THE CRY OF THE GREEK SOLDIERY
THE Greek Easter (thirteen days behind the European Easter) fell while we were in Salonica. Mr. Venizelos invited us to accompany him to his military encampment, outside the town, where over twenty-five thousand of his volunteers were in training. There were rows and rows of tents, and permanent, primitive barracks, A-shaped, which latter had been presented to the Provisional Government by the Greek shipowner, Embericos; and a huge open field, on three sides of which were now drawn up the ranks of the soldiers.
General Sarrail, looking more than ever like a handsome lion, accompanied by his staff, and General Milner, very grandiose, and surrounded by his staff, and the dearest of all the fighters, the brave Serbians, many of them old and battered but very martial,---all arrived in due time, and were received by the triumvirate, and that most dear of all foreigners, kind, fatherly General Génin, who served as liaison officer between the army of the Allies and the "Army of National Defense," as the Venizelist army was called.
Fig. 29. General Génin.
When the soldiers had been inspected, had cheered Venizelos, and had been dismissed, we all trooped through the barracks and on to the various mess tents and mess halls. These were decorated with the Allied flags and with garlands of laurel. In each was spread the Easter table with the proverbial roasted lamb and heaps of colored eggs. General Sarrail and Mr. Venizelos were the first to break eggs together, and then followed general egg-breaking between the Greek officers and their guests.
On that day for the first time I heard the terrible cry of the soldiers---a cry full of bitterness---a cry which unmistakably came from the heart: --
"Down with Constantine! Down with the traitor ! Long live Venizelos, the father of our country---the savior of our honor!"
They were of all ages, these volunteers of the National Defense, from seventeen to forty. They looked sturdy and healthy and well-trained. They had been ready to go to the front for some time, but again there had been intrigues and misunderstandings ---and their equipment had not yet arrived for them.
Mr. Venizelos said a few words at each mess hall or tent. In clear, precise sentences he insisted on the fact that Greece had not kept her word to Serbia, and that each soldier must fight to restore the honor of his country. His words were received with wild enthusiasm, and, again for the first time, I heard the cry: "Long live the Greek Republic!" and for once Mr. Venizelos did not challenge the cry.
When we came to the marine barracks the sailors went mad with shouting:
"Here is our admiral! Here is our Coundouriotis! Here is our man, boys,---look at him!"
Poor Admiral Coundouriotis, only his sense of humor saved him from perishing from shyness.
"Speak, Coundouriotis, speak! " the sailors demanded.
"No, boys, I cannot make speeches," he replied, blushing to the very whites of his eyes.
In his short address, Mr. Venizelos said that he knew the sailors felt very sad at not having their boats, and added that he knew that they would have some of them in a short time. Indeed, the following week the French and English turned over two of the Greek destroyers to the Provisional Government, though they still retained the rest of the fleet. In this connection I may say that several naval officers in Athens told me that had the Allies given the Greek fleet to Venizelos in the beginning, the popularity of Admiral Coundouriotis would have brought practically the whole personnel of the Greek navy to the revolutionary movement. However, the big men of France and England are only too ready to admit the many blunders they committed in every phase of the Near-Eastern question. Indeed, one of the characteristics of this war has been the number of blunders committed on all sides. The only fortunate thing is that Germany has had a stronger "will to blunder" than her adversaries.
As we went from one tent and one barracks to another, scores of officers came up and asked if I were not "Madame Kennit Mpraoun," who wished to bring about the union. All assured me that were the union accomplished, they would refuse to fight under the leadership of Constantine. "He would betray us on the battlefield. He would hand us over to the Germans---as he has already handed over one division---we feel certain of that."
On that Easter Sunday, during dinner, Mr. Venizelos took a paper from his pocket and showed it to us. It was the official list of the number of volunteers in the Army of National Defense, and numbered 36,765, including the thirteen thousand already fighting on the Vardar front. On the islands over forty thousand more were ready to come, as soon as the Allies would let them have two of the Greek destroyers to convoy the ships placed at Mr. Venizelos's disposal by the Embericos brothers. These soldiers were almost entirely from the parts of Greece in revolution.
Had not the Allies---from a feeling which may have done credit to their sportsmanship, but which certainly seemed to justify General Dousmanis's assertion that they did not know how to make war---had not the Allies denied to Venizelos permission to extend his revolutionary movement to other parts of Greece, there would have been one hundred thousand Greek soldiers in Salonica, and had that hundred thousand been equipped, as the Allies promised, they would have been at the front, fighting beside the French and British, instead of the thirteen thousand actually there.
A few days previously we had been granted permission to go up to the Greek front. On the same train with us a fresh batch of a hundred volunteers were also going, and the officer commanding them sat in our compartment. His job was no sinecure. At every station he had to get out and look after "his boys," and remonstrate with them when they were naughty. Often I had to laugh at the altercations between them. There was no trace of "militarism" in his attitude toward them, and on their side, while recognizing that he was in command, they felt perfectly entitled to discuss any point about which they considered their judgment better than his. There was also much joking and bantering between them---and these were the men General Dousmanis meant to Prussianize! Even if the chance had been given him, he could not have done it in a thousand years. Democracy was born in the heart and brain of the Greek race; it was a Greek king who dreamed of democracy, and gave it to his people. How can such a race accept the barbarous and soul-stifling régime of Prussia?
We arrived in Boemica, in the Vardar-Valley, late in the afternoon. The French aviators met us in their motor cars and drove us to their paupotte, a huge old farmhouse, with bare beams,---the Middle Ages, with an electric light,---where we had a most jolly dinner. We spent the night in an earth-floored best room of a Balkan house. The rural population of these parts have a belief that fleas are wholesome because they "stir the blood." Whether wholesome or not, they certainly stirred more than the blood that night. The least distressing part between dinner and breakfast was a bombardment of our "archies" against a wandering Hun aeroplane at daybreak.
Early the next morning we all went down to the railroad station to meet General Sarrail, who had just arrived. He got out of his car to greet us, while overhead flew all our hosts of the night before, some in giddy little Nieuports corkscrewing down from the sun; others in staid Farmans swooping so low that they waved their hands to us.
Fig. 30. General Sarrail, General Renaud, and Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth-Brown a few miles behind the firing line in Salonika.
Owing to a mistake we were not taken into the frontline trenches, but so close that we could plainly see the bombs bursting, so close that a French officer came out of his dugout and requested us not to step out of the shade, because if we did the Bulgars would shell us---and he pointed to a hole in the earth near by, some six feet in diameter, to reinforce his request.
From there, behind the shelter of a hill, we went a half-mile still nearer, to a little church hidden among the trees on the top of the hill. Its little graveyard was full of new graves---graves of the sons of Greece and France, who had died side by side so that the right might triumph over the mailed fist. They were very close together, these graves, and we came up just as the last shovelful of earth was being thrown on a newly filled grave.
"Who was he?" I asked.
"A young Greek from the islands. He was just twenty, and had already fought in the two Balkan wars. He had been decorated twice for bravery, but he is dead now. He was merry and loved company. That is why we made his grave so close to this other Greek, that he may not be lonely at night."
I stood by the grave of the once merry Greek, and thought of the woman who bore him and worked to make a man of him, and who was waiting to welcome him back once more, to see his new medals and to hear the new tales he had to tell. Was she still waiting, or had her mother's intuition already told her that she would never see him again on this side of the sky, and that an unknown woman was standing over her boy's grave and thinking of her? It is said that thoughts can travel through the ether; I hope she felt mine that day, and that she knew. It is kinder to know as soon as possible, so that all-healing time can start healing the wound.
We spent some time in that little cemetery, among those rows of newly dug graves, with their heart-breaking inscriptions. How many women's hopes and dreams were buried there with that battalion of the dead? Only those women know whose dear ones are resting on the far-off hill. On one cross was a wreath of artificial flowers, come all the way from France, with these simple words: --
"To my beloved. His Fiancee."
"Why did n't you marry her, boy, before you went away?" I asked. " You have given your life for the cause. She might have given a life from yours to France, and France is in dire need of new lives."
He made no answer. His grave was facing the range upon range of superb mountains, over which floated observation balloons, and on whose sides we ever and again saw the white puff of a bursting shell. Perhaps the young Frenchman was still seeing all this and listening to the never-ending boom of the cannon; or he may have gone beyond, where there is no greed, no national ambitions, no diplomatic intrigues, which make one man become the enemy of another, which make one nation arm to down another, to gain supremacy in this or in that. Yet standing there over those graves, knowing all I knew, and reading the inscription of that daughter of France, widowed before she was wedded, I could not help believing that the youth who had gone must be glad that he had laid down his life for a cause which might bring about a better understanding among nations and make new slaughters such as this impossible. Men were born to be brothers---rivals, if you will, but not enemies; and if the present devastation were to drive this truth into the consciousness of those at the heads of governments, then those who die in this great war will be the Galahads of the new era.
The Greek headquarters were a few miles behind the firing line. They were little huts like cheap box-stalls, and their corrugated iron roofs were covered with branches from shrubs to make them invisible to the enemies of the air. There with the officers we had our midday meal, and had the pleasure of meeting General Christodoulo, the Greek who had refused to obey the orders from Athens to surrender to the Germans in the Kavalla district, and who instead came over to the Cretan. After dinner, he inspected the hundred new soldiers who had come to replace the dead. After the inspection, he asked: --
"Have any of you any complaints to make?"
"I have," and a youth stepped forward.
"What is it, my boy?"
"They have put me in the infantry. I served with the artillery before, and I wish to be with them again."
"Very well, my boy, you shall go with the artillery. Has any one else anything to say?"
A resounding "No!" was the answer.
|Fig. 31. Mr. Venizelos and General Sarrail.||Fig. 32. Mrs. Kenneth-Brown at the Greek headquarters behind the firing line.|
The general confided to me that as yet no artillery had been given to the Greeks, and that Venizelos's son, an artillery officer, was serving in the infantry.
"What will the youth do when he gets up there and finds no artillery? "
"He will fight by the side of young Venizelist as the rest of them do."
"May I speak with the soldiers, general?"
"Indeed, you may."
I spoke to every one of the hundred, and they all said that they were anxious to fight for the honor of Greece.
There was one so young that I asked him his age.
"Seventeen," he grinned. "There was a mistake about me, but I did n't mind."
"Where do you come from?"
"Same as he."
