Photoplay July 1918
Hearts of the World
Fictionized version by Julian Johnson
The Great New War Photodrama by D.W. Griffith
In a little village in France there was happiness and love and all the joy of humble folk who loved their homes; then came the war and with the war common souls sprung to the stature of heroes; and these souls are the hearts of the world of today.
ABOUT the time William McKinley was elected President of the United States for a second term, Stephenson and Hamilton, artists, met in a New York cafe, and decided that although they were staunch Americans, their careers and reputations warranted them in passing the rest of their lives in quieter, and more purely artistic surroundings abroad. America was too turbulent, too unsettled, too full of political and social upheaval. They needed a contemplative atmosphere where ambition comes not and where noisy progress has never intruded. Stephenson was past middle age; his had been a life of strenuous endeavor in the arts, and full of good works, too, as an American citizen. Hamilton was a much younger man, but he cast his fortunes with his friend, and a year later found them cozily though obscurely ensconced in a village in northern France, where Hamilton could paint out his career, while Stephenson surveyed his in critical retrospect as he watched new men and new ideas come in.
Now let the world go by! Stephenson and Hamilton, thoroughly in sympathy with a quaint little town that was proud of its ancient church, proud of its landscape painters and its landscapes, soon grew into typical French villagers, and all the rush of the twentieth century seemed as far away as the planet Saturn. They were in a quiet little eddy of life.
Without, storm and change might rage, but here it should be theirs and their children’s right to leisurely create, to dream in peace as long as life should last. Douglas Gordon Hamilton was his father’s son in the arts, but he was behind all that an American; and Paris, the chateau country—even Germany —claimed much of his time and inquisitive American energy. The wee town was a bit prosy, although he wouldn’t admit it, until — Back in Maryland lingered Stephenson’s daughter Catherine, who had married in the early nineties.- In 1912 her husband died, and, as is the way with not a few husbands, his improvidence left her little or nothing. Old Stephenson’s hoard was not a fortune, but it provided a comfortable income, and he sent for Catherine—now a middle-aged woman. With her, to France, came her daughter, Marie. They arrived at Havre in the autumn of 1913.
Marie, a wonderful Southern child, seemed to the French men and women who saw her something like their national lily; and the country, and the people she saw were as wonderful to her as she was to them. Douglas Gordon Hamilton was on one of his tempestuous trips, just then. He had been a painter—first. Then he became a journalist. Now, he was writing a novel of modern European life, picking up types and atmosphere all the way from Biarritz to Munich. Presently, weary ing of Teutonic coarseness and commerciality, he turned his face and his feet toward the border.
And Marie Stephenson, now nearly half a year in France, was beginning to be just the least bit lonely. She loved America, and—though she didn’t know it and wouldn’t have admitted it anyway — she was at that peachbloom age when an American girl welcomes the straightforward advances of an American boy.
But as there were no American boys—probably—that side of Paris, Marie amused herself in her grandfather’s highwalled garden with her old mother goose and mother goose’s lusty brood of goslings. And on a certain day out ventured the boldest gosling, into the next garden on an argosy of his own. And Marie after him. Just as she had the pin-feathered bandit almost in her fingers, she glanced up, and directly into the eyes of a smiling, slightly moustached young Frenchman, who, somehow, didn’t look exactly French. The young Frenchman began to whistle, softly, bending his eyes directly upon the naughty gosling.
“Stay in your own backyard!” What an air for a Frenchman to whistle!
“Why, you must be—” gasped Marie.
“I am,” answered the young man with cheerful frankness. “That is, I don’t know just what I am, but I’m whatever you say.”
“We’re both speaking English!” exclaimed Marie, surprised at that, too.
“I’m speaking American,” corrected the boy. “I’ve been here most of my life, but I consider myself a citizen of the U. S. A., and I’m proud of it. My name’s Hamilton —Douglas Hamilton.”
“You must be the son of grand-daddy’s best friend—I’m Marie Stephenson!”
“So you’re the little kid father’s been raving about in his letters to me!”
