The imminent departure of the Great White Fleet
READY OR SAILING 1. . m V..ln: IIxtl at If Attrn A li 1 1 tin With Pur. ents, Wives and Sweethearts. FINAL GOOD - BY TODAY I 1 FORT MONROE, Va., Dec. 15. The wives, the mothers, the daughters, the sisters and the sweethearts who are to see America's great battle fleet sail tomorrow on its 14,000 mile journey to the Paeiflc are withholding their emotions on this night of partings. Everybody Is trying to look cheerful, and everybody is succeeding fairly well. But down deep under the surface there is a general feeling ot depression a. , the flood of women's tears that wl . i - aim hQQ 1 - ft TV 1 I I . .. - . j!U flow before tomorrow s sun nas sei win make shame of the nasty little rain showers that fell today. On this last evening the big lobby of the Chamberlain hotel, the center of special interest and activity at Fortress Monroe, is crowded with officers of the navy and those who have come to say good - by to them. It is a gay scene. All the departing officers are in their gold - laced uniforms and the women are dressed in their best. Every woman there apparently tried to make herself as fascinating as possible. Many of the officers and their women folk sat around in groups and talked fast so as to be able to say as much as possible before the long separation began. Sweet - faced, gray - haired mothers who had private opinions about the call of duty, held hands with their gold - laced sailor boys and every wife, sister and daughter was turned into a hero worshipper and didn't care who knew. And the sweethearts, dozens of them, were making the most of every moment and wondering if they were going to cry when' the youngsters in blue and gold went back to their ships for the long journey. Sailing orders were issued today. Every officer must be aboard his ship at 7 o'clock tomorrow morning. Shore liberty for the blue jackets and marines enflpd at 10 o'clock this morning. It was visiting day on the big armor clads and hundreds of people went out to them to share the last hospitalities, A choppy sea' and cold rain kept the timid on shore up to early afternoon, when things cleared up a bit and gave promise of fairly good weather for the farewell ceremonials. ,Many men and women of the navy sat at luncheon tables In the fleet and a large number of these lingered for tea and then hurried back to the Chamberlain to uuh' aauure wnne una was going on out in the Roads, but tonight every officer who could get away came to Fortress Monroe to take part In the closing scenes on land. Many of the officers spent part of the day writing letters to those at home, but the women were busy with letter writing, too. One young wife wrote a note to her husband's ship with Instructions to deliver It to the husband on Christmas morning. When the young wife told other young wives and Incidentally imparted her Christmas scheme to a few sweethearts and some mothers there was a rush of women to the writing room. The idea took like wildfire. Half the officers of the fleet have been impressed into service' as mail carriers and when Christmas morning arrives there will be happy surprises in cabins and wardrooms and steerages. If the copies of the papers in which this will be printed could possibly reach the fleet before Christmas the story would not now be told, for it is a strict secret and to give it away to those whom it is intended to affect Would be a cruel injustice to trusting women. Rear Admiral Evans, the commander - in - chief of the magnificent aggregation of battleships which will sail for the Pacific tomorrow, spent the day at the Chamberlain with his wife, his daughter, Mrs: Marsh, his son, Lieutenant Frank Taylor Evans, and some other kin folk. He was the center of interest in the hotel lobby. The members of his family seldom left his side, but they had to share their possession of the grim old sailor with many others who crowded around to shake hands and wish him good luck on his voyage. This morning at muster the crews of every battleship listened to an order issued by Admiral Evans in which he appealed to the men to endeavor to uphold the honor and dignity of the United States when they were In foreign ports. Shore leave would be liberal, the orders said, but they must not be abused. If they were abused the whole enlisted force of the fleet would suffer curtailment of liberty. It would j be necessary, the order explained, to ! restrict shore liberty in ports Infected ' with yellow fever or other infectious or contagious diseases, but on the whole the men would be given as large opportunity as possible to see the places where the fleet would stop. a ' I j ' !