"He," of course, meant Venizelos. There were also a considerable number from Cyprus, which is under the English flag.
"You don't belong to the Greek army," I said. "You are Englishmen."
"I don't see that," answered one, and the rest protested in chorus: "Our blood is Greek, no matter to whom the island belongs."
One impetuous youth, in very cultivated Greek, put in: "In this war England is fighting for her life, as Greece is fighting for her honor. What does it matter in which army we fight, so long as we fight on the same side?"
Late that night, after a wild, black ride in a motor ambulance over roads that I have not seen equaled for roughness in thirteen American States, we got back to Boemica and had tea in General Sarrail's private car with several of his officers and a number of Greek ladies who had come up to start a hospital.
|Fig. 33. Greek volunteers in training.||Fig. 34. The hundred soldiers directly behind the firing line with whom the author talked.|
We slept that night in a different house. It was one which some Greek officers' wives had given up as impossible, but it was so much better than ours of the night before that we considered ourselves in comparative luxury. Even the night before, however, we had not felt like complaining. Those poor villagers had given us the best they had, and wished to give it to us for nothing. We had to press money upon them in payment. And their village had been a periodic battlefield for ten times as long as the whole life of America. And since 1878 there were few years that they had not had to fear the descent upon them of Bulgarian regulars or irregulars. What manner of men these Bulgarians are you may judge by something an American ambulance driver with the Serbian army told us. He had been in the country just evacuated by the Bulgarians, and had seen numbers of children's heads lying about.
These the Bulgarians had used for playing bowls. I felt a greater sorrow for the poor villagers of Boemica than for the dead up in the little cemetery on the front; for those buried up there have passed beyond human injustice, while these poor Greek villagers were still alive and were bringing children into the world to share in their misery, their persecution, and their squalor.
On our last Sunday in Salonica, we went up to the triumvirate's mansion to be present at the wedding of General Danglis's daughter, and to see Mr. Venizelos perform the duties of best man. General Génin was standing next to me during the ceremony, and told me that with the two boat-loads of soldiers, who had arrived from the islands on the previous day, the Army of National Defense exceeded forty thousand; and that when those waiting to be shipped from the islands should arrive, there would be eighty thousand Greeks fighting under General Sarrail.
Later, Mr. Venizelos corroborated these figures, and taking me aside, instructed me, on reaching Athens, to go to Sir Francis Elliot, the English Minister, and tell him that Thessaly must not be forced to remain under King Constantine. It was anxious to come over to the new movement, and its harvest must not be permitted to remain under control of the King, who would deliver half of it to the Bulgarians, as he had done in 1916. The new movement must also be allowed to take in certain territory opposite Patras, in order that those in the army in the Peloponnesos who wished to get to Salonica would have an opportunity of doing so. He wrote down the names of the places that must be permitted to come over to the new movement; and then we bade good-bye to each other, since we were leaving Salonica in a few hours. To my husband he expressed warm thanks for his coming over to Greece and giving his time, in an effort to set Greece right before the world.
At the last minute Colonel Zimbrakakis took me aside and earnestly begged me to explain to the French and English Ministers in Athens that if they would permit him to land at the Piraeus with his fifteen thousand Cretans, he would soon operate successfully on the cancer spot of Greece. "We cannot afford another summer like the last. General Sarrail's army will again be a hospital---the Greek troops can stand this climate much better than the French and still better than the English. And his army is too cramped here; it must have all Greece to move in. The Allies must be made to understand that."
Fig. 35. Colonel Zimbrakakis in the garden of the house of Mr. Venizelos in Salonica.
It seemed like returning to an old friend to board the Fauvette again and greet her two hospitable captains, whom we had not expected to see again, since we had intended returning to Athens by train. When we learned what a very hard journey that was, however, we decided to risk seasickness and submarines instead.
We left Salonica in considerable excitement, because a few days previously the disreputable Lambros Cabinet had fallen, and rumors were rife in Salonica that Mr. Zaïmis had been brought post-haste from Æghina, where he was fishing, to resume the reins of government. None of the Venizelists wished Mr. Zaïmis to form a cabinet, because he would manage to keep things smouldering a while more, and Greece could not afford to remain in that state any longer. They all hoped that his patriotism would prevent his accepting the premiership.
The matter was still undecided when we reached Athens, and I at once went to his bank and asked to see him. There were scores and scores of people waiting to see him---rows and rows of them, all wishing him to accept the premiership, with the hope that he would bring some light out of the darkness. I did not have to wait long, but was admitted ahead of all the waiting men. I found Mr. Zaïmis, in his spacious room of the president of the bank, harassed and preoccupied in the extreme.
"What is it?" he asked.
"We have just landed from Salonica, and I have come to beg you not to accept the premiership. Things are in a bad way, Mr. Zaïmis. Your acceptance could not help them, unless you would go up to the palace and tell the King that the only service he can now render to this unfortunate country is to depart from it, with his wife and children."
Conservative Mr. Zaïmis stared at me in amazement. "I could not tell him that!" he exclaimed. "Besides, the King has a strong party in back of him."
"He has not, Mr. Zaïmis. He has no one except a small Royalist clique and certain disreputable politicians. And please don't accept. Let things rip. It is the best thing you can do."
"I have not accepted yet. I am asking for guarantees. Come and see me at half-past two, in my house. We can talk better there. All these people outside are waiting to see me."
Before leaving him, once more I asked: "Mr. Zaïmis, couldn't you really go up to the palace and induce Constantine to leave Athens?"
"No, that would be impossible."
Yet a few weeks later, Mr. Zaïmis had to go to the palace, not as a patriotic Greek of his own volition and for the good of Greece, but because he was forced by outside pressure, to tell King Constantine that he must go. And King Constantine went away without a struggle, though not out of repentance, nor in performing a last act of reparation to the kingdom he had ruined. Having sacrificed his country's honor and integrity, he made one last bargain---a money bargain---and then sneaked out of a side door of his palace, moved partly by menace, partly by bribe. Even in his abdication he could not rise out of the ignoble.
My husband met me outside the Banque Nationale, and together we went to the British Legation. The British, French, and Russian Ministers had by now left the warships at Keratsine, whither they had fled on the 2d of December, and had returned to Athens, although the blockade was still on, the King not yet having complied with all the demands of the Allies. We had not met the British Minister, Sir Francis Elliot, before, and he could only see us for a few minutes, since he was due at a council of the Allied Ministers shortly.
I had the temerity to attract his attention to the fact that whatever was discussed at these meetings of the Allied Ministers would find its way straight to the palace through the offices of one of his colleagues. This I could assure him because the Royalists had told it to me. Then I unfolded the piece of paper I had brought away from the marriage of General Danglis's daughter, and told him that Mr. Venizelos strongly desired to be allowed to take the parts named on the paper, and also Thessaly, since Thessaly was entirely Venizelist, and it was of the utmost importance that its harvest should not go to feed enemies of the Entente again.
Sir Francis was most disturbed. "Does Mr. Venizelos realize that if he takes Thessaly there will be massacres in Athens?" he asked.
"And what of it?" I cried. "There is such a lot of killing going on in this world just now that a few Greeks more do not matter. Besides, the mothers, sisters, wives, and children of most of the Venizelists are here, and the Venizelists are willing to take the risk."
"But we have given our promise to the King that Thessaly should not go to Mr. Venizelos."
"For God's sake," I cried at the end of my patience, "who is your ally, the King, or Venizelos? "
"Oh! we have our money on Venizelos; but a promise is a promise."
I was thoroughly vexed. "Why are you keeping up this unjust blockade and starving the poor Greek people? Is it not because you maintain that the King is tricking you, and is not keeping his promises to you? Then why are you so anxious to keep your promise to him?"
"Come to see me this evening at six. Then we shall have more time to talk. I must go now; the Ministers are waiting."
At half-past two we were in dear Mr. Zaïmis's library. We had never seen him so harassed looking.
"If I don't accept the premiership, it may turn out to be the worst thing for Greece," he said.
"What do you hope to gain by accepting?"
"To bring about some understanding between the Entente and Greece."
"The Royalist clique will be thwarting you behind your back, and everything will be as it was before."
Mr. Zaïmis squared his drooping shoulders. "I shall see that my orders are carried out," he declared. "The King is begging me to accept, but I do not know the feelings of Sir Francis. Does England want me to form a cabinet?"
"We shall see Sir Francis at six this evening, and we could find out and let you know."
"Do! Do! And then come back and tell me. Is there any hope of a reconciliation with Venizelos? "
"None whatever from Salonica. They have no longer the slightest confidence in Constantine, and one cannot make a pact with a man in whom one has lost confidence. But I have hopes on the King's side. I believe there would still be a chance if he would send out of the country all the men the Entente mistrusts, and do all the things the Entente wishes done. Tell the King to send Gounaris and Streit, Dousmanis and Metaxas, as ministers and attachés to Germany and Austria. Can't you do it?"
"It would not be easy for me to do that---but tell that to the King yourself. Impress upon him the absolute necessity of doing the right thing now."
"I wish Sophie could be sent out of the country, too," I suggested, " since she is at the bottom of everything."
On that point Mr. Zaïmis was non-committal. From Mr. Zaïmis we went to our own legation. We always found that a good talk with Mr. Droppers helped to clarify the situation for us. What a comfort that man was! He and Mr. Thomas Nelson Page in Rome and Mr. Sharpe in Paris convinced us that our method of choosing our ambassadors is better than that of any European country. Before this war, all foreigners ridiculed our diplomats because they did not know the ways of diplomacy. Thank Heaven that they don't! They remain human beings who can think and act like men, who tell the truth, go straight to the point, and forget about their own advancement---none of which things a true diplomat would dream of doing. Ours are ministers and ambassadors to-day, for a lark, so to speak, and to-morrow they will return to their normal occupations. They are not afraid to do what seems to them right, for fear of making a mistake, and in consequence they make fewer than the professional diplomats of other countries. This, however, is a large question into which I really had no intention of entering in this narrative.
When we saw Sir Francis, at six o'clock, we had quite a long talk with him. Sir Francis is a representative of a good type of cultivated English gentleman, and since he has been in Athens for almost fourteen years, and has been in close relations with the whole royal family, he was naturally averse to putting unpleasant pressure on the King---or else he was acting under instruction from the Foreign Office. Moreover, being of the same gentle type of man as Mr. Zaïmis,---with whom he got on famously,---violent measures such as were needed in Greece were abhorrent to him.
