The Sleeping War can be found in Magazine Entry


IT often happens that some of the great advantages that men expect to gain by gathering together in large cities turn out finally to be boomerangs. People collect into communities of hundreds of thousands and millions to take advantage of mutual economic and social advantages; and give up their own identity so that they may have the strength of the whole group. They are thus better protected against disease and poverty. These of course are the assumptions. But when trouble does come to a large city, it comes as a great disaster. Epidemics of diseases, great fires, outbursts of crime, etc. are all prices that we must pay to enjoy city life.

Think how easy it would be to spread abroad in our great cities a contagious germ to decimate thousands! Or how easy it might be to poison our water supply. Suppose theta great evil force wished to strike at our national life, and he started with the large cities. How might he go about it? Dr. Keller answers this question in this story full of his un-tragedy!

"THERE was a Chinaman in town today," announced William Buzzard, the Recorder of Deeds of Monroe County. He slowly placed his feet on top of his desk and started to blow smoke rings through the dead air of the closed office.

The County Treasurer laughed at him.

"What are you trying to do, Bill? Kid me? Think I never took my collars to the laundryman? Long as I can remember there has always been a Chink in town."

"This was not that kind of a Chinaman," slowly retorted Buzzard, talking out of one corner of his mouth.

"That's news to me. Is there more than one kind of Chink?"

"You would think so if you ever saw a real one. This one today was only a yellow boy, but, believe me, Han-kins, he had class. He drove here in a swell car and he had on the very latest in New York haberdashery, and I ought to know, because I just had a chance to read an article called, What the well dressed man will wear in 1935. He gave me this elegant piece of tobacco I am smoking.

"You will observe from the smell that it is no cheap five center. And then, to show you that I know what I am talking about when I say that he had class, he had me record a deed for him which shows that he had just paid four hundred thousand dollars for the four thousand acres of land around Resica."

"I'm dreaming! Wake me up!" murmured the County Treasurer. "You don't mean to tell me that the New York people have finally unloaded that Resica land?"

"I do. And I remember when I could have bought that land for five dollars an acre."

"All I have to say," remarked Peter Han-kins, "is that they must have put the deal over when the Chink was asleep. I thought those yellow boys were smart."

"They are smart," nodded Buzzard. "Smart as the Old Boy himself. I have read about them and seen moving pictures about them until I almost feel that they are smarter than the average white man. I bet that this Chinaman had some reason for wanting that land at Resica. Perhaps he would have been willing to give more if the New Yorkers had held off a while. You will find out some day. He has something up his sleeve about that land. He knows something about it that makes him want to own it—oil or something like that. And I could have bought that land for five an acre."

A few days after the deed for the Resica land bad been recorded a well-dressed Chinaman wandered casually into the main offices of the Highway Department in Harrisburg, Pa. There was a slight difficulty in finding the correct official to talk to, but at last he was in conference with a politician, who was smoking as fine a cigar as it had ever been his good fortune to light. With such a present in his mouth, it was impossible to be anything but polite to the donor; so, he asked, in his best manner, as he gazed at the visiting card in his hand:

"What can I do for you, Mr. Wand Foo?"

"I trust that my request is a very simple one," began the Chinaman, opening a map and spreading it out on the table. "Condescend to gaze upon this map of Monroe County. Here is a little place called Marshall Falls. From it a road runs through a thinly populated country and finally it ends up in Pike County, in what is called the deer country. This road runs—through a four thousand acre tract of land, recently purchased by my associates. We regret the existence of this road, and desire your honor able aid in closing it."

The politician looked at the map closely.

"Where's your land?" he demanded.

"Around a place called Resica."

"Hemmm! There is a good iron bridge there."

"Exactly. The existence of the bridge annoys us."

"Well, it's there, isn't it?" asked the politician sharply. He was beginning to be slightly annoyed. "You knew that the road was there and you knew the bridge was there when you bought the land, didn't you? We cannot close roads and tear down bridges just to please people. How do you suppose the hunters would get up to the deer country?"

"If you look at the road carefully, you will see that there is another road that could be used. That road could be improved, and I am sure that it's immaterial to the deer hunters as to the specific road they use, so long as they finally arrive at the hunting ground."

"It cannot be done!" declared the Highway Official, with an air of finality.

A PECULIAR smile played over the Oriental's face. He slowly pulled a red leather wallet from his inside coat pocket. Opening it, he took out a pile of bills, one of which he handed to the politician.

"Have you ever seen one of these?" he asked.

The Pennsylvanian looked at it, picked it up, looked at it again, and handed it back.

"It's a grand!" he murmured at last.

"It is. At least, I presume you call a thousand dollars in your currency by that name. Now, watch me. I am placing these bills, one at a time, before your honored eyes. When you feel that your Department could close that road and permit us to enjoy the privacy we desire, please indicate your willingness to cooperate with us. I presume you are sure of privacy? It would be so annoying to have visitors—while I am placing the bills in front of you."

The Highway Official hastily left his desk. He did not return till his office door was locked and the window shades drawn. Then and only then did he seat himself and whisper, "You can start your argument." There was a slight trembling to his voice.

The Oriental took the sheaf of bills in his hand and, with a gesture that was almost grandiose, placed one of them in front of the politician. There was a slight pause, and then another bill was placed on top of the first, and then a third bill followed. Silently they fell like autumn leaves, only with a more definite regularity, as far as their landing was concerned.

The Official simply looked at the bills, trying to realize that each was worth a thousand dollars and that if he did not say "STOP" at the right time, he might fail to win one of them. Twenty-five—twenty-six—twenty-seven. What was the Chinaman up to? What did he want to close the road for? Why? Thirty-nine—fifty-three—Was it the same wallet? Or had he taken another one from another pocket? Was that last one sixty-nine or seventy-three. Hell! He had lost count. Something snapped, and he heard the Chinaman speaking to him.

"I am afraid that you are no longer interested. Perhaps I had better take my money and leave. There are other pieces of land that we can buy besides Resica. We do not have to have Resica for our purposes."

"Oh! I am interested, all right," insisted the politician. "Just a little hot in here and I lost count. How many are there in that pile?"

"I am laying them down, not counting them," whispered the yellow man gravely. "Still, if you wish to, I will lay down some more. No doubt the money will have to be divided, and you will have to keep a little for yourself."

"If you only knew, Mr. Foofoo, how hard a thing like this was to put over, you would turn your pockets inside out."

"My name is Wand Foo and not Foofoo," explained the Chinaman. "Now, suppose we ask your honored attention while I continue to place the pieces of paper you think so much of on the pile in front of you."

Once again the gesture of placing the bills, one at a time, began. At last the official held up his hand.

"That will do," he sighed.

"And you will close the road?"

"Yes. Of course, it will take a little time. I shall have to see some of the boys, and talk the matter over with them."

The visitor arose, and bowed courteously.

"I thank you for your attention. I neglected to say that when the road is closed and all the details attended to, I will see that you have a sum equal to the small pittance I have placed within your worthy hands. I might add that if you fail, or try in any way to evade the ter...

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