the problems and possibilities

All down the ages Tripoli has been the gateway through which weapons, cutlery, and cotton have entered, and slaves, ostrich feathers, and ivory have come out of inner Africa by plodding caravan. Since the sons of Ham first found their way across the wilderness of Shur, this region has been the terminus of three historic trade routes. The first of these runs due south across the desert to Lake Tchad and the great native states of Kanem, Sokoto, Bagirmi, and Wadai; the second follows a southwesterly course across the Sahara to the Great Bend of the Niger and the storied city of Timbuktu; while the third, going south by east, long carried British cottons and German jack-knives to the natives of Darfur and the Sudan. Is it any wonder, then, that, fired by the speeches of the expansionists in the Roman senate, all Italy should dream of a day when the red-white-and-green banner should float over this gateway to Africa and endless lines of dust-coloured camels, laden with glass beads from Venice and cotton goods from Milan, should go rolling southward to those countries which lie beyond the great sands? But, lost in the fascination of their dream, the Italians forgot one thing: modern commerce cannot go on the back of a camel.

No longer may Tripolitania be reckoned the front door, or even the side door, to central Africa. As the result of French and British encroachment and enterprise, not only has nearly all of the Tripolitanian hinterland been absorbed by one or the other of these powers, but, what is of far more commercial importance, they have succeeded in diverting the large and important [Pg 92] caravan trade of which the Italians dreamed, and which for centuries has found its way to the sea through Tripoli, to their own ports on the Nile, the Senegal, and the Niger, leaving to Tripolitania Italiana nothing but its possibilities as an agricultural land.

The statesmen who planned, and the soldiers and sailors who executed, the seizure of Tripolitania, were obeying a voice from the grave. Though the overwhelming disaster to the Italians at Adowa in 1896, when their army of invasion was wiped out by Menelik’s Abyssinian tribesmen, caused the political downfall of Crispi, the greatest Italian of his time, his dream of Italian colonial expansion, like John Brown’s soul, went marching on. With the vision of a prophet that great statesman saw that the day was not far distant when the steady increase in Italy’s population and production would compel her to acquire a colonial market oversea. Crispi lies mouldering in his grave, but the Italian Government, in pursuance of the policy which he inaugurated, has been surreptitiously at work in Tripolitania these dozen years or more.

Never has that forerunner to annexation known as “pacific penetration” been more subtly or more systematically conducted. Even the Pope lent the government’s policy of African aggrandisement his sanction, for is not the Moslem the hereditary foe of the church, and does not the cross follow close in the wake of Christian bayonets? Italian convents and monasteries dot the Tripolitanian littoral, while cowled and sandalled missionaries from the innumerable Italian [Pg 93] orders have carried the gospel, and the propaganda of Italian annexation, to the oppressed and poverty-stricken peasantry of the far interior. Under the guise of scientists, Italian political and commercial agents have been quietly investigatingof the regency from end to end, while the powerful Banco di Roma, an institution backed with the funds of the Holy See, through its branches in Tripoli and Benghazi, has been systematically buying up arable farm-lands from the impoverished peasantry at a few lire the hectare, which quadrupled in value with the landing of the first Italian soldier.

This smell

“You stupid goose!” cried Grigori roughly, throwing an angry look at her. “What a lot of foolish people you are, all of you! It is ignorance and stupidity, nothing else! One can stick here all one’s days in blind ignorance—understanding nothing!”

He pulled the cup of tea, which Matrona had just poured out for him, violently towards him, and was silent.

“I should like to know where you get all your great wisdom?” said Matrona mockingly.

Orloff did not pay the least attention to her words. He grew as silent as before, and appeared quite unapproachable. The samovar was nearly extinguished, only a simmering sound escaping from it. There came into the windows from across the yard a smell of oil-paints, carbolic, and dirty slops., blending with the twilight of evening, and the monotonous singing of the samovar, awoke in the narrow close cellar a sensation, which lay with the weight of a nightmare on its occupants. The black ghastly mouth of the stove seemed to look at them menacingly, as if about to devour them. For a long time the Orloffs sat there in silence, nibbling sugar, gulping down mouthfuls of tea, and fidgeting with the tea-things. Matrona sighed, and Grigori drummed with his fingers on the tea-table.

“I never saw such cleanliness as reigns there!—never saw anything like it!” Grischka broke in suddenly on the silence.