"Greece is ill," I urged, "and she needs the old-fashioned remedy of blood-letting. Nothing else will do her so much good. The apathy and atrophy of the last two years is sapping the vitality of this part of Greece."
Poor, gentle Sir Francis! He must have thought that a true daughter of the Balkans had married a wild American. Incidentally we found out his thoughts about Mr. Zaïmis's premiership, and on leaving him went straight to our harassed friend.
"As far as we can see, Mr. Zaïmis, Sir Francis Elliot would like to have you accept. On the other hand, he fears that you will be hoodwinked as you were before."
"I shall not, this time," said Mr. Zaïmis, very firmly. "The King has promised to do all I ask."
A day or two later Mr. Zaïmis agreed to form a new cabinet. One of his first acts was to order a number of lesser officers, who were leaders of epistrate leagues and of other trouble-giving societies, to leave Athens within forty-eight hours. Some of these obeyed. Some did not. One of the officers was publicly riding with the King's daughter several mornings later.
On the day that Mr. Zaïmis gave his order, Dr. Streit, in the "Nea Himera," a notoriously pro-German paper,---his organ and that of the Queen,---violently attacked the new Premier. It happened that we went to see Dr. Streit the same afternoon, and I declared it to be unpardonable for a Greek newspaper to attack Mr. Zaïmis now, when he was probably the last Constantinist Premier there would be, and when every one ought to help him as much as possible. Dr. Streit agreed with me, probably not suspecting that I knew him to be the author of the very attack in question. Then he turned the conversation quickly to Salonica, and wanted to know all about Venizelos.
"Mr. Venizelos told me to tell you all that he was doing his duty, and that you only have to do yours."
"Ah!" He rubbed his hands together in great apparent satisfaction. "That is good! I am very glad he feels that way---that is already some progress. Tell me more about your impressions of Salonica."
Naturally I spoke with enthusiasm of the army and how at the present moment it exceeded forty thousand, with as many more in the islands, waiting for transports.
At that Dr. Streit acted like a man who had been stung by a wasp. He jumped up, and sat down, and jumped up again, crying: --
"It is a lie! I tell you it is a lie."
"Am I lying?" I asked.
"No! No! No! They have lied to you, I mean." He rushed into the inner room next his library and reappeared in a minute with a copy of an old Venizelist newspaper, which he spread open before me. "Here, read that! Altogether the army is not forty thousand. They have lied to you."
"But I have seen the official list. I heard what I told you from the lips of Mr. Venizelos and General Génin. I have no reason to doubt the word of those two men."
Dr. Streit became so angry that even the whites of his eyes were reddish---and how German he did look! He was more excited than before he had dashed into the other little room.
"You must not repeat such things," he cried. "You will do a great deal of harm if you do."
I believe the reason the Royalists disliked me was because the madder they got, the calmer I became.
"Now, Dr. Streit, will you kindly explain to me whom I should harm by telling the truth about the Venizelist army? Even if you are against Venizelos, since you are all on the side of the Entente, you must be very pleased that forty thousand Greeks are already in Salonica." (I don't know whether I have mentioned that Dr. Streit never let slip an opportunity to protest his entire loyalty to the Entente. Indeed, one of the stock jokes in Athens was " Dr. Streit---Ententist.")
My jocular tone did not quiet him in the least.
"It is a lie, I tell you!" he almost shouted, "and I won't have it repeated."
Then I became serious: "Dr. Streit, Greece is in a very bad way. Rightly or wrongly they suspect you. Why don't you leave Athens for a little while--go to Switzerland, say for a few months?"
"And leave my King---who needs my advice daily, I may say hourly?"
He forgot that a few weeks previously he had told us that he rarely saw the King, and that he never went to the palace.
"It is exactly your advice that they don't want, Dr. Streit. Suppose you stop giving it---for the sake of the King and for the sake of Greece."
"You don't understand," Dr. Streit exclaimed eagerly. "You have been to Salonica, and you believe that the Entente is entirely on the side of Venizelos. Well, England is not. She has turned to our side. We can do more for England than Venizelos can, because the army is with us---and England understands on which side her bread is buttered."
Although it is painful to me, I must record that that was the prevailing impression in Athens, on our return from Salonica. The "Occult Government" was plainly elated, and spread the report everywhere that England was abandoning Venizelos. As for the Venizelists, they were in gloom. The women of the upper classes dared not express their opinions above a whisper. "They tell us now that if we do anything to displease the Royalists, they will cut off our ears and noses," said one of them to me, and they absolutely believed this threat. I assured the very charming lady who told me this that the first nose cut from the face of a Venizelist woman would precipitate Constantine from his throne. Turning to another young and pretty Venizelist, I asked: "Would n't you give your nose for that? "
Pourparlers were being held between the British Legation and the Palace all the time, and the Venizelists, generally believed that England had turned against them. And this was largely helped by the English general in the Hôtel d'Angleterre with his announcement to any one who cared to listen that his business in Athens was to see that King Constantine was kept on the throne. On the whole, the atmosphere of Athens was more poisonous than ever. To add to the general confusion, the newspapers were doing their bit. A number of the Greek Venizelist papers, as well as the French "Messager d'Athens," which had been smashed on the 2d of December, were mended now and in full swing, and their editorial articles gave food for thought and food for argument to the Royalists. The pro-German papers, the Gounaris organ, and Dr. Streit's, were menacing the King in a half-veiled way for any support he gave Zaïmis.
Even people of mediocre intelligence could not help seeing that, under the strain, something was going to break. Would it be the King or Venizelos? That was the riddle. Dr. Streit, in telling us that the English had turned to the Royalist side, was but voicing the general belief. As he said good-bye to us, on that day, he took my husband on one side and said most confidentially: --
"Don't you believe a word of what they told you in Salonica. Venizelos has n't more than forty thousand men even including all those on the islands. Don't you believe that there are any more."
General Dousmanis actually received us with pleasure. The warmth of his reception, however, was dampened for us when we happened to refer to the recent victories of the Allies in the west, in the first great spring push of 1917.
"What victories?" he inquired, in a surprised tone of voice.
"Why, the big offensive on the western front."
" Oh, that! " exclaimed the general. " Ah, yes. They tried to break through. The Germans retreated in absolute order, leaving behind a devastated area, and having taken a toll of one hundred and fifty thousand casualties from the Allies. Where was the victory?"
"That is not the way our papers speak of it."
"They are whistling to keep up their courage. The Allies have failed again, that is all. And the next thing the Germans will do is either to throw General Sarrail into the sea or conquer Italy. They will do the one or the other."
After some desultory conversation I asked: "What did Colonel Metaxas mean by writing an article in a Greek magazine over his signature saying that the coming into the war of America was only a beau geste, and could have no military effect at all?"
"It is the truth, is n't it? " the general asked. "What more can America do for the Allies than she is already doing? As for her creating an army it is absurd. The question is perfectly simple: to drill soldiers, one needs officers; and to train officers, one needs soldiers, does n't one? Well, America has neither officers nor soldiers, therefore it is impossible for her to create an army."
As a logician General Dousmanis was irresistible. Still we persisted: --
"Did you not say the same thing about England, in the beginning of the war?"
"We did, and we were right. England has no generals, no leaders,---and she had an infinitely bigger start than America has."
"We don't believe that you are right; but even admitting that you are, do you consider it wise---in view of the tension that exists between Greece and the Entente---for Colonel Metaxas to write an article which cannot fail further to widen the breach?"
"It has pleased Austria and Germany," he replied laconically.
"For God's sake, general, are you, even at the present moment, trying to please Austria and Germany? What will you gain by it?"
Disregarding the presence of my husband, General Dousmanis began to speak to me in Greek:---
"We have everything to gain by pleasing Germany."
"Won't you explain to me how?"
"Yes, I believe I had better do so. We know that you have gone over to the side of Venizelos. You have not been able to withstand him; therefore we must make you see the man as he is."
"I have gone over to the side of Venizelos merely because now I understand the treaty with Serbia."
"And would you still believe in the integrity and in the disinterestedness of Venizelos were I to put proofs of his treason into your hands?
"It would depend on the proofs."
General Dousmanis talked with me in Greek for more than an hour. At the end he opened a drawer in his desk, brought forth two typewritten letters, and handed them to me.
The first was addressed to M. Guillemin, the French Minister, and to Sir Francis Elliot, the British Minister. The second letter was addressed to M. Guillemin alone. These letters were apparently written by Mr. Venizelos. The style, the wording, the clear phrasing were all his. They discussed the best method for kidnapping the King and his family and carrying them off on a warship; they planned the arrest and execution of Dousmanis, Metaxas, and Gounaris; they sketched out the way for starting a revolution in Athens under guise of a strike; and other similar matters.
While reading them I did not doubt that they were Venizelos's, and seeing them in the hands of his arch-enemy, I turned pale.
Fig. 35. One of Mr. Venizelos's corrections for the manuscript of this book.
General Dousmanis had his eyes fixed on me.
"Do you now believe in his treason?" he asked. "They make you sick, don't they?"
I nodded. In truth I was sick, but for an entirely different reason from the one attributed to me by General Dousmanis. There was treason enough in every line---had Venizelos not been an open and avowed revolutionist. Moreover, knowing as I now did how King Constantine had betrayed both the interests and the honor of Greece, I did not care how much treason there existed against a man who had not deserved loyalty. What caused my emotion was the certainty that there must be a traitor in the inmost circles of the Venizelists for copies of such letters to be in the hands of his enemies.
Yet my naturally skeptical nature made me ask him one question: "Why were these letters to foreign ministers written in Greek?" (Venizelos wrote French, the language of diplomacy, with fluency.)
"The originals were not in Greek. The man who stole them and. copied them, translated them into Greek."
General Dousmanis would have done better had he told me that the letters had been written in Greek because, when Mr. Venizelos was very much moved, he could only write in his native language, and that he knew there were men in the French and British Legations who could translate his letters. That a spy, translating a French letter of Mr. Venizelos, should so perfectly attain to his Greek style, gave me my first hopeful suspicion that these letters might after all be manufactured, and not stolen.
"What do you think of them? " the general asked.
"You are sure of their authenticity?
"We have not the slightest doubt."
"M. Guillemin and Sir Francis have the originals? "
"It is terrible! terrible!" And once more General Dousmanis misinterpreted my exclamation.
We went away from his house, I still white and shaken.