And they were friends at once. But I don’t think they ever thanked the gosling enough for his part in that wonderful meeting. In fact, they scarcely thought of him again. A perfect love, like a perfect life, often leaves little to say. It is not tempestuous. It is not beset by quarrels or jealousies or passions of anger or ambition. Like the progressions of night or day, it comes naturally and inevitably and quietly.
Such was the love of Douglas Hamilton and Marie Stephenson, which grew out of that quaint meeting at the garden wall. At that wall their troth was plighted, over it letters and precious notes were exchanged, and through its embrasures the promises for life and eternity were whispered’ and wafted upon kisses. But this wasn’t a love story without other episodes clear, no!
Chiefly, “the Little Disturber.” The baker called her Henriette, the butcher called her Margo, and some of the townsfolk called her names which I do not wish to put down here.
She was five feet four inches of Gallic impishness, eighteen years old, with an exaggerated swagger walk, the boldness of an Apache, the tongue of a fishwife, the eye of a flirt, the prettiness of a beautiful little bad boy, and the heart and body of a virgin. She came from Paris to work in a wine house at vintage time, but she was not of Paris—rather, she was of the country, fired with the passion of the city from all-tooshort visits there. The grape-gathering over, she stayed on and on, helping at the Inn, working a bit in a millineryshop—at length a frank minstrel, with her bold guitar, wandering from cafe to shop and from shop to cafe again, shrilling her gay little soprano through chansons of street and boudoir that she had picked up in dark places by the Seine.
Now the Little Disturber, idolized by the frantically adoring Monsieur Cuckoo, fancied Douglas Hamilton — apparently because he did not fancy her. She lost no opportunity to show this liking at the most embarrassing times and in the most inauspicious places, while Cuckoo—alas! His honest face, at moments placidly imbecile, it other moments blazing with true Latin fury, was at all times a comic mask of most uncomic woe.
Cuckoo, to be sure, occupied a place in the village as individual if not so brilliant. Before the Little Disturber came he knew he was the town clown; afterwards, he was more the town clown than ever—but he didn’t know it. Making no headway with young Hamilton, Henriette I think that was her real name, after all—pitched upon him like a charging gladiator, of an afternoon, and demanded to know why he didn’t like her. Of course it wouldn’t have been good form in an engaged young man to tell an ardent young woman that he couldn’t love her because he had a heart-full of love for somebody else. And as he tried to stammer around this obstacle Henriette flung her wild young body against his in a moment of erotic fury, and set her fragrant mouth to his in an Amazonian kiss. Well—a man may be in love with an angel and engaged to her, but when beset by a charming devil to the point of personal attack he is likely to give way momentarily—even if only to recover his moral strength tenfold later on. So Douglas Hamilton, in the first second surprised and angry, suddenly found himself kissing and liking it very much, and his arms flashed around the girlish body in front of him, and they liked . . . He drew away and pushed Henriette away, roughly. She had defiled the treasure of Marie! How the disaster lay in the fact that at the street-corner Marie herself had been passing, and in the one dreadfully wrong moment—the single instant of that brief hot kiss—she had glanced up! She had not seen her lover push Henriette away, for she was blinded with sudden tears. She saw only her love, her life, perfidiously giving himself like a male wanton to a wench in the street! It was the end of the world for her. Quickly, Douglas sought her out—-furious at himself, wildly fearful of the mischief he had wrought. If Marie had met him with angry protests, with tears—even with a silence that was sullen! But she met him with a sweet, sad smile: a look of infinite compassion.
She offered him a little packet … his letters . . .the pictures … the poor little ring. . . .
“Oh, don’t, Marie! Don’t! I love you! Before God, I love only you!”
He could not have explained anything in words. Yet his heart-broken voice explained everything, and her heart cried out in answer. Still. . . . “Maybe, but—ycu kissed her! You kissed her! You kissed her!” Marie’s intended calm interrogation burst in a blaze of grief and a girl’s outraged, angry protest. And his heart was touched, too by the love-torrent that had broken through everything she meant to say. “I know,but darling -she-I-nobody is to blame, Marie!” It can never happen again – never! Never!”
“Never, if we should live to be a thousand million years old?”
Theirs was the embrace of forgiveness and a big-hearted girl’s first brave though blunderful attempt at understanding.