“Every one of the attendants wears white linen clothes; the sick people have baths as often as it is necessary—and they get wine to drink at five and a half roubles a bottle! And the food!… The smell is almost enough for one; it’s so delicious! There is such care—such attention! —no mother could be kinder to a child. Yes, yes! when one comes to think of it! Here we live, and not a soul bothers his head about us, asks us how we are, or how we are getting on;—whether we are happy or unhappy—whether we have anything to put in our mouths or not But as soon as it’s a case of dying, then they can’t do enough for one, they will go to any expense. These infirmaries, for instance—and the wine—five and a half roubles the bottle! Don’t the fellows reason then, what all that is going to cost them? They had better have spent it in helping the living every year a little.”

The hills

“You are straight, Bill,” he cried soothingly. “Straight as a die and I know it. The boys came through. But somebody outside got wise. We’ll find out and when we do somebody’s due to get a blankety unpleasant surprise. The whole thing ran out to dope. We should have that wheat in Hunt’s shack. It’s Pullar’s luck. But it will change. Here’s to a lucky break.”

He held his flask high. The men caught his spirit and responded with a shout. For an hour the crew caroused, drinking heavily as they debated the fiasco, breaking up before dawn.

Dad Blackford made a full report to Ned. Though no trace of the perpetrators of the offense had been obtained, his mind flew instantly to his two enemies. The Red Knight had been their objective. The incident was big with warning to him. It assured him of two things: of their malicious, untiring hate; of their dangerous resource. Thoughts of Mary pressed heavily upon him. He remembered her words:

“There is no other way. But, Ned, you will have to be right, always, as well as irresistible. I know you will be.”

“It’s a stiff programme, little girl,” he reflected ruefully. “But we’ll stay with it.”
Snow! Snow! In glistening deserts! Ghastly white blankets of it hung to the sky-rim! , frosted bridal cakes, terrace on terrace! The valleys, rolls and folds and gouges of white! Over all the blue yawn of an empty sky! The air stabs with its invisible, minute Damascus daggers. It is a smiting vacuity, frozen, tense. One’s breath floats from the lips in a powdered cloud of whitening mist. It is winter—the snapping, crackling, detonating, hoary-headed winter of the North!

The February sun pours down on the plains in a fierce, garish flow, shedding no warmth from its low-slanting shafts. Pellawa is hushed to sepulchral solitude in the grim embrace of “forty below.” An occasional sleigh drifts phantom-like along the street, its runners emitting a frosty singing. Only the dozens of smoke columns rising straight and high in the air proclaim the village a haunt of the living.

A second afterward another shot was heard

“It is merely this: The boat from Batavia, which arrived yesterday, brought a considerable amount of specie for the payment of the troops here. I know that you have been promoted to the rank of pay-sergeant, and that you have been ordered to sleep on a camp-bed in the office where the safe containing the money is placed.”

“What of that?” inquired Frederick.

“I want you to allow yourself to be surprised to-morrow night, when I and a few of my ‘pals’ will creep in by the window and take a look at the safe with some profit to ourselves. There will be no danger for you, as we shall tie you down to your bed and gag you, so as to convince the authorities that it was no fault of yours if the money is gone. The only thing I want for you to do is not to give an alarm when you hear us coming.”

Frederick began by firmly refusing to have anything to do with the matter. But upon Renier, who had nothing more to lose, threatening him to make public the fact that he was nothing more than an escaped convict under sentence to penal servitude for murder, and as such extraditable, he gave way and promised to do what he was asked in return for a share in the proceeds of the robbery.

On the following night some six or seven figures might [Pg 118] have been seen creeping noiselessly through the gardens of the bungalow, on the first floor of which were located the paymaster’s offices. The leader of the gang, having climbed up on the roof of the veranda, followed by two of his men, gently pushed open a window which had been left ajar. A moment later two pistol-shots rang out in rapid succession, followed by a loud cry..

Immediately the whole place was in an uproar. On entering the room the officers found Frederick Gavard, the pay-sergeant, standing guard over the safe, while near the window lay stretched the dead body of the deserter, Charles Renier, and on the roof of the veranda outside lay another corpse, also of a deserter, shot through the head. In the garden and on the flower-beds were traces of numerous footsteps, showing that the house had been attacked by a large gang.