" What was in those papers? " my husband asked.
"I can't tell you here---some one may overhear. Let us go straight to Mr. Droppers."
We shall never be able to express our gratitude to our Minister in Athens. His sympathy, his advice, and his kindness were always ready for us. Only when we were within closed doors, with him, did I disclose all the contents of the two, letters I had read.
"Now, Mr. Droppers, since America has come into this war, you are the ally of Mr. Venizelos, and the Royalists here are your enemies. Will you help me to help Mr. Venizelos? He must be told that his letters reach the hands of his enemies, and I have come to a point where I can trust no one here but you. Can you notify Mr. Venizelos of the facts---or will you send a letter straight to him, if I write it? To-morrow we are lunching with Sir Francis and Lady Elliot, and I shall tell him of those letters---but you know what they say here in Athens about the English."
Mr. Droppers knew, of course. "You'd better let me think about it," he said, "and I will let you know to-morrow."
I was still in bed, the next morning, when Lady Elliot sent me a note, asking us to postpone lunching with her for two days. At once I wrote a reply saying that it was of the greatest importance for me to see Sir Francis that same day, and asking when it would be possible for us to see him. I was barely dressed when Sir Francis was announced.
I went downstairs and told him of the two letters. "The one to you was dated March 11, 1917, and I can tell you paragraph by paragraph what it contained."
Sir Francis listened attentively, and made me repeat the contents twice.
"Those letters are false," said Sir Francis quietly. "I have known of their existence, but until now I have never spoken with any one who had actually seen them. Do you mind telling me their contents again?"
I did so.
"False! False!" he exclaimed.
"I don't mind them if they are true," I said. "What I mind is that the Royalists should have got hold of them."
"They are manufactured, I assure you. I believe they were made to influence the King and keep him from considering any compromise with Venizelos."
We always found Sir Francis inclined to take the most lenient view of King Constantine's conduct. He had known him for fourteen years, and seemed to be really fond of him, and always would rather consider him a dupe of others than the head of the Germanophile party in Athens.
"The King is receiving us again to-morrow," I said. "And although I don't believe there is the slightest chance of a reconciliation with Salonica, 1, personally, still hope that he may be induced to come out on our side."
"Do you think so?"
"I don't think so---I only hope so."
"When do you see him, did you say?"
"To-morrow morning." And, indeed, the next morning at a quarter past ten, we were, for the third time, shaking hands with the monarch whom I could not help liking, although I had turned against him and his policy completely. He was most cordial this time, and under the influence of his charm and his lovableness, the frank glance of his eyes, and the apparent sincerity of his speech, the hope was strengthened that the situation might still be saved.
"Well, what news did you bring from Salonica, and what did Venizelos say?"
"He said, Your Majesty, that you need not trouble to unite with him. All you would have to do would be to declare yourself on the side of the Entente, come out with your army, and automatically Greece would unite on the battlefield."
An enigmatic expression hovered over the small mouth of the King.
"Your Majesty," I continued, "I never thought I should be sorry for a king, but I was terribly sorry for you, when I was in Salonica."
"Because it was a wonderful military pageant there, with soldiers from every one of the Allied Powers---and you ought to have been head of it all, commander-in-chief of that magnificent force, instead of being here, practically a prisoner in your own palace."
Because his eyes encouraged me, and because once again that light of regret came over his young, handsome face, I continued: --
"Even the eleventh hour has rung for you---yet you can still save yourself and Greece. Send away Dr. Streit from Athens. Don't follow his, advice any longer."
"Why? Don't you think he is an intelligent man?" the King queried.
It was Kenneth Brown who answered him.
"Oh, Streit is a nice chap, and has lots of book-learning; but he is stupid, and he is the most perniciously optimistic man I have ever met."
"Yes, he is optimistic, I know, but why do you think he is stupid?"
"Because he is utterly incapable of reasoning."
We cannot help thinking that near the door ajar, behind the screen in the King's study, Dr. Streit must have been lurking, because when we met him on the street a few hours later, his face turned red as a carrot, and instead of coming up and shaking hands with us in his German way, and saying friendly things, he pretended not to see us.
I did not stop at Streit, with the King: "Do send away Gounaris and Metaxas and Dousmanis, since the Entente suspects them, and be a sportsman and admit that you made a mistake."
My husband added: "Nothing makes Englishmen and Americans respect a man more than for him to come out and admit that he has been in the wrong. Do that and the past would soon be forgotten."
"One of your big ship-owners told me," I put in, "that if you were a real pallikari, you would come out on your balcony and admit that your policy had been a mistake."
"I don't believe I have made a mistake," the King repeated obstinately.
"Do you still honestly believe that Germany will win?" Kenneth Brown asked.
"I don't believe she can be beaten. She knows how to fight: the others don't. Why, then, should I go in and get smashed for them?"
"From your point of view I suppose you are right," my husband replied. "Mind you, I think you are wrong, but from your point of view you are right."
" I tell you I am not wrong," the King retorted.
Look at what is happening now in Russia. The Allies led you to believe that the revolution was for their benefit. I can tell you that the whole thing is for the good of Germany. England and France can hope for no more from that quarter. My cousin Nicholas was the ally of the Entente. Now he is dethroned, and England and France stand by the revolution. Is that fair to their ally?"
I expressed the hope that now that the German Tsarina had gone Russia would do better.
"You can wait and see whether she will; but I can tell you that Russia is finished. As for my sending the men you mentioned out of Greece, it is out of the question. Gounaris is the head of a strong political party and the others are my friends."
"You are always thinking of your friends; but they do not think of you. General Dousmanis told me that if the Entente won you would be lost. Why should you be lost---no matter who wins or loses?"
"Why should I be lost?" he repeated. "You are quite right."
"Count Bosdari, the Italian Minister, told us that your party was 'finished---done for,' and that your only salvation lay with Venizelos."
Curiously enough, this seemed to make little impression on the King. I even detected a laugh in the depth of his blue-gray eyes. And then, because this was probably the last time we should ever see King Constantine, I made a final appeal to him to come out with the Entente and carry along the army with him. I implored him as I never have implored another human being, and as I hope I shall never have to again. I told him once more where Greece stood in the estimation of the world, and how the temper of all the nations was so much against her that if she were cut to pieces, no one would care.
He listened very kindly, and for once did not even interrupt every second. Only when I had finished he said: "Oh, I may have to send all those men away from here, but I shan't do it till they have me with my back to the wall."
"What object is there in waiting till then?" Kenneth Brown asked.
"To show them that there is still fight in me."
"They will dethrone you," I said sadly, conscious that I still wished to save him, in spite of all I knew about his conduct. There is something about him that inspires affection even after every vestige of respect has gone. And he was so nice that day: we were talking to him precisely as if he were an obstinate small boy, and he took it all nicely and good-naturedly.
"I shall not give up my throne as easily as the King of Portugal did. I shall fight for it." Then vexedly he exclaimed: "Look here now, don't you suppose I know better than you do---better than anybody else---what is good for me? I let everybody come and talk to me; I listen to all they have to say, but don't you think I can judge for myself? I know what I am about. See what is happening just now, here in Athens: Zaïmis ordered seven officers to leave the city. They did n't want to go: they were arranging a mutiny. I sent my brother Andrew to quiet them and tell them to go without a fuss, for my sake."
"Why don't you ask the 'Occult Government' to go out of Athens for your sake?" I asked. "If they love you, and if by going away they benefit you, and give Mr. Zaïmis a chance, why don't they go?"
"No, I shan't send them out," he said with irritation,---"not till I have to. Besides, you are mistaken. England is now on my side. She will stand by me. They are very dissatisfied with Venizelos. He is costing them no end of money. Crackanthorpe, the counselor of the English Legation, has gone to Salonica to tell Venizelos that he can't have any more money."
(It was true that Mr. Crackanthorpe was in Salonica. He had arrived on the day before we came away. On his return, we asked him if the King's report of the object of his visit was correct. "Poor things! they have n't any money to spend," he replied. "Far from going to tell Mr. Venizelos that he was spending too much, I went to see what we could do for him.")
But on that day the King was quite certain that the English had had enough of Venizelos, and that there were serious dissensions between them and the French.
"Sir Francis has told Mr. Zaïmis," he said, "that for a long time the English have wished to raise the blockade, but that the French are unwilling to---and yet I have done more than they asked of me. I am sick of France. She is a petty, miserable nation, and bullying me is the only victory she can brag about in this war. I'll give you one instance: up in the neutral zone they found some Senegalese outposts shot, and they accuse my men of killing them. I happen to know that it was the Germans who did it. You see up in the neutral zone my bands and the Bulgarian and German and Austrian bands all meet to talk things over."
I could not believe my own ears. First of all he had said, "my bands," and yet he had repeatedly declared that he knew nothing of those bands. Again, the Royalists had asserted over and over again that they had no means of communication with Germany, and that General Sarrail had maligned them when he declared that information concerning his movements passed from Greece to Germany. And here the King himself was telling us that his bands were in the habit of consorting with bands of the Central Powers. Alas, this neutral zone, created by the Entente Powers themselves, served not only for this, but---as we were to learn later---afforded the way for bringing into Greece vast sums of German gold, to be used against France and England.
We stayed with King Constantine for an hour and a quarter, and I remembered his telling us how once Venizelos had pleaded with him for two hours, and how at the end of that time he had said: "It's no use. I am not going out on the side of the Entente." And then how Venizelos had got up and gone to the window and had stood looking out into the garden for a long time. I could picture the thoughts of Venizelos while he gazed from that window---Venizelos, a man whose mind was Greek, whose soul was Greek, who loved Greece with that unfathomable love which is the love of one's race---thwarted by a man who was a foreigner, a man who could never be thrilled by a Greek poem, or by a glorious passage in Greek history. Venizelos fought for Greece because Greece was the highest in him. King Constantine fought because his throne was his material asset, and he favored whatever would make that asset pay bigger dividends, regardless of right, regardless of honor.
Those who offer excuses for King Constantine, and those who believe that he was the victim of the men around him must not forget that King Constantine could have chosen men like Venizelos and Repoulis in place of Streit and Gounaris. My husband had argued on this line from the first. "Were the King the man to turn to the right course now, he would never have got into the wrong ways he did," he maintained.
And now, seated in the King's study, and in the King's presence, I had sadly to admit failure to myself. Was this failure our fault, or could we in some way have managed better? The question might have remained unanswered all the rest of my life had we left Athens immediately after our last interview with King Constantine.
