest connected with the comment upon those wives who, for reasons Lome stations and department. It goes best known to themselves, say the bravest without saying that she who accomplished good-by they are able to the husband whose all this filled well her place in the larger cruise is in prospect, and then settle them- world when, in after years, her husband at selves patiently to wait for his return. The different times commanded three of our most skeleton in the closet in many of these cases important home stations. This note made is that “mossy old veteran"-expense; and from the life of a woman of two generations this brings us to another question—that of ago bears very little resemblance to the life salary. “Can a naval officer with a family of to-day, but the contrast I think in no way live comfortably on his salary?" is a question detracts from either picture. that has been asked and discussed till it is Though the topic of the home station thread bare, and it cannot be answered in offers less of change and excitement than unison even yet. When he is at sea, that does that of the foreign station, it yet is not salary, of course, is divided, and, though larger lacking either in interest or variety, and, to than his shore pay, there are no quarters my mind, is one of the most satisfactory for his family, consequently his expenses are phases of our naval life. In particular, the almost doubled. Here comes in the wife's life in one of our navy-yards contains possichance to show the soldier in her; and it bilities of pleasure and comfort in proporwarms my heart to have the opportunity to tion to our capacity for enjoyment and our pay even the smallest tribute to some of willingness to make the best of such matters those whose unflinching courage, in the face as may prove uncongenial to us. Certainly of privations perfectly unknown to the world our naval home life has greatly the advantage because of the masking smile worn, has chal- over that of most army posts (particularly lenged my admiration time and again, and those of the frontier) in that we are never has proved the woman to be in very truth, as thrust out of the world in entire dependence in desigo, "a help meet for man.”

upon those stationed with us for friendship, An example of one of our old-time naval society, and enjoyment, though, like them, heroines may fittingly be quoted here. Some- we form a small village or a large family where about the year 1830 two young people according to the amount of congeniality exwere married; he was a naval officer, who isting among us. But we have fewer quarhad learned his profession under the direct rels in our communities than occur in army eye of such men as McDonough, Decatur, posts, because our outside interests are and Bainbridge, and, though young, had seen greater. Oftentimes we of the same stationmuch service. She was a quiet, brown-eyed when the “family ” feeling exists—if we girl of twenty at the time. The service life meet in the great world, pass each other with then differed considerably from that which a hand-clasp, but never a word, so great is we know now. Cruises were longer, quarters that mutual confidence in one another's comwere rare, and the pay was smaller. These prehension of existing conditions; and then, young people had a little capital, which they too, we know that we shall have ample oppor. invested in a farm on the north shore of tunity to discuss the particular occasion later. Long Island. It was far in the country in This feeling of clan in the naval service is those days, being eighteen miles beyond undoubtedly strong, but we are saved from Hicksville, then the nearest railway station. the narrower view of life to which our The remainder of the journey was performed cousins in the army are so frequently subby stage-coach. It may sound incredible jected. The naval kaleidoscope in the hands that a woman could accomplish so much, but of the Bureau of Navigation is kept well and the record, nevertheless, is true that the constantly shaken. Often we have hardly woman in question ran that farm of one hun- come into touch with our neighbors and surdred acres and made it pay well, brought up roundings before the whole scene is shifted. six children—three of whom have since seen This constant change of scene has its value from an educational standpoint, but it is the In some cases, as for instance those of the later education of life to which that value commanding officers, they are often palatial. belongs; for the children it is disastrous, They are warmed by steam and kept in order and makes boarding-school or the English for us at the Government's expense. The method of employing a governess almost the Commandant's house at the Boston yard is only alternatives.