Something would happen

As for Rose, though she felt that her appeal had been unsuccessful, she too was less discouraged by it than she could have herself supposed. In the first place she was let alone; nothing was pressed upon her; she had time allowed her to calm down, and with time everything was possible. Some miracle would happen to save her; or, if not a miracle, some ordinary turn of affairs would take the shape of miracle, and answer the same purpose. What is Providence, but a divine agency to get us out of trouble, to restore happiness, to make things pleasant for us? so, at least, one thinks when one is young; older, we begin to learn that Providence has to watch over many whose interests are counter to ours as well as our own; but at twenty, all that is good and necessary in life seems always on our side, and there seems no choice for Heaven but to clear the obstacles out of our way.

and all would be well again; and Rose’s benevolent fancy even exercised itself in finding for “poor Mr. Incledon” some one who would suit him better than herself. He was very wary, very judicious, in his treatment of her. He ignored that one scene when he had refused to give up his proposal, and conducted himself for some time as if he had sincerely given up his proposal, and was no more than the family friend, the most kind and sympathizing of neighbors. It was only by the slowest degrees that Rose found out that he had given up nothing, that his constant visits and constant attentions were so many meshes of the net in which her simple feet were being caught. For the first few weeks, as I have said, she was relieved altogether from everything that looked like persecution. She heard of him, indeed, constantly, but only in the pleasantest way.

Fresh flowers came, filling the dim old rooms with brightness; and the gardener from Whitton came to look after the flowers and to suggest to Mrs. Damerel improvements in her garden, and how to turn the hall, which was large in proportion to the house, into a kind of conservatory; and baskets of fruit came, over which the children rejoiced; and Mr. Incledon himself came, and talked to Mrs. Damerel and played with them, and left books, new books, all fragrant from the printing, of which he sometimes asked Rose’s opinion casually. None of all these good things was for her, and yet she had the unexpressed consciousness, which was pleasant enough so long as no one else remarked it and no recompense was asked, that but for her those pleasant additions to the family life would not have been. Then it was extraordinary how often he would meet them by accident in their walks, and how much trouble he would take to adapt his conversation to theirs, finding out (but this Rose did not discover till long after) all her tastes and likings.

I suppose that having once made up his mind to take so much trouble, the pursuit of this shy creature, who would only betray what was in her by intervals, who shut herself up like the mimosa whenever she was too boldly touched, but who opened secretly with an almost childlike confidence when her fears were lulled to rest, became more interesting to Mr. Incledon than a more ordinary wooing, with a straightforward “yes” to his proposal at the end of it, would have been. His vanity got many wounds both by Rose’s unconsciousness and by her shrinking; but he pursued his plan undaunted by either, having made up his mind to win her and no other; and the more difficult the fight was, the more triumphant would be the success.

A revolution had likewise

u=4008230548,1603219880&fm=21&gp=0Within the narrower limits of the United Kingdom changes had also occurred within this period which, from another point of view, were equally momentous. In 1903 Mr. Chamberlain had poured new wine into old bottles, and in so doing had hastened the inevitable end of unionist predominance by changing on a sudden the direction of party policy. In the unparalleled defeat which ensued two and a half years later the Labour party appeared for the first time, formidable both in numbers and ideas resort world sentosa career.

been proceeding in {188} our institutions as well as in the minds of our people. The balance of the state had been shifted by a curtailment of the powers of the House of Lords[7]—the first change which had been made by statute in the fundamental principle of the Constitution since the passing of the Act of Settlement.[8] In July 1914 further changes of a similar character, hardly less important under a practical aspect, were upon the point of receiving the Royal Assent Sun Hung Kai Financial.[9]

Both these sets of changes—that which had been already accomplished and the other which was about to pass into law—had this in common, that even upon the admissions of their own authors they were incomplete. Neither in the Parliament Act nor in the Home Rule Act was there finality. The composition of the Second Chamber had been set down for early consideration, whilst a revision of the constitutional relations between England, Scotland, and Wales was promised so soon as the case of Ireland had been dealt with.

It seemed as if the modern spirit had at last, in earnest, opened an inquisition upon the adequacy of our ancient unwritten compact, which upon the whole, had served its purpose well for upwards of two hundred years. It seemed as if that compact were in the near future to be tested thoroughly, and examined in respect of its fitness for dealing with the needs of the time—with the complexities and the vastness of the British Empire—with the evils which prey upon us from within, and with the dangers which threaten us from without water purifier.

Questioners were not drawn from one party alone. {189} They were pressing forwards from all sides. It was not merely the case of Ireland, or the powers of the Second Chamber, or its composition, or the general congestion of business, or the efficiency of the House of Commons: it was the whole machinery of government which seemed to need overhauling and reconsideration in the light of new conditions. Most important of all these constitutional issues was that which concerned the closer union of the Empire.

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