THE AMAZING REVELATION
THERE comes now the most memorable day of all those we spent on the soil of Greece---and that after we had considered our work done and nothing left to us except to bid good-bye to the friends and acquaintances we had made, and to pack up our suitcases. On that day we were to learn more important things about the Royalist Party than all we had previously learned during the months we had studied it.
Our meager breakfast of a cup of coffee and a tiny slice of black, unsavory bread---to which the blockade had reduced us---was hardly finished when a letter was brought to me written on the hotel paper. It was from a Royalist lady. It might hurt her if I mentioned her name. Her letter contained these words: --
"I am downstairs, and terribly anxious to see you. I wish you could see me at once."
Although this lady and I had met several times, I knew her only slightly. I liked her because she was moderate in her views, and far wiser in her speech than her politician husband, who chose to appear more Germanophile than the German Queen. Both she and her husband belonged to the Court circle, and I naturally distrusted them.
I found her downstairs in a small, inner sitting-room. She greeted me with some constraint, as if she was on an errand not to her liking. "I have not seen you since you came back from Salonica. How are things there?" she said.
As enthusiastically as I had done to the King and to his Ministers, I described to her the progress of the Venizelist efforts in Salonica. From the light in her eyes it seemed as if my description pleased her. When I finished, she said, with even greater embarrassment: --
"I have come to tell you things so that you may help Greece." She paused for some little time, as if not knowing how to go on, then stammered out: "I---I don't agree with my husband on the policy of Greece. He is not on the honorable side." Her eyes filled with tears, yet bravely she continued: "The men on the Royalist side are not patriots. They are not thinking of the country; and the King---the King---I can no longer go to their parties. Oh! it is terrible! He has no thought at all for Greece. Two weeks ago---before the English seemed to change their attitude toward him---he was dispirited and downcast.. He said he felt like chucking the whole thing and sending for Venizelos---that Venizelos was the only man who could get him out of the hole he was in. Then Dousmanis jumped up and talked, and worked so on the King that he regained his courage, and declared he would fight to the very end."
My visitor gradually began to speak with more confidence.
I feel that you should know they are beginning to be afraid that Germany may not win; and a few nights ago my husband said that Gounaris was fast losing ground in the country. He never had any real party. His followers were misled, terrorized, or bought. You have no idea how they have misled the people---the lies they have told them! Oh, and the way they corrupt them!"
She took her handkerchief from her pocket and wiped her eyes. The thought came to me that she had been sent for a purpose, and that she was playing this part with some ulterior end in view.
"You are betraying your husband, you know," I observed, "which is a sad thing for any woman to do."
"I am trying to help Greece." She threw back her head defiantly. "I don't care if I do betray him---I don't even care if we divorce as a result of it. I am sick of the Royalist Party. There is not a high-minded man among them. And the King---he is worse than any of them. Do you know that all the dinner parties at Prince Nicholas's, at Prince Ypsilanthy's, and elsewhere---they are nothing but opportunities for a certain number of men to meet and discuss the news that comes to them from the neutral zone, without causing attention to be drawn to their meeting. And then afterwards they carouse till three and four in the morning. Through the neutral zone, you know, they are in constant communication with Germany."
I nodded. The King himself had told us that in an unguarded moment.
"They feel that their party is disintegrating. The Greek people are sick of them---they are sick even of being bought. They will be glad to see the King go and Venizelos come back. Last week the Royalists were desperate: now they believe that England is coming over to their side, and they are planning to make trouble between her and France, all just to gain time. Tell that to the French in Paris. Tell them that if they will show a little determination, they can clean Greece of them all."
Furtively she wiped her eyes again. "If you could see what I see, you would loathe them, and you would betray them as I am doing. I have lain awake hours and hours debating with myself. You are a Greek woman; you care for Greece; and you are going now to France. Go and see the big men there, and tell them that the King hates France and would do anything against them. Let the French come and put him out with his dishonorable family and the dishonorable party that has grown up around him. Tell the French that a very small army will clean them all out." . She rose suddenly, and, more confused than when she had come, turned to go, without even shaking hands. I followed her, and only when we were in the outer salon of the hotel did she say: --
"If they ask you what I came to talk about, say it was about the poor refugees down in the Piraeus. They are being treated like dogs, just because they are Venizelists." Her eyes blazed.
"Will you believe it? Those miserable, starving people, who have fled from the Turk and the Bulgar, and who have lost everything they own, would rather sleep on the quays and go hungry---would rather flee again from the Royalists---than turn against Venizelos. There are decent Greeks left."
It was I who held out my hand to her, and then musingly returned to my room. What on earth was I to believe? Had she really been telling me the truth, or had she come to find out something? Then I remembered that she had talked the whole time herself, not giving me the chance to speak had I wished to. She was trying to do her bit for Greece to the best of her ability.
Early that afternoon I went to see General Dousmanis because he had asked me to see him alone once more; but I attached small importance to the coming interview, since I could not imagine what more there was to say that he had not already told me in our previous meetings. Had not the general's powerful personality interested me, I should not have gone at all.
At the appointed hour he received me in a mood which interested me at once. Ordinarily extremely reserved and cautious, he seemed from the outset bent on treating me as a friend.
"I was afraid you might not be able to see me this afternoon," he said with a warm geniality which sat oddly on his dark, austere features.
"You have seen me a great many times before. What is there so special about to-day?"
For a minute he contemplated me closely, without replying to my question.
"When you go away from here ---what will you write about us, madame?"
"Everything you have told me."
" But---not from the point of view of a person in sympathy with us? You will not write as Mr. Paxton Hibben does, for example?"
"Never having read anything that Mr. Hibben has written, I can hardly say whether it will be from the same point of view."
"Mr. Hibben is entirely on our side. You do not know Mr. Hibben? He is an American."
" Mr. Hibben is unknown to me; but I can tell you what I said to our American vice-consul about Mr. Hibben, after hearing the views he held."
"Yes, what did you say?"
"That he was either stupid---or something else."
My husband had told me a few days after our return from Salonica, and especially after we had seen the King for the last time, that Athens was not a safe place for me. "Do you think Dousmanis and his gang, who have stopped at nothing, would spare your life if they thought it stood in the way of their success? You go into Royalist houses and tell the men and women there that to dethrone the King is the only decent thing left for them to do. You never lose an opportunity to tell the Royalists that the Greek poetry of the present period will extol, not their souls, but their hides, and how they have saved them. If I don't get you out of here pretty soon, they will assassinate you. Hold your tongue for the rest of the time we are here."
Hold my tongue! And to the man before me, who was one of the few really powerful men of the King's party, I had implied that for Hibben to be on their side he must be either a fool or bought.
"You hold so low an opinion of us, madame?"
"You promised before all the world to defend Serbia against Bulgaria. But when Bulgaria attacked Serbia, King Constantine declined to fulfill his obligations to her. He not only forced Venizelos to resign, but he had the impudence to try to induce Serbia to make a separate peace with Austria.
"How so? I don't seem to know those things."
"You will when I remind you of the details. When Mr. Venizelos resigned in October, 1915, for the second time, the Crown Prince of Serbia sent a telegram to King Constantine as follows: 'As friend to friend, seeing that Mr. Venizelos once more has resigned, I am asking you if you are going to help me?' To this telegram King Constantine replied: 'Since you put it as friend to friend, I will advise you to conclude a separate peace with Germany, and I believe I have sufficient influence to procure you a port on the Adriatic."'
The general regarded me keenly. "How do you know this telegram was sent by the King? Any enemy of Greece might have sent it and signed it with his name."
"That is just the argument that Mr. Zaïmis gave me a few days ago ---possibly suggested by you. But I am not so easily satisfied as Mr. Zaïmis. That very same day I telephoned to Mr. Balougdgitch, the Serbian Minister, and he came at once to see me. I asked him about the telegram, and he told me that King Constantine himself had given it to him, to send to the Serbian Crown Prince."
Thus cornered, General Dousmanis did not argue the point further. He only remarked: "I have often said, both to His Majesty and to others, that you are the sharpest cross-examiner that ever came to Greece. Still, you cannot go behind the fact that had we been treated fairly in the beginning we should have gone with the Allies."
"You might, or you might not. I only know that the King told us that every time he made a proposal to the Allies to come out of his neutrality on their side, he trembled lest they should accept it."
My interlocutor looked as if he would like to box the King's ears for his indiscretion. He only said, however: "That was later. I am speaking of the first time, two weeks after the war broke out, when Venizelos offered Greece to the Allies. We were all in accord with him then."
"I do not see how you could have been," I retorted. And then, flinging prudence to the winds, and spurred on by the sorrow and indignation burning in my heart, I recounted one after the other all the shameful acts of the Royalist Party ---all the things they had done against the honor of Greece and the safety of the Allies. I only stopped when I had no more breath to go on.
To my amazement the man before me, instead of rising and ordering me to leave the room, instead of denying the truth of what I had said, merely replied sadly: --
"France and England forced us to commit every one of the acts you have mentioned. We did as we did because we were cornered."
Speechless, I stared at him, while he continued:
"When you came to Athens, after we had met you, and you had had your first audience with His Majesty, we held a council among ourselves. Mr. Rallis and I were of the opinion that we had better take you into our confidence. Your knowledge of Eastern political affairs and your love for Greece would unquestionably have brought you to our side. Unfortunately the King did not agree with us. He said: 'You need n't take her into your confidence, because she likes me, and she will be on my side.' Dr. Streit, also, was absolutely averse to taking you into our confidence, since he mistrusted your admiration for Venizelos. The result was that we permitted you to be influenced by the other side. Now, even at this late hour, I have decided to tell you the truth."
"Because we need your pen. We must give to the world our side of the question, and you can do that better for us than any one else."
"You take me into your confidence at your own risk. I make no promises."
"Your love for Greece is promise enough for me. And now, madame, I wish you to understand and to believe that when, two weeks after the World War began, Mr. Venizelos offered Greece to the Allies, every one of us was sincerely with him."
"The Queen, general?"
"The Queen was German. She naturally was on the side of Germany; but we could have taken care of her."
"And Dr. Streit?"
"Dr. Streit is also a German. He wished Greece to remain neutral rather than have her go against Germany, but Dr. Streit was not an important factor. Had he found himself alone---You understand why German troops have to go into battle in massed formation?"