probably—in the interior especially—the The vista of possibilities for enjoyment handsomest in the gift of the Government, through which we look opens up a broad and though not so homelike as the Commandant's varied scene, the diversity of which ought house at Washington, with its low, wide piazsurely to be sufficient to satisfy all tempera- zas and old-fashioned rose garden. I am re ments. For the woman interested in public minded by the name “ Commandant's house". matters and who enjoys the social side of of an amusing mistake in orthography it once life, there are presented endless opportunities led to. We had been shopping, and ordered for coming in contact with those men and our purchases to be sent home. “Where women who “make history," and of seeing to ?" demanded the saleswoman. “Navyfor herself what to other women, though of Yard is all the address necessary," we rethe same social standing yet in private life, plied. “That is not defnite enough," she would often be denied. She has every op- declared; “is there no number on your portunity, if her fancy lie in that direction, house?' “You may add • Commandant's to know the diplomatic circles well; she may House' if you want to," we replied; and the even dabble in politics should that same package came home marked « Common fancy carry her so far. In this connection Dance House"! I have to admit the truth of the assertion Most of our Government houses have garthat a large part of our Government wire- dens attached ; and these, according to size, pulling is done by the women, and though infer a certain amount of pleasure or comthis sort of thing is not strictly “ en règle," fort. There is also a man, whom the Governyet it is permitted, and it must be said that ment enlists and pays, detailed to look after some of the feats performed in this direction them. The commanding officer has also an are as pretty as they are difficult. Also in allowance for servants, and a horse, carriage, the matter of obtaining house -llowances and stable outfit complete. These allowances feminine diplomacy figures largely; and I are necessary to him, as he is expected to be shall never forget the comically pathetic look always ready to entertain any guest of honor of an expert in this line when, in speaking to who may visit the station. Every officer another officer of her husband's retirement, may keep a cow if he has permission from she mournfully shook her head, sayin, the Commandant to do so, and it is not an " There are no more pickings' for us now, unfrequent sight to see a number of these Admiral, no more pickings.'” It was her animals tethered in our gun parks or grazing own expression, and, to vary an old saw, she upon the uncultivated spots in our navy-yards. “suited her words to her former actions." We have also a great deal of service free

If one has the disposition to make use of that we should have to pay roundly for in such gifts as the gods see fit to send us, we outside life. For instance (I confine myself shall find that the possibilities for pleasure to trifles), there is a spare corner where I and comfort in our home life are very great want a cupboard made or some book-shelves I have practically learned that one can live built, and I ask, “May I have a carpenter?" very much better on the same sum in one of The carpenter comes and does the work, the our navy-yards than in private life. This painter finishes it, and I have the credit of I know from having tried both; for when having put an improvement on the house. the sea duty comes, we women who stay at These are some of the homely points of home become civilians, and it is then we are interest connected with our navy-yard life. made aware how much further the salary will From the social standpoint the advantages go in our navy-yards than in outside life. for entertaining are very great, though the Why is this? To begin with, the salary Commandant is the only one required by alone is not the only emolument we have; Government to keep open house. The junior there are also “ quarters ;” and most of these, officers are very apt to do so too, however, having been built in a more generous age for their own pleasure or satisfaction. than at present, are larger than the ordinary Anavy-yard dance is almost a synonym h se of to-day and extremely comfortable. for a good time to the younger fraternity,

and though it nécessarily entails a certain less vital nature, however, and can generally amount of work and expense to those on be traced either to some such source as, whose shoulders the responsibility rests, yet for instance, the monetary supply being not this same work, if the executive head be equal to the demand, or to an uncongenial clear, can be accomplished more easily, at person among us-one crooked stick, so to less cost, and with far more brilliant effect speak, that absolutely refuses to fit in with than the same thing could be done in private the others or to allow them to fit together. Or life.

sometimes the people on a station will get It is often amusing to women of our life into cliques that will entirely prevent any (I had almost written “ profession') to note such thing as unity of action, and in consethe way in which we are regarded by those quence debar us from many pleasures that a unacquainted with its circumstances and con- little tact and forbearance with one another ditions. A young lady once remarked to me might give us. Under such circumstances that I did not at all tally with her ideas of navy-yard life leaves much to be desired, but what I should naturally be. “In what am I I am thankful to say such cases have been lacking?" I asked. “You are so quiet,” she rare in my experience. I have heard it said, almost peevishly, “ and you have none roundly asserted that navy-yards are proverof that slam ! bang! dash or rollicking air bial for the amount of gossip they circulate; that I thought all navy people had;" and I but all the world gossips at times, and I do thanked Heaven à la Pharisee. In fact, not believe we are any worse than our neighthose who are looking for a type by which to bors. All I can say in defense against such recognize the navy woman will fail in the a charge is that my sisters of the service have majority of cases, though there are those certainly never gossiped to me, and, if not to among our numbers who I have no doubt me, then why to one another ? As a class we would fully justify my young friend's sense have imbibed from our fathers, husbands, and of the fitness of things.

brothers enough of that esprit de corps to “ And are there no drawbacks to naval bind us together in feelings of fellowship and life ?" some will ask, “You have pictured it a common cause. To return to the case of all advantage and pleasure thus far!" So I supply and demand, I would add that it is have, because I believe in putting my best one of the big social problems that every infoot foremost; but stop and think a moment. dividual has to work out for him or her self. What, for instance, do the women of the world We know exactly what the salaries are, what in general know of the anxiety that was ours we have and what wc may look forward to during the recent crisis of National affairs ? h:ying, and if we fail to live within our means Yet it is the profession of our men to fight, it is either the result of rcal misfortune or and when the call to arms comes we have no mismanagement. right to say a word but such as will give en- One phase of our naval life that I have couragement and comfort to them. The wife not yet touched upon is that of the retired or daughter who makes it hard for a man to list. The limit of age for active service is do his duty is far from performing her own. sixty-three years, but there is also a voluntary Yet what does it cost us, do you think, to retired list for those who, not having reached keep back the words—aye, and the tears- the age-limit yet, have completed forty years when the heart is full ?