I nodded, and we dismissed the subject of Dr. Streit.
"But the King---did he wish to go on the side of the Allies, and against Germany?"
My host ruminated for a moment; then replied:
You must take into consideration that King Constantine has a great admiration for everything that is German. He was educated in Germany, and he married a German wife. Bear in mind also that there were a few men, out of Germany, who knew---actually knew---what Germany's preparations were. One of these was King Constantine. For him Germany had lifted the veil. He had seen the forty-two centimeter guns, the Zeppelins over London, the poisonous gas, the liquid fire, the air raids, and the submarine warfare à outrance." He paused a significant minute. " Do you understand now?"
I understood, and what Mr. Rallis had told me became clear. Constantine had seen---perhaps even had known the hour when the curtain would be lifted to the rest of the world---and he had been afraid. Had he been a different man, a courageous man, an honest man, a lover of liberty, these gigantic preparations would only have nerved him the more. He would have thrown what force he possessed against a nation which was diabolically plotting to steal from the world its freedom. But King Constantine hates democracy: he believes in the divine right of kings. To Venizelos he said one day that for his foreign policy he was responsible only to God---and his god was made in Germany. Germany lifted the veil to him, because she knew her man.
"With the King thus afraid, and the Queen and Dr. Streit making their propaganda, do you wish me to believe, general, that had the Entente accepted Mr. Venizelos's first offer, the King would have gone with the Allies?"
"He would, because Colonel Metaxas and I could have offset the influence of the others."
"Are you quite certain? Mr. Repoulis told me that one day, when Mr. Venizelos was pressing the King to go with the Entente, the latter exclaimed: 'If I do what you ask me to, I shall have a divorce on my hands.' That is to say, at the most critical moment in the history of modern Greece, he was thinking, not of the larger aspect of affairs, but only of them as they affected his personal interest and convenience."
For a moment the general looked as if he were going to tell me that Repoulis had lied---the usual Royalist method of disposing of anything that they could not explain. Then he changed his mind and answered: --
"Oh, we could have got around all that, if the Entente had accepted Greece on an equal footing---equal, mind you."
"Still, you could not have asked for an equal voice with France, England, and Russia, when at the most you had only half a million men and a small navy to offer."
"It was not only the men and the ships, it was our geographical position. We are the key to the Balkans, madame, and France and England have failed to grasp it. I have already explained to you, I believe, how our entrance on the side of the Allies would have forced the hands of Bulgaria and Roumania early in the game."
"But suppose it had forced them against the Entente?"
"So much the better. With Russia pressing against Roumania, with Serbia and ourselves pressing against Bulgaria, we could have crushed those two nations before they would have had time to do anything. The Serbs and we have beaten Bulgaria before, and as for Roumania, she is the most easily disposed of nation in the Balkans. They would have had to go with us or go under."
"And where would Germany have been all that time?"
"Germany would have been powerless, because the first thing we should have done would have been to cut her communications with her allies."
"I understand you better now than when you have argued that Germany could instantly have crushed Greece had she gone against her."
He chose to remain silent.
"General," I continued, "Colonel James Negroponti, the chief-of staff of Mr. VenizeIos in Salonica, explained to us lengthily how impossible it would have been for Germany to crush Greece had Greece gone to the help of Serbia. He even implied that you and Colonel Metaxas were quite aware of this fact."
The general's mouth opened to speak. Then it shut without emitting a sound. When it opened again it was to say: --
"Colonel Negroponti is an able officer. We sent him to Serbia when Serbia at last realized that she had better turn to her humble neighbor, since the great ones were failing her. Of course we knew it was too late, and that she was doomed." He hesitated an instant before concluding: "We sent Colonel Negroponti to draw up a new military Convention with Serbia."
It was not so much the words as something in his manner that sent an electric thrill through me. So able an officer as Negroponti had been dispatched into all the dangers of Serbia at a time when the. "Occult Government" knew that it was too late for any practical good. Why, then, had he been sent? Certainly not for sentimental reasons.
"General, you sent James Negroponti into Serbia either to be killed or to be taken prisoner." I was looking straight into the man's eyes, and I shivered at what I read there.
"A strong party gets rid of those who oppose it in any way it can," he answered quietly.
We had seen a great deal of Colonel Negroponti in Salonica, and we had liked him very much. I felt as if I were walking on the ground intended for his grave. It took me a minute to be able to speak, and when I could I mixed my words, saying: --
"The means sanctify the end."
"The end sanctifies the means," he corrected me with unction,---"precisely!"
"Then Bulgaria did know that you were not going to attack her?" I said, reverting to the question I had been pursuing the Royalists with for three full months.
"We knew what she got for going with Germany," he evaded.
"When did she definitely decide to go with Germany? "
"The day she attacked Serbia."
"Do you mean to be humorous?"
"I am never humorous. She could have been bought up to the last day." He made a long pause; then added: "We could have bought her."
"Then she was honest when she was parleying with both parties?"
"You misuse the word, madame. She was up for sale, and she was knocked down to the highest bidder." Dismissing the subject of Bulgaria, he demanded: "But since the Entente did not accept us as an ally in the beginning, will you tell me what possible advantage we should have got by coming in later, as Venizelos wanted us to?"
"First of all, honor; second, friends; third, important concessions in Asia Minor. Honor and friends are necessary to great nations: they are indispensable to little ones. The concessions in Asia Minor would have placed Greece on her feet economically: she would have had her chance at last."
"You forget that the Entente had still to buy Italy, and the price Italy demanded was that Greece should not be given her chance. Italy aspires to the hegemony of the Mediterranean: how could she allow Greece to have any chance? Your friends were bargaining with Italy. So was Germany. We knew what each side offered, and we know the arrangements Italy made---with both sides."
"You don't blame France and England for bidding first for Italy and. only secondarily for Greece? Italy was bigger: she had more to give."
"I don't blame anybody for looking out for himself. What I ask is that when Greece was deliberately sacrificed to Italy, she should not be blamed for looking out for her own interests."
"Why do you say that Greece has been sacrificed for Italy?"
"If England beats Germany, you will see how much Greece has been sacrificed to Italy."
"Then it was when Italy went with the others that you went with Germany?"
"Not exactly. We began to talk about it when they refused Greece's alliance. We talked more about it when Constantinople was openly promised to Russia, because if Russia got that part of the world, a black cross would be written opposite Hellenic aspirations. You say that had Greece gone in on the side of the Entente, in the haphazard way Venizelos wanted, that she would have gained honor, friends, and her chance. To begin with, honor and friends belong to the strong and powerful, and Greece would have been neither at the end of this war. As for her chance, it would have been denied to her for the same reason---that she would have been weak and powerless. I tell you England is the most wonderful schemer in the world. That's why I admire her."
General Dousmanis was not alone in his admiration of England. Most of the Royalists admired her, and their admiration was the greatest insult offered to Great Britain; for their idea of her was precisely the one expressed by the Russian Prince Gortchakov to the English Ambassador, when England declined to go to the help of little Denmark in 1864, at the time Germany was despoiling her of Schleswig-Holstein. The Russian said:
"Then, milord, I can put aside the supposition that England will ever make war for a question of honor."
"We understand things better than you do, madame," the general went on. "We have lived in the making of history: you are only a student of it. We know how every treaty since the day of our independence has been made to our disadvantage, and we feel confident that matters will not change. To be respected, you must be strong. For a nation to be feared is to have friends. We have been kept weak by the big nations because it suited their interests. We decided to look after our interests ourselves---and Germany offered us our best chance. What put Italy on her feet? The Triple Alliance. Had she not been a member of that for thirty years she would have been harassed on all sides. Crispi knew what he was about. After he made the alliance, who touched Italy, touched Germany, and that made them keep off.
"Those who say that we were Germanophile from the beginning," he went on, "say so to cover up the blunders they made. Except for Theotokis there was not a single Greek who was Germanophile, and even Theotokis, when the King
summoned the Crown Council in February, 1915, candidly said: 'Your Majesty, my policy is pro-German, but it cannot be imposed upon the country, since it has no following. The interests of Greece demand Mr. Venizelos's policy."'
"Then why were you all against it?" I asked indignantly.
"We were not against his policy---we were against the attitude of the Allies. We were asking for a fair deal, and it was denied us. And since they would not give us our chance, we listened to Germany. Afterwards, when the Allies refused even to guarantee our-territorial integrity, 'because that would discourage Bulgaria,' as they explained, we started our own propaganda among the people to turn them against the Entente. What else could we do? The group of nations with whom Greece's sympathies naturally lay were willing to sacrifice us to Russia, to Italy, to Bulgaria."
What General Dousmanis said was in the main true. That is the tragedy entailed by the acts of France and England---especially England, because France was disposed to handle Greece better; but England, in the futile muddling of Downing Street, lost Greece and consequently Constantinople, and brought about the subsequent destruction of Serbia and Roumania.
"General," I remarked, "that is exactly the difference between the King and your party, and Mr. Venizelos and his party. They know as well as you do that grave errors have been committed, that England has been incapable of grasping the importance of Greece. Yet they stand by England and France because those two nations represent the better things of civilization."
General Dousmanis pointed an accusing finger at me. "You have condemned Venizelos, madame! You have said the truth about him! He was willing to sacrifice the interests of Greece for the sake of abstract ideals. Every one of the fighting nations is fighting for his own interests. Why should Greece---Greece, surrounded and hemmed in by enemies---alone fight for ideals?"
"England and France are fighting for ideals, and Greece, whose past has shown the highest civilization in the world, ought to have ranged herself on their side."
"I am considering the matter from a practical point of view. To make you understand how we felt, I must first impart to your mind the fear that seized us when we saw that France and England were ready to sacrifice us to Russia and Italy. We realized then that our very existence was at stake. When Sir Edward Grey offered our territory to Bulgaria, it became evident to all of us that it was the intention of the Powers to dismember Greece. The action of Italy at the present time in occupying our territory in Epirus, in closing our schools, in giving to our officials twenty-four hours to leave the country, in deporting our best citizens, in proclaiming our lands an Italian protectorate---all this proves to us that what Germany told us was true. Our dismemberment had been decided upon at the beginning of the war, and that is why they refused Venizelos's offer of Greece as an ally. Of course, in the beginning we did not suspect that they meant to dismember us; but Germany furnished us proof after proof of this intention of the Allies."