of active service; also for those—and this During the last few months some of our frequently includes younger men—who have navy-yards presented a curious feature of been incapacitated for duty by illness or the effect of the war. The wives and fami- accident. The reflections suggested by this lies of those sent to the front were allowed array of men grown gray in the line of duty to remain in their quarters ; consequently and resting after the years spent in their our `navy-yards were mainly peopled by country's service would seem naturally to women and children. A very few officers be those of the graver, quieter, if not somber, were left-in some of the less important yards type. Thoughts of the eventide of life on not more than three or four. Of the enlisted the shores of the great unknown sea yet to men there was hardly a corporal's guard left. be crossed, of purple shadows and soft opalWe hardly knew ourselves in this unusual escent tints that have succeeded to the glare state. But, thank Heaven! this condition of of the noonday of activity, fill our minds; affairs was an exception and not the rule. Our but, though such reflections may appeal to ordinary troubles and drawbacks are of a us, let us not mention them to any retired man or the members of his family, unless are subject to the same conditions as if they we are sure of our listeners.

belonged to the navy; and when they go to Thus far I have said nothing of the Ma- war, the wives and daughters have even rine Corps, “ the soldier and sailor too,” as greater cause for anxiety than we, for the Rudyard Kipling says, and “the finest corps marines are generally chosen—as in our in the service,” its officers always claim. recent crisis at Santiago-to effect the first They are generally selected from among the landing on the foreign soil and make a place graduates of the Naval Academy, and are for the army to follow; and then the work of claimed as members of the naval profession. the infantry could not be harder or more The men are enlisted and drilled as soldiers, dangerous. “ Soldiers and sailors too,” inand act as the police force of the navy. If deed! Well said, Rudyard Kipling! any especially hard work is to be done, the The usual term for sea or shore duty for marines are generally the men detailed to do officers of the navy and marine corps varies that work; and well and bravely have they so according to rank and occasion that it done it on many well-known occasions. The is impossible to make an exact statement, marine quarters are usually within navy-yard though from two to four years suggests a limits, as at Washington and Boston, though fair average detail. The one thing absooccasionally, as in the case of the New York lutely sure is that the orders will come; and barracks, they are separated from the line when they do, each in turn is obliged to pull officers' quarters by at least a quarter of a up stakes and report for new duty; and when mile. With the exception of the command that duty is a term of years at sea, it is then ing officer, who has his own house, the officers that those families who have means, or those and their families live in barracks somewhat women who have no children, in the majority on the apartment-house order, each having of cases follow the ships. The others, the his flat or suite of rooms, which is generally “Nancy Lees” I call them, possess their very comfortable. The only real drawback souls in patience, and for the most part have I ever heard of, and which I think by this their time fully occupied with the care of time has been remedied, was that in several growing children, which care the absence of instances two families were obliged to use the " better half” has caused to devolve for the same kitchen; and on this point I am the time being entirely on their shoulders. sure every housekeeper will offer ready sym- But women are born to endure, and our pathy. The stories incident to this condition shoulders are oftentimes broader than they of things that some of my marine sisters can look, and experience in naval matters has tell on that ever-fruitful topic, the servant- taught us to make the best of our bargain, girl question, are as remarkable as the situa- like the soldiers of fortune” that we certion was unique. Except for the difference tainly are in our smaller way, looking forin regard to the marine quarters, the home ward to the date when our goodman is due conditions are the same that we enjoy. When at home again, and we can cry, with the night the marine officers go to sea, their families watchman, “ All's well !"

The Lights of Twin Reef

By Winthrop Packard

[ocr errors]

W IN REEF forms a small, irregular the teeth of the rocks you must know them

crescent. The two horns of bold as the light-keeper's children knew their play

basaltic rock are surmounted each ground. by a squat light-tower, and two fixed lights It was a sheltered playground. Hardly warn mariners from its dangerous shores. the winds reached it, and the breakers wbich Within the curve of the crescent is a little roared outside swished gently on its sand. sandy bay, reached by a tortuous channel When the sun shone brightly into the angle among the breakers if you know the way. If of cliff, it was warm there even in winter. not, it is useless to attempt it. The swirling And the children of the light-keeper had currents are death to any one who lacks known no other. They had a fine house in knowledge of their every freak; and to avoid the sand there the day before Christmas,

« AnteriorContinuar »