General Dousmanis leaned toward me, and in a most impressive manner continued: --
"Do you know, madame, that even when Venizelos split the country in two,---even when his army was fighting side by side with the English and French,---England and France were bargaining with Bulgaria---and what do you think they were offering her---Salonica!---Bulgaria told Germany of every offer they made, and Germany sent it directly to King Constantine."
"They lied!" I cried. "They both lied. You have fallen a victim to the lies of Bulgaria and Germany, two nations actuated by the same low motives."
"And was it a lie, madame, that Sir Edward Grey offered our territory to Bulgaria? And is it a lie that Italy is occupying our lands and proclaiming them an Italian protectorate?"
"General, I will be as frank with you as you are with me. Would you like to know what I think about Italy's actions in North and South Epirus?"
" It will interest me very much."
"I believe King Constantine is backing Italy in North and South Epirus, because she stood behind him and against Venizelos."
Had I struck the man in the face he could not have been more surprised. He appeared to me exactly like a bank clerk caught in the act of falsifying the books. When he spoke, however, he only said: --
"You have a great deal of imagination, madame.---Don't allow it to mislead you."
Something warned me not to dwell on this point, so I laughed and passed it over as a silly interruption to our conversation.
"With your mistrust of the Great Powers, why do you trust Germany?" I asked. "Don't you think she would sacrifice you as quickly as England, for instance?"
"Then what have you to gain by a German success? "
"You have asked this question over and over again, and we have always put you off. To-day I shall tell you. Germany's own interests will force her to look after ours. A toe may be a small part of your body, but you take care of it because it is a part of your body. Do you see? "
"No," I answered, " I don't see, because I don't see how Greece is the toe of Germany."
" She would be more than that if we went with Germany, and she would be free at last to develop."
"You speak in riddles: I feel as if I were lost in the labyrinth of Crete and needed an Ariadne to get me out."
"You would like, would you not, to see Greece undisturbed to develop her resources? " the general asked.
"Most certainly I would."
"Mr. Venizelos, in 1913, in London, tried his best to form an alliance between Greece and England, and England turned her down. That ought to have taught Venizelos his lesson, but he is a visionary, that man. If Germany loses, Greece will be unable to defend her own interests. On the one side Italy will be an implacable enemy, because she means to dominate the Mediterranean, and to do so she must keep the twelve Greek Islands, she must prevent our controlling the Corfu Channel, and she must keep us out of Asia Minor, our moral colonies. She also intends to keep North Epirus, since there are mines there which would be a source of income to us, and
Italy wishes to keep us poor and unable to increase our navy. Bulgaria, on the other hand,
in spite of her conduct to the Entente, will be protected by England, and she will try to take
Salonica away from us, and as much as she can of Macedonia. Thus, instead of being free to pursue our studies and our industries, we shall be harassed on all sides, unless the war ends in a draw so that Germany may follow out her programme."
"But in Heaven's name," I cried, "how can Greece be benefited by Germany's success?"
" Wait a minute, and we shall come to that. Tell me, madame, why does Germany protect Saxony and Bavaria?"
"Because Saxony and Bavaria are Germany."
My reply did not suit him. He gave me another himself: --
"She protects Saxony and Bavaria because they are part of the German Empire. Do you see now?
" Greece will be as near Germany as Saxony and Bavaria are---after the war."
Seeing that I still did not grasp his idea, he unfolded a large map of Europe. With a red pencil he outlined each of the German kingdoms. Then he drew a mark around a part of Austria and said: "This will be the Kingdom of Austria, with a Hapsburg for a king." He encircled Bohemia: "This will be the Kingdom of Bohemia, with a king of its own---let us say, the second son of the Kaiser. This, Poland, with the third son of the Kaiser." His pencil moved to Hungary: "This, the Kingdom of Hungary, with a king of its own." Bosnia, Herzegovina, Dalmatia, and Croatia he enclosed together. "This will be the Slav Kingdom, where all the Serbs will go to live, with, let us say, the fourth son of the Kaiser as its king." Albania, Greece, a small part of Serbia, and all the Greek islands were enclosed together. "This is our kingdom!" The greater part of Serbia he enclosed with Bulgaria. Roumania and Turkey each formed a kingdom. "You understand now? All those kingdoms will bear the same relation to Germany as do Saxony and Bavaria. They will all be disciplined according to German methods, and they will all be .financed by Germany."
It was a stupendous scheme and it fairly took my breath away. I grasped like a drowning man at one little flaw: --
"But where will Germany find the necessary money? Even if she wins, England and France will be too poor to supply it."
A satisfied smile spread over the general's face at the impression he had made on me.
"Where, indeed?" he replied lightly. "Perhaps from your adopted country. America is very rich, madame."
"My adopted country is fighting now. Had she stayed out and been unprepared, Germany might have been able to extract billions from her; but she's in, and I am afraid Greece is going
to lose the chance of becoming part of a victorious German Empire."
"Your adopted country can do little, if any, more than she was doing before."
"Time will tell. Let us go on with your map. From what I understand, after the war Germany, instead of being composed only of German-speaking kingdoms, will stretch from the North Sea to the Persian Gulf."
"Precisely, only much farther than the North Sea. And under her system, each little kingdom, with an absolute monarch, will prosper according to her gifts."
"No such progress-stifling word as 'constitution' blocking the way," I suggested.
"Quite right---a constitution has been the ruin of Greece. And you must realize that every one of those kingdoms will be turned into an efficient, up-to-date military nation. In ten years Germany will have such armies as Rome never dreamed of."
I nodded, realizing for the first time the meaning of the maps and military dreams of General Dousmanis. Those Royalists had played a dangerous game, but from their lights it was a game worth playing. To secure to their little country
absolute security and the chance of fully developing its industries and natural resources, they had staked even its honor.
"It is a wonderful dream," I could not help saying. Then I added: "And you came to this understanding in March, 1914."
Startled, he raised his eyes from his map, and challenged me: --
"Who told you March, 1914?"
"What did he say about March, 194?"
"Only that William of Germany came to his castle on the island of Corfu then, and inquired as to your attitude in case of a general European war."
"Is that all you know?
"Dr. Streit said the conversation ended there. Apparently it did not."
"No, it did not; but neither did we come to a definite understanding then."
"Why did n't you?"
"Because Venizelos held the country. He is undisciplined and visionary like all the Greeks. He rejected Germany's advances, and we had to move slowly. We waited to see if France and England would offer us the same chance. We
should have taken that, because Venizelos had the nation behind him, and swinging it would have been easy."
"But you and the King and the Queen and the General Staff would have preferred Germany? She stands for the things you believe in: autocracy, discipline, and might over right?"
"Might is right," he declared with positive conviction, not replying to the first part of my question. "But now you can see why a draw is so important for Greece ---a peace which will enable Germany to carry out her schemes."
"And have you done what Germany wanted so that you may expect your reward? Have you not failed her?"
"No, we have not. We might have failed had .the Entente stood by Venizelos. Gounaris told the Germans in the spring of 1915 that we could not possibly succeed, because France and England would support Venizelos. The Germans laughed, and replied: 'My dear friend, France and England will never agree on a policy---Italy will see to that. Venizelos will not be supported.' And they were right. Thus we were able to render Germany the assistance required. We might never have succeeded with the army had not England come to our assistance by offering the Drama-Kavalla provinces to bribe Bulgaria, without even consulting us. Later, when the Allied Ministers told Mr. Gounaris that they could not guarantee the integrity of Greece 'because that would discourage Bulgaria,' we had all the arguments we needed to convert the army. And to those who needed money we could give, since Germany had been very generous."
"It was fortunate for you that the Entente created a neutral zone, was n't it? " I observed. " Otherwise you could not have received your money as easily as you did."
His face darkened.
"Who told you about that?"
"I inferred it from something the King told us."
The ill-suppressed annoyance of General Dousmanis proved I was right. I wish that Sir Francis Elliot and M. Guillemin had been as inquisitive as I. Then the reign of King Constantine might have been shorter, and poor Greece might have been spared the most ignominious period of her modern existence, and the World War might have taken a different turn.
The general must have argued that I already knew so much that the matter of how the money came to Greece was not important. Grudgingly he admitted the truth of my deduction, and repeated that Germany had been very generous. "She has given us---millions."
"Are you quite sure of the army now?" I asked.
"Oh, yes, absolutely. But you have no idea how difficult it was. As soon as we had decided to throw in our lot with Germany we knew that we must mobilize the army, in order to get it away from the influence of the Venizelist press---"
Here, at last, was the answer to the question I had asked in vain of every Royalist in Athens from the King down. Quite casually Dousmanis was telling me why the army had been mobilized, since it was neither to make war nor to defend its neutrality. It had been a political, not a military move, in the interest of the King's party and of Germany. But Dousmanis was continuing placidly: --
"We had decided to mobilize at the first opportunity, and Bulgaria's mobilization gave us our chance. With the men well under our influence we explained to them methodically that Greece had nothing to gain on the side of the Allies; that they would be treated like poor relations, and would have to be content with that. It was not easy because those fool Greeks believe that England and France are their natural allies. Then we dilated on the gigantic preparations of Germany, on her organization, and on all the surprises she had in store for the world. We showed them that this was no Balkan war, and how any little Balkan nation which opposed Germany would be utterly crushed. It took us a long time, but we finally managed to drive the fear of Germany into their very souls. It was important---it had to be done," he ended lamely, as if even he realized the magnitude of the treachery his party had committed against the bravery of his race.
To me this treachery to the morale of the Greek army was the greatest of all the tragedies in this war. It affected me to the very heart of my soul. I did not know that one could ache in spirit as I ached then. Were Constantine innocent in all other respects, the mere fact that he had systematically taught fear to the Greek soul would be reason enough to try him for high treason. But he is a king; he belongs to that influential hierarchy which has survived from the dark ages of social struggle, and he is to go scot free---because he is a king. He has betrayed the sacred trust reposed in him; he has dragged the good name of a whole race in the mud; he has corrupted the bravery of its youth; yet he is to be free to enjoy all the pleasures that most men struggle for a lifetime without attaining---because he is a king. He has money, he has position, in a few years he will be welcomed into all the royal courts that remain---because he is a king. At the present moment he has the entrée into the social circles considered the most select and most desirable---because he is a king. Even his enemies still feel that they owe him a bountiful living---because he was born a king. To think of him as earning his own living---to think of his children as toiling---oh, such a reproach must never fall upon a world which still loves a king!
But such musings were vain. I turned again to General Dousmanis and suggested a doubt.
"Venizelos is succeeding in Salonica. Many Greeks have volunteered to fight with him. The army in the Peloponnesos may still turn against you."
There is no danger of that, because, while Venizelos is fighting for the Entente, England and France are trying to buy Turkey and Bulgaria---and, as I told you, to Bulgaria they have promised Salonica."
"And again I say it is impossible!" I cried.
"Oh, yes, they have. That is to say, they have told Bulgaria that they would evacuate Salonica, and since the Greek army is in the Peloponnesos and cannot defend it, Bulgaria will be able to come down and take it. To Turkey they have offered her integrity, all the Greek islands in dispute, and a tremendous sum of money. From this you can see that they recognize even now that they are unable to defeat Bulgaria and Turkey. Their only hope is to bribe them---and to bribe them with our territory. If they were real fighting nations, could you imagine their trying to buy off their most treacherous enemies, instead of crushing them."
"And the Greek army actually believes England and France have offered Salonica to Bulgaria, in the underhanded way you mention?"
"They certainly do. So you see no success of Venizelos can move them. They know he has been duped. And yet," he went on, his face hardening, "had it not been for Venizelos Germany would have been victorious by now. Venizelos actually has blocked Germany and upset one of her vital plans. And the wonder of it is that, harassed on all sides, he has yet been able to split this country in two." With a hating admiration which darkened his whole countenance, General Dousmanis murmured to himself: "He is an extraordinary man!" And then, unconscious of the tribute he was paying to the character of the Cretan, he added in a voice that was blasphemy itself: "Where would we not have been by now, had Venizelos only thought of the interests of Greece, and not of principles?"
We were both silent after that. To hate the general was not worth while. He brought to my mind Cavour's saying, "If we did for ourselves what we do for Italy, what scoundrels we should be." I might have sat there tongue-tied for a quarter of an hour, had he not broken in on my unhappy thoughts by saying: --
"Now that you know, madame, you cannot help understanding with whom the interests of Greece lie."
He leaned forward over his table and made his final appeal. It was a beautiful appeal, too; and he talked to me and implored me as I had talked to and implored the King of my race a few days before. And like the King I listened, though I was wedded to other principles.
"Lend your pen, madame, to help your little nation. Let not your coming here be in vain. Let it be known in the history to come how a Greek woman came all the way from the New World to serve the real interests of Greece. In the future prosperity and freedom of Greece you will be able to say: 'I, too, worked for it.' You admire Mr. Venizelos because you believe him to be an idealist. But has he a right, madame, to be an idealist, when every one around him is looking out for himself?"
Eloquently he enlarged on the benefits Greece would derive from being a member of the Germanic Empire. He reminded me of the natural intelligence of my race, of its gifts and talents, and how under Teutonic guidance they would be enabled to reach their highest development. "In twenty years we shall be a young and vigorous nation, respected and considered. We shall no longer be a little fellow to whom even the doors of the conferences of the Powers are closed. We shall no longer be obliged to implore the one, beg the other, and fear all. The nations of the world will come to us as equals, asking for what we have to give; and we, as equals, shall go to them, receiving that which others have to give."
Listening to his fervent appeal, I wondered whether the Greek Royalists would have committed their treachery had the rights of the little nations been considered in the last hundred years. The man before me, and his accomplices, thought that they were amply justified in all they did, to safeguard the future of their little nation from the intrigues of strong and powerful nations. The man's principles and mine were certainly divergent, but I could quite understand, even sympathize with him, although I could neither share nor admire. What angered me with him was his assumption that when once he had shown me where Greek material interests lay, my long residence in America would surely cause me to place material interests above and beyond ethical considerations. But I knew there was no use trying to combat this unjust aspersion on my adopted country. I just let the man before me talk, admired his eloquence, and wondered how it was possible that there could be so many sides even to right and wrong.
To no one in Athens, not even to my husband, did I say anything of what I had just heard, and in two days we left Greece and, after the devious ways of war-time traveling, reached Paris. There, through the kindness of our Embassy, we were able to see several members of the French Cabinet. We were received by M. Painlevé, then Minister of War. He is much like an American with his simple and direct ways. To him we told that the great mass of the Greek people were Venizelists and not Royalists, and that the people, even at this late hour, and in spite of what they had suffered, were still eager to come out on the side of the Entente.
Fig. 37. Letter of the British ambassador at Rome
"Will the dethronement of the King be difficult?" he asked.
"Not if for one day France and England can act together."
He smiled and told us that, although it was not yet known, M. Jonnard, High Commissioner for both France and England, was already on his way to Greece.
We saw a number of other eminent French politicians, including M. Clemenceau, and M. Briand.
From M. Briand, who was Prime Minister early in the war, we learned how utterly baseless were the fears of the Royalists---induced by German propaganda---that the French either intended to make a French protectorate of Greece or that the Allies intended dismembering her.
To M. Ribot alone, the then Prime Minister, did we disclose the full extent of the Germanic-Royalist plans in regard to Greece and the Balkans. M. Ribot listened silently, youth and energy concentrated in his remarkable eyes, which made one forget his advanced years.
We had been in Paris two weeks, when, on the afternoon of June 11, I was called to the telephone by M. Romanos, the distinguished and charming Greek Minister to France. His voice was sad and weary.
"It will be made known to-morrow, madame, but we feel that you have a right to know it now. Constantine has been forced to abdicate to-day at one o'clock. He is no longer our King." The voice grew even sadder, and the soft Greek language made it sound like a dirge. "He has gone! We raised him with so much love and so many hopes."
It was the true sound of "The King is dead!" with no second sentence accompanying it, and I hope that for Greece, the King is, indeed, dead, in spite of the temporary occupant of the throne.
Constantine has gone, and Venizelos and his party---the man and the men who stood for principles and not for material interests---are back again in Athens and masters of the destiny of their little nation. Their first act was to declare war on the side of the Allies and against all the nations fighting with Germany.
Fig. 38. Letter making the appointment for M. Painlevé, French Minister of War.
The task before them is by no means easy. Mr. Venizelos has been a popular idol. He has held the Greek soul as no man has held it in modern Greek history. But thanks to a German propaganda as terrific and efficacious as their big guns, added to the mistakes of the Entente, his popularity is greatly lessened. The Greek people have suffered insults, privations, and hunger at the hands of those for whom they wished and tried to fight. They are dazed and bewildered. Is Venizelos the wise leader they believed him to be? And what is to be the position of their little country? Have the Great Powers accepted them as allies, or are they merely pawns, to be sacrificed when the occasion arises?
For centuries the Greek people have suffered at the hands of friends and of foes. To-day they are poisoned with German lies and suffering from the treatment of their friends. Will Venizelos be able to fire them once more as he used to of old, or are the odds too great even for a man like him? My own opinion is that the odds are too great, and that the Allies will have to help him to free his country from the German propaganda and to purge the poison from their system. They can help him if they will, and if they can only realize that by doing so they will be undoing some of the mistakes they have made. We are fighting to-day a war which in intensity and in sincerity surpasses the wars of the Crusades. We are fighting, not only to free the world from autocracy and from militarism, but to free it from all the aggressions and wrongs which sprang from the old political and diplomatic traditions.
Let us then face facts squarely in the face. Let not the year 1918 bring about still another catastrophe on our side. Let the year 1918 be a year of redemption rather than the continuation of our blunders in the Near East thus far.
Through a blundering and hesitating policy, 1915 was signalized by the destruction of Serbia and the failure to take Constantinople.
1916 saw the defeat of Roumania, and put into the hands of Germany the wheat-fields and the oil-wells of that country.
1917 will remain memorable for the disintegration of the Russian Empire, and for Italy's débâcle
America is now in the war, and we are entering a new year, a year which must be a winning year for us, and not another blundering, losing one. Let America at least prevent the destruction of Greece. Let the American people never forget that two weeks after the war began, Greece unconditionally and unreservedly offered her all to the cause for which America stands. And above all, let us remember that in spite of German gold and German intrigues, in spite of the colossal mistakes of the Allies and the fiasco of the Dardanelles, the Greek people, in June, 1915, voted for Venizelos and for war when the issue was presented to them in the most clear-cut manner---voted for war on the side of the Allies even after the Entente had refused to guarantee their territorial integrity. And had their leader been adequately supported by the Powers which had guaranteed the Greek Constitution, Serbia need never have been destroyed.
We have stood aside and seen Serbia perish. We have lost the chance of taking Constantinople. We have lost Roumania. We have lost Russia. We have seen the semi-demoralization of Italy. Let us not abandon Greece because certain monarchistic influences have worked harder to save a rotten little dynasty in Athens than to win the war.
The Greek people have been starved because their friends blockaded them for six whole months and did not allow them to replenish their stores. They have starved because the harvest of Thessaly---their harvest---was first left in the power of a pro-German King (who delivered half of it to Bulgaria), and subsequently was requisitioned for the Allied army in Salonica. They have starved because less than a dozen of their own ships were left them to provision themselves with, the rest of their large merchant fleet being requisitioned by the Allies.
Let America remember that she went into the war late, after many mistakes had been committed, and let her participation be signalized by repairing one of the earliest and most grievous errors of the Entente. All that is needed is bread, equipment, and friendliness. Greece has not received a fair deal---not because France and England meant not to give it to her, but because they were forced by overwhelming circumstances. --
If Germany feels that she needs the prestige of yet another conquest, she can overrun and subjugate Greece. The conquest of Greece would mean the destruction of the Macedonian Allied army and the prolongation of the war. Greece is not only the last stronghold of the Allies in the Balkans, she is the key to the Balkans, and her maritime position in the Mediterranean renders her of the utmost importance both to Germany and to the Allies. America is influenced by none of the reasons which caused the others to cripple Greece: it is to our interest, as well as to others, to do them justice. We have gone into this war from no other motive than to beat Germany and make democracy safe for our children and for the world. Then let us help every one of our allies, as if we were one front, one nation.
For our own sake, for democracy's sake, for God's sake, let us help Greece. Let us put her flag among the Allied flags; let us share our wheat with her; let us replenish her stores of ammunition; and above all, let us put confidence into the hearts of her people and show them that we consider them one with us, and their chief our friend and not our pawn. In short, let us commit no more criminal blunders; let us beat Germany; let us